Movement Lawyering

Image by Olalekan Jeyifous. Image Description: Illustration of three people of various races and genders, sitting on the floor holding protest signs with more protestors marching behind them.

Image by Olalekan Jeyifous. Image Description: Illustration of three people of various races and genders, sitting on the floor holding protest signs with more protestors marching behind them.

Spend the summer learning how to use law to build a world that is better for people and the planet.
A group of movement lawyering practitioners & educators, in collaboration with Movement Law Lab invite you to register for Build Power / Fight Power: a 5-Part Course on Movement Lawyering. Times of upheaval are also times of great opportunity and change. Lawyers and legal workers of conscience are needed now more than ever to support the people’s resistance be it the Movement for Black Lives, COVID-19 rapid-response, workers’ rights, climate change, immigrant rights, and more. Yet movement lawyering is not what most of us we were exposed to in law school or what we are trained and encouraged to do as legal practitioners.

Some of us are ready and willing to support these movements, but aren’t sure how to help. Others of us don’t know what movement lawyering means, but know that doing case after case isn’t going to solve the problems of our clients. Finally some of us are already connected and volunteering for movements, but this moment presents new challenges that we haven’t seen before. We believe, this moment asks us to think differently about our work. To find news ways to approach our cases, new partnerships, new thought-partners and new strategies. We created this course to help all legal advocates—the experienced and the newly committed—learn and reflect together on how we can use our skills to support movements fighting for transformative change rooted in people power.

This course is an introduction on how to use law to build the power of social justice movements. It will offer you guidance no matter which movement or organized community you are trying to support. From movements of low-wage workers, youth of color, climate justice activists, indigenous communities, the immigrants’ rights movement, survivors of abuse, people coming out of prison, or people fighting to end systemic racism—if you want to use your legal skills to build a world that is better for people and the planet, then this course is for you.

WHO IS ORGANIZING THIS COURSE? This course is being organized by Movement Law Lab and taught by a collective of experienced movement lawyers across the country. We work at a range of institutions, we represent different progressive movements, we have diverse expertise and skill-sets, but we are united in our belief that law is best used as a tool to shift power, culture and systems.

WHAT WILL THE COURSE COVER? The course will consist of presentations on: key theories of social change and concepts of movement lawyering, storytelling from experienced movement lawyers, as well as tools and resources to help integrate movement lawyering approaches into your current work. In addition, we hope to build a meaningful learning/practice community that will extend beyond the sessions and continue to build a national community of lawyers dedicated to supporting mass movements and grassroots organizing.

WHAT IS THE COURSE FORMAT? This course consists of five interactive online sessions running from July 8 – September 11, 2020. Sessions 1, 2 and 5 will be in plenary format—all of us will be in one session. Sessions 3 and 4 will be reoccurring and participants will have the ability to choose amongst a variety of dates. All sessions will be between 1.5 to 2 hours and will be recorded. There will be a course website with a discussion board and access to session recordings. Participants are strongly encouraged to register only if they can commit to attend all five sessions.

WHO IS THIS COURSE FOR? Any lawyers, legal workers, or law students interested in learning how to use law to create social change and support movements. We strongly encourage legal advocates coming from marginalized and/or non-traditional backgrounds to register—this space is for you: i.e. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or other people of color), women, queer/transgender people, people from low-income backgrounds, and/or people who are formerly incarcerated.

WHAT DOES THE COURSE COST? The course is free. However, we encourage those who can to make a donation to help cover the costs of the course. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

ACCESSIBILITY: All sessions will be virtual using Zoom and/or streaming to Facebook and will have either ASL or live-captioning.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 – 12-2pm PT/ 3-5pm ET
This first session will orient participants to the training series, introduce you to the concept of movement lawyering, and give you a theoretical framework for how to use your legal skills to transform culture, systems, and power.

TRAINERS: Amanda Alexander, Purvi Shah, Meena Jagannath, Nikki Thanos

Friday, July, 17, 2020 – 12-2pm PT/ 3-5pm ET
We can’t be useful if we don’t know what we are fighting for. On the heels of the crisis around COVID-19, as waves of protests against police brutality and for Black Lives have risen up across the country, this session will make space to hear from organizers and movement leaders. Come listen to the freedom dreams of visionary organizers building a world that is better for people and the planet.

Reoccurring Tuesdays & Thursdays – 11am-1pm PT/2-4pm ET
Movement lawyering isn’t a formula–it is an approach. These sessions will give participants with a real world view of movement lawyering from practitioners through case studies. Trainers will reflect on the joys, successes, and failures of using law to build power and shift systems using stories from actual cases and campaigns they have worked on. Participants will pick one of the following sessions to attend. All sessions will be held from 11-1pm PST/2-4pm EST.

July 28: Marika Dias & Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan

July 30: Jennifer Ching & Jeena Shah

Aug. 4: Alison McCrary & Azadeh Shahshahani

Aug. 6: Annie Lai & Jim Freeman

Aug. 11: Renee Hatcher & Julian Hill

Aug. 13: Sheila Maddali & Thomas Harvey

Aug. 18: Kris Henderson & Pam Spees

Aug. 20: Dean Spade & Angelica Chazaro

Aug. 25: Stephanie Llanes & Vince Warren

Aug. 27: Justin Hansford & Joey Mogul

Reoccurring Fridays – 12-1:30pm PT/3-4:30pm ET
Movement lawyering is an art and a lineage. The fourth session of this training series will be an open space for participants to ask ANY question of a panel of experienced movement lawyers. These sessions will give participants an opportunity to ask questions about the experience, practice, and journey of movement lawyering. No question is too big or too small. Come through and get filled up with wisdom and insight. Participants will pick one of the following sessions to attend. All sessions will be held from 12-1:30pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET

July 31: Andrea Ritchie, Colette Pichon Battle, Michael Grinthal & Kumar Rao

Aug. 7: Nikkita Oliver, Sameer Ashar, Dmitri Holtzman

Aug. 14: Marika Dias, Chuck Elsesser, Paromita Shah

Aug. 21: Vince Warren, Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Alana Greer, Sunita Patel

Aug. 28: JJ Rosenbaum, Seema N. Patel, Anita Sinha

September 11, 2020 – 11-1pm PT / 2-4pm ET
This closing session will help you envision how to apply movement lawyering to your own work. So much of what stands in the way of lawyers working for transformation is the culture of law schools, our profession and the institutions we work in. In this session we will explore ways to reimagine your legal practice and how to bring what you have learned in this course home. We will explore how to adopt the movement lawyering model and ways to practice collectivism, dignity, adaptiveness, and mutual-aid.

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