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Larry KrasnerDA Larry Krasner - A Talk on Progressive Prosecutors
November 12, 2018
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Flynn Auditorium

Please join the Public Interest Office in welcoming progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner. His talk will focus on re-imagining the role of the prosecutor and transforming the criminal justice system. DA Krasner will discuss the reforms he's implementing in Philadelphia and how law students can take part in this important movement. Larry Krasner was officially sworn in on January 2, 2018, as the City of Philadelphia’s 26th District Attorney. Before being elected District Attorney, Mr. Krasner served of-counsel at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt, and Flores, LLC. He worked as a public defender in Philadelphia from 1987-1991 and then at the Federal Public Defender's Office in Philadelphia from 1991-1993. In 1993, he started his own private practice specializing in criminal defense and police misconduct matters. During that time, Mr. Krasner tried thousands of bench and jury trials in criminal and civil court in the Philadelphia area as well as other counties and states.Throughout his 30 year career, Mr. Krasner has also proudly demonstrated a steadfast commitment to social justice, having defended protesters pro bono who were involved with movements including ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, progressive clergy with POWER, Casino-Free Philadelphia, DACA Dreamers, Decarcerate PA, anti-gun clergy with Heeding God’s Call, anti-poverty and homelessness advocates with Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Occupy Philly and Reclaim Philadelphia, and Grannies for Peace, among many others.


PPILS conference poster

Practicing Public Interest Law in the South Conference
October 19-20, 2018
Various times (see event description link)


VLS grads event poster imageSocial Justice & the Legal Profession Series: VLS Grads Serving the Public Interest
September 17, 2018
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Flynn Auditorium

Please join the George Barrett Social Justice Program and the Public Interest Office for the first installment of our Social Justice and the Legal Profession series for the 2018-2019 school year. This panel will feature three outstanding young VLS alums working the public interest sector. Karen Lindell '12 is an attorney at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, which she joined as a Skadden Fellow in 2014.  Vidhi Joshi '15 was a Skadden Fellow focusing on re-entry issues at Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.  Darrius Woods ‘17 is an Equal Justice Works fellow working on predatory lending and housing issues at Atlanta Legal Aid.  The panelists will discuss their current work and their paths from VLS into public interest work. Lunch will be provided.


Kentucky Pro Bono Disability Project Training
September 15, 2018
10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Ray Room

Join Kentucky attorney Ned Pillersdorf and the Public Interest Office for a training for students interested in working during the 2018-2019 academic year on a significant national pro bono project to provide support and assistance to hundreds of vulnerable residents of eastern Kentucky. These individuals face the loss of social security disability benefits due to their former attorney Eric Conn's conviction on federal fraud and bribery charges. Law students will provide remote legal and fact investigation support on these cases to a network of pro bono attorneys representing these clients in federal administrative hearings before the Social Security Administration. For more information about the challenges facing Eric Conn's former clients, who are low-income, disabled residents of eastern Kentucky, click here. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by Friday, September 14.

Youth Court Training
September 8, 2018
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Ray Room

The Tennessee Youth Court Program is offering a presentation and training for law students interested in becoming Youth Court volunteers during fall 2018.  Volunteers mentor Metro Nashville high school students participating in Youth Court, an alternative sentencing program for youth facing charges in the juvenile justice system.  Juvenile Judge Sheila Calloway will speak, along with Tennessee Youth Court Program leadership.  Lunch will be served. Please RSVP by Friday, September 7. Sponsored by Law Students for Social Justice and the Public Interest Office.

HUD’s Legal Honors Program Presentation
August 31, 2018
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Ray Room

Please join Mary Barrett Brewer ‘86, Tennessee Chief Counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for a presentation about HUD’s Legal Honors Program, for which VLS alum Austin Holland ’17 was recently selected. Lunch will be provided.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Info Session
August 30, 2018
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Alexander Room

Please join representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for an information session to learn about the organization’s civil rights work and about opportunities for law students and attorneys to get involved.  SPLC uses litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. Paid summer and post-graduate opportunities are available for law students and attorneys to work in its children’s rights, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, economic justice, criminal justice reform, and voting rights projects.  It has offices in Montgomery, AL; Atlanta; New Orleans; Miami; and Jackson, Miss. Lunch will be provided.

The Fight for Marriage book cover"The Fight for Marriage: Church Conflicts and Courtroom Contests," a Conversation with authors and Nashville attorneys Phil Cramer '00 and Bill Harbison
August 28, 2018
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Co-sponsored by the Branstetter Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program




2017-18 Events

Kristin Clarke

Kristen Clarke of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law delivers 2018 George Barrett Social Justice Lecture

In the 2018 George Barrett Social Justice Lecture at Vanderbilt Law School on April 5, Kristen Clarke challenged VLS students to use their legal skills to address a “national assault” on civil rights that has included voter suppression, mass incarceration and police brutality.

Read more>

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.

2017-18 Series

Indigent Defense PanelSocial 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.


Legal Aid Lawyering posterLegal Aid Lawyering for Social Justice

February 20, 2018
12:00 p.m.
Hyatt Room

This panel will discuss the work of legal aid lawyers, who serve as the front-line responders to the civil legal needs of low-income individuals and communities throughout the U.S.

The speakers include Andrae Crismon '03 of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (Murfreesboro office), Kevin De Liban of Legal Aid of Arkansas (West Memphis office), and Sarah Bolling Mancini of Atlanta Legal Aid and the National Consumer Law Center.  The panel will be moderated by Amanda Moore of the Shriver Center for Poverty Law.


Transactional Lawyering posterTransactional Lawyering for Economic Justice

March 29, 2018
12:00 p.m.
Hyatt Room

Please join the George Barrett Social Justice Program and the Office of Public Interest for the final installment of our Social Justice and the Legal Profession series, "Transactional Lawyering for Economic Justice."

The speakers include Clark Arrington of The Working World, Matthew Currie of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), and Hannah Kilson of Nolan, Sheehan and Patten. The panelist will discuss careers in transactional economic justice lawyering as well as their work in affordable housing, cooperative development, and nonprofit lawyering. The panel will be moderated by Professor Lauren Rogal , director of Vanderbilt’s Turner Family Community Enterprise Clinic.