Student interns serve in vital roles across the MacArthur Justice Center. They make important contributions to the work we do. But even more important, we know that one of the best ways to ensure real, lasting change is to help shape the next generation of attorneys dedicated to continuing the fight for justice.
In Chicago, the MacArthur Justice Center is part of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic, one of the nation’s most highly regarded law school clinics. At Northwestern, MacArthur Justice Center lawyers teach a clinic course on complex civil rights litigation. As part of that course, clinic students have the opportunity to participate in the MacArthur Justice Center’s cases and thereby gain real-world experience in legal practice. In addition to learning and sharpening their technical skills at legal research, case planning, motion practice, pretrial discovery and courtroom work, the students also get the chance to examine first hand some of the most pressing current challenges in the criminal justice system.
The MacArthur Justice Center doesn’t just offer practical experience working on real cases, it provides students with the opportunity to make an impact in people’s lives. I came to law school because of the principle that the law should be extended and applied equally to every citizen. Clinic offers students the ability to discuss litigation strategy and other legal processes with great legal minds and has helped me learn to interpret and apply the law effectively to mitigate instances of prejudice and discrimination. Working directly with clients has provided unique insight into legal professionalism––our clients were afforded the opportunity to communicate their narratives; and I gained invaluable insight into what makes a good lawyer. The skills I have developed as a result of MacArthur have not only taught me about what makes a good lawyer, it has shown me the type of lawyer I want to be.
— Theo Benjamin
Northwestern University Alumni
Eight students are selected to participate in the MacArthur Justice Clinic each semester at the University of Mississippi School of Law. These students take a substantive class in civil rights law and litigation taught by Professor Cliff Johnson and work side-by-side with MacArthur’s Mississippi team on active litigation and investigations in Mississippi. Students perform a variety of legal work, including meeting with clients, interviewing witnesses, conducting research, drafting legal documents, collecting data, monitoring courtrooms, and developing litigation strategies. Each semester, students meet with inmates in Mississippi jails as part of the Clinic’s ongoing effort to monitor pre-trial detention policies and the condition of Mississippi prisons.
Working with the MacArthur Justice Clinic gave me the opportunity to work for people ignored and discarded by the criminal justice system. I spoke to men in prison and listened to their stories of sitting behind bars for years without even an indictment or having seen a lawyer. I helped create the first-ever database identifying the individuals detained in Mississippi jails, including some of the very men I met and spoke to. Working with the MacArthur Justice Center means working every day to uplift the voices and stories of prisoners and the poor to make permanent changes to our criminal justice system through litigation and advocacy.