The Systemic Justice Project at Harvard Law School and the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University Law School are collaborating to help create a year-long pilot project called “The Justice Initiative.”
What Is the Justice Initiative?
A community of social-justice-oriented law students, lawyers, law-school faculty, legal organizations, organizers, and activists devoted to thinking creatively about the role lawyers can play in reimagining, dismantling, and remaking unjust systems, working to repair longstanding injustices, assisting law students hoping to pursue justice-oriented careers, and providing opportunities for further study, engagement, advising, organizing, and collaboration among its members.
There’s nothing new about the systemic problems laid bare by recent crises. This is, however, a pivotal historical moment. In the midst of a global pandemic, a national reckoning with centuries of systemic racism, a growing climate catastrophe, a polarized population on the eve of a critical presidential election, now is the time to mobilize for justice. Now is the time to examine society’s deeply embedded power dynamics, deconstruct the structures that produce and reproduce inequalities, and join the movements to rebuild a more just and equitable society.
What Do We Offer Law Students?
The Justice Initiative will bring together justice-oriented systemic lawyers, law professors, and law students to provide presentations, panel discussions, and other forms of interactive programming designed to cover elements of legal education and legal theory that are generally not included in traditional law school curricula (e.g., critical race theory, critiques of legal education, systemic lawyering) with an eye toward various justice-oriented movements (e.g., Black Lives Matter, #metoo, and climate justice) and justice-related topics (e.g., organizing, rigged politics, and self-care in the midst of a movement). There will also be a retreat, career advice, and other opportunities for law students interested in pursuing systemic-lawyering careers.
What is Required?
All that is required for law students to participate in the Justice Initiative is a commitment to help build this justice-centered community and to attend roughly ten 3-hour online Saturday programming sessions online between October 3 and April 10. Participation in the Justice Initiative is free and all materials will be provided. Space is limited, so some application or registration process may be used to select among applicants.
What Else Is Offered?
The Justice Initiative will provide opportunities for participation in reading and discussion groups. We hope to encourage and facilitate office hours with law-school faculty and legal practitioners as well as advising and mentoring sessions between law students and justice-oriented legal practitioners. There will also be resources for students and other participants interested in learning about or coordinating actions at other Institutions. Those offerings will be optional.
How Can You Learn More?
An informational webinar for law students was held on September 12. Interested students can learn more by watching session here.
An informational webinar for lawyers and law professors was held on September 19. Lawyers who would like to learn more can watch that video here.
For those lawyers who already know they want to participate but want to learn about the variety of ways to be involved, here is a shorter video containing just that information.
See our FAQ post here.
Please email any questions or suggestions that you might have at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Can You Apply To Participate?
Students who attended the informational webinar or watched the video can apply to participate in the 2020 Justice Initiative here: https://tinyurl.com/jistudentapplication.
Lawyers and law professors can register to participate here: https://tinyurl.com/jiregistration.