Friday, June 22, 2012

Toward a Manifesto of Inspiration for A People’s Law School

This was provoked by a PrawsBlawg post by Kelly Anders today that asked, “If you had to design a model for a ‘people’s law school,’ what would it contain, and how would it compare to schools that already exist?” I’m not prepared to design a model, but I would like to suggest some items (literature, programs, institutions, commitments, etc.) I think should be essential to the motivation of any such enterprise. What follows came fairly quickly to mind and it’s in no particular order (so I reserve the right to modify the list at a later date):

Austin Sarat and Stuart Scheingold, eds. Cause Lawyering: Political Commitments and Professional Responsibilities. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Austin Sarat and Stuart Scheingold. Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism, and Cause Lawyering. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Austin Sarat and Stuart Scheingold, eds. Cause Lawyers and Social Movements. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

William P. Quigley, “Revolutionary Lawyering: Addressing the Root Causes of Poverty and Wealth,” Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 20 (2006): 101-168.

Ann Scales, Legal Feminism: Activism, Lawyering, and Legal Theory. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

Larry Lessig’s Commencement Address to the John Marshall Law School, an excerpt and link for which is here:

The People’s Electric Law School (h/t George Conk): As Professor Conk writes in a forthcoming article, “‘Poverty law,’ women’s rights, employment discrimination, and public education were the foci of legal education at Rutgers. In those two decades [i.e., the 1960s and 1970s] Rutgers-Newark--which we affectionately called People’s Electric--presented a model of engaged legal education that was and is unique. No other law school to my knowledge has been so thorougly characterized by a broad progressive social agenda.”

The Innocence Project:

Therapeutic Jurisprudence (David Wexler and the late Bruce Winick)

Training in restorative justice:

“SUNY School of Law is the premier public interest law school in the country:”

Stanford Law School: Three Strikes Project

Cornell Law School: Labor Law Clinic helps low and moderate income people find free legal aid programs in their communities, and answers to questions about their legal rights.

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Indian Law Resource Center

The Center for Constitutional Rights

Society of American Law Teachers: SALT

An understanding of the history of the National Lawyers Guild:

A deep familiarity with “legal realism,” Critical Legal Studies, and Marxist approaches to the law.

A Gandhian or karma yoga-like model of professional responsibility and social service.

An acquaintance with the literature on moral and intellectual responsibility (Sartre, Chomsky, et al).

An intimate knowledge of the ongoing “access to justice” problems (Deborah Rhode) in our society, especially “the right to effective counsel.”

A profound understanding of the class- and race-based distortions of the criminal justice system.

A profound grasp of the historical, moral, and legal importance of habeas corpus.

An appreciation (for international criminal law) of the meaning of “victor’s justice.”

A Stoic-like commitment to cosmopolitanism.

A commitment to the universal realization of “basic human capabilities” (Martha Nussbaum).

An understanding of the virtues and vices of participatory and deliberative democracy.

A familiarity with the curriculum of “radical history” (utopian, communalist, communist, anarchist, socialist, populist, feminist, countercultural, etc.) exemplified in works like
  • Carson, Clayborne. In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.
  • Case, John and Rosemary C.R. Taylor, eds. Co-Ops, Communes, and Collectives: Experiments in Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s. New York: Pantheon Books, 1979.
  • Cohen, Robert and Reginald D. Zelnik, eds. The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.
  • Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.
  • Hunt, Andrew E. The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. New York: New York University Press, 1999.
  • Marable, Manning. Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1991.
  • McMillian, John. Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Miller, James. “Democracy is in the Streets: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.
  • Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995.
  • Piven, Frances Fox and Richard Cloward. Poor People’s Movements. New York: Pantheon, 1977.
  • Rosen, Ruth. The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America. New York: Viking Penguin, 2000.
  • Sale, Kirkpatrick. SDS. New York: Random House, 1973.


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