With the help of a generous donation from renowned litigator Elizabeth Cabraser ’78, Berkeley Law launched the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice in the Spring of 2018. The Center aims to make the school a global leader in the study, research, and practice of consumer law, and will deliver research and analysis to fuel meaningful policy change at the state and federal levels.
The Center will produce white papers, file amicus briefs in consumer cases nationwide, advise legislatures and regulatory agencies on behalf of low-income consumers, and increase student opportunities for hands-on experience in consumer policy.
The Center will co-host the United States’s only conference of consumer law clinics, convene the first conference of consumer law scholars, and bring together practitioners, advocates, academics, and students for speaker series, workshops, and collaborative projects. Students can gain litigation experience through partnerships with public agencies, and Berkeley Law will offer scholarships to prospective and active students who demonstrate interest in consumer law.
The Center is led by Ted Mermin, who teaches Consumer Protection Law at Berkeley. Mermin helped create the East Bay Community Law Center’s Consumer Justice Clinic, where students helped pass the California Fair Debt Buying Practices Act (2013) and follow-up state bills on debt collection and wage garnishment. Students also established the Consumer Advocacy and Protection Society (CAPS) and the Consumer Rights Workshop, and the school now has a mentoring program with graduates in the field.
The center will help define the sometimes hazy parameters of consumer law—which can include everything from debt collection abuse and inflated drug prices to false advertising and subprime auto lending—and identify issues demanding attention. As the former Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, put it: “The creative energy and practical efforts of this center will help improve the economic lives of all Americans. It is needed and welcomed by all who champion the cause of consumers.”