Curriculum

NOTE: Since curricular requirements are reviewed and updated each academic year, you are required to complete the requirements that were in force in the year in which you affiliated. The following requirements apply to students who affiliated with the Center in the spring of 2014.

For students who affiliated in the spring of 2012, please click here to review your requirements. For students who affiliated in the spring of 2013, please click here to review your requirements.

To download a PDF of these requirements, click here.

JAC CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS (Spring 2014 Affiliates)

The Justice Action Center curriculum is designed to develop an interest in lawyering for justice, a sense of shared experience among JAC faculty and students, an awareness of problems faced by lawyers involved with social justice issues, and the ability to think critically about them. The JAC curriculum has three components: two required courses (gateway and capstone), a concentration in a particular area of social justice law, and an annual Center community requirement. To complete the JAC affiliation successfully, students are required to:

1. Complete a JAC gateway course;
2. Satisfy the concentration requirements in a particular area of social justice law;
3. Complete the Center’s annual community requirement; and
4. Fulfill the JAC capstone requirement in the final year of enrollment.

These requirements are described below. (Harlan Scholars affiliating with the Abbey Center should reference the special requirements listed under “Abbey/JAC Co-Curricular Requirements” at the bottom of this page.)

Justice Action Center Gateway Course

All JAC students must satisfy the JAC “gateway” course requirement. The gateway course is designed to develop a sense of shared experience among JAC faculty and students, an awareness of problems faced by lawyers involved with social justice issues, and the ability to think critically about them. Day division students satisfy the requirement by enrolling in the Justice Action Center Colloquium in the fall of their second year. Evening division students satisfy it by enrolling in the Colloquium in any semester before they graduate or by enrolling in Law, Public Policy, and Social Change.

Justice Action Center Colloquium: Legal Practice for Social Change (2 credits)

  • To read the official course description, please click here.
  • For a sense of what students in the Colloquium study, please review our most recent course syllabus by clicking here.

Law, Public Policy, and Social Change (2 credits)
This course is open to all JAC students. Evening division students may take this course to satisfy the JAC gateway course requirement. This course will challenge students to consider the various roles that lawyers play in movements for social change and the political nature of litigation, judicial decisions, and social change. Students will study past and present examples of lawyers working to advance public policy, including the work conducted by lawyers to end legal segregation of the public schools, organize the Montgomery bus boycott, build the post–September 11, 2001 civil liberties movement, and organize the growing movement to reform education and public safety policies that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. (Although this course is open to all JAC students, it will only satisfy the gateway course requirement for evening division students.)

Concentrations

Each JAC student will complete a concentration of four courses in a particular area of social justice law. Each concentration requires the student take one to three “core” courses. The student must then choose additional related courses for a total of FOUR courses in the concentration. The remaining courses must be chosen in consultation with the Center Director. For example, the core course for the Civil Liberties concentration is “Federal Courts and the Federal System.” A student completing the Civil Liberties concentration would need to complete “Federal Courts and the Federal System” plus three related courses (chosen in consultation with the Center Director), for a total of four courses. Not every course listed in a concentration is offered every year, so students should consult with faculty about course selection. (Information when known about the timing of course offerings is indicated in parenthesis next to the course. Even where no notation is included, however, a course may not be offered during a student’s period of affiliation with the Center.) Students may also design their own concentrations, including creating a dual affiliation with another Center, in consultation with and with approval from the Director. The application for a student-designed concentration is available on this website.

Listed below are the Center’s pre-approved concentrations. These concentrations can also be tailored to fit a student’s particular interests or to reflect new or modified course offerings. Please click on a concentration for a complete list of course requirements:

Anti-Discrimination Law

Choose TWO of the following core courses:

  • Anti-Discrimination Law
  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Racial Discrimination and American Law
  • Sexuality and the Law

+ TWO additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Civil Liberties

The following ONE core course:

  • Federal Courts and the Federal System

+ THREE additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

The Clinical Year

The Clinical Year is a 24-credit clinical course students can take in their final year. This course itself satisfies the requirements for a concentration and a capstone. Students who wish to pursue this concentration should inform the JAC director upon registration with JAC.

Criminal Law

BOTH of the following TWO core courses:

  • Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
  • Criminal Procedure: Investigation

+ TWO additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Economic Justice

Choose TWO of the following core courses:

  • Advanced Constitutional Law: Public Education Law
  • Anti-Discrimination Law and Policy
  • Education Law and Policy
  • Elder Law
  • Racial Discrimination and American Law
  • Special Education Law and Practice

+ TWO additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Education Law

The following THREE core courses:

  • Advanced Constitutional Law: Public Education Law
  • Education Law and Policy (if offered)
  • Special Education Law and Practice

+ TWO additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Environmental Law

BOTH of the following TWO core courses:

  • Administrative Law
  • Environmental Law and Policy

PLUS choose ONE of the following courses:

  • Climate Change Law
  • Climate Change Issues in Real Estate and Business Transactions
  • Environmental Issues in Business and Real Estate Transactions
  • Land Use Regulation

+ ONE additional course chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Family Law

The following ONE core course:

  • Family Law

PLUS at least TWO of the following courses:

  • Anatomy of a New York State Divorce Action
  • Children and the Law
  • Domestic Violence Litigation Field Placement
  • Elder Law Clinic

+ ONE additional course chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Special note for Harlan Scholar students jointly affiliated with the Abbey Center: If you are pursuing joint affiliation and you are a Harlan Scholar, please refer to the Abbey/JAC Co-Curricular Requirements at the bottom of this page.

Immigration Law

The following ONE core course:

  • Immigration Law

PLUS at least ONE of the following courses:

  • Externship Seminar and Placement (with approved placement)
  • Immigration Practice Seminar and Workshop
  • Refugee and Asylum Law

+ TWO additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

International Human Rights Law

Choose ONE of the following core courses:

  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Human Rights Seminar and Workshop

PLUS the following ONE course:

  • Refugee and Asylum Law

+ TWO additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Labor and Employment Law

ALL of the following THREE core courses:

  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Employment Law
  • Labor Relations Law (if offered)

+ ONE additional course chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Mental Disability Law

BOTH of the following TWO core courses:

  • Advocacy Skills in Cases Involving Persons with Mental Disabilities: The Role of Lawyers and Expert Witnesses
  • Survey of Mental Disability Law

+ TWO additional courses chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Social Change Advocacy

The following ONE core course:

  • Civil Rights Law

+ THREE additional course chosen in consultation with the Center Director.

Annual Community Requirement

JAC is more than a curricular program—it is a community of individuals dedicated to exploring the relationship between social justice and law. All student members are required to participate in JAC’s educational and social activities as part of their Center requirements. Students are required, at a minimum, to complete ten community credit-hours each year as part of their affiliation with the Center.

Students must earn six credit-hours each year in the following manner:

  • Attend two JAC-sponsored public education events (one credit-hour each);
  • Attend three capstone presentation sessions (one credit-hour each); and
  • Meet with the Director to discuss curricular and career goals (one credit-hour).

Students earn the remaining four credit-hours from among the following activities:

  • Write a blog post for the Center blog (one credit-hour);
  • Write an article for the annual newsletter (one credit-hour);
  • Volunteer for office hours in the Center (one credit-hour per hour worked); or
  • Volunteer at a Center event (one credit-hour per hour worked).

Justice Action Center Capstone Experience

All JAC students must complete a capstone experience in their final year of enrollment. Students can complete the capstone by taking a project-based learning course, a clinic, or a field placement course approved by the Director.  Students satisfying the capstone will make a presentation of their project to members of the JAC community at the end of the school year, either as part of the particular course in which they are enrolled or through separately scheduled presentations. Students will also submit a post about the issues raised in their projects to the JAC blog.

The following courses have been approved for use as capstones:

  • Administrative Enforcement Clinic
  • Building a Disability Rights Information Center for Asia and the Pacific Clinic
  • Child Welfare Clinic
  • Civil Justice Through the Courts Clinic
  • Civil Rights Clinic
  • The Clinical Year
  • Community-Based Initiatives in Family Law Reform
  • Conservation Law and Policy Clinic
  • Criminal Defense Clinic
  • Criminal Prosecution Clinic
  • Detention in the War Against Terrorism
  • Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic
  • Education Law and Practice: The Charter High School for Law and Social Justice
  • Elder Law Clinic
  • The Guardianship Project
  • Immigration and Refugee Rights Clinic
  • Immigration Law and Litigation
  • Legislative Advocacy Clinic
  • Mediation Clinic
  • Municipal Litigation Defense Clinic and City Law Seminar
  • Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic
  • Racial Justice Advocacy
  • Securities Arbitration Clinic
  • Suspension Representation Clinic
  • Tax Planning Clinic
  • Taxpayer Assistance Clinic
  • Transactional Law Clinic
  • Transitional Justice Network
  • Wills Clinic

Abbey/Justice Action Center Co-Curricular Requirements

Associates: Please note that the co-curricular requirements below do not apply to non-Harlan affiliates pursuing a joint program. Non–Harlan Scholars interested in a joint affiliation with JAC and the Abbey Center should consult with the JAC Director to devise a custom joint-curricular program.

Harlan Scholars: Harlan Scholars affiliated with the Abbey Center complete JAC requirements by following a specialized curricular program.

The following applies only to joint JAC/Abbey Harlan affiliates.

The Abbey Center provides academic and professional opportunities for New York Law School students who are interested in children’s and family issues. In addition, the Abbey Center hosts conferences, provides information for practitioners and members of the public, and publishes the JustFamilies.org blog. The Abbey Center takes an interdisciplinary approach, with the goal of enhancing the quality of advocacy and services for children and families.

The requirements for the Abbey Center are designed to ensure that students have opportunities to work on behalf of children and families, and to contribute to family law-related policy debate and scholarship. In addition, they provide students with a strong foundation for achieving their professional goals.

Below is a summary of the Abbey Center requirements. For more information, please see that center’s webpage.

a. Courses: Students must take the Abbey Center Colloquium class, an introductory course that is generally taken in the 2L year, as well as 12 additional credits of approved family law-related substantive law or skills-based courses (approximately one course each semester). “Family law-related” refers to practice areas that involve representing or providing services for children and families, including: child welfare, education, matrimonial practice, adoption, juvenile justice, elder law, domestic violence, immigration, and mental health.

Click here for a list of current courses that satisfy the Abbey Center 12-credit requirement.

Clinical Courses (may also satisfy Capstone Requirement):

  • Child Welfare Clinic
  • Civil Rights Clinic
  • Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic
  • Elder Law Clinic
  • Guardianship Project Clinic
  • Immigration Law and Litigation Clinic
  • Immigration and Refugee Rights Clinic
  • Legislative Advocacy Clinic
  • Suspension Representation Clinic
  • Wills Clinic

Writing & Simulation Courses:

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Drafting: Legislation
  • Drafting: Litigation
  • Memo and Brief Writing
  • Negotiation, Counseling and Interviewing
  • Negotiation: Theory and Practice
  • Trial Practice

Other Courses:

  • Advocacy Skills in Cases Involving Persons with Mental Disabilities
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Law, Policy and Practice
  • Anatomy of NYS Divorce Action
  • Children and the Law
  • Civil Rights Law
  • Community-Based Initiatives
  • Custody Evaluations, Juvenile and Family Law and Mental Disability
  • Domestic Violence and the Law
  • Education Law and Policy
  • Elder Law and Aging in America
  • Estate Administration
  • Estate Planning
  • Family Court
  • Family Formation: Adoption and Assisted Reproduction
  • Family Law
  • Gender in American Legal History
  • Immigration Law
  • Immigration Practice
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Law, Public Policy and Social Change
  • Mental Disability Law, Survey
  • Race, Gender, Class and Mental Disability Law
  • Racial Discrimination and American Law
  • Refugee and Asylum Law
  • Remedies
  • Reproductive Rights Law
  • The Role of the Government Attorney
  • Sex Crimes and Child Abuse
  • Sex Offenders
  • Sexuality and the Law
  • Special Education Law
  • State and Local Government
  • Statistical Literacy for Lawyers
  • Trauma and Mental Disability Law
  • Wills, Trusts and Future Interests

b. Placements: Students should complete one family law-related placement each year, which may include an academic year or summer job, externship, clinic, or significant volunteer opportunity. The Abbey Center works with evening students to ensure that they are able to meet this requirement.

c. Clinic/Capstone Project: Students must complete one graded clinic, or an independent study project that is approved by the Director or Associate Director as a Capstone project. Independent study projects should serve a practical purpose, and generally should be done in collaboration with a non-profit organization or government agency and under the supervision of the Director or Associate Director or another NYLS faculty member.

d. Center Activities: Students should complete at least 5 hours of Abbey Center work each semester, which may include any of the following:

  • Drafting and completing one or more blog posts that are approved for publication on the Abbey Center’s JustFamilies.org blog. Suggested topics will be provided; students may also independently select topics subject to approval. In general, blog articles should concern current family law-related legal issues that impact children and families in New York (including cases, laws, and policy initiatives).
  • Helping to plan, coordinate, and/or carry out an Abbey Center event.
  • Other projects proposed by the Director or Associate Director, or proposed by students subject to approval by the Director or Associate Director.

e. Events: The Abbey Center hosts or co-hosts multiple public and internal events over the course of each year. Students should attend at least two of these events.