Racial Justice Clinic
|LW.10012 / LW.11764
Professor Claudia Angelos
Professor Vanita Gupta
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
No prerequisites or co-requisites; Evidence is recommended.
The Racial Justice Clinic provides an opportunity for students to work on landmark, cutting edge civil rights litigation with the national office of the ACLU. Clinic students explore current challenges to, and creative strategies for, engaging in racial justice advocacy and litigation. Students also learn pre-trial case development and negotiation skills through simulations.
The American Civil Liberties Union the nation’s leading advocate of constitutional and civil rights. The ACLU works daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. The ACLU brings impact lawsuits in state and federal courts throughout the country; its racial justice cases are designed to have a significant and wide-reaching effect on communities of color. Each of the organization’s four centers, the Center on Equality, the Center on Democracy, the Center on Liberty, and the Center on Justice, does racial justice advocacy. Racial justice matters include advocacy on criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, education, the school to prison pipeline, affirmative action, juvenile justice, poverty rights, voting rights, indigent defense, and national security/post-9/11 discrimination.
Students in the Racial Justice Clinic may work on any of these matters under the supervision of ACLU legal staff, Professor Vanita Gupta, deputy legal director in charge of the Center on Justice at the ACLU, and Professor Claudia Angelos of the full-time NYU faculty. Clinic students work collaboratively with the faculty, the ACLU lawyers, and each other on the tasks that the litigation calls for, including making intake decisions, handling clients, case investigation, planning and strategy, drafting pleadings, motions, and briefs, and preparing depositions and motions argument.
Clinic students have worked on a variety of racial justice cases and projects. These have included challenges to anti-immigrant legislation and ordinances; to Florida foreclosure courts; to voter suppression laws; to abusive police practices around the country; to conditions at a Georgia alternative school operated by a private company; a class action lawsuit challenging abuse and wrongful arrests of New York City public school students by the NYPD; representation of students who were victims of excessive use of force by Mississippi police; representation of a man ejected off of an airline due to racial profiling; investigation and preparation of litigation challenging conditions at alternative schools in Florida and Texas; advocacy for indigent defendants in Louisiana; and advocacy to challenge anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives around the country. Much of the clinic's past work is described on the ACLU’s web site, which we encourage you to visit.
The fieldwork is supported by a weekly 2-hour seminar that considers the challenges that face civil rights plaintiffs, their lawyers, their adversaries, and other participants in the process. The seminar involves simulations in pretrial skills that provide students with an opportunity to engage in lawyering activities in the pretrial process, including client counseling, media advocacy, motions, discovery and depositions, and negotiation. We also consider the issues raised by impact civil rights work and racial justice advocacy and read and discuss of theories of racial injustice and remediation. Finally, we often discuss the challenges that students face in their cases in order more effectively to advance the interests of the clinic’s clients and also so that the rich field work in which each clinic student is involved becomes a basis for broader student learning.
If you are interested in applying to the Racial Justice Clinic, please submit the standard application, resume and transcript online through CAMS. Selection of students is not based on interviews; however, you are welcome to come to a small group meeting of applicants and faculty so that we can have the opportunity to meet each other and so that we can answer the questions you may have. Please contact the clinic administrator, Steven Bautista, at 212-998-6448 or via email, after you submit your application to sign up for a time.
We suggest that students who are interested in the Clinic talk to recent students; they know best about the Clinic experience. This spring, the students in the Racial Justice Clinic were:
* 5 credits includes 2 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits.