Fordham Law School banner photo


Policy & Legislative Advocacy: Civil Rights and Poverty Clinic


Prof.  Elizabeth Cooper
Associate Professor of Law
Policy & Legislative Advocacy Clinic
Faculty Director
Feerick Center for Social Justice & Dispute Resolution
IN FORDHAM'S POLICY & LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY: CIVIL RIGHTS AND POVERTY CLINIC, students work outside the courtroom to develop creative solutions for New York City's poor and disenfranchised.  Legal Interns work in partnership with community-based organizations and legal advocacy groups to advocate for social change in the legislature and with city and state officials.

To be effective policy advocates, clinic students:
  • interview clients and other interested parties
  • conduct extensive legal and social science research
  • draft policy papers as well as legislative and regulatory solutions
  • meet with community leaders and elected officials

STUDENTS ARE ACTIVE LEGAL AND POLICY ADVOCATES every step of the way, creating innovative, systematic solutions to the dilemmas faced by the clients of the organizations with whom the clinic works.

Ultimately, students are creating new paths to social justice. By learning how to be change agents, advocating for creative legal and policy-based solutions in legislative and governmental offices, clinic students learn valuable lessons in lawyering and bring the voices of the excluded to the corridors of power.

The clinic's advocacy partners and projects have included:

 New York Civil Liberties Union
      •   working to enact GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, to combat
          discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals

 Community Voices Heard
      •  identifying innovative strategies to reform New York State workforce requirements

 VOCAL - NY
      •  seeking to provide greater access to drug treatment for incarcerated New Yorkers

 We Act for Environmental Justice
      •  raised awareness about the dangers regularly found in cosmetics and seeking ways to
          improve their regulation
      •  sought to increase rider membership and voting rights on transit boards throughout
          New York State

 New York State Ant-Trafficking Network
      •  helped develop legislative agenda for human rights coalition that seeks to end sex and 
         labor trafficking

Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell")
      •  drafted essential report on how the integration of women into the military can inform the 
         effective integration of openly gay men and lesbians into our armed forces