242.01 Social Justice Lawyering

Working for social justice is an important part of the professional obligations of all lawyers, and for many law students, their initial motivation for pursuing a legal education. This course is designed to introduce students to the ways in which lawyers committed to social justice engage with communities, individual clients, social and political causes and legal systems to help effect social change. We will examine the types of lawyers working toward social justice, the ways in which lawyers help shape claims in social justice cases, and finally, how lawyers use their skills and training to engage in political struggles and movements to achieve social justice for the communities, causes, or individual clients that they represent.

Through readings, discussion, and independent studies of legal cases and movements in social justice, students will explore different models of social justice lawyering and the barriers present both in the representation of under-served communities and in pursuing a career in public interest law. Students will also have an opportunity to explore more deeply how they plan to be a lawyer engaged in social justice work, either in their pro bono or full-time future practice.          

While enrolled in Law 242 Social Justice Lawyering, with prior professor approval, students may enroll in Law 242W Social Justice Lawyering, Writing Credit and submit a 30-page research paper and earn an additional one credit for the course. The paper may be used to satisfy the upper level writing requirement, the LLM writing requirement, and/or the JD/LLM writing requirement. This paper is in addition to all the other course requirements, including the five written assignments, but may be related to your case study presentation. You must meet with Professor Gordon or McCoy by the second week of class if you would like to seek this additional credit and plan to use this paper to satisfy one or more of these requirements.

Fall 2020

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
Group project(s)
Class participation
Anne Gordon, Jesse McCoy
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.242.01.F20
Email list: LAW.242.01.F20@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Requirements - Public Interest
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice