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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Access to Justice (Spring 2017)

  • Course Number: LAW-711
  • Class Number: 03393
  • Instructor: Clare Pastore

Course Description

The Access to Justice practicum is an opportunity for up to 4 students to work closely with Professor Clare Pastore on advocacy projects from the real world.  Each project will involve an important civil rights, poverty law, or access to justice issue for low income people in California or the nation, and students will join a team of advocates working on the project.  Projects differ from semester to semester, but will generally include litigation, amicus briefs, and/or drafting of legislation, reports, or white papers.  Unlike in a traditional supervised research project, students in the practicum will be working with Professor Pastore and outside advocates as colleagues on a joint project.  They will be held to appropriate standards of professionalism with regard to quality of work and responsibility for meeting deadlines, etc.  Past Practicum projects have included litigation (including drafting of complaints and briefs) of three foster care policy cases and an ongoing case against LA Superior Court over traffic fines, a report on working conditions in California’s underground economy, amicus briefs to the Ninth Circuit, California Supreme Court and California Court of Appeal in housing, disability rights, FOIA, and labor cases, and drafting of a proposed law and explanatory white paper to combat wage theft.

Students will complete a substantial piece of written work and will have the opportunity to interact with practitioners in the Los Angeles or national nonprofit community.  The class  will meet as a group 1-2  times at the start of the semester and 1-2 times at the end, with students working individually or in pairs with the professor and the outside advocates (generally meeting weekly) in the interim.  Each student considering the practicum must also make an appointment and meet once with Professor Pastore before registration is complete. 

The course is offered for 3 units. It is not available for CR/D/F grading.  There is no final exam. Grading will be based upon the quality and timeliness of work completed during the semester, including drafting of documents, timekeeping, and one or two one-page reflection papers.  Because the projects are driven by the needs of litigation or advocacy rather than the academic calendar, it is likely that work will not be spread precisely evenly through the semester.  Every effort will be made to accommodate student preferences as to type of project and timing, but accommodation of these preferences cannot be guaranteed, for obvious reasons.  Depending on the timing of each project, the final due date for course work may be as late as the last date of the exam period.

Enrollment is limited to 4 students.  Each student must meet with Professor Pastore during the registration process.  Email cpastore@law.usc.eduif you are interested in the Practicum.

Per ABA regulations, students may not use the same course to satisfy both the skills and writing requirements.

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 3
  • Grading Options: Numerical Only
  • Exam: None
  • Writing Requirement: Yes
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: Yes
  • Participation: Required and graded
  • Enrollment Limitation: 4 students