Policy Practicum: Strategic Litigation in Global Context


Course Code:
LAW 414C
3 - 4
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


Students will work with litigators at the Open Society Justice Initiative, a law center housed inside a global foundation, on a comparative research project exploring the impacts of strategic litigation in the public interest. The resulting publication aims to assist strategic litigators, social change actors and rights activists in understanding the promise, risks and complexity of the burgeoning global practice of strategic litigation and in wielding this specialized justice tool more skillfully. The autumn practicum will culminate in a conference at the Law School in December 2014 before an international audience of practitioners, with the possibility of student papers appearing in a conference compilation. Students who are available both autumn and winter quarter may continue their work on the project through the winter. The project on the impacts of strategic litigation will examine how legal judgments – both positive and negative – and the ensuing record of implementation have influenced, together with other tools of change, the advancement of human rights in a variety of settings. Over the course of the Practicum, students will explore one or more of the following human rights themes: equal access to quality education, the death penalty, disability, housing rights, land rights and/or state-sponsored violence/torture. Cases will be drawn from domestic courts across the globe, as well as regional human rights tribunals and UN treaty bodies. Specific questions to be examined include: What contributions to social, political and legal change has strategic litigation made on particular issues in particular places? What were the conditions, circumstances and manner in which litigation was pursued (in conjunction with other tools) which enhanced its contribution(s), and which diminished them? What does comparative experience teach about the risks and trade-offs involved in deciding whether, when and how to litigate so that it generates the strongest and most enduring impacts? There is a preference for students who can enroll for both autumn and winter quarter. Elements used in grading: Class Participation, Attendance, Written Assignments. NOTE: Students may not count more than a combined total of eight units of directed research projects and policy lab practica toward graduation unless the additional counted units are approved in advance by the Petitions Committee. Such approval will be granted only for good cause shown. Even in the case of a successful petition for additional units, a student cannot receive a letter grade for more than eight units of independent research (Policy Lab practicum, Directed Research, Senior Thesis, and/or Research Track). Any units taken in excess of eight will be graded on a mandatory pass basis. For detailed information, see "Directed Research/Policy Labs" in the SLS Student Handbook. CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline.

Past Offerings

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