Social Justice and Public Interest

Become a Champion for Systemic Change and Help Individuals in Need

Miami Law’s wide-ranging, interdisciplinary curriculum allows you to carve your niche within the broader field of social justice and public interest law. Our 18 clinics and practicums will help you gain the necessary experience to make your passion for helping others a reality. The law school’s HOPE Public Interest Resource Center is the starting point for students committed to advocacy and service. Our dedicated attorney advisors provide individualized guidance to help students identify public interest programs, clinics, projects, courses, and opportunities at the law school and beyond. Whether your ultimate goal is a career in the public sector, or integrating pro bono work as a component of private practice, Miami Law helps you acquire the knowledge and skills essential for making an impact and representing our diverse and vibrant South Florida community. Through various initiatives locally, nationally, and internationally, Miami Law students are leading the way in promoting access to justice.

Some Facts about Miami and Miami Law:

Read more news on social justice and public interest at Miami Law

Guerby NoelSocial justice is critically important because it is progressive. We are looking at the law, not just as it stands but how we can shape it in the future. Social justice attorneys are always looking for ways to ensure that the underrepresented and disenfranchised are spoken for and protected. The social justice concentration considers the intersection of many different factors--race, wealth, gender, and more. It is wonderful that Miami Law has committed itself to training the next generation of social justice advocates to empower the community."
Guerby Noel, J.D. ‘14
Senior Attorney for Equity Advocacy, Legal Services of Greater Miami
Miami, FL

Courses*

  • Affordable Housing
  • Animal Law
  • Children and the Law
  • Civil Rights Litigation
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Climate Change Law and Policy
  • Consumer Protection
  • Criminal Litigation
  • Cross-Cultural Collaboration
  • Cross-Cultural Mediation
  • Election Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Fake News: Media Law in the Age of Trump
  • First Amendment Fundamentalism
  • Gender Violence, Social Justice, and Law
  • Human Rights
  • Human Trafficking
  • Immigration Law
  • Immigration, Ethnicity, and Public Policy
  • International Human Rights
  • Law and Social Justice
  • Law, Policy, and Technology
  • Legal Advocacy and Same-Sex Marriage
    Legislation
  • Maritime and Coastal Legal and Policy Issues in Miami
  • Mental Health Law
  • National Security Law
  • Non-Profit Organizations and Social Enterprises
  • Policing the Police
  • Public Interest Litigation in Private Practice
  • Race and Economic Justice
  • Race and the Law
  • Race, Class, and Power: The #BlackLivesMatter Movement
  • Sexuality, Gender Identity, and the Law
  • Slavery and Commercial Law
  • Social Impact Advocacy
  • Social Justice Engagement
  • Social Justice Lawyering
  • Socially Engaged Art in Law
  • Space Law
  • Spanish for Lawyers I and II
  • State and Local Government
  • Systemic Advocacy
  • The Criminalization of Homelessness
  • Torture and the Law
  • Trial Litigation
  • Urbanism, Capitalism, and Development
  • Voting Rights and Election Law
  • Wetlands Regulation and Real Property
  • Wrongful Convictions

*Course list is not exhaustive and does not set out a path of study.

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Thomas HartHomeless clients have thanked me for helping with their cases, and I can see that their lives have been changed in a real way. They have stability now. Minnesota is cold and knowing that people had a warm place to sleep motivated my work.”

Thomas Hart, J.D. ’10
Disability Policy Engagement Director with Anthem, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN

Joint Degrees

J.D./LL.M. - International Arbitration
J.D./LL.M. - International Law
J.D./M.H.A. - Health Administration
J.D./M.P.A. - Public Administration
J.D./M.P.H. - Public Health
J.D./M.P.S. - Marine Ecosystems and Society
J.D./M.S.Ed. - Community and Social Change
J.D./Ph.D. - Environmental Science and Policy




International Opportunities

International Moot Court Program: The only one of its kind in the U.S., Miami Law offers a unique and comprehensive International Moot Court Program in which students travel and compete, in Spanish and English, in competitions around the world. Students advocate the different sides of a case and analyze the problem, identify the legal issues, research the law, write the briefs and orally present it to a tribunal. There are opportunities to particulate in moot court competitions related to social justice and public interest, these have included:

  • Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court
  • Price Media Human Rights Moot Court
  • International Criminal Court Moot

International Exchange Programs - Miami Law offers 25+ study abroad options in 13 countries where students can study social justice and public interest law from different legal perspectives.

Nikki Simon LewisMy pre-law and law school experiences in the...Student Bar Association, and the Black Law Students Association are just some examples of what helped shape and expand my career goals by exposing me to different types of lawyers and practices. Each organization and the people in them had a variety of perspectives about life and the law that were helpful to me in formulating my own direction.”
Nikki Lewis Simon, J.D. '99
Chief Diversity Officer and Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
New York, NY

Extracurricular Opportunities

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS and PROJECTS

  • Alliance Against Human Trafficking
  • American Civil Liberties Union-UM
  • American Constitution Society
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Charles C. Papy Moot Court Board
  • Child Advocacy Family Law Society
  • Criminal Law Society
  • Cuban-American Bar Association (CABA)
  • Environmental Law Society
  • First-Generation Law Association
  • Health Law Association
  • Hispanic Law Students Association
  • Human Rights Society
  • Immigration Students Law Association
  • International Law Society
  • International Moot Court Board
  • Miami Law Women
  • Military and National Security Law Society
  • National Lawyers' Guild
  • OUTLaw
  • Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • South/West Asian & North African Law Students Assoc.
  • Trial Team

LAW JOURNALS

Internships and Externships**

  • 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Domestic Violence Division
  • ACLU (New York, NY and Atlanta, GA)
  • American Bar Association Commission on Immigration (Washington, DC)
  • Amara Legal Center (Washington, DC)
  • Americans for Immigrant Justice
  • Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (Phoenix, AZ)
  • AYUDA (Washington, DC)
  • Bread for the City (New York, NY)
  • Brooklyn Defender Services (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Capital Appeals Project (New Orleans, LA)
  • Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition (Washington, DC)
  • Catholic Legal Services
  • Center for Constitutional Rights (New York, NY)
  • Center for Gender & Refugee Studiens (San Francisco, CA)
  • Center for Reproductive Rights (New York, NY)
  • Centers for Disease Control (Atlanta, GA)
  • Center for Children's Law and Policy (Washington, DC)
  • Colorado Office of the Child's Representative (Denver, CO)
  • Disability Independence Group
  • EarthJustice 
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Everglades Law Center
  • FairVote (Washington, DC)
  • Federal Communications Commission 
  • Florida Health Justice Project
  • Florida Justice Institute
  • House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (Washington, DC)
  • Humane Society of the U.S.  (New York, NY)
  • Innocence Project
  • Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Washington, DC)
  • Legal Services of Greater Miami 
  • Miami Homes for All
  • Miami Waterkeeper  
  • National Labor Relations Board 
  • National Park Conservation Association (Washington, DC)
  • National Women’s Law Center (Washington, DC)
  • Oasis Legal Services (Berkeley, CA)
  • Oceana  
  • Office of the Federal Public Defender of the Southern District of Florida
  • Office of the Public Defender (CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, IL, MD, OH, RI)
  • Office of the State Attorney (CT, FL, IL, KS, MA, NM)
  • Southern Coalition for Social Justice (Durham, NC)
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • The Arc National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (Washington, DC)
  • The Legal Aid Society (New York, NY)
  • The White House, Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (Washington, DC)
  • Tibetan Legal Association (Dharamsala, India)
  • United Nations-Office of Legal Affairs (New York, NY)
  • USCIRF - U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Office of Legal Counsel (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit 
  • U.S. Court of International Trade
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida  
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security 
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Natural Resources Division/Environmental Enforcement Section (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Phoenix, AZ)
  • U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission 
  • University of Miami Health System 
  • World Bank Group  (Washington, DC)
  • Youth Law Center (San Francisco, CA)

**List is not exhaustive and is intended to provide examples of past externships and internships.

Faculty Experts

  • Anthony V. Alfieri, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar; Director, Center for Ethics & Public Service, teaches civil procedure, ethics, public interest law and leadership, social enterprise, and professional liability and lawyer malpractice. 
  • Paula Arias, Lecturer in Law, Director International Moot Court Program, is an expert in dispute resolution in Latin America.
  • Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Professor of Law and Director of the Human Rights Clinic, is an expert in human rights, women and children's rights.
  • Donna K. Coker, Professor of Law, focuses on criminal law, gender and inequality. She is a nationally recognized expert in domestic violence law and policy.
  • Caroline Mala Corbin, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, focuses on the First Amendment’s speech and religion clauses, particularly their intersection with equality issues. She speaks often on religious opposition to the contraception mandate — the provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring that insurance plans cover contraception.
  • R. Denisse Córdova MontesPractitioner in Residence & Lecturer in Law, Human Rights Clinic
  • Charlton Copeland, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, has written extensively on the Medicaid expansion provision and his research interests are administrative law, federal courts and federalism, comparative constitutional law, and race and the law.
  • Tamar Ezer, Lecturer in Law, Associate Director of the Human Rights Clinic and Faculty Director, Human Rights Program
  • Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of civil rights and technology.
  • Zanita Fenton, Professor of Law, teaches family law and her research interests cover issues of structural inequality and forms of subordination, including those of race, gender and class.
  • Elizabeth M. Iglesias, Professor of Law, is a co-founder of the LatCrit movement (the legal, economic and other difficulties facing the Latina/o community), also has taught international criminal law and international economic law.
  • Robert Latham, Clinical Instructor and Practitioner-in-Residence of the Children & Youth Law Clinic, teaches students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned and neglected children in a variety of forums, including dependency and family courts, administrative hearings, and federal and appellate courts.

Marni LennonMiami Law students are engaged, determined and innovative. They advocate for clients and communities locally, nationally and internationally. Their passion and drive to make a difference and ensure access to justice sets them apart.”

Marni Lennon, J.D. ’95
Assistant Dean for Public Interest & Pro Bono, Director HOPE Public Interest Resource Center, and Lecturer in law

Marni Lennon teaches in the area of social justice advocacy

 

  • JoNel Newman, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director, Health Rights Clinic, teaches professional responsibility and civil procedure. 
  • Bernard Oxman, Richard A. Hausler Professor of Law, is the one of the world's leading experts on the Law of the Sea. 
  • Jessica OwleyProfessor of Law, is the Faculty Director for the Environmental Law Program.
  • Kunal Parker, Professor of Law, is an expert in immigration law and property law.
  • Bernard P. Perlmutter, Professor of Law & Co-Director, Children & Youth Law Clinic, teaches and supervises second- and third-year law students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned and neglected children and adolescents in a variety of legal proceedings, including dependency and foster care, public benefits, health care, mental health, disability, education and immigration cases, in addition to appellate, legislative and administrative advocacy and law reform litigation.
  • Ileana Porras, Senior Lecturer, teaches international Law and international environmental law.
  • Alejandro Portes, Professor of Sociology and Law, is an expert in international migration.
  • Patricia Redmond, Director Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic, is an expert in bankruptcy, insolvency, restructuring, and Chapter 11.
  • Gabriel Scheffler, Associate Professor of Law, works primarily in the areas of health law and policy, administrative law, and occupational regulation.
  • Stephen J. Schnably, Professor of Law, writes in the fields of international human rights law, the OAS human rights system, comparative constitutional law, and the relationship of international law to constitutional law. He has taught international law, international human rights, and comparative constitutional law.
  • Rebecca SharplessProfessor of Law and Director, Immigration Clinic, researches and writes in the areas of progressive lawyering, feminist theory, and the intersection of immigration and criminal law.
  • Kele Stewart, Professor of Clinical Legal Education, Co-Director, Children and Youth Law Clinic, teaches courses on family and juvenile law and legal practice.  Her scholarship is in the areas of child welfare, children’s rights and clinical education.  
  • Irwin P. StotzkyProfessor of Law, has worked over three decades to improve human rights in Haiti and the status of Haitian immigrants in the U.S. 
  • Melissa Swain, Associate Director, Health Rights Clinic & Lecturer in Law
  • Craig TrocinoDirector of the Innocence Clinic, teaches classes in post-conviction litigation and federal sentencing. His areas of concentration are in appellate practice and post-conviction litigation and he maintains research interests in criminal law, habeas corpus and appellate practice.
  • Marcia Narine Weldon, Professor of Legal Writing and Lecturer in Law, is an expert in business and corporate law, corporate governance, labor and employment law, compliance, business and human rights, and ESG (environmental, social, and governance).

Job Fairs Focused on Public Interest

Students at job fair

Miami Law students have participated in multiple job fairs. Some are exclusively focused on public interest and others feature public and private sector employers with an affinity for public interest and social justice.

Centers

Ronald Tomassi"The Center for Ethics and Public Service was one of the highlights of my law school experience. It revealed the impact that this profession can have when a group of talented, motivated, and genuinely good people offer their time and talents to the community. This lesson has stayed with me and affected my pro bono efforts throughout my career."

Ron Tomassi, J.D. '06
Managing Partner, León Cosgrove
Denver, CO

Open All Tabs
  • Center for Ethics and Public Service (CEPS)

    CEPS is a law school- housed ethics education, experiential skills training, and community engagement program devoted to the values of ethical judgment, professional responsibility, and public service in law and society. The Center’s mission is to educate law students to serve their communities as citizen lawyers.

  • Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI)

    CCRI was founded in August 2012 as the End Revenge Porn campaign, which called for the criminalization of nonconsensual pornography, the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. CCRI has its home at Miami Law and the Initiative offers opportunities for law students and other university students eager to apply their professional skills to a cutting-edge issue with real-world implications.

  • HOPE Public Interest Resource Center (HOPE)

    HOPE is the starting point for law students committed to advocacy and service and provides individualized guidance to help students identify programs, clinics, projects, courses, and opportunities at the law school and beyond. This center runs various projects and fellowships including:

    • Miami Scholars Public Interest Program
    • HOPE Public Interest Leadership Board
    • HOPE Fellows Program
    • HOPE Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program
    • HOPE Pro Bono/Community Service Challenge
    • HOPE Day of Service
    • HOPE Pro Bono Legal Research Project
    • HOPE Advocacy Projects