Critical Race Studies Twentieth Anniversary Symposium and Celebration

Rebellious Lawyering - Reverberations From One Chicano's Radical Vision
Honoring Gerald P. López

March 12-13, 2020
UCLA School of Law

Register for the CRS symposium

Symposium Program

NOTE: UCLA School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. By attending this event, you can earn up to 9.75 hours of MCLE credit, including 1.5 hours of Elimination of Bias credit.

Thursday March 12, 2020

5:30pm – 6:15pm


6:15pm – 6:30pm


Laura E. Gόmez, Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

6:30pm – 8:30pm

Plenary Roundtable: One Hell of a Rebellious Ride – The Past, Present, and Future of Rebellious Lawyering

Moderator: Shauna Marshall, Honorable Raymond L. Sullivan Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco

Martha L. Gómez, Senior Staff Counsel, CA Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing
Gina Hong, Attorney, LA Center for Community Law & Action, UCLA Law '18
Dale Minami, Senior Counsel, Minami Tamaki LLP
Sunita Patel, Assistant Professor of Law, Faculty Director, UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic, UCLA School of Law

Nearly 30 years ago, Gerald P. López published Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano's Vision of Progressive Law Practice. The book's path-breaking ideas have reverberated ever since, across the globe, in legal and university-wide education, and in terms of how we feel and think about lawyers' roles in fighting subordination. We convene our conference with reflections from panelists with distinctive vantage points on rebellious lawyering. Some dove into practice in the early 1970s with their own evolving sense of how best to help bring about fundamental change. Others helped develop and implement rebellious practices, community trainings, and law school curricula. Still others, in more recent years, have brought to life the rebellious vision in contrasting settings, overcoming opposition to their way of practicing and making the most of (and now and then – creating) valuable opportunities.

Note: You may earn 2.0 hours of general MCLE credit for attending this plenary.

Friday March 13, 2020

8:30am – 9:00am

Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:15am – 9:30am


Jerry Kang, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor of Law, Professor of Asian American Studies (by courtesy), Korea Times – Hankook Ilbo Chair in Korean American Studies and Law, UCLA School of Law

Jennifer Mnookin, Dean, David G. Price and Dallas P. Price Professor of Law, and Faculty Co-Director, PULSE @ UCLA (Program on Understanding Law, Science & Evidence), UCLA School of Law

Jasleen Kohli, Director, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

9:30am – 11:00am

Plenary Roundtable: Beyond Orthodox Lawyering—Tales from the Trenches

Moderator: Colin Cloud Hampson, Partner, Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP

Alina Ball, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, UCLA Law '08
Michelle Tseching Fei, Nurse Home Visitor, Nurse-Family Partnership
Craig B. Futterman, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
Yumari Martínez, Consultant, Annie E. Casey Foundation

The idea of rebellious lawyering challenges the conventional idea of and approach to "representing clients"—what López calls the regnant approach. Instead, he proposes the radical notion that attorneys must roll up their sleeves to work with clients, communities, and movements, drawing on a deep and wide knowledge of past and contemporary knowledge, working to develop alternative ways to frame and address problems, adapting flexibly as the struggle unfolds, and bluntly assessing if collective efforts have proved at all effective in transforming a vital part of life. Our panelists trained and worked with López at UCLA, Stanford, or NYU law schools. Their work spans diverse areas, from tribal law to immigration law, from economic development to police accountability, from nursing and midwifery to working to transform juvenile justice systems. Together with many collaborators, they have been bold in their aspirations, imaginative in their methods, and humble in always realizing there is always so much more to learn in battling subordination and authoritarianism. Tales from trenches we may not know well or perhaps at all.

Note: You may earn 1.5 hours of general MCLE credit for attending this plenary.

11:00am – 11:15am


11:15am – 12:45pm

Plenary Roundtable: Challenges of Contemporary Radical Practice

Moderator: Andrés Dae Keun Kwon, Policy Counsel and Senior Organizer, ACLU Southern California, UCLA Law '16

Jessica Cobb, Director, Director of the Norco College Prison Education Program, UCLA Law '18
Ian Stringham, Executive Director, California Legal Research, UCLA Law '18
Jullian Harris-Calvin, Senior Legal Counsel, The Justice Collaborative, UCLA Law '13
Henna Khan, Staff Attorney, Criminal Defense Practice, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, UCLA Law '13
Ana Graciela Nájera Mendoza, Staff Attorney, ACLU Southern California, UCLA Law '14

"Radical lawyering…somehow has to be anchored in the world we're trying to change. Built from the ground up. Made a part of what my relatives, friends, and allies do in rebelling against all that has oppressed us and our ancestors, all that seems now still likely to subordinate our descendants. Informed by how we cope and fight and by how we laugh at ourselves. Mindful of how we sometimes get hemmed in and corrupted and deluded by big institutions and tiny habits. Aware of how we sometimes convert apparently insignificant opportunities into important advantages, defiantly making strengths of our weaknesses." – Gerald P. López, Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano's Vision of Progressive Law Practice

In this roundtable, we hear from practitioners hailing from different parts of the country and engaged in different areas of practice – but whose work embodies the shared commitment to a practice that is "anchored in the world [they're] trying to change." As graduates of UCLA Law's Critical Race Studies Program and students of Rebellious Lawyering, they know whether today's legal pedagogy has advanced from the law school of 1970 that López describes: "[w]hatever else law schools might have been in those days, they were not the place where future lawyers could come to learn in any coordinated or well-developed way about activist law practice, much less about activist law practice that broke form orthodoxy." In what ways did legal education prepare each of our panelists to meet the challenges of the work they now do? In what ways have they found their training lacking or even an obstacle to overcome? How might we better train future lawyers who seek to do work that is "something different than, something beyond, something to take the place of orthodox activist law practice"?

Note: You may earn 1.5 hours of Elimination of Bias MCLE credit for attending this plenary.

12:45pm – 1:15pm


1:15pm – 2:45pm

Concurrent Sessions

  1. Decolonizing Law/yering, Room 1337
  2. Rebellious Lawyering as Critical Race Theory in Practice: Direct Collaboration with "Faces at the Bottom of the Well", Room 1447
  3. The Revolution Will Not Be In English (Only): Language Justice as a Critical Component of Rebellious Lawyering, Room 2448
  4. Unapologetically Rebellious Lawyering: Building Sustainable Practices from the Trenches, Room 1357
  5. Warts & All Report from The Field about Rebellious Practices and Rebellious Education, Room 1457
  6. Race, Place, and Rebellious Lawyering, Room 1430
  7. What Does it Mean to Lawyer Rebelliously in the Midst of Posers, Resisters, and the Power of the Bi-Partisan Mainstream?, Room 1420

Note: You may earn 1.5 hours of general MCLE credit for attending a concurrent session.

2:45pm – 3:00pm


3:00pm – 4:30pm

Plenary Roundtable: Reflections on Living Rebelliously

Moderator: Tara Ford, Clinical Supervising Attorney and Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School

Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law and Migration Studies, Director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, and Dean's Circle Scholar, University of San Francisco School of Law
Brenda Montes, Immigration Attorney, Montes Law Firm
Gary Peck, former Executive Director, ACLU of Nevada
Ascanio Piomelli, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco

Experience is the best teacher – or at least can be. About living and about lawyering. The participants in this roundtable have experienced lots, practiced routinely against the odds, and been willing to learn from small and large mistakes as well as deservedly heralded achievements. They know full well how radical and progressive lawyers collaborating with subordinated communities, their allies, and movements may robustly challenge and change an unjust set of institutional practices and, at the same time, unwittingly reproduce (at least some of) the very dynamics they seek to fundamentally alter. If we cannot wholly escape these contradictory forces, how can we make the most of our lawyering and our living? How do our visions of a life well-led and a practice well practiced influence one another? Mesh together?

Note: You may earn 1.5 hours of general MCLE credit for attending this plenary.

4:30pm – 4:45pm


4:45pm – 6:30pm

Plenary Roundtable: A Conversation And Then a Keynote.

Keynote: Gerald P. Lόpez, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Introduction: Sherod Thaxton, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Stephen Carpenter, Deputy Director and Senior Staff Attorney, Farmers' Legal Action Group
Sally Dickson, Special Assistant to the President; Associate Vice Provost of Student Affairs Emeritus, Stanford University
Sherod Thaxton, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

The conversation will take account of what unfolds between now and March 2020, what the Symposium itself reveals from its start to this final plenary roundtable, and what the participants regard as too important to neglect.

Much will be in play. To evoke only a bit of the possible, in the words of Gerald P. López:

Why write Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano's Vision of Progressive Law Practice? Very few have ever read the book cover and to cover. Of those who do, many misapprehend or misrepresent the radical vision at its heart. Instead of writing a little-read book whose ideas perhaps predictably get mangled, why not spend the precious little time we have here on earth doing something else aimed with equal fervor at fundamentally challenging and overthrowing thousands of years of targeted subordination?

Why must we think of the United States as a nation of 50 states rather than an empire including, for starters, indigenous nations within its borders and colonies across the globe? Whether we regard the national community as fifty states or, more accurately, as an even far more complicated regime, why must we presuppose we should keep it together? Nothing's permanent about any union (formal or informal). Why regard the United States as worth fighting for? What exactly might we mean when we insist we're fighting "for our future"?

Why do so many regard the Trump Administration as obviously anomalous? As more inegalitarian, anti-environment, saber-rattling than early presidencies? As more racist, misogynist, xenophobic, homophobic than most past administrations? As more willing to hide its secrets, market its game plans, and evade legal accountability whenever it's at all feasible?

For that matter, why do so many regard the antidote to what we have experienced over the past three years as the renewed respect for the "rule of law" or "civil civic conversation" or "facts matter"? What do these familiar terms mean – in practice more than in principle? What evidence do we have that these solutions help challenge a bi-partisan mainstream that often seems to want nothing much changed except to reinstate conventions of beltway propriety?

In our heart of hearts, do we really want to be held accountable for the exercise of whatever power we wield? Or do most of us desire that others be called to account for what they do while we ourselves hope to evade accountability at least if we feel we our actions "safeguard" the world we mean to bring into being? If we are all inescapably torn between wanting to be held accountable and wanting entirely to escape accountability, what possibly can a constitution or a democratic culture do to protect us from ourselves?

Does our ability and willingness to fight for what we believe in depend upon the conviction that what we dream shall eventually come true? That justice shall triumph – in the sense Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed or Marx theorized? If we are not among those who believe that radical equality and democracy is necessarily in our future, must we regard ourselves as cynical or, even more accurately, nihilist? Is it enough if some among us say, "Ah, sure, why not, I'll throw down with you again today, then again tomorrow, and each day thereafter, and together with you, I'll throw down rebelliously"? Must we expect more of ourselves and one another? If we do expect more, should we trust what any of us say or write as in any way more convincing or assuring about the willingness to fight fiercely and resiliently, shoulder to shoulder?

Note: You may earn 1.75 hours of general MCLE credit for attending this plenary.

6:30pm – 9:00pm

CRS 20th Anniversary Celebration, UCLA School of Law Courtyard