Social Justice Thursdays Comes to UCI Law

by ursavoice

By: Jennifer Chin (J.D. Candidate 2013, UCI Law), Michael Klinger (J.D. Candidate 2013, UCI Law), and Irina Trasovan (J.D. Candidate 2012, UCI Law)

In choosing to join the UCI Law community, many of us were drawn by the school’s goal of teaching a practice of law in service to the public; many no doubt harbored an interest in working for justice. But when we arrived, it may have been difficult to see through the haze of the first year curriculum to the contested principles of social justice that are present in every course, though not always explicitly. UCI Law’s design—training students to be practice-ready when we leave school—as well as its decision to hire staff and faculty who bring public interest and social justice backgrounds to bear on our legal education attests to the school’s goal of creating a public law school with strong public ideals.

    Social Justice Thursdays will be another important piece of the puzzle in constructing a Social Justice community at UCI Law: it represents an opportunity for students to join in conversation with faculty to discuss the ways in which justice and the law are intertwined, and alternatively to address the disconnect between legal doctrine and the law as a tool for social change, particularly with regard to issues of race, ethnicity, gender, poverty, disability, and immigration status.

The concept of “Social Justice Thursdays” is borrowed from Berkeley Law and other schools, which have long produced similar series with similar goals. At UCI Law, we begin by bringing our own faculty members to the table to discuss the connections they see between the doctrinal courses in the first year curriculum and the work we can all do to address social injustices as legal advocates.

    Already, UCI Law students have been enthusiastic in their desire to nurture this community, and faculty members—so many of whom bring a wealth of experience in working for justice both in legal practice and in the academy—have been equally spirited in support.

    The first series of Social Justice Thursdays lunchtime programs begins this month (though not always on Thursdays), under the aegis of UCI Law’s Center on Law, Equality and Race (CLEaR). Professor Jennifer Chacón led the first discussion on February 2, and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Professor Stephen Lee will each lead discussions over lunch in the upcoming weeks (Mon. Feb 13, and Thurs., March 1, respectively). Also, on February 23, the UCI Law Guest Speakers Series and Social Justice Thursdays will host attorney Miranda Massie, from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, who served as lead counsel for the student intervenors in Grutter v. Bollinger. Ms. Massie will discuss the legal landscape surrounding diversity in education and present an overview of the first federal court challenge to the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Grutter, Fisher v. Texas, a Fifth circuit case challenging the admissions policy at the University of Texas.

    Please plan to attend, and help UCI Law continue to develop a community dedicated to bringing about greater justice for people, whether through or in spite of the law.