By Gwyneth K. Shaw
When Chloe Pan ’24 arrived at Berkeley Law, she had only a vague understanding of what a law journal is. The first in her family to go to law school, she’d heard about the experience from the same civil rights attorneys and litigators who inspired her to pursue a J.D.
She joined three as a 1L: the Asian American Law Journal, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, and Berkeley Journal of International Law. As Pan dug into the work, she felt the pull of a fourth journal, the school’s flagship California Law Review (CLR).
“I was ultimately drawn to CLR because of the opportunity to critically engage with a wide range of legal scholarship,” she says. “I knew that I wanted to be part of a community that cared so deeply about publishing excellent scholarship while also rooting for each other.”
Now, as CLR’s latest editor-in-chief, Pan is eagerly making her mark on the storied publication, joining with Managing Editor Zabdi Salazar ’24 and the rest of the student staff to adopt some changes — including how students join the journal and the way articles are selected and edited.
“I come from a background in community organizing and I also worked on legal operations for several years at Google, so I’m really looking forward to leveraging my experience to expand CLR’s organizational capacity and community engagement,” Pan says. “This includes implementing process improvements, technological efficiency, and more programming for students and scholars.
“For many CLR students, the journal represents their biggest time commitment in law school — sometimes even more so than academics. Therefore, I want to make sure that CLR can be a supportive space that provides a meaningful community for all of our members.”
Growing and innovating
As the first class of students since the COVID-19 pandemic to fully experience the journal in person, Pan says a lot of the work focuses on rebuilding some traditions that were lost in times of virtual collaboration. Like any institution, CLR is imperfect, she says, but there is a huge capacity for growth.
“A lot of what we’re doing now won’t have immediate payoff, much like the way we publish is a multi-year process,” Pan explains. “But I’m excited to lay foundations that will benefit students down the line, and for us to continue to produce rigorous, groundbreaking research — and show that we can have fun while doing so.”
Salazar, also a Ph.D. student in the school’s Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program, gravitated toward CLR because of her interest in legal scholarship, particularly involving immigration law, as well as the journal’s commitment to diversity in both its membership and article selection.
Some of her favorite moments at Berkeley Law involve brainstorming with her fellow journal members, and the current group has “many cool ideas” in the pipeline. They include exploring new technologies and practices in how articles are processed and edited and adding new programming and events, such as hosting lunch hours with professors whose articles have been published in the journal. They’d also like to help support law students who want to develop and publish their own research.
“For this next phase, I’m looking forward to increased programming that will foster community engagement among our membership and the broader legal community as well as opportunities that support student scholarship,” Salazar says. “Our members put in so much time and work editing, processing, and communicating with authors to help make their great articles into excellent pieces, ready for publication. Sometimes this work can become all-consuming and very tedious.”
CLR’s leaders also plan to launch a fundraising campaign to support their ideas, including a regular supply of office snacks for those late night and weekend working sessions.
Both women hail from immigrant households, and their backgrounds help fuel their academic and professional interests. Salazar’s family is Mexican American, with roots in Texas and different areas of Mexico, and she was raised in Austin. She is also the first in her family to graduate from college and to pursue a law and doctoral degree.
“My paternal grandmother’s stories of migration and her experiences with the U.S. immigration system prompted my interest in immigration law,” she says. “Growing up, I also noticed the need in my community in Austin for immigration law attorneys that spoke Spanish and could identify with our cultural heritage. After law school, I hope to pursue legal academia as an immigration law scholar as well as pursue opportunities that will allow me to support and advocate on behalf of immigrant communities.”
During her time at Berkeley Law, Salazar has worked as an intern at the East Bay Community Law Center’s immigration clinic and as a judicial extern at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Laredo, giving her additional angles on the immigration system.
She calls her experience as a J.D.-Ph.D. student “intense, but also fruitful and rewarding,” as she trains in empirical and other research methods to help her examine immigration laws, their impact, and how they can be more closely aligned with our society’s normative ideals.
“I’m currently taking Immigration Law and learned that sometimes even courts do not understand immigration statistics and can rely on faulty statistical reasoning to base their decisions,” Salazar says. “Given how statistics and empirical data can play a role in immigration law and policy, I definitely want to have the necessary training to critically understand data and statistics.”
Professor of Legal Writing Michelle Cole says Salazar’s success at CLR is no surprise after her excellent performance in Cole’s Legal Research & Writing and Written & Oral Advocacy classes last year.
“Over the course of each semester, Zabdi put tremendous effort into her writing assignments and made significant improvements with each step,” Cole says. “She took advantage of class discussions and my office hours to advance her understanding of the problem at issue and the ideals of legal writing.”
Pan’s commitment to civil rights advocacy grew out of her difficult childhood, which she describes as heavily impacted by domestic violence and addiction. She credits her mother for single-handedly supporting a six-person family and says her “resilience and tenacity is what inspired me from a young age to believe that our circumstances did not have to limit our possibilities.”
“For most of my life, my family has struggled with the immigration system and securing access to basic healthcare and food security. I’ve seen the devastating effects of quiet government neglect, but I’ve also seen the ingenuity, resilience, and optimism that refuse to falter in conditions of scarcity,” she says. “I’ve also learned that there is a special strength in tenderness — of experiencing hardship and not seeing it as defeat, but a chance to do better. For me, then, advocacy is about the difficult and beautiful work of fighting to create a better world in which everyone has the opportunity to live with dignity, safety, and joy.”
After graduating from UCLA, Pan went looking to build an understanding of how law and policy intersect. She worked as a Civil Liberties Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, where she built a court-watching program that gathered the systemic data to launch a federal class action lawsuit challenging discriminatory cash bail policies in the state’s largest district court. The court agreed to reform its bail practices to settle the case.
Pan found the work deeply satisfying, but realized she still needed to know more. She considered going to graduate school abroad and was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship, but ultimately felt Berkeley Law was the ideal next step on her journey.
“I wanted to actually litigate cases rather than merely study their outcomes,” she says. “And going to law school has confirmed that this is the type of work that I can see myself doing for a lifetime. It’s taught me the importance of systems-thinking and of storytelling. I have a much better understanding of how legal advocacy fits into a theory of change, and I also recognize the possibilities and limitations of operating purely through a legal framework.”
Pan became the head of her household in 2018, when her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, and moved her family with her to Berkeley when she started law school so she could continue to support them.
Studying law full-time has been an immense privilege, Pan says — and she’s made the most of it. In addition to her role at CLR, she won the Best Advocate Award in the 1L Bales Trial Competition and Best Oral Argument in her Written & Oral Advocacy course. She’s interned in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the ACLU National Human Rights Program, and three law firms specializing in trial and appellate litigation. After graduation, she will clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Professor of Legal Writing Kerry S. Kumabe says Pan stood out from the first time she met her, during the pre-orientation program before her 1L year.
“She’s always really engaged, and she’s just so, so talented. She has a natural facility with the law along with a tremendous work ethic,” Kumabe says. “And she’s also a wonderful writer, so she understood the structure of legal writing very very quickly.
“I can’t think of anyone who deserves this more.”
Pan’s already proud of CLR’s impact since the new board of editors took over in February. The journal launched a revamped website to better showcase the groundbreaking work it’s publishing. In April, CLR partnered with the Civil Justice Research Initiative for its annual symposium, bringing together an all-star lineup of scholars, judges, and practitioners to consider the enforcement of civil rights laws in police use-of-force cases.
In March, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge wrote a concurring opinion in a case involving prisoners’ rights and qualified immunity to specifically “highlight newly published scholarship that paints the qualified-immunity doctrine as flawed,” citing an article the journal published in February.
Pan relishes both the big and small moments, and says the warm relationships that first attracted her to the journal remain a crucial element of the experience.
“On one hand, it’s incredibly gratifying to see when the scholarship that we collectively spend thousands of hours editing, revising, and verifying makes a tangible impact,” she says. “On the other hand, our journal wouldn’t be what it is without the community, and many of the special moments have been simply getting to just spend time with other CLR members. We’re the largest journal — and student organization — on campus, so there’s a truly incredible array of lived experiences and perspectives represented within CLR.
“I love getting to spend time with other journal members, whether it’s sharing meals on Heyman Terrace, grinding away at work together, or encountering campus raccoons after a late night in the office.”