Addressing Social Movements in Legal Education

Caitlin Barry

Thinking about how the law reflects our values as a society can be one of the most interesting—and formative—experiences of a law student. Caitlin Barry, Director of Villanova Law’s Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic and Assistant Professor of Law, regularly addresses current immigration law and policy in her Clinic, and now she is sharing her approach with others who teach immigration law in doctrinal and clinical settings.

Barry recently contributed guidance on teaching immigration law to the Guerrilla Guides to Law Teaching, a collective effort to acknowledge and confront the present “movement moment” within classrooms. The project embraces the lessons taken from current social movements as an important opportunity to revisit methods and sources of teaching in the legal academy, and to generate creative approaches that break out of traditional modes of thinking. 

As Barry explains in the Preface to her Guide, “While immigration law courses tend to either follow a traditional chronological series of constitutional cases or take a practical approach to training students on immigration agency procedures, my suggestions offer opportunities to consider the lived experiences of migrants directly impacted by these laws and policies, discuss how immigration law has been used to enforce structural racial, economic and gender hierarchies, and reflect on how organized resistance has shaped the evolution of immigration law.”

Other Guides in the collection include Criminal Law, Evidence, Administrative Law and International Human Rights. In addition to Professor Barry, the Guerrilla Guides project includes professors from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; University of California, Irvine School of Law; University of Pennsylvania School of Law; Loyola University New Orleans College of Law; Seattle University School of Law; NYU School of Law; Brooklyn Law School; and Seattle University School of Law.