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Lawyering in the Public Interest

Lawyering in the Public Interest is an innovative upper-class Seminar designed to enrich the Law School curriculum by integrating theory and academic analysis with practice themes emerging from students’ public interest work experiences during law school.

Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel at the Juvenile Law Center, discusses with students how she successfully got justice for children involved in a judicial corruption scandal.

Through contemporary readings, court observations, guest speakers, film and in-class exercises, students utilize clinical methods to actively explore the difficult challenges inherent in public interest lawyering.

Among other topics, students are called upon to:

  • Understand and appreciate the impact of scarcity of resources and high volume practice upon the practitioner. difficulties in allocating limited resources through case selection.
  • Establish effective delivery systems from among competing service-delivery models.
  • Build respect and understanding for client voice and bridge barriers of race and gender.
  • Battle third-party intrusions into the attorney-client relationship.
  • Create new and innovative resources to provide increased access to justice for under-represented client communities.
  • Learn how to empower the disadvantaged and powerless through law and education.
  • Explore current themes and timely issues relating to access to justice and public interest practice

The Course

The course builds upon student practice experiences from prior legal advocacy settings with the goal of developing future leaders of public interest and pro bono advocacy.

Class discussions are enriched by simulated exercises that place students in the role of trustees of public interest organizations and require them to problem-solve collectively on actual governance issues confronting public interest law firms and organizations. In addition, students deliver classroom presentations on their outside research and submit papers of publishable quality on public interest lawyering topics.