Notre Dame Law School honored the exceptional career of Clinical Professor of Law Judith Fox at a celebration last month. She retired from the Law School after decades of service at the end of June.
Fox served on the faculty for 25 years and dedicated her legal career to fighting for fair housing and other socioeconomic issues. She ran the Law School’s Economic Justice Clinic, a clinical program focusing on consumer law issues primarily related to housing, since its inception. Throughout that time, she supervised hundreds of Notre Dame Law students as they represented clients, whose incomes made it difficult for them to obtain counsel, in cases involving mortgage foreclosures, fraud, predatory lending, land contract scams, foreclosure rescue scams, and debt collection. She also taught courses on consumer law, alternative dispute resolution, and ethics.
“Judy Fox is the perfect example of ‘a different kind of lawyer.’ As an alumna and faculty member of Notre Dame Law School, she has embodied that ideal through her years of dedication to social concerns and to our students,” said G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law. “We will miss her at the Law School, but her legacy continues through the many lawyers she helped train in public interest work.”
Associate Dean of Experiential Programs Robert Jones said, “Judy has impacted the lives of so many, beginning with the hundreds of students she worked intimately with at the clinic, inspiring many to go into public-interest work. And, there are the thousands of clients she has walked with and assisted through some of the hardest times of their lives as they faced homelessness, foreclosure, spiraling debt, and domestic violence.”
Fox has also served the broader community in numerous other ways by providing consumer education to targeted populations, engaging with community partners to assist people to get justice through the legal system, and serving on the boards of nonprofits addressing poverty issues.
Jones added, “She has helped shape the law through her scholarship and work with the bench and bar. She is respected and admired, and she is routinely asked by judges and legislators to shape responses to legal crises and to serve on task forces at a state and national level.”
Fox served as a member of the Consumer Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as a member of the legislative committee of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, and on the Advisory Board of the Indiana Foreclosure Assistance Project. Most recently she served on a new commission, the Indiana Commission on Equity and Access in the Court System, established by the Indiana Supreme Court to foster public trust and confidence in the state’s courts.
Earlier this year, the mayors of South Bend and Mishawaka presented Fox with the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Community Service Award. The honor recognized her decades of dedication to assisting local, low-income people facing eviction and other financial hardships. She has also received awards for her work in consumer protection law, including the Bellow Scholar Award from the American Association of Law Schools and the St. Joseph Valley Project Community Achievement Award for Social Justice. Notre Dame featured Fox in its “What Would You Fight For?” campaign, Fighting For Fair Housing, in 2018.
Jaimi Wood, legal assistant for the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center, said, “It has been an honor to work alongside Judy as her legal assistant. Judy’s scholarly intuitiveness and empathic nature has brought so many individuals and families faced with financial hardships a favorable outcome and in some instances, a place to call home. She is a trailblazer in her field of law, which has resulted in changing our community for the good. Judy is a friend, teacher, and advocate to everyone she encounters.”
In addition, Wood said, “Every single student that has gone through her clinic was left with the lasting impression of what it is to be a different kind of lawyer.”
Students who have had the opportunity to work alongside Fox at the clinic agree.
Carter Wietecha ’22 J.D., a recent graduate who worked at the Economic Justice Clinic, said, “Professor Fox not only dedicated her life to the service of others, but she also taught generations of young attorneys how to do the same. In just one semester of learning from Professor Fox, I gained skills, experience, and self-confidence that I will draw on for the rest of my career. Notre Dame Law School will miss her tremendously.”
Another recent graduate, Sebastian Bellm ’22 J.D., who also worked at the clinic this past year, said, “I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from Professor Fox through the Economic Justice Clinic. Her commitment to her students, the experiential learning process, and the local community were unparalleled. Professor Fox gave her students the invaluable opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge that we learned inside the classroom in the real world, in a really meaningful way. The lessons I learned from Professor Fox will stay with me for the rest of my legal career.”
Fox has authored numerous articles throughout her career and is the co-author of the book The Foreclosure Echo: How the Hardest Hit Have Been Left Out of the Economic Recovery. She is a Notre Dame Law School magna cum laude graduate of the Class of 1993 and earned her undergraduate degree from Wilkes University.