Every student remembers a teacher who inspired them, and that is no different for a Connecticut Senator. Upon hearing of UMass Law’s Professor Irene Scharf’s retirement, former student Dennis Bradley sponsored Professor Scharf to receive, from the State of Connecticut Senate, an Official Citation of Congratulations. The award is personally inscribed by Senator Bradley:
Be it hereby known to all that: the Connecticut Senate offers its sincerest congratulations to Professor Irene Scharf in recognition of the many years you have committed to being an educator and a law professor. Your lessons have extended far beyond the classroom. I carry your compassion for humanity, understanding of mankind’s frailty and devoted spirit with me to fight for justice all the days of my life. Thank you.
Professor Scharf’s career has been impressive. She began practicing law in a Boston community-based law office in the then-sleepy neighborhood near the original Filenes Basement department store. It was there, while the office participated in a legal services pilot project, that she began practicing immigration law, which fascinated her ever since. In the course of her career, Professor Scharf worked for both the City of Cambridge and the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. She served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth in its litigation against tobacco product manufacturers.
In the mid-1980s, Professor Scharf moved to Tacoma, Washington and into academia, eventually founding and for 20 years directing the Law School’s Immigration Litigation Clinic. She served as Associate Dean for Clinical Programs (2002-2010) at UMass Law’s legacy institution, Southern New England School of Law and Director of Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning at UMass Law from 2010 to 2013. In these positions, she played leadership roles in developing the school’s clinical programs, including a wide variety of both in-house and off-site clinics, and an expansive internship program that served all law students, whether enrolled in the full-time or part-time program.
Through her decades-long career, Professor Scharf also contributed significant scholarship in the areas of both immigration and tort law. One of her most influential scholarly works was published in 1988 by Duke Law Journal, What Process is Due? Unaccompanied Minors’ Rights to Deportation Hearings (co-authored). Her most recently published works are Second-Class Citizenship: The Plight of Naturalized Special Immigrant Juveniles, published by the Cardozo Law Review and Robbing Special Immigrant Juveniles of Their Rights as US Citizens: The Legislative Error in the 2008 TVPRA Amendments, published by Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.
In recent years Professor Scharf served as an Access to Justice Fellow, where she fostered the self-described “Odd Hoc” immigration group of lawyers and others in the South Coast area in partnership with UMass Law. The group includes recently retired judges, lawyers, and other professionals who have identified both the legal and non-legal needs of the many immigrants in our communities in order to both help them directly and to connect them with those who could offer assistance.
Thank you for all your hard work, dedication, and inspiration Professor Scharf. You will always be an inspiring legacy here at UMass Law and we will miss you dearly! Happy retirement!