Teaching for Change: How the Legal Academy Can Prepare the Next Generation of Social Justice Movement Lawyers
50 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 11, 2015
The call for “practice ready” lawyers has been heard loud and clear across the country. Legal education has overwhelmingly responded to that call, finding ways to help students gain more practical experience and better understand what it actually looks like to be a lawyer. Students intending to practice “social justice movement lawyering,” however, have been largely ignored, albeit with some notable exceptions. But, working in partnership to build the power of low-income communities of color and effect long-term social change requires distinct training and distinct framing.
This article proposes ways in which the legal academy can better prepare the next generation of movement lawyers. Interviews were conducted with actual practicing movement lawyers in an effort to best understand the future movement lawyer’s needs. The article organizes recommendations for reform into four overarching categories: experiential learning, professional responsibility and ethics, interdisciplinary learning, and the law school culture. Within each of these categories, some recommendations take a limited exposure approach, whereas others provide allow for deeper exposure. If implemented, the legal academy will be one step closer to graduating more practice ready movement lawyers — lawyers poised to work in partnership with communities.
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