Teaching Lawyering for Justice

Teaching Lawyering for Justice

Professor Michael Gregory, Professor Dehlia Umunna, Professor Esme Caramello
Winter 2021 course
2 classroom credits

This course is co-taught by Professors Esme Caramello, Tyler Giannini, Michael Gregory, and Dehlia Umunna.

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This course is designed for students who are interested in deepening their knowledge of social justice lawyering and gaining experience with law teaching, particularly teaching that involves an experiential component. Each student in the course will be a Teaching Fellow for Lawyering for Justice in the United States, a Winter Term course taught by Professors Caramello, Giannini, Gregory, and Umunna to first year law students.

Many students come to Harvard Law School to learn to correct injustices they have experienced or observed. Lawyering promises to be a concrete method of social justice problem solving, a set of tools that the lawyer can use to make a positive difference. But what does it really look like to “lawyer for justice”? The strategies and tactics of public interest lawyers vary widely depending on their clients, their causes, their geography, and their own interests, talents, and expertise. How do you choose how to lawyer? What tools in the lawyer's toolkit are best suited to your task? And what are the limits on the lawyer's role? How do lawyers situate themselves in the ecosystem of change agents, offering their unique skills (and credentials) while making space to learn and benefit from other voices and methodologies?

This course will help first-year students explore these foundational questions through interactive sessions led by experienced practitioners teaching and lawyering in the HLS clinical programs and their community partners. Each day, a clinical teacher working on a different social justice problem - immigration, predatory lending, human rights, criminal justice, education, housing, building a solidarity economy, and more - will share their thoughts on what it means to lawyer for justice and will lead students through discussions and exercises that offer first-hand experience of a wide range of lawyering dilemmas and approaches. Collectively, the sessions will cover a diverse set of lawyering techniques, including impact litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, transactional work, community lawyering, media advocacy, system mapping, and the representation of individuals in proceedings in unjust systems. The course will end in a full-day “hackathon” in which students will apply human-centered design principles to the development of strategies and tactics to address one or more contemporary justice problems.

Each Teaching Fellow has two responsibilities: to assist with conducting several multi-hour sessions that uses case studies to refine the student’s understanding of the pertinent approaches to lawyering and help students develop their own thinking to advance justice; and to draft one case study that will be jointly facilitated by a Professor and the Teaching Fellow. In addition, the Teaching Fellows will meet several times a week with a professor from the teaching team to discuss the issues addressed learning goals and objectives, discuss progress in the course, consider readings and to exchange ideas concerning possible ways of teaching sessions that remain or improving sessions for the future.