The Community Group Advocacy and Social Change Lawyering Clinic is designed for students considering a career in social change lawyering and interested in learning how to work as effective partners with activist community groups pushing for social change. The Clinic, which is only offered in Spring semester, focuses on the range of skills and persuasive strategies that social change lawyers utilize, including grassroots lobbying, legislative drafting, community organizing/mobilizing, community legal education, media campaigns, and/or organizing public hearings. Students work in two- or three-person teams and are placed with Bay Area social justice lawyers or community groups to work 16-20 hours per week on a defined project affecting lower-income, working-class, of-color, and other marginalized communities. Collectively, the projects introduce students to the broad range of approaches to making social change and to working as partners with community activists and groups, rather than simply navigating the legal system on their behalf.
The Clinic is taught by Ascanio Piomelli, advisor to the Social Justice Lawyering Concentration, and an analyst and proponent of what has variously been labeled as a "democratic," "collaborative," or "rebellious" approach to social change lawyering.
In addition to the fieldwork, I gained a lot personally from the comprehensive and fascinating reading on various aspects of social justice, rebellious, and collaborative lawyering in the Group Advocacy Clinic's seminar. These small group discussions tackled complex, challenging topics that became foundational in my lawyering practice and personal philosophy, conversations that I wasn't finding elsewhere in law school. The readings focused on diverse and nontraditional approaches to the law, including zealous advocacy in community organizing, community legal education, and direct services. I also formed a great friendship with my partner and a significant bond to the rest of my classmates. I am very grateful to Professor Ascanio Piomelli for his mentorship and the Group Advocacy Clinic for teaching me how to be a radical lawyer.
Classroom Component: There are four hours of regularly scheduled seminar time per week. Discussions integrate extensive readings on different approaches to making social change and their application to students' fieldwork projects. Class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:50 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Fieldwork Component: Substantive legal areas vary each semester, as the emphasis is on assembling an array of projects with diverse approaches to effecting social change.Students will need to coordinate schedules with their class partner(s) to ensure they have at least 12 regular, recurring hours each week to work together on fieldwork projects. Student teams will also schedule a regular one-hour meeting with Prof. Piomelli to discuss their field work and the weekly fieldnotes they prepare analyzing their work.
Units: Students receive 8 units. The 4-unit non-GPA class and 4-unit fieldwork component, graded pass-fail, must be taken concurrently. For students who have not taken the CJC Individual Representation Clinic, an additional 9th unit (of independent study credit) is awarded for the completion by mid-January of three short writing assignments on key readings and films from that class.
Open to: 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th semester students.
Prerequisites: Consent of the instructor.
To enroll: The clinic will not be offered until academic year 2016-17.