David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy Specialization

Program Curriculum

The Program strives to provide an innovative and intellectually ambitious curriculum that trains students to engage in sophisticated representation of traditionally underrepresented individuals, communities and interests while utilizing a range of problem-solving tools.  Thus, Program students are required to satisfy the general requirements for a J.D. degree while also satisfying the Program’s specific curricular requirements.

The Program curriculum is intended both to address fundamental questions about public interest lawyering that affect all areas of practice and to allow students to pursue a curricular path tailored to their individual interests and career goals.  The Program curricular requirements include a first-year seminar, a special section of the first-year Lawyering Skills course, a second-year “problem solving” seminar, an additional four advanced courses from a designated menu of courses, and a writing requirement.

Program students also have ample opportunity to select from the general School of Law curriculum courses that relate to their public interest orientation and goals, as well as to enroll in other academic specializations and pursue joint degrees.

Core Curriculum Requirements

See also: Upper Division Curriculum Requirements


The First Year Epstein Program Workshop is designed to provide students with an overview of public interest practice. Through readings, guest speakers, and class discussion, students gain familiarity with the different substantive areas of public interest law, organizational settings for public interest practice, and modes of public interest advocacy. In addition, students are introduced to the faculty of the Epstein Program as well as influential public interest practitioners, many of whom are Epstein Program alumni. Students participate in group activities to foster and build a strong sense of community and further strengthen our Epstein Program public interest network.

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The Legal Research and Writing course teaches students enrolled in the Epstein Program foundational lawyering skills necessary for success as a lawyer in a public interest setting. During this year-long course, students are introduced to the client-centered approach to lawyering, which teaches that the client’s perspective is front and center in the lawyering project. Students learn legal reasoning, basic legal research methods, the structure of persuasive arguments, the fundamentals of written analysis, and oral advocacy, all in the context of public interest practice. The course also supports the development of public interest leadership by fostering a safe and collaborative environment within the first-year curriculum to learn practice-oriented skills that will anchor and strengthen the public service careers of Epstein Program students. The class is taught by a Legal Research and Writing professor with training and background in public interest and social justice lawyering.

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This seminar focuses on public interest lawyering through a close analysis of case studies and the discussion of recurring issues in public interest practice. In this course, students explore social problems from a number of different perspectives, highlighting the many different ways of solving problems of the sort public interest lawyers confront. The seminar covers questions of how public interest problems come to be framed; how clients, lawyers and their allies think about problem-solving strategies; and how public interest lawyers use different modes of advocacy to address problems. Students in this seminar complete an individual paper project that addresses a real world problem and incorporates the modes of advocacy studied in the course.

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Upper Division Curriculum Requirements

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In addition to the core Epstein Program courses, Upper-Division Epstein Program students are required to (1) take four additional upper-division courses and (2) complete the Epstein Program Writing Requirement.

Upper-Division Coursework

In addition to the seminar Problem Solving in the Public Interest, Upper-Division Epstein Program students must take one course from each of four different categories: (1) substantive law; (2) advocacy sites; (3) inequality; and (4) applied advocacy (for a total of four additional courses). These curricular requirements are intended to systematically address fundamental questions about public interest lawyering. In order to qualify, each course must be a minimum of two credits.

This guide provides examples of courses that qualify in each category. This guide is not intended as an exhaustive list of all courses that could satisfy each category. 

Although some courses could qualify for more than one category, courses are listed in only one category. For example, a substantive law specialization course such as Immigration Law could qualify in the inequality category; just as a course such as Criminal Procedure could qualify in the advocacy sites category. 

Not all courses contained in this guide are offered every year, so students should plan out their schedules in advance. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are experiential courses that require an application and are not eligible for the priority enrollment process for Specialization students.

Students may seek advanced approval from Epstein Program faculty to substitute courses for each category, including by taking courses offered outside the law school, new courses, and independent studies, provided that the proposed educational plan advances the student’s chosen public interest career path.

Category 1: Substantive Law (The substantive law specialization requirement is designed to familiarize Epstein Program students with a doctrinal area of law relevant to their chosen public interest career goals. For example, a student interested in pursuing a career in prison reform could choose Prison Law and Policy; a student who desires to become a legal services attorney specializing in domestic relations would likely take Family Law; and a student interested in community economic development might choose to take Business Associations.)
Course # Course Name
201 Constitutional Law II
202 Constitutional Criminal Procedure
211 Evidence
212 Federal Courts
216 216 Administrative Law
220 Introduction to Federal Income Taxation
230 Business Associations
260 Labor Law I
261 Employment Law
267 Federal Indian Law
270 Public International Law
273 International Human Rights Law
282 Education and the Law
286 Land Use
290 Environmental Law and Policy
293 Public Natural Resources Law
295 Adjudicative Criminal Procedure: Bail to Jail
298 International Criminal Law
299 Federal Criminal Law
317 Family Law
326 Health Law and Policy
331 Immigration Law
348 European Union Law
350 Energy Law
383 Political Asylum and Refugee Law
389 Prison Law and Policy
440 Introduction to Food Law and Policy
443 Comparative Environmental Law
611A/B Climate Change and Energy Law
636 Current Issues in Chinese Law
678 Comparative Counterterrorism Law and Policy
683 News Media Law in the Digital Age
692 Seminar Water Law
697 Gun Control
820 California Unfair Competition Law
Category 2: Advocacy Sites (The advocacy sites requirement is designed to expose Epstein Program students to the decision-making institutions where advocacy takes place. For example, a student interested in becoming a public defender might take Anti-Terrorism and Criminal Enforcement; a student pursuing women’s rights advocacy could take Human Rights and Sexual Politics; a student dedicated to immigrants’ rights work could take Immigration Court Practice.)
Course # Course Name
210 Complex Litigation
245 Drug and Medical Device Law
269 National Security Law
272 International Trade Law
285 Local Government Law
321 Legislation and Regulation
363 Tax Exempt Organizations
369 Anti-Terrorism and Criminal Enforcement
376 Law and Dissent
380 State and Local Taxation
416 The Supreme Court of the United States
420 Statutory Interpretation
428 Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Influence
431 Immigration Court Practice
438 International Environmental Law and Policy
443 International Environmental Law
451 Spanish for Lawyers
464 Human Trafficking
465 Prospects for International Justice
513 Seminar: Topics in California Environmental Law
522 Seminar: Land, Dispossession and Displacement: Topics in Property Law
528 Seminar: Tribal Legal Systems
548 Seminar: Legal Analysis
560 Seminar: Regulation of the Firm
583 Seminar: Foreign Relations Law
584 Seminar: Human Rights and Sexual Politics
591 Seminar: Climate and Energy Law and Policy
640 Seminar: Higher Education Law and Policy
646 Seminar: Nonprofit Law Clinic Advanced Research and Drafting
657 Seminar: Contemporary Issues Facing the International Criminal Court
665 How Should We Fix the U.S. Health Care System?
671 Seminar: Comparative Education Law and Policy
691 Seminar: Global Justice
693 Seminar: Companies, Food Systems and Public Health
694 Seminar: Disaster Law and Climate Risks
941 Law of the US-Mexico Border (J term)
948 Policy Analysis and Advocacy (J term)
Category 3: Inequality (The inequality course requirement is designed to expose Epstein Program students to the relationship between law and systems of power. This set of courses aim to explore the fundamental social, political, and economic issues that public interest lawyers confront and seek to change. Some courses in this category address a specific form or forms of group differentiation (such as race, gender, disability, sexuality, or tribal membership), while others address issues of economic inequality that are implicated in most all areas of public interest practice. Finally, some courses address multiple forms of inequality in a single context (such as employment or criminal punishment). All of the core or comparative analysis courses for the CRS program satisfy the Epstein Program’s inequality requirement. Finally, although only one course in the inequality category is required for graduation, Epstein Program students are strongly encouraged to take more than one course in this category.)
Course # Course Name
214 Civil Rights
263 Employment Discrimination Law
266 Critical Race Theory
318 Law and Sexuality
325 Public Benefits Law and Antipoverty Policy
329 Women and the Law
448 Re-entry, Work and Race
507 Seminar: Labor Law and Social Policy
558 Political Crimes and Legal Systems
566 Laws of War & the War(s) on Terror
608 Seminar: Intersection of Law, Health, and Public Policy
619 Seminar: Environmental Justice
624 Seminar: Legal Philosophy - Feminist Contributions
625 Seminar: Community Lawyering & Low Wage Worker Organizing
629 Seminar: Topics in Post-Conviction Law and Policy
637 Seminar:Good (Native) Governance
645 Seminar: Race Conscious Remedies
653 Seminar: Advanced Critical Race Theory
655 Seminar: Feminist Legal Theory
660 Seminar: Cities in Distress
667 Seminar: Voting Rights
668 Seminar: The 8th Amendment Prohibition on Cruel and Unusual Punishment
670 Sociology and the Law
672 Seminar: HIV/AIDS Law and Public Policy
673 Seminar: Race, Law, and Representation
674 Seminar: Trafficking in Human Beings Law and Policy
690 Race, Social Psychology, and the Legal Process
950 Homelessness and Property
Category 4: Applied Advocacy (The applied advocacy requirement is intended to provide Epstein Program students with hands-on training in public interest advocacy. In these advanced courses, students are exposed to simulated and real world opportunities to integrate their knowledge of law, procedure, and advocacy techniques to advocate on behalf of an individual or group client on a social justice issue. For example, a student interested in a career in international human rights could take the International Human Rights Clinic or the Asylum Clinic, a student planning a career in children’s rights might choose the Youth & Justice Clinic or the Education Law Clinic, and a future criminal prosecutor might decide to take Criminal Trial Advocacy or pursue a full-time externship at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.)
Course # Course Name
700 700 Clinical: Pretrial Civil Litigation*
702 Clinical: Deposition and Discovery in Complex Litigation*
705 Clinical: Cappello Trial Advocacy Clinic*
707 Clinical: Mediation
708 Clinical: Civil Rights Litigation and Police Accountability*
711 Clinical: Pretrial Civil Litigation*
712 Clinical: Street Law - American Legal Education*
713 Clinical: Interviewing and Counseling: HIV*
715 Clinical: Criminal Defense*
717 Clinical: International Human Rights*
719 Clinical: Frank G. Wells Environmental Law*
720 Clinical: Criminal Trial Advocacy*
724 Clinical: First Amendment Amicus Brief*
725 Clinical: Supreme Court*
726 Clinical: Appellate Advocacy*
727 Clinical: Supreme Court Simulation*
728 Clinical: Tribal Legal Development*
730 Clinical: Veterans Benefits*
731 Clinical: Education Law Clinic*
735 Clinical: Asylum*
739 Clinical: Community Economic Development*
742 Clinical: Regulatory Lawyering*
750 Clinical: Youth & Justice*
754 Clinical: Criminal Justice Reform*
769 Documentary Film Legal Clinic
771 Clinical: Sentencing Advocacy*
773 Clinical: Immigrant Rights’ Policy*
775 Food Law and Policy Clinic
778 Dog Adjudication Clinic
781 Clinical: State Appellate Practice
783 Clinical: Family Law Practice: A Non-Litigation Approach*
792 Immigrant Family Legal Clinic Design
795 Clinical: Advanced Trial Advocacy: Using Real-World Jury Trials to Master Trial Techniques
801 Part-Time Agency Externship
805 Criminal Law Externship
806 Judicial Externship
807 Public Interest Lawyering Externship
808 Government/Civil Practice Externship
830 Bond Advocacy
835 Pay or Stay: An Exploration of the Bail System in America
841 Client-Centered Elder Law
850A/B Advanced Judicial Process - Judicial Externship
851A/B Agency Externships
852A/B Externship: UC in DC
924 Criminal Pretrial Motions: Advanced Legal Writing*
927 International Human Rights Clinic
934 California Prison to Parole
938A/B Administrative Law in Practice: Dangerous and Nuisance Dog Regulation in Los Angeles
972 Negotiation Theory and Practice*

  • Writing Requirement

    Students may satisfy the upper-division writing requirement for the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy by completing a faculty supervised graded paper undertaken for a minimum of two units that is certified by the supervising faculty member as (1) satisfying the ABA requirement of a rigorous writing experience and (2) is relevant to advancing the student's course of study in the Epstein Program. Usually, the ABA writing requirement may be satisfied by an Individual Research paper (340 or 341), a seminar paper, or a paper for other advanced courses. This writing requirement may be written as part of a course that also is used to satisfy one of the Epstein Program’s upper-division curricular requirements.