When the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) received a grant to create a training program to sensitize judges globally about the importance and impact of reproductive rights, they turned to us to help create a model curriculum.

Baseline access to contraception means access to education and that, in turn, means access to economic opportunities.

A team of more than 30 lawyers from nine offices, supervised by partner Heather McDevitt and managed by New York associate Alice Tsier, first examined effective practices in judicial training. They found such training should be flexible to be sensitive to the political and cultural environment as well as the kinds of problems judges face in their individual courtrooms. As a result, in conjunction with CRR, our lawyers designed a curriculum that was extensive, but also practical and adaptable.

The model curriculum is highly interactive. A comprehensive facilitator guide includes lesson plans, step-by-step instructions, descriptions of exercises and texts of handouts, along with presentation slides for each module. It also includes a selection of case studies that apply the content to real-life scenarios, including mock trials and collaborative role plays.

Before using the curriculum the first time with judges, CRR staff in our New York office ran a pilot session spearheaded by New York associate Jennifer Thomas for first-year associates and other lawyers with an interest in the subject.

This model judicial curriculum will be used to support the development of judges who can both safeguard reproductive rights and hold states accountable for reproductive rights violations. The curriculum will first be used in Nepal and Uganda. CRR ultimately intends to expand the use of the curriculum to national judicial institutes around the world.

The Center is exploring adapting the curriculum for others who play a role in women and girls’ access to justice for reproductive rights violations, including judicial clerks and prosecutors.

“The ability to control their own reproductive agency is the baseline for women’s ability to engage in the world and have equality,” said Alice. “Girls who don’t have access to contraception often have their education curtailed because they’re expelled or have to get married or drop out because they have to care for their children. Baseline access to contraception means access to education and that, in turn, means access to economic opportunities.”