Equal Justice Clinic   

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Professor: Jenny-Brooke Condon

Offered: Fall & Spring semesters

Credits: 5

INTRODUCTION

The Equal Justice Clinic handles a variety of civil rights cases with a common focus on ensuring disadvantaged groups equal access to justice. Through impact litigation and occasional direct service client representation, the Equal Justice Clinic focuses on immigrants’ rights, prisoners’ rights, and gender-based violence and discrimination. The Clinic is designed to develop students’ sense of individual responsibility to real clients while working collaboratively with other members of a larger legal team to address some of the most critical civil rights and constitutional law issues of our time.

CLINICAL LAW PRACTICE

In the four-credit casework component of the clinic, students work on real cases for real clients, often while co-counseling with leading public interest organizations, such as the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights. In recent years, clinic students have worked on the following cases and projects:

  1. Freedom of Information Act litigation in the Southern District of New York seeking to expose information about private prisoner contractors’ role in immigration detention;
  2. a class action on behalf of prisoners challenging conditions at a local county jail during the period of court-directed monitoring of a settlement agreement;
  3. post-conviction proceedings involving an indigent, death-sentenced client in Alabama;
  4. an equal protection challenge on behalf of a class of immigrants denied access to state-funded public benefits on account of their alienage-status;
  5. monitoring of a settlement agreement that addresses the treatment afforded a class of civilly-committed sex offenders;
  6. a challenge to Custom and Border Patrol’s violation of migrants’ rights on the southern border;
  7. individual claims to asylum protection by women fleeing gender-based persecution and violence; and,
  8. an Amicus Brief on behalf of international law scholars submitted in a federal court appeal involving the Convention Against Torture.

THE SEMINAR

The two-hour one-credit seminar component of the clinic involves weekly strategy sessions about clinical projects and a skills curriculum focused on transferrable lawyering skills, including client interviewing, crafting effective case theories, applying ethics in practice, legal writing, factual investigation, deposition skills, and client counseling. Through a combination of skills instruction, simulations, and exercises, the seminar addresses core lawyering skills while also exposing students to topical issues of social justice. During the seminar, students engage in regular “case rounds” requiring each to present current issues in their cases, anticipate problems, strategize solutions, and think through the potential consequences of lawyering choices. The experience aims to develop and refine students’ lawyering skills, but most importantly to provide students with a foundation of ethical and reflective lawyering that will foster continued self-directed learning as a lawyer.