George Barrett Social Justice Program


Students can earn credit by participating in a rich variety of supervised externships, not only in Nashville but also in other parts of the country and around the world. The Social Justice Program encourages students to seek out externships in areas related to social justice, and the program faculty is well-situated to help students find suitable placements.

Knowledge Courses

  • Seminars

    Each Vanderbilt Law student is required to take a seminar and prepare a substantive research paper as a condition of graduation. Enrollment in each of these seminars is limited to 16 students. The Social Justice Program offers a number of seminars that satisfy this requirement, including past offerings such as:

    • Juvenile Justice Seminar
    • Law and the Emotions Seminar
    • Legal History of Race in the United States
    • Legal History of the Voting Rights Act Seminar
    • Race and Law
  • Electives

    The great majority of law school courses will be valuable to at least some public service lawyers. The elective courses listed below have a specific focus on client groups that are likely not to be well served by the existing fee-for-service system, and may therefore be particularly of interest to students interested in social justice:

    • Actual Innocence
    • Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
    • Criminal Procedure: Investigation
    • Education Law
    • Employment Discrimination Law
    • Employment Law
    • Family Law
    • Immigration Law and Policy
    • Juvenile Justice
    • Legal Interviewing and Counseling
    • Mental Health Law: Deprivations of Life and Liberty
    • Non-Litigation Strategies for Change in Public and Social Policy
    • Poverty Law
  • Skills

    Skills courses provide the opportunity to apply your knowledge to hypothetical disputes using exercises, writing assignments and moot arguments.

    • Advanced Evidence & Trial Advocacy: Civil
    • Advanced Evidence & Trial Advocacy: Criminal
    • Advanced Legal Research
    • E-Discovery
    • Legal Interviewing & Counseling
    • Litigating the Capital Punishment Case
    • Mediation
    • Negotiation Short Course
    • The Practice of Civil Litigation
    • Pre-Trial Litigation
    • Trial Advocacy
  • Directed Research

    Vanderbilt law students may take advantage of a variety of opportunities to conduct research with Social Justice Program faculty, either by assisting faculty members with their research or by conducting their own research under faculty supervision.

Social Justice Reading Group

Social Justice Reading Group

Students interested in social justice issues may join a spring-semester non-credit reading group sponsored by the Social Justice Program. The group provides a forum in which students and faculty can explore together topics related to public interest law and lawyering through legal scholarship and work from other disciplines.

Discussions focus on substantive areas of social justice practice—including civil rights, poverty law, and the rights of defendants and prisoners—as well as the challenges that lawyers encounter when representing vulnerable or marginalized clients and causes.

Have Questions?

Contact the George Barrett Social Justice Program coordinator.