Ashoka SELT interns are excited to engage in conversation with Purvi Shah, founder and executive director of the Movement Law Lab. The Movement Law Lab is the fourth organization created by Ms. Shah, who has devoted her career to empowering movements in pursuit of justice and sweeping social change: she also founded Law for Black Lives, served as the founding Director of the Bertha Justice Institute at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and co-founded the Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services in 2006.
What is movement lawyering, and what makes it different from typical pro bono legal work? In a broad sense, movement lawyering engages with activists, social workers, community members, and others as equal partners; movement lawyering positions legal advocacy as just one part of a greater strategy that builds toward a more just and compassionate world for all. Movement lawyers engage with communities and value the wisdom of their partners’ lived experience with the social and other issues we all face together.
Ms. Shah has run workshops on movement lawyering for various law schools and organizations around the world. With the SELT interns, we will discuss what grounds the movement lawyering approach, why a new approach to community lawyering was needed, and how Ms. Shah has used her legal training to work with communities whose access to justice is often limited. We will explore how community legal organizations come together, what steps Ms. Shah took in her career, and how she stays grounded in the midst of often difficult situations.
Ms. Shah is the prior recipient of an Ashoka Fellowship, Echoing Green Fellowship, Soros Equality Fellowship, Harvard Law School Wasserstein Fellowship, Miami Foundation Fellowship, and a New Voices Fellowship. She has also received the East Bay Community Law Center’s Justice Award, the ACLU of Florida's Rodney Thaxton Award for Racial Justice and the Community Justice Project’s Community Defender Award.