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In recent years, there has been a significant groundswell of grassroots activism, organizing, and coalition building around social, racial, gender, and economic justice issues in the U.S. This creates new possibilities for generating positive social change, and lawyers are in a unique position to be able to support, strengthen, and magnify such efforts. This interactive workshop will introduce participants to the theory and practice of “movement lawyering,” and is designed to assist lawyers and law students in becoming better equipped to participate within mass movements and support grassroots organizing. Topics to be covered include: what is movement lawyering and why is it necessary, working with grassroots organizers, lawyering for power-building, how lawyers often fail social movements, how legal strategies fit alongside other social change strategies, and the disconnect between conventional legal training and the skills needed to support social movements. Several of the most effective movement lawyers and grassroots organizers in the country will participate as guest speakers.
Jim Freeman is the Founder and Executive Director of the Grassroots Action Support Team, which assists community-based organizations across the country in their efforts to create transformative social change around key social, racial, gender, and economic justice issues. He has well over a decade of experience as a “movement lawyer” assisting dozens of local, state, and national grassroots campaigns to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, address mass incarceration and criminalization, protect voting rights, promote educational equity, protect immigrants’ rights, and address health disparities.
Freeman was formerly a Senior Attorney at Advancement Project, where he directed the Ending the Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse Track project. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Law School, and was an editor on the Harvard Law Review. Freeman is a former Skadden Fellow, Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School, and Commissioner on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He has taught courses on movement lawyering at Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and is one of the co-creators of the national Movement Lawyering Bootcamp. Freeman has published dozens of reports and articles on a variety of racial justice issues and the practice of movement lawyering.
Alexi Freeman is Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Externships and Public Interest Initiatives at Denver Law. An experienced movement lawyer, she focuses her efforts on building the next generation of social justice advocates. Freeman teaches a range of social change, movement lawyering, and racial justice courses at Denver Law, and has published multiple articles on movement lawyering and social justice teaching within legal education. Her pro bono work similarly centers on supporting local movements in their campaigns for racial justice across issue areas. She is a member of the National Association of Pro Bono Professionals and on the Board of Governors for the Society of American Law Teachers.
Prior to joining Denver Law, Freeman was an attorney at Advancement Project, a national civil rights group, where she assisted grassroots organizations across the country on social justice advocacy campaigns around education and juvenile justice policy, housing, and voting rights issues. Freeman is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Law School, where she was recognized for her leadership on campus and served as Head Class Marshall and Vice President of the Black Law Students Association. She first became interested in issues of social justice growing up in an interracial and interfaith family.
If you or an event participant requires disability-related accommodations, please contact HLS Accessibility Services in the Dean of Students Office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (617) 495-1880 in advance of the event.