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Spring 2023 Seminar

Institute to End Mass Incarceration Clinical Seminar

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 14, 2022. Please see below for more information.

Add/Drop Deadline: December 2, 2022.

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

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 nontraditional mode of lawyering that helps to build the power of social movements, including by activating public defenders as systemic change agents. Working alongside and in support of community-led movements, the Institute’s advocacy work will help strategize and implement collective-action campaigns that catalyze the power of the very people impacted by the penal system. 

Through the seminar component of the course, students can expect to study the theory and practice of community organizing, the relationship between lawyers and social movements, and the power dynamics of the penal system that combine to produce mass incarceration. Through the clinical component of the course, 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 partner public defender offices, 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 across multiple cases. 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. 

Application Process: Admission to this course is by permission of the instructors. Interested students should submit an application to Maggie Bay ( by no later than October 14, 2022. The application should include the following documents, combined into a single PDF: a cover letter, a resume, a writing sample, and a list of up to three references.

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. Students who are engaged in potentially relevant work over the summer are welcome to supplement their application with an additional recommender and/or writing sample from their summer job, provided that all materials are received by the application deadline.

Applicants may be asked to interview with the instructors 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.