About the Sexuality and Gender Clinic
The work of law reform presents innumerable challenges and opportunities. What does it mean to advocate on behalf of a community? How do advocates select among issues? Once priorities have been set, how should choices be made among various law reform strategies, including litigation, public education, grassroots advocacy, and legislative efforts? How best can those strategic choices be executed? And, at every step of the way, how do advocates contend with shifting political and legal terrain?
In the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, students engage with these questions while participating directly in the development of sexuality and gender law. Classroom sessions focus on developing strong advocacy skills through active consideration of constitutional doctrine, procedural strategy, ethical canons, social science research, and constitutional and political theory. Because these advocacy skills include not only the ability to analyze and strategize regarding complex problems but also the ability to think reflectively about lawyering choices and to communicate thoughtfully and persuasively, some classroom sessions are conducted much like meetings of staff attorneys within a sexuality and gender law organization.
Clinic projects include litigation, legislative advocacy, public policy analysis, and public education related to sexuality and gender law. Students work in partnership with legal staff at organizations focused on sexuality and gender issues and with lawyers at firms handling sexuality- and gender-related cases. Under the supervision of the clinic director, students are responsible, in teams, for a variety of matters during the semester. Projects vary from semester to semester but often include amicus brief drafting (and outreach to potential amici), development of theories for cases under consideration or in progress by organizations focused on the rights of women or gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) individuals, preparation of reports and advocacy materials for advocacy organizations, production of legislative analysis and drafting of testimony on proposed legislation for domestic organizations at local, state, and national levels, and engagement in public education strategies that may include drafting of press releases, letters to the editor or opinion pieces.
Cooperating organizations vary from semester to semester but may include Lambda Legal Defense, the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Legal Momentum (formerly NOW LDEF), and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, and as well as statewide and local sexuality and gender rights organizations. For more detail about past projects and project partners, please see the clinic's Annual Reports.