Ruth Chance was the only woman in her Boalt Hall class of 1931. That, alone, is an accomplishment. But Chance went on to do much more. A social commentator, historian, sociologist, and social justice crusader, Chance worked tirelessly on behalf of children and youth against poverty, racism, and class discrimination.
This beloved lecture series honors Chance by inviting social justice practitioners to Berkeley Law to discuss current issues and cases with students. At these gatherings, we break bread and brainstorm about community law practice, private practice in the public interest, access to health care, the digital divide, international human rights, criminal justice, reproductive justice, children’s advocacy, social entrepreneurism, and so much more.
This speaker series has been endowed through a grant from the Rosenberg Foundation.
Video Catalog by Academic Year
Ramón Arias, Executive Director, Bay Area Legal Aid; and John O’Toole ’74, Director, National Center for Youth Law
From Theory to Reality: Memories and Advice From a Couple of Social Justice Veterans
Description: Ramon Arias (Executive Director of Bay Area Legal Aid) and John O’Toole ’74 (Director of National Center of Youth Law) share their knowledge, experience, and advice of over 30 years with current law students and those interested in social justice. Arias and O’Toole discuss changes within social justice work throughout their careers.
Justice Albie Sachs (ret.), Constitutional Court of South Africa
“50 Years with Mandela”
Description: Join the Henderson Center for an extraordinary talk with South African Freedom Fighter, Justice Albie Sachs. His career in human rights activism started at the age of seventeen, when as a second year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. In 1966 he went into exile. After spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England he worked for a further eleven years in Mozambique as law professor and legal researcher. In 1988 he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of an eye. During the 1980s working closely with Oliver Tambo, leader of the ANC in exile. After recovering from the bomb he devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990 he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994, he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court.
Adam Murray ’98, Executive Director, Inner City Law Center (Los Angeles, CA)
From Corporate Lawyer to Skid Row: One Lawyer’s Journey
Description: An expert on both housing and homelessness, Adam Murray has developed and promoted innovative public policies that reduce homelessness and lead to safe, healthy and affordable housing. Recognized nationally as a leader in homelessness issues, Murray the Executive Director of Inner City Law Center (ICLC) has led in developing effective programs, including groundbreaking programs that meet the legal needs of homeless veterans in Los Angeles. Murray received a B.A. In International Relations from Pomona College, an M.A. In Economics from Claremont Graduate University, and a J.D. from University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law.
Veena Dubal ’06, Ph.D. candidate, Jurisprudence and Social Policy, UC Berkeley; Graduate Fellow, Center for Research on Social Change, UC Berkeley
Putting the ‘Community’ back in Community Policing in the Post 9/11 Context: A Case Study of Lawyers Using Local Government to Resist FBI Profiling and Surveillance
Description: This lecture addresses the advocacy of Bay Area civil rights attorneys working alongside grassroots partners to stop the use of local resources for national initiatives that unfairly target communities based on race, religion, and country of origin. Working with South Asian, Arab, and Muslim American communities, community lawyers have built strong coalitions and addressed federal profiling initiatives through an appeal to local governments’ commitment to community policing. While federal litigation against problematic national security initiatives has too often been disappointing, strong community solidarity and activism have paved the path to successful legal resistance.
Sponsor(s): Asian American Law Journal, South Asian Law Students Association, Men of Color Alliance, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, and Women of Color Collective
Eva Paterson ’75, Co-founder and President, Equal Justice Society
Trayvon Martin: Exiles in Our Own Land
Description: Civil rights attorney Eva Jefferson Paterson is co-founder and President of the Equal Justice Society, a national strategy group focused on reclaiming the 14th Amendment and its Constitutional safeguards against discrimination. Paterson has received numerous awards, including the Fay Stender Award from the California Women Lawyers, Woman of the Year from the Black Leadership Forum, the Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU of Northern California, and the Alumni Award of Merit from Northwestern University. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she received her B.A. in political science, and U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law.
Sponsor(s): Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy, Women of Color Collective, Men of Color Alliance, and Law Students of African Descent
Sujatha Baliga, Esq., Director, Restorative Justice Project, National Council on Crime and Delinquency
Law’s Middle Way: Mindfulness and Restorative Justice
Description: Sujatha Baliga, a former criminal defense attorney and now Director of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Restorative Justice Project, will discuss the value of mindfulness in her work, the parallel paradigm shifts invited by the practices of mindfulness and restorative justice, and the place of forgiveness in restorative processes. She has taught restorative justice at both the colleges and law school levels, offers lectures and training in a number of restorative practices, and has served as a consultant to the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.
Sponsor(s): Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law; Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice
Jennifer Chacon, Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law
Arizona v. United States, 567 U. S. (2012): The Political Forces that Shaped the US Supreme Court Decision
Description: After Arizona enacted an unprecedented immigration statute (SB 1070), several civil liberties organizations and the US government sued to block its enforcement, calling it unconstitutional because it encroached on the federal government’s exclusive authority over immigration and would result in widespread racial profiling. The Supreme Court struck down and upheld portions of the law. Those that it upheld offer unprecedented affirmation for state and local participation in immigration enforcement. In her talk, Professor Chacón will discuss the political forces that influenced the Court’s novel understanding of the role of sub-federal actors in immigration enforcement.
Adante Pointer, Civil Rights Attorney, Law Offices of John L. Burris
Description: Named one of the Nation’s 40 Best Lawyers under 40 by the National Bar Association, Adante D. Pointer will describe his journey from student to legal advocate to community steward of justice. “My path was not straight forward but was filled with many fits and spurts along with an occasional diversion and many potholes. Nevertheless, through academic, personal and professional challenges, I found my voice in the law and now use that voice to give voice to the voiceless and just perhaps hope to the hopeless!” Mr. Pointer is a civil rights attorney and criminal defense lawyer with the nationally renown Law Offices of John L. Burris. He specializes in representing victims of police abuse. He also practices criminal defense law. Among his cases was his participation in the successful civil defense of NBA star Gary Payton and NFL star Keyshawn Johnson. While Mr. Pointer has secured millions of dollars for victims of police brutality, unlawful arrest, and excessive tasing, he also takes on cases where the monetary award may be low but the cause is righteous.
Taryn Kiekow, Staff Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
The Legal Fight to Block Pebble Mine, Bristol Bay, Alaska
Description: In this Ruth Chance Lecture, Taryn Kiekow, a staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), discussed Pebble Mine, a proposed mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska, what’s at stake if it is built and the legal fight she is leading to block it. Pebble Mine would become one of the largest (if not the largest) gold and copper mines in the world if built. The area is very remote though, and would require massive amounts of new infrastructure. This would put an end to the traditional Native lifestyles and culture by diverting and blocking Salmon rivers (currently the largest business in the area) and preventing subsistence hunting (the main source of food).
Sponsor(s): Native American Law Students Association (NALSA); Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice
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Robert Rubin, Director of Litigation, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
California Voting Rights Act
Description: Robert Rubin, a civil rights attorney for the past 28 years and the Legal Director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, represents a group of Asian Americans and Latinos who in April 2011, brought a voting rights lawsuit against San Mateo County, the only county in California that elects supervisors by at-large balloting rather than by districts. Mr. Rubin’s lecture is a behind-the-scenes look at the case, which asks a judge to declare the county-wide elections illegal under California law. While Asians Americans and Latinos make up slightly less than 25 percent of San Mateo County’s voting-age population, only one Latino and no Asian Americans have held seats on the five-seat Board of Supervisors since 1995.
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Hon. Lise A. Pearlman (ret.) ’74
People v. Huey Newton and the Election of President Barack Obama
Description: In this Ruth Chance Lecture, attorney, and former judge Lise Pearlman ’74 discussed her book The Sky’s the Limit: People v. Newton, The REAL Trial of the 20th Century? In the book she argues that the death penalty trial of Huey Newton provides the most insight into the American 20th century. Ms. Pearlman contends that had the jury voted for the death penalty, Barack Obama would likely not be President. In 1968, Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton was brought to trial for the murder of an Oakland police officer, following a shoot-out. All the major power struggles based on race, class, gender and ideology were at play. The diverse jury found Newton guilty of involuntary manslaughter, which spared him the penalty of death.
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Daniel Werner, Deputy Legal Director, Southern Poverty Law Center
ChallengingAnti-Immigrant Laws: Lessons from Alabama
Description: Guest Lecturer Dan Werner is a leader in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s campaign to defeat Alabama’s draconian anti-immigrant law. Under the Alabama law, police are allowed to check the immigration status of people they stop and reasonably suspect are in the country unlawfully. Nearly all new contracts between an undocumented immigrant and another person are unenforceable in state court. It is a felony for undocumented immigrants to enter into a “business transaction” with the state of Alabama. Beginning April 1, 2012, employers will be required to use e-verify to determine the immigration status of prospective employees.
Sponsor(s): Berkeley La Raza Law Journal; Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice
Kimberly Papillon, Esq., Senior Education Specialist, California Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts
Neuroscience & Psychology of Decision-making in the Law: Gender and Racial Preferences and Biases
Description: Kimberly Papillon is a nationally recognized expert on the subject of judicial and legal decision-making. She is an attorney and a Senior Education Specialist at the California Judicial Council’s Administrative Office of the Courts in the Education Division. She serves as the statewide Project Manager for fairness education for judges and court personnel in California. She has delivered over 100 lectures nationwide on the implications of neuroscience, psychology and implicit association in the analysis of judicial fairness to multiple audiences including judges and appellate justices throughout California, the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, the D.C. Court of Appeals, national judicial organizations and the California State Bar. In the past several months she has delivered lectures to the Los Angeles and San Francisco County District Attorney’s Offices, the United States Department of Justice, and the judiciaries of Vermont, Washington, Nebraska, and Idaho. She is regular faculty at the National Judicial College. She has been appointed to the National Center for State Courts, National Training Team on Implicit Bias a “think tank” for national judicial education. She has produced documentaries on Neuroscience and Judicial Decision-Making which have received national recognition.
Brad Seligman, Attorney, Impact Fund; and Co-Lead Counsel
Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011)
Description: In this Ruth Chance lecture, Brad Seligman discussed Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a case decided in the Supreme Court’s most recent term. The decision may effectively cut out consumer and employee claims because it restricts the ability to use class action lawsuits. For over 30 years, Brad Seligman has been a civil rights attorney specializing in class action and individual employment and civil rights litigation. He is the founder of public foundation, the Impact Fund, which provides financial and technical assistance and representation for complex public interest litigation. After serving as the organization’s Executive Director for 17 years, Seligman became Senior Counsel in July 2010. Since 1992, the Impact Fund has granted over $5 million to support such litigation. He has successfully litigated over 50 civil rights class actions and countless individual employment cases including wrongful termination actions.
Henderson Hill Executive Director, Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina Inc.
The North Carolina Racial Justice Act and the Georgia Execution of Troy Davis
Description: In this Ruth Chance lecture, Henderson Hill discussed the political and legal organizing that led to North Carolina’s adoption in 2009 of the Racial Justice Act, a law that allows death-row inmates and defendants facing the death penalty to use statistics and other evidence to show that racial bias played a significant factor in either their sentence or in the prosecutors’ decision to pursue the death penalty. Mr. Hill also discussed the impact of the law and will also compare and contrast the death penalty environment in North Carolina versus Georgia, where Troy Davis was executed on September 21, 2011, despite serious doubts among many about his guilt.
Kafi D. Blumenfield, President and CEO, Liberty Hill Foundation
Change. Not Charity: Investing in Community Leaders at the Frontlines of Change
Description: Kafi D. Blumenfield is the President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation, one of the nation’s most admired social change foundations. Since joining Liberty Hill in 2004, she has focused on expanding Liberty Hill’s impact by strengthening the Foundation’s investment in community leaders on the frontlines of change. During her tenure, Ms. Blumenfield has overseen several critical aspects of the Foundation’s work in Los Angeles including the launch of the Wally Marks Leadership Institute for Change, an intensive on-the-job training for local community organizers; initiatives to increase donor diversity in social justice philanthropy including Change L.A., which is building millennial-generation giving; and a strategic refocusing of Liberty Hill’s nearly $5 million annual grant investments.
Michael Bien, Managing Partner, Rosen, Bien & Galvan LLP, and Co-Lead Counsel
Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011)
Description: Michael W. Bien is co-lead counsel in the three-judge court proceeding initiated in 2006 to impose a population cap on the California prison system, the nation’s largest correctional system. The case resulted in an August 2009 Order requiring the prison system to reduce overcrowding within two years to 137.5% of design capacity—a reduction in population of approximately 30-40,000 prisoners. The case went on direct appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which affirmed in a 5-4 decision on May 23, 2011.
Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director & Founder, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates
Predatory and Unfair Mortgage Lending: What Happened and Will the Abuses Continue
Description: Federal and state court dockets are overflowing with predatory lending and unfair mortgage lending cases. The abusive practices have deprived hundreds of thousands of Americans of their homes. Unscrupulous lawyers have also been implicated in this under-recognized social justice issue. Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director and a founder of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), will discuss some of the abusive mortgage lending practices that have severely damaged the United States economy. She will also discuss some of the changes to federal laws and some proposed regulations that may serve to curb some abusive practices, and the fair housing implications of these changes.
Sponsor(s): Consumer Advocacy and Protection Society (CAPS) at Berkeley Law