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Course Close-Ups

Lawyering for Social Change

How is the role of a lawyer different if she or he seeks to be a community advocate for a client’s interests? Can real social change be effected through the courts? This course examines the role of lawyers and the legal system in advancing a cause or broad-based public policy. Through the use of actual case studies, and with the participation of some of the key lawyers who worked on those cases, students explore differing models of lawyering and ethical issues related to working as a lawyer within a social movement. The course also examines the personal impact of this type of career choice and strategies employed by lawyers in various settings, from issue-based organizations to government agencies to individual representation.

International Business and International Human Rights

Transnational businesses are vital for economic growth and development but can also be responsible for direct and indirect violations of human rights. This course examines recent and pending cases of corporate legal liability for violations of human rights and corporate social responsibility, including examples ranging from Unocal to Nike, and considers ongoing efforts to more effectively tailor international legal norms to these realities (including the U.N. Global Compact and the U.N. Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights). The course exposes students to key human rights obligations relevant to businesses, international legal concepts of “soft law” versus “hard law,” and practical issues and modes of analysis relevant to using investment as a tool for improving the human rights records of developing nations.