Social Justice Lawyering

The Social Justice Lawyering concentration prepares students to make a positive impact on the world by serving under-represented clients and communities.


Students attracted to this concentration come from diverse communities and perspectives, but all share a strong desire for a career that aligns with their values. This shared sense of calling to address issues of social justice builds a strong, supportive, enduring community that helps sustain concentrators as they enter and pursue this challenging and rewarding work.

As a public institution, UC Hastings has a deep commitment to training future social justice lawyers, officials, legislators, and analysts. This is reflected by the faculty’s devotion to the focus area. The Social Justice Lawyering concentration offers an impressive array of more than 100 classes that are taught by over thirty full-time UC Hastings faculty, as well as adjunct faculty who include some of the nation’s preeminent public interest lawyers. Students learn from pioneers in social justice, such as Professor Karen Musalo, who, as part of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, has led efforts to obtain and preserve legal recognition of domestic violence as a basis for political asylum, and from Professor Ascanio Piomelli, a leading analyst and advocate of “democratic” or “rebellious” approaches to social justice lawyering.

Hands-on work is an important component of this concentration: Every student in the Social Justice Lawyering concentration must take a clinical course—luckily there are plenty to choose from: criminal law, immigration, international human rights, community group advocacy and, social enterprise, to name but a few. This not only gives students vital experience, it also helps them decide what kind of social justice lawyer they want to be.

A year-long seminar in the second year brings students and faculty together to explore what it means to be a social justice lawyer. This intensive experience connects peers and mentors, forging relationships that will support students as they move forward as alums to change the world.

Qualifying Coursework

The list of courses within the categories is up to date as of the publication of this posting. New courses are sometimes added to the curriculum subsequent to publication. Therefore, if a student finds a course in the curriculum not listed, but which the student thinks might count toward concentration requirements, the student should check with the concentration advisor regarding the eligibility of the course to satisfy concentration requirements.