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Stanford Law School Mourns Loss of Professor Emeritus William Cohen

William Cohen, the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law, Emeritus at Stanford Law School, died April 11 at age 81 after living with Parkinson’s disease for many years.

William Cohen

Professor Emeritus William Cohen

After earning his law degree at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1956, Professor Cohen clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, whom Cohen later praised for his “easy, fluid writing style” and his “uncanny knack of putting his finger on the essential issue of a confusing and difficult problem.” When Cohen left Justice Douglas’s chambers to begin his teaching career at the University of Minnesota Law School, he was just 24 years old. Later he taught at the UCLA School of Law and Stanford Law School, where he retired in 1999.

Professor Cohen devoted more than five decades to the study and teaching of constitutional law. He wrote or co-wrote five books (some of which appeared in multiple editions), as well as dozens of articles and essays. In his writing he borrowed Justice Douglas’ simple, lucid style, often inflected by Professor Cohen’s wry wit. As a specialist in constitutional law, Cohen was unafraid to chide the Supreme Court for entangling the law in irrational distinctions that “added one more layer of tar to the analytical highway.”

His casebook on constitutional law, coauthored with Jonathan Varat and Vikram Amar and now in its 14th edition, has given generations of law students a clear path through the court’s doctrinal thickets. A reviewer wrote that he had “not yet seen a more complete book, one that is better written and more readable, as carefully planned and edited . . . and as student-friendly.”

Professor Cohen joined the Stanford Law School faculty in 1970, where he became a storied instructor of constitutional law, federal jurisdiction and torts. He often was seen sparring with his great friend and fellow constitutional law theorist, Gerald Gunther. Their friendship endured so long, as Cohen wrote in a tribute after Gunther’s death in 2002, that “Gerry and I had each come to know what the other would say” and carried on their doctrinal debates in well-worn half-sentences. In those debates Professor Cohen always took the more liberal part, championing broad protections for civil liberties in the jurisprudential tradition of his mentor, Justice Douglas.

Professor Cohen was also a visiting faculty member at Arizona State University, Magdalen College Oxford and the European University in Florence, Italy.

His first wife, Betty, predeceased him, as did his son, David Cohen. He is survived by two daughters from that marriage, Barbara Miron and Rebecca Cohen Porter (Bruce Porter), as well as Nancy Mahoney Cohen, whom he married in 1976; their daughter is Margaret Cohen Radu (Gabriel Radu). He also leaves two grandsons, James Badia (Adina Badia) and Nico Radu, and two great grandsons, Jackson and Marcus Badia; two brothers, Henry and Phillip Cohen; and a sister, Miriam Goldberg. His caregiver, Kato Tonga, has become a treasured part of his family. He lived in Palo Alto.

Donations may be made to the Palo Alto Family YMCA or All Saints Episcopal Church Palo Alto.  A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on April 29 at All Saints Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto, Calif.

Daphne Keller to Direct Intermediary Liability Project at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society

This announcement comes from Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society.

Stanford Law School today announced the appointment of Daphne Keller as Director of Intermediary Liability at The Center for Internet and Society (CIS). Starting in September 2015, Keller will lead the Center’s work at the intersection of online technologies, liability and corporate responsibility, and civil liberties, with a particular focus on global liability regimes that impact free expression and innovation.

Daphne Keller

Daphne Keller

CIS’ two-year-old initiative on intermediary liability explores the impact of global intermediary liability regimes on freedom of expression and innovation. Intermediary liability law can create incentives for platforms like Facebook or YouTube to police the online expression and conduct of their users – including artists, journalists and political activists. Without careful consideration, the rules can stifle legitimate expression and political activities, and can constrain providers’ ability to provide innovative new services.

The Director of Intermediary Liability is responsible for conducting and supervising policy analysis and advocacy efforts regarding intermediary liability regimes and their effect on free expression and innovation worldwide, and for managing and developing the Center’s innovative and influential work in this focus area.

Keller is a renowned expert in intermediary liability, privacy and copyright law. As Associate General Counsel for Intermediary Liability and Free Speech issues at Google, Keller has been on the front lines of the intermediary liability issue – including resolving legal content removal requests – for 10 years. Keller’s experience is global, working primarily on legal and policy issues outside the U.S., including the European Union’s evolving “Right to Be Forgotten.” Daphne has also taught Internet law as a Lecturer at U.C. Berkeley School of Law and has taught courses at U.C. Berkeley School of Information and at Duke University School of Law.

“International Intermediary liability regimes are developing quickly and impacting user rights online,” said CIS Faculty Director and Professor of Law Barbara van Schewick. “We believe that governments can address unwanted behavior on the Internet in ways that preserve civil liberties. I’m delighted that Daphne Keller has agreed to lead our efforts in this area. With her expertise and her enthusiasm for user rights, I can’t think of a better person to help us figure out what the role of intermediaries in an open and free society should be.”

“I am excited to shift into a more public interest-oriented advocacy and research role, addressing the same fascinating topics I navigated at Google through a new lens and with new tools,” said Daphne Keller. “I am also eager to use my expertise to help educate students and to find new, civil liberties-enhancing solutions to thorny problems.”

“We are thrilled to have Daphne Keller at the Center for Internet and Society,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. “The Center for Internet and Society has led the way in navigating unchartered waters where new technology meets the law, and Daphne expands the Center’s capacity to work with students, lawyers and policy makers.”

As Associate General Counsel for Intermediary Liability and Free Expression at Google, Keller focused primarily on legal and policy issues outside the U.S. Prior to that role, her roles at Google included leading the core legal teams for web search, copyright and open source software. Throughout her career, Keller has maintained strong ties to academia, teaching courses on Internet intermediaries, cyber law and intellectual property, the First Amendment and emerging technologies. Before joining Google in 2004, Keller practiced in the Litigation group at Munger, Tolles & Olson.

Keller earned her law degree from Yale Law School and her undergraduate degree from Brown University. She has been a panelist, speaker and educator at numerous policy and professional events, including the U.K. Parliament Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions and Leveson Inquiry regarding intermediary liability issues for web search and other Google services in 2012, where she served as a witness; the Fordham IP Law and Policy Conference; the Stanford E-Commerce Best Practices Conference; and the USC School of Law Intellectual Property Institute.

About the Center for Internet and Society

Led by faculty director Barbara van Schewick, The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School that supports the study of the interaction of new technologies and the law and is a part of the Law, Science and Technology Program at Stanford Law School. CIS strives to improve both technology and law, encouraging decision makers to design both as a means to further democratic values. Along with conducting research and policy analysis, the Center sponsors legal fellowships, organizes events to foster discussion of critical policy issues, and provides educational opportunities for law students to conduct applicable research and policy analysis in this field.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School (www.law.stanford.edu) is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.



Alex Kasner, JD ’15, Honored With Scribes Award for Best Law Review Student Note

The United States’ long and complicated history with government leaks, as explained by Alex Kasner, JD ’15, in the Stanford Law Review note, “National Security Leaks and Constitutional Duty,” took center stage at the most recent National Conference of Law Reviews.

During the event’s Scribes Law Review Dinner on March 12, 2015, Kasner was honored with the 29th annual Scribes Law-Review Award for his piece, which presents one of the first concentrated studies of the Constitution’s Article VI Oath Clause and the obligation it places on executive officers to resist unconstitutional government behavior.

Alex Kasner, JD '15, receiving the 29th annual Scribes Law-Review Award.

Alex Kasner, JD ’15, receiving the 29th annual Scribes Law-Review Award.

The award is annually presented to the best student-written law review note published in the preceding year. Kasner’s submission was chosen out of fifty-two entries submitted; he is the first Stanford Law School student to ever receive the award.

“I was obviously quite honored to hear that I had been selected for the Scribes Award,” Kasner said. “Looking at the history of past winners and reading some of their pieces, I was struck by the creativity of their topics and the careful and considered approaches they took to their legal analysis and writing.”

Scribes Law-Review Award Committee members called Kasner’s note “a provocative thesis” dealing with timely and interesting issues important to the United States right now.

“I was impressed by the way the note explored legal scholarship, case law, and the Constitution’s text, drawing on all of it but staking out a position all its own,” said Mary Bowman, JD ’98, Chair of Scribes’ Law-Review Award Committee. “And in doing so, the prose was ‘clear, succinct, and forceful,’ which is what Scribes promotes.”

For Kasner, writing the piece provided him with an opportunity to focus on his interest of the intersection between national security and structural constitutional law.IMG_0047 (1)

“The question of who decides which bundle of rights we possess as a people in the midst of state security concerns is just as important as the rights that we decide are worth protection,” Kasner said. “That decision seems to have fallen to the executive branch itself, which is now, as a descriptive matter, largely responsible for drafting, enforcing, and adjudicating national security policy. And yet the leaks of former executive employees like Edward Snowden and the resulting national debates over surveillance demonstrate that the opaque executive may not be infallible in its constitutional determinations. Rather, these are larger debates often worth having as a nation on the whole.”

Kasner says he hopes the piece will help readers understand the complex history the United States has had with leaks and whistleblowers as well as answer larger questions surrounding constitutional interpretation and separation of powers in the national security state. “The very best thing you can do as a writer is inspire another author to pick up the baton and explore a kernel of your piece in more depth,” Kasner said.



Stanford Law’s Paul Goldstein Named to 2015 IP Hall of Fame

Stanford Law Professor Paul Goldstein, a globally recognized expert on intellectual property (IP) law, has been inducted into the 2015 IP Hall of Fame, where he joins Stanford Law Professor Mark Lemley and 66 other individuals chosen since 2006 from nominations made by members of the IP community around the world.

Paul Goldstein

Paul Goldstein is the second Stanford Law School professor to be named to the IP Hall of Fame. Photo by Lizzy Goldstein.

Goldstein, the Stella W. and Ira S. Lillick Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, is one of five new inductees who will be honored at a gala dinner held in San Francisco this June during the IP Business Congress. He is in good company in the IP Hall of Fame Academy, which includes such notables as Thomas Jefferson, Victor Hugo, Edward Coke and, in this year’s group, Nikola Tesla.

Only three inductees teach at American law schools: Goldstein, Lemley and Jane Ginsburg of Columbia University School of Law.

“This is a great honor, indeed. I have known several of the inductees for many years and have long been familiar with the contributions of virtually all of the others. I couldn’t hope to be in better company,” Goldstein said.

“Paul Goldstein is a giant in the field of intellectual property. Stanford has a well-deserved international reputation in this field, and Paul is a major reason for that. More than that, as I have learned from our graduates, many of them came to Stanford because of Paul, and others were converted to the field after taking his classes. This is wonderful recognition,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, dean and the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law at Stanford Law School.

“Paul has been one of the most important figures in copyright law for a generation. His work has defined the meaning and limits of copyright law,” said Mark Lemley, the William H. Neukom Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology.

In announcing Goldstein’s selection, Intellectual Asset Management, a bimonthly magazine, cited his accomplishments as a leading U.S. copyright scholar, lawyer and author. In addition to writing an influential four-volume treatise on U.S. copyright law, a one-volume treatise on international copyright law and other titles on IP issues, he has authored three novels with IP themes. His most recent novel, Havana Requiem, won the 2013 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

Goldstein currently serves as of counsel at Morrison & Foerster and has been regularly included in Best Lawyers of America. He has been on the Stanford Law School faculty since 1975, where he has been recognized twice with the John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has served as chairman of the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment Advisory Panel on Intellectual Property Rights in an Age of Electronics and Information; has been a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Parent, Copyright and Competition Law in Munich, Germany; and was a founding member of the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center.

Established in 2006 by Intellectual Asset Management, the IP Hall of Fame honors those who have helped to establish intellectual property as one of the key business assets of the 21st century. It aims to acknowledge the vital role these innovators have played in fostering today’s vibrant IP environment and ensuring its continued health, as well as to show how central IP is to the global economy and the well-being of people around the world. The full list of previous inductees can be found here.

Rock Center Offers Board Membership Bootcamp for Minorities and Women

This report was written by Emily Hite.

On March 5 Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance and the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz co-hosted a new program that invited some of Silicon Valley’s top talent to Stanford Law School to prepare and educate more women and minority candidates for venture-backed board service.

Participant asks question

Tristan Walker, CEO and co-founder of Walker & Co., asks a question during “A Guide to VC-Backed Board Membership.” Photo by Misha Bruk.

Participants at “A Guide to VC-Backed Board Membership” gathered inside Paul Brest Hall to learn the nuts and bolts of corporate governance from senior faculty of Stanford Law School, network with peers and participate in frank discussions with key players in Silicon Valley about what really goes on in boardrooms. They were invited to attend the second annual Stanford Directors’ College for Venture-Backed Company Directors the next day for further education on board membership.

Closing the diversity gap

The lack of diversity in corporate and venture-backed company leadership in the region has received increasing attention recently. Across U.S. stock index companies, the majority of board members are white and male, disproportionate to the populations they serve, despite longstanding statements of intent to recruit more women and minorities.

Diversity is further inhibited if CEOs and board members subconsciously select candidates like themselves when filling open seats. As recent research by Stanford’s Deborah Rhode, the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law, and Amanda Packel, deputy director of the Rock Center, explains, the pattern of “in-group” bias, showing preference for people similar to you in terms such as race, ethnicity and gender, “is particularly likely in contexts where selection criteria are highly subjective, as is often true in board appointments.”

In their Delaware Journal of Corporate Law article, Rhode and Packel write that although the empirical evidence on the link between board diversity and financial performance is inconclusive, diversity on boards can improve decision making and monitoring, reduce the tendency toward groupthink and enhance corporate reputation by signaling commitments to equal opportunity and inclusion.

So, how can companies bring more diversity to their boards? “I would say just being more open – talking to all sorts of different people – will probably progress things quite a bit,” said Miriam Warren, vice president of new markets at Yelp. Warren was one of 40 attendees at the March 5 event.

“Yelp is quite a diverse place – we have a number of women at the executive level,” Warren said. “But as you go into the larger tech scene in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, there are fewer and fewer women and fewer and fewer people of color. And it starts to look like everyone came from the same club.”

Corporate governance basics

The day opened with an introduction to principles of corporate governance. Led by Evan Epstein, executive director of the Rock Center, the session covered dual-class share structures and other issues relevant to publicly traded and venture-backed company boards.

Robert Daines, the Pritzker Professor of Law and Business, delivered a primer on legal and fiduciary duties of directors. He noted the difficulty of telling “good” from “bad” corporate governance and walked participants through case studies illustrating the primary fiduciary duties of loyalty and care.

In a session on best practices for boards, Joseph A. Grundfest, the W. A. Franke Professor of Law and Business and founder of Directors’ College, and Nicki Locker, partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati LLP, explored practical advice for directors to stay out of trouble while getting necessary business done. Grundfest acknowledged that conflicts of interest in the boardroom are inevitable. However, he said, “A conflict is not a problem unless it’s badly managed.”

Presenters at VCDC boot camp

Nicki Locker, partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati LLP, and Stanford Law Professor Joseph A. Grundfest discuss best practices for boards. Photo by Misha Bruk.

Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, and Diane Greene, co-founder and former CEO of VMware and current board member at Google and Intuit, discussed practical, problem-solving considerations for boards. Their conversation included strategies to resolve management problems – employing an effective, impartial coach, for example – and how to handle a crisis, such as a C-level coup. They covered various roles board members might play and when, if ever, directors should offer their expertise to operating executives outside of the formal CEO-board relationship.

The value of board members

While not overseeing the day-to-day processes of a company, board members do make essential contributions to the organizations they serve, as many panelists and participants at the event mentioned.

Varsha Rao, head of global operations at Airbnb, said of her motivation to attend, “I wanted to come and learn more about how to be a great contributor.” Previously, Rao was a founder of a cosmetics startup, Eve.com. “We had a great board,” she said. “They were really instrumental in helping us navigate, especially since it was my first startup, and so I definitely would love to be able to provide a similar kind of guidance that I got earlier on in my career.”

Louis Jordan, most recently SVP of corporate finance at Starbucks and previously CFO of Nike’s global retail and digital commerce business, serves on two not-for-profit boards in the education space. He noted, as the first in his family to graduate from college, that “education was my path to success” and the natural way for him to give back. He came to Stanford to better understand how corporate board responsibilities compare to those of not-for-profits, with the goal of eventually sitting on one or more public boards. Contributing his extensive financial and business professional experience through public board service would mean “basically the beginning of [adding] more voice to the diverse community that I’m part of,” he said.

Other sessions detailed the process of raising money and the board’s role in the financing process, mergers and acquisitions involving venture-backed companies, the CEO’s perspective on board functions, and indemnification and directors and officers liability insurance.

Reflecting on the program’s content, Rao said she found useful “understanding why other people have chosen to take on board roles and what it takes to be a good board member.” Jordan found “more clarity as to what the role [of a board member] could be.”

Commenting on the day’s focus on diversity, Warren said, “I think diversity can take a lot of different forms, and it’s nice to see several of those forms exhibited in this room.” She observed, “I haven’t been in a room in Silicon Valley that’s this diverse, maybe ever, and it’s really quite a nice feeling to not feel alone.”

Emily Hite is the content and communications manager for the Rock Center for Corporate Governance and the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.