UCLA Law Welcomes New Scholars

August 23, 2022
Clockwise from top left: Richard L. Hasen, Fanna Gamal, Lauren van Schilfgaarde, and Aaron Littman.
Clockwise from top left: Richard L. Hasen, Fanna Gamal, Lauren van Schilfgaarde, and Aaron Littman.

As the 2022-23 academic year kicks off, UCLA Law is thrilled to have four new scholars join its faculty.

“UCLA Law has long-hand a vibrant intellectual community with professors dedicated to teaching our students, conducting cutting edge research, and taking seriously our role as a public university” Interim Dean Russell Korobkin explained. “I’m thrilled that our four newest colleagues will help us carry on that tradition.”

Indeed, the scholarship of the four—Fanna Gamal, Rick Hasen, Aaron Littman, and Lauren van Schilfgaarde—focus on some of the most critical issues of the time: structural inequality, the future of democracy, mass incarceration, and the legal and political protection of indigenous communities. They bring significant experience on these issues, both in scholarship and real-world application, opening up opportunities for UCLA Law students to learn from leaders in these fields.

Assistant Professor Fanna Gamal

Fanna Gamal’s scholarship and teaching tap into a rich background in community lawyering practice and clinical experience.

Gamal’s scholarship centers on issues involving structural inequality, social welfare, and public services, with a particular emphasis on public education and its interrelationship with the criminal justice system. This work draws on Gamal’s experience as an attorney and clinical supervisor in the Youth Defender Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley, California, working on juvenile delinquency, special education, and disciplinary proceedings. She examines questions that emerge from that experience and her continuing work with client communities through the lens of critical race and feminist theories, in an effort to shed light on “how the law distributes resources needed for individual and collective well-being.” As Gamal explained: “Ameliorating inequality at the local, national, and global level has always preoccupied me. It’s what drew me to the law and it’s what motivates my scholarship.” Her most recent work, The Miseducation of Carceral Reform, (forthcoming in the UCLA Law Review), for example, critically examines efficiency-based arguments for redirecting money from prisons to public education, which fail to adequately account for the poor track record of welfare programs within schools and the racialization of public education.

Gamal’s expertise in community lawyering will also benefit UCLA as she continues to lead the Community Lawyering in Education clinic, which she developed while serving as a Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law. The clinic provides students opportunities to engage in direct representation, organizational representation, and community education work. This includes representation of youth in expulsion hearings, and in recent years has included representing CADRE, a Los Angeles-based community organization working on issues related to parental separation and the development of training and education programs for the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office. Gamal is thrilled to continue working in the clinic: “I love watching students exercise their creativity, discipline, and judgment in a real-world setting. And I love seeing the spark of motivation light up within them when they see how much power they have over the direction of a case or project.”

In addition to her clinical work, Gamal will teach in UCLA’s world-renowned Critical Race Studies program. “The program is one of the crown jewels at UCLA law,” said Korobkin. “Having Professor Gamal join our deep bench of expertise on issues of such great importance here in California and around the country is a perfect fit.” In fact, the work done by UCLA Law faculty in critical race theory was not only critical to Gamal’s decision to join the faculty, but also to her early interest in becoming a scholar. As she explained: “I’m grateful that such a program exists and that the work that was being produced her at UCLA found its way to me when I was seeking answers to big and unruly questions. The work ultimately led me to the law and to legal academia. I am particularly grateful that this program exists in an institutionalized way at a time when many people who want access to this knowledge are denied it.”

Gamal earned her B.A. from Tufts University and her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law, where she was an editor of the California Law Review.

Professor of Law Richard L. Hasen

“Elections—how they operate, who can vote, how they are financed, and disinformation about them—are obviously critically important issues,” said Korobkin. “Having Professor Hasen, an internationally recognized expert on these issues, join our faculty is a real win for the UCLA community.”

Hasen, an alumnus of UCLA Law (’91) and the UCLA Political Science Department where he earned his Ph.D. (’92), is a prolific scholar whose focus has developed in response to some of the most important events in modern American elections. As he explained: “Early on, I focused mostly on questions of money in politics, and how the Supreme Court’s views on the First Amendment and political equality led to a situation where economic inequalities became translated into political inequalities. Thanks to the disputed 2000 election culminating in the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, I moved much of my focus to the nuts and bolts of election administration, and how that raised concerns with fairness and democratic confidence. Following the 2020 elections I have shifted once again, this time to focus on how to assure we continue to have free and fair elections in the United States. It’s a topic I did not expect to have to focus on in my career, but technological, economic, and political change has called into question the resilience of American democracy.”

Hasen’s scholarship includes more than 100 articles, and his most recent book, Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics – and How to Cure It (Yale University Press, 2022), was named one of the best books on disinformation by The New York Times. His other award-winning books include The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption (Yale University Press, 2018) and Plutocrats United (Yale University Press, 2016). He is also a sought-after commentator who has appeared widely in the media and published op-eds and commentaries in leading publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He also writes the popular Election Law Blog.  He is also a reporter on the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Third) of Torts: Remedies and an adviser on the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Concluding Provisions.

Since joining the faculty in July, Hasen founded and will serve as director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project.  “The Project is built upon the premise that tackling issues of U.S. election integrity must be collaborative: across ideologies, across scholarly disciplines, and as a bridge between theory and practice,” Hasen explained. “It brings together in dialogue scholars, election administrators, legislators, lawyers, voting rights advocates, and concerned citizens to develop practical solutions to urgent problems.”

Hasen is also a beloved teacher, who is thrilled to be returning to the classroom at UCLA Law, where he has twice visited. “I’ve found UCLA students to be engaged, determined, and whip smart,” Hasen noted. “I love teaching not just in election law, but also in legislation, remedies, and torts.”

Hasen joins UCLA from UC Irvine School of Law, where he was Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science and where he was a co-director of the Fair Elections and Free Speech Center. Previously, he was the William H. Hannon Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and he taught at the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Hasen holds a B.A., with highest honors, from UC Berkeley, and a J.D., M.A., and Ph.D. in political science from UCLA. After graduating from UCLA Law, he clerked for Judge David R. Thompson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as a civil appellate lawyer at Horvitz and Levy.

Assistant Professor Aaron Littman

Aaron Littman’s scholarship, teaching, and public service is deeply connected to his experience as a civil rights litigator at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and in UCLA Law’s Prisoners’ Rights Clinic, which Littman developed as a Binder Clinical Fellow.

The understanding of the real-world implications of mass incarceration Littman has gained through his legal work provides fodder for his scholarly efforts through which he explores the sub-constitutional regulation of incarceration. “My experience leading a campaign to stop Alabama sheriffs from pocketing jail food funds and getting rich off of federal detention contracts was the term of one recent paper, which discussed the ways that sheriffs shape both supply of and demand for jail bedspace and their incentives for expansion,” explained Littman. “And the substantive and procedural obstacles I repeatedly encountered litigating constitutional prisoners’ rights claims led me to ask in another article what role regulatory standards and mechanisms—from local food safety inspections to federal Medicaid policy—play in shaping conditions behind bars.” Littman is excited to continue developing his scholarship at UCLA. “I had the great good fortune to spend three years as a fellow at UCLA before joining the faculty, among colleagues who are national thought leaders on everything from racialized policing to crimmigration, from qualified immunity to criminal fines and fees, from carceral labor to the Eighth Amendment. This has been an extraordinarily rich and supportive environment in which to grow as a junior scholar.”

“One of the really exciting aspects of Professor Littman staying at UCLA is that he will lead an exciting new partnership with the MacArthur Justice Center—a leading force in public interest law—in our Prisoners’ Rights Clinic,” said Korobkin. Littman agrees, noting that MacArthur’s “pathbreaking appellate and Supreme Court practice will allow us to expand and deepen the clinic,” which focuses appellate litigation in prisoners’ rights cases in federal and state courts. Littman continued, “With cases selected strategically, clinic students will be litigating some of the most pressing issues pending in the prisoners’ rights arena today. I am grateful that in the years to come, many more of our students will learn appellate advocacy by fighting alongside incarcerated people to vindicate their rights.”

Littman will also continue his leadership role in the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project, which launched in March of 2020. The Project’s staff and volunteers use web scraping and manual data collection to gather and analyze pandemic data regarding local, state, and federal carceral facilities nationwide. This work has proven to be an invaluable resource to lawmakers, public health officials, journalists, and advocates, as well as people incarcerated during the pandemic and their families.

Littman earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and a member of the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic. He also received an M.Phil. in criminological research from the University of Cambridge and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University. He clerked for Judge Myron Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Assistant Professor Lauren van Schilfgaarde

Lauren van Schilfgaarde, a member of the Cochiti Pueblo and a UCLA Law alumna (’12), whose extensive work in Native American law and policy has quickly made her a leader in the field, will join the UCLA Law faculty as an assistant professor of law in January 2023.

“We believe that UCLA has become the top law school for Native American law,” said Korobkin.

We are very proud of the fact that UCLA is a place where Native American students and others can come to obtain a first-rate education on Native American law, including through our Law and American Indian Studies program,” A big part of that has been the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Legal Development Clinic,” which van Schilfgaarde directed, and which provides students the opportunity to work on live-client projects concerning tribal governance and justice systems, ethics, cultural resource protection, voting, and child welfare. “We are very excited that she will be staying with us here at UCLA in this new role, where she can continue doing essential work on our understanding of these important issues as a scholar and teacher,” said Korobkin.

Centering indigenous people in her scholarly work is a keystone of van Schilfgaarde’s scholarship, and something she is particularly well-poised to accomplish given her longstanding commitment to working within tribal communities. “I am so grateful to be engaged in work that requires tribal relationships,” van Schilfgaarde said. “Connection is a traditional concept, binding us in community and mutual obligation. I am to honor my own connections in part through uplifting tribal needs and innovation in scholarship.” She is excited to build on scholarship that recognizes “both the heterogeneity of tribes as well as the heterogeneous nature of law within a single tribe” because “meaningful tribal self-determination can only be realized when we fully understand the ways in which tribal sovereignty has been restricted, and more importantly, when we consider the future that tribes want for themselves.”

van Schilfgaarde is also thrilled to be able to continue teaching at UCLA: “UCLA Law students bring an unparalleled drive coupled with a humble openness to learn that makes teaching at UCLA Law a giddy experience.” She feels grateful to have been able to work with clinical students who “continually surprised me with their creativity and eagerness,” but is excited about moving into other parts of the curriculum. “Now, I have the opportunity to engage with a larger swath of the student body, and with a broader spectrum of legal issues and perspectives. The Native American law curriculum will be increasing, and with it the visibility of tribes, Native people, and burgeoning Indian law attorneys. It is a great day to be Indigenous!”

Before joining UCLA Law as an instructor, van Schilfgaarde was the tribal law specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in West Hollywood, a law clerk for the Native American Rights Fund and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and a public interest fellow at the ACLU of Colorado. She serves as a board member for the National Native American Bar Association, vice chair of the American Bar Association’s Native American Concerns committee, as a commissioner for the Center for Reproductive Rights’ Lawyers Network, and board member of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Child Well-being Program. She earned her B.A. from Colorado College and J.D. from UCLA Law.

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