Skip to main content

Advocacy for Racial and Civil  Justice Clinic

Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic

The ARC Justice Clinic provides students with hands-on experience working in civil rights litigation and policy advocacy in the Philadelphia region using a movement lawyering approach.

The Fall 2023 Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic. The Fall 2023 Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic.

 

 

About the Clinic

The ARC Justice Clinic provides legal support to community members in the Philadelphia region organizing to demand redress for racial subordination in areas including education, ending over-policing and mass incarceration, economic justice, and health justice. Students will represent clients in litigation at the trial and appellate level under the direct supervision of Professor McClellan and Lecturer in Law Bret Grote. Students will also learn to work with partners to develop an integrated advocacy strategy that incorporates organizing, policy advocacy, strategic impact litigation, and communications.

In addition to fieldwork, the clinic includes a bi-weekly seminar that covers the substantive law at issue in their casework, foundational litigation skills, theory of movement lawyering, and ethical considerations important to social justice advocacy. Students have the opportunity to read about and reflect on historical and contemporary strategies for achieving racial justice. Students will also participate in case rounds, simulations, and other legal practice skills trainings.

If you are interested in learning more, please email caralm@law.upenn.edu.

Learn More About Our Work

Professor Dorothy Roberts with the Spring 2023 ARC Justice Clinic Professor Dorothy Roberts with the Spring 2023 ARC Justice Clinic at the Clinic's launch event, "The Unfinished Work of Abolition."

Apply for the ARC Justice Clinic’s Services

To apply for assistance from the ARC Justice Clinic, fill out this form. 

Examples of potential work include representing individuals who have experienced housing or employment discrimination, victims of police misconduct, and individuals who have experienced discriminatory school discipline.

The clinic has limited resources, and we can only accept a small number of the many requests for assistance that we receive. We also cannot respond to every request. Therefore, if you have an urgent need or must meet a deadline, contact a private attorney, your local public defender, or your state’s bar association. Do not wait for a response from the clinic.

The clinic operates year-round but only accepts new cases during the academic year. 

Sample Student Accomplishments

Students helped draft and file a complaint against Pennridge School District, alleging a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ and Black students and urging the District to reform. They also advocated in the press.

Students supported advocates at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and partners in settling a suit with the City of Philadelphia about excessive police use of force during the 2020 racial justice protests, including attending a press conference with partners

After meeting a community member who lost his family home under the Abandoned and Blighted Property Act, students created a survey to find others affected by the Act and save their homes, then took to the radio to educate the public about the issue.

Students worked with disabled students and their families at Overbrook Education Center to advocate for safe, timely, and equitable transportation to school.

Students researched and crafted comments on diversity in higher education and submitted them to the Office of Civil Rights in the lead-up to Supreme Court cases on affirmative action.

Clinic Faculty

Bret Grote

Bret Grote

Lecturer in Law  
Cara McClellan

Cara McClellan GEd’12

Director of the Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic and Practice Associate Professor of Law