Social Justice

At Detroit Mercy Law, you will join a community committed to social justice.

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Detroit Mercy Law, inspired by the Jesuit and Mercy traditions, educates lawyers who are committed to the pursuit of justice, service to others, and the highest standards of the legal profession.

You help people throughout your law school experience—starting in your first year.  In 2019-2020, our students provided 30,000+ hours of pro bono legal services to residents of Detroit and the surrounding communities.

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    Mini-Clinics for First-Year Students

    As part of our commitment to providing service learning experiences for students from day one, we offer mini-clinics for first-year students.  Our mini-clinics, rooted in the Jesuit and Mercy traditions of caring for those with the least resources and greatest need, help our students develop legal, leadership, and community service skills.  In mini-clinics, first-year students are trained and supervised by attorneys in the legal community and help clients with a variety of matters.

    LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MINI-CLINICS

    “We helped Detroit residents who were struggling to navigate the judicial system.  It was rewarding to use what we learned in the classroom and help people in the community.” 

    Bridget Underhill

     

    Bridget Underhill '20

     

    “Helping people is really what practicing law is all about, and the mini-clinics helped me understand how important pro bono work is for the community.”

    Sydney Fontanilla

     

    Sydney Fontanilla '22

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    Community Outreach

    The Detroit Mercy Law community comes together and gives back through service opportunities.  We assist with criminal expungements, build community gardens, organize beautification projects, distribute blankets to homeless veterans, help during crisis, and partner with the Pope Francis Center adjacent to the law school.

    “Detroit Mercy Law offers endless opportunities that remind me of why I want to be an attorney. When I reach out a helping hand to my community, it reminds me that the core of my passion is to help others regain their strength.” 

    Randa Asfar

     

    Randa Asfar '20

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    Clinics for Upper-Level Students

    At Detroit Mercy Law, all students are guaranteed a clinical experience.  Our clinical program, founded in 1965, it is among the first clinical programs in the nation.  We offer twelve clinics for our upper-level students to gain hands-on lawyering skills while advocating for real clients who otherwise may not have access to legal services.  While we are proud that our clinical program is recognized nationally, we are even prouder of the important work our students do through the clinics.

    LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CLINICAL PROGRAMS

     "My clinical experience was the perfect reminder of why I wanted to go to law school in the first place, to help others in need." 

    Najah Allaham 

    Najah Allaham '20

     

    "Participating in a clinic is life changing. You get the opportunity to make a real difference."

    Lorena Victoria Bejan

     

    Lorena Vicky '19

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    Social Justice in the Classroom

    Detroit Mercy Law is dedicated to providing every student with the support needed to be successful. Our accessible faculty members provide an intellectually-demanding course of study and are readily available to answer questions and serve as mentors.


    “I get to bring a different type of real-world experience. A lot of [other adjuncts] are in firms, but there are so many lawyers who work in public service, so, as an adjunct, I get to bring that additional perspective to the classroom.”

    Charity Dean
    Charity Dean '15, Director, Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity, City of Detroit
     

     
    Beyond her practice, Jennifer Dukarski brings her background as an engineer directly to students in the classroom as an adjunct professor, teaching Emerging Mobility Technology. “I’ve been impressed by the passion for the topic and the thoughtfulness of the students in the concepts of integrating mobility into our communities without abandoning the most vulnerable stakeholders,” she commented. “Serving as an adjunct has inspired me and challenged me to make sure I’m keeping social justice on my radar in my practice.”

    Jennifer Dukarski

    Jennifer Dukarski '10, Adjunct Professor, Detroit Mercy Law

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    Student Organizations for Social Justice

    Student organizations at Detroit Mercy Law provide students with the opportunity to work together to advance social justice and give back to the community.

    • American Constitution Society (ACS)
    • Arab American Law Student Association
    • Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
    • Environmental Law Society
    • Hispanic & Latino/a Law Students Association (HiLLSA)
    • Immigration Law Association
    • Lawyers Lending Hands
    • OutLaws
    • Women’s Law Caucus
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    Externships

    Detroit Mercy Law supports students who want to work for public interest groups through the externship program.  Students receive support securing placements and earn academic credit for their work. Students may also be eligible to receive financial support for completing a public service externship through the work-study program.

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    Voice for Justice Fellowships

    Detroit Mercy Law supports students making a difference through the Voice for Justice Fellowship, which had funded more than 100 law students to serve locally and throughout the world.

    Local

    • ACLU, Detroit
    • Chaldean Federation of America, West Bloomfield
    • Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, Detroit 
    • Freedom House, Detroit
    • Michigan Children’s Law Center, Southgate
    • Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Lansing
    • Michigan Poverty Law Program & Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Ypsilanti
    • Misdemeanor Defenders Office, Detroit
    • Salvation Army William J. Booth Legal Clinic, Detroit
    • State Appellate Defender Office, Detroit
    • Sugar Law Center, Detroit

     

    "I am committed to a career in Public Interest Law because it is still necessary. It is necessary for people to help those that are suffering and to challenge the unjust laws and policies that discriminate against and jeopardize the future of vulnerable groups. I will always fight for and protect those subjected to unequal treatment."

    Abrial Neely

     

    Abrial Neely '23, Neighborhood Defender Service, Detroit

     


    Around the World

    • African Women’s Lawyer’s Association, Ghana
    • American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, Washington, D.C.
    • Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Washington, D.C.
    • Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, Immigration and Refugee Division, Toronto Ontario
    • International Justice Mission, Bangalore, India
    • Public Defender Service, Washington, D.C.
    • Unitarian Universalist Office, United Nations
    • International Refugee Assistance Program, Amman, Jordan

     

    "As a Voice for Justice Fellow, I interned with Women’s Legal Aid Clinic in Kigali, Rwanda, called Haguruka-NGO.  I am proud of my school and our commitment 'to the pursuit of justice, service to others, and the highest standards of the legal profession'. Fully embracing the cliché of making a difference, I wanted to do just that on behalf of my school."

    Katya Rowley

     

    Katya Rowley '22 Dual JD, Haguruka-NGO, Rwanda