Social Justice Short Course

Social Justice and the Law

A short course for incoming students that will address social justice issues through a legal lens.

All fall 2021 incoming students are invited to participate in this series of short courses presented by Cincinnati Law 1L faculty.

Each course is capped at 15-20 students, and you are asked to register for only two courses to start. If capacity allows, we will re-open registration and notify you of availability.

These courses are offered at no cost and for no academic credit.

Short Course Faculty Trailer

Course Details

Presenter: Professor Chris Bryant

The Supreme Court of the United States is often cast as a hero in narratives about progress on race relations in America.  This characterization of the Court follows from depictions of its 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education that paint the ruling as brave and transformative.  But a more complete understanding reveals that the Court, like the Congress and the Presidency, has at times been an obstacle to fulfillment of the nation’s founding commitment to the ideal that “all men are created equal.”  In the session on Social Justice and Constitutional Law, we will explore this other, forgotten half of the story by studying and discussing the Court’s 1883 decision in the Civil Rights Cases.  It is hoped that we will all emerge from those discussions with a fuller understanding of the roles that our governmental institutions, state and federal, have played (and might in the future again play) in the long and continuing struggle for racial justice.

Course Dates & Times

  • Tuesday, June 15 | 12-1 PM EST
  • Wednesday, June 16 |12-1 PM EST
  • Monday, June 21 | 12-1 PM EST

Course Materials

Presenter: Professor Emily Houh

First-year students who are interested in social justice lawyering and advocacy often come into the first-year, first-semester Contracts course thinking it will be boring, and worse yet, irrelevant to the work they want to do after law school.  In the "Contracts and Social Justice" short course, I hope to disabuse you of those notions.  It certainly is true that much of American contract law (and the first-year Contracts course) comprise formalist, classical doctrines and rules.  But contract law is rooted not only in classical liberal theories of individual will and "freedom of contract," but also in age-old commitments to equity in and fairness of exchange.  Though there are many different ways to think about how and why this is the case, in this short course I will share an approach that I've taken in both my research and teaching, by exploring the following types of questions: How has contract law tended to obscure and perpetuate socioeconomic inequalities?  How does contract law facilitate, internalize, and resist changing social contexts and movements?  How does contract law function as an “engine of social change” that simultaneously "transforms" and "preserves" a stratified socio-economic order based on race, gender, sex, and, of course, class?  Hopefully, our discussion of questions like these will help persuade some of you that Contract law is indeed anything but boring or irrelevant -- rather, it can be central and essential to the work of a social justice lawyer and advocate.

Course Dates & Times

  • Thursday, May 27 | 12-1 PM EST
  • Wednesday, June 23 | 12-1 PM EST
  • Wednesday, June 30 | 12-1 PM EST

Presenter: Professor Mark Godsey

Professor Mark Godsey directs the Ohio Innocence Project at UC Law, which has freed 33 innocent Ohioans who served more than 650 years in prison.  Duing this summer course will discuss the problem of wrongful convictions of the innocent and the much needed reforms in our criminal justice system.

Course Dates & Times: Capacity 15 per class

  • Monday, May 24 | 12-1 PM EST
  • Tuesday, May 25 | 12-1 PM EST
  • Thursday, June 3 | 12-1 PM EST
  • Thursday, June 10 | 12-1 PM EST

Presenter: Professor Sandra Sperino

Social Justice and Workplace Law. Work is a fundamental aspect of many people's lives and an important part of our economy. This session will focus on whether and how the law should shape the workplace. We will also discuss who the law currently protects and who is left out of common workplace protections. This will be a low stress, but robust conversation, exploring topics such as the gig economy, minimum wage, universal basic income, workplace safety, and the meaning of work. No prior knowledge of workplace law is needed.

Course Dates & Times: Capacity 20 per class

  • Monday, June 14 | 12-1 PM EST
  • Monday, June 28 | 12-1 PM EST

Course Materials:

Presenter: Professor Meghan Morris

This session is an introductory conversation about property and social justice. We will discuss two main issues: the social justice implications of eviction, and racial segregation in housing historically and today. The session will touch upon specific experiences involving property and social justice, as well as the ways that questions of social justice permeate broad debates around the ways we use property to shape private and public life.

Course Dates & Times

  • Tuesday, June 1| 12-1 PM EST
  • Wednesday, June 2 | 12-1 PM EST

Course Materials: