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Winter 2021 Course

Lawyering for Justice in the United States

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

Note: This course is restricted to first-year J.D. students only.

The drop deadline for 1L January Experiential Term classes is December 4, 2020. Students may not drop a course if they do not have an offer to enroll in a different January Experiential Term course.

1L January Experiential Term courses are intensive learning courses. Class attendance is required in each course every day of the term, beginning Tuesday, January 5th. Students should plan accordingly and should not take on other work commitments during the term.

Exam Type: No Exam

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 lawyers toolkit are best suited to your task? And what are the limits on the lawyers 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 sessions led by experienced practitioners. Each day will be devoted to a different social justice problem – immigration, predatory lending, human rights, criminal justice, education, housing, building a solidarity economy, and more – and we will explore what it means to lawyer for justice 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. Finally, we will explore what the collective experience of 2020 – with a global pandemic, an intensifying movement for racial justice, and a divisive national election – will mean for social justice lawyering in the United States moving forward.

Note: There may be days throughout the winter term that require attendance beyond the scheduled times. Please refer to the course syllabus and page for more information.