Law & Justice

Posted on: August 23rd, 2012
Concern with social justice comes naturally to a school of law.  Social justice is not really possible without a vigorous and independent legal system.  Lawyers, even when they are zealously seeking to advance the interests of a private client, play in important role in creating a just society.  Many law students and faculty are attracted to law because of a desire to contribute to furthering justice.  As a Jesuit law school, Loyola’s commitment to using law as a tool for justice is particularly strong.

Social justice oriented law work can be at a macro level – attempting to create or improve the structure of the legal system as it relates to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.  Or it can be at the micro level – providing legal representation to people who cannot afford private counsel.  At our law school we have many diverse opportunities for students and faculty to contribute to enhancing social justice through the legal system.  In our clinics, students provide representation to low income people in real legal matters.  For example, the Health Justice Project works with medical provider partners to help low income people overcome the social and legal obstacles that negatively affect their health care options and outcomes.  The Life After Innocence Project assists wrongfully convicted people who have been released from prison as they attempt to reintegrate into society.  Students spend many hundreds of hours per year volunteering at juvenile detention facilities and teaching young people about their legal rights.  Students who devote significant time to relevant volunteer and course work can receive a Public Interest Certificate.  Students also edit and publish the innovative Public Interest Law Reporter.

Our Civitas ChildLaw Center was established to promote the legal rights of children.  Increasingly, Civitas faculty and students have been providing research and policy advice to countries around the world working to improve how their legal systems deal with children’s issues.  PROLAW, an LL.M degree program based at Loyola’s Rome campus, brings together lawyers from the developing world who work on rule of law development in their home countries.

This institutional commitment to social justice was a big part of what attracted me to Loyola when I came here seven years ago.  My own scholarly work has principally been aimed at trying to help our criminal justice system become more humane and effective.   I have represented many indigent criminal defendants and serve on the boards of a number of law reform groups.    It is a pleasure and an honor to be associated with so many students, faculty and alumni who use their legal training to improve justice in our world.
David Yellen, J.D.
Dean and Professor
School of Law

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