Bryn Mawr College established the Law and Social Policy Program in 1976 as a post-masters degree program for professionals in social work, in other human service professions, or in public administration and policy analysis related to social welfare. The MLSP degree is awarded upon successful completion of all requirements. The degree is administered by the College's Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, which also awards the Masters of Social Service (MSS) and Ph.D. degree in social welfare. Students in Bryn Mawr's MSS program may simultaneously complete the MSS and MLSP degree requirements.

The program consists of eight courses, including field instruction, which convey basic knowledge about the law and legal system and basic skills of legal analysis, legal research, advocacy, and mediation. The central purpose of the program is to apply this knowledge to substantive and administrative problems in all human service fields including mental health, family and child welfare, income maintenance, race relations, criminal justice, dispute resolution, or education. The program encourages students to identify and work critically with fundamental values underlying all levels of policy and practice in the human services-- fair procedure, equal treatment, and personal liberty.

Students may register for part- or full-time study. Courses are taught in the late afternoon (2:10 - 4:00 or 4:10 - 6:00) during the academic year and during a four-week summer session, which runs from mid-May to mid-June, during which classes are held in the morning.


Eight courses, including field instruction are required:

401 Introduction to Legal Processes

402 Social Functions of Law

404 Advocacy & Negotiation

406 Equality & the Law

407 Personal Rights & the Public Interest

408 Special Topics in Law and Social Policy

409 Legal Writing & Research

410 Principles of Constitutional Law

462 Field Instruction: In conjunction with the field placement, all students also complete a Special Project: a research paper that demonstrates mastery of knowledge acquired in the MLSP Program. (Post-masters students may satisfy this substituting current or prior professional experience, or by completing an approved one-semester field placement, while joint-degree students meet this requirement in connection with their second year MSS Field Instruction.)


401 Introduction to Legal Processes: An introduction to the American legal system and to legal method. It concentrates on fundamental skills of legal analysis and legal reasoning, the processes by which courts, legislatures and administrative agencies resolve problems, and the interdependence of legal institutions.

402 Social Functions of Law: An exploration of the strengths and limits of legal processes in promoting, controlling, or otherwise changing personal and social behavior. Students gain an appreciation of the conditions for legal effectiveness and the factors that contribute to the multiple tasks law performs in American society.

404 Advocacy and Negotiation: This course has two foci: First, we focus on advocate roles in setting where social work and law converge. We examine advocacy opportunities in courts, legislatures, and regulatory agencies and in each explore the implications for law reform. The second focus is dispute resolution and the civil process. We examine the American alternative dispute resolution movement and concomitant theory and tactics associated with negotiation and mediation.

406 Equality and the Law: An indepth examination of equality as a central value of the legal and social system. Students learn to appreciate the factors that contribute to equal treatment and how questions of equality are dealt with in American society.

407 Personal Rights and the Public Interest: A discussion of the legal and social consequences of defining, protecting, and challenging the rights of individuals in the modern regulatory state. Students learn the types of interests that must be balanced when there is a conflict between individual and societal rights. They also gain an appreciation of how the law addresses this delicate balance.

408 Special Topics in Law and Social Policy: An exploration of the law's impact on an array of social relationships, such as children and families, as well as its influence on various substantive problems, such as mental health, homelessness, and poverty.

409 Legal Writing and Research: An extensive focus on some of the distinctive forms of legal writing and provides practical experience writing case analyses and drafting legal arguments. The course also provides guidance in conducting basic legal research, using a law library, and citing legal materials according to conventional protocols. The ultimate aim is to deepen students' understanding of the legal dimensions of professional practice and prepare them to research practice-based issues.

410 Principles of Constitutional Law: A survey of United States constitutional law and its role as a source of principles for addressing social problems and an examination of the United States Supreme Court as a socio-legal institution.

462 Field Instruction: This requirement emphasizes interdisciplinary skill development and the completion of a Special Project -- a research paper based on topic related to the field setting.


Students may apply for admission MLSP program (1) after completing a MSW, MSS, or related master's degree program, or (2) concurrently with their application to the Bryn Mawr's MSS program; or (3) after successful completion of one year in the MSS program. All applicants submit an application fee and a completed application, along with appropriate supporting materials, such as references, academic transcripts, and personal essays. All applicants must schedule an interview with the Director of Admissions to discuss their professional work and their career goals and to explore the School's capacity to meet these goals. The interview is considered along with the applicant's materials in making an admission decision. Applications are available from the Admissions Office, (610) 520-2601.

For more information contact:
Raymond Albert, Director
Law and Social Policy Program
Bryn Mawr College
Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
300 Airdale Road,
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.


Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Children's Defense Fund

Community Legal Services (on Handsnet)

Cornell Law School: Legal Materials Organized by Type and Source

Department of Health and Human Services

Government Accounting Office (GAO)


National Law Journal

University of Southern California Law Library

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