Fall 2020 • Clinic
Democracy and the Rule of Law Clinic
Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.
Required Class Component: Legal Tools for Protecting Democracy and the Rule of Law in America (2 fall classroom credits). The 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: No.
Add/Drop Deadline: August 14, 2020.
LLM Students: International students on F-1 student visas are required to have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization; LL.M. students are not eligible for CPT.
Placement Site: Students will participate in an externship with The Protect Democracy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit founded by former White House and Department of Justice attorneys and dedicated to holding the President and the Executive Branch accountable to the laws and longstanding practices that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Most clinical work will be done remotely, although there may be opportunities for travel to Washington, D.C.
Students in the Democracy and the Rule of Law Clinic will work with The Protect Democracy Project (“Protect Democracy”) to safeguard the key features of a democratic society through litigation and other means. The Clinic will focus on issues such as ensuring the impartial application of the rule of law; safeguarding healthy civic institutions that allow for public participation in political debate; prohibiting official corruption; and challenging government if it targets certain people or groups in our society.
Specific topics and projects will be determined by enrolled students in conjunction with the clinic leaders and other attorneys at Protect Democracy. Students will be divided into small teams, and each team will help to develop and manage at least one (and, more likely, several) projects. Some examples of such projects include:
- Developing litigation memoranda setting forth proposed legal theories and possible causes of action, and assessing approaches to overcome justiciability barriers.
- Identifying potential plaintiffs for litigation and selecting optimal jurisdictions.
- Drafting complaints, preliminary injunction motions, dispositive motions and other briefs.
- Assisting with discovery, including document requests and deposition planning.
- Assisting with appellate briefing.
- Drafting amicus briefs, white papers, op-eds, blog posts, and letters or memoranda to government officials.
- Participating in moot courts and assisting counsel with preparation for oral arguments.
- Developing and submitting FOIA requests, including identifying recipients and shaping requests in a manner likely to lead to useful information.
- Handling administrative FOIA appeals and follow-up with agency FOIA officers.
- Drafting letters to agency Inspectors General, the Office of Special Counsel, or state Attorneys General alerting them to potential areas for investigation.
Students will have the opportunity to develop substantive knowledge, as well as litigation, oversight, and other practical skills. They will work closely with experienced former government attorneys.