Kayla Fisher and Michael Geoffino share thoughts on their work in the Systemic Justice Project during fall 2021.
Working Alongside Community Leaders
Kayla Fisher, ’23
The systemic justice seminar offered a unique opportunity to merge legal theory with practical application. As a student, I have actively sought experiences which will help me to learn more about Philadelphia. Through this experience, I have learned more about the city’s thriving anti-gun violence movement, and I worked alongside thoughtful and genuine community leaders. It was incredible to meet and share ideas with leaders of various organizations. Hearing their visions for a safer future provided an opportunity to see how legal theory and policy must be informed by lived experience.
This course challenged me to think of lawyers as a critical, not central, component of the greater project of empowering the community. The collateral consequences of policing and mass incarceration are vast (and can often feel overwhelming), but this clinic and seminar highlights how lawyers can intervene by reducing harm and providing tangible support in the lives of those who simply need legal support. Overall, this clinic and seminar provided valuable lessons which I hope to carry forward with me into my career.
Students Encouraged to Think Critically
Michael Geoffino, ’23
As a 1L, I was frustrated with how often our legal education was about learning the rules without seriously looking at the results of the rules and the implications of these results. In this clinic we spent a lot of time looking at the rules surrounding our criminal justice system and incarceration as well as discussing the policy and implications under them. The readings and discussions were often challenging and critical, and the projects were both interesting and practical. I really enjoyed taking this clinic, it felt like a space where students were encouraged to think critically about the law and discuss their own opinions and conclusions. This class was an exciting change of pace from the typical law school class.