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Spring 2024 Seminar

Systemic Advocacy for Safe and Supportive Schools

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

Required Clinic Component: Education Law Clinic: Legislative and Administrative Lawyering (3-5 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: No.
Add/Drop Deadline: Early drop of November 17, 2023.
LLM Students:
LLM students may enroll in this clinic through Helios.

In this seminar students will learn the theory and practice the skills that will enable them to be effective legislative and administrative lawyers for antiracist, healing-centered, trauma-sensitive schools. Students will learn how to identify and understand systemic problems in education, assess the education system’s response to marginalized students, and reflect on the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary advocacy at the intersection of the fields of law, education, neurobiology, psychology, and public policy. A key feature of the course and clinic will be working directly with secondary school students in Massachusetts who are advocating to improve their own schools. In addition to several general substantive areas related to legislative and administrative lawyering (e.g., the constitutional roles and powers of the General Court, the executive branch and administrative agencies in Massachusetts; House and Senate procedure; the state budget process; and the art of lobbying), the seminar will also include readings and discussion about youth voice, the ethics of working with young people, and organizing strategies related to advocacy for racial and economic justice. The readings and activities in this seminar are designed to support and encourage reflection on the lawyering skills that students will develop and practice in their clinical work, which may include collaborating with impacted stakeholders to:  identify and research a problem, propose solutions and approaches, develop and draft a desired legislative remedy, map power relationships between stakeholders are in the education establishment, assess the political and legal landscape surrounding the desired remedy, build a vibrant and effective coalition, engage in oral presentations and negotiations, and analyze ethical issues that arise in legislative and administrative advocacy. The seminar will also introduce students to distinguished guest speakers from practice. The goal is for students to learn the unique role lawyers can play as part of a movement to create effective remedies for marginalized students.

There is no final examination for this course; students will prepare a presentation in which they lead a discussion with their colleagues based on an interesting issue or problem they encountered in their clinic advocacy during the semester. Class participation is part of the grade for this course.

Please note this course has a unique schedule. There will be two meetings of the course in each of the first two weeks of the semester in order to front load content so students are prepared to engage in advocacy. To compensate, there will be two weeks in the middle of the semester where there is no class meeting (March 2 and March 9). The course will meet on the following dates and times:

Tue, Jan 23, 8 – 10am*Thu, Jan 25, 1:30 – 3:30 pmTue, Jan 30, 8 – 10 am*Thu, Feb 1, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Feb 8, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Feb 15, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Feb 22, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Mar 21, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Mar 28, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Apr 4, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Apr 11, 1:30 – 3:30 pmThu, Apr 18, 1:30 – 3:30 pm

* = Irregular course meeting time

Please also note that students are required to schedule a substantial portion of their clinic office hours for the associated clinic (Education Law Clinic: Legislative and Administrative Lawyering) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays because these are the days the Massachusetts legislature is typically in session. Beginning in the third week of the semester, students will be required to attend a one hour weekly team meeting each Tuesday morning from 9:00-10:00 am.