When most students arrive at PittLaw they have little or no direct experience with the law. It is more likely that students that come from underprivileged backgrounds would have some direct or indirect experience with law either via interactions with law enforcement or other government agencies. It makes pedagogical sense to familiarize students with the brick and mortar part of their practice, but it also makes sense from a social justice advocacy standpoint.
Introduction to Critical Justice- Observation Workshop will become familiar with the concept and analytical framework of Critical Justice through an interactive reflective observation experience. This reflective observation would have a field component and a doctrinal component. The reflective observation would be guided by an instructor and would challenge students to identify law’s transformative role which is often celebrated, but also its role in facilitating the inequality that legal reform was set to dismantle.Students would be asked to observe a wide array of legal processes and legal actors, including civil, criminal, and administrative law proceedings. Observation assignments will mirror the content of the curriculum of the first year of law school. As students observe legal process, institutions and practitioners they can interrogate: Who occupies these spaces? How are the processes structured? Who are the legal actors? And they can observe how class and other identities play into the legal process in practice. This workshop seeks to facilitate the discussion of social issues germane to the practice the legal profession. As part of this course and in the context of the observations students will be prompted to engage, among others, with issues related to gender and violence, race relations, special education, housing and homelessness juvenile justice, criminalization of drugs as well as privilege.