Elon Law Professor and Director of Leadership Programs Faith Rivers James authored an article published in the Santa Clara Law Review. In the article, titled, “Leadership and Social Justice Lawyering,” (52 Santa Clara L. Rev. 971 (2012)), Rivers James discusses the role of lawyers in social justice movements and specific case studies, which exemplify the necessary skills to achieve success in various areas of legal practice.
“Lawyers have a unique ability to lead social justice causes,” Rivers James writes in her article. “Leading clients and communities toward socially oriented objectives requires advocates to use important lawyering skills.”
Professor Rivers James cites the specific example of Charles Hamilton Hughes, the civil rights attorney who, among many accomplishments, fought against the “separate but equal” doctrine established by the Supreme Court of the United States in Plessy v. Furguson. River James writes that using Hughes’ legal career as a case study presents law students with the opportunity to consider skills necessary to their own success as persuasive decision makers.
“Juxtaposed against one of the most remarkable strategic litigation achievements in American legal history, Houston’s self-knowledge and self-management provides an example of the kinds of life patterns and decisions young lawyers may face in their professional careers,” Rivers James writes. “A strong internal compass and personal experiences drove Houston’s passion for social justice; that same passion may have impacted the work habits that his health could not sustain.”
In addition to the Hughes case study, Rivers James discusses the case study of El Congreso’s campaign to establish health and safety standards for farmworkers as it pertains to the power and limitations of administrative law.
“The El Congreso case study exemplifies leading lawyers in action,” Rivers James writes. “Administrative lawyering requires substantive knowledge of the underlying area of law, legislative skills to understand and draft statutes, advocacy and negotiation skills to influence the adoption of statutes and the promulgation of regulations, as well as regulatory prowess to understand when and how client interests are impacted by regulations or guidelines.”
Professor Rivers James earned her B.A. from Dartmouth College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Prior to her appointment as Director of Leadership Programs, Rivers James created the Public Law and Leadership course, which allows second year law students to explore leadership skills and work with real non-profit clients during winter term.
By Courtney Roller L’13