Our Featured Projects & Programs


The Paralegal Pathways Initiative (PPI) seeks to amplify the talents and perspectives of those who have directly experienced incarceration in an effort to create economic opportunity for our participants, advance racial equity in the legal field, build knowledge of the impacts of the criminal legal system among current and future legal professionals, and expose the legal profession to an untapped wealth of legal experience and talent. Click here to learn more about this groundbreaking program.

This Spring 2021 course and practicum, the first of its kind, will enable participants to blend artistry, law, policy, and community engagement, and in this way to produce narratives with powerful impact in policy spaces where change can happen. The course will equip law students to tell powerful stories--themselves and in collaboration with artists and community members--and use legal knowledge and skills to amplify artists’ and community activists’ impact in venues where laws are made and power is exercised. The workshop will also build artists’ capacity to merge high quality, high impact, rigorous artistry with community narratives and research & high level policy activists. In the process all the participants will work with community members to amplify the power of their stories through artistry informed by legal and policy research. With criminal justice and education as the policy focal point, the workshop will enable participants to craft and enact compelling stories about justice and injustice in “theaters for change” where they can shift hearts and minds of thought leaders and policy makers. Click here to learn more about the course and how to apply.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its tragic spread through carceral institutions and the country, Columbia Law School's Center for Institutional and Social Change, UCLA Law School's COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project, The Bronx Defenders, and Zealous are announcing the official launch of the Health is Justice litigation hub, a new resource specifically intended for lawyers, advocates, journalists, and others who share the interest of challenging, remedying, and drawing attention to the grave risk that COVID-19 poses to people in detention. The litigation hub is a component of Health is Justice, a broader advocacy project that aims to decarcerate and replace punishment with public health. Click here to learn more about the project, and how to get involved.


March 30, 2021

Clifford Chance chooses the Center for Institutional and Social Change as winner of the 2021 Racial Justice Award

Leading international law firm Clifford Chance has named Columbia Law School's Center for Institutional and Social Change as the winner of its Racial Justice Award. The organisation, which is based in New York, will receive a £50,000 (US$70,000) donation and 500 hours of pro bono support over an 18 month period supporting its Paralegal Pathways Initiative, responding to the persistent racial injustice in the United States' criminal legal system.

Featured Publications

Linked Fate: Justice and the Criminal Legal System During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Susan Sturm
Natalie Behr
Zachary D. Hardwick
Hyun Kim
Faiz Pirani

Leading with Conviction: The Transformative Role of Formerly Incarcerated Leaders in Reducing Mass Incarceration

Susan P. Sturm
Haran Tae

Full Participation: Building the Architecture for Diversity and Public Engagement in Higher Education

Susan Sturm
Tim Eatman
John Saltmarsh
Adam Bush