Poverty Law

This course provides an introduction to the relationship between law and poverty, including the relevance of legal doctrine, policy and practice to the significant inequality in income, assets and basic social goods impacting tens of millions of people in the United States.

We will begin by considering historical and contemporary trends in domestic poverty, U.S. social welfare policy, the legal framework under which poverty-related claims have been adjudicated, and the role of lawyers in combatting poverty.

Grounded in poverty data, policy arguments, legal doctrine and practice, we will explore modern government anti-poverty programs and issues such as welfare, work, housing, health, education and criminalization.

We will conclude by considering non-governmental approaches to combating poverty, including market-based solutions and international human rights, with an emphasis on the role of law, lawyers and legal institutions in such efforts.

Drawing on the rich expertise of those in Durham and beyond, we will occasionally be joined by guest speakers. The primary textbook for the course is Poverty Law, Policy and Practice (Aspen/Wolters Kluwer, 2014).

Course Frequency*
Course Areas of Practice

Sections

Spring 2017
2017
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

470.01 3
  • Take-home examination
Sara Sternberg Greene M/W M 2:00-3:20 PM/ W 1:45-3:05 PM 4049

This course provides an introduction to the relationship between law and poverty, including the relevance of legal doctrine, policy and practice to the significant inequality in income, assets and basic social goods impacting tens of millions of people in the United States.

We will begin by considering historical and contemporary trends in domestic poverty, U.S. social welfare policy, the legal framework under which poverty-related claims have been adjudicated, and the role of lawyers in combatting poverty.

Grounded in poverty data, policy arguments, legal doctrine and practice, we will explore modern government anti-poverty programs and issues such as welfare, work, housing, health, education and criminalization.

We will conclude by considering non-governmental approaches to combating poverty, including market-based solutions and international human rights, with an emphasis on the role of law, lawyers and legal institutions in such efforts.

Drawing on the rich expertise of those in Durham and beyond, we will occasionally be joined by guest speakers. The primary textbook for the course is Poverty Law, Policy and Practice (Aspen/Wolters Kluwer, 2014).

Syllabus: File 470.01.Spring2017-syllabus.docx

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2015
Spring 2015
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

470.01 2 Carol Spruill Tu 3:45-5:35 pm Room 3171
This seminar is a broad study of poverty, poverty programs, and the U.S. civil justice system. Class topics include the history of and current access to the civil justice system, the demographics of poverty, a skills workshop on client-centered interviewing, and substantive topics such as food and income programs, health law, economic development, domestic violence law, child care law, employment, and housing. Guests who are practicing lawyers and who are specialists in the topics presented will address several of the classes. The instructor considers this to be primarily a seminar with a small clinical component. Although it is a seminar, typically the enrollment is higher than the usual seminar. Enrollment currently is capped at 16.The seminar meets for two hours per week and two course credits are awarded. Students can choose to earn a third credit through the clinical component. Students choosing the clinical component work for a minimum of twenty hours over the semester. Most clinic placements are at the local Legal Aid office, but on many occasions, the instructor can help students who are interested to secure placements as appropriate with policy advocacy groups,Guardian Ad Litem attorney placements, private lawyers in the community representing low-income people, and an additional 20-hours with other specified Duke Law clinics (with the permission of those instructors). The course instructor will work with students to find suitable placements.The Course Homepage on the Web includes the syllabus, links to related sites, and a web-based discussion group. Students may use this site to continue class discussion. Occasional homework assignments require posting messages on assigned topics.A variety of pedagogical methods are used to encourage active class interaction and participation. These include hypotheticals, simulations, small group work, and a "Poverty IQ Test."The course grade is based on a 20-to 30-page paper. (A limited number of students can meet their Advanced Writing Requirement through this seminar and their papers are a minimum of 30 pages.) In the papers, students conduct an in-depth exploration of an area of Poverty Law in which they have developed an interest. Some may choose to use their placement experience as a starting point, but most pick a different topic. Students must also complete the web-posting assignments to pass the course. The quality of participation in other aspects of the course may alter the paper grade slightly. These aspects include meaningful work on class assignments, class discussion, web discussion, class presentations, and clinical work beyond the minimal required.The instructor requires class attendance and does not allow laptops, phones, or other computer devices to be used during class time.This class is well suited for students who plan to work in public interest law through legal services, non-profits or the government. It is useful for students who will join firms and hope to participate in law firm pro bono projects. In addition, students who plan to be active on community boards or in elected or appointed offices may find this information useful. It is meant to expose students to a wide variety of topics within poverty law and provide students with the means to do more detailed work in the areas that they find particularly interesting.(Students enrolled in this course are not in the Intensive Training Session required by other clinics at the start of the semester.)This is a two-credit seminar with an optional third credit for at least 20 hours of a clinical externship.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2014
Spring 2014
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

470.01 2 Carol Spruill Tu 3:00-4:50 pm Tu 3:00-4:50 pm Room 4044
This seminar is a broad study of poverty, poverty programs, and the U.S. civil justice system. Class topics include the history of and current access to the civil justice system, the demographics of poverty, a skills workshop on client-centered interviewing, and substantive topics such as food and income programs, health law, economic development, domestic violence law, child care law, employment, and housing. Guests who are practicing lawyers and who are specialists in the topics presented will address several of the classes. The instructor considers this to be primarily a seminar with a small clinical component. Although it is a seminar, typically the enrollment is higher than the usual seminar. Enrollment currently is capped at 16.The seminar meets for two hours per week and two course credits are awarded. Students can choose to earn a third credit through the clinical component. Students choosing the clinical component work for a minimum of twenty hours over the semester. Most clinic placements are at the local Legal Aid office, but on many occasions, the instructor can help students who are interested to secure placements as appropriate with policy advocacy groups,Guardian Ad Litem attorney placements, private lawyers in the community representing low-income people, and an additional 20-hours with other specified Duke Law clinics (with the permission of those instructors). The course instructor will work with students to find suitable placements.The Course Homepage on the Web includes the syllabus, links to related sites, and a web-based discussion group. Students may use this site to continue class discussion. Occasional homework assignments require posting messages on assigned topics.A variety of pedagogical methods are used to encourage active class interaction and participation. These include hypotheticals, simulations, small group work, and a "Poverty IQ Test."The course grade is based on a 20-to 30-page paper. (A limited number of students can meet their Advanced Writing Requirement through this seminar and their papers are a minimum of 30 pages.) In the papers, students conduct an in-depth exploration of an area of Poverty Law in which they have developed an interest. Some may choose to use their placement experience as a starting point, but most pick a different topic. Students must also complete the web-posting assignments to pass the course. The quality of participation in other aspects of the course may alter the paper grade slightly. These aspects include meaningful work on class assignments, class discussion, web discussion, class presentations, and clinical work beyond the minimal required.The instructor requires class attendance and does not allow laptops, phones, or other computer devices to be used during class time.This class is well suited for students who plan to work in public interest law through legal services, non-profits or the government. It is useful for students who will join firms and hope to participate in law firm pro bono projects. In addition, students who plan to be active on community boards or in elected or appointed offices may find this information useful. It is meant to expose students to a wide variety of topics within poverty law and provide students with the means to do more detailed work in the areas that they find particularly interesting.(Students enrolled in this course are not in the Intensive Training Session required by other clinics at the start of the semester.)This is a two-credit seminar with an optional third credit for at least 20 hours of a clinical externship.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2013
Spring 2013
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

470.01 2 Carol Spruill Tu 4:30-6:20 pm Room 4046
This seminar is a broad study of poverty, poverty programs, and the U.S. civil justice system. Class topics include the history of and current access to the civil justice system, the demographics of poverty, a skills workshop on client-centered interviewing, and substantive topics such as food and income programs, health law, economic development, domestic violence law, child care law, employment, and housing. Guests who are practicing lawyers and who are specialists in the topics presented will address several of the classes. The instructor considers this to be primarily a seminar with a small clinical component. Although it is a seminar, typically the enrollment is higher than the usual seminar. Enrollment currently is capped at 16.The seminar meets for two hours per week and two course credits are awarded. Students can choose to earn a third credit through the clinical component. Students choosing the clinical component work for a minimum of twenty hours over the semester. Most clinic placements are at the local Legal Aid office, but on many occasions, the instructor can help students who are interested to secure placements as appropriate with policy advocacy groups,Guardian Ad Litem attorney placements, private lawyers in the community representing low-income people, and an additional 20-hours with other specified Duke Law clinics (with the permission of those instructors). The course instructor will work with students to find suitable placements.The Course Homepage on the Web includes the syllabus, links to related sites, and a web-based discussion group. Students may use this site to continue class discussion. Occasional homework assignments require posting messages on assigned topics.A variety of pedagogical methods are used to encourage active class interaction and participation. These include hypotheticals, simulations, small group work, and a "Poverty IQ Test."The course grade is based on a 20-to 30-page paper. (A limited number of students can meet their Advanced Writing Requirement through this seminar and their papers are a minimum of 30 pages.) In the papers, students conduct an in-depth exploration of an area of Poverty Law in which they have developed an interest. Some may choose to use their placement experience as a starting point, but most pick a different topic. Students must also complete the web-posting assignments to pass the course. The quality of participation in other aspects of the course may alter the paper grade slightly. These aspects include meaningful work on class assignments, class discussion, web discussion, class presentations, and clinical work beyond the minimal required.The instructor requires class attendance and does not allow laptops, phones, or other computer devices to be used during class time.This class is well suited for students who plan to work in public interest law through legal services, non-profits or the government. It is useful for students who will join firms and hope to participate in law firm pro bono projects. In addition, students who plan to be active on community boards or in elected or appointed offices may find this information useful. It is meant to expose students to a wide variety of topics within poverty law and provide students with the means to do more detailed work in the areas that they find particularly interesting.(Students enrolled in this course are not in the Intensive Training Session required by other clinics at the start of the semester.)This is a two-credit seminar with an optional third credit for at least 20 hours of a clinical externship.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2012
Spring 2012
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

470.01 2 Carol Spruill Tu 4:40-6:30 pm Tu 4:40-6:30 pm Room 4042
This seminar is a broad study of poverty, poverty programs, and the U.S. civil justice system. Class topics include the history of and current access to the civil justice system, the demographics of poverty, a skills workshop on client-centered interviewing, and substantive topics such as food and income programs, health law, economic development, domestic violence law, child care law, employment, and housing. Guests who are practicing lawyers and who are specialists in the topics presented will address several of the classes. The instructor considers this to be primarily a seminar with a small clinical component. Although it is a seminar, typically the enrollment is higher than the usual seminar. Enrollment currently is capped at 16.The seminar meets for two hours per week and two course credits are awarded. Students can choose to earn a third credit through the clinical component. Students choosing the clinical component work for a minimum of twenty hours over the semester. Most clinic placements are at the local Legal Aid office, but on many occasions, the instructor can help students who are interested to secure placements as appropriate with policy advocacy groups,Guardian Ad Litem attorney placements, private lawyers in the community representing low-income people, and an additional 20-hours with other specified Duke Law clinics (with the permission of those instructors). The course instructor will work with students to find suitable placements.The Course Homepage on the Web includes the syllabus, links to related sites, and a web-based discussion group. Students may use this site to continue class discussion. Occasional homework assignments require posting messages on assigned topics.A variety of pedagogical methods are used to encourage active class interaction and participation. These include hypotheticals, simulations, small group work, and a "Poverty IQ Test."The course grade is based on a 20-to 30-page paper. (A limited number of students can meet their Advanced Writing Requirement through this seminar and their papers are a minimum of 30 pages.) In the papers, students conduct an in-depth exploration of an area of Poverty Law in which they have developed an interest. Some may choose to use their placement experience as a starting point, but most pick a different topic. Students must also complete the web-posting assignments to pass the course. The quality of participation in other aspects of the course may alter the paper grade slightly. These aspects include meaningful work on class assignments, class discussion, web discussion, class presentations, and clinical work beyond the minimal required.The instructor requires class attendance and does not allow laptops, phones, or other computer devices to be used during class time.This class is well suited for students who plan to work in public interest law through legal services, non-profits or the government. It is useful for students who will join firms and hope to participate in law firm pro bono projects. In addition, students who plan to be active on community boards or in elected or appointed offices may find this information useful. It is meant to expose students to a wide variety of topics within poverty law and provide students with the means to do more detailed work in the areas that they find particularly interesting.(Students enrolled in this course are not in the Intensive Training Session required by other clinics at the start of the semester.)This is a two-credit seminar with an optional third credit for at least 20 hours of a clinical externship.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.