You want to be a civil rights lawyer, but you aren’t sure which law program is right for you.
Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently spoke to experts on how applicants can find high-quality law schools in this field.
“Civil rights law deals with the protections and liberties enjoyed by the American people,” according to HG.org, one of the world’s largest non-subscription legal information sites. “These rights are designed to ensure that people are treated equally and without respect to their ethnicity, gender, or other such attributes.”
COURSES AND CLINICS
A good sign of a strong civil rights law program is one that offers a variety of civil rights courses and clinics.
Bass Ehler, a former chief of the Civil Rights Bureau for the Illinois Attorney General, tells US News that applicants should specifically look at a law school’s nonclinical curriculum and seek out courses on federal courts or federal jurisdictions. Additionally, programs that offer courses in civil rights litigation and constitutional law are also good signs.
Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, says applicants should seek out law programs that offer externship programs in civil rights law.
“More law schools are adopting apprenticeship-style learning, where students spend an entire semester with an organization,” Riggs tells US News. “This is a much more effective way of learning,” she says. “Full semester externs tend to be fewer, so it’s easier to get your supervisor’s attention and be treated like a part of the team.”
Experts say applicants interested in civil rights should also look at a law program’s faculty.
Generally, according to Steven I. Azizi, senior partner and co-founder of Miracle Mile Law Group, a strong civil rights law faculty will have experience as civil rights lawyers in either the government or private practice.
“Who teaches you is just as important as what you’re learning,” Azizi tells US News.