Social Change and Community-Based Lawyering Externships

Explore social change and community-based lawyering externships:

Andrew Friedman, Dmitri Holtzman, and Kumar Rao, Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)

Course Description
The Law, Power, and Social Change Externship will expose students to the varied and important roles that lawyers are playing in policy experimentation and innovation in states and cities across the country. Course content and fieldwork will focus on the roles lawyers can play in supporting community-conceived policy initiatives at the city and state level—from analyzing constraints on local authority to drafting policy proposals to engaging in the political fight to win passage. Substantive issues covered in the seminar, and the fieldwork assignments, will include workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights and immigration reform, civil rights and racial justice issues, health care access, and more.

The externship will comprise (a) a weekly, 2-hour seminar, focused on core legal issues and academic literature bearing on state and local policymaking and effective policy advocacy and (b) 10 hours per week of fieldwork in ongoing policy initiatives with the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

The Seminar
The weekly seminars will be focused on core legal issues and academic literature bearing on state and local policymaking and effective policy advocacy

Fieldwork
Students are expected to do 10 hours per week of fieldwork in ongoing policy initiatives with the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

Grading
Students will receive four credits total, two graded academic credits for the in-class seminar and two ungraded credits for the fieldwork component. The seminar will be graded on weekly class participation, class presentations and simulations, periodic short reflection papers on readings and fieldwork, and a final term paper.

Requirements and Application Process
The course will be open to J.D. and LL.M. candidates and will be limited to 10 students to facilitate active engagement and discussion. There are no prerequisites.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected].

Rachel Kleinman and Natasha Merle, Lecturer-in-Law (2 graded academic and 3 ungraded fieldwork credits)

Course Description
The Racial Justice Externship (RJE) will engage students in legal practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization, and in a critical examination of strategies employed to achieve racial equity and justice in two of our principal areas: economic justice and voting rights and democratic governance. LDF Students will be assigned to work on a case or matter in one of these two areas and will have an opportunity to contribute to the development and execution of comprehensive legal strategies, that may include impact litigation, policy/advocacy, strategic communications, public education and organizing. Additionally, because it is a presidential election year, all students will participate in national voter protection work organized by LDF. 

The Seminar
The weekly seminars will introduce students to multiple phases of litigation and advocacy surrounding systemic race claims, specifically in the areas of political participation and economic justice. This includes investigations of race discrimination issues, drafting of pleadings and other substantive filings, legal research and memo writing and participation in active discovery. In addition, students will develop a historical knowledge regarding the country’s foundation and the impact of this foundation on modern legal frameworks and on movements for racial justice.  

Fieldwork
Fieldwork will be performed on LDF cases or matters under the supervision of an LDF attorney or externship professor. Students are required to commit 10-15 hours per week to fieldwork and to participate in weekly meetings with their LDF Team. In addition, as part of their fieldwork, students will be provided appropriate case/matter-related public speaking opportunities and given the opportunity to travel on their cases/matters, as needed and as consistent with their academic obligations.

Important Information
The course will be limited to 8 students and will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. Students in the course are required to have taken or concurrently take Constitutional Law.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected].