Race and Criminal Justice at Berkeley Law

In 2014, in the wake of police shootings in Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, and elsewhere, Berkeley Law students, staff, and faculty convened to assess how the school was engaging in issues surrounding race and criminal justice, and how we could build on the work already being done in this area in ways that reflect our public and educational missions, our commitment to social justice, and our entrepreneurial spirit. This web page serves as an evolving hub for race and criminal justice work at Berkeley Law, aggregating the many areas where faculty and others are exploring the issues of race and law, and, even more importantly, providing resources for Berkeley Law students to engage, and have a tangible impact on one of the most pressing civil and human rights issues of our time.

What's New

Recent Scholarship and Writings

To end mass incarceration, look beyond ‘non-violent drug offenders’
Professor Andrea Roth

When We Fully Claim Black Lives Matter, We Move Closer to All Lives Matter
john a. powell

Many Faces of Discrimination: The Multiple Sources of Constitutional-Statutory Convergence
Professor Bertrall L. Ross

California’s New Vagrancy Laws The Growing Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Homeless Laws in the Golden State
Jeffrey Selbin, Marina Fisher, Nathaniel Miller, Lindsay Walter

If Black Lives Matter, End the War on Crime
Professor Jonathan Simon

Ending Mass Incarceration is a Moral Imperative
Professor Jonathan Simon


Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice

The intellectual hub of the law school’s vibrant social justice community, the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice is a training and research center that prepares the next generation of lawyers to represent underserved communities and produces innovative and accessible scholarship on issues of race, sex and poverty.

Experiential Education

Berkeley Law is rich with opportunities for students get hands-on experience in areas related to race and criminal justice.

In-house Clinics

Death Penalty Clinic
The Death Penalty Clinic seeks justice for individual clients by providing them with the highest quality representation, and exposes and tackles problems endemic to the administration of the death penalty.

Policy Advocacy Clinic
In the Policy Advocacy Clinic, interdisciplinary teams of law and public policy students pursue innovative, multimodal and systemic strategies on behalf of underrepresented individuals and groups to advance social justice, equity, and inclusion.

International Human Rights Law Clinic
The International Human Rights Law Clinic allows students to design and implement creative solutions to advance the global struggle for the protection of human rights.

Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic
The Samuelson Clinic offers law students the unparalleled opportunity to learn about lawyering, government institutions and the complexities involved in technology-related law, while also providing representation to individuals, nonprofits, and consumer groups that could not otherwise obtain counsel. The Samuelson Clinic does a good deal of work on the use of surveillance technology by local police, which necessarily implicates race.

Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects (SLPS)

Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects (SLPS) are open to projects and clinics created by and staffed by students, including 1Ls, and supervised by an attorney. Projects cover a diverse range of areas, including education, juvenile justice, immigration, veterans’ rights, housing, public benefits, civil rights, environment, health, and employment.

Some SLPS that are relevant to race and criminal justice include:

EBCLC-Logo-219x300The East Bay Community Law Center

The East Bay Community Law Center is the community-based component of Berkeley Law’s Clinical Program, providing law students with a unique opportunity to learn about the responsibilities of practicing law while reflecting on the lawyer’s role and the lawyering process. Under the supervision of EBCLC’s clinical instructors, students provide direct legal services to low-income clients and community groups in Alameda County.

Student placements include:

The Clean Slate Practice: Clean Slate fosters community reentry for people with criminal records by helping them overcome barriers to employment, housing, education, and civic participation.

The Youth Defender Clinic: The Youth Defender Clinic (YDC) represents young people involved in the juvenile justice system in Alameda County. The mission of YDC is to stop the school-to-prison pipeline on an individual, institutional, and community level by addressing both the causes and consequences of court involvement.