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George Barrett Social Justice Program

Social justice is the heart of law. The Social Justice Program keeps it at the heart of Vanderbilt Law School.

The Social Justice Program aims to promote a dynamic atmosphere within which issues of equality, access and service are openly and regularly explored by faculty and students inside and outside the classroom. Students can choose from a variety of courses and clinics addressing a diversity of topics, including non-litigation strategies for social change; race and the law; drug law and policy; domestic violence; labor and employment; poverty law; mental health law; bioethics; immigration; the death penalty; and wrongful conviction. The program also offers an innovative Social Justice Reading Group that allows students to explore a range of substantive issues addressed by public interest lawyers as well as the challenges and rewards of representing marginalized clients and communities.

Throughout the year, the Social Justice Program sponsors guest speakers, conferences, workshops and a variety of activities for both students and faculty. In our annual flagship event the Social Justice Program recognizes a Social Justice Fellow, a distinguished member of the bar who has devoted his or her career to public interest law. During an on-campus residency, the Fellow gives a public lecture, presents to the faculty and offers individual student mentoring sessions.

The program also works to help connect students to public interest practice opportunities during law school and beyond.

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Social Justice and the Legal Profession Panel Series

The George Barrett Social Justice Program and the Office of Public Interest are pleased to announce the 2017-2018 Social Justice and the Legal Profession lunchtime panel series. The series will expose students to a diverse range of career paths that allow attorneys to put into practice their social justice and public service values.  It will also explore the special responsibility all attorneys have for the quality of our justice system.

Indigent Defense Panel Social Justice and the Legal Profession Series: Indigent Defense Panel

September 21, 2017
12:00 p.m.
Flynn Auditorium

Please join the George Barrett Social Justice Program and the Office of Public Interest for a new lunch series—Social Justice and the Legal Profession. This first panel will feature four public defenders and discuss careers in indigent defense. Panelist include Alexis Hoag, Office of the Federal Defender, Middle District of TN; Dan Kay ’14, Bronx Defenders; Adam Levin, Georgia Capital Defender, and Georgia Sims ’09, Nashville Defenders. This event is free and open to the public; lunch will be provided.

Big Law and Social Justice posterBig Law and Social Justice, Really? The Promise and Limits of Pro Bono

October 23, 2017
12:00 p.m.
Hyatt Room

The second part of the series will feature Akin Gump Pro Bono Partner Steven Schulman, head of the firm’s worldwide pro bono practice. He will speak on the promise and limitations of pro bono as a means of overcoming the access to justice gap and advancing social justice. This event is free and open to the public; lunch will be provided.

Advancing Social Justice from the Private Sector

November 6, 2017
12:00 p.m.
Flynn Auditorium

The third panel will feature three local attorneys and discuss practicing public interest law from the private sector. Panelist include Brian Winfrey ’06, Morgan & Morgan; Tricia Herzfeld, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings; and Kyle Mothershead ’02, Mothershead Law.