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Stanford Law School Students Ride “Justice Bus” To Provide Legal Services To Veterans

Just call it mobile justice.

Six Stanford Law School students recently hit the road in an effort to deliver legal services to veterans in San Joaquin County.

Photo courtesy of OneJustice

Photo courtesy of OneJustice

Desley Horton, LLM ’15, Jeffrey Lash, JD ’16, Ju-Ching Huang, LLM ’15, Amy Tannenbaum, JD ’17, Carl Hudson JD ’17, and Viveca Fallenius, LLM ’15, traveled to Stockton, California on May 9, where they met with 20 veterans who needed help with expunging their criminal records.

The trip was part of OneJustice’s Justice Bus Project; which takes teams of attorney and law student volunteers to underserved rural areas where they set-up free clinics offering legal assistance to underserved Californians. It was done in partnership with the San Joaquin County Bar Association, San Joaquin County Public Defender’s office, and Rubicon.

“It’s a great opportunity to help people with criminal records who want to change their life and get a job,” said Fallenius. “The more I get involved the more I realize what an enormous need there is for pro bono work.”

It was one of five “JusticeBus” trips taken this year by SLS students, who have helped clients on matters ranging from workers’ rights, immigration, expungements of criminal records, and tax issues.

Photo courtesy of OneJustice

Photo courtesy of OneJustice

The Justice Bus Project is one of 20-plus pro bono programs offered at SLS with its origins at the school dating back to 2009.

“Students consistently report that working on pro bono projects such as the JusticeBus trips provide some of the most meaningful experiences of their time in law school,” said Jory Steele, director of Pro Bono and Externship Programs at the Levin Center. “There is nothing like the feeling of helping someone who truly benefits from your efforts.  It is my hope that through working on projects such as this that students will develop a life-long passion and commitment to doing pro bono work throughout their professional careers.”

Click here to earn more about SLS’s pro bono program.


Stanford Law School Students Embrace ‘Collective Intelligence,’ Will Deliver First-Ever ‘WikiSpeech’ at Graduation

Millennials have grown up in a world full of mass collaboration, surrounded by projects like Wikipedia that harness what’s been called the “wisdom of crowds.”

With that concept in mind, Stanford Law School’s Class of 2015 is using its collective voice to transform the school’s graduation ceremony.

“There is no reason that a graduation ceremony in 2015 should look the same as it did for the Class of 1915,” said Marta Belcher, JD ’15. “Being at Stanford and in the Silicon Valley, we are surrounded by a spirit of innovation that encourages us to ask, ‘Why do we do it this way, and how can we do it better?’”

Stanford Law School students working on the WikiSpeech during an "edit-a-thon."

Stanford Law School students working on the WikiSpeech during an “edit-a-thon.”

Inspired to at least try to do it better, Belcher proposed a wikispeech on the class speaker ballot so that the speech wouldn’t just be one person’s, rather it would be everyone’s. Her idea: the speech would be a collaborative effort written by the entire class using an online wiki. “We think that, by drawing on the wisdom of the crowd, we can come up with a speech that surpasses what any individual graduation speaker could write,” Belcher said.

The new concept intrigued Catherine Glaze, Associate Dean for Student Affairs. “I appreciated its novelty and the effort to be as inclusive as possible of all the perspectives in the class.  The Class Speech offers a window into the experience of the graduating class.  By expanding the number of class members involved in writing and delivering the speech, the wikispeech turns a small window into a more panoramic view.”

Meanwhile, student reaction to the collaborative concept varied from intense skepticism to broad support.

“I was initially opposed, especially since I was in the run-off [election],” says Leslie-Bernard Joseph, JD ’15, who was one of the eight candidates running for graduation speaker against Belcher. “To be honest, I was swayed by Marta. I think her intentions and vision are incredibly pure. It was compelling to me—the chance to make sure everyone’s voices were heard. Many of us talk about doing things differently, making the world a more democratic place, I think the wikispeech is a symbolic step.”

That symbolic step was realized when the wikispeech won the election for class speaker and students began the lengthy collaboration process of putting together the first-ever class speech written on a wiki.

Since then, more than 85 students from the class have contributed to the speech via the wiki site, e-mail, and participation in several “edit-a-thons.” And despite the high number of collaborators, the process has remained remarkably organized, says Belcher, adding, “We had decided in advance to write the wiki in stages rather than just having a blank page and a free-for-all.”

Marta Belcher, JD '15.

Marta Belcher, JD ’15.

In the first phase, students were given access to the wiki and added their ideas for overarching themes of the speech to a running list. Stage two focused on submitting content ideas, which resulted in the creation of more than 3,000 words of raw content in rough, bullet-point form. The third stage was the editing process, which began with an edit-a-thon on April 30, where students pulled from the content contributed during stage two to create a detailed outline of the speech that they filled in with proposed language.

The big reveal of the wikispeech will take place on June 13th at Stanford Law School’s graduation ceremony in front of hundreds of students and their families where, it will be delivered by Belcher, Michael Mestitz, JD ’15, and Ashlee Pinto, JD ’15.

As exciting as it may be to watch their work come to fruition, the real joy—for Joseph at least—may be in the process. “We came in together. We’re going out together. We’re planning on having an impact after graduation, together.”



Stanford Law School practicums offer real-world lessons

This story was written by Clifton Parker of Stanford News Service.

Professor Kelman with Policy Lab students

Professor Mark Kelman meets with Stanford Law School students Lauren Harding (middle) and Marta Belcher from the Improving Bone Marrow Donation practicum. Photo by Linda Cicero.

Even before they graduate, Stanford law students are taking their educations to the streets on high-profile policy issues – and making a difference.

In the Stanford Law and Policy Lab, Stanford Law School students work with clients under the guidance of faculty experts to develop policy solutions. Some describe it as a “policy incubator” for law students, the kind that gives them the tools to become leaders in their fields once they graduate.

The idea is not only to train students to become excellent lawyers in the Stanford tradition, but also to teach them how to shape law and policy at local, state, federal and international levels.

Bone marrow progress

The Improving Bone Marrow Donation practicum is an example of one that has already yielded results. Its origins date from October 2013 when Nalini Ambady, a Stanford professor of social psychology, tragically died because she could not get a bone marrow transplant in time.

Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford associate professor of psychology, was a friend and colleague of Ambady, working with a Stanford center called “SPARQ” – or Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions – to help Ambady find a bone marrow match.

Because Eberhardt was uncertain of the range of laws, especially regarding privacy, that would govern bone marrow recruitment, she suggested connecting a law school practicum with SPARQ.

As Alana Conner, SPARQ’s executive director, put it, thousands of people die because they are not matched up with a stem cell donation.

“Some of the inefficiencies in the donation process arise because of a lack of understanding in what is and is not legally permissible in recruiting and retaining donors. This practicum helped shed light in an often misunderstood space,” she noted.

During the past year, three law students enrolled in the practicum, which was co-led by Stanford Law Professors Mark Kelman and Larry Marshall. They worked with two psychology grad students on campus.

Kelman explained that people do not initially volunteer for bone marrow donations at the time they fill out a form; they volunteer only to be “typed” and registered in the bone marrow registry. Later on, they would have to agree to donate after going through a number of other steps if they were matched to a needy patient who had no other donor sources. That’s what a registry does.

Facilitating matches

Kelman said the most concrete outcome so far has been the creation of a new form for people who volunteer for bone marrow donations, to be filled out when they first register, so that they might be matched quickly in the future with patients in need.

“We believe that fairly subtle shifts in the wording of the form will increase the degree to which people who initially agree to be typed will stay committed to donating, and will ultimately donate if matched,” Kelman said in an interview.

He added that he and the students are conducting a double-blind experiment in which some volunteers get the “old form” and some the revised form.

For Kelman, the biggest challenge was making sure they found a client interested in improving the system for recruiting and retaining potential donors, and that was not an easy task.

“From the vantage point of the law school participants, we were particularly interested that some of the resistance to change came from a misapprehension of legal regulatory limitations,” he added.

Marta Belcher, a law student, said the bone marrow policy lab gave her a chance to work on a national policy issue she felt passionate about.

“I felt personally connected to the cause,” she said, adding that outside of law school, she runs a nonprofit that organizes programs for teens with life-threatening illnesses. While many of the teens she’s worked with have received life-saving transplants, some have died while they were still waiting to find a match.

She said the policy lab helped Stanford social psychologists develop a legally and ethically sound way for the client – an international bone marrow registry – to increase the number of registrants who ultimately donate.

“Our deliverables included a legal opinion memo for the client regarding the proposed social psychological intervention, and a public memo aimed at other bone marrow donation centers outlining the legal regimes that govern bone marrow donation,” Belcher said.

Interdisciplinary nature

Now in its second year, the policy lab had 137 students enrolled in 22 practicums taught by 57 faculty members during 2013-14. This year 159 students enrolled in 22 practicums led by 49 faculty.

The practicums focus on a wide range of issues, including international security, copyright law, patent trolls, wildlife trafficking, medicine and health, energy and the environment, social and urban policy, utilities regulation, crime and policing, and net neutrality. According to Stanford Law School, no other law school in the United States offers students this type of policy experience on this scale. 

“Many of our graduates will be leaders in policy arenas, and all of our graduates will need to solve problems and work on teams,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, dean of Stanford Law School. “What better place than Stanford, with its focus on interdisciplinary study and solving real-world problems, to practice these important skills?”

In keeping with Stanford’s interdisciplinary nature, about half of the practicums include students from other disciplines than law on campus.

Faculty and students work in small practicum teams – the average student-faculty ratio is 3:1 – so they can customize their policy analysis to the specific needs of each client and issue.

As such, it represents an opportunity for students to engage directly with clients and produce tangible results. Clients include the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Copyright Office and Register of Copyrights, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Wildlife trafficking

In another Stanford Law and Policy Lab practicum, students produced recommendations that helped the Obama administration develop an effective implementation plan for addressing the U.S. role in combatting the wildlife trafficking crisis. (Read more about it in this 2014 Stanford Report story.)

Led by David J. Hayes, a visiting distinguished lecturer at the Stanford Law School, the wildlife trafficking practicum focused on how the U.S. government could approach the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants and rhinos in Africa, and the illegal sales of ivory and rhino horn in the United States and other nations which are fueling the killings.

Hayes said, “The U.S. government adopted many of the specific recommendations made by the students’ 69-page submission in the official wildlife trafficking implementation plan that the White House released on Feb. 11 of this year.”

Law student Laura Sullivan said the experience gave students a bridge between the academic and policymaking worlds.

“I learned how to think like a policymaker,” she said, “how to frame and present the issues in a way that will maximize utility, and how to tailor my writing for the intended audience.”

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.