The Public Interest and Social Justice Certificate is designed to prepare students for a career in public interest and/or social justice advocacy, including representing those who are marginalized, vulnerable, or low-income, or advancing policy and law reform in the public interest.

The program is open to current J.D. students and consists of three components:

  • Experiential Learning: Students meet the experiential learning component by completing Lawyering Skills for Clinical Practice and one of the five clinical courses offered at Maine Law: General Practice Clinic; Refugee and Human Rights Clinic; Prisoner Assistance Clinic; Youth Justice Clinic; or Rural Practice Clinic.
  • Course Work: Students meet the coursework requirement by completing Law, Social Justice, and the Public Interest; Administrative Law; Lawyering Skills for Clinical Practice; and either Impact Lawyering or Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation and the Law, along with a selection of several other elective courses, totaling 18 credits.
  • Writing Project on a Public Interest and Social Justice Topic: Students satisfy the writing requirement by completing a paper or article on a topic related to a public policy change or social justice reform.

Faculty and experts involved in the Certificate include Program Director Kaitlin Caruso, Krystal Williams, Jill Ward, and Christopher Northrop.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Public Interest and Social Justice Certificate will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of laws and policies related to or having an impact on marginalized, vulnerable, or low-income populations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to effectively meet the legal needs of people in or from marginalized, vulnerable, or low-income communities including through practicing cultural humility and client- and community-centered lawyering.
  • Demonstrate the ability to research and draft a substantial written work on a topic related to public interest or social justice advocacy.
  • Demonstrate the ability to think critically about notions of “equity,” “justice,” and “the common good” and to consider multiple perspectives and power dynamics in the application of law and policy.
  • Demonstrate the ability to engage in critical self-reflection about their current and future roles in advancing justice.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge of laws and policies related to social justice, equity, access to justice, through advocacy on behalf of clients in or from marginalized, vulnerable, or low-income communities through direct legal representation and/or policy reform work in a clinical course or other experiential setting.