Civil Rights Clinic and Voting Rights Institute
Civil Rights Clinic
The faculty member responsible for the civil rights clinic and Voting Rights Institute is Professor Aderson Francois. Professor Francois joined the faculty in 2016. Prior to joining the Georgetown faculty, Professor Francois directed the Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law, where he also taught Constitutional Law, Federal Civil Rights, and Supreme Court Jurisprudence.
CRC operates as a public interest law firm, representing individual clients and other public interest organizations, primarily in the areas of discrimination and constitutional rights, workplace fairness, and open government. Beginning in the Fall of 2016, the section expanded its work into the area of voting rights. Students interview clients, develop case theories, draft and file complaints in state and federal courts, conduct discovery, engage in motions practice, and prepare appeals. Students also file FOIA requests and analyze responsive documents, and work in coalition with other public interest organizations to develop impact cases. Recent projects include:
- Litigating a complex federal Freedom of Information Act suit against the Department of Defense and the CIA on behalf of researchers seeking records on “enhanced interrogation” used in the War on Terror;
- Litigating wage theft claims against private entities and government contractors on behalf of employees denied fair wages or overtime;
- Litigating retaliation claims on behalf of employees terminated for asserting their rights under FLSA and DC Wage and Hour law;
- Litigating on behalf of an individual improperly assessed a deficiency under Maryland consumer protection statutes;
- Litigating on behalf of an individual whose employer improperly denied her the lactation breaks she was entitled to under state and federal law;
- Litigating on behalf of an individual whose employer improperly denied her disability and pregnancy accommodations, discriminated against her on account of her national origin, and illegally assessed fees against her in connection with her resignation;
- Filing amicus briefs in four appellate cases –two pending before the United States Supreme Court, one in the DC Circuit, and one in the New York Court of Appeals;
- Filing FOIA requests and using the responsive documents to prepare reports exposing government misconduct;
- Preparing and arguing two appeals in federal court, one in the DC Circuit and one in the Fifth Circuit; and
- On behalf of a public interest organization, analyzing potential APA claims related to the recall of exploding airbags and other automobile defects.
For more detailed information about our work, applicants should review our annual reports.
What do the Graduate Fellows/Staff Attorneys do?
Fellows are responsible for day-to-day supervision of the students and work closely with the students on improving their lawyering skills, especially legal writing. In the civil rightssection, the fellow has principal responsibility for about half of the docket and supervises all facets of the litigation. Much of the fellow’s time is spent guiding students in legal and factual research, reviewing student drafts, making suggestions for improvement, and preparing the students for oral presentations. In recent years, fellows have worked on all phases of litigation, including taking depositions, handling evidentiary hearings, and briefing cases before federal district courts, courts of appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Fellows also play a key role in case development and in planning other CRC activities. Fellows participate in case rounds and assist in teaching seminars on litigation practice and substantive law.
Past fellows have emphasized that the CRC experience is unique in several respects:
First, the fellows work on interesting, often cutting-edge litigation. In light of our broad agenda, we have leeway to develop cases that present unique educational opportunities for students and fellows and have a significant impact on the law.
Second, fellows assume substantial responsibility and generally play a more important role in the decision making process than do their contemporaries in other types of law practice. They work on a variety of cases in different stages of the litigation process and gain a broad understanding of how litigation works, from interviewing a potential client through appealing to the Supreme Court. Fellows also work closely with other CRC fellows and other public interest organizations, meeting other lawyers involved in public interest law and seeing how their organizations function.
Third, fellows work closely with a full-time faculty member who has substantial litigation experience and expertise. As part of the Georgetown Law community, fellows are encouraged to attend seminars, workshops, and programs both on and off campus. Georgetown provides substantial support and guidance for fellows interested in pursuing academic scholarship or careers.
Pay and other benefits
The annual salary is $57,000 for the first year of the fellowship and $60,000 for the second year. The fellow also receives health and dental benefits and all tuition and fees in the L.L.M. program. Fellows also have unlimited free access to a state-of-the-art, on-site fitness center. As full- time students, fellows qualify for deferment of their student loans. Fellows may be eligible for loan repayment assistance from their law schools.