Category Archives: Legal Academia

New Article: Inner-City Anti Poverty Campaigns

New Article: Anthony Victor Alfieri, Inner-City Anti Poverty Campaigns, UCLA L. Rev. 64 (2017), University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-16. Abstract below:

This Article offers a defense of outsider, legal-political intervention and community triage in inner-city anti-poverty campaigns under circumstances of widespread urban social disorganization, public and private sector neglect, and nonprofit resource scarcity. In mounting this defense, the Article revisits the roles of lawyers, nonprofit legal services organizations, and university-housed law school clinics in contemporary anti-poverty, civil rights, and social justice movements, in part by chronicling the emergence of a faith-based municipal equity movement in Miami, Florida. The Article proceeds in four parts. Part I introduces the notion of community triage as a means of addressing the impoverished and segregated aftermath of urban development in a cluster of postindustrial inner cities. Part II examines the First Wave of antipoverty campaigns launched by pioneering legal services and public interest lawyers and their evolving community triage models. Part III surveys the Second Wave of anti-poverty campaigns pressed by more client- and community-centered legal services and public interest lawyers and their alternative community triage paradigms. Part IV appraises the Third Wave of anti-poverty campaigns kindled by a new generation of legal services and public interest lawyers and their site-specific community triage approaches in the fields of community economic development, environmental justice, low-wage labor, immigration, and municipal equity in order to discern legal-political lessons of inner-city advocacy and organizing. Taken together, the four parts forge a larger legal-political vision imagined and reimagined daily by a new generation of social movement activists and scholars — a renewed vision of theory-driven, clinical practice tied to empirical research and experiential reflection about law and lawyers in action.


New Article: Rebellious Social Movement Lawyering Against Traffic Court Debt

New Article: Veryl Pow, Rebellious Social Movement Lawyering Against Traffic Court Debt, 64 UCLA L. Rev. 1770 (2017). Abstract below:

The prominence of Black Lives Matter in American society today signals the revitalization of alternative forms of participatory democracy—from localized community organizing to widespread social movements—as political expression among racial minorities. For social movement lawyers, this historical moment demands an urgent clarification as to their role and the strategies they should undertake: How should lawyers connect their preexisting advocacy with the broader social movement? Must lawyers be relegated to the background, or might they assume an active role that enhances the leadership of grassroots community members within the movement? What are concrete tools lawyers might deploy in advancing the struggle?

Through a case study of challenging traffic court debt in South Los Angeles, a statewide system that entraps low-income communities of color in cycles of poverty and involvement in the criminal justice system, this Comment proposes a new theory— rebellious social movement lawyering—to resolve these questions. Rebellious social movement lawyering contemplates an active role for lawyers in movements, so long as they are guided by two principles: first, that social movements are necessary to achieve structural social change; and second, that the participation and leadership of grassroots community members, more than professionals and formal social justice organizations, is necessary to sustain such movements. The strategies deployed by rebellious social movement lawyers must be fluid and flexible, ranging from traditional legal devices to confrontational demonstrations, with each decision stemming from community collaboration and the lawyer’s self-questioning as to how a proposed tactic contributes to building the social movement on the one hand, and to enhancing grassroots participation and democracy on the other.

Rebellious social movement lawyering is meant both as a theoretical intervention in rebellious lawyering, movement lawyering, and Critical Race scholarship, and as a methodology to guide public interest legal practitioners. In grounding my theory in a concrete case study, I hope that practitioners across other areas of public interest law will recalibrate their own advocacy as rebellious social movement lawyers working collaboratively to challenge the underlying structures producing material harms for their clients.

Russell Sage Foundation Funding Opportunities

Russell Sage Foundation is currently soliciting proposals for various poverty related research! Check out what they’re doing here!

Various opportunities are listed below:

  • Funding Opportunity: Behavioral Economics

    The foundation’s Behavioral Economics program supports research that will broaden our understanding of the social, economic and political consequences of real-life behaviors and decisions that deviate from the neoclassical economic standards of rationality. RSF is especially interested in behavioral economics research that contributes to our understanding of topics of interest under its other programs.

  • Funding Opportunity: Future of Work

    The foundation’s program on the Future of Work supports research on the causes and consequences of changes in the quality of jobs for less- and moderately-skilled workers in the United States. We are especially interested in proposals that address important questions about the interplay of market and non-market forces in shaping the well-being of workers, today and in the future.

  • Funding Opportunity: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

    The Foundation’s newest program on Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration, replaces two previous programs: Immigration and Cultural Contact. The new program encourages multi-disciplinary perspectives on questions stemming from the significant changes in the racial, ethnic, and immigrant-origin composition of the U.S. population. We are currently accepting letters of inquiry.

  • Funding Opportunity: Social Inequality

    The Foundation’s program on Social Inequality supports research on the social, economic, political, and labor market consequences of rising economic inequalities in the United States. We are currently accepting letters of inquiry.

  • Funding Opportunity: The Social, Economic, and Political Effects of the Affordable Care Act

    The foundation’s initiative supports innovative social science research on the social, economic and political effects of the Affordable Care Act. We are especially interested in funding analyses that address important questions about the effects of the reform on outcomes such as financial security and family economic wellbeing, labor supply and demand, participation in other public programs, family and children’s outcomes, and differential effects by age, race, ethnicity, nativity, or disability status.

  • Call for Proposals: Integrating Biology and Social Science Knowledge (BioSS)

    The foundation’s special initiative supports innovative social science research that explores how biological mechanisms interact with the environment to influence individuals’ social and economic outcomes. We seek projects that take advantage of new theories, concepts, and indicators from neuroscience, endocrinology, immunology and physiology, genetics and epigenetics to further our understanding of socioeconomic attainment and other social science issues that are relevant to RSF’s core program areas. We are primarily interested in research that explores and improves our understanding of social and economic predictors and outcomes. Read More

  • Call for Proposals: Computational Social Science

    The foundation’s initiative on Computational Social Science (CSS) supports innovative social science research that brings new data and methods to bear on questions of interest in its core programs. Read More

  • Small Grants in Behavioral Economics

    The Russell Sage Foundation offers small grants to support high quality research in behavioral economics and to encourage young investigators (Ph.D. students and recent graduates) to enter this developing field.

  • Call for Proposals: Immigration and Immigrant Integration

    The Russell Sage Foundation/Carnegie Corporation Initiative on Immigration and Immigrant Integration seeks to support innovative research on the effects of race, citizenship, legal status and politics, political culture and public policy on outcomes for immigrants and for the native-born of different racial and ethnic groups and generations.

  • Call for Proposals: Non-Standard Employment

    The Russell Sage Foundation/Kellogg Foundation’s Initiative on Non-Standard Employment seeks to support innovative social science research on the causes and consequences of the increased incidence of alternative work arrangements in the United States.

  • Improving Education and Reducing Inequality in the United States

    We seek research projects that deepen our understanding of educational opportunity and success in the United States by using data on academic achievement from the Stanford Education Data Archive constructed by Sean Reardon and colleagues (

New Article: Begging for Change: Begging Restrictions Throughout Washington

New Article: Sara Rankin, Jocelyn Tillisch, Drew Sena, Justin Olson, Begging for Change: Begging Restrictions Throughout Washington, Seattle University Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, 2018. Abstract below:

The act of panhandling, commonly known as begging, is a form of speech protected by the United States Constitution. But Washington’s cities are increasingly enacting laws that criminalize begging, despite courts finding these laws unconstitutional under both the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause. This brief surveys begging restrictions, assessing their scope and legality. This report offers the first statewide analysis of laws that restrict begging.

Among the brief’s key findings is that the vast majority (86%) of Washington cities criminalize begging; the majority (83%) of these laws result in a criminal charge if violated, leading to serious collateral consequences that impact one’s eligibility for housing and employment. Many of these laws would not survive constitutional scrutiny.

New Article: Advocacy in Ideas: Legal Education and Social Movements

New Article: Monica Bell, Tanya K. Hernandez, Solangel Maldonado, Rachelle Holmes Perkins, Chantal Thomas, Olatunde C.  Johnson, Elise Lopez, Advocacy  in Ideas: Legal Education and Social Movements, Columbia University Academic Commons, 2018. Abstract below:

Panel moderated by Professor Olatunde Johnson, featuring Professors Monica Bell, Tanya K. Hernández, Solangel Maldonado, and Chantal Thomas. Introduced by Elise Lopez. This panel is really an opportunity to explore the role of women of color in shaping ideas in the legal academy and in legal discourse more broadly. Everyone on this panel today is a professor and has joined legal academia, but what I think we really want to emphasize through this is that for many of us it begins in law school, where you can engage in shaping ideas through the writing that you do in your courses and in journals, in taking leadership positions in journals, and in organizing conferences like this.

New Article: Deregulation and the Subprime Crisis

New Article: Paul G. Mahoney, Deregulation and the Subprime Crisis, Virginia Law Review Association, 2018. Abstract below:

Many popular and academic commentators identify deregulation as a cause of the 2007–2008 financial crisis. Some argue that the GrammLeach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (“CFMA”) removed barriers to risk-taking
by commercial and investment banks, while others contend that these statutes limited regulators’ ability to respond to changing market conditions. A more general argument is that stringent regulation of banking from the New Deal to the late 1970s produced a quiet period in which there were no systemic banking crises, but subsequent
deregulation led to crisis-prone banking.

This Article examines the deregulation hypothesis in detail and concludes that it is incorrect. The GLBA and the CFMA did not remove existing restrictions that would have prevented the principal practices implicated in the subprime crisis, but instead codified the status quo. Although the two statutes prevented regulators from banning affiliations between commercial banks and securities firms and curbing over-the-counter derivatives markets, those actions would likely not have prevented the crisis or significantly reduced its severity.

The Article further argues that the era of stable banking was the result of a benign and predictable macroeconomic environment, not regulation of deposit interest rates. That era ended with the severe inflation and interest rate volatility of the 1970s. Policymakers had to either ease restrictions on the interest rates banks could pay their depositors or force savers to lend to banks at negative real rates of return. Interest rate risk caused both bank failures and bank deregulation.

New Article: Injury in the Unresponsive State: Writing the Vulnerable Subject into Neo-Liberal Legal Culture

New Article: Martha Albertson Fineman, Injury in the Unresponsive State: Writing the Vulnerable Subject into Neo-Liberal Culture, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming In Injury and Justice: The Cultural Politics of Harm and Redress, Bloom, Engel, and McCann Eds., Cambridge Studies in Law and Society, 2018. Abstract below:

State neglect of the needs of those individuals living in poverty or suffering under social, economic, and material disadvantage is not seen as requiring legal or political remedy. Quite the contrary: state inaction is typically viewed as the appropriate manifestation of state restraint in the face of individual liberty or autonomy rights that condemn any move toward the “redistribution” of private wealth or property. “Private” structures, such as the family, market, charity, or the workplace, are designated as the prime mediating institutions to provide for the needs of individuals. Arguably, the state may be seen as having some responsibility in regard to the conduct and operation of those institutions, but at best the state is seen as an incremental and contested residual actor when they fail. This understanding of state inaction as not constituting injury or harm is both validated and compelled by the ways in which, over the course of American political history, the political subject and social contract have been understood as anchored in liberty and autonomy.

New Article: Schooling At Risk

New Article: Barbara Fedders, Schooling At Risk, 103 Iowa L. Rev. 871 (2018). Overview below:

The Article proceeds as follows. Part II offers the historical context within which the current form of exclusion is situated. It describes the central norm of universal public education advanced by the 19th century “common school” movement. It details the history of outright bans, and later segregation, of African-American students and students with disabilities. It demonstrates that the notion that these groups were undeserving of education animated those exclusionary practices. Part III demonstrates that while de jure segregation has ended and federal laws now protect students with disabilities, the trope of an undeserving child persists. It supports this contention through detailing the increase in misbehavior-based exclusion and rise of AEPs. It analyzes how the structure and operation of AEPs work to harm rather than help students and thus reinforce notions that the students within them are undeserving. Part IV examines the difficulty of combatting suspension with legal remedies and shows that key legal and legislative strategies that advocates have used to curb the most blatant forms of exclusion are ill-equipped to reform the flaws of the AEP. Looking forward toward possible solutions, Part IV notes as a welcome trend the small but growing number of schools that have implemented alternatives to exclusionary forms of discipline. It concludes by arguing that while individual districts may be able to institute small improvements in AEPs, this particular educational innovation should be abandoned.

New Article: Why Flexibility Matters: Inequality and Contract Pluralism

New Article: Jeremiah A. Ho, Why Flexibility Matters: Inequality and Contract Pluralism, U.C. Davis Business Law Journal, Forthcoming, 2017. Abstract below:

In the decade since the Great Recession, various contract scholars have observed that one reason the financial crisis was so “great” was due in part to contract law—or, more precisely, the failures of contract law for not curbing the risky lending practices in the American housing market. However, there is another reason why contracts made that recession so great: contracts furthered inequality. In recent years, when economic inequality has become a dominant national conversation topic, we can see development of that inequality in the Great Recession. And indeed, contract law was complicit. While contractual flexibility and innovation were available to soften the blow of large commercial deals gone wrong during the crisis, residential mortgage defaults across the U.S. were subject to strict contractual formalism that led to severe consequences for those pursuing one of the hallmark prizes of the American Dream, homeownership. Specifically, cases during the Great Recession featured commercial parties relying on the gravity of the Great Recession as the reason why their contract breaches ought to be excused through doctrines such as impracticability. Although impracticability defenses premised on economic changes are usually unconvincing, commercial claimants during the Great Recession had some surprising successes and advantages in taking such positions. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of homeowners, whose abilities to honor their mortgage agreements were also hindered by the economic downturn, could not predicate their defaults on the crisis and get away with it. Instead, they were subject to rigid contract formalism. The entitlement to flexible and innovative excuse arguments seemed particularly exclusive to commercial claimants during the Great Recession. And contract law helped sustain that exclusivity. Therein lies the inequality.

This Article’s ultimate goal is not to argue, like others already have, for the efficacy of expanding contract excuse doctrines in significant times of crisis. Instead, the heart of this Article’s investigation examines, using the example of impracticability arguments during the Great Recession, why commercial parties had more access to flexibility in contracts than others in order to point out how it resonates societally for contracts. Modern contract law furthered inequality when it could have been more instrumental in advancing social mobility and economic opportunity. Thus, this Article’s observations ultimately support the idea that rather than formalism, contract pluralism ought to be adopted in order to give contracts a more meaningful role in furthering a fair and just society.

New Article: Shifting the Scope: How Taking School Demographics Into Account in College Admissions Could Reduce K-12 Segregation Nationwide

New Article: Thomas Scott-Railton, Note, Shifting the Scope: How Taking School Demographics Into Account in College Admissions Could Reduce K-12 Segregation Nationwide, 36 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 219 (2017). Abstract below:

Deepening racial and socioeconomic segregation is producing unequal educational outcomes at the K-12 level, outcomes that are then reproduced in higher education. This is particularly true as rising competition among colleges has led many of them to focus increasingly on measures of merit that correlate with income and as parents and students adjust their behavior in light of those metrics. While existing affirmative action programs at colleges provide some counterweight to this dynamic, they are limited by institutional (and constitutional) constraints. Out of concern for revenue and rankings, many colleges are constrained in the number of students from low-income backgrounds they are willing to admit. Such a limited scope is not inevitable, however.

If colleges were to give a substantial admissions bonus to applicants who had attended K-12 schools with at least a certain percentage of low-income students, higher education could become a force for countering inequality at the K-12 level, instead of reproducing it. College admissions policies serve as a crucial reference point for parents, students, and educators on down through K-12. By rewarding applicants for attending socioeconomically integrated schools, colleges would mobilize the resources of private actors across the country towards integration. The benefits of this would be significant, especially for students from low-income families who would have an increased chance of attending integrated K-12 schools as a result. Such a policy would also help colleges better foster diversity on campuses, as more students would have had prior experience in integrated settings.

This Note explores the ongoing problem of K-12 re-segregation, argues that by adopting this policy colleges could work to promote integration, examines how such a policy could best be designed to do so, and addresses why such a policy would be constitutional. At a time when educational inequality is on the rise, there is an urgent need for new affirmative action proposals that can combat segregation and do so within colleges’ existing constitutional and institutional constraints. The policy proposal advocated in this Note would do both, interrupting key elements of the present vicious circle.