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Lawyering & Organizing for Social Change

Law & organizing (sometimes called community lawyering or rebellious lawyering) is increasingly recognized as an important social change practice, and more and more public interest organizations are embracing or experimenting with it as a strategy to help build the power of poor and marginalized communities in the face of rising institutional hostility. This class gives law students an opportunity to learn about the day-to-day realities and skills necessary for the practice of law and organizing. The class will begin with a grounding in the history and principles of community organizing broadly, and law and organizing particularly, with a survey of important organizations and major writings on law and organizing. The bulk of the class will focus on the central challenges and fundamental skills of being a lawyer working in an organizing context: relationship-building, power analysis, strategy, resourcefulness, action, and leadership development. Part of each class session will consist of student-facilitated discussion based on readings. For some topics, current practitioners will visit to discuss their work. The class is open to 2Ls and 3Ls. No prior experience with law and organizing is required, but the class is designed for students interested in seriously considering and wrestling with their role in social change efforts.