Access to justice

This program aims at increasing legal empowerment for disenfranchised individuals and communities in France in the settings where they are most likely to encounter legal challenges and have difficulty claiming their rights. It also seeks to develop in students a critical awareness of the different facets of rights discourse and the limited effect of the vindication of legal norms depending on the location and status of people. It is the only clinical program available both to the students of the Master in Economic Law and those in the Master in Judicial and Legal Professions. There are two prongs to the program : a clinical course which covers all the legal and interpersonal skills needed and field work in the appropriate local settings.  

It covers three grassroots projects which address and study the various barriers to justice mostly low-income people face through a person-centered, problem-solving, variegated and hands-on approach. In the « Houses of Law and Justice » project, students work within three community legal outreach centers (Maisons du droit et de la Justice) in Paris supported by the Ministry of Justice and help provide free legal insight on a weekly basis. In the Defender of Rights project, students discover the work and contribute to the different modes of legal intervention of the French “Rights Defender” (a constitutionally independant authority acting as Ombudsman for public service issues, Defender of Children’s Rights, Anti-discrimination Commissioner). He is also the authority in charge of ethics compliance for law enforcement officers and private security agents. The students’ work ranges from case selection to case handling in these different areas of law and ethics under the supervision of the Defender’s in-house legal counsels. The third « Street law » project is under construction and will be launched in Saint Ouen in the fall of 2017. Its goal is to provide innovative legal educational tools and legal awareness raising to high school students and their families in the urban setting where they live and learn. The three projects combine field work and empirical research on fundamental issues in law and society.    

The Access to justice is coordinated and supervised by Marie Mercat-Bruns.

The clinical seminar is taught in 2017-18 by Marie Mercat-Bruns (fall) and Anne-Claire Gayet (spring).

Former projects 

Access to justice projects 2016/2017 (149 ko)