Cause Lawyering
Elon Law School
Winter 2022
Room 105
Mondays & Wednesdays, 3:30-5:30 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.


All assigned reading is available online using the links in the course website and the PDF of the syllabus.



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

Class Discussion

Each student will be the lead discussant for one class session during the term. This will include a short (2-3 pages) memo summarizing the assigned reading and suggesting questions for discussion.

You should a copy of your memo to me by email, no later than 9:00 am on the day of class. I will share the memo with the rest of the class.

Paper & Presentation

Each student will complete a final written project (about 10 pages) on one of these topics:

  • Career/organizational study of a lawyer, law firm, or legal organization engaged in cause lawyering
  • Case study of a legal strategy associated with a social cause or movement
  • Proposed legal strategy (litigation, lobbying, or transactional) to advance a cause/movement

Each student will give a presentation (~15-20 minutes) about their final project, during the last three class sessions of the term (March 2, 7 & 9).

You may use the final written project to satisfy the Upper Level Writing Requirement (ULWR). If you wish to do so, you must submit the Upper Level Writing Requirement Intent Form to the Registrar, no later than the second week of the term. To satisfy the ULWR, your final written project must conform to the minimum length and other standards (see Elon School of Law Student Handbook). Once I have reviewed and approved your project for the ULWR, you must submit the Completion Form to the Registrar.

The completed final project will be due on the last day of the Winter Term exam period.


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.