The Certificate in Public Interest and Social Justice is the newest certificate program available to students at the University of Maine School of Law. While the Public Interest and Social Justice certificate is a recent offering from Maine Law, it is not a nascent area of focus for the school. These issues have long been foundational to a Maine Law education and the work of its Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic (CLAC). The certificate mandates certain required courses, one of which is Adjunct Professor Krystal Williams’ new class Law, Social Justice & The Public Interest, as well as completion of a certain number of additional courses. Experiential learning is also a requirement, and students must complete at least one semester of work with Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic and may also elect to complete a pertinent externship, job, or practicum course.

Academic Requirements

To receive the Certificate in Public Interest and Social Justice, a candidate must complete the following:


Clinical Coursework:

This course serves as both a foundation for and complement to students’ client work in a Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic course, as they will learn specific skills and strategies for serving their clients now and throughout their legal careers. The course gives students an opportunity to dig deeply into the key aspects of lawyering, develop and hone skills through simulations and role playing, work on specific aspects of their current cases, give and receive peer feedback and support, engage in critical reflection, among other activities. During the course the students will learn the specific skills and competencies related the following aspects of lawyering, among others:

  • professional relationships and communication
  • developing a meaningful and effective attorney-client relationship
  • developing and cultivating a cultural humility framework to explore and learn from the perspectives of clients, peers, and instructors in the Clinic
  • developing key professional and leadership skills for an attorney, including time management, receiving and giving feedback, and deep listening
  • using narrative theory for persuasion
  • client interviewing
  • case theory
  • fact investigation
  • negotiation
  • client counseling
  • trauma-informed lawyering
  • trial advocacy
  • reflection and developing a professional identity
  • identifying and managing ethical issues

One of the following:

This course is designed for students who want to have the broadest possible clinical experience. Each student is admitted to practice in Maine courts as a “student attorney,” and will maintain an active case load of two to four cases, which may include general civil, family, probate, appellate, or criminal cases. The course is practice- and skill-oriented, covering client counseling, ethics, investigation, pre-trial practice, negotiation, document drafting, trial experience, and appeals. You will learn how to be a lawyer, and how to interact with other lawyers, the courts and clients. Students will work with the close supervision and mentoring of a faculty supervisor. Along with regular work with the faculty supervisor on cases, students will also participate in a weekly one-hour case rounds meeting to discuss cases.

This course provides students with extensive opportunities to serve clients on a wide range of civil matters, such as family law, trust and probate, contracts, insurance, consumer rights, wages, and any other civil legal issue that might arise. Students enrolled in this clinic are admitted to practice in Maine courts as student attorneys and provide the full range of civil legal services to prisoners in the Maine prison system. Students go to the Maine Correctional Center and Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center (both located in Windham) each week to meet with prisoners seeking legal help. On a few occasions prisoners in other facilities are assisted through telephone and written correspondence. The legal services provided by students can range from answering questions and providing assistance with completion and filing of legal forms to, on occasion, full representation in court proceedings. Since the level of representation varies, students in the Prisoner Assistance Clinic will have between six and ten cases at any given time. We do not provide assistance on criminal, post-conviction or prisoners’ rights matters in this program. Along with regular supervision meetings with the faculty professor on cases, students also participate in a weekly case rounds to discuss cases. Preference in the lottery will be given to students available on Wednesday mornings (8:30-11:00 am) or Wednesday afternoons (1:00-4:00 pm) to meet with their clients in person at the Maine Correctional Center or Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center in Windham. These time slots include the time needed to travel to Windham from Portland.

The Refugee and Human Rights Clinic provides a challenging opportunity for students to advocate on behalf of low-income immigrants in a broad range of cases (including before administrative agencies and federal courts) and projects. Clients include, for example, asylum applicants who have fled human rights abuses in their home countries and are seeking refuge in the United States, immigrant survivors of domestic violence, immigrant victims of certain crimes, and abandoned or abused children seeking legal status in the United States. Under faculty supervision, student attorneys not only develop their substantive knowledge of immigration law and human rights laws and norms but they also build core legal skills relevant to the general practice of law. Students’ clinical work includes interviewing clients and witnesses and preparing their testimony, conducting factual and legal investigation and marshaling of evidence, analyzing and presenting human rights documentation, developing case strategies, writing legal briefs, appearing in administrative and federal court proceedings, and participating in human rights advocacy projects. Students also work with coalitions of lawyers to engage in larger impact litigation. Along with regular work with the faculty supervisor on cases and projects, students also participate in a weekly one-hour case rounds meeting to discuss cases. This course is open to both second- and third-year students.

The Youth Justice Clinic (YJC) is a four- or six-credit course through which students provide direct representation to youth and emerging adults in a variety of proceedings in area courts. It also includes the opportunity to advocate for systemic change. The course has two components which are interrelated. One is direct representation of youth. This includes developing skills for client counseling, ethics, investigation, pre-trial practice, negotiation, document drafting, trial experience, and appeals. The other is student driven, and focused on making systemic change through policy work. You will learn how to work with impacted communities to shape legislative advocacy and influence the court’s rulemaking process. YJC provides students the opportunity to explore practice and policy in the areas of criminal law, juvenile law, education law, and poverty law. Students will work with the close supervision and mentoring of faculty supervisors and Jill Ward (Director, Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law). In addition to their client work, students enrolled in their first semester at Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic will participate in a two credit class: Lawyering Skills for Clinical Practice. All clinic students take part in “case rounds” where the students and faculty exchange ideas and questions about current cases and policy goals.

The Rural Practice Clinic (RPC) is an immersive clinic located in Fort Kent, Maine, where the students will live and work for the semester. The RPC provides students the opportunity to provide direct representation to low-income clients in need of legal assistance in a rural setting– in other words, to practice law. While Clinic faculty provide instruction and supervision, the students are, in every respect, the lawyers for the RPC’s clients. Students will interview and counsel clients, develop case theory, conduct discovery, negotiate outcomes with opposing parties and counsel, prepare cases for court, and handle hearings, trials and other contested evidentiary proceedings. Students represent clients in matters involving a broad range of issues at the trial level including: family, criminal, civil, guardianship, constitutional, administrative, consumer, and probate law.
Another significant component of the RPC is Case Rounds, student-led classes modeled after “rounds” in the medical setting which will provide you with opportunities to learn from and support other students. In each rounds, one or more students will present a particular case (generally one in which a challenge of some kind has arisen) to the group, and all students discuss the case and help the student develop a plan. RPC students will participate in Case Rounds via Zoom with the Portland-based clinical students.

In addition to traditional clinic experiences, RPC students will present to the community and students at the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) on a variety legal topics, participate in educational outreach and assistance activities at the courthouse, act as Lawyer of the Day in Fort Kent and Madawaska District Courts, and represent clients in jury trials should the opportunities present themselves. RPC students will live in a suite on the UMFK campus at no cost to them. Fall and spring students will be provided a meal plan. Students will have access to a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, from Nordic and Alpine skiing to canoeing, biking, and hiking. Most importantly, students will get to experience working with a tight-knit group of lawyers, clerks, and judges on a regular basis while developing their own voices and roles within the community.

Other Required Coursework:

Recently, there has been an explosion of legal battles involving efforts to undo old regulations and laws, as well as over how statutes and regulations should be interpreted. Moreover, today the vast majority of attorneys who litigate are doing so not before judges or juries, but before regulatory bodies or non-judicial officers without the Rules of Evidence or Civil Procedure, and that have special standards for issues like standing and finality. The American Bar Association estimates that 65 to 70 percent of the practice of adjudication actually occurs in an administrative setting, rather than a courtroom.

This course will first review the fundamental principles of and tools for interpretation of statutes and regulations. We then examine work that federal and state agencies do, the procedures they utilize, and the ways in which the political judicial branches seek to control administrative actions. Students will undertake practical exercises on relevant issues throughout the semester to best develop their oral and written advocacy skills, and to better learn and remember the legislative and regulatory doctrines. Maine Law alums who practice in a variety of regulated areas of law will share their insights with students. The goal is to better enable students to address issues in their other courses, as well as in any jobs they pursue.

In an address given at Harvard in 1905, Justice Brandeis noted that “the legal profession does afford in America unusual opportunities for usefulness . . . the lawyer has played so large a part in our political life [because their] training fits [them] especially to grapple with the questions which are presented in a democracy.”
This course will draw on select case law and seminal legal, philosophical, and sociological writings to explore and answer questions such as:

  • What is the “common good”?
  • What is justice?
  • Are inequities the same as injustices? Does it matter?
  • Is the legal system just? Is the legal system equitable? How do we know?
  • If we seek to eliminate inequities and/or injustices – wherever they appear – what are effective mechanisms for change?
  • What is the role of the impacted community or person?
  • What is the role of the advocate/lawyer?
  • How does the advocate/lawyer address inevitable flaws in their position and client or community and still achieve the desired outcome?
  • What skills are needed to be most effective when addressing difficult topics across cultures?

Contrary to historical depictions of a lone lawyer against a system, addressing matters of public interest and social justice are often accomplished through collaborative and communal efforts. An advocate’s efficacy depends, then, less on individual might and more on harnessing collective power. This course equips students with a broad understanding of foundational theories and concepts that shape how “justice” and “common good” are understood today. Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on their personal leadership development where knowledge of the law and legal strategies are combined with self-awareness, resilience, and cultural awareness to enable students to engage persuasively on various topics of national interest.

One of the following:

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the strategies and practical skills necessary to advocate effectively for public policy reform. Students will learn to think beyond litigation and other traditional legal strategies to solve problems and meet societal goals. Students will be required to identify and define a problem that speaks to a pressing systemic racial, economic, or social injustice in the community, which could be addressed through a change in law, regulation, ordinance, or other public policy.

Working individually and in small groups, students will learn and practice key skills to advocate for a policy solution. Students will gain an understanding of the varied strategies involved in developing and advancing a public policy reform as well as the particular skills and tactics required to engage in those strategies. Students will learn how to employ equity-based criteria for policy development, conduct a landscape analysis of decision-makers and influencers, determine a strategy for change, and implement the tactics necessary to carry out that strategy. Specific skills covered include “power mapping”; drafting legislative and/or regulatory proposals, policy papers and reports; locating, evaluating, and using social science research and data; lobbying elected officials; preparing and delivering written and oral testimony; working in coalitions; and developing an external communications plan and targeted messaging. Students will also explore how coalition building, grassroots organizing, and public policy advocacy are used to enhance more traditional legal strategies.
In addition to learning the strategies and skills to advance a policy change, students will gain an understanding of the broader context for influencing law and public policy and the possible roles lawyers can play in change efforts. The goal of the course is to help students become effective advocates and allies for social change as well as good lawyers.

Constitutional law in the U.S. (based on both the federal and state constitutions) has played active roles in framing issues related to race, gender, and sexual orientation and legal equality in the last sixty years. The course will examine cultural ideas and constitutional theories that relate to civil rights litigation of various types related to these categories. The course will also analyze critiques of those ideas and theories, and consider alternative viewpoints.

Supplementary Coursework*

Animal Law is a rapidly developing area of law and one which demonstrates the challenges of regulating and mediating the complex and sometimes mystifying relationship between humans and nonhuman animals. Tasked with questions such as whether depictions of animal cruelty are protected by free speech, how to regulate massive factory farms, why the Animal Welfare Act exempts so many laboratory animals used in experiments, whether it is proper to bait black bears with buckets of human treats, how to deal with wild horses or your neighbor’s bees, or whether dogs and cats may inherit millions of dollars, Animal Law attempts to balance interests and find workable solutions to problems that range from neighbor disputes and veterinary care to some of the most critical problems facing our species, such as stewardship of our planet, food insecurity, and the moral question of who can be a rights-holder. This course will cover selected topics in the field, including recent thinking about animal intelligence, using animals for research, food, and entertainment, animal activism, and animals as companions.

Many young lawyers at the beginning of their careers find that child protection is an area of the law where they can gain valuable litigation experience that may be increasingly hard to come by in other areas. Further, child protection is, of course, an area of the law where young lawyers can provide a valuable service to their clients and their community, no matter which one of the various parties to the case they represent. In this course, students will take a deep dive into Maine’s Child and Family Services and Child Protection Act, 22 M.R.S. §§ 4001 et seq., and related issues. They will gain facility with not only the Child Protection Act but also other vital areas of the law, including the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 1901 et seq.; the Maine Administrative Procedure Act, 5 M.R.S. §§ 8001; and relevant portions of the Probate Code, Title 18-C of the Maine Revised Statutes. They will leave the course familiar with key child protection-related decisions of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and the United States Supreme Court, many of which turn on questions of Constitutional interpretation that will be translatable to any other area of the law.

This course focuses on the enforcement of federal constitutional rights against state officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The substantive topics we will cover include police misconduct claims under the Fourth Amendment and prisoner litigation under the Eighth Amendment. We will also address the major jurisdictional and procedural obstacles to relief, including the immunities of governments and their officers from suit. Students will gain a practical understanding of civil rights litigation strategies as well as have opportunities to develop lawyering skills through hands-on exercises.

In Climate Change, we are confronted with the defining policy challenge of our generation. Every institution of power, whether it be a national government or a corporate board of directors, must decide how to respond to it. The aim of this course is to inform the leaders who will guide those climate change policy decisions. We will build from an understanding of the fundamental facts of climate change, and its potentially devastating impacts, to the study of the tools available to governmental and non-governmental actors for climate mitigation and adaptation. The course will focus on not only the legal mechanisms targeted at climate change (laws, regulations, litigation), but also on the perhaps equally important measures taken by corporations and other private actors. We will discuss what can, what will, and what should be done.

This course deals with legal problems that have contact with more than one jurisdiction (i.e., with more than one state in the United States or with the United States or a U.S. state and a foreign country). As one would expect, given modern transportation and communication (especially the Internet) and the globalization of the economy, the number of transactions, relations, and occurrences across state and national lines having legal implications is now enormous. Today it is very likely that a contract, tort, real or personal property, probate, domestic relations, or other common legal problem implicates more than one jurisdiction. This course considers the structuring of transactions so as to anticipate and provide for many of these problems (e.g., in drafting legal documents like commercial contracts, shareholder agreements, wills and trusts, prenuptial agreements, etc.) and the conduct of litigation involving multi-jurisdictional elements. Specific matters covered are the jurisdiction of courts to litigate matters involving out-of-state actors (like tortfeasors or contractual partners), the recognition and enforcement of sister-state and foreign-country judgments, and choice of law (i.e., what substantive and procedural rules a court will apply to a legal matter with multi-jurisdictional contacts).

This course examines the social and environmental obligations, if any, imposed on corporations beyond pure profit maximization. Milton Friedman famously wrote that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,” and, indeed, a course in the law of business associations likely reinforces the commitment to profit-maximization as a legal obligation as well. However, as evidenced by the development of new corporate forms (such as the “benefit corporation”) and the policies of Fortune 500 companies, the recent trend has been towards a recognition a broader corporate purpose in law and practice.
This course will examine corporate social responsibility, with a particular focus on sustainability and the environment. The course begins with the question of whether such a responsibility exists, drawing on potential legal, ethical, and societal sources. We will then turn to how corporations can meet their environmental obligations, or fail to, under existing law. Looking at what has already been done by some of the “best” actors, we will ultimately aim to determine the proper role for corporate governance in the pursuit of a healthier climate system and planet as a whole.

This course is designed for students with an interest in the criminal law. The topic for the semester is “defunding the police.” Students will be exposed to a variety of perspectives on the history of policing, how societies order themselves, the benefits of maintaining a professional police force, the costs and harms associated with policing, and the interaction of race and law enforcement.

The course will highlight the social and legal issues associated with an aging society, the distinct legal problems faced by elderly individuals, and government programs established for the benefit of elderly individuals. Examples of topics that will be discussed include: ethical issues and counseling elderly clients, age discrimination, guardianship and protective services, planning for healthcare and financial decisions, property management, elder abuse, long-term care payment and quality, housing issues, and relevant government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The course also will examine the role that characteristics such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and sexual orientation play in various areas of Elder Law. In addition, each student will be responsible for preparing a scholarly paper addressing an area of elder law in which reform is arguably necessary and setting forth a proposal for reform.

This course provides an introduction to the law of employee benefits. We will examine federal regulation of employer-sponsored benefit plans with respect to retirement and health care, and the underlying public policy issues. From time to time, we will discuss related topics such as profit-sharing plans, cafeteria plans, family and medical leave, executive compensation, workers’ compensation law, and collective bargaining. This inquiry necessarily implicates reference to selected provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code. Class discussion will be supplemented with selected problem sets and simulations in class. In the context of an employee stock ownership (ESOP) transaction and other workplace settings, we will explore ERISA “qualified plan” operation and administration, employer obligations and fiduciary duties, and rights and responsibilities of employees.

This course will cover issues related to employment from hiring to firing. It will provide an overview of the statutory, constitutional, and common law rules that regulate employment relationship. We will cover a variety of topics, focusing on the at-will employment doctrine, wrongful discharge, employment discrimination based on race, sex, age, religion, disability, harassment, retaliation, covenants not to compete, unemployment insurance, employee privacy, workplace freedom, wages and hours regulation, and some other topics. We will also spend significant time discussing issues that commonly arise in employment litigation and client counseling.

Our modern civilization increasingly is dependent upon energy, yet over 80% of the energy consumed in the U.S. and world is from fossil fuels—which account for the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions that are the primary cause of climate change. Climate change has become the subject of major economic, political and scientific concern and debate, with direct impact upon energy law and policy—as well as growing economic, health and social impacts in Maine. Which is creating growing opportunities for work for attorneys and those trained in the law, especially given goals set by the Governor of Maine, and by other States. This course is a practical introduction to the three pillars of energy—electricity, heating, and transportation—and to evolving energy technologies and initiatives being pursued. It will also introduce students to some of the key Maine business and professional leaders in these fields, as well as develop and strengthen their oral and written advocacy skills.

The course will introduce students to the broad and deep field of Environmental Law. Environmental law is practiced at the local, statewide, national, and (increasingly) international level. It contains elements of energy law, natural resources law, and land use law. It also crosses disciplinary lines with science and engineering, business and finance, and public policy. The course will introduce students to five of the major federal environmental statutes and regulations and case law that interprets them. The five statutes are the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (a/k/a as the Superfund Law). In addition, we will briefly introduce you to several other of the three dozen or more extensive federal statutes addressing environmental issues. Student performance probably will be measured by student class participation and by the completion of one research paper of 25-35 pages to be selected by joint agreement of student and instructor.

This course offers an introduction to family law in the United States today. Examples of topics covered include: marriage, divorce, spousal support, marital property distribution, child custody and visitation, child support, and legal issues arising from nonmarital relationships. The course also will examine the role that characteristics such as race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion play across various areas of family law.

The course addresses three main questions:

  1. When is a federal constitutional right imposed on state action, instead of leaving the matter to state law?
  2. How does a federal system of federal courts and state courts function to enforce federal constitutional rights?
  3. What policies drive both the establishment of federal constitutional rights and their enforcement system?

Getting answers requires employing systemic, policy and historical perspectives. It requires tracing how, over our history, ideas about federalism and the federalism balance have driven what federal constitutional rights have been established and how their enforcement system has functioned. If you want to understand the law today and be able to conduct constitutional litigation, nothing is more practical than having these perspectives.

The emphasis of this seminar will be on the body of federal law that defines the relationship between Native Americans and the federal and state governments.

This course will provide an overview of the First Amendment as it pertains to freedom of speech. It will address major topics within First Amendment jurisprudence, including political speech, commercial speech and government restrictions on speech. Students will examine how speech rights intersect with other interests such as national security and privacy. In addition to providing important historical context, this course will also focus on hate speech, obscenity, online speech and other topics relative to current events.

The course examines the goals of the US health care system, which is designed to provide high-quality, affordable and accessible health care. We will explore the regulation of health care professionals and institutions. The course will also discuss the contract, tort, and administrative law issues that come up in cases of informed consent, liability, malpractice, and end-of-life care. The course will also examine legal efforts to make health care affordable and accessible. We will study the regulation of both public and private insurance systems and use basic insurance principles to explore this area of law. Health law is complex for many reasons, including because it involves the interactions of state and federal statutes (and regulations) with longstanding principles of contract and tort law. The intersections between state and federal statutes and policies are also challenging. The 2010 Affordable Care Act will of course be a focus of the course.

This course surveys the legal, historical, and political considerations that shape U.S. immigration law. The course will review the constitutional basis for regulating immigration into the United States, and, to some extent, the constitutional rights of noncitizens in the country; the contours of the immigration bureaucracy, including the roles played by various federal agencies in immigration decisions; the admission of nonimmigrants (i.e., temporary visitors) and immigrants into the U.S.; the deportation and exclusion of nonimmigrants and immigrants; refugee and asylum law; administrative and judicial review; citizenship and naturalization; undocumented migration; and comprehensive immigration reform.

This class examines an attorney’s role in internal and regulatory investigations which take place when an institution has engaged in, or is suspected of engaging in, wrongdoing or misconduct. In these investigations, attorneys must make a number of strategic decisions about how to conduct the investigation, how to fix any identified gaps in internal controls, whether individual employees require discipline, whether to draft a report of any findings and, ultimately, whether to cooperate with regulators. The execution of the internal investigation requires attorneys to have a variety of skills, including selecting and interviewing witnesses; gathering, reviewing and evaluating evidence; drafting reports and memoranda. Regulatory investigations also require lawyers to prepare witnesses for testimony and negotiate document requests and settlements with regulators. Using investigative reports, Department of Justice and SEC memoranda, and case law, this course is intended to develop those skills and explore the many difficult decisions attorneys must make in the course of these investigations, including conflicts with witnesses; whether and how to cooperate with regulators; attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine waiver issues; the potential collateral consequences to the institution’s business and reputation; and the collateral consequences of employee discipline, civil litigation and regulatory investigations.

This is a research seminar in international human rights law. It covers the fundamentals of the international human rights system, including standards and drafting, human rights treaties, fact-finding and reporting, non-state actors, complaint procedures, charter-based procedures, women’s human rights, refugee and asylum law, humanitarian intervention, regional human rights systems, domestic remedies and special problems in human rights such as cultural relativism, capacity building and accountability.

This is a foundation course in public international law that is primarily, though not exclusively, concerned with legal relations among states and public entities in the global system. The course explores the dynamics by which international law is made and applied by appraising trends and outcomes in international decision bearing on problems of world public order. The goal is to equip students to understand why past decisions were made, to devise methods for predicting future decisions, to develop methods for inventing decision alternatives both at the structural or constitutive level, and to identify the conceptions and skills necessary for influencing future decisions in the range of arenas in which international law is made and applied: parliamentary, diplomatic, judicial and arbitral in national and international settings. Topics covered include: origins of international law, sources of international law, establishment and transformation of states and other actors, state recognition, diplomatic protection, jurisdiction, international courts and tribunals, international organizations, international human rights, resort to and use of force, nation-building, the regulation of international agreements, sovereign immunity and enforcement of foreign judgments. Evaluation will be by examination.

Juvenile Law is a non-traditional course blending lecture and discussion with a significant skills component. This course will examine the procedural and substantive parameters on juvenile courts and the court’s authority to intervene in children’s lives. We will analyze issues in juvenile justice in the broader context of youth policy, developmental psychology and the legal status of children.

Although barely touched upon in many law school courses, states and local governments play an important role in our everyday lives. They enjoy substantial law-making power; are responsible for financing and providing many public goods and services; and are the location of a great deal of political participation. This course will examine the theory behind and sources of local government power, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of decentralized decision-making. Specific topics include: voting rights; local government formation and boundary change; state-local relations and local home rule; interlocal conflicts; school finance reform; and regional governance.

Negotiation is explored in two ways: readings are assigned on interpersonal communication skills, bargaining theory and negotiating techniques; and a series of problems assigned which students negotiate. The negotiations are critiqued. A wide range of the types of negotiations in which lawyers participate will be examined in the course. Students in the course will develop a conceptual understanding of the theory behind the negotiation process and practice the skills needed to apply their knowledge.

This course explores nonprofit corporations and related organizational forms of nonprofit enterprise. We examine state corporate law and federal tax law affecting the nonprofit sector, with attention to formation and dissolution, operation and governance, tax exemption, political and commercial activity, and regulatory constraints. We also compare nonprofit corporations with government, for-profit, and limited equity entities and identify public policy arguments for tax exemption and other differential treatment of nonprofit organizations. Class discussion is supplemented with selected problem sets and simulations in class, and students are required to produce several short writing projects during the semester.

This is a course in the international law of the sea, one of the oldest branches of international law. The course will devote attention to practical problems that confront mariners and lawyers. We will explore a broad array of oceans law and policy issues from a global perspective then proceed to specialized topics critical to the contemporary law of the sea including the present and future of the Gulf of Maine. Topics will include coastal waters, maritime security, shipping and navigation, climate change and sea level rise, maritime boundaries, international straits and archipelagic waters, the continental shelf, conservation of living and non-living oceans resources, uses of the high seas including flag state jurisdiction, oceans energy, beach access and polar law.

The study of judicial remedies focuses on the legal, equitable and restitutionary relief available for breach of contract, breach of duty in tort, violation of statute, unjust enrichment and other causes of action, as well as on the limits of such relief. The approach of this course combines the theoretical with the practical in exploring the social values that inform remedial principles as well as the nuts and bolts of remedies practice in federal and state court.

This seminar will provide an in-depth examination of a number of today’s most salient family law issues. Early in the semester, each student, after consulting with the professor, will select a modern family law issue about which the student will become the “class expert.” Each student will then prepare materials for and lead a one-hour class session on the legal issue the student has chosen. In addition, each student will write a substantial paper on a topic that falls within their chosen modern family law issue. A wide variety of topics are available to students, including: adoption and the foster care system, assisted reproduction, non-marital relationship recognition, divorce mediation, intra-family violence and abuse, how family law addresses issues related to race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion, and more. Finally, prior to each class, students will submit an informal, two-page reflection paper in which they respond to the materials assigned for the day. Grading is based upon class participation, weekly reflection papers, and a substantial scholarly paper on a topic of the student’s choice.

This course explores various aspects of election law by focusing on judicial and legislative regulation of the political and electoral process. We will examine constitutional and statutory law of voting rights in the United States and ways in which the law has shaped the structure of American political participation. We will begin with an overview of the restrictions on the right to vote, ranging from residency requirements to discrimination on the basis of sex and race to the recently enacted Voter ID laws. We will also cover the major Supreme Court cases on topics like reapportionment/ redistricting, ballot access, regulation of political parties, campaign finance, popular democracy, judicial elections, term limits, and election administration (and the legacy of the Bush v. Gore litigation).

History and application of general workers’ compensation principals, relationship to personal injury negligence and strict liability law, and general common tort law. Compare and contrast alternative WC statutory schemes for indemnifying injured workers. Discuss public policy issues of maintaining WC remedies in light of employer cost containment and risk management, changing industrial landscape from manufacturing to service economy.

Course will focus primarily upon Professor Larson seminal treatises and materials. We will be cross-referencing Maine law to provide hands-on understanding of how to initiate and defend WC claim/case.

*The Certificate Director may approve additional courses with a substantial focus on public interest and social justice. Note that not all courses are offered every year.

Research & Writing

A candidate must write a paper (or journal contribution(s)) on a legal topic related to public interest and/or social justice. This requirement must satisfy the upper level writing requirement or be of sufficient quality and length that it would satisfy the upper level writing requirement if the candidate has already satisfied (or is otherwise satisfying) the upper level writing requirement. Publications and paper topics require prior approval from the Certificate Director(s). Candidates must submit a copy of the paper to the Director(s) and the Registrar by April 1 of the year the candidate intends to graduate (for spring graduates).

Recommended Additional Experiential Learning

In addition to completing the required clinical course required, students are strongly encouraged but not required to complete at least one of the following experiential training opportunities:

  • an additional clinical course;
  • an externship that relates substantially to public interest or social justice issues;
  • work at a job or internship during law school focused on public interest or social justice issues; or
  • a “practicum” course related to public interest or social justice, such as:

A growing number of lawyers market themselves as appellate specialists. This course aims to interest students in the appellate specialty; provide an overview of the different types of appeals and appellate rules of procedure; and provide a forum to practice written and oral appellate advocacy.
Students will ghost write at least two appellate pleadings in pending cases, litigated contemporaneously with the course offering in state and/or federal court. The course also will simulate client management skills and students will have the opportunity to practice oral arguments. In the process, students will learn a variety of fungible skills, e.g. how to evaluate strategic litigation choices and how to communicate those choices to the client; how to work with “good” and “bad” facts; how to best frame the legal questions presented by the case; and how to appropriately confront the ethical issues that routinely confront courtroom lawyers.
At the conclusion of the course, students should feel comfortable independently prosecuting a direct appeal in state or federal court. Students should also pass any question about the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure on the Maine Bar Exam.

This course will cover the criminal court process in Maine from arraignment/initial appearance all the way up to jury selection. Very few cases these days go to trial. The part of the criminal court process this class will cover will be the lion’s share of a criminal defense lawyer or prosecutor’s practice when they graduate. The course will start with a high level over view of the entire criminal procedure process. I anticipate this will take up the first class. Each class after that will focus in more detail on every step in the process starting with the arraignment and bail hearing, then proceeding as follows: discovery letters and motions for sanctions, dispositional conference, motion in limine, motion to suppress, docket call, trial call, jury selection.
The course will require the students to observe the following court hearings at least once during the semester: arraignment, bail argument, one “other” motion hearing (could be a motion in limine, motion to terminate deferred disposition, motion to revoke bail, mental health list hearing etc.), dispositional conference, and motion to suppress. The Cumberland County Criminal Court currently conducts three arraignments, three all day dispositional conference lists, two motions lists every week. The Court also has docket call, trial call, and jury selection at least once if not twice a month. Because of this, I believe the students will be able to meet this requirement.
The course will also require the students to write a motion to amend bail, discovery request letter, motion for sanctions, motion to suppress, and a closing argument brief relating to the motion to suppress hearing. After each written assignment is done, the student will participate in a mock hearing to put their motion to the test. For example, a mock arraignment, mock bail hearing, and mock motion to suppress.

Economic development takes many forms in a wide range of settings. This course focuses on the domestic policy and practice of development in disadvantaged urban and rural communities, with attention to enterprise organization, finance transactions, and creative use of the law. We will work through a series of problems that require application of lawyering skills in simulated private sector transactions and in related public policy challenges. This work implicates corporate law and alternative enterprise forms, as well as federal tax law such as New Markets Tax Credits, the Low Income Housing Credit, and charitable exemptions and constraints. Instead of a final exam or term paper, student assessment will be based on engagement with entity and deal structuring, document drafting, negotiations, and policy solutions to problems raised in class.

This is a hands-on, experiential skills building course. Increasingly, attorneys who litigate are doing so not before judges or juries, but before regulatory bodies or officers—for example, on issues of planning and zoning, unemployment/social security benefits, environmental permitting, tax review, and asylum to name just a few. The art of advocating for clients in a regulatory arena has differences from a courtroom—oftentimes the adjudicators are laypeople, the rules of evidence do not apply, there may be no discovery, and one must master varying (by agency) procedural rules. This course will begin with an overview of the administrative adjudicatory process, with a primary focus upon Maine law, and then an overview of the relevant environmental law and regulations relating to development projects. As a “practicum” students will develop necessary practical lawyering skills by engaging in a variety of written and oral advocacy exercises using a Maine wind power project simulation; you will one class be representing the developer, the next class representing the opponents. You will draft and orally present to classmates a client memo, op-ed, and a recommended decision on the project. You also will do an expert witness exercise, present an opening or closing argument, and address ethical issues. There are no examinations, no books to buy.

Mediation Practicum provides students with the opportunity to learn and practice mediation skills. Mediation is an important form of dispute resolution in Maine and many other jurisdictions both in legal and non-legal disputes. In the Mediation Practicum, students learn basic skills of mediating and go to the courthouse to mediate Small Claims cases in Maine District Court (with supervision). In class meetings, students also analyze their mediation experiences and discuss best practices and ethical challenges for mediators.

The course will expose students to pretrial practice and procedure through materials and exercises fashioned to familiarize them with civil proceedings’ procedural landscape, including, but not limited to: drafting and responding to initial pleading interlocutory, and dispositive motions. In addition, they will learn effective use of available discovery devices and other important aspects of the pretrial process.