Social Justice & Public Interest Concentration and Area of Focus

social justice

The Social Justice & Public Interest (SJPI) Concentration and Area of Focus are ideal for students interested in societal inequality and power differentials, particularly as these relate to class and economics, identity and civil rights, and the political process. The SJPI Concentration and Area of Focus are also intended to fortify our social justice community at Miami Law, offering opportunities for students and faculty who are committed to social justice, racial justice, gender justice, environmental justice, economic justice/anti-poverty work, civil and human rights, and other public interest law areas to unify, reaffirm our common values, and push for an increased commitment to social justice from actors across society—including our own institution.

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Even in diverse democracies committed to equality and justice, power imbalances can lead to persistent material and psycho-social inequalities. Social justice analysis and advocacy aim not only to identify those inequalities, but also to address the larger structural problems and long-term power differentials that create and perpetuate societal injustice.

Spanning myriad practice areas, from civil rights and public interest, to administrative law and commercial interests, to tax and trade policy, social justice work is done in social, economic, and legal contexts, guiding critical analysis and transformative action across many sectors of society. Social justice legal advocates combine the law with other tools of social progress not just to help, but to empower all targets of inequality in the struggle for enduring and substantive equality.

In addition to required foundational courses, the SJPI concentration requires students to select courses from a particular track, fulfill an experiential learning obligation, engage in research and writing through an independent study or seminar paper on a topic that falls within the concentration, and participate in “engagement and reflection” with affiliated students and faculty. The SJPI area of focus has fewer requirements: it requires students to select courses from a particular track, and engage in research and writing through an independent study or seminar paper on a topic that falls within the area of focus (see additional details below).

 

SJPI Concentration

Requirements

The Social Justice & Public Interest Concentration is 26 credits in total. 

 Required Courses (11 credits)

Students are required to take Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, and a social justice fundamentals course.

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW (4 cr); AND
  2. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW II (4 cr); AND
  3. SOCIAL JUSTICE LAWYERING (3 cr);

 Distributional: Experiential Learning (3 credits)

Students are required to take an experiential learning course offered in the list below. Three credits from any of the below offerings may be applied toward the concentration.

Clinics

 

Externships

 

Practica

 

Electives: Track Requirements (9 credits)

Students are required to take at least 9 credits of electives. Students may take 9 or more credits of electives across the tracks and receive a general “Social Justice Concentration” designation. Students who take 9 or more credits of electives from one specific track receive the general “Social Justice Concentration” designation plus the specific track designation (“Specialization in [TRACK]”).

 Economic Justice: Electives Listing

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems 
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Conservation, Tourism, and Development
  • Economics for Lawyers
  • Economy and Society: Institutions and National Development
  • Emerging Forms of Philanthropy and the Role of Private Foundations in Effecting Social Change 
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Federal Income Tax I
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Human Trafficking
  • International Human Rights Law 
  • Labor Law
  • Law and Political Economy
  • Mediation
  • Mortgage Law 
  • The Criminalization of Homelessness: Causes, Policy, and Practical Lawyering
  • The Wire
  • Union Organizing and Collective Bargaining in the Entertainment Industry
  • A Social Enterprise Clinic

 Identity & Civil Rights: Electives Listing

  • Advanced Immigration
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems 
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Comparative Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Procedure Adjudication
  • Disability Discrimination and Graduate Education
  • Employment Law 
  • Fake News: Media Law in the Age of Trump
  • First Amendment Fundamentalism Seminar
  • Gender Violence, Social Justice, & Law
  • Housing Discrimination
  • Human Trafficking
  • Immigration, Ethnicity and Public Policy 
  • Immigration Law 
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Introduction to Death Penalty Litigation
  • Law and Political Economy 
  • Legal Advocacy and Same Sex Marriage
  • Mediation
  • Philosophies of Sentencing
  • Policing the Police
  • Second Amendment Fundamentalism Seminar
  • Selected Problems in Criminal Law and Practice
  • Sexuality, Gender Identity and the Law
  • Social Media and the Law
  • Special Topics in Mental Health Law
  • The Adversary System
  • The Criminalization of Homelessness: Causes, Policy, and Practical Lawyering
  • The Death Penalty as a Legal and Societal Phenomenon
  • The Wire
  • Torture and the Law
  • Vimeo, Twitter and Youtube: Online Liability and Net Neutrality
  • Voting Rights & Election Law Seminar
  • Wrongful Convictions

 Government & Political Process: Electives Listing

  • Advanced Immigration
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Climate Change Law and Policy
  • Coastal Law
  • Disability Discrimination and Graduate Education
  • Environmental Law
  • Federal Arbitration Act
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Income Tax I
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Immigration, Ethnicity and Public Policy  
  • Immigration Law
  • International Anti-Corruption Law and Practice
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Law, Policy, and Technology
  • Law and Political Economy 
  • Legal Advocacy and Same Sex Marriage
  • Legislation (usually offered as a 1L elective every other year)
  • Mediation
  • Policing the Police 
  • Public Interest Law Seminar
  • The Administrative State: The Current Movement
  • The Law of International Treaties
  • Topics in Environmental Law: Biodiversity Law
  • Torture and the Law
  • Voting Rights & Election Law Seminar

 Practicing Social Justice: Electives Listing

  • Advanced Appellate Advocacy I
  • Advanced Appellate Advocacy II
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution 
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems
  • Class Action Litigation
  • Civil Procedure II or equivalent advanced civil procedure course 
  • Complex Federal Litigation Seminar
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Criminal Evidence Workshop
  • Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Practicum
  • Death Penalty Practicum 
  • Electronic Discovery
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Criminal Motion Practice Seminar
  • Habeas Corpus Seminar
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Moot Court I
  • International Moot Court II
  • Law and Political Economy
  • Litigation Skills I (only 3 credits count toward concentration/area of focus)
  • Litigation Skills II: Criminal 
  • Mediation 
  • Mediation Advocacy
  • Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program I
  • Social Justice Externship (only 3 credits may be applied toward concentration/area of focus)
  • Startup Praticum
  • Substantive course from any of the other three tracks (required)

 

Research Requirement (2 credits)

Students are required to engage in research and writing on social justice and public interest themes. There are two components to the research requirement:

  1. Students must complete at least one of the following (2 credits):
    • Independent study on topic that falls within SJPI concentration, or
    • Seminar paper (on topic that falls within SJPI concentration)*
      *A student’s SJPI advisor is expected to be available to supervise the independent study/seminar paper, or work with the student to make alternative arrangements.
  2. Research Roundtable: Students must present the product of their research requirement (e.g. independent study or seminar paper) at least once, at an annual SJPI concentration roundtable.

 

 

“Engagement & Reflection” Requirement (1 credit)

Students are required to engage and reflect on social justice and public interest themes with their faculty advisor. Students must register for:

  • SOCIAL JUSTICE ENGAGEMENT AND REFLECTION (1 cr)

 Speaker Events & Reflection Paper

Students are required to attend six qualifying speaker events (see below), submit ONE 4-6 page reflection paper on the six events to their assigned faculty mentor, and meet to discuss the reflection. The reflection paper should summarize the themes of each speaker event and provide overall reflections on the connection to social justice.

Note: Qualifying speaker events include the many on- and off-campus social justice events (lunchtime events, evening events, symposia, webinars, online trainings, meetings, etc.) featuring practitioners, jurists, activists, and/or academics that cultivate and facilitate discourse regarding social justice, public interest law, and public policy. All events featured on the HOPE website qualify. If students have questions about whether an event qualifies for this requirement, they can ask their faculty advisor.

 

SJPI Areas of Focus

Requirements

The Social Justice & Public Interest Areas of Focus is 15 credits in total.

 Required Courses (7 credits)

Students are required to take either Administrative Law or Constitutional Law. Additionally, students are required to take a social justice fundamentals course.

  1. EITHER: ADMINISTRATIVE LAW (4 cr); OR CONSTITUTIONAL LAW II (4 cr); AND
  2. SOCIAL JUSTICE LAWYERING (3 cr)

 

Electives: Track Requirements (6 credits)

Students are required to take at least 6 credits of electives. Students may take 6 or more credits of electives across the tracks and receive a general “Social Justice Area of Focus” designation. Students who take 6 or more credits of electives from one specific track receive the general “Social Justice Area of Focus” designation plus the specific track designation (“Specialization in [TRACK]”).

 Economic Justice Track: Electives Listing

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Conservation, Tourism, and Development
  • Economics for Lawyers
  • Economy and Society: Institutions and National Development
  • Emerging Forms of Philanthropy and the Role of Private Foundations in Effecting Social Change
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Federal Income Tax I
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Human Trafficking
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Labor Law
  • Law and Political Economy
  • Mediation
  • Mortgage Law
  • The Criminalization of Homelessness: Causes, Policy, and Practical Lawyering
  • The Wire
  • Union Organizing and Collective Bargaining in the Entertainment Industry
  • A Social Enterprise Clinic

 Identity & Civil Rights Track: Electives Listing

  • Advanced Immigration
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Comparative Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Procedure Adjudication
  • Disability Discrimination and Graduate Education
  • Employment Law
  • Fake News: Media Law in the Age of Trump
  • First Amendment Fundamentalism Seminar
  • Gender Violence, Social Justice, & Law
  • Housing Discrimination
  • Human Trafficking
  • Immigration, Ethnicity and Public Policy
  • Immigration Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Introduction to Death Penalty Litigation
  • Law and Political Economy
  • Legal Advocacy and Same Sex Marriage
  • Mediation
  • Philosophies of Sentencing
  • Policing the Police
  • ​Second Amendment Fundamentalism Seminar
  • Selected Problems in Criminal Law and Practice
  • Sexuality, Gender Identity and the Law
  • Social Media and the Law
  • Special Topics in Mental Health Law
  • The Adversary System
  • The Criminalization of Homelessness: Causes, Policy, and Practical Lawyering
  • The Death Penalty as a Legal and Societal Phenomenon
  • The Wire
  • Torture and the Law
  • Vimeo, Twitter and Youtube: Online Liability and Net Neutrality
  • Voting Rights & Election Law Seminar
  • Wrongful Convictions

 Government & Political Process Track: Electives Listing

  • Advanced Immigration
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Climate Change Law and Policy
  • Coastal Law
  • Disability Discrimination and Graduate Education
  • Environmental Law
  • Federal Arbitration Act
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Income Tax I
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Immigration, Ethnicity and Public Policy
  • Immigration Law
  • International Anti-Corruption Law and Practice
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Law, Policy, and Technology
  • Law and Political Economy
  • Legal Advocacy and Same Sex Marriage
  • Legislation (usually offered as a 1L elective every other year)
  • Mediation
  • Policing the Police
  • Public Interest Law Seminar
  • The Administrative State: The Current Movement
  • The Law of International Treaties
  • Topics in Environmental Law: Biodiversity Law
  • Torture and the Law
  • Voting Rights & Election Law Seminar

 Practicing Social Justice Track: Electives Listing

  • Advanced Appellate Advocacy I
  • Advanced Appellate Advocacy II
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Design Systems
  • Class Action Litigation
  • Civil Procedure II or equivalent advanced civil procedure course
  • Complex Federal Litigation Seminar
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Criminal Evidence Workshop
  • Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Practicum
  • Death Penalty Practicum
  • Electronic Discovery
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Criminal Motion Practice Seminar
  • Habeas Corpus Seminar
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Moot Court I
  • International Moot Court II
  • Law and Political Economy
  • Litigation Skills I (only 3 credits count toward concentration/area of focus)
  • Litigation Skills II: Criminal
  • Mediation
  • Mediation Advocacy
  • Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program I
  • Social Justice Externship (only 3 credits may be applied toward concentration/area of focus)
  • Startup Praticum
  • Substantive course from any of the other three tracks (required)

 

Research Requirement (2 credits)

Students are required to engage in research and writing on social justice and public interest themes. There are two components to the research requirement:

  1. Students must complete at least one of the following (2 credits):
    • Independent study on topic that falls within SJPI Area of Focus, or
    • Seminar paper (on topic that falls within SJPI Area of Focus)*
      *A student’s SJPI advisor is expected to be available to supervise the independent study/seminar paper, or work with the student to make alternative arrangements.
  2. Research Roundtable: Students must present the product of their research requirement (e.g. independent study or seminar paper) at least once, at an annual SJPI concentration roundtable.

 

Employment and Career Opportunities

The Social Justice & Public Interest Concentration provides students with the opportunity to deepen their substantive and practical legal knowledge and skillset, regardless of the areas in which they will ultimately practice.  For those students interested in pursuing social justice and public interest employment opportunities, the School of Law provides extensive support, networks, and opportunities: 

HOPE Public Interest Resource Center

Career Development Office Public Interest Job Search Information

Information on Public Service Financial Support and Loan Forgiveness

 

Social Justice & Public Interest Organizations by Track

Students interested in pursuing social justice and public interest employment may find useful the following listing of social justice and public interest organizations by track—a sampling of organizations whose work touches on one or more area of law related to social justice and public interest. Students are encouraged to research these and other social justice and public interest organizations.

 

What Miami Law Alumni Say About the Program

Guerby Noel

"Social justice is critically important because it is progressive. We are looking at the law, not just as it stands but how we can shape it in the future. Social justice attorneys are always looking for ways to ensure that the underrepresented and disenfranchised are spoken for and protected. The social justice concentration considers the intersection of many different factors--race, wealth, gender, and more. It is wonderful that Miami Law has committed itself to training the next generation of social justice advocates to empower the community." - Guerby Noel, Staff Attorney, Legal Services of Greater Miami

Natalie Barefoot

"Race, wealth, pedigree, health, and education shape the decisions of the actors in our legal system and, consequently, its abilities to deliver. By taking a hard look, through the Social Justice Concentration, at these tremendously influencing factors, UM Law is elevating our conversations about what justice really means and how we can access it. These are important and hard conversations to be had. UM Law continues to innovate, and I cannot wait to work with this army of sophisticated, conscious lawyers looking at the context within which we work and endeavoring to improve it, for ultimate aim of serving justice." - Natalie Barefoot, Staff Attorney, Earthjustice—Oceans Program

Faculty Coordinator

Professor Elizabeth M. Iglesias