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Community Law Clinic

Clinic Seminar

In case supervision and in the accompanying clinic seminar, students are encouraged to interrogate the effectiveness of the legal system at delivering "justice" for their clients and to explore creative ways that legal knowledge can be deployed to attack the social problems attendant to low wages, substandard and unstable housing, and other features of low-income life in Silicon Valley. The seminar introduces students to the activist and academic literatures regarding law and social change, and the emerging specialty of "community lawyering." This rubric challenges students to consider the role of law and of lawyers in addressing some of the systemic problems that challenge East Palo Alto and neighborhoods like it throughout the country. Whether it is the impact of immigrant labor, a declining housing stock, gentrification, the barriers to economic self-sufficiency that face people with criminal records, or the simple lack of lawyers available to meet the needs of low-income people, students reflect on lessons their clinic experience has to teach about law and social problems generally. Students leave the clinic not only with concrete training in fundamental lawyering skills, but also with a sense of how law can play a part in improving conditions for historically unrepresented groups.