Social Justice and Public Interest

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Become a Champion for Systemic Change and Help Individuals in Need 

Miami Law’s wide-ranging, interdisciplinary curriculum allows you to carve your niche within the broader field of social justice and public interest law. Our 17 clinics and practicums will help you gain the necessary experience to make your passion for helping others a reality. The law school’s HOPE Public Interest Resource Center is the starting point for students committed to advocacy and service. Our dedicated attorney advisors provide individualized guidance to help students identify public interest programs, clinics, projects, courses, and opportunities at the law school and beyond. Whether your ultimate goal is a career in the public sector, or integrating pro bono work as a component of private practice, Miami Law helps you acquire the knowledge and skills essential for making an impact and representing our diverse and vibrant South Florida community. Through various initiatives locally, nationally, and internationally, Miami Law students are leading the way in promoting access to justice. 

Some Facts about Miami and Miami Law:

See all Miami Law public interest and social justice news

Guerby NoelSocial 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, J.D. ‘14 
Senior Attorney for Equity Advocacy, Legal Services of Greater Miami 
Miami, FL 



Affordable Housing
Animal Law
Children and the Law
Civil Rights Litigation
Climate Change and Human Rights
Climate Change Law and Policy
Consumer Protection
Criminal Litigation
Cross-Cultural Collaboration
Cross-Cultural Mediation
Election Law
Environmental Law
Family Law
Fake News: Media Law in the Age of Trump
First Amendment Fundamentalism
Human Rights
Human Trafficking
Immigration Law
Immigration, Ethnicity, and Public Policy
International Human Rights
Law and Social Justice
Law, Policy, and Technology
Legal Advocacy and Same-Sex Marriage

Maritime and Coastal Legal and Policy Issues in Miami
Mental Health Law
National Security Law
Non-Profit Organizations and Social Enterprises
Policing the Police
Public Interest Litigation in Private Practice
Race and Economic Justice
Race and the Law
Race, Class, and Power: The #BlackLivesMatter Movement
Sexuality, Gender Identity, and the Law
Slavery and Commercial Law
Social Impact Advocacy
Social Justice Engagement
Social Justice Lawyering
Space Law 
Spanish for Lawyers I and II
State and Local Government
Systemic Advocacy
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Torture and the Law
Trial Litigation
Urbanism, Capitalism, and Development
Voting Rights and Election Law
Wetlands Regulation and Real Property
Wrongful Convictions 

Academic Programs and Concentrations 

Concentration in Social Justice & Public Interest
Concentration in Business Compliance and Sustainability 
Concentration in Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Environmental Law Program
Global and International Law Program
Human Rights Program

Thomas HartHomeless clients have thanked me for helping with their cases, and I can see that their lives have been changed in a real way. They have stability now. Minnesota is cold and knowing that people had a warm place to sleep motivated my work.” 
Thomas Hart, J.D. ’10 
Disability Policy Engagement Director with Anthem, Inc. 
Minneapolis, MN 

Clinics and Practicums



Joint Degrees

J.D./LL.M. - International Arbitration 
J.D./LL.M. - International Law
J.D./M.H.A. - Health Administration
J.D./M.P.A. - Public Administration
J.D./M.P.H. - Public Health 
J.D./M.P.S. - Marine Ecosystems and Society
J.D./M.S.Ed. - Law, Community and Social Change
J.D./Ph.D. - Environmental Science and Policy

International Opportunities

International Moot Court Program: The only one of its kind in the U.S., Miami Law offers a unique and comprehensive International Moot Court Program in which students travel and compete, in Spanish and English, in competitions around the world. Students advocate the different sides of a case and analyze the problem, identify the legal issues, research the law, write the briefs and orally present it to a tribunal. There are opportunities to particulate in moot court competitions related to social justice and public interest, these have included:

  • Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court
  • Price Media Human Rights Moot Court
  • International Criminal Court Moot

International Exchange Programs - Miami Law offers 25+ study abroad options in 13 countries where students can study social justice and public interest law from different legal perspectives.

Nikki Lewis SimonMy pre-law and law school experiences in the...Student Bar Association, and the Black Law Students Association are just some examples of what helped shape and expand my career goals by exposing me to different types of lawyers and practices. Each organization and the people in them had a variety of perspectives about life and the law that were helpful to me in formulating my own direction.” 
Nikki Lewis Simon, J.D. '99 
Chief Diversity Officer and Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP 
New York, NY

Extracurricular Opportunities 

Alliance Against Human Trafficking 
American Civil Liberties Union-UM
American Constitution Society
Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
Black Law Students Association
Charles C. Papy Moot Court Board
Child Advocacy Family Law Society
Criminal Law Society
Cuban-American Bar Association (CABA)
Environmental Law Society
First-Generation Law Association
Health Law Association
Hispanic Law Students Association
Human Rights Society
Immigration Students Law Association

International Law Society
International Moot Court Board
Miami Law Women
Military and National Security Law Society
National Lawyers' Guild
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
South/West Asian & North African Law Students Assoc.
Trial Team

Inter-American Law Review 
International and Comparative Law Review 
Race & Social Justice Law Review 
University of Miami Law Review


Internships and Externships** 

11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Domestic Violence Division
ACLU (New York, NY and Atlanta, GA)
American Bar Association Commission on Immigration (Washington, DC)
Amara Legal Center (Washington, DC)
Americans for Immigrant Justice
Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (Phoenix, AZ)
AYUDA (Washington, DC)
Brooklyn Defender Services (Brooklyn, NY)
Capital Appeals Project (New Orleans, LA)
Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition (Washington, DC)
Catholic Legal Services 
Center for Reproductive Rights (New York, NY)
Center for Constitutional Rights (New York, NY)
Centers for Disease Control (Atlanta, GA)
Center for Children's Law and Policy (Washington, DC)
Disability Independence Group 
Environmental Protection Agency
Everglades Law Center
FairVote (Washington, DC)
Federal Communications Commission  
Florida Health Justice Project
Florida Justice Institute
House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis  (Washington, DC)
Humane Society of the U.S.  (New York, NY)
Innocence Project
Legal Services of Greater Miami  
Miami Homes for All 
Miami Waterkeeper   
National Labor Relations Board  
National Park Conservation Association (Washington, DC)
National Women’s Law Center (Washington, DC)
Office of the Federal Public Defender of the Southern District of Florida
Office of the Public Defender (CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, IL, MD, OH, RI)
Office of the State Attorney (CT, FL, IL, KS, MA, NM)
Southern Coalition for Social Justice (Durham, NC)
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Arc National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (Washington, DC)
The Legal Aid Society (New York, NY)
The White House, Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (Washington, DC)
Tibetan Legal Association (Dharamsala, India) 
United Nations-Office of Legal Affairs (New York, NY)
USCIRF - U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Office of Legal Counsel (Washington, DC) 
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit  
U.S. Court of International Trade
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida   
U.S. Department of Homeland Security  
U.S. Department of Justice, Natural Resources Division/Environmental Enforcement Section (Washington, DC)
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Phoenix, AZ)
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission  
University of Miami Health System  
World Bank Group  (Washington, DC)
Youth Law Center (San Francisco, CA)

Faculty Experts

Anthony V. Alfieri, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar; Director, Center for Ethics & Public Service, teaches civil procedure, ethics, public interest law and leadership, social enterprise, and professional liability and lawyer malpractice. 

Paula Arias, Lecturer in Law, Director International Moot Court Program, is an expert in dispute resolution in Latin America.

Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Professor of Law and Director of the Human Rights Clinic, is an expert in human rights, women and children's rights.

Donna K. Coker, Professor of Law, focuses on criminal law, gender and inequality. She is a nationally recognized expert in domestic violence law and policy.

Caroline Mala Corbin, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, focuses on the First Amendment’s speech and religion clauses, particularly their intersection with equality issues. She speaks often on religious opposition to the contraception mandate — the provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring that insurance plans cover contraception. 

R. Denisse Córdova Montes, Practitioner in Residence & Lecturer in Law, Human Rights Clinic

Charlton Copeland, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, has written extensively on the Medicaid expansion provision and his research interests are administrative law, federal courts and federalism, comparative constitutional law, and race and the law.

Tamar Ezer, Lecturer in Law, Associate Director of the Human Rights Clinic and Faculty Director, Human Rights Program

Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of civil rights and technology.

Zanita Fenton, Professor of Law, teaches family law and her research interests cover issues of structural inequality and forms of subordination, including those of race, gender and class.

Elizabeth M. Iglesias, Professor of Law, is a co-founder of the LatCrit movement (the legal, economic and other difficulties facing the Latina/o community), also has taught international criminal law and international economic law. 

Robert Latham, Clinical Instructor and Practitioner-in-Residence of the Children & Youth Law Clinic, teaches students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned and neglected children in a variety of forums, including dependency and family courts, administrative hearings, and federal and appellate courts.

Marni LennonMiami Law students are engaged, determined and innovative. They advocate for clients and communities locally, nationally and internationally. Their passion and drive to make a difference and ensure access to justice sets them apart.” 
Marni Lennon, J.D. ’95 
Assistant Dean for Public Interest & Pro Bono, Director HOPE Public Interest Resource Center, and Lecturer in law 

Marni Lennon teaches in the area of social justice advocacy.

Romy Lerner, Associate Director, Immigration Clinic & Lecturer in Law, is an expert in immigration law.

JoNel Newman, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director, Health Rights Clinic, teaches professional responsibility and civil procedure. 

Bernard Oxman, Richard A. Hausler Professor of Law, is the one of the world's leading experts on the Law of the Sea. 

Jessica Owley, Professor of Law, is the Faculty Director for the Environmental Law Program.

Kunal Parker, Professor of Law, is an expert in immigration law and property law.

Bernard P. Perlmutter, Professor of Law & Co-Director, Children & Youth Law Clinic, teaches and supervises second- and third-year law students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned and neglected children and adolescents in a variety of legal proceedings, including dependency and foster care, public benefits, health care, mental health, disability, education and immigration cases, in addition to appellate, legislative and administrative advocacy and law reform litigation.

Ileana Porras, Senior Lecturer, teaches international Law and international environmental law.

Alejandro Portes, Professor of Sociology and Law, is an expert in international migration.

Patricia Redmond, Director Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic, is an expert in bankruptcy, insolvency, restructuring, and Chapter 11.

Gabriel Scheffler, Associate Professor of Law, works primarily in the areas of health law and policy, administrative law, and occupational regulation.

Stephen J. Schnably, Professor of Law, writes in the fields of international human rights law, the OAS human rights system, comparative constitutional law, and the relationship of international law to constitutional law. He has taught international law, international human rights, and comparative constitutional law.

Rebecca Sharpless, Professor of Law and Director, Immigration Clinic, researches and writes in the areas of progressive lawyering, feminist theory, and the intersection of immigration and criminal law.

Kele Stewart, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning, Professor of Clinical Legal Education, Co-Director, Children and Youth Law Clinic, teaches courses on family and juvenile law and legal practice.  Her scholarship is in the areas of child welfare, children’s rights and clinical education.  

Irwin P. Stotzky, Professor of Law, has worked over three decades to improve human rights in Haiti and the status of Haitian immigrants in the U.S. 

Melissa Swain, Associate Director, Health Rights Clinic & Lecturer in Law

Craig Trocino, Director of the Innocence Clinic, teaches classes in post-conviction litigation and federal sentencing. His areas of concentration are in appellate practice and post-conviction litigation and he maintains research interests in criminal law, habeas corpus and appellate practice.

Teresa J. Verges, Director Investor Rights Clinic and Lecturer in Law, teaches in the area of broker regulations.

Marcia Narine Weldon, Professor of Legal Writing and Lecturer in Law, is an expert in business and corporate law, corporate governance, labor and employment law, compliance, business and human rights, and ESG (environmental, social, and governance).

Job Fairs Focused on Public Interest

students at equal justice works fairMiami Law students have participated in multiple job fairs. Some are exclusively focused on public interest and others feature public and private sector employers with an affinity for public interest and social justice.

Equal Justice Works Career Fair and Conference: Largest national public interest job fair held annually in Washington, DC. Miami Law students attend each year. Interviews are open to rising 2Ls, 3Ls and alumni. 1Ls can participate in Table Talk.

Hispanic National Bar Association Career Fair

IMPACT Legal Recruitment Program for Law Students With Disabilities 

Lavender Law Career Fair

Southeastern Minority Job Fair (SEMJF)


ronald tomoassi"The Center for Ethics and Public Service was one of the highlights of my law school experience. It revealed the impact that this profession can have when a group of talented, motivated, and genuinely good people offer their time and talents to the community. This lesson has stayed with me and affected my pro bono efforts throughout my career."
Ron Tomassi, J.D. '06
Managing Partner, León Cosgrove
Denver, CO

Center for Ethics and Public Service (CEPS)
CEPS is a law school- housed ethics education, experiential skills training, and community engagement program devoted to the values of ethical judgment, professional responsibility, and public service in law and society. The Center’s mission is to educate law students to serve their communities as citizen lawyers.

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI)
CCRI was founded in August 2012 as the End Revenge Porn campaign, which called for the criminalization of nonconsensual pornography, the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. CCRI has its home at Miami Law and the Initiative offers opportunities for law students and other university students eager to apply their professional skills to a cutting-edge issue with real-world implications.  

HOPE Public Interest Resource Center (HOPE)
HOPE is the starting point for law students committed to advocacy and service and provides individualized guidance to help students identify programs, clinics, projects, courses, and opportunities at the law school and beyond. This center runs various projects and fellowships including:  

Learn More

*Course list is not exhaustive and does not set out a path of study.
**List is not exhaustive and is intended to provide examples of past externships and internships.