The COVID-19 Rapid Response + Systems Summer Institute Announces the Systemic Lawyering Corps

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The Systemic Justice Project, the People’s Parity Project, and Justice Catalyst are thrilled to announce the Systemic Justice Corp, the second major initiative of the COVID–19 Legal Rapid Response + Systems Summer Institute. The Corps is intended for justice-oriented law students, incoming law students, and 2020 law graduates who would like to devote a portion of their summer to studying the systemic roots of our social problems and the ways that lawyers can help to advance transformative change.

Join the Systemic Lawyering Corps!

Would you like to devote a portion of your summer to thinking critically and creatively about the role that lawyers can play in dismantling and re-imagining unjust systems and helping to repair longstanding injustices? The Systemic Lawyering Corps provides current law students, incoming law students, and 2020 law-school graduates with robust academic programming and skills training to help you engage intellectually and practically with these critical questions. 

The COVID–19 Legal Rapid Response + Systems Summer Institute (a joint venture of the People’s Parity Project, the Systemic Justice Project, and Justice Catalyst) is rolling out its second major initiative (to complement the People’s Justice Fellowship).

The Institute is now accepting applications for the Systemic Lawyering Corps.

From June 2 to July 24, the Systemic Lawyering Corps will support current law students and 2020 law-school graduates interested in learning about the causes of injustice, theories of advancing justice, and ways that lawyers can help un-rig our systems. Much of the programming will be based upon the Harvard Law School courses, Systemic Justice and the Justice Lab, which are devoted to delineating the many interwoven sources of our most profound social problems–from climate change to racial inequalities–and to considering various theories of, and opportunities for, producing change, transformation, and repair. As Corps Members scrutinize assumptions around the neutrality and justness of our laws and legal system, they will also reflect on the different roles lawyers can play in transforming those systems and supporting transformative change movements. In addition, Corps Members may also be offered the option to assist with relatively discrete, part-time projects with the Institute’s partner organizations.

Remotely, Corps Members will attend various programming elements (lectures, panels, presentations, discussions, and so on), participate in several trainings, and work in teams to complete a variety of assignments to be shared within the Institute and, in some cases, with the wider public online. Corps Members will spend an average of eleven hours per week in Systemic Lawyering Corps-related work; additional time may be spent on part-time volunteer work with Institute partner organizations, when available.

Programming is tentatively scheduled for the following times:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays (12:00 p.m  –  1:00 p.m. ET)
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays (5:00 p.m.  –  6:30 p.m. ET)

There are a limited number of spots available in the inaugural class of the Systemic Lawyering Corps. Applications received by Thursday, May 28th will receive priority consideration; accepted applicants will be notified by Saturday, May 30th. Systemic Lawyering Corps Programming will begin the first week of June.

People’s Justice Fellows, who make up the other major component of the Institute’s work, will participate in some joint programming with Corps Members. They will also be given the option to separately apply to become Systemic Lawyering Corps Members.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can watch the webinar below:

We recognize the brevity of the application window; in order to accommodate as many potential applicants as possible, we have made the application and the process of submission quite simple. You can complete the application here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at systemssummerinstitute@gmail.com.

We look forward to reviewing your application!

SJP Embarks on Joint Venture to Support Law Students, Legal Organizations, and Communities Most Impacted by COVID-19 Crisis

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The Systemic Justice Project, the People’s Parity Project, and Justice Catalyst expect to bring over 100 law student fellows into the first-of-its-kind COVID–19 Legal Rapid Response + Systems Summer Institute.

On June 1, the People’s Parity Project, the Systemic Justice Project, and Justice Catalyst will launch the COVID–19 Rapid Response + Systems Summer Institute, a first-of-its kind fellowship to bring hundreds of law students together with more than 50 legal organizations to assist the communities most devastated by the public-health crisis. Over 100 law students will join the Institute as full-time People’s Justice Fellows, who will work to provide support to legal organizations from around the country and participate in Institute programming aimed at helping to build the next generation of social justice-oriented lawyers.

Public interest legal organizations researching urgent policy reforms and providing direct services to indigent, marginalized, and otherwise vulnerable clients and communities face unprecedented need during the  COVID–19 crisis. Decades of decisions by policymakers and judges have created rigged systems in which low-income workers, people of color, and other marginalized groups are the most at-risk in times of crisis; the systemic theft from these communities means that they now lack the resources—legal and otherwise—to protect themselves in the face of a global health and economic crisis. At the same time, many law students across the country have lost their summer internships as many legal employers have been forced to cancel or scale back their summer plans to provide full-time employment, supervision, and mentorship to aspiring lawyers.

The Systems Summer Institute is bridging that gap by putting those law students to work on COVID-response projects that serve the public good. The Institute—through its more than 100 full-time Fellows—will support organizations advocating for unemployment insurance applicants, developing policy recommendations for safe and fair elections under social distancing conditions, studying the racialized impacts of the pandemic, and more. Through this work, the Institute will play a crucial role in the national response to the current exigencies and in shaping longer-term responses to deeper systemic injustices highlighted by the crisis.

The three organizations partnering to build the Institute have each made a unique mark on the legal landscape in recent years. The People’s Parity Project, a non-profit founded in 2018, has successfully organized law students and new lawyers in the effort to demystify and dismantle coercive legal tools in order to create a legal system that works for all; in 2019, the organization was named one of Law360’s “legal lions,” and has since been identified as one of the key players in the burgeoning law student labor movement. The Systemic Justice Project, a Harvard Law School-based policy innovation collaboration, serves to identify injustice, design solutions, promote awareness, and advocate reforms to policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public, all with the aim of identifying and addressing common and systemic sources of injustice. The Systemic Justice Project carries out its mission through cutting edge teachingconferences, and collaborations with justice-oriented lawyers, academics, advocates, and activists. Justice Catalyst activates path-breaking approaches to social justice lawyering that have real-world impact and improve the lives of those denied access to justice. Justice Catalyst takes on social justice issues that fall between the cracks of traditional advocacy models, and applies a cross-disciplinary approach to the law. Justice Catalyst also administers a fellowship program to support new attorneys in innovative public interest work at non-profit organizations. Together, the three organizations aim to create lasting change within the legal profession, ultimately resulting in a legal system that works for workers, consumers, and all of the millions of people  who have too often been left out and left behind.

“COVID–19 may have been unavoidable, but the systemic policy and legal failures we are seeing throughout the U.S. were not,” said People’s Parity Project National Organizing Director, Molly Coleman. “It is unacceptable for low-income workers, people of color, and otherwise marginalized groups to be left behind in a crisis, and we will not allow these disparities to persist as we build what comes next in this country. Through the Institute, we aim to provide both short-term and long-term capacity for building more just systems, and we think it is a powerful message that hundreds of law students from across the country are excited to join in this effort.”

Jon Hanson, the Alan A. Stone Professor of Law and the Faculty Director of the Systemic Justice Project, noted the importance of the legal profession’s involvement in the current moment. “Our existing legal structures are built to ensure that the brunt of any crisis falls hardest on certain disadvantaged and marginalized groups. The Institute is bringing together a remarkable cohort of committed law students who will not only work hard to meet urgent law-related needs posed by the crisis, but also think creatively and critically about the role that lawyers can play in helping to remake unjust systems going forward.” In that way,” Hanson added, “the Institute hopes to promote a future in which the legal profession and the law primarily advance justice and not the interests of the powerful.”

“The Institute is a response to multiple critical needs,” explained Jacob Lipton, Systemic Justice Project Co-Director and Fellowships Director at Justice Catalyst. “Justice-oriented law students and legal organizations are both hurting right now. Most importantly, the communities served by those legal organizations are hurting. Through the People’s Justice Fellowship, we aim to serve as a coordinating body, uniting students eager to do systemic work with organizations in need of exactly that energy and added capacity in order to serve the most vulnerable communities in this crisis.”

Interested in supporting our work? We are committed to making sure all of our fellows are compensated for their work, and we’re providing additional support for students who have financial needs to be able to do this work. Donate to support our Summer Institute Hardship Fund, which provides direct financial assistance to summer fellows experiencing financial hardship.

Learn more:

COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute

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A collaboration between People’s Parity Project (PPP), the Systemic Justice Project (SJP), and the Justice Catalyst (JC) announces a COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute, which will engage law students in full-time (or part-time) summer legal fellowships, working with legal and law-related organizations on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis. While working on urgent projects, fellows will also participate in additional programming, described below. 

Fellows will conduct research, write memos or reports, produce “know your rights” materials, and otherwise assist with projects aimed at ensuring the most vulnerable members of our society obtain the support they need and meet the legal challenges they face in this public health and economic crisis.

Specific projects will continue to develop in response to the current crisis and the needs of partner organizations. Sample projects could include:

  • identifying state-level legal barriers to instituting vote-by-mail for the November election;
  • assessing the authority of governors to free individuals held in detention in public health crises;
  • supporting individuals applying for unemployment insurance;
  • identifying means of holding individuals accountable for marketing sham cures for COVID-19;
  • supporting advocacy efforts for states to provide unhoused people with either temporary or permanent access to housing.

Fellows will receive three tiers of supervision/mentorship:

  1. the program’s coordinating and supervising team composed of members of PPP/SJP/JC; 
  2. the lawyers and members of partner organizations who provide projects and with whom fellows will work directly; and
  3. volunteer attorneys, who will devote a fixed number of hours per week supervising specific students/teams.

In most cases the host organization will be People’s Parity Project but specific placements may vary. The coordinating team will include Molly Coleman, Jacob Lipton, and Jon Hanson.

The additional programming will be led by the Systemic Justice Project, and is designed to build community and provide participants a chance to share lessons, learn about different kinds of justice-oriented lawyering, compare different theories of change, examine deeper systemic problems revealed by the pandemic, and consider what opportunities the crisis might create for advancing long-term systemic change. It will include workshops with community organizers, social activists, justice-oriented lawyers, clinical faculty, and podium faculty from a variety of organizations and institutions. 

If you are a law student potentially interested in participating either as a part time volunteer or a full time fellow, a lawyer potentially interested in providing pro bono supervision, or an individual or organization potentially interested in proposing projects, please complete this form:  https://harvard.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_78qGEWt1RhVEDqd 

If you have a specific project to propose, please submit it here. Projects could be for an individual student or a team of students, and can vary in length and time commitment: https://harvard.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0OpMPioBvhzNfoh 

We have secured limited funding to support this work, and also intend to qualify for summer public interest funding from law schools where possible.

Please distribute this message widely to organizations, lawyers, and students!

If you have any questions, please contact jlipton@law.harvard.edu and molly@peoplesparity.org 

Molly Coleman
Jacob Lipton
Jon Hanson

 

The Systemic Lawyering Corps — INFORMATIONAL WEBINAR: MAY 27!

This week’s webinar (Wednesday, May 27, at 3:00 pm EST) will provide general information about the newly announced Systemic Lawyering Corps.

Join us at:  https://harvard.zoom.us/j/770662864.  

Learn more details about Systemic Lawyering Corps here.

You can find a list of previous sessions and links to videos here

For information about the COVID-19 Rapid Reaction/Systems Summer Institute, go here.

Click here to join the webinar via Zoom: https://harvard.zoom.us/j/770662864.

Systemic Lawyering Webinar #8 – Focus on Domestic Violence

Join this week’s “Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis” Webinar at:  https://harvard.zoom.us/j/770662864.  

This week’s session, Tuesday May 12 at 12pm EST, focuses on domestic violence and features the following panelists:

  • Stephanie Davidson, UCLA Law School
  • Christine Perumal, Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Law Project
  • Jessica Spector, Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Law Project

The series features systemically oriented lawyers and activists in fields most affected by our latest crisis. Each session examines the special challenges posed by the crisis, the pressing needs, the new opportunities, and the more general lessons for lawyers, law students, and others committed to promoting systemic change.

For more details about the series, including links to videos of previous sessions, see https://systemicjusticeblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/systemic-lawyering-webinar-series/

Click here to join the webinars via Zoom: https://harvard.zoom.us/j/770662864.

Video: Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis – (7th Installment – COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute Information Session)

The video for the seventh session, held on May 5th, is available below.

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This session focused on the COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute  and featured the following contributors:

  • Molly Coleman: Co-Founder and National Organizing Director of People’s Parity Project;
  • Matthew Duffy: Catalyst Fellow, Center for Popular Democracy;
  • Alana Greer: Co-Founder, Community Justice Project;
  • Jon Hanson: Faculty Director, Systemic Justice Project; and
  • Jacob Lipton: Program Director, Systemic Justice Project.

Panelists provided an overview of the summer institute and answered specific questions regarding lawyers and organizations looking for help might make a project proposal. 

The Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis series of zoom webinars is hosted by the Systemic Justice Project on on Tuesdays from 12-1pm EST.

Click here for more information about the webinar series.

For more details about the series, including links to videos of previous sessions, see https://systemicjusticeblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/systemic-lawyering-webinar-series/

You can find a list of previous sessions and links to videos here

For more information about the COVID-19 Rapid Reaction/Systems Summer Institute, go here.

Systemic Lawyering Webinar #7 – Information Session

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This week’s webinar (Tuesday, May 5, at 12pm EST) will provide general information about the COVID-19 Rapid Response & Systems Summer Institute.

For lawyers and organizations looking for help from law students during this time of crisis, join us on Tuesday as we describe our summer plans and answer any questions regarding, among other things, how to make proposals and what sort of law-related assistance we can provide.

Join this week’s “Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis” Webinar at:  https://harvard.zoom.us/j/770662864.  

For more details about the series, including links to videos of previous sessions, see https://systemicjusticeblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/systemic-lawyering-webinar-series/

You can find a list of previous sessions and links to videos here

For information about the COVID-19 Rapid Reaction/Systems Summer Institute, go here.

Click here to join the webinars via Zoom: https://harvard.zoom.us/j/770662864.

Video: Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis – (6th Installment – Economic Inequities)

Here’s the video for the sixth session, held on April 28th, focusing on economic inequities. The discussion was moderated by:

The Panelists were:

The Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis series of zoom webinars is hosted by the Systemic Justice Project on on Tuesdays from 12-1pm EST.

Click here for more information about the webinar series.

Call for Projects!

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TL;DR: If you have any ideas for what motivated law students could work on this summer, please let us know on this form. And please distribute this as widely as possible!

Law students across the country are eager to work on pressing problems created or highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, many organizations and legal practitioners on the front lines of the crisis need assistance urgently, but may not be in a position to take on summer fellows. Through The COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute, we are committed to bridging the gap between those students and those organizations. Having received hundreds of fellowship applications from students in the last few days, we are now seeking project partner organizations and lawyers in need of assistance. Here is some basic information about our program.

Fellows will work individually or on teams on a variety of project types, including:

  • Direct client work (e.g., law-related work, such as staffing a helpline or assisting individuals with unemployment insurance forms)
  • Legal research/writing
  • Advocacy efforts

We hope that many of our project partners will be able to work closely with our fellows, providing initial instruction and some amount of supervision, feedback, and mentorship as the projects evolve. We understand that some partner organizations will be unable to engage on all of those levels, so we will have structures to supplement as needed: please don’t let limited supervision capacity prevent you from reaching out to us. Although the pandemic is a driving force behind this effort, the projects themselves need not be virus-related. 

If you have a specific project to propose, please submit it on this form.

If you are uncertain about whether your potential project would be a good fit or is adequately developed, please send us a line here. We are eager to hear even vague ideas and to workshop them with you. 

Please email jlipton@law.harvard.edu and molly@peoplesparity.org with any questions. 

On this Tuesday (05/05) at 12:00 pm ET, we are hosting a Zoom webinar to describe the program in more detail and to answer questions from interested lawyers/organizations. You can join the webinar at this link. The video from the webinar will also be made available for those who cannot join. 

If you are a lawyer potentially interested in volunteering any amount of time to provide supervision and mentorship, please let us know here. We will work with you to find opportunities that match your availability and any conflicts concerns.

Regardless, we ask that you please distribute this as broadly as possible within your networks, to help us connect as many law students wanting to help with as many organizations in need of help as possible. 

Thank you!
The COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute Organizing Committee

Video: Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis – (5th Installment – Criminal Legal System)

Here’s the video for the fifth session, held on April 21st, focusing on the Criminal Legal System. The discussion was moderated by Jon Hanson and Jacob Lipton, Co-Directors of the Systemic Justice Project. The Panelists were:

The Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis series of zoom webinars is hosted by the Systemic Justice Project on on Tuesdays from 12-1pm EST.

Click here for more information about the webinar series.