University of Miami School of Law Course Description - Online System
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Spring 2018
LAW297  R  LAW PRACTICE: SOCIAL IMPACT ADVOCACY

Course Description
Despite a century or more of legal reforms and social changes, everyday headlines make plain that the constitutional commitment to “Equal Justice Under Law” remains illusory for many persons, and for some entire communities, living in the United States today. Current events also have made many people newly aware of the “systemic” nature of front-burner legal and social issues, which can range from equal pay for equal work to mass incarceration, voter suppression, student debt, climate adaptation, marriage equality, immigration justice, and many more modern topical controversies. Under these specific social circumstances, the pressing practical question for the legal profession has become: How can lawyers become more effective advocates of systemic reform to achieve equal justice in everyday life for all?

To tackle these and similar questions, this introductory three-credit course examines key systemic (or structural) reasons for persistent “access to justice gaps” while emphasizing experiential approaches to “active” research tools that build on core legal skills.

Using contemporary topics of special relevance to students, we survey and discuss key issues, concepts, terms, and arguments relating to law and justice as we work on individual and group projects linked to campus issues and/or community groups. The weekly readings provide a critical understanding of the complex yet crucial cross-connection between law practice, legal reform, systemic change, and social impact while the hands-on campus and community projects emphasize the individual development of three collaborative fact-finding practices: (1) community interviewing, (2) critical empiricism, and (3) public narrative. Together with core legal training, these advanced foundational ideas and skills are designed to set the stage for persuasive systemic analysis and advocacy in any socio-legal context.

Upon completion of this introductory course, all students should possess a substantive, sophisticated, and self-critical understanding of the cross-disciplinary, multi-cultural, and inter-active skill-sets needed for high-impact social-change lawyering in varied practice settings; interested students should thereby also be well-prepared for follow-up courses in the Social Justice Concentration and, ultimately, to pursue various kinds of public interest careers successfully after graduation.


Course Schedule
Dates Day Time Room
01-16-2018 - 04-25-2018   WF  11:00 AM-12:20 PM TBD

Course Frequency
Occasional course offering

Course Information

Credits: 3
Pass/Fail Option: No
Prerequisite:
Grading: Graded
Method of Evaluation: Final course grades are based on three areas of individual performance and summative assessment designed for ongoing feedback, group discussion, and progressive learning: (1) weekly hands-on exercises and assignments, (2) consistent professionalism and participation in classroom discussions and course activities, and (3) contributions to group projects, including individual presentations at the end of the semester. This comprehensive method of evaluation values and balances the learning process and the covered KSVAs in all relevant respects—including basics like advance preparation and attention to detail, punctuality and timeliness, consistent attendance and thoughtful participation, personal initiative and self-direction, and overall professional conduct that sustains successful collaboration and teamwork—because each of these technical capacities is a valued competency, and an important metric, of successful professionalism in any modern law practice.
Graduation Requirements Fulfilled By Course:
General
Special Attributes:
1L Elective
Special Restrictions: 1L Section Only!
Law Track(s):
Government & Regulation - Related
Social Justice - Related
Bar Subject(s): None
Concentration(s):
Social Justice & Public Interest (Area of Focus)   More information
Social Justice & Public Interest (Concentration)   More information

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Professor(s)

VALDES, FRANK


Biography
Contact Information:
Email: fvaldes@law.miami.edu
Phone: (305)284-1780
Office: G369