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Spring 2025 Seminar

Anti-carceral Organizing and Lawyering

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For more information about this clinic, please visit the Clinic Website and Blog Highlights.

Required Clinic Component: Institute to End Mass Incarceration Clinic (3 or 4 spring clinical credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in this required course.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: Yes. Applications are due by October 18, 2024. Please see below for more information.

Add/Drop Deadline: December 13, 2024.

LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic by the deadline.

What role can and should lawyers play in community led, organizer driven campaigns and movements to end mass incarceration? This seminar explores this essential question experientially, intellectually, and personally. Students begin the seminar by taking an intensive multi-day workshop that trains them in the theory and practice of community organizing. In teams facilitated by experienced organizer-coaches, students learn the craft of public narrative, weaving together stories of self and of shared communal purpose to motivate collective agency; the meaning of public leadership within the context of organizing teams; the relationship between strategy and tactical action; and the connection between organizing campaigns and enduring structures of community power. The workshop is team-based and coaches students in linking their personal sources of inspiration and motivation to focused and purposive action that is in service of social justice and emancipation.

The remainder of the semester focuses on lawyering and its relationship to organizing, movements, and social change. Can law be a useful tool in efforts to upend entrenched injustice, including systemic racism and economic oppression? How can lawyers share skills, knowledge and resources while supporting the collective agency and empowerment of nonlawyers working for bold emancipatory futures? What forms of relationships between lawyers and organizers in shared coalition spaces best facilitate such partnerships? And what do legal tactics that aim to support enduring community power, even above short-term campaign victories, look like in practice?

Students can expect to engage closely with readings from various traditions, including from scholars of abolition, critical studies (CLS and CRT), and law and social movements. This seminar accompanies and is a co/pre-requisite for the Institute to End Mass Incarceration Clinic. Admission is by application. For application requirements and details, please see the IEMI Clinic course listing.