Race and Law Certificate

Ian Haney Lopez lecturing to students

Berkeley Law’s faculty includes some of the nation’s most prolific and influential race scholars. Berkeley Law is also unique among its peers in having a center dedicated to racial justice, the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice. Each year, the social justice faculty offer an array of courses that focus deeply on race and law. Berkeley Law offers clinical opportunities to address racial injustice, and helps students find field placements and other experiential education and pro bono opportunities in which they can study and practice at the intersection of law and racial justice.  We are proud to give students the support and resources to study race and racism effectively and to recognize graduating students who are uniquely qualified to solve our most pressing racial injustice challenges.

We will begin offering designated Race and Law certificate courses in Fall 2018.  We expect the Class of 2021 to be the first class *eligible for the certificate. 

*Due to the fact that all required courses cannot be offered every year, the Race and Law Certificate must be completed over the course of multiple years at Berkeley Law.  Accordingly, it is only open to students in the three-year J.D. program.


The final deadline for submitting the application for J.D.  students is March 15 of the student’s graduation year, and especially if the student wishes to be noted in the graduation program as having received the certificate.


Application period for AY 23-24 is December 1, 2023 – March 15, 2024.Online-Application-Form-300x119

*Please note that you can double-list courses and writing requirements for both the PISJ Certificate and the Race and Law Certificate*


J.D. students must complete the following to be eligible for the Certificate:

1. Course Requirements

Students must take a minimum of three approved courses to qualify for the Certificate.

Two (2) of the courses must be from the following core classes list:

    • Race and American Law (Core Class)
    • Critical Race Theory (Core Class)
    • Federal Indian Law (Core Class) 
    • Race, Sexuality and the Law (Core Class) 
  • The third course can be any course that is listed in the Race and Law category or subcategory.

2. Experiential Education Requirement

At least 1 course in the law school’s clinical program (in-house or East Bay Community Law Center) with a substantial focus on race and racial inequality in the United States or completion of a field placement with a substantial focus on race and racial inequality in the United States.

3. Writing Requirement

One paper or other written product on a race-and-law topic that meets the standards for either Option 1 or Option 2 of the J.D. writing requirement. Refer to the Academic Rules for the complete scope and standards of this requirement. Students should submit a paper written to fulfill a course requirement at Berkeley Law; LAW 299 individual research-and-writing projects can also meet this requirement. (Writing completed in a qualifying Clinic or field placement may satisfy this requirement. Writing completed in a course that is not substantially about race may still qualify if the paper itself has a substantial focus on race and racial inequality.)

4. Activity Requirement

Attendance at a minimum of four Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice designated Race and Law programs. For the list of qualifying events, please view this document


Your supervising attorney will need to confirm your work by sending an email to henderson.center@law.berkeley.edu.

 For an example email requesting confirmation from your supervising attorney please visit: https://berkeley.box.com/s/l9kbhto50vsr0gqmebkyr4mdwqowi3s1(opens in a new tab)



There is some flexibility in the application of the certificate requirements, allowing students to substitute other curricular activities for a shortfall in the formal requirements. Students who are close to meeting the Race and Law certificate requirements may submit a Race and Law certificate application along with a brief (one paragraph) request for a variance.


FAQ Document– Please read this document before emailing the Henderson Center with inquiries. 

Please send questions to henderson.center@law.berkeley.edu.