Social Justice Lawyering Clinic

Taught by: Professor Jennifer Lee

Rhiannon DiClemente ‘16 speaks at a Shut Down Berks press conference about the unlawful state licensing of the Berks County Detention Center for immigrant families.
Rhiannon DiClemente ‘16 speaks at a Shut Down Berks press conference about the unlawful state licensing of the Berks County Detention Center for immigrant families.

The Social Justice Lawyering Clinic (SJLC) represents individual and organizations on critical issues affecting low-income individuals in the region, with a particular focus on low-wage workers and immigrants. Students offer pro bono legal representation on a range of legal issues, from workplace exploitation to the civil and constitutional rights of immigrants.

Clinic students litigate on behalf of clients in federal and state courts. They develop traditional lawyering skills, such as interviewing, counseling, research and legal analysis, negotiation and written and oral advocacy before the courts.  Students also partner with organizations to work on policy and legislative reform efforts or community education efforts. This work provides students with the opportunity to learn skills associated with today’s diverse advocacy approaches to effectuate social justice.

“This was probably the most rewarding experience that I’ve had in law school. I had the opportunity to counsel an individual about the risk of deportation, and weighing this risk against the importance of asserting her legal rights to minimum and overtime wages.”  Jody Lopez-Jacobs, ‘15

In recent semesters, clinic students have:

  • Obtained back wages for construction workers, delivery drivers, home health care aides, and house cleaners.
  • Testified at City Council about the prevalence of wage theft and the need for strengthened wage theft enforcement in Philadelphia.
  • Created materials to support students, parents, and educators at K-12 schools to create policies that help promote and protect the learning of all students regardless of their immigration status.
  • Published a report about the impact of ICE’s arrests of immigrants at Pennsylvania courthouses and the impact on access to justice.

Social Justice Lawyering Clinic is 6 credits: 2 graded; 4 pass/fail.  Enrollment is by application.