The death of George Floyd has reignited conversation over the topic of racial justice – at a level not seen since the late 1960s. For many, the events of the past several months have unequivocally demonstrated the pervasiveness of racism in our society. To address racial injustice in the legal profession, the College of Law plans to launch a Racial Justice Practicum in the summer of 2021. The Practicum will consist of a classroom component as well as work experience.
Students will participate in a one-week virtual class held during the late spring of 2021, which will focus specifically on racial justice as it relates to the legal profession. Topics addressed will include relevant constitutional legal principles, labor and employment issues, bankruptcy, health care legislation and its effects on Americans of color, and the ways in which the criminal justice system discriminates against people of color.
Externship placements with legal aid agencies or non-profit organizations that represent populations affected by racism in Illinois and elsewhere across the nation will provide students with experiential opportunities to serve clients wrestling with issues of racial justice.
To defray living expenses, students participating in the Practicum will receive a stipend of $1,500 per credit hour earned, up to a maximum of $6,000. Each student is expected to provide 60 hours of service per credit hour, up to a maximum of 240 hours during the term of the Practicum.
The College has identified several organizations for student placements, many of which are longtime partners and friends, including the ACLU, Cabrini Green Legal Services, the Equal Justice Initiative, Equip for Equality, Prairie State Legal Services, and more.
Dean Vikram Amar and Professor Rummana Alam, Diversity Committee Chair, feel strongly about the benefits of adding this course to the College of law curriculum.
“This Practicum that we are proposing to launch will help address a significant need in the community and at the same time provide a great platform for training our students to deliver first-rate legal services to people who need and deserve them. I am hopeful that we will be able to generate the resources necessary to make this an ongoing program, since the needs of society and the educational benefits to the students in these respects are themselves ongoing,” said Amar.
Alam added, “The Racial Justice Practicum will allow students to immerse themselves on issues relating to racial justice and the legal profession. These academic and experiential opportunities will allow students to impact clients confronting racial injustice and gain a working understanding of these issues beyond the classroom. The Diversity Committee looks forward to seeing this program grow and provide students with a deeper awareness of the relationship between the legal profession and these significant societal issues.”
Alumni and friends interested in offering support to the Practicum, financial or otherwise, may contact Bill Turner, Assistant Dean for Advancement. For additional information about the Practicum, please contact Greg Miarecki, Executive Assistant Dean for Career Planning and Professional Development.