Curriculum and Degrees

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Public Law and Human Rights

Hamline Law has, from its very beginning, been known for its commitment to public law, which is defined broadly to include the many roles in which lawyers engage in service to our public life from a variety of political and value perspectives. Many law students come to Hamline after serving the public interest in volunteer work or paid employment, eager to master skills to make them more effective advocates for justice. They join a community of scholar-lawyers who seek to understand how the law has been used for both just and unjust ends throughout history, and to advocate practical reforms that can serve both people and justice. Hamline Law faculty and students are also involved in a wide variety of pro bono work in the community, from serving non-profit organizations to doing pro bono litigation to working on legislative and regulatory reforms. Hamline’s alumni serve as judges, government lawyers, executive directors of nonprofits, lawyers in human rights and poverty organizations, and corporate counsel for companies with public interest projects and missions.

Through Hamline’s public law curriculum, students gain broad perspectives on the law, the ability to critically examine its premises and effects, and a mastery of many skills necessary to work effectively toward a just society. These courses provide theoretical and historical overviews of public interest issues, specialty courses in areas as diverse as children’s rights and employment discrimination, externship opportunities in public interest settings, and clinic in which students will serve as student lawyers for low-income clients needing representation.

At Hamline, students also have many extracurricular opportunities to learn about public law careers, engage in public service through its Career Services Office, which provides both programming and opportunities to link with public law mentors electronically as well as in person.

Public Interest Law Community (PLC)

Through Hamline’s many public law student groups, students have the opportunity to form lifelong professional relationships of service with lawyers, students, faculty, alumni and others. Students and alums also participate in the Public Interest Law Community (PLC), a community of Hamline Law students, faculty, and staff dedicated to supporting Hamline law students as they decide on and work toward their professional callings as lawyers serving the public interest. The PLC works with other Hamline organizations and offices to offer programming and networking opportunities and keep public law students abreast of events and opportunities on campus and throughout the community.

Hamline Law's focus area in public law attempts to ensure that each student develop the ability to think profoundly about whether the law achieves just results, and work effectively toward that end. The public law and human rights courses provide a fundamental understanding of each of the dominant areas of public interest practice. In addition to the basic course foundation, Hamline's curriculum permits specialization in particular public interest areas, including children's rights, international human rights, and Native American law. This focus area is meaningful for those who intend to practice law and for those who intend to make a difference through other means. Either way, Hamline enriches the academic experience by letting students examine the impact of larger social phenomena on both the letter and application of public law.