Education Advocacy and Systemic Change: Children at Risk Clinical Seminar

Return to Course Catalog

Spring 2013 Seminar
Meets: Th 5:00pm - 7:00pm in WCC Room 5047
2 classroom credits

Co-requisite Clinic: Education Law Clinic (3-4 Spring credits). Class and clinic enrollment is bundled. Enrollment in one component (e.g. class) will automatically enroll you in the other component (e.g. clinic).
Early Add/Drop Deadline: January 18, 2013.
LLM Students: This class and its clinic are open to LLM students through an application process.
Orientation: Students must attend a mandatory orientation session before the beginning of classes (TBD).

In this seminar, which is associated with the Education Law Clinic, students will learn the theory and practice the skills that will enable them to provide effective direct representation to their clinic clients and to be full-fledged participants in a systemic-change advocacy campaign in education reform. Students will learn how to identify systemic problems, assess the educational system's response to at-risk children, and reflect on the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary advocacy at the intersection of the fields of law, education, medicine, psychology, and public policy.

The course is organized around a series of hands-on simulations, in which students practice the advocacy skills they will use in their representation of actual clients in the clinic. These skills include: interviewing and counseling clients; reading and interpreting educational evaluations; preparing and interviewing expert witnesses; identifying substantive and procedural violations; formulating legal arguments and theories of the case; interacting and negotiating with opposing counsel. In addition to building these concrete skills, the course will also introduce students to a theoretical orientation that encourages them to see the individual child as a “complex system” and to use their developing legal skills to obtain holistic individual remedies that embrace all parts of the child.

The course will also help law students learn how schools are “complex systems” with multiple pressures, initiatives and constituencies competing for their attention. Students will learn the unique role lawyers can play as part of a movement to create remedies that account for this complex layering of systems within systems. They will learn about a remedy developed by TLPI – the Flexible Framework – a process-based approach that helps schools create safe and supportive environments by simultaneously addressing whole-school operations AND the needs of individual students. A series of simulations will also help students practice the communications skills necessary to participate in the clinic’s systemic advocacy.

There is no final examination for this course; students will prepare a "rounds" memo and presentation in which they lead a discussion with their colleagues based on one of their cases.

Subject Areas: Family, Gender & Children's Law , Procedure & Practice , Regulatory Law .

© 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.