At the height of the political turmoil of the late 1960s, a group of activist students and professors at N.Y.U. School of Law came together and discussed the ways in which legal scholarship could respond to the injustices suffered by those relegated to society’s margins. These students and faculty felt that the dominant legal discourse found in countless law reviews failed to address sufficiently the gross inequities that existed (and continue to exist) along the lines of race, gender, class, sexuality, age, and ability.
The response of these students and academics was to establish the N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change. As the foreword to the first issue states, Social Change was “created to provide an outlet for student scholarship and analysis in areas of the law of particular interest to socially concerned attorneys.” That first issue, published in 1971, contained four student-written articles, the commitments of the authors reflected in their topics: ineffective assistance of counsel for the poor, tactics for squatters in abandoned New York City buildings, reformation of laws regarding retaliatory evictions, and the legality of maximum grant regulations for welfare recipients.
As stated in the foreword to that first issue, the founding members of Social Change sought to “provide a forum for law students at New York University, and perhaps others, who are anxious to develop creative solutions through law to social problems.” Over the past fifty years, Social Change has remained true to that commitment, while growing in scope and stature. Originally an annual publication, Social Change now publishes four issues per year, including articles by students, practitioners, scholars, and activists. In 2018, Washington and Lee School of Law ranked Social Change as the number one law journal for “Minority, Race, and Ethnic Issues and the Law,” and number three for “Gender, Women, and Sexuality and the Law,” amongst the top 300 US-published law journals.
Social Change also provides a space in which members of the law school community can come together to socialize, network, and organize. A variety of progressive student groups use Social Change as everything from a home-base to a storage facility. On any given day in our offices you may see students wrapping presents for a gift drive, organizing a public service auction, planning a sit-in, making posters for a protest, or drafting a habeas petition for a client.
Finally, Social Change seeks to foster live discussions about social justice and the law. We host an annual symposium, which has covered topics such as mass incarceration, family defense, and the Equal Rights Amendment. We also co-sponsor event with other NYU student groups throughout the year.
For the Masthead, click here.
To view RLSC’s organizational bylaws, click here.
For progressive legal news, follow us on Twitter @SocialChangeNYU and on Facebook.
Social Change would like to thank several generous sponsors for our new website, listed here.