Law Reform and Impact Litigation Seminar
Section 1, Spring 23
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Public interest lawyers have long played a critical role supporting and advancing social change in the United States. This theory-and-practice seminar explores both the historical and theoretical role of litigation in social movements as well as the nuts and bolts of actually engaging in law reform and impact litigation to effectuate systemic change. First, we will establish a foundation for discussion by examining the part lawyers can and should play in social justice movements. We will also look at the ways litigation can effectively facilitate change and the ways it can be frustratingly inadequate. The course will then turn to the practical, real world considerations of systemic advocacy. Students will learn how to go about developing a theory of the case, research potential claims and causes of action, and use investigatory tools to test and hash them out; what the ethical questions and challenges are that may come up in representing clients in systemic litigation; how to use narrative and leverage the media to supplement in-court advocacy; what kinds of defenses, defensive strategies, and legal obstacles to anticipate. These and other topics will be explored through readings, case studies, active discussion, written and in-class exercises and simulations (including complaint drafting), and a final paper.
Final Type (if any): None
Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will complete short written assignments and/or prepare for active class participation throughout the course. Students will also complete two more substantive work products: (1) a draft complaint based on a closed universe of law and facts, and (2) a final paper of approximately 4,000 words due via EXPO by noon on the last day of the finals period.
Other Course Details
Mutually Exclusive With:
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Resources: To be announced.
*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No
*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.
**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Concentrations: Legal History, Litigation and Procedure
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Friday, April 21, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, April 30, 11:59 PM