UW School of Law > Clinical Law Program > Race and Justice

Tools for Social Change: Race and Justice Clinic

What can lawyers do?

The Tools for Social Change: Race and Justice Clinic (previously Race and Justice Clinic) will examine and practice methods that lawyers use to respond to social problems.  

In the 2013-14 academic year, the clinic will respond to the systemic issues that have resulted in an increasingly disproportionate number of minority youth being excluded from school and pushed into the juvenile justice system. 

  • Locking youth up:  In King County, African American youth are 9 times as likely as white youth to be confined in detention or a youth prison.  
  • Educational Equity:  Currently, 5 school districts in Washington (including the Seattle School District) are being investigated by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights for discriminatory practices related to school discipline and treatment of English Language Learners.

The Race and Justice Clinic will address race in the justice system through multi-forum advocacy focusing on disparities for youth of color in the juvenile justice and education systems. . We will work together to choose our intervention points:

  • representing youth directly
  • providing community education
  • conducting empirical research
  • exploring policy change and impact litigation.

Examples of past projects include: Partnering with a youth organization to draft Police in Schools:  Student Perceptions of School Resource Officers and drafting an Amicus brief filed in the Washington Supreme Court; representing youth in probation violation, sentencing and school discipline hearings; conducting focus groups with youth who were previously incarcerated; educating youth in detention and attending school board and community meetings.

Race and Justice Clinic in the News

  • - KUOW Seattle attorney Jeff Robinson recently addressed a gathering at the University Of Washington School Of Law. It had been just over a week since a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
  • - KUOW A new bill will be proposed this week in the Washington state Legislature that aims to limit access to the criminal records of juvenile offenders.
  • School search exception does not apply to a School Resource Officer, thanks in part to Race and Justice Clinic brief - On August 2, 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court held that the school search exception does not apply to a school resource officer searching the backpack of a student in State v. Meneese. The ruling was a win for the Race and Justice Clinic which submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Seattle Young People's Project supporting the youth's right to be free from unreasonable searches at school.   The Amicus brief can be found here. The Race & Justice students worked with SYPP, a youth led organization, to prepare and publish a report entitled "Police in Schools: Student Perceptions of School Resource Officers" which was cited in their brief.  The law students and the high school students brought the voice of youth to the Washington Supreme Court as they considered a matter which affects students around the state who are increasingly subject to police contact at school.

Mission Statement

The Race and Justice Clinic works to disrupt the systemic overrepresentation of youth of color in school discipline and the juvenile justice system by empowering youth and their support networks through community education and direct representation.

Faculty Profiles

Last updated 5/5/2014