Social Justice Impact Litigation: Issues and Strategies


Course Code:
LAW 572
Law Honors/Pass/R credit/Fail


This seminar is designed to examine strategic and legal issues related to litigating impact and social justice cases that advance the constitutional and civil rights of vulnerable communities. The course will be informed by the instructor's three decades of experience litigating class action and appellate cases, including in the Supreme Court, on behalf of immigrants and civil rights plaintiffs as the founder and former director of the ACLU national Immigrants' Rights Project. We will consider some key doctrinal issues as a prelude to exploring litigation strategy and approaches through a variety of case studies, pending litigation, and guest lecturers. Among the issues we may examine are: selecting and using test cases; strategic pleading; class action problems; ethical questions; the role of amicus briefs; suits for damages versus injunctive relief; standing and mootness; settlement strategies; coalition litigation; use of public advocacy and media; the impact of litigation on policymakers and government officials; and the role litigation in furthering legislative action. Some guest speakers will be invited. This seminar is not appropriate for 1L students. Enrollment is limited. Grading will be based on class participation and written work of at least 18 pages. In consultation with the instructor at the beginning of the course, students will have the option of choosing either to submit a final paper or a series of reflection or analytical pieces responding to the seminar readings. All students enrolled in the course are eligible for Writing (W) credit. With the instructor's prior consent, a limited number of students may be approved for Research (R) credit for writing a substantial research paper on an approved topic. After the term begins, students approved for R credit will transfer from section (01) into section (02). Elements used in grading: Class participation (50%) and written submissions (50%). Writing (W) credit is for students entering prior to Autumn 2012. The seminar is not open to 1L students. – – – 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 instructor. There are no prerequisites but familiarity with constitutional litigation and federal jurisdictional issues is helpful. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline.

Back to the Top