In Brief

Nuggets from the School Community
Samantha Murray, Claudia Polsky, Shona Armstrong
CELEBRATING: Environmental Law Clinic Director Claudia Polsky ’96 (center) with Samantha Murray ’21 (left) and Shona Armstrong ’97 at Ecology Law Quarterly’s 50th anniversary gala in April. Photo by Jim Block

A Transformative Award

The keystones of Berkeley Law’s No. 1-ranked environmental law program will soon open even more new doors, thanks to a $5 million cy pres award.

The distribution stems from class actions filed after 2015’s “dieselgate” exposed how Volkswagen installed illegal “defeat devices” in roughly 11 million vehicles to cheat emissions tests. The company and three of its subsidiaries reached a settlement in May, capping one of the costliest corporate scandals in history.

​​The devices enabled Volkswagen’s cars — certified as conforming to European Union and U.S. pollution standards — to emit up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of nitrogen dioxide, which has been linked to respiratory diseases and premature death.

Environmental Law Clinic Director Claudia Polsky ’96 and former Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) Director Jordan Diamond ’08 submitted a joint proposal to plaintiff-side firm Lieff Cabraser for a distribution from the cy pres fund generated in one of the class actions. In May, a U.S. district court approved the proposal in full.

“This will be a tremendous boost for our work,” says Professor Daniel Farber, CLEE’s faculty director. “There’s a $1 million project to expand electric vehicle access to the disadvantaged, which will address a major equity issue. It will also serve as a model for building issues of social justice into our work.”

The funds will help initiate other new projects and strengthen existing ones, build staffing in areas that serve racial justice, and bolster administrative support for the school’s overall environmental law program. Also, $500,000 will help support community-based organizations that collaborate with the clinic and center or retain the clinic to assist with costly litigation involving expert witnesses, depositions, and travel.

Some funded areas are tightly linked to the class actions’ subject matter, namely projects aimed at reducing vehicular emissions of conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases.

“Around this nucleus, we built otherwise difficult-to-fund proposal elements with a more attenuated connection to the litigation that are designed to increase capacity … and to share the wealth with our community-based partners,” Polsky says. — Andrew Cohen

Presumed Guilty book cover

Book of the Year

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s 2021 book, Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights, won the best book award from the American Society of Legal Writers/Scribes. The organization has annually honored the top legal scholarship work since 1961.

Presumed Guilty argues that the Supreme Court’s rulings over the last half-century have enabled racist policing and sanctioned law enforcement excesses. The book presents a groundbreaking history of judicial failure fueled by an elaborate body of doctrines that allow the police and the courts to believe that people — especially people of color — are guilty before being charged.

America’s most-cited constitutional law scholar, Chemerinsky has litigated cases dealing with police misconduct for decades. Examining seminal Supreme Court cases and justices, he demonstrates how the Court has repeatedly declined to impose constitutional checks on police while deliberately gutting remedies to challenge police misconduct.​

International Alliance

Thanks to a new international partnership, 100 practicing lawyers from Ukraine are taking Berkeley Law’s Corporate Finance Fundamentals course for free. With Russia’s invasion creating major instability, participants welcomed the opportunity.

“This will ultimately assist the soonest recovery of our economy,” says mergers and acquisitions lawyer Vitalii Mainarovych. “The course contributes to the overall understanding of how corporate finance works in a very user-friendly way, and such corporate finance will increase the flow of capital and foreign investments into Ukraine.”

Providing an online certificate program and knowledge platform for lawyers and other non-financial professionals, the Executive Education course normally costs $1,000. Delivered through online lectures and interviews, it conveys how to apply financial information analysis and corporate valuation in business settings and throughout legal practice. There are roughly 20 hours of content and a 10-week recommended schedule, but participants have up to a year to complete the requirements and earn the certificate.

Berkeley Law Professor Robert Bartlett heard from a colleague that some Ukrainian lawyers had asked about online options while their country and careers were suffering from the Russian invasion. He brought the idea to Berkeley Law Assistant Dean for Executive Education and Revenue Generation Adam Sterling ’13, who then connected with Oleksandr Akymenko at Ukrainian Global University and Artem Shaipov, a lawyer and development professional with close ties to the Ukrainian Bar Association.

“As a public university, access to education is a key priority,” Sterling says. “The work of these 100 Ukrainian attorneys has been disrupted by the war. This is a small gesture, but one we’re grateful to be able to make.”

Course participant Oleksandr Lysenko, who works as a corporate governance consultant, says, “Ukraine’s fight is also for the civilized world. In this regard, worldwide consolidation and international partnerships like this are absolutely crucial.” — Andrew Cohen

Oleksandr Lysenko
ADDING VALUE: Ukrainian lawyer Oleksandr Lysenko calls the course “well-designed” and says it provides “important practical tools.”

Sensational Summers

Over the summer, Berkeley Law’s standout students did intriguing work across the legal landscape. Here are just a few examples:

Yuhan Wu ’24 externed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s Patent Program. She is active with the school’s Women in Tech Law group (co-president), Berkeley Technology Law Journal (articles editor), Berkeley Business Law Journal (senior publishing editor), and Food Justice Project (co-director of client services).

“I gained substantial understanding of the patent system and what litigation work is like, which helps me narrow down the practice areas I want to pursue,” Wu says.

George Abunaw ’24 worked as an associate doing sports immigration work at Maiorova Law. A former Boston University soccer team captain, he works with UC Berkeley’s Graduate Assembly (law school representative), the Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law (social media editor), and Law Students of African Descent (public relations chair).

“As a lover of sports and a former collegiate athlete who is now a law student, it has been incredible to experience sports from a legal perspective,” Abunaw says.

Billy Bradley ’24 worked with Legal Services Alabama as a Rural Summer Legal Corps intern. A first-generation professional student, he holds leadership positions at five Berkeley Law organizations or journals.

“I’ve been able to research several substantive topics across the civil law sphere,” says Bradley, who grew up near the Florida-Alabama border. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others in the same difficult situations I saw growing up.”

Paloma Palmer ’24 was a legal intern at the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands. A former U.S. Department of Defense Boren Scholar, she is the Berkeley Journal of International Law’s associate editor and a research assistant to Professor David Oppenheimer.

“My assignments were phenomenal opportunities to learn more about the Yugoslav conflict, international criminal justice, and how to ‘think like a prosecutor,’” Palmer says. — Andrew Cohen

2LS Yuhan Wu and George Abunaw
Billy Bradley and Paloma Palmer
FOUR SCORE: (Clockwise from top left) 2Ls Yuhan Wu, George Abunaw, Billy Bradley, and Paloma Palmer. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University (Abunaw)
Hacker in hoodie with digital mask

Combating Cyber War Crimes

In March, our Human Rights Center made a submission to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the potential for charging Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure as war crimes. If accepted, it would mark the first cyber war crimes charge filed at the court.

The submission focused on attacks against Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 and 2016 — which caused blackouts that impacted hundreds of thousands of people — and took place in the context of fighting in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine since 2014. Since then, the center has continued to document and investigate hostilities in the cyber domain between Russia and Ukraine.

The center seeks to broaden the court’s investigation “to include the cyber domain in addition to traditional domains of warfare — land, air, maritime, and space — given the Russian Federation’s history of hostile cyber activities in Ukraine.” It asserts that an ICC investigation into cyber war crimes would not only deter states from targeting civilian critical infrastructure, but could set important legal precedent for the application of international law in cyberspace.

The submission further notes that “State-sponsored cyber attacks have escalated in the shadows,” with no mechanisms for accountability. — Andrew Cohen

Prof. Melissa Murray congratulating Herma Hill Kay
HER MENTOR: Professor Melissa Murray congratulates Herma Hill Kay, who died in 2017, at a reception for Kay’s 2015 AALS Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Rachel DeLetto

Fortifying the Scholarly Community

Even amid the challenges of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, Berkeley Law remains a busy hub for thought-provoking lectures and symposia. Some highlights from the 2021-22 academic year:
Stefan A. Riesenfeld ’37 Symposium, “Big Money, Big Enforcement: New Frontiers in Global Antitrust Regulation.” Keynote speaker and Riesenfeld Award winner: Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition and executive vice president of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age.
Herma Hill Kay Memorial Lecture, “Race-ing Roe: Reproductive Justice, Racial Justice, and the Battle for Roe v. Wade.” Speaker: Melissa Murray, New York University law professor and faculty director of its Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network.
Robert A. Kagan Lecture in Law and Regulation, “Race-ing Roe: Robert A. Kagan Lecture in Law and Regulation, “Confronting Deep Uncertainty in Regulatory Science: Contaminated Lettuce and the Elusive Quest for Food Safety.” Speaker: Timothy Lytton, Georgia State University law professor and associate dean for research and faculty development. Discussants: Edward Rubin, Vanderbilt University law and political science professor; David Vogel, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and Political Science Department professor emeritus.
Irving Tragen Lecture on Comparative Law, “Metacanons: Comparative Textualism at SCOTUS and in Islamic Law.” Speaker: Intisar Rabb, Harvard University professor of law and history and director of the school’s Program in Islamic Law.
Thomas M. Jorde Symposium, “The Third Founding: The Rise of Multiracial Democracy and the Authoritarian Reaction Against It.” Speaker: Steven Levitsky, Harvard University professor of Latin American Studies and Government and director of its David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Discussants: University of Texas Law School Professor Richard Albert; University of Wisconsin Law School Professor Miriam Seifter; University of Chicago Law Professor Tom Ginsburg.
Keep up with Berkeley Law’s robust intellectual life from anywhere in the world at our new web hub: or on our YouTube channel:

Now Deer This

You never know what you’ll find at Berkeley Law. One night in June, LL.M. student Felix Aguettant came across this unexpected visitor (see right).

We posted the photo on Instagram, held a caption contest, selected four entries for people to choose from, and now the buck stops here. The winning caption — with an impressive 40% of the vote — came from 3L Colton Walker: “Voir Deer.”

The other witty finalists: “Berkeley Law Is Where to Go for the Bucks”, “What? Like It’s Hard?”, and “SCOTUS Term in Review: What the Buck.”

Thanks to Felix for capturing the moment, to everyone who voted, and to our deer friend for providing a great photo-op.

Young deer on Berkeley campus
Photo by Felix Aguettant LL.M. ’23

In the SCOTUS Fab Four

Anya Ku ’20 was one of four people selected to the prestigious U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Program for the 2022-23 term in Washington, D.C.

The program enables mid-career professionals, recent law school graduates, and doctoral degree holders from law and political science fields to broaden their understanding of the judicial system through exposure to federal court administration. Ku is assigned to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the judicial branch’s main support entity.

Beyond their primary responsibilities, fellows learn about upcoming cases at a Supreme Court preview conference, get gallery seating at oral argument and non-argument sessions, and attend luncheon seminars featuring high-level speakers, meetings with jurists and senior judicial administrators, and Supreme Court Historical Society events.

Fellows produce a work of scholarship on a topic relevant to their agency placement. They present their partial draft at a winter research workshop at the Supreme Court, and later present their paper to a group of federal judges.

Anya Ku '20
PLUM POSITION: Anya Ku ’20 parlayed leadership roles at Berkeley Law and a judicial clerkship into a coveted fellowship with the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
“I would not be here without the support of Berkeley Law’s Career Development Office, professors, and alumni who supported me through the application process,” says Ku, who recently clerked for U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in the Northern District of California. “I look forward to developing the skills and passions I learned at Berkeley Law in my work with the Administrative Office.”

Co-president of her 3L class and La Alianza Law Students Association, Ku received the school’s Francine Diaz Memorial Award for her commitment to social justice for women of color. Co-chair of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Minority Bar Coalition, she is also an accomplished photographer who had an exhibit at Berkeley Law (the Womxn of Color Collective Portrait Project) and co-authored a narrative cookbook called Flavors of Oakland. — Andrew Cohen

Dana Yeo '21

Tech Help for Defendants

Recent alumna Dana Yeo ’21 has launched PDQuery, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which connects lawyers representing indigent criminal defendants with civic-minded graduate students and young professionals in STEM. The purpose of the organization is to improve math and science literacy in the courtroom while also making the criminal justice system more accessible to non-lawyers.

“Overworked public defenders are asked to evaluate the credibility of evidence beyond their legal expertise,” Yeo says. “We provide them with more than generalized training in DNA or cell phone evidence. We match them with actual people who can help answer specific questions which are critical to their legal strategy. We help attorneys understand what the evidence presented against their client says, and — perhaps more importantly — what that evidence does not say.”

PDQuery’s current slate of volunteers includes medical students, computer scientists, and software engineers scattered across Silicon Valley. These volunteers review medical records, conduct statistical analyses, and provide academic citations to lawyers in need of technical support.

The organization is supported by two Berkeley Law professors: Andrea Roth, who sits on the board of directors, and Rebecca Wexler, who serves as an advisor.

For her day job, Yeo works as a corporate associate in Cooley’s San Francisco office. She can be contacted at — Andrew Cohen

Much to Celebrate

On October 14, Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic will hold a reception for its alumni at the Women’s Faculty Club. The event celebrates the 20th anniversary of the clinic — one of several notable recent anniversaries within the law school community (see Door Opener).

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky will give remarks, and the clinic will herald some of its foundational donors. The next day, there will be a picnic in Tilden Regional Park for clinic alums and their families.

Our next Transcript issue will highlight the celebration, explore the clinic’s major impact within Berkeley Law and nationally, and profile some of its former students who are now engaged in pathbreaking work.

Through individual representation and impact litigation, clinic faculty and students have advocated on behalf of death-sentenced clients in 10 states. A companion seminar engages students in substantive capital punishment law, investigation skills, and death penalty litigation fundamentals.

The clinic has filed several amicus curiae briefs in both U.S. and California Supreme Court cases involving challenges to discriminatory jury selection, race discrimination in the administration of the death penalty, and execution methods.

It also recently produced reports on racial bias in the exercise of peremptory challenges in jury selection in California (helping to propel legislative reform) and Kansas.

Roxanna Altholz '99 and Ty Alper
LEADING ROLES: Roxanna Altholz ’99 and Ty Alper now co-direct the Clinical Program. Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

Full Steam Ahead

After shepherding Berkeley Law’s Clinical Program through two years of a global pandemic, International Human Rights Law Clinic Co-Director Laurel E. Fletcher has handed the baton to fellow Co-Director Roxanna Altholz ’99 and Death Penalty Clinic Co-Director Ty Alper.

The surging program — which currently houses six in-house and eight community-based clinics — plans to add three more in-house clinics and four professors over the next five years.

“Clinics used to be something law students would discover,” Altholz says. “Now, they’re the reason why many students come to law school. There’s no better place to learn lawyering skills.”

Alper, who joined Berkeley Law with Altholz in 2005, sees clinics especially appealing to students in today’s political climate.

“They’re questioning whether the institutions they believed in can actually work to protect democracy and justice,” he says. “We offer an opportunity for students to see that this conservative institution of the law can actually be used in radical ways to disrupt entrenched patterns of oppression and racism.”

When Fletcher took over in the summer of 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 and nationwide protests following George Floyd’s murder, she worried that students would lack the time and energy to enroll in the rigorous program, which was entirely remote. Instead, she found demand only increased.

“When the need is greatest the students rise to the occasion — that’s the Berkeley brand,” says Fletcher, a faculty member since 1998. “Some of the best work I’ve seen from students came during the pandemic.” — Sarah Weld

Fighting Fast Fashion

Berkeley Law 3L Hoda Katebi was featured in a lengthy New York Times Q&A about her efforts to dismantle the global garment industry and its fast-fashion sweatshops. An activist, writer, and speaker, Katebi in 2019 launched Blue Tin Production, a Chicago clothing cooperative run by working-class women of color.

“Growing up in Oklahoma, wearing the hijab, I had to come to terms with being visibly Muslim,” Katebi, an Iranian American, told the Times. “People would call me a terrorist, or pretend to run me over.”

While some activists strive to increase garment workers’ wages, Katebi said she wants to end the system “that puts workers in these positions to begin with.” She described how the fast fashion system “requires violence in order to function,” asserting that “assaults on workers by managers are common, on top of the general subjugation and enforced poverty that give people little choice but to do this work.”

Featured in major media outlets such as Vogue and the BBC, Katebi also noted in the Q&A how the fashion industry fuels climate change, contributing more greenhouse gases than all maritime shipping and air travel combined.

“One in six people in the world works in the fashion industry,” she said. “No one knows this because the majority of them are working-class women of color. In Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, factories will intentionally hire undocumented workers and then not pay them for months. When the workers get upset, management calls ICE and has a self-reported raid of their own factory. Some of our former Blue Tin members have gone through that process.” — Andrew Cohen

Hoda Katebi '23
CLOTHING CAUSE: Hoda Katebi ’23 has become a leading voice in the movement against fashion industry exploitation. Photo by Aubrey Trinnaman for The New York Times
Psychedelic orange podcast logo

Listen In

Our robust stable of podcasts continues to thrive, bringing the expertise and insights of Berkeley Law faculty and students to the world. Here are some highlights of recent episodes:

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s “More Just” podcast wrapped up its first season with timely episodes on Critical Race Theory, the future of abortion rights in the post-Roe v. Wade era, and free speech on campus. In a bonus episode, Chemerinsky breaks down the U.S. Supreme Court’s sweeping term with veteran journalist Joan Biskupic.

On “The California Law Review Podcast,” Professor Khiara M. Bridges discusses her recent article, “The Dysgenic State: Environmental Injustice and Disability-Selective Abortion Bans,” which chronicles how communities of color are exposed to environmental toxins that harm fetal health while being forced to give birth to health-impaired fetuses.

“Borderlines,” hosted by Professor Katerina Linos, continues to explore international law and human rights, including an episode with Tom Ginsburg of the University of Chicago discussing his recent book, Democracies and International Law.

“Do You Even Have a Tech Degree?” from the Berkeley Technology Law Journal looks at the most pressing issues in technology. Recent episodes include Professor Molly Van Houweling on intellectual property in the Metaverse and an up-close look at the California Privacy Protection Agency featuring its first chair: Professor Jennifer Urban ’00. — Gwyneth K. Shaw

Megan Graham and Jennifer Sun '23 in Minneapolis
COURTING CHANGE: Samuelson Clinic Supervising Attorney Megan Graham (left) and student Jennifer Sun ’23 in Minneapolis. Photo by Isabella Salomão Nascimento

North Star

Law students rarely get to argue in federal court. But after months of careful preparation, that’s where Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic student Jennifer Sun ’23 found herself last spring.

On behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Sun and clinic Supervising Attorney Megan Graham argued in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota that the public has the right to access government requests for electronic surveillance records and court orders resulting from those requests.

“An incredible learning experience,” says Sun, whose prep work included simulations with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Professor Orin Kerr. “A court hearing is live and active. You’re anticipating and trying to shape the argument as it’s proceeding.”

The clinic filed suit in December 2020, asking the court to change its sealing practices for certain types of search warrant materials and surveillance orders — and arguing that the First Amendment and common law require public access to them.

Currently, the government can compel third parties like Google and Facebook to disclose the contents of or information about users’ communications, such as emails, phone records, and location data. But documents related to government requests for court orders and warrants are often hidden from public view.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the top-notch legal representation that the clinic, and Megan and Jen in particular, have provided in this important case,” says Reporters Committee Legal Director Katie Townsend.

The Samuelson Clinic offers oral advocacy opportunities as frequently as possible to students, who have testified before the Copyright Office and advocated before the Oakland City Council.

“The heart of Berkeley’s emphasis on experiential education is putting students into the role of a lawyer,” says clinic Director Catherine Crump, co-counsel in the case. “There is nothing quite like having students stand up and advocate before decision-makers.” — Sarah Weld

Louise Bedsworth and Christina Chung
LOOKING AHEAD: Louise Bedsworth (left) and Christina Chung are new executive directors of the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment and the Center for Law and Work, respectively. Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small (Bedsworth)

Center Stage

Two of our powerhouse research centers ushered in new executive directors this spring, both with blockbuster credentials and a long history of public interest work in California.

Louise Bedsworth leads the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) after joining last year as director of its Land Use Program and senior advisor to its California-China Climate Institute. Bedsworth spent almost a decade working for the state, as executive director of the Strategic Growth Council and deputy director of the Office of Planning and Research under then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

“We had other very strong candidates,” says Professor Daniel Farber, CLEE’s faculty director, “but Louise stood out for the range of the strengths that she’ll bring to the job.”

As the climate crisis grows more urgent, Bedsworth is thrilled to lead the center.

“CLEE has built a tremendous reputation as a source for thoughtful and practical solutions for complex environmental challenges,” she says. “I’m excited to build on this strong foundation.”

Christina Chung, an advocate for low-wage workers for more than 20 years, joined the Center for Law and Work as its founding executive director. The center was launched by Professors Catherine Fisk ’86, Catherine Albiston ’93, and Lauren Edelman ’86 in late 2020.

“She knows an extraordinary amount about the wide range of California labor laws and the state’s legislative and administrative process,” Fisk says. “And she knows a huge number and array of lawyers and community activists in California and nationally.”

A seasoned lawyer appointed to state positions by Brown and Gov. Gavin Newsom, Chung was a top aide to the state’s labor secretary and labor commissioner. She shepherded the creation of the SEED program, which has granted about $30 million to help build worker cooperatives and socially responsible small businesses in undocumented and limited English proficient communities.

“What we do in this state has such a tremendous impact nationally,” Chung says. “I’m really excited to examine what we’ve accomplished here and what we’ve failed to do or haven’t conceived of yet, and to use this as a springboard to develop model economic justice policies.” — Gwyneth K. Shaw

Nahlee Lin '22
UNDAUNTED: Nahlee Lin ’22 played a pivotal role in constructing the Structural Racism Remedies Repository. Photo by Anya Ku ’20

Addressing Racism, Advancing Equity

Problems stemming from institutionalized racism often seem multi-layered, far-reaching, and hard to contextualize — let alone mitigate. But the Structural Racism Remedies Repository, a collaborative effort steered by UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute, provides a new set of policy-based recommendations for advancing racial equity.

The project reviewed 25 scholarly books, 27 reports, several web-based organizational policy platforms, and virtually the entire range of material connected to racial equity from the 2020 presidential campaigns. Nahlee Lin ’22 — a recent research assistant with Institute Director and Berkeley Law Professor john a. powell — played a key role in pushing the project forward.

“She tracked down numerous recommendations contained in books, journal articles, and other sources,” says Stephen Menendian, the institute’s director of research. “Nahlee did a phenomenal job helping review the source materials and inputting the recommendations.”

The repository, which will be continually updated, focuses on eight main areas: police reform and the use of force, homeownership subsidies, rental assistance, baby bonds and other wealth-building tools, strengthening community-based and Black-owned financial institutions, universal pre-K, ending zero-tolerance school disciplinary policies, and forgiving student debt.

Additional policy areas discussed include reparations, vocational job training and community college, measures to strengthen voting rights, and bail reform.

Lin and other researchers identified major reform challenges to addressing structural racism, such as limited budgets, ideological and political opposition, legal and constitutional limitations on explicitly including race in policymaking, and resistance to policy implementation.

“I believed this repository could be a useful resource for a wide range of groups … who are working towards racial justice,” Lin says. “It consolidates expert policy recommendations in a way that’s accessible and that can minimize ‘reinventing the wheel.’” — Andrew Cohen