David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy Specialization

Program Curriculum

The Program strives to provide an innovative and intellectually ambitious curriculum that trains students to engage in sophisticated representation of traditionally underrepresented individuals, communities and interests while utilizing a range of problem-solving tools.  Thus, Program students are required to satisfy the general requirements for a J.D. degree while also satisfying the Program’s specific curricular requirements.

The Program curriculum is intended both to address fundamental questions about public interest lawyering that affect all areas of practice and to allow students to pursue a curricular path tailored to their individual interests and career goals.  The Program curricular requirements include a first-year seminar, a special section of the first-year Lawyering Skills course, a second-year “problem solving” seminar, an additional four advanced courses from a designated menu of courses, and a writing requirement.

Program students also have ample opportunity to select from the general School of Law curriculum courses that relate to their public interest orientation and goals, as well as to enroll in other academic specializations and pursue joint degrees.

Core Curriculum Requirements

See also: Upper Division Curriculum Requirements


The First Year Epstein Program Workshop is designed to provide students with an overview of public interest practice. Through readings, guest speakers, and class discussion, students gain familiarity with the different substantive areas of public interest law, organizational settings for public interest practice, and modes of public interest advocacy. In addition, students are introduced to the faculty of the Epstein Program as well as influential public interest practitioners, many of whom are Epstein Program alumni. Students participate in group activities to foster and build a strong sense of community and further strengthen our Epstein Program public interest network.

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The Legal Research and Writing course teaches students enrolled in the Epstein Program foundational lawyering skills necessary for success as a lawyer in a public interest setting. During this year-long course, students are introduced to the client-centered approach to lawyering, which teaches that the client’s perspective is front and center in the lawyering project. Students learn legal reasoning, basic legal research methods, the structure of persuasive arguments, the fundamentals of written analysis, and oral advocacy, all in the context of public interest practice. The course also supports the development of public interest leadership by fostering a safe and collaborative environment within the first-year curriculum to learn practice-oriented skills that will anchor and strengthen the public service careers of Epstein Program students. The class is taught by a Legal Research and Writing professor with training and background in public interest and social justice lawyering.

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This seminar focuses on public interest lawyering through a close analysis of case studies and the discussion of recurring issues in public interest practice. In this course, students explore social problems from a number of different perspectives, highlighting the many different ways of solving problems of the sort public interest lawyers confront. The seminar covers questions of how public interest problems come to be framed; how clients, lawyers and their allies think about problem-solving strategies; and how public interest lawyers use different modes of advocacy to address problems. Students in this seminar complete an individual paper project that addresses a real world problem and incorporates the modes of advocacy studied in the course.

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Upper Division Curriculum Requirements

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In addition to the core Epstein Program courses, Upper-Division Epstein Program students are required to (1) take four additional upper-division courses and (2) complete the Epstein Program Writing Requirement.

Upper-Division Coursework

Epstein Program students must take one course from each of four different categories: (1) substantive law; (2) advocacy sites; (3) inequality; and (4) applied advocacy (for a total of four additional courses). These curricular requirements are intended to systematically address fundamental questions about public interest lawyering. In order to qualify, each course must be a minimum of two credits.

This guide provides examples of courses that qualify in each category. This guide is not intended as an exhaustive list of all courses that could satisfy each category. 

Although some courses could qualify for more than one category, courses are listed in only one category. For example, a substantive law specialization course such as Immigration Law could qualify in the inequality category; just as a course such as Criminal Procedure could qualify in the advocacy sites category. 

Not all courses contained in this guide are offered every year, so students should plan out their schedules in advance. Clinical courses that satisfy the Category 4 requirement have a separate and earlier application process. Epstein Program students will be reminded to participate in the clinic application process.

Students may seek advanced approval from Epstein Program faculty to substitute courses for each category, including by taking courses offered outside the law school, new courses, and independent studies, provided that the proposed educational plan satisfies the course requirement categories and advances the student’s chosen public interest career path.

Category 1: Substantive Law (The substantive law specialization requirement is designed to familiarize Epstein Program students with a doctrinal area of law relevant to their chosen public interest career goals. For example, a student interested in pursuing a career in prison reform could choose Prison Law and Policy; a student who desires to become a legal services attorney specializing in domestic relations would take Family Law; and a student interested in food justice should take Introduction to Food Law and Policy.)
Course # Course Name
201 Constitutional Law II
202 Constitutional Criminal Procedure
211 Evidence
212 Federal Courts
216 Administrative Law
220 Introduction to Federal Income Taxation
230 Business Associations
260 Labor Law I
261 Employment Law
267 Federal Indian Law
270 Public International Law
273 International Human Rights Law
282 Education and the Law
285 Local Government Law
286 Land Use
290 Environmental Law and Policy
293 Public Natural Resources Law
295 Adjudicative Criminal Procedure: Bail to Jail
298 International Criminal Law
299 Federal Criminal Law
316 Disability Law
317 Family Law
319 Election Law
321 Legislation and Regulation
326 Health Law and Policy
331 Immigration Law
350 Energy Law
383 Political Asylum and Refugee Law
389 Prison Law and Policy
440 Introduction to Food Law and Policy
636 Current Issues in Chinese Law
692 Water Law
Category 2: Advocacy Sites (The advocacy sites requirement is designed to expose Epstein Program students to the decision-making institutions where advocacy takes place. For example, a student interested in becoming a environmental justice lawyer might take Climate and Energy Law and Policy; a student pursuing reproductive rights advocacy could take Human Rights and Sexual Politics or Reproduction, Medical Ethics, and the Law; a student dedicated to civil rights work could take Complex Litigation.)
Course # Course Name
210 Complex Litigation
269 National Security Law
301 Art and Cultural Property Law
332 Immigrants' Rights
363 Tax Exempt Organizations
376 Law and Dissent
380 State and Local Taxation
409 Leadership and the Law (J term)
438 International Environmental Law and Policy
443 Comparative Environmental Law
464 Human Trafficking
503 Current Topics in Criminal Law
513 Topics in California Environmental Law
574 Public Interest Procedure
583 Foreign Relations Law
584 Human Rights and Sexual Politics
591 Climate and Energy Law and Policy
612 Reproduction, Medical Ethics, and the Law
640 Higher Education Law and Policy
657 Contemporary Issues Facing the International Criminal Court
660 Cities in Distress
665 How Should We Fix the U.S. Health Care System?
671 Comparative Education Law and Policy
675 HIV/AIDS Law and Public Policy
697 Gun Control
708 Civil Rights and Police Accountability
742 Regulatory Lawyering
908 Suing the Police (J term)
926 Rebellious Lawyering (J term)
941 Law of the US-Mexico Border (J term)
948 Policy Analysis and Advocacy (J term)
Category 3: Inequality (The inequality course requirement is designed to expose Epstein Program students to the relationship between law and systems of power. This set of courses aim to explore the fundamental social, political, and economic issues that public interest lawyers confront and seek to change. Some courses in this category address a specific form or forms of group differentiation (such as race, gender, disability, sexuality, or tribal membership), while others address issues of economic inequality that are implicated in most all areas of public interest practice. Finally, some courses address multiple forms of inequality in a single context (such as employment or criminal punishment). All of the core or comparative analysis courses for the CRS program satisfy the Epstein Program’s inequality requirement. Finally, although only one course in the inequality category is required for graduation, Epstein Program students are strongly encouraged to take more than one course in this category.)
Course # Course Name
214 Civil Rights
263 Employment Discrimination Law
266 Critical Race Theory
318 Law and Sexuality
325 Public Benefits Law and Anti-Poverty Policy
329 Women and the Law
448 Re-entry, Work and Race
507 Labor Law and Social Policy
558 Political Crimes and Legal Systems
566 Laws of War & the War(s) on Terror
603 Noncitizens in the Criminal Justice System
619 Environmental Justice
625 Community Lawyering & Low Wage Worker Organizing
629 Topics in Post-Conviction Law and Policy
637 Good (Native) Governance
645 Race Conscious Remedies
653 Advanced Critical Race Theory
655 Feminist Legal Theory
667 Voting Rights
668 The 8th Amendment Prohibition on Cruel and Unusual Punishment
670 Sociology and the Law
674 Trafficking in Human Beings Law and Policy
677 Muslims, Race and Law
690 Race, Social Psychology, and the Legal Process
Category 4: Applied Advocacy (The applied advocacy requirement is intended to provide Epstein Program students with hands-on clinical training in public interest advocacy under the close supervision of law school faculty. In these clinical advanced courses, students are exposed to law practice and clinical pedagogy that integrates their knowledge of law, procedure, and advocacy techniques. For example, a student interested in a career in human rights could take the International Human Rights Clinic; a student interested in economic development could take the Community Economic Development Clinic, and a future public defender or prosecutor might decide to take the Criminal Defense Clinic. Students are also encouraged to take clinics across subject matter interests, as all UCLA Law clinics teach transferable skills.)
Course # Course Name
712 Street Law Clinic
715 Criminal Defense Clinic
717 International Human Rights Clinic
719 Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic
724 First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic
725 Supreme Court Clinic
728 Tribal Legal Development Clinic
730 Veterans Justice Clinic: Poverty, Homelessness & Criminalization
738 California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic
739 Community Economic Development Clinic
760A/B Patent Clinic
767 Music Industry Clinic
769 Documentary Film Legal Clinic
773 Immigrant Rights’ Policy Clinic
775 Food Law and Policy Clinic
776 Copyright Amicus Brief Legal Clinic
778 Dog Adjudication Clinic
792 Immigrant Family Legal Clinic

  • Writing Requirement

    Students may satisfy the upper-division writing requirement for the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy by completing a faculty supervised graded paper undertaken for a minimum of two units that is certified by the supervising faculty member as (1) satisfying the ABA requirement of a rigorous writing experience and (2) is relevant to advancing the student's course of study in the Epstein Program. Usually, the ABA writing requirement may be satisfied by an Individual Research paper (340 or 341), a seminar paper, or a paper for other advanced courses. This writing requirement may be written as part of a course that also is used to satisfy one of the Epstein Program’s upper-division curricular requirements.