Community Equity, Innovation, and Resource Lab
The Community Equity, Innovation, and Resource Lab trains students to collaborate with civic and faith-based groups, legal services and nonprofit organizations, and private and public entities in providing rights education, policy research, and technical assistance to low-income communities across the fields of civil rights, economic development, and poverty law. Students conduct interdisciplinary research, draft policy papers, and collaborate with community groups, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies in field studies.
CEPS Lab Experiments — A Case Study of the New Community Equity Lab
In recent years numerous law schools have launched “labs” to develop more innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to systemic sociolegal problems and to train students in project-based, problem-solving partnerships with courts, legal aid organizations, and community-based stakeholders.
Lab portfolios include policy research, data investigation, digital product and advocacy tool development, service delivery innovation, needs-assessment and capacity-building, and pilot program design and implementation.
Today more than a dozen law school “labs” mark the landscape of legal education, for example, Stanford’s Legal Design Lab, Northeastern University's NuLaw Lab, Chicago Kent’s Law Lab, Harvard Law School's Access to Justice Lab, University of Arizona's Innovation for Justice program, Suffolk Law School's LIT Lab, Georgetown's Iron Tech Lawyer program, Brigham Young's LawX program, Michigan State's Legal RnD, and Vanderbilt's Law and Innovation program. See Margaret Hagan, Justice Innovation with Law School Design Labs, ABA Dialogue (June 15, 2018).
In the fall of 2018, CEPS created the Community Equity, Innovation, and Resource Lab (“Community Equity Lab”) in cooperation with a 1L Study Group and supervising CEPS 2L Fellow Wifredo Fernandez. The Mission of the Community Equity Lab is to train students to collaborate with civic and faith-based groups, legal aid organizations, and nonprofit groups in providing rights education, statistical data access and fact investigation, and policy research to low-income communities of color across the fields of civil rights, economic development, poverty law, and public health.
During the spring and summer of 2019, a group of CEPS Fellows and Interns staffed the Community Equity Lab in forging a community-based, fair housing partnership with the Coconut Grove Village West Housing and Community Development Task Force. This continuing partnerships highlights the promise of the nascent “lab” training model for legal education, including classroom instruction, fieldwork supervision, research and scholarship, university-wide multidisciplinary ventures, and community-driven civil rights advocacy.