LW.10627 / LW.10559
Professor Deborah N. Archer
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Fall semester
7 credits*
No pre- or co-requisites.


The Civil Rights Clinic provides students with the opportunity to work on a wide range of civil rights and social justice matters through direct client representation, appellate advocacy, and the development of advocacy campaigns. Students participating in the Civil Rights Clinic will develop foundational skills necessary to be strategic and creative social justice advocates.

Through the clinic, students join a community of advocates working to promote and protect civil rights and challenge issues of economic and political inequality, poverty, and racial injustice.  

Course Description

The Civil Rights Clinic provides students with the opportunity to develop the foundational skills needed to be a civil rights lawyer through direct involvement in investigations, litigation, appellate advocacy, and public advocacy campaigns. Working under the direct supervision of Professor Deborah N. Archer, students will be introduced to civil litigation and social justice advocacy in a variety of contexts and forums by working on behalf of indigent, institutional, or pro bono clients on a range of civil rights matters, including employment discrimination, educational equity, voting rights, and criminal justice reform. Specifically, students participating in the clinic may have the opportunity to:

  • Work with clients and communities on complex civil rights litigation and advocacy;
  • Develop interpersonal skills through client interviewing and counseling as well as through co-counseling and partnering with leading civil rights organizations;

  • Gain experience in litigation planning, including fact investigation and development of case theory;Gain experience in litigation planning, including fact investigation and development of case theory; 

  • Develop oral advocacy skills through participation in oral arguments, mediations, and presentations to advocacy groups;

  • Hone research and written advocacy skills through drafting appellate briefs and litigation-related documents; and

  • Negotiate settlements.

Although the Civil Rights Clinic is a new addition to the NYU Law curriculum, it has been taught for many years at New York Law School by Professor Archer. Professor Archer will be visiting NYU Law in fall 2017. In previous years, the fieldwork has included:

  • Authored amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Congressman John Lewis in Shelby County v. Holder (challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965)
  • Authored amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the National Black Law Students Association in Fisher v. University of Texas (challenge to UT Austin’s consideration of race as one factor of one component of its admissions program)
  • Represented pro se employment discrimination plaintiffs challenging race, gender, religious, and disability discrimination in mediations in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Co-counseled with major civil rights organization to develop and file litigation challenging aspects of Texas’ discriminatory voter registration laws.
  • Represented residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi in voting rights challenge before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Partnered with major civil rights organization to investigate the practice of drug testing poor pregnant women without consent and explored litigation and advocacy options.

Students in the clinic will attend a seminar designed to complement their fieldwork. The seminar will cover the substantive law at issue in the casework, advocacy and litigation skills, the political and social contexts of civil rights law, and ethical considerations important to social justice advocacy.

Application Procedure

Students interested in taking the Clinic should submit the standard application, resume, and transcript online through CAMS, the online application system. If you have questions about the clinic, please contact Professor Archer at darcher@nyls.edu or (212) 431-2138. Additional information about Professor Archer may be found in her Faculty Profile.


* 7 credits include 3 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits per semester.