Professor Ronald W. Staudt
Public Interest Law & Policy

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Student Work from 2008


Spring 2013 Student Work

This course is designed to be an overview of the issues faced by public interest lawyers. Those issues include, as you would imagine in a law course, substantive law questions. They also include social and political questions and questions about the role of the lawyer in social change and policy development. Ethical issues also arise in this practice area.

To help explore as many of these issues as possible and to engage all of the class in the development of the key material that we will read to learn about these issues, each student in the course, as part of a small team, will help prepare the assigned materials for one week of the course. Here is how this will work:

The course will begin with a deep look at a famous Chicago case, Gautreaux v. CHA, through the eyes of the lead lawyer in the case, Alexander Polikoff. Mr. Polikoff’s first person account of this 40 year public interest case, Waiting for Gautreaux, is a rich source for exploring the law, legal tactics, the social and political issues and the role of the lawyer in a landmark public interest case.

After completing our study of Gautreaux we will explore other selected issues in public interest law and practice and policy with readings to be announce on the Assignments page of this website.

For the last 7 weeks of the course we will study one important public interest case or topic each week, usually decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. Each of these 7 weeks will be the responsibility of one student team.

While we cannot expect to gather the richness that Waiting for Gautreaux offers, the student teams will prepare Case Studies for each of the seven assigned cases/topics. The Case Studies will include a paper and, in addition it can include bibliographies and selected readings as well as graphics and power points and videos that help the class understand:

· the nature of the controversy from which the case arose,

· the issues faced by the litigants and lawyers,

· the impact of the case decision on the litigants and the lawyers and

· finally, the impact the case has had on the public since its decision.

The Case Study will be assigned reading for the entire class for the week during which we study the covered case.

In addition to the normal Lexis and Google avenues for research, I encourage you to contact lawyers and litigants and people in the affected institutions. Interview them by phone or email or visit them if they are local. Include accounts of your interviews in the Case Study. Each team may also invite a guest speaker or two for one of the two class for which that team is responsible, but not both of those classes. Guests can be invited to speak in person or via Skype or other distance technology.


Case Study Student Assignments - the following list is a tentative selection of seven projects that will be assigned to student groups for this semester. I may make an addition or deletion before the start of the semester. Students will have an opportunity to indicate preferences for one or more of these case projects at the beginning of the semester.

Spring 2013

Goldberg v. Kelly
due process, welfare benefit termination


Boddie v. Connecticut
due process, access to justice, filing fee waiver


Lewis v. City of Chicago
racial discrimination in hiring, firefighters


Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius
Free exercise of religion, Affordable Care Act, access to contraception


Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
1st Amendment and campaign finance


Legal Services Corporation v. Velazquez
1st Amendment and federal legal aid funding restrictions



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Copyright © 2003, 2006, 2008 Ronald W. Staudt