Cara McClellan is Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund where she works primarily on increasing equitable access to education and ending the criminalization of Black people.
Cara is lead counsel in I.S. v. Binghamton School District, a lawsuit challenging the discriminatory strip search of four middle school Black and Latina girls while at school and Anthony Smith v. City of Philadelphia, a lawsuit challenging the Philadelphia Police Department’s indiscriminate use of military-style weapons against protesters, residents, and bystanders in a predominately Black West Philadelphia community. Cara has represented Black students and parents in ongoing school desegregation cases, including Thomas v. St. Martin Parish, La. School Board and the landmark Connecticut Sheff v. O’Neill case, and in the Maryland school finance lawsuit, Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Education. She is also counsel in SFFA v. Harvard, defending Harvard University’s use of race-conscious admissions, and Holbrook v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et. al., challenging prison-based gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.
Cara is a co-author of the report Our Girls, Our Future: Investing in Opportunity and Reducing Reliance on the Criminal Justice System in Baltimore. She has published in numerous publications and law reviews, including the Columbia Journal of Race & Law, Yale Law & Policy Review Inter Alia.
Prior to joining LDF, Cara was a law clerk on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cara graduated with honors from Yale College, received an M.S.Ed. from Penn Graduate School of Education and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She previously taught middle school with Teach for America in Philadelphia.