Winter 2023 • Course
Lawyering for Justice in the United States
Note: This course is restricted to first-year J.D. students only.
The drop deadline for 1L January Experiential Term (JET) classes is Friday, December 2, 2022. Students may not drop a course if they do not have an offer to enroll in a different JET course.
1L JET courses are intensive learning courses. Class attendance is required in each course every day of the term. Students should make their travel plans accordingly. Students 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 lawyer’s toolkit are best suited to your task? And what are the limits on the lawyer’s 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 interactive sessions led by experienced practitioners teaching and lawyering in the HLS clinical programs and their community partners. Each day, a clinical teacher working on a different social justice problem – immigration, predatory lending, human rights, criminal justice, education, housing, building a solidarity economy, and more – will share their thoughts on what it means to lawyer for justice and will lead students 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. The course will end in a full-day “hackathon” in which students will apply human-centered design principles to the development of strategies and tactics to address one or more contemporary justice problems.
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.