Civil Rights and Racial Justice Clinic

LW.10627 / LW.10559
Professor Deborah N. Archer
Professor David Chen
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Year-long course
14 credits*
No pre- or co-requisites.

Course Description

The Civil Rights and Racial Justice Clinic provides students with the opportunity to work on a wide range of civil rights and social justice matters through direct client representation, impact litigation, and strategic advocacy. Through the clinic, students join a community of advocates working to promote and protect civil rights and community equity; challenge issues of economic and political inequality, poverty, and racial injustice; and help empower traditionally marginalized communities. The clinic’s work has a particular focus on challenging entrenched racial inequality and advancing distributive justice and equal opportunity. Students will also have an opportunity to work alongside collaborative organizational partners to conduct legal and factual research, formulate policy, and strategize legal responses to pressing civil rights challenges.

Students in the clinic will work under the direct supervision of Professors Deborah Archer and David Chen.

Students in the clinic will attend a seminar designed to complement their fieldwork. The seminar will cover the substantive law at issue in their casework, advocacy and litigation skills, the political and social contexts of civil rights advocacy, and ethical considerations important to social justice advocacy.

Learning Outcomes

Students participating in the Civil Rights Clinic will develop foundational skills necessary to be strategic and creative civil rights and social justice advocates. These skills include fact-finding, interviewing, counseling, impact advocacy, litigation, and community practice. Students will also learn frameworks to address questions of ethical, political, and professional responsibility related to civil rights work.

In previous years, the fieldwork has included, among many other matters:

  • Authored amicus curiae briefs in the United States Supreme Court.
  • Represented individual plaintiffs challenging race, gender, religious, sexual orientation, and disability discrimination.
  • Co-counseled with major civil rights organization to develop litigation challenging discriminatory policing practices in New York City.
  • Co-counseled with major civil rights organization to challenge racially discriminatory redistricting in southern states.
  • Represented residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi in a voting rights challenge before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Partnered with major civil rights organization to investigate hospitals that administering drug tests to poor pregnant people without their consent and developed litigation and advocacy options.
  • Developed and implemented an advocacy campaign regarding economic and racial justice in Syracuse, New York.
  • Worked with communities to challenge racially discriminatory infrastructure development projects.
  • Worked with a youth led advocacy organization to challenge racial and economic inequality in the New York City public school system.
  • Developed advocacy campaigns to challenge housing discrimination against people with varying degrees of contact with the criminal legal system.

Application Procedure

Students interested in taking the Clinic should submit the standard application, resume, and transcript online through CAMS, the online application system. Some students may be contacted to interview with Professor Archer. If you have questions about the clinic, please contact Professor Archer via email.

Student Contacts

Patrick Archer
Chloe Bartholomew
Olivia Fritz
Will Haskell
Fatoumata Kaba
Suchait Kahlon
Daniel Pita
Conor Vance
Byul Yoon
Shawn Young

* 14 credits include 10 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits.