LGBT Rights Clinic

LW.11130 / LW.11483
Professor Michael Kavey
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Spring semester
5 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.

Course Description

The LGBT Rights Clinic will be offered in Fall 2014 or Spring 2015. The clinic is open to a maximum of 8 students. The clinic will combine fieldwork at local non-profit organizations with a weekly seminar on cutting edge legal issues that LGBT people face.

The clinic and seminar will be taught by an adjunct professor who is being chosen this spring. The new appointment will be announced before the end of Spring 2014.


The fieldwork will continue to be with LGBT rights organizations. The placements will depend, in part, on the adjunct ultimately chosen. Currently under consideration is whether to move some or all fieldwork to assignments focused on litigation of marriage equality cases or other similar impact efforts in the LGBTQ field. Students applying this spring should indicate whether s/he has any particular fieldwork, interests that might influence her/his ultimate decision whether to take the clinic.

Students are currently placed with five LGBT rights organizations in New York City. Placement organizations have always changed slightly from year to year although the change in leadership this coming year may bring bigger adjustments

It may be helpful to outline the clinic work as it has been configured in the current and prior years. Students placed with Immigration Equality represent LGBT asylum seekers and work on policy/advocacy issues on behalf of LGBT immigrants and their US partners. Students placed with The Sylvia Rivera Law Project work on legal issues that affect low-income transgender individuals, such as conditions of confinement; employment discrimination; and/or obtaining the appropriate gender marker on identity documents. Additionally, students are currently placed with the Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban Justice Center working on issues relating to foster care; legal name changes; and/or immigration law. Students are also placed with the LGBT Rights Project of the New York Legal Assistance Group where they work on a variety of issues affecting low-income LGBT people, including housing, name changes, and estate planning. Finally, students are placed with the Anti-Violence Project where they work on issues of domestic violence and hate crimes in the LGBT community.

In addition to these fieldwork placements, each clinic student will attend at least one legal clinic held at the LGBT Community Center by the Lesbian, Gay, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGal). The LeGal clinics round out the students’ experiences and expose them to a variety of legal issues faced by the LGBT community, in addition to the area in which the student specializes for the semester.


The seminar meets once a week and explores the leading legal issues that LGBT people face, but with an emphasis on the relationship of these issues to clinical issues. Topics included are marriage and other forms of couples’ recognition and why these issues have become central to the LGBT rights movement. The seminar will also cover issues unique to transgender individuals, such as access to necessary medical care, detention issues, and where transgender rights fit within the LGBT rubric. The seminar currently has class sessions that relate to the substantive areas of the clinical placements, including: immigration law, discrimination law, and housing law. That is likely to remain true in the coming year, although the substantive areas may change somewhat. Materials and exercises on important practice concepts and skills fill out the remaining seminar curriculum for the semester. These are chosen based upon what is needed to prepare students to function professionally on fieldwork assignments. Students are expected to participate actively in class and make occasional presentations on readings and/or fieldwork, as well as writing several short papers.

The course credits will be 2 credits for the seminar, which meets weekly for 2 hours, and 3 credits for fieldwork for a total of 5 credits. The seminar meeting time is to be determined, but has typically been scheduled in the evening to accommodate the adjunct’s schedule. The LeGal clinics meet on Tuesdays from 6-8 pm.

Application Procedure

Students need not limit themselves to 300 words in answer to Question 4 and should use that space to articulate fieldwork interest and also whether fall or spring semester is a preferred semester. Applicants should sign up in CAMS for an interview which will give you a chance to explore further how the clinic is taking shape for the coming year. If you have any questions about the clinic, please contact Professor Sarah Burns.

Student Contacts

Spring 2014
Johnston Chen
Wendy Cheng
Liana Dixon
David Glasgow
Emily Juneau
Adam Sapper
Spring 2013
Michael Braun
Shira Burton
Theresa Troupson
Geoffrey Wertime
John-Paul Young

* 5 credits consist of 2 credits for the seminar and 3 credits for fieldwork.