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Penn Carey Law School launched the Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic to engage students in Philadelphia’s social issues.

Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School recently launched the Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic.

The ARC Justice Clinic is the newest addition to Penn Carey Law’s Gittis Legal Clinics. The legal clinic will allow trained students to provide legal services and obtain hands-on experience in civil rights litigation and policy advocacy.  

As part of the clinic, students will be assigned to cases with local Philadelphia residents, nonprofits, and organizations. They will also engage in an orientation that will teach them about Philadelphia’s history, receive direct feedback from professors, and attend biweekly seminars. 

The clinic — which will operate year-round, but only accept new cases during the academic year — is open to all law students, and undergraduates can reach out for possible volunteering opportunities. Local residents and organizations can apply for the clinic's services.

Law students will represent the plaintiffs in cases under the supervision of a clinical instructor and will oversee all aspects of litigation.

Clinic and Practice Associate Professor of Law Cara McClellan, a Philadelphia native, serves as the clinic’s director

According to McClellan, the clinic will provide students with an experience in social justice and direct mentorship in a way that internships or externships cannot offer. She said that the clinic’s vision is to advocate for social justice by supporting the goals of its partners and clients, particularly in providing economic prosperity and equal access to resources.

“This is an urgent time in our country to discuss systemic issues like racism, institutional racism, and inequity,” McClellan said. 

Deputy Dean for Clinical Education, Practice Professor of Law, and Director of the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic Praveen Kosuri led the search for the ARC Justice Clinic’s director. 

“Professor McClellan was the perfect person to lead it," Kosuri said. "She has dedicated her career to fighting for these issues. She’s a professionally trained teacher, and she’s a fierce advocate.”

Kosuri also added that the clinic is addressing prevalent needs of law students at Penn. 

“Our students were clamoring for additional outlets to fight for justice and systemic reform," Kosuri said. "The ARC Justice Clinic was a clinic that hit all of the criteria we were hoping for — impact lawyering, movement lawyering, federal litigation, civil rights, racial justice."

McClellan added the clinic will allow the law students to ask questions about political and legal practices. 

“People are beginning to ask how can law be used to interrupt systems of inequality. How can we promote the practice of anti-racist lawyering?” she said.