Thinkers & Doers: Dec. 29, 2015

“Changing the face of law school doesn’t have to mean cutting back on education -in fact, it might be the very move that saves it,” say Professor Robin Feldman & Alice Armitage in an article they wrote for the Harvard Business Review on changing the law school model (with a shout-out to the Startup Legal Garage).

It may be the presidential political season, but football has its share of politics, too. Professor David Levine was quoted in an Oakland Tribune story about Disney chief Robert Iger’s recent comments on the proposed Raiders/Chargers stadium, which could complicate the bid process.

“Nothing in here is irrelevant to a parallel case in another state. The court is simply saying federal law does not supersede our consumer protection functions,” said Professor Marsha Cohen in an AP story on the impact of the California Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing consumers to bring suit for false labeling of organic products.

UC Hastings’ Haiti Justice Initiative has received press coverage for “Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile? Human Rights and Environmental Risks of Gold Mining in Haiti,” a report co-authored with NYU Law School’s Global Justice Clinic that calls on the Haitian government to issue a moratorium on metal mining activities until the country puts a system of safeguards in place.

“If a state wanted to create a regime where independent contractors are able to unionize, there’s nothing in the National Labor Relations Act that would stop them from doing that,” said Associate Dean for Research Reuel Schiller, who provided some context for a Wall Street Journal article about Seattle’s recent vote to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize.

Professor John Leshy was recently quoted in a few different stories. First, he provided commentary for a article (paywall) about the “Keep it in the Ground” movement, which advocates ending the sale of new fossil fuel leases for minerals found on federal land. Activists claim the Mineral Leasing Act and a 1930s Supreme Court ruling make it clear that the federal government has the authority to refrain from leasing its lands for mineral exploitation. “A blanket ‘no’ is politically risky because you invite congressional interference. But in terms of the legal authority, there’s no question,” said Leshy. In a separate Greenwire article, Leshy praised Bret Birdsong ’93, deputy solicitor at the U.S. Department of the Interior who oversees Bureau of Land Management issues. In an story discussing a Supreme Court case that could take away the federal government’s ability to regulate rivers in the Alaskan wilderness, Leshy discusses the state’s claim of sovereignty over water. “The simplistic idea that the state owns the water once it is admitted into the union is contradicted by a couple hundred years of law.”

“Family-friendly policies are a vital tool to attract talent,” said Professor Joan Williams in a recent Elle article examining whether 2015 marked a turning point in universal paid family leave. Williams, however, remains skeptical that the buzz in the tech industry will result in better policies elsewhere. “It cannot and will not [benefit most Americans.] This is great for high capital workers in a hot market. Period. End of report.” In other developments, caregivers in New York City are now legally protected from discrimination under the city’s civil rights law. “This is good news for mothers and anyone who loves them,” remarked Williams in a Huffington Post story about the new law.

Professor Ahmed Ghappour’s recent blog post on the FBI’s use of ‘zero days’ in criminal investigations for was referenced in a article about the FBI’s recent disclosure that it uses undisclosed vulnerabilities to access suspects’ computers.

The Federal Circuit recently cited Professor Jeffrey Lefstin’s 2000 Stanford Law Review article, “Does the First Amendment Bar Cancellation of Redskins?,” several times in its opinion in In re Tam, which held that § 2(a) of the Lanham Trademark Act, which denies registration to disparaging trademarks, is unconstitutional.

In print and in person, Professor Jill Bronfman continues to share her expertise in cyber law. She wrote an article for the International Association of Privacy Professionals to encourage companies to create privacy internship programs for students. Her 2016 travel schedule will take her to the University of South Carolina School of Law in February to present her data breach contract clause paper at the school’s annual conference on Cyber Attacks and the Law. In March, she will present her drone paper at the 6th Annual Internet Law Works in Progress conference in New York.

An article on the website about the Israeli justice system’s treatment of Palestinians excerpts a 2012 LA Times op-ed by Professor George Bisharat.

Congratulations to Professor Hadar Aviram who has been voted in as the new vice president of the Western Society of Criminology. She was also recently quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle story about the push to build a new county jail to replace the old dilapidated facility.

Professor Rory Little commented on the San Bernardino shooting for a couple of news outlets. He was quoted in a Reuters article about reporters’ controversial visit to the shooters’ home after the FBI had released the townhouse back to the landlord. He also discussed the shooters’ friend, who is the alleged buyer of guns used in the attack, in an LA Times story. Acknowledging that it’s too early to know the charges the man will ultimately face, Little said, “The idea that he is talking to [investigators] without a lawyer makes everybody gasp.” In other news, he was also quoted in a Recorder story about accusations that the FBI planted recording devices outside the San Mateo County Courthouse without obtaining a warrant.

Professor William Wang was acknowledged at the end of a recent NPR “Planet Money” podcast for “definitively” answering the question of who is harmed in insider trading.

There were almost no defenders of Japanese-Americans, who were unpopular even before the war,” said Professor Frank H. Wu in an International Business Times article that compares Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and the Japanese internment camps during World War II.

Judge Marsha Berzon, who co-teaches a seminar on constitutional cases with Professor Joseph Grodin, is prominently featured in “Point Taken: How to Write Like the World’s Best Judges” by Ross Guberman (Oxford University Press, 2015).

“They’re used all the time and abused all the time,” said Professor Richard Zitrin in a story on about standard protective orders issued by judges in civil cases that hide important documents from the public. Zitrin is seeking legislative sponsors for a proposed “California Sunshine in Litigation Act” that he hopes will help stem the practice and become a model for other states to follow.

Adjunct Professor Jonathan Schmidt was quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle article about a Bay Area man who has been charged under a federal law for trying to join an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

Adjunct Professor Cory Birnberg recently appeared on NBC Bay Area News to comment on one of his cases. He represents the widow of a man who was killed while on the job at a postal facility and is suing the U.S. Postal Service for wrongful death.

UC Hastings has recently received a good deal of media attention for various programs and initiatives. In a recent NY Times story, Professor Marsha Cohen and 3L Ali Nicolette commented on the school’s Lawyers for America fellowship program, which gives students the option of spending their 3L year obtaining practical, hands-on legal training by working for various non-profit organizations. The collaboration between UCSF and UC Hastings on the Consortium of Law, Science & Health Policy has been such a success that UC Hastings law students and UCSF medical students will someday share housing in an effort by both schools to provide more affordable lodging for its students. Articles about the new partnership appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, and several other outlets. The Startup Legal Garage continues to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams. An early stage company founded by a decorated military veteran and UCLA Anderson School of Management graduate took home the top prize in a recent competition, PrimeUC, that promotes some of the University of California’s most promising life science startups. An article on about the push by consumer advocates to obtain data on outcomes in arbitrated cases cited a UC Hastings study that found that only half of California arbitration companies post required data about their cases, and the data is often incomplete. The Center for WorkLife Law received a shout-out in a Huffington Post blog post for its work with state and local governments on caregiver discrimination laws. In addition, the Center’s “Double Jeopardy” study was quoted in a Communities Digital News article about the lack of diversity in the tech industry. The Seattle Medium mentioned UC Hastings’ La Raza Law Students and Chinese American Law Associations as two of 39 California undergraduate and graduate student organizations to have signed onto an amicus brief in the Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin affirmative action case that warns of the dangers in eliminating consideration of race and ethnicity in the admissions process. The Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic is a finalist in the California Department of Public Health’s Innovation Challenge.

Congratulations to Professor David Faigman who has just been named UC Hastings’ new Acting Chancellor & Dean. His appointment was the subject of a Recorder story. On another note, Faigman recently wrote an article about scientific peer review in courtrooms for Scientific American in which he asked, “€¦How do we provide judges a mechanism by which to assess mainstream scientific opinion? Peer review works for science, but can it work for the courts?” His answer: a resounding yes, with the proper mechanisms and processes in place.

Lights, camera, action! Professor Joseph Grodin was the subject of a documentary short by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Abby Ginzburg ’75 that celebrates his distinguished life and career.
Marvin Blinder, a psychiatrist and former UC Hastings instructor, was interviewed by SFGate about the persistent myth that the verdict in the Dan White trial (he killed Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone) was based on Blinder’s testimony, which inaccurately became known as the Twinkies defense.

Lawyer turned “humor consultant” Malcolm Kushner ’80 was recently profiled in the Sacramento Business Journal. His latest book, “Comebacks for Lawyer Jokes,” is available on
Madihha Ahussain ’12, a staff attorney for the Program to Counter Anti-Muslim Hate at Muslim Advocates, was interviewed on KQED about Islamophobia in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings.

Sending virtual wishes of good luck to Alan Ray ’90 and David Cochran ’90. Ray, currently in residence at Harvard Law School as a visiting scholar, is one of two finalists in the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ search for a new president. The city manager of Reno, NV has recommended the appointment of Cochran as the chief of the Reno Fire Department. The City Council will vote on the recommendation in January.

This month’s congratulatory thread starts here. Governor Brown has appointed Hon. Martin Tangeman ’78 to a judgeship on California’s Second District Court of Appeal. Erik Franks ’06 has just been elected partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Based in Palo Alto, Franks is a member of the firm’s corporate and securities practice. Simona Agnolucci ’06, a partner at Keker & Van Nest LLP, has been appointed by Governor Brown to UC Hastings’ Board of Directors. Congratulations to Emilio Gonzalez ’98, a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s employment practice, who was named a “Litigation Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal. Cynthia Alkon ’90 was recently awarded tenure and promoted to Professor of Law at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas. Jeff Hoelsken ’99, executive director of Sunrise Horse Rescue, has been named to the Board of Directors of Wine Country Animal Lovers. Jesse Stout ’12, a lawyer at Greenbridge Corporate Counsel, has been appointed to the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force by the city’s Board of Supervisors. Jason Leong ’12 has joined the Madera County District Attorney’s office as a deputy. He will be in charge of the court’s traffic division. Best wishes to 2L Patton Johnson who just celebrated his marriage to Elizabeth Mazzotta. Sanh Brian Tran ’02, a lawyer turned professional artist, will have a solo exhibition at the Lycoming College Art Gallery in Williamsport, PA.

Our condolences go out to the family of Louis Katz ’54 who died on December 2 in Oakland, CA. Katz was a noted criminal defense and civil rights lawyer who once represented Pete Seeger.