Social Justice Certificate


Social justice lawyers work to challenge the systems that create unequal status hierarchies and thus give tangible meaning to democratic ideals in the everyday lives of marginalized individuals and communities.

Working both domestically and internationally, social justice lawyers seek to center the voices of those who are systemically subordinated and underrepresented, with the goal of eradicating systemic inequality and replacing it with systemic justice.

The Social Justice Certificate is ideal for students interested in challenging societal inequality and power differentials, particularly as these relate to class and economics, identity and civil rights, and the political process.

The coursework in the certificate program gives students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and develop their expertise in ways that will allow them to use law and policy to practically, ethically, and materially advance equality and social justice. The Social Justice Certificate also prepares students for a career that aligns with their values. Hands-on work is an important component of this certificate program.

Certificate Requirements

Students who intend to pursue a certificate program should complete the Declaration Form. The form deadline for your intention to pursue a certificate is November 1st of your 3L year, though you may certainly do so at an earlier point. If you fail to meet the requirements of the certificate by the time you graduate, you will not earn the certificate.

In addition to all other J.D. degree requirements, students must complete the requirements below to earn the Social Justice Certificate.

Experiential Component

Complete one of the following experiential courses:

  • Legal Aid Clinic
  • Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies
  • Field Placement Program – a field placement with an organization focused on social justice (with approval of the certificate director)

Elective Courses

Complete six courses from the list below. Courses not included in this list must be approved by the certificate director:

  • Administrative Law
  • Advanced Legal Aid Clinic
  • Asylum and Refugee Law
  • Civil Rights Actions
  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Environmental Law Seminar (Environmental Justice)
  • Federal Indian Law
  • Feminist Jurisprudence
  • Independent Research (related to social justice)
  • Juvenile Law
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Seminar
  • Mass Incarceration
  • Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt Organizations
  • Special Topics: ___ (Social Justice Lawyering; Sexual Orientation & the Law)
  • A second course meeting the criteria for the experiential component requirement, as approved by the certificate director
  • Any additional courses as approved by the certificate director

Course descriptions


Kyle Velte
Associate Professor of Law