Civil Rights Clinic

LW.10627 / LW.10559
Professor Deborah N. Archer
Professor Johanna E. Miller
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 10 students
Year-long course
14 credits*
No pre- or co-requisites.


The Civil Rights Clinic provides students with the opportunity to work on a wide range of civil rights and social justice matters through direct client representation, appellate advocacy, and the development of advocacy campaigns. Students participating in the Civil Rights Clinic will develop foundational skills necessary to be strategic and creative social justice advocates.

Through the clinic, students join a community of advocates working to promote and protect civil rights and challenge issues of economic and political inequality, poverty, and racial injustice.  

Course Description

The Civil Rights Clinic provides students with the opportunity to develop the foundational skills needed to be a civil rights lawyer through direct involvement in investigations, litigation, appellate advocacy, and public advocacy campaigns. Working under the direct supervision of Professors Deborah Archer and Johanna Miller, students will be introduced to civil rights advocacy in a variety of contexts and forums by working on behalf of indigent, institutional, or pro bono clients on a range of civil rights matters, including employment discrimination, educational equity, voting rights, and criminal justice reform. Specifically, students participating in the clinic may have the opportunity to:

  • Work with clients and communities to challenge discrimination;
  • Develop interpersonal skills through client interviewing and counseling as well as through co-counseling and partnering with leading civil rights organizations;

  • Gain experience in litigation planning, including fact investigation and development of case theory; 

  • Develop oral advocacy skills;

  • Hone research and written advocacy skills through drafting appellate briefs and litigation-related documents; and

  • Negotiate settlements.

In previous years, the fieldwork has included:

  • Authored amicus curiae briefs in the United States Supreme Court.
  • Represented pro se employment discrimination plaintiffs challenging race, gender, religious, and disability discrimination in mediations in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • 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 develop and file litigation challenging aspects of Texas’ discriminatory voter registration laws.
  • Represented residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi in voting rights challenge before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Partnered with major civil rights organization to investigate the practice of drug testing poor pregnant women without consent and explored litigation and advocacy options.
  • Developed and implemented an advocacy campaign regarding economic and racial justice in Syracuse, New York.
  • Met with elected officials in Albany, New York to discuss pending legislation on police accountability and transparency.

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

Application Procedure

Students interested in taking the Clinic should submit the standard application, resume, and transcript online through CAMS, the online application system. There will be an interview which can be scheduled on CAMS. If you have questions about the clinic, please contact Professor Archer via email.

Student Contacts

Matthew Joy Chen
Kimberly Fayette
Sofia Fernandez Gold
Isaac Kaplan
Zachary Mason
Clarence Okoh
Samantha Osaki
Alexander Rose
Carley Russell
Kevin Tanaka
Carrie Wolk
Matthew Wollin

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