Legal Studies Monthly News & Updates

February, 2024

February Edition: Black History Month

Black History Month is a time of celebration and reflection, a time to honor the spirit and contributions of African Americans who have left an indelible mark on American society. It serves as an important reminder of the ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice, shining a spotlight on critical moments in history, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Throughout this month, we pay tribute to the monumental achievements of influential figures, like Thurgood Marshall, who was the first African American Supreme Court Justice, forever changing the course of justice in the United States.

One particularly compelling chapter in African American history expertly represented by Thurgood Marshall comes to life in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, 'Devil in the Grove' by Gilbert King. This narrative unravels the Groveland Boys case, a racially charged trial that unfolded in Florida during the...

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February Trivia Question!

The first 2 students who answer correctly will win a faculty club lunch with Daniel Breen and a surprise guest!

In 1945, this Oscar-winning actress was among the residents of a southern California neighborhood who were sued by a group of white plaintiffs hoping to enforce racially-restrictive covenants in their deeds.

Submit Guess Here

November Trivia Results!

November Trivia Winners:

No Winner

November Trivia Answer: 

Oliver Twist

Save the Dates

Advocacy Day at the Massachusetts State House

Thursday, February 8

 12:00 pm

On February 8th, Mass NOW has an event you won't want to miss! Join their Advocacy Day at the Massachusetts State house to support their feminist agenda. Hear from activists and legislator champions about important bills, and take part in small group meetings with your State Representative and Senator. For more information and details about this event, please click the link below!

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Apply: The ENACT Educate and Advocate Grant for Brandeis students

These grants provide up to $1,000 to support Brandeis undergraduate student-organized events focused on educating our community and advocating for positive change on important current public policy issues, such as healthcare equity, reproductive justice, immigration reform, criminal justice, voting rights, and a multitude of other concerns. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until 9:00 pm ET February 12, 2024. All funds must be used by June 1, 2024.

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Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative & Brandeis University Press Present: Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison

Thursday, February 15

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Join the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative & Brandeis University Press for a conversation with Justin McDevitt and Mneesha Gellman, editors of Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison, the latest book in the Brandeis University Press Series in Law & Society. McDevitt and Gellman will be joined by international contributors Lise Øen Jones (Sweden) and Greg Skrobotowicz (Poland) and the conversation will be facilitated by Tanishia Williams, Brandeis University Kay Fellow in Education, Racial Justice, and the Carceral State.


LGLS 134a Open Classroom Opportunity: LGBTQIA + Labor History

Wednesday, February 28th

2:30 PM

Schiffman 123

Guest lecture by Gerry Scoppettuolo, a labor organizer and labor historian. This lecture will introduce themes including discrimination at work, the power of boycotts to support strikes and unions, and how LGBTQ-identified people, including people with intersectional identities, have worked for employment justice in the US both in in the context of unions and outside of organized labor. The lecture also traces the history of LGBTQIA+ people coming out and agitating for rights, power, and visibility in the US.

Undergraduate Departmental Representative (UDR) Applications Now Available!

Applications for the 2024-25 Undergraduate Departmental Representative Positions Now Open - Deadline: March 1, 2024. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact the current UDRs!

Application Form

Alumni Spotlight: Vanessa Alamo' 17

Vanessa Alamo' 17

Vanessa Alamo '17, a Brandeis Legal Studies Program Alumni, is currently serving as a Cyber Crime Specialist in Bank of America's Global Information Security division. After completing her undergraduate studies at Brandeis in 2017, Vanessa "worked for 4 years before enrolling into law school." She knew that "she didn't want to be a lawyer but wanted enough legal knowledge to work intelligently in the cyber field." This led her to pursue a Masters of Legal Studies with a concentration in cybersecurity, where she condensed the first year of law school into an intensive 1-2 year program. Vanessa's pursuit of specialized legal expertise reflects her foresight and commitment to excel in her chosen field.

Vanessa's time at Brandeis not only provided her with academic enrichment but also helped her form lifelong connections. She recalls that "Without them, I wouldn't have made it to graduation or even have a robust network...

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Recent Event Highlights

LSAT Student Panel

On January 17th, the Legal Studies UDRs and the Brandeis Hiatt Career Center hosted an engaging LSAT Student panel. Brandeis Students who have taken the LSAT shared their perspectives on when to take the test, the resources they used and their study methods.

Make Your Vote Count! A Voting Rights Discussion

At “Make Your Vote Count!” policy experts from Common Cause, MassVote, and Brandeis, moderated by ENACT Your Vote Student Fellow Yoni Kahn ’25, discussed current challenges to voting, and efforts to expand voting access. Supported by the ENACT Educate and Advocate Grant and the Brenda Meehan Social Justice in Action Grant.

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ENACT Advocates Day at Brandeis

On January 30th, 10 representatives of advocacy organizations in Massachusetts visited Brandeis. They pitched the issues and bills they are advocating for to students in Prof. Stimell’s ENACT course “Advocacy for Policy Change” (LGLS 161b) and answered questions. Students are selecting the bills they will focus on in this experiential course. They will work with these and other organizations as they learn the state legislative process and meet with state legislators and staff to advocate for the bills they support.

Valentine's Legal Studies Trivia

On February 6th, the Legal Studies UDRs hosted a fun trivia night at Ridgewood Commons with Professor Breen in celebration of Valentine's day.

Faculty Highlights

Professor Kabrhel's Winter Visit to West Palm Beach, Florida

During winter break, Professor Kabrhel traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida and Sarasota, Florida to talk to esteemed members of the Brandeis National Committee and to engage with enthusiastic Brandeis Alumni about mass incarceration and criminal justice policies. Professor Kabrhel was deeply inspired by the audience's commitment to justice reform.

Professor Breen's Lecture Series: Exploring History Through Disease

Professor Breen conducted a captivating lecture series at the Public Library in Bedford, MA. Delving into the intriguing intersection of diseases and history, Professor Breen explored three significant topics. On February 4th, the spotlight was on Cholera, followed by Yellow Fever on February 11th, and will conclude the series with Influenza on February 25th.

Professor Ludwig's Article Published in Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (SERRC)

Professor Ludwig has recently published her work, titled "Theory and Reflexivity in Carceral Settings: A Response to Kiconco," in the esteemed Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (SERRC). In this article, Professor Ludwig engages with Kiconco's ideas, offering a throught-provoking perspective on theory and reflexivity within carceral settings. You can read the full article here for an enriching exploration of this critical topic.

Faculty Spotlight

The Legal Studies Program is excited to welcome two new faculty members to the Legal Studies team this Spring: Charlotte Powley and Melissa Johannes. Please read their bios below!

Charlotte Powley

Lecturer in Legal Studies

LGLS 118A: Gender, Justice, and Legislation

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Melissa Johannes

Lecturer in Legal Studies

LGLS 189A: Business Law

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Community Shout-Outs!

Jane Kahn '77 Undergraduate Research Fellowship Awarded!

Eamonn Golden '24 and Meli Jackson '25 are the Spring 2024 recipients of the Jane Kahn '77 Undergraduate Research Fellowship for their proposals Ghost in the Machine: An Analysis of Bias in Sentencing Recommendations by Artificial Intelligence Against Individuals with a MHC and Incarcerated Identities; Prison Writing and the Reclamation of Humanity. Congratulations!

Arts, Culture & Literature

Black History Month

Civil Rights Queen

Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality

By Tomiko Brown-Nagin

"Civil Rights Queen" is a must-read for Black History Month, offering a biography of Constance Baker Motley, a pioneering African American judge and activist lawyer who played a crucial role in the 20th-century struggles for civil rights and gender equality. Born during the Great Depression, Motley defied societal expectations to become the first black woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, defending Martin Luther King and contributing to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case. Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a Civil Rights and legal historian, vividly brings Motley's remarkable life back, prompting the audience to contemplate how marginalized individuals access positions of power and the impact of that journey on their commitment to social justice.

Stamped from the Beginning

This Netflix documentary, begins with a challenging question posed by renowned antiracism advocate and author Ibram X. Kendi: "What is wrong with Black people?" This film explores the origins of racist ideas about Black individuals, echoing the themes Kendi initially delved into in his award-winning 2016 book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Directed by Roger Ross Williams, the documentary sheds light on the contributions of Black female thinkers like Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Jacobs, and Ida B. Wells, while also drawing connections from Confederate America to present-day white nationalist movements. It serves as a vital countermeasure to the banning of Kendi's books, offering an unflinching look at the persistence of racism in American society. Highlighting the work of female academics and activists, Stamped from the Beginning emphasizes the pivotal role Black women have played in the ongoing fight against racism and racist ideas in America.

Student Resources:

Lauren Dropkin

(Pre-Law Advisor)

Amiee Slater


Melissa McKenna

(Program Administrator)

Maggie DiPierdomenico


Class of 2024

Jacqueline (Yiyu) Lan


Class of 2024

Sophia Koolpe


Class of 2024

Contact Us!

This newsletter is created by Christine Kwon. For questions or to highlight your own work, organization, or event, contact [email protected]

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