Reflections on the Launch of a Racial Justice Clinic and the Bravery of Lions

30 Clinical Law Review 151 (Fall 2023)

36 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2023

Date Written: October 27, 2023


This nation is at an inflection point in which the future of a viable, multi-racial democracy stands in the balance. However, this occurrence is not new—the nation has experienced moments of retrenchment before, during which times of racial progress are quickly followed by retrenchment in the form of legal efforts to rollback hard-won civil rights. This Essay explores how clinical legal education is poised to prepare law students to meet moments of retrenchment. Adopting the framework of the “pedagogy of prefiguration,” this Essay asserts that shaping clinical pedagogy to ensure that students engage in social analysis, exercise radical imagination, and foster dialogical relationships with clients, can help to prepare them to advance racial justice even in moments when retrenchment seems intractable. To fully equip clinic students to engage in racial justice lawyering during such times of retrenchment, this Essay posits that another component be added to prefigurative pedagogy—bravery. Drawing upon reflections from the launch of a racial justice clinic, this Essay concludes that, to best meet moments of retrenchment, clinicians must also prepare students to take risks, sacrifice privilege, and experience discomfort if they wish to engage in the long, challenging, and brave work of transformative racial justice lawyering.

Keywords: racial justice clinic, clinical pedagogy, prefigurative pedagogy, law clinic

Suggested Citation

George, Janel, Reflections on the Launch of a Racial Justice Clinic and the Bravery of Lions (October 27, 2023). 30 Clinical Law Review 151 (Fall 2023), Available at SSRN:

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