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
LAW 150: FIRST YEAR EPSTEIN PROGRAM WORKSHOP
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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LAW 108 A/B, Section P: LEGAL RESEARCH AND WRITING
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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LAW 541: PROBLEM SOLVING IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
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.
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.