The 2017-18 academic year promises to be an exciting one, as UC Hastings welcomes a host of renowned legal scholars, specialists, and even a scientist as faculty members.
With a wide range of expertise (from forensics to litigation to health care antitrust law), these seven superstars are sharing their vast legal knowledge through courses and seminars at UC Hastings this semester.
Professor Binyamin Blum, a leading legal scholar of the British Empire, has a highly specialized interest in its pioneering use of forensic science.
“Forensic culture as we know it was deeply shaped by British colonialism, from fingerprinting and ballistics to dog tracking and hair analysis,” said Blum, who will join the UC Hastings faculty in January 2018. “Throughout the empire, mutual distrust between colonizers and colonized led British officials to seek ways to circumvent eyewitnesses as a source of information. Colonizers turned to scientific evidence as a way of making crime scenes legible and making the legal process seem more objective. I am interested in this colonial legacy and how it has shaped certain power dynamics in the use of forensic science.”
Blum comes to UC Hastings from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he has taught since 2012. He has also been a visiting faculty member at Stanford, where he earned his doctorate in law as well as a master’s degree in history. He is looking forward to teaching at UC Hastings, he said, which “has an outstanding faculty, including in the fields I specialize in, namely, evidence and legal history. And beyond its intellectual breadth and strength, UC Hastings is also a tremendously collegial and supportive environment.”
“It’s always been one of my top priorities to help the underserved gain access to the legal system,” said Professor Brittany Glidden, who joined the faculty last year as director of externships and pro bono programs. “It’s gratifying when I can connect students with members of the community that they can help. I think it reminds students why they came to law school in the first place.”
In her position, Glidden oversees judicial externships, in which students gain what she calls, “an invaluable behind-the-bench perspective” by working in local courts, as well as legal externships, which place students in nonprofits and government agencies. She also coordinates UC Hastings’ robust pro bono program, which partners with local community organizations serving low-income clients. These programs include the Justice and Diversity Center, Bay Area Legal Aid, San Francisco Tenants Union, and many others.
“These programs not only offer students hands-on experience, they also help instill what we hope will become a lifelong commitment to helping others,” said Glidden, a former prisoners’ rights attorney who previously taught at University of Denver and Golden Gate University law schools. She comes to UC Hastings with a wide range of teaching experience, including as a clinical professor, legal writing instructor, and externship director. She was recently named a finalist for the 2017 Public Justice Trial Attorney of the Year award for her work on a litigation team that brought outdoor access to hundreds of prisoners in solitary confinement in Colorado, some of whom had not been outside for over a decade.
“Experiential learning is a central part of legal education at UC Hastings,” Glidden added, “which is why I am thrilled to be here. And I am amazed at the number of opportunities students have to develop their practice skills working directly with clients, whether in the clinics, externships, or pro bono work. I am excited to be part of making classroom learning come alive for students.”
“I spend a lot of time kibitzing about healthcare policy issues,” said Professor Thomas “Tim” Greaney, with characteristic modesty. After all, Greaney is no mere kibitzer; he is one of the most respected thinkers, scholars, and writers in his field. He joined the UC Hastings faculty this fall to teach a course on business associations and to lead a seminar on competitive policy and reform in healthcare. He will also continue to serve on the advisory board of The Source on Healthcare Price & Competition, an initiative of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science, and Health Policy.
“My interests are in the regulatory side of healthcare, in how you can promote competition at the same time as regulate it,” he said, “and the work UC Hastings, Dean Faigman, Professor Jaime King, and the Consortium are doing in this area is a really good fit for my interests and academic research.”
The co-author of the nation’s leading health law casebook, Health Law: Cases, Materials, and Problems (7th edition), Greaney comes to UC Hastings from Saint Louis University School of Law, where he was the Chester A. Myers Professor of Law and director of the Center for Health Law Studies. Previously, he practiced healthcare antitrust legislation for nine years at the U.S. Department of Justice. “I really enjoyed my work at the Department of Justice,” Greaney said, “but I decided to go into academia because it gives you the freedom to write, think, and opine.”
A prolific author and frequent public speaker, Greaney has offered expert testimony on healthcare competition and policy at hearings before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and Federal Trade Commission. He is beginning work on the next edition of the Health Law casebook, which will be co-authored with King.
Greaney’s enthusiasm—which he invariably imparts to his law students, for whom he said he’s like a consigliere—is infectious. “It’s really exciting because the field of healthcare law is changing so rapidly,” he said. “Even though so much is up in the air, with the Affordable Care Act now unfortunately on the operating table, there’s so much we need to sink our teeth into.”
A pioneer in the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques to improve the litigation process, Francis McGovern—who will join UC Hastings as a visiting professor in January 2018—has played a key role in some of the largest-scale mass claim cases in recent history. As a court-appointed special master (some call him the “master of all special masters”), he has developed solutions to headline-making mass claim litigation, including the DDT toxic exposure litigation in Alabama, the Dalkon Shield controversy, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In the classroom—as in practice—the highly regarded scholar and strategist takes a multidisciplinary approach, often introducing students to such wide-ranging fields as game theory, cognitive psychology, and visual presentations of quantifiable data.
“I’m interested in strategic thinking from a multitude of perspectives,” McGovern said. “I like the idea of folks from different disciplines working together to solve problems, which is something that UC Hastings really encourages.”
McGovern will split his academic year between Duke University School of Law, where he has taught since 1997, and UC Hastings, where he will teach two courses each spring semester: litigation finance and legal strategy. He’ll also continue to provide his expertise in court. “I enjoy keeping one foot in academia and one foot in the real world,” McGovern said.
His legal practice is currently focused on “implementing institutional reform in cases where you’ve had bureaucratic failure.” To this end, he is serving as a special master on a case over reforming the foster care system in Texas and one over mold abatement in New York City housing. “I am really interested in creating models for how the justice system can handle institutional reform cases,” he said. “Throughout my career I have taken on a wide variety of subjects, but the theme is always the same: How can the system work better?”
Professor Emily R.D. Murphy brings an impressive background in neuroscience, psychology, and litigation to the UC Hastings faculty, which she joined this fall. Most recently a PULSE fellow at UCLA Law, Murphy teaches contracts and evidence in her new position.
“I am thrilled to bring my scientific experience and interests to UC Hastings,” said Murphy, who earned a PhD in behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology at Cambridge. “The law school is on the cutting edge of science and the law. Joining the faculty is an amazing opportunity to work in an incredibly stimulating environment.”
Her research focuses primarily on how neuroscience is relevant to the law, and how tools and techniques like brain imaging might be applied in a legal context. “A motivating question for my research is what it means for various legal contexts to understand how the brain works,” Murphy said.
“I went to law school with the hope that I’d one day enter academia because teaching is a passion and priority of mine,” added Murphy, who also worked as a litigator at Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, in Los Angeles. “I have always felt that it’s an honor and a privilege for students to trust you with their education. I look forward to helping shape their legal minds and professional selves.”
Preeminent personal injury and medical malpractice attorney Shanin Specter joined UC Hastings as a professor from practice this fall. He is teaching first-year torts and evidence while continuing to maintain his practice at Kine & Specter, one of the leading personal injury firms in the nation.
Specter has had a remarkable career as a litigator, having obtained more than 200 jury verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million. Many of these victories have led to large-scale industrial changes, from improving vehicle safety (resulting from a $153 million suit against the Ford Motor Company) to requiring proper installation of public utility lines (after a jury awarded $109 million to the family of a woman killed by a fallen electric line).
His expertise isn’t exclusive to the courtroom. Specter has been an adjunct professor at Penn Law School for 17 years and taught the popular course titled How to Ask a Question at UC Hastings in 2015 and 2017.
For Specter, academics and law practice are deeply intertwined. “Many of the cases I have worked on have resulted in societal change—and that affects my interest in academia,” he said, “because I see teaching as a great chance to influence future generations of lawyers, judges, and community leaders.”
Professor Manoj Viswanathan joined the faculty last year to teach doctrinal tax courses and co-direct the UC Hastings Business Tax Practicum for Social Enterprises. “I am very excited to be part of the UC Hastings community,” he said. “The law school has both the institutional values and reputation I was looking for professionally.”
Previously, Viswanathan was a clinical teaching fellow and lecturer at Yale Law School, where he co-taught the Community and Economic Development clinic. Prior to his fellowship at Yale, he worked as a tax associate in the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
With Professor Alina Ball, Viswanathan established the Tax Practicum for Social Enterprises, one of the law school’s most in-demand endeavors. “Students gain experience by working for clients who are attempting to make social change,” Viswanathan said. The Practicum’s clients have missions that include increasing food access, providing job opportunities for the hard to employ, and encouraging people to get tested for various illnesses. “The opportunity for students in the Practicum to both learn tax law and help clients accomplish social justice goals is immensely satisfying,” he added.
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