New York Civil Liberties Clinic

LW.11798 / LW.10510
Professor Claudia Angelos
Professor Corey Stoughton
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Spring semester
5 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.


The New York Civil Liberties Clinic provides an opportunity for students to handle civil rights impact litigation at the New York Civil Liberties Union under the supervision of clinic faculty. The students’ cases primarily involve racial and economic justice issues but may span the range of issues on the docket of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Course Description

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is the constitutional conscience of New York and one of the nation’s foremost defenders of civil liberties and civil rights. Founded in 1951 as the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, it has a central office in New York City with more than forty staff members, eight regional offices, and more than 50,000 members across the state. Its core mission is to defend and promote the fundamental principles and values embodied in the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, and the New York Constitution, including freedom of speech and religion, and the right to privacy, equality and due process of law for all New Yorkers.

Clinic students handle cases on the NYCLU docket under the supervision of Professor Corey Stoughton, senior staff attorney at the NYCLU, and Professor Claudia Angelos of the full-time NYU faculty. In addition to the racial and economic justice issues that make up the core of Professor Stoughton’s docket, students may also have the opportunity to work on other matters on the NYCLU docket, such as free speech, education issues, religious freedom, immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, and the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. Clinic students are responsible for their cases and clients and for the tasks that the litigation calls for, including making intake decisions, handling clients, case planning and strategy, taking depositions, drafting pleadings, and preparing and arguing motions. Because the cases are complex, students typically work on them in teams of two or three. The clinic has dedicated workspace at the NYCLU and the students’ work is an important component of the NYCLU’s legal program.

This year students have worked on a variety of cases and projects, including litigation alleging that the delivery of indigent criminal defense services in New York statewide is unconstitutional; a First Amendment challenge to an anti-immigrant ordinance banning day laborers’ solicitation of work; a First Amendment challenge to the arrest of a man who used profanity on a form required for payment of a traffic ticket; and unconstitutional conditions of confinement at a local jail. In recent years clinic students handled cases including a First Amendment challenge to a law making "cyber-bullying" a crime; a constitutional challenge to the use of TASER weapons on a high school student; and the state’s warrantless use of GPS tracking on a worker’s personal automobile to collect evidence of workplace misconduct. Much of the clinic’s work is described on the NYCLU’s web site, which we encourage you to visit.

The fieldwork is supported by a weekly 2-hour seminar that considers the challenges that face civil rights lawyers, their adversaries, and other participants in the process. The seminar involves a simulation program in pretrial skills that provides students with an opportunity to engage in the full range of lawyering activities in the pretrial process, including client counseling, drafting, media advocacy, motions, discovery and depositions, and negotiation. It also holds discussions of the issues raised by institutional civil rights work. A third hour of seminar time is devoted to discussion of the challenges that students face in their cases, in order more effectively to advance the interests of the clinic’s clients and also so that the rich field work in which the clinic is involved becomes a basis for broader student learning.

Application Procedure

If you are interested in applying to the NY Civil Liberties Clinic, please submit the standard application, resume and transcript online through CAMS. Selection of students is not based on interviews; however, you are welcome if you like to come to a small group meeting of applicants and faculty so that we can have the opportunity to meet each other and so that we can answer the questions you may have. We will contact all applicants to set up a time once all applications are submitted.

Student Contacts

Clinic participants in the 2013-14 academic year are:

Fall 2013
Jason Barnes
Matthew Bartlett
Atoosa Esmaili
Cara Gagliano
Douglas Keith
Sean Petterson
Lisa Sangoi
Randal Wilhite
Spring 2014
Richard Fortunato
Annie Friedman
Rebecca Gerome
Caitlin Gray
Amy Oden
Jonathan Ossip
Samantha Schnier
Michael Szeto

* 5 credits include 2 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits.