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Cara McClellan

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

Cara McClellan GSE’12 is the founding Director and Associate Practice 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. 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.

A Philadelphia native, McClellan graduated from Central High School and spent two years teaching middle school in Philadelphia with Teach for America. She has also worked on several cases advocating for civil rights in the Philadelphia region, including Holbrook v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which challenged prison-based gerrymandering, 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 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.