Critical Race Lawyering Civil Rights Clinic

LW.12863 / LW.12864
Professor Erika K. Wilson
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Not offered 2024-25
7 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.

Course Description

The Critical Race Lawyering Civil Rights (“CRLCR”) Clinic is an intensive semester-long experiential course in which law students engage in direct representation of individual or organizational clients in areas where discrimination and inequality are pervasive. The CRLCR clinic docket will include a wide range of substantive types of cases including but not limited to discrimination in education, housing, employment, or public accommodations, enforcing constitutional rights for incarcerated individuals, and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. The clinic engages students in efforts to advance racial and social justice through litigation, education and outreach, and policy advocacy.

A unique aspect of the clinic is that students will learn valuable lawyering skills while also learning to apply critical legal theory frameworks to their casework. For example, Critical Race Theory (“CRT”) is an analytical tool used to frame legal (and non-legal) problems concerning race, inequality, and power. CRT acknowledges the communally constitutive connection between race (or membership in any traditionally subordinated group) and the law. Students in the CRLCR Clinic will learn how to utilize the valuable insights offered by CRT to advocate for their individual clients and to address systemic issues of inequality based on race, class, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or membership in any traditionally marginalized group.


Students will engage in direct representation of individual and/or organizational clients in active litigation. Students will also complete non-litigation-based advocacy projects such as creating policy briefs, formulating advocacy strategies to advance local legislation, and community outreach. Students may also draft amicus briefs advancing novel legal theories using critical theory frameworks.

In prior years, a representative sample of the field work has included:

  • Represented a client in filing a complaint with the  Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) and successfully mediated the claim;
  • Co-counseled a lawsuit brought against a prison and individual officers challenging the constitutionality of the prison’s practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant people during labor and post-partum;
  • Represented several defendants in a lawsuit in which they were accused of defamation and civil conspiracy for reporting a health care provider’s racially insensitive comments and conduct, and successfully argued a motion for summary judgment;
  • Authored an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of using peremptory strikes based on a prospective jurors’ support for Black Lives Matter;
  • Represented incarcerated persons with life sentences in seeking parole;
  • Represented persons in filing expungement petitions;
  • Coordinated an advocacy campaign regarding the collateral consequences of criminal convictions;
  • Coordinated an advocacy campaign regarding meaningful access to the courts for persons with disabilities.


During the seminar, students are taught critical theories regarding lawyering and race, substantive civil rights law, and engage in case rounds. Through simulations and discussions, students are also introduced to foundational lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, case planning, case theory development, and oral advocacy. Finally, students also explore how to apply critical legal frameworks to their casework and advocacy projects.

Application Procedure

Students interested in applying for the clinic should submit the standard application, resume, and transcript online through CAMS. To arrange an interview, please use the CAMS system as well. If you have questions regarding the application procedure, please contact Erika Wilson.


* 7 credits include 3 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits.