Social Justice Lawyering Clinic
Taught by: Professor Jennifer Lee
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.
Problem solving for individual and organizational clients
Client interviewing and counseling skills
Litigation skills (e.g., drafting pleadings, negotiations, hearing)
Systemic advocacy skills (e.g., public policy advocacy, community education)
- Notario fraud
- Live stop (auto impoundment)
- Help to unrepresented litigants in Philadelphia
- Temporary workers
- Domestic workers
- Welcoming schools toolkit
- ICE out of courts
- Non-compete agreements
- Access to higher education
- Berks Family Detention Center
- Day labor organizing
- Immigration “detainers”
- Non-English-Speakers and the courts
- Rights of restaurant workers
- Wage theft
- Sheller Center grad to head DA’s worker protection unit
- Ending the detention of migrant children in Pennsylvania
- Asking city council to fund enforcement to protect workers
- With courthouse arrests, is justice too risky for immigrants?
- ICE to cease arrests in Philly courthouses, agree to new rules of conduct, says Sheriff’s Department
- Philadelphia Sheriff moves to halt ICE arrests at city courthouses
- Creating a worker center in Philadelphia
- Enforcing workplace laws
- Ending Philadelphia’s live stop program
- Protecting domestic workers