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Cara McClellan

Contact Information

Email
caralm@law.upenn.edu
Office
G027

Cara McClellan

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

Cara McClellan GEd’12 is the founding Director and Practice Associate Professor of the Advocacy for Racial and Civil (ARC) Justice Clinic, the Law School’s newest in-house clinic, which provides students with hands-on experience working in civil rights litigation and policy advocacy around systemic racism. The ARC Justice Clinic is inspired in part by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

McClellan joins the Law School from her position as Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., where her work focused on increasing education equity and ending the criminalization of Black people. She gained litigation experience as the lead counsel on several cases, including I.S. et al. v. Binghamton School District, a case challenging a school’s discriminatory strip search of four Black and Latina middle school girls, and Smith v. City of Philadelphia, challenging the Philadelphia Police Department’s indiscriminate use of military-style weapons against protesters, residents, and bystanders in a predominately Black West Philadelphia community. McClellan has also represented students and families in school desegregation cases, such as Sheff v. O’Neill, and students and alumni as amici in SFFA v. Harvard, defending Harvard’s affirmative action admissions policy.

McClellan has published in law reviews, including Columbia Journal of Race & Law, Yale Law & Policy Review Inter Alia and a forthcoming article in the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal. She is a frequent media commentator on issues of civil rights and education policy and has provided on-air and in-print commentary for NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, HLN, Education Week, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her opinion writing has appeared in The Hill and The Baltimore Sun. 

A Philadelphia native, McClellan graduated from Central High School and spent two years teaching middle school in Philadelphia with Teach for America. She currently serves on the Board of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. McClellan earned her undergraduate degree from Yale and an MSEd from Penn’s Graduate School of Education. She returned to Yale to earn a JD, serving both as an editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review and as the President of the Black Law Students Association. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Gregory M. Sleet, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court and the Honorable Andre M. Davis, Senior Judge for the Fourth Circuit. 

Education

  • JDYale Law School2015
  • MSEdUniversity of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education2012
  • BAYale College 2010

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