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Law & Organizing Academy (2023)

May 23, 2023


Upstate New York Applications due March 1

We invite rising second- and third-year law students from New York City law schools to apply to a Law & Organizing Academy to be held this May in upstate New York. The Law and Political Economy (LPE) ProjectThe Action Lab (TAL), and the Initiative for Community Power’s hosted the inaugural summer academy last year. This year, we will introduce a somewhat larger cohort of law students to critical organizing and LPE frameworks, with a focus on housing justice, decarceration, and worker power.

Amid the escalating and interlocking crises that define our current moment, the work of progressive lawyers must be imaginative, far-reaching, and grounded in a critique of the political, economic, and legal structures that undergird and reproduce neoliberal capitalism. It is equally important that we connect this work to ongoing efforts to build the power of poor and marginalized people. Unfortunately, organizing efforts, in turn, are often stuck in “triage mode,” separated from a broader vision of political economy. To meet the urgency of the moment, lawyers and organizers, working collaboratively, must move beyond a focus on short-term gains and defensive struggles, to an engagement with transformative politics.

Day 1 of the Academy will feature introductions to law and organizing and the evolving Law and Political Economy (LPE) movement. We will critically analyze the state of grassroots organizing, as well as law’s role in constituting the political economy of neoliberalism.

Day 2 will turn to a discussion of gentrification, displacement, and legal and political efforts to support tenant organizing and to decommodify urban property.

Day 3 will center the crisis of mass incarceration and racialized police violence, abolition, and movements for decarceration.

Day 4 will focus on the recent upsurge in labor organizing, previous declines in labor law and traditional unionism, and the role of lawyers in building worker power today.

Academy sessions will be led by a mix of LPE academics, including Amy Kapczynski, John Whitlow, and Veena Dubal, as well as leaders from NYC-based organizations like Make the Road New York and the Center for Popular Democracy.

The Academy will be held in upstate New York from noon on Tuesday, May 23 through Friday, May 26. Meals and lodging will be provided; and shuttle service will be provided from the Metro North stop to the academy location. Train tickets from NYC will be reimbursed. Following the Academy, TAL and the LPE Project will facilitate ongoing relationship-building, learning, and collaborative opportunities for the cohort of participants through a series of follow-up meetings and events.

Application Process

The Academy is open to rising 2Ls and 3Ls from New York City law schools who have a demonstrated interest in LPE and community organizing. 

The online application (Google Form) must be submitted by no later than March 1, 2023.

Application Materials:

  1. Name
  2. Law School and Year
  3. Required supplementary materials:
    • Cover letter/personal statement: This statement, which should not exceed one page, should detail the applicant’s interest in – and engagement with – LPE and/or law and organizing.
    • CV 

About the Organizations 

The Law and Political Economy Project brings together a network of scholars, practitioners, and students working to develop innovative intellectual, pedagogical, and political interventions to advance the study of political economy and law. Developments over the last several decades in legal scholarship and policy helped to facilitate rising inequality and precarity, political alienation, the entrenchment of racial hierarchies and intersectional exploitation, and ecological and social catastrophe. The LPE Project aims to help reverse these trends by supporting scholarly work that maps where we have gone wrong, and that develops ideas and proposals to democratize our political economy and build a more just, equal, and sustainable future.

The Action Lab is a movement home for sanctuary and strategy; where social justice leaders and practitioners, community leaders, and artists come together to connect, imagine, and build. The Action Lab catalyzes new relationships, insights and paths to a radically transformed future by creating and curating spaces for learning, cultural creation, cross-discipline collaboration, experimentation, and action. 

The Initiative for Community Power at NYU combines the weight and assets of a global academic institution with deep community partnerships and decades of high-impact community organizing and power-building work. The Initiative catalyzes analysis, innovation, and project work to create a more equitable, democratic, and racially just society. The Initiative works closely with non-profit, academic, and government partners to reimagine the parameters of the possible, and to transform our vision of dynamic democracy, rooted in racial and economic justice, into reality. The Initiative is housed in the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at NYU School of Law.