Conference attracts ‘Rebellious’ lawyers



Progressive activists will find a home at Yale Law School the weekend of Feb. 20-22 during the tenth annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference.

Organized almost exclusively by Yale Law School students, the conference could host as many as 500 law students, lawyers, and community activists from across the country, conference co-director Ashley Walker LAW ’05 said.

The conference will feature an opening address from Marianne Engelman Lado, who serves as general counsel to New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and a keynote speech by Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama Bryan Stevenson, a New York University Law School professor. Panels and workshops on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 will cover public interest topics including capital punishment, the condition of women in prisons, and international workers’ rights.

Event co-director Brianne Gorod LAW ’05 said the conference will allow Yale Law students to organize panels and workshops about subjects that interest them.

“[The conference provides] an opportunity for Yale Law School students to bring speakers here [to discuss] a wide variety of progressive topics and share that interest with law students and other students and activists from around the country,” Gorod said.

Some of this year’s panels will feature Yale students and faculty members such as Law Professor Robert Burt and Sanjay Basu MED ’07. Other panels will include national and international activists such as Steve Cobble, Campaign Manager for Dennis Kucinich’s Presidential Campaign, and Jason Judd, a Cambodia Field Representative for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

Gorod said many of the panels and workshops will cover topics of particular concern during an election year, including President George W. Bush ’68’s “No Child Left Behind” Act and Campaign Finance Reform. She also said a panel on the 1995 Solomon Amendment will be of particular interest to law students and the Yale Law community, which has recently filed two suits challenging the amendment.

Conference co-director Georgia Albert LAW ’04 said organizers hope the panelists and speakers will inspire participants to pursue careers in public interest law.

“My hope is that [participants] get out what they’ve been telling us in the past — to learn about what people are doing out there, and to get encouraged and energized to do what they want to do, namely serve in the public interest,” Albert said.

Walker said considering that many of the topics under discussion at the conference are “progressive,” many of the attendees will be somewhat politically left-leaning. But Walker said the conference organizers hoped people of all political persuasions would attend and participate in discussions.

“Everyone’s welcome,” Walker said. “We as the planners and those involved really want dialogue and discussion.”

Walker said one of the panels, “Finding Common Ground with ‘Them,'” will deal with fostering dialogue between people of different political persuasions.

This year’s conference is of particular note, Albert said, because it is the tenth straight year it has been held at Yale Law since its founding in 1995. She said the founders of the first Rebellious Lawyering Conference, Washington University Law School professor Steve Gunn LAW ’95 and public defender Lori Mach LAW ’95, will be in attendance and will give a brief speech opening night.

Walker said registration and attendance will be free for members of the Yale and Quinnipiac communities. She said that those who preregister online will have the opportunity to attend limited-participation events and have lunch with panelists on Feb. 21.

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