By Gwyneth K. Shaw
For Jennifer Chacón and Jonathan Glater — Berkeley Law’s two newest professors — the appeal of the institution and its legendary community is unmistakable.
Chacón says the “tremendously strong” faculty appealed to her, particularly the many professors who are leaders in her primary fields of interest: constitutional law, immigration law, and criminal law and procedure. So did the stellar reputation of the school’s students and its public mission.
“The students at Berkeley Law are known around the country for their brilliance and their commitment to social justice,” she says. “And as someone who has taught in the UC system for the last 17 years, I am also inspired by and grateful for the opportunity to continue working within an institution which, when at its best, is committed to discovering and advancing knowledge in service of the public interest.”
Glater, whose work focuses on access to education and the effects of student debt, says, “This is a storied institution and there are many people there who care about the same issues that interest me, around inequality in general and equity in educational opportunity in particular. There is also the expanding focus on consumer law, which is implicated in student lending.”
Chacón and Glater, who are married, come to Berkeley from UCLA Law. Both previously taught at the UC Irvine School of Law. This year, Chacón will teach Constitutional Law; Glater will teach Criminal Law.
They join a faculty that has stocked up on top scholars in recent years, with nearly two dozen hires since 2017.
“I am thrilled that Jennifer Chacón and Jonathan Glater will be joining the Berkeley Law faculty on July 1,” Dean Erwin Chemerinsky says. “Each is an outstanding teacher, scholar, and colleague. I know that our students will adore them and that they will continue to be enormously influential, especially in their respective primary fields of immigration law and education law.”
Hitting the ground running
Both say they’re raring to tap into the rich vein of intellectual life at the law school and around the world-famous UC Berkeley campus. Chacón says she’s especially excited about the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, where she has been a visiting scholar, and the Center for the Study of Law and Society (CSLS), with its broad array of events and programs.
“I’m also eager to collaborate with scholars across campus, including through Berkeley’s Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative,” she says. “And I can’t wait to meet the students at Berkeley Law.”
For his part, Glater is eager to work with CSLS and the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice, which is just three years old but making a major impact. He joins a growing group of scholars researching the connections between debt, regulation, and inequality, including center Executive Director Ted Mermin ’96 and Professors Abbye Atkinson, Prasad Krishnamurthy, Manisha Padi, and Abhay Aneja.
Glater says he expects his new colleagues will challenge his ideas and perspectives, as will the students, who have prompted some of his most fruitful past research. And he’s champing at the bit to get into the classroom this fall after the long pandemic-induced shift to remote learning.
“I am very much looking forward to discussions with students in-person, in classrooms,” Glater says. “I am very much looking forward to discussions with my new colleagues in-person at Caffe Strada. I am very much looking forward to being able to see, rather than having to guess, whether an attempt at humor has generated a smile. I am very much looking forward to gatherings in person and unmasked to share meals, taking advantage of the food options in Berkeley and Oakland.”
Chacón earned her A.B. at Stanford University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. She clerked for Judge Sidney Thomas on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before spending four years as an associate of the New York law firm of Davis Polk and Wardwell. She began her law teaching career at UC Davis before moving to Irvine, where Chemerinsky was the founding dean.
“He was tremendously supportive of the teaching and research efforts of the entire faculty there, so I know that I will continue to enjoy that kind of support at Berkeley,” she says.
Glater holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College and a J.D. and master’s degree in international relations from Yale. Before moving into academia, he worked in private practice in Argentina and New York City and was a reporter for The New York Times for almost a decade.
His journalism experience drives him to put a premium on writing.
“I am up front with my students about that,” Glater says. “I also strive to make my own writing clear — often the concepts and the problems addressed by legal scholarship are complex and arcane, so explaining them well takes a considerable effort.”
For Chacón, who moved to the Bay Area from her Texas hometown 30 years ago, returning to the place where she fell in love with California is like coming home. She and Glater are both exhilarated about their new roles.
“Every year I teach, I become more aware of all the things I don’t know,” Chacón says. “I love this job because it is an opportunity to learn every day, from people from all walks of life, through research, teaching, and conversations — both on and off campus.
“I am excited to begin the next chapter of my academic career in a new home, and to keep those conversations going.”