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Two Stanford Law School Students Honored With Prestigious Writing Prize from the Young Comparativists Committee

STANFORD, Calif., April 25, 2014 – Two Stanford Law School students have been awarded prestigious writing prizes from the Young Comparativists Committee (YCC), which hosts an annual international competition for new legal scholars that draws entries from around the globe.

Itay Ravid and Gilat Juli Bachar

Gilat Juli Bachar and Itay Ravid, both first year JSD students, were honored during the Third Annual (YCC) Global Conference in April  at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. The conference honors younger scholars in all areas of comparative law, both public and private, at a different law school each year. These younger scholars are then invited to submit an abstract on any subject of public or private comparative law.

Gilat was the Inaugural Recipient of the Colin B. Picker Prize for the most meritorious paper written by a graduate law student for her paper, “The Occupation of the Law: Power Dynamics Between the Israeli Judiciary and Legislature Over Controlling Palestinians’ Tort Claims Against IDF.”

Itay received an honorable mention for his paper, “Watch & Learn”: Illegal Behavior and Obedience to Legal Norms Through the Eyes of Popular Culture: The Case of Popular American and Israeli TV Shows.”

“We were excited and honored to be acknowledged by the 2014 Young Comparativists Global Conference,” said Gilat and Itay. “We truly appreciated the opportunity to represent SLS and the JSD program in this distinguished forum and we thank the SLS faculty members who supported us in the process of producing these papers.”

Gilat and Itay were two of only three students honored by the YCC this year.

“The judges — who rated the papers that had been submitted for the prize without knowing the authors’ identities or schools — were apparently surprised to discover that both awardees were Stanford students. Of course, I wasn’t, because I know our students are all terrific, but it is wonderful to have external validation and very exciting for these young and most deserving scholars,” said Professor Deborah R. Hensler, Judge John W. Ford Professor of Dispute Resolution and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

You can read the detailed announcement here.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School (http://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.

 

 

Bootcamps introduce Stanford Law’s clinic students to skills, knowledge needed for real life as attorneys

Religious Liberty Clinic Director James Sonne leads clinic students through bootcamp activities.

Religious Liberty Clinic Director James Sonne leads clinic students through bootcamp activities.

Stanford, Calif., April 10, 2014 – Students of Stanford Law School’s Mills Legal Clinic are delving into lawyerly life with an intensive introductory educational experience most commonly known as “bootcamp.” Based on the medical school model, SLS’ 11 clinics require students to devote themselves full-time to working as lawyers, which means representing real clients and tackling real legal challenges. And because clinic students must maintain the work schedule of a practicing lawyer, they do not enroll in any other classes during the quarter. This clinical model has become increasingly valuable for Stanford Law students—two-thirds of recent graduates have participated in at least one clinic.

With bootcamp, which takes place all day during the first several days of the new quarter, students participate in various activities designed to make the most of their clinic experience and prepare them for the everyday realities of practicing law.

Of course, preparing for bootcamp itself is a challenge because students do not always know what to expect. In fact, the very term “bootcamp” inspires different reactions in clinic students.

“Visions of military life popped into my head,” notes third-year student Paul Harold, who participated in the Religious Liberty Clinic. But it soon became clear that “the hard work was meant to instill in me an appreciation of the complexity of legal practice.”

Janice Mau, a third-year student who participated in the Organizations and Transactions Clinic, was relieved about having a methodical introduction to clinic life.

“I thought they would just throw us in,” Mau says.

Each clinic director determines the schedule of activities for his or her clinic’s bootcamp, but there are some universal themes.

Clinic students quickly become immersed in their respective communities, so the bootcamps often involve an immediate introduction to those communities. Bootcamp for the students in the Community Law Clinic, for example, is conducted at the clinic’s office in East Palo Alto, where the clinic is based.

“Before turning to the law and skills the students will need for their cases, we spend our first day in getting-to-know-you mode, and reflecting on the methods and goals of clinical legal education,” says Professor of Law Juliet Brodie, Director of the Community Law Clinic and of the Mills Legal Clinic and Associate Dean for Clinical Education. Students also learn about the social history of East Palo Alto and perform a storytelling exercise to inspire empathy for the client experience.

According to Ron Tyler, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic, the students must understand “that they are visitors in the community and the level of respect they owe the community.”

Learning practical skills is also a critical feature of the clinic experience, so clinic faculty use bootcamp to begin teaching those skills by simulating the most important aspects of daily legal practice.

During bootcamp, students in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic receive thorough instruction in how to effectively interview clients. They prepare an outline for a client interview and perform the interview on videotape with hired actors or with clinical faculty. Students then assess their performance with the help of faculty and fellow classmates and revise their outlines accordingly.

Working on interviews was one of second-year student David Watnick’s favorite things about being in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. For Watnick, direct service to clients is one of the most appealing aspects of practicing law and bootcamp helped him elevate his client-interviewing skills beyond his expectations.

“I attribute what I see as my success to what I was taught,” Watnick says. “When I have an interview, I still think about techniques that were taught in bootcamp.”

For Tyler, preparing students to interact effectively with clients is also a major priority. In collaboration with Senior Lecturer in Law Janet Martinez, Tyler holds workshops in which hired actors simulate typical client interviews with the students. The students then participate in debrief sessions with Tyler, Martinez and the actors.

These are “structured mock activities that focus on real-world experiences in a safe learning environment, Tyler says.

Religious Liberty Clinic students participate in a conference call during bootcamp.

Religious Liberty Clinic students participate in a conference call during bootcamp.

Bootcamp also allows students to begin acquiring substantive knowledge about important subjects, such as evidence, procedural rules and the law of their clinic’s practice area.

“The most helpful aspect of bootcamp was the introduction we received to transactional law,” says second-year student Krista Whitaker, who also participated in the Organizations and Transactions Clinic. “Looking at the big picture in bootcamp before drilling down to the specifics really benefited our work moving forward.”

Harold enjoyed seeing how the legal doctrines of religious liberty and the history of religious liberty are uniquely intertwined. According to Harold, historical context is particularly important for attorneys who advocate for religious liberty, and bootcamp really brought that to life.

Finally, bootcamp is highly collaborative, which helps prepare the students to work with each other on behalf of their clients during the entire clinic experience.

Without bootcamp, Mau believes, the students would not have gotten to know each other as well. Mau values how bootcamp allows students to identify each others’ strengths and knowledge base, and to prepare to work collaboratively as a team—as members of a law firm—rather than as individual students.  And as her clinic-mates’ personalities began to emerge, the clinic experience became less intimidating.

Watnick agrees: “Right off the bat, we developed a very honest working relationship.”

Looking back at bootcamp, students clearly appreciate how the entire experience prepared them especially well for clinic life.

“Bootcamp introduces students to the foundational concepts of our practice and provides students with a vocabulary for understanding our experience,” says third-year student Matt Owens, who participated in the Community Law Clinic’s bootcamp. “It’s also an important bonding period—it’s the period when a group of students becomes a firm.”

“We spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be a lawyer,” Harold adds. “It really drove home for me that being an attorney is so much more than knowing the law.”

Given the intensity of the entire clinic experience, it is also important for students to learn stress management skills. For Tyler, teaching students how to care for themselves is an essential feature of clinical instruction. He believes strongly that reducing stress on students during bootcamp and throughout the quarter is an important step in teaching them to care for themselves both as clinic students and as future attorneys. In fact, Tyler offers an eight-week course on attorney self-care as part of the Criminal Defense Clinic to teach his students to “acknowledge the vicarious trauma” they experience through their clients’ distress and to utilize tools that can help them cope, such as mindfulness and meditative practice.

“We ask a lot of students in the full-time clinic experience,” Brodie says. “I hope they are impressed by the awesome responsibility of being someone’s lawyer, and excited by the prospect of putting their knowledge into action.”

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.

Stanford Law’s First Black History Month Gala Explores the Next 50 Years of Civil Rights and Racial Justice: U.S. Associate Attorney General Tony West and Senior Fellow at American Progress Maya Harris Keynote

This news story was originally published February 26, 2014, in the online version of Stanford Lawyer.

By Sharon Driscoll

Shimmering gowns and tuxedos were the attire of choice for the first-ever Black Law Students Association-sponsored Black History Month Gala last Friday night—an event to both celebrate progress and explore the next 50 years of civil rights and racial justice in America. Paul Brest Hall brimmed with a sold-out crowd of law students, faculty, alumni, and local law firm lawyers and staff, everyone eager to support BLSA and hear the keynote speakers, Tony West and Maya Harris, both Stanford Law alumni from the Class of ’92.

BLSA GalaIt was an evening of ebbing and flowing, laughter and seriousness, with progress acknowledged and steep challenges raised.

“Tonight is not an anniversary celebration,” said BLSA Co-President Krista Whitaker, JD ’15. “It isn’t a commemoration of 1964’s Freedom Summer nor the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Remembering such historical milestones in isolation contributes to a national nostalgia that too neatly suggests we are on a steady march toward progress.”

Whitaker reminded the audience of recent civil rights wins—the historic U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision United States v. Windsor and the decision to halt stop-and-frisk tactics in New York City. But she contrasted those wins with challenges, noting “the blow of constant attacks on affirmative action” as well as “the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act through Shelby County v. Holder.”

“We know too well our nation’s uncomfortable dance with justice—steps forward, followed by stumbles or backwards falls,” she said.

Whitaker admonished the crowd to do more, quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall: “The legal system can force open doors and sometimes even knock down walls. But it cannot build bridges. That job belongs to you and me.”

BLSA Co-President Leslie-Bernard Joseph, JD ’15, continued the theme by acknowledging the growing divide between “disparate experiences of what it means to be American.”

“It doesn’t take a law degree to recoil at the seemingly endless stream of lifeless bodies, innocence lost that often doesn’t find appropriate justice. From Trayvon Martin to Jordan Davis. From Renisha McBride to countless in Chicago,” he said. “The inability of America to live up to its values comes at a cost. The price of being the wrong kind of American is a more serious threat to bankrupting this country than any recession could ever be.”

Joseph made clear the role of lawyers—particularly that of lawyers of color. “This bridge building begins tonight. Tonight is about why you came to law school. Tonight is about social justice. Tonight is about public service,” he said.

Dean of Stanford Law School, M. Elizabeth Magill, introduced Maya Harris and Tony West by emphasizing the role of “creative lawyers” in civil rights.

“From Sweatt v. Painter and Brown, to Thurgood Marshall’s ascendance to the Supreme Court in 1967, to Tony Amsterdam’s work for LDF while he was here at Stanford in the 1970s, to the work of our Supreme Court clinic assistance in winning the landmark U.S. v. Windsor case last summer, exceptional lawyers—often assisted by exceptional law students—have helped shape the law and fulfill the promise of real equality.”

Maya HarrisFirst up was Harris, who began by crediting BLSA with helping her form lifelong friendships—including that with her husband, Tony West. “So my BLSA experience is still paying dividends!” she laughed.

Now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School, Harris has gained a vantage point spanning some 25 years as a litigator, educator, civil rights advocate, and social justice philanthropist. And she is optimistic.  During a five-year tenure with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, where she led the litigation, public education, advocacy, and organizing strategies of the nation’s largest ACLU affiliate, she worked on issues ranging from racial and criminal justice, to reproductive, immigrant and LGBT rights. As vice president of Democracy, Rights, and Justice at the Ford Foundation for five years, she led a global team in investing more than $150 million annually in grants, gaining a unique perspective on civil and human rights challenges, both here and throughout the world.

“The state of the civil rights movement is very strong,” she told the crowd. “I know it might not always feel that way when we must constantly re-litigate foundational achievements like the right to vote, battles we had long ago thought won. But from the vantage point I had, I came away from the last five years feeling energized and excited.”

Harris pointed to visionary leadership in the movement and innovations in community organizing and technology. But she cautioned that leaders must be strategic and conscious of the need to engage a new generation of Americans, some of whom see this as issues of the past or, with the election of an African-American president, believe we are a post-racial nation.

“7 out of 10 people believe that while there may still be isolated cases of racism in the U.S., we have largely moved beyond our racial problems,” she said, noting that increased diversity in law, in politics, and in business may allow people to feel the job is done. “But you just have to read the news to know that isn’t so. When Ted Nugent can call the president of the United States a ‘subhuman mongrel,’ you know we’re not there yet.”

Harris reminded the audience that 30 percent of the U.S. population is now made up of people of color—and that by 2042 it is estimated that it will top 50 percent. Even so, she said, progressive change will not happen by itself and that each of us has to be an active participant in shaping the next generation of change.

“We must seize opportunities to build a broader stronger movement by recognizing the connection between different issues of concern, across struggles that may seem to be different but that are really rooted in the common soil of the fight for equality,” said Harris.  She also noted, “as we look forward to the next 50 years of the Civil Rights Movement, we need to do more to bring women, especially women of color, to the center of our agenda.”

Tony WestWest echoed Harris’ call to extend the reach of the social justice net —and also emphasized the critical role that lawyers of color have to play.

“You know, each of you, about challenges. We have the shared knowledge of just how much it took to get here, the best law school in the country,” he said. “And as law students of color we have a greater appreciation of what the law should do and our obligations in the practice of law. We must, all of us, step up and reach out.”

West recalled when, just one year out of law school, he served as a special assistant to the deputy attorney general of the United States in the Department of Justice. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno summoned him to her office for a meeting and gave him sage advice. “She told me that my main job as a prosecutor was not to go out and win as many cases as I could, but to do justice in every case I handled. That charge has been my North Star ever since.”

He encouraged the group to re-imagine the next 50 years of civil justice for a new generation. “The pursuit of justice is a unifying principle,” he said. “It’s what led to the freedom summer, for people from all walks of life to march together, some to die together. And while there is no denying we have made progress, that same pursuit of justice must drive us still. We must extend its reach by broadening the scope. We must look for shared values of equality and dignity.”

Highlighting recent efforts by the Department of Justice to address some of the more difficult social justice challenges of the day, West noted that high on the list is the vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration—which has hit minority communities disproportionately.

“Too many Americans go to prison for too long and for no good law enforcement reason,” he said, adding that mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes have helped the United States reach one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.  And the cost—in disrupted lives, in lost potential—has been equaled by the astronomical cost to every taxpayer for the prison system.

“Mass incarceration is not a good investment,” he said.

West shared with the audience a new initiative by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Called “Smart on Crime,” it is designed to address key challenges, such as minimum sentences for nonviolent and drug-related crimes. In addition, the federal government will provide incentives to states to encourage them to redirect funding from prison construction to evidence-based programs and services.

Another issue firmly in West’s crosshairs is the exclusion of many formerly incarcerated from the democratic process.

“The time has come for us to reconsider laws that disenfranchise nearly 6 million Americans,” he said. “These laws disproportionally affect people of color, who are overrepresented in the prison population.  In some states, one in five African American adults is prohibited from voting because of felony disenfranchisement.  The stigma and isolation this imposes can actually increase the likelihood of recidivism. At best, these laws are outdated—at worst, history teaches that they originated as tools of oppression in the racially charged days of the post-Civil War era.”

Joseph closed the evening with the hallowed words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 sermon.

“… There is, deep down within all of us, an instinct. It’s a kind of … desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs a whole gamut of human life … . We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade … . The great issue of life is to harness [this] drum major instinct. [If left unchecked] it leads to [elitism]… selfishness … . You want to be important. You want to be significant … . It’s a good instinct if you use it right. It’s a good instinct if you don’t distort and pervert it.”

“His counsel seems particularly fitting for us now,” said Joseph. “When we go off and do whatever it is that’s in store for us, ‘let’s not focus on awards’ or ‘where we went to school’ or on salary, prestige of title, or any other conceits. If there’s one title you should hope for though, let them say that you were a drum major for justice.”

Joseph and Whitaker then invited the crowd to join them and continue the celebration with dancing at a nearby apartment, where overworked and conscientious law students danced the night away.

Support for this event was provided by the following law firms: Morrison & Foerster, Paul Weiss, Orrick, O’Melveny Myers, Bartlit Beck, Cleary Gottlieb, Farella Braun, Fenwick West, Sidley Austin, and Skadden and Gibson Dunn, and Sheppard Mullin. The Graduate Students Council and Stanford Law School also helped to underwrite the event.

California Governor Brown names Stanford Law School’s William B. Gould IV to lead Agricultural Labor Relations Board

Stanford Law School Professor William B. Gould IV

Stanford Law School Professor William B. Gould IV

Stanford, Calif., February 20, 2014 – California Governor Jerry Brown has appointed William B. Gould IV as a member and Chair of the state’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the Governor’s Office announced this week. The appointment is effective as of March 18, 2014. Gould is the Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Stanford Law School.

Gould praised the Agricultural Labor Relations Act as one of Governor Brown’s early achievements. He also observed that the Act, much like the National Labor Relations Act, promotes the collective bargaining process and workers’ freedom of association.

“I welcome the challenge of the Governor’s appointment,” Gould said. “In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to meeting other Board members, the General Counsel, ALRB staff throughout our state, stakeholders and elected officials, and members of the public. I shall do the best that I can to give back to California, which has given so much to my family and to me.”

A prolific scholar of labor and discrimination law, Gould has been a highly influential voice on worker-management relations for more than 40 years. Before arriving at Stanford Law School in 1972, Gould was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and the United Auto Workers. He served as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board from 1994 to 1998.

Gould has been a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators since 1970 and has arbitrated and mediated more than 200 labor disputes, including the 1992 and 1993 salary disputes between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee. He has also acted as Special Advisor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as Independent Monitor for FirstGroup America. In addition, Gould has received five honorary doctorates for his contributions to the fields of labor law and labor relations.

Gould is a critically acclaimed author of 10 books and more than 60 law review articles. His work includes a historical record of the experiences of his great-grandfather in Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor, and his own story, Labored Relations: Law, Politics and the NLRB: A Memoir. Gould’s most recent book is Bargaining with Baseball: Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil.

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.

Celebrated human rights practitioner Seife Ayalew Asfaw receives first Rubin Family International Human Rights Award from Stanford Law School

Human rights activist and inaugural Rubin Family International Human Rights Award recipient Seife Ayalew Asfaw (courtesy of Seife Ayalew Asfaw)

Human rights practitioner and inaugural Rubin Family International Human Rights Award recipient Seife Ayalew Asfaw (courtesy of Seife Ayalew Asfaw)

practitioner

Stanford, Calif., February 18, 2014 – Stanford Law School has selected prominent Ethiopian human rights practitioner Seife Ayalew Asfaw as the inaugural recipient of its Rubin Family International Human Rights Award. The new award recognizes young leaders in the international social justice movement by bringing one such individual to Stanford Law School as a practitioner-in-residence for two weeks every year.

Asfaw will be at Stanford from April 8th to April 17th. He will collaborate with thought leaders and connect with program resources throughout Stanford Law School and Stanford University, as well as share strategies with social justice leaders in the Bay Area.

Asfaw leads a network of legal aid centers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. His primary responsibilities include daily assessment and monitoring of the activity of legal aid centers in Addis Ababa, mentoring and supervising legal aid service providers and paralegals, conducting human rights training and building relationships with donors and collaborative partners.

Faced with a challenging operating environment, Asfaw works within the framework of Ethiopian law to advance human rights, specifically by expanding citizens’ knowledge of and access to legal services. Asfaw will use his time at Stanford Law School to study how public interest legal organizations in the United States combine legal services and impact litigation. He intends to establish an Impact Litigation Project in partnership with private law offices, NGOs and law schools when he returns to Ethiopia. The Project will allow Asfaw to challenge Ethiopian laws and practices that discriminate against women and children, limit freedoms of association and religion, and impair the economic rights of poor and vulnerable people.

The Rubin Family International Human Rights Award is designed to enhance the practitioner-in-residence’s capacity to influence policies, practices and laws that promote systems-changing responses to significant human rights problems. By uniting legal education with a spirit of application to the world’s most pressing human rights crises, this award will also create opportunities for Stanford Law students to participate in globalized citizenship and advance a focus on the realization of human rights.

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.

This post was revised on February 20, 2014.