Skip to content

Spring 2024 Clinic

Institute to End Mass Incarceration Clinic

To learn more about the Clinical Curriculum and Registration, please visit our Clinical Registration Center.
You can also find more information on How to Register for Clinics and How Clinical Credits Work.

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

Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.

Required Class Component: Anti-Carceral Organizing and Lawyering (2 spring clinical credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in the required course. For a description of the seminar component of the course, please see the corresponding course description.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: Yes. Applications are due by October 20, 2023. Please see below for more information.

Add/Drop Deadline: December 8, 2023.

LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic by the deadline (application instruction details are below).

Placement Site: HLS.

Description: The Institute to End Mass Incarceration is a research and advocacy program that works toward the dramatic decarceration of the United States, the eradication of the root causes of mass incarceration, and the promotion of new approaches to dealing with harm and safety in our communities. The Institute’s advocacy work is anchored to its clinical component, which aims to develop, teach, and practice a novel mode of movement oriented lawyering that helps to build the power of social movements working toward anti-carceral emancipatory futures. Working alongside and in support of community-led movements, the Institute helps to strategize and implement collective-action campaigns that catalyze the power of the people impacted by the penal system.

Clinic Work: Students can expect to participate directly in strategizing and executing movement-driven advocacy and litigation campaigns alongside people charged with crimes and communities harmed by mass incarceration, in conjunction with partnering lawyers, community-organizers, and local activists. Student practice will include brainstorming and designing campaign strategies; research and writing to produce strategy memoranda and litigation documents; and collaborating with partner organizers and attorneys to execute coordinated campaigns. Students enrolled in the course will serve as full and central members of the Institute’s advocacy team. Depending on the number of projects undertaken over the course of the semester, students can expect to be divided into teams with other classmates. All students, however, will participate in each weekly seminar session and will contribute to and support the work of students on other teams—perhaps assuming primary responsibility for aspects of other projects as needs arise.

Workflow Overview: Clinic work follows a weekly cadence. Within a given week, students are expected to set aside and block out 16-20 hours for clinic work (corresponding to credit enrollment). This blocked time is meant to be inclusive of seminar meetings and readings, team meetings, solo research and writing time, and team collaborative work time. Students will be asked to share their schedule blocks with their team and supervisor at the start of the semester.

Student work teams are structured and facilitated using a community organizing school of practice, which students are introduced to during an intensive weekend-long workshop at the start of the semester. (For more information on the workshop, see the accompanying seminar course description.) Students will use these skills to develop team norms, structures, and roles, facilitated by their clinic instructor who serves as the team’s coach during the semester.

Once the semester is underway, the weekly cadence is driven by a standing team meeting, where the team maps out its campaign-related goals and deliverables over the course of the semester, identifying a series of weekly deliverables (typically some form of written work product) that are designed to propel the team forward each week toward key milestones during the semester. Examples of milestones include completing a chapter of a strategy playbook for an ongoing organizing campaign, preparing briefing materials for strategy sessions with organizers who are preparing to execute organizing tactics with legal implications, or potentially preparing litigation or other materials related to the execution of legal tactics being pursued by the organizing coalition. A team can expect to have multiple milestones over the course of the semester, with smaller weekly targets moving toward the successful completion of each milestone.

Application Process: Admission to this course is by permission. Interested students should submit an application to Maggie Bay ( by no later than October 20, 2023. The application should include the following documents, combined into a single PDF:

  • a cover letter
  • a resume
  • a writing sample
  • a list of up to three references
  • a completed time spreadhseet (template here)

Cover letters should describe, if applicable, any prior or upcoming relevant work experience, including work on behalf of indigent clients, with criminal legal system issues, with organizing or activism campaigns, and/or with substantive brief writing or written advocacy beyond the first-year curriculum. No such experience, however, is required for admission to the course, nor should students without such experience feel discouraged from submitting an application. Your cover letter should also include a discussion of your extracurricular and other obligations during the semester and your plan for balancing your various commitments with clinic work.
Applicants may be asked to interview by phone or video conference.

Grading: Students will be graded based on a combination of their participation in seminar, their efforts to contribute to the team’s projects and deliverables over the course of the semester, and the quality of their formal and informal work product.