Cause Lawyering
Elon Law School
Fall 2016
Room 206
Tuesdays, 3:30-6:00 pm

Eric M. Fink
+1 336 279 9334
Office hours by appointment


“Cause lawyering” refers to the practice of law as a means of achieving social change or advancing social movement aims. This course examines cause lawyering in various practice settings (non-profit organizations, government agencies, private practice) and various types of legal work (litigation, legislative & policy advocacy, transactional work), focusing on the distinctive strategic, ethical, and other professional issues in cause lawyering. The course is primarily designed as an accompanying course for students undertaking a residency-in-practice with a public interest law organization. Other students may also take the course, subject to availability.


Stuart A. Scheingold & Austin Sarat, Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism, & Cause Lawyering (Stanford Univ. Press 2004)

Austin Sarat & Stuart A. Scheingold (eds.), Cause Lawyers & Social Movements (Stanford Univ. Press 2006) (“CLSM” in Course Outline)

The course website has links to other assigned readings and additional resources.



Your grade for this course will be based on your participation in class discussion (50%) and a research paper & presentation. There will be no final exam.

Class Discussion

Each of you will be the lead discussant for at least one class session during the term. This will include a short (2-3 pages) overview of the topic and assigned reading, and some questions for discussion. You should send a copy of your overview and questions to me at least 24 hours in advance, and I will share these with the rest of the class. I will circulate a sign-up sheet on the first day of class for you to choose which session you wish to lead. If there are more sessions than students enrolled in the course, you will have the option to sign up as lead discussant for a second session.

Paper & Presentation

You will write a research paper (approx. 10 pages) on one of these topics:

You will also give a brief (~10 minutes) in-class presentation about your paper. The completed paper will be due on the last day of the exam period. I will give you more information about my expectations for the paper in class.


Elon Law School has adopted the following attendance policy for all courses:

The Law School administers a policy that a student maintain regular and punctual class attendance in all courses in which the student is registered, including externships, clinical courses, or simulation courses. Faculty members will give students written notice of their attendance policies before or during the first week of class. These policies may include, but are not limited to: treating late arrivals, early departures, and/or lack of preparation as absences; imposing grade or point reductions for absences, including assigning a failing grade or involuntarily withdrawing a student from the class; and any other policies that a professor deems appropriate to create a rigorous and professional classroom environment.

In case of illness or emergency, students may contact the Office of Student and Professional Life, which will then notify the student’s instructors. A student may notify the faculty member directly of a planned absence and should refer to individual faculty members regarding any policy that may apply. In the case of prolonged illness or incapacity, the student should contact the Office of Student and Professional Life.

Excessive absences (more than 2 classes) may result in a reduction of your grade.

Disability Accommodations

For disability accommodation requests, contact the Elon Law Registrar’s Office.

Honor Code

The Law School honor code applies to all activities related to your law school study, including conduct during class and examinations.