• Cardozo Law's Clinical Program Brings Law to Life

    Bringing Law to Life
    Cardozo's experiential learning programs take students out of the classroom, allowing them to hone their skills in real-world settings such as the courtroom.
  • Cardozo Law is a well-known hub for public service and human rights programs. The Center for Rights and Justice encompasses over 25 programs in fields related to public advocacy.
  • Cardozo Center for Rights and Justice

    "The Center for Rights and Justice celebrates Cardozo School of Law’s pioneering spirit, tireless commitment to issues of social justice and dedication to improving society." —Dean Melanie Leslie
  • CRJ Director Alexander Reinert, Professor of Law
    "The commitment to justice operates on many dimensions at Cardozo Law. It spans work in the classroom and the courtroom for our students; teaching, scholarship, and litigation for our faculty; and, for our administrators, and programs."

The Center for Rights and Justice (CRJ) consists of more than 25 Cardozo initiatives, all working to achieve justice through scholarly research, public policy reform and client advocacy. For more than 35 years, Cardozo School of Law has championed progressive programs designed to expand paths to justice. The Center for Rights and Justice is a home for the diverse approaches Cardozo takes to achieving justice.

The CRJ recognizes that rights and justice are expansive concepts that mean many different things to many different people. At the CRJ, we focus on the themes of fairness, equality, accountability and transparency. It is the CRJ’s mission to bring to light through education and action these important elements of rights and justice.

The CRJ includes programs such as The Innocence Project, founded at Cardozo Law more than 20 years ago and renowned nationally for transforming the criminal justice system; student engagement such as Public Law Advocacy Week; and faculty work in such areas as consumer, immigrants' and civil rights. The Center for Rights and Justice bring together the law school's many commitments to what Benjamin Cardozo called “the welfare of society."

CRJ Director, Professor Alexander Reinert is a leader in the national fight to limit the use of solitary confinement in prisons. See Video



Fairness is the component of justice we speak of when we say everyone deserves "a fair shake." We mean that the rule of law is followed even when it harms powerful interests. Procedural fairness emphasizes principles such as the opportunity to be heard before being deprived of something important (like one's freedom or shelter). Substantive fairness means decisions are made free of bias or undue influence.
• Student groups such as the Unemployment Action Center


The struggle for equality is central to the pursuit of social justice. Like fairness, the norm of equality holds that the law should not be biased. But equality has a more particular meaning in our legal tradition, because it speaks to specific manifestations of bias that compromise the legitimacy of our shared institutions -- denial of equal treatment based on race, sex and other socially salient personal characteristics. Equality also goes beyond formal equal treatment and non-discrimination. It includes the substantive public policies that enable people belonging to historically subordinated groups to live as true equals in our society.

• Race and Remediation Class


Accountability, in a way, is the most basic form of justice, because it is concerned with righting wrongs. A society that seeks accountability must also be fair and equal (to ensure that accountability is not distributed in a biased or unjust manner), but it must be more than that. It must provide means to hold wrongdoers accountable, as well as means to distribute accountability in a pro-social way.
• The Innocence Project has exonerated more than 350 wrongly convicted prisoners
The Consumer Rights Field Clinic works to represent individuals who believe they have been victims of consumer fraud


Access is a critical dimension of any justice system. If everday people cannot access their rights, either because the legal system is opaque or because legal assistance is unavailable or too expensive, then a justice system cannot function. 


Justice is often served through information. Information can enable us to improve our justice system as well as ensure accountability. Information can reduce unfairness and inequality and can increase access. Transparency of a justice system, then, is central to its workings.

Center for Rights and Justice, Related Programs