Law 541 - Problem Solving in the Public Interest

Joanna C. Schwartz

Joanna C. Schwartz

Professor of Law
B.A. Brown University, 1994
J.D. Yale, 2000
UCLA Faculty Since 2006
Course Description:

This seminar focuses on public interest lawyering through a close analysis of case studies and the discussion of recurring issues in public interest practice. In this course we explore social problems from number of different perspectives, highlighting the many different ways of solving problems of the sort public interest lawyers confront. The seminar covers questions of how public interest problems come to be framed; how clients, lawyers and their allies think about problem-solving strategies; and how public interest lawyers use different modes of advocacy to address problems. Students in this seminar will complete an individual paper project that addresses a real world problem and incorporates the modes of advocacy studied in the course.

This seminar is a required course for the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy and enrollment is limited to Epstein Program students.

Course Learning Outcomes:

Desired Student Learning Outcomes:
At the end of this course, students should be able to:

Public Interest Leadership:
•    Identify as part of a supportive Epstein Program community of public interest practitioners.
•    Understand some of the professional challenges and ethical issues that are associated with public interest lawyering.

Inequality:
•    Identify the process by which social problems are defined and constructed. 
•    Assess fundamental questions about public interest lawyer accountability to clients and broader constituencies, and the effectiveness of law as a tool of social change. 

Problem Solving:
•    Recognize the variety of possible legal and policy responses to any particular social problem, including how this variety recurs across multiple topic areas.
•    Appraise the interaction between problem definition, proposed solution, and different modes of advocacy lawyers use in addressing important social problems.

Advocacy:
•    Complete a written project that requires problem solving on a real social issue, utilizing knowledge of a substantive area as well as skills of fact gathering, case analysis, and chosen modes of advocacy.