Even before anti-racism protests shook the country, the ABF was pushing for diversity and equality in the legal profession and beyond, and we continue to do so. This issue contains Fellows and faculty news items showcasing our community’s ongoing work to explore and rectify social injustices, as well as the reveal of this year’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows and our new Neukom Chair. Also included is an invitation to the next National Fellows Webinar, a link to episode three of our podcast, and a Spotlight interview with Perkins Coie's John Skilton.

ABF Researchers in the News
ABF Research Professor Traci Burch Gives Presentation on Public Perception and Law Enforcement at Police Accountability Panel


It has been a busy year for ABF Research Professor Traci Burch, whose expertise has increasingly been called upon in the months following George Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. To commemorate the anniversary, Professor Burch presented her research about policing and the Black community at Northwestern University’s “Anti-Racism in Thought and Action” series on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

The professor spoke about her findings regarding how Black Americans feel about policing in the United States. According to her research, most are unhappy with the job that police are doing in their communities, but there is a roughly equal divide between those who believe there should be more police involvement and those who feel there should be less. Professor Burch also discussed how race and the perceived threat level of individual victims of police violence affects the level of outrage and mobilization in the broader population.


Read more here.
ABF Faculty Fellow Rebecca Sandefur Appointed by Arizona Supreme Court to State’s Commission on Access to Justice


ABF Faculty Fellow Rebecca Sandefur’s tireless efforts to make civil justice available to all people in the United States continues with her new appointment to the Arizona State Commission on Access to Justice. At a February 6, 2021 meeting with the Commission, Professor Sandefur and three other professionals were announced as new members, selected by the Supreme Court of Arizona. The Commission was founded in 2014 with the goal of developing strategies to promote fair outcomes for those without access to legal representation.

This assignment is the latest in a long list of public service advisory roles Professor Sandefur has taken on. In addition to working with California and Utah’s initiatives to improve civil legal access, she has presented her research to the United States Department of Justice. In 2018, Professor Sandefur was named a MacArthur Fellow for her work on civil justice accessibility.

Listen to Professor Sandefur talk about Access to Justice here.
ABF/JPB Access to Justice Scholar Emily Ryo Cited in Vox Article about Immigration Enforcement Policy 


ABF/JPB Access to Justice Scholar and USC Law Professor Emily Ryo’s research has been highlighted in Vox’s recent article, “The False Promises of More Immigration Enforcement.” The piece, which was published on June 3, 2021, references Professor Ryo’s findings that harsher immigration and border enforcement is not an effective deterrent for would-be migrants at the southern U.S. border.

Professor Ryo surveyed approximately 11,000 people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, separated into three groups. Despite giving each group targeted information about the U.S.’s immigrant detention and deportation policies, 41% stated that they were still anywhere from “a little likely” to “very likely” to come to the United States.

Read the article here.
Fellows in the News
Below are highlights from our Fellows news segment, Fellows in the News. You can view many more on our website here. Please send Fellows in the News submissions to fellows@abfn.org.
Michelle Behnke, Wisconsin Sustaining Life Fellow, Receives State Bar of Wisconsin’s Leonard L. Loeb Award 


Michelle Behnke, Wisconsin Sustaining Life Fellow and former Board Member for the American Bar Foundation, has won the Leonard L. Loeb Award from the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Senior Lawyers Division. The lifetime achievement award is intended to recognize senior lawyers who have “made significant contributions to the legal community, shown respect for the legal system, and demonstrated a love for the law and what it seeks to accomplish.”

Read more here.
J. Logan Murphy, Florida Fellow, Appointed Judge for the Hillsborough County Court


J. Logan Murphy, Florida Fellow and Board Member of the American Bar Foundation, has been appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to become a judge for the Hillsborough County Court. Murphy has been a shareholder at Hill Ward Henderson since 2019, and previously served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore.

Read more here.
Lousene M. Hoppe, Minnesota Fellow, Named Board President of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association


Lousene M. Hoppe, Minnesota Fellow and attorney at Fredrikson & Byron, has started her term as the new 2021-2023 Board President of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association. This appointment marks a critical next step in Ms. Hoppe’s ongoing efforts to collaborate with legal practitioners, students and activists to make the legal industry safer and more empowering for professionals with diverse genders and orientations.

Read more here.   
Hari M. Osofsky, California Fellow, Named Dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law


Hari M. Osofsky, California Fellow and Dean of Penn State Law and the Penn State School of International Affairs, has been appointed Dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, effective August 1, 2021. She is also appointed the Mura and James Bradwell Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

Read more here.
ABF Faculty Spotlight

2021 Montgomery Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows Announced


The ABF is excited to have selected five excellent undergraduates from a competitive applicant pool to be the 2021 Montgomery Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows. Natasha Chaiyarat, Laura Fagbemi, Connor Herbert, Nicole Maria Mateo and Sasha Matsuki will be serving as research assistants for ABF research professors, gaining experience and mentorship in the field of sociolegal research. They will also have full access to the seminars and presentations that form the backbone of the ABF academic community.

SURF gives students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to grow as burgeoning scholars. Many SURFers have gone on to have impressive careers, including Howard Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker and California Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar.

Read more about the program and students here.
UC Berkeley Law Professor Ian Haney Lopez Named 2021-2022 Neukom Chair
The ABF is thrilled to announce one of the foremost Critical Race Theorists as the 2021-2022 ABF William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law. Professor Ian Haney Lopez, UC Berkeley's Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law, will be in residence at the ABF for a full academic year, where he will contribute to the organization’s scholarly focus on law and diversity.

Professor Lopez is a widely published scholar who studies electoral politics and the fusion of race and class as a political strategy. He has released multiple books and anthologies, and brings to the ABF his experience as a visiting professor at Yale and Harvard, the latter of which is his law school alma mater. As the Neukom Chair, Professor Lopez will focus on how racialized discussions of undocumented immigrants affect voter participation in Latinx communities.

Read more about Professor Lopez here
ABF Event Spotlight:
DC Fellows Virtual Event

On Tuesday, June 22, the Washington DC Fellows hosted a virtual event featuring ABF Executive Director and Research Professor Ajay Mehrotra in conversation with Howard Law School Dean Danielle Holley-Walker. The event was hosted by DC Fellows Officers Paul Smith, Laura Possessky, and Marlon Paz, and included opening remarks from ABA President Patricia Lee Refo and ABF Fellows Immediate Past Chair Ellen Jakovic.

Dean Holley-Walker, who is a former ABF Montgomery Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow and Montgomery Outstanding Alumni Award recipient, reflected upon the events of 2020 and their implications for Howard Law as an institution and on legal education more broadly. She observed that, due to its leadership in civil rights law, applications to Howard Law have increased, with many students arriving after years of on-the-ground activism experience working on issues such as mass incarceration and education equity. This led to a discussion about the concept of “movement lawyering” and the importance of teaching students to ask themselves, “What can we as lawyers do in this moment?” The dean also mused about whether law schools need to start requiring courses about the fundamentals of democracy, in order to re-establish foundational principles that transcend partisan politics.

After a Q&A session, four new DC Fellows introduced themselves to close out the event: Jennifer Semko, Richard Riley, Jr., Yahne Miorini and Vivian Hamilton.
Register Now: “The New Legal Realism Project: Translating Social Science for Real-World Law” 
UC Irvine Law Professor Shauhin Talesh, ABF Research Professor Elizabeth Mertz and Texas A&M Law Professor Lisa Alexander
Join us online on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at 10:00am PST / 11:00am MT / 12:00pm CT / 1:00pm EST for our free National Fellows Webinar titled “The New Legal Realism Project: Translating Social Science for Real-World Law.”

The event will feature UC Irvine Law Professor Shauhin Talesh, ABF Research Professor Elizabeth Mertz, and Texas A&M Law Professor Lisa Alexander discussing their contributions to the “Handbook of Modern Legal Realism,” which explores the usage of social science to understand how law works outside of the courtroom and in daily lives.

ABF Executive Director and Research Professor Ajay Mehrotra will moderate the discussion.

Register here.
Episode Three: Yes, No, and #MeToo
UMass Law Associate Professor Margaret Drew, ABF Research Professor Laura Beth Nielsen, DePaul Theatre School Assistant Professor Kristina Fluty
The issue of consent to sex has been making headlines in recent years. Whether it’s the #MeToo movement, discourse about rape culture, or simply more open discussions of sexual assault and violence, our evolving understanding of consent has recently been at the forefront of public debate. But how does the law define and regulate consent to sex? How do institutions such as colleges and universities handle training around consent? And how do these institutions handle rape and sexual assault allegations?

In this episode, Matthew Martinez Hannon interviews ABF Research Professor Laura Beth Nielsen about her research studying consent to sex on college campuses. Then, Matthew speaks to UMass Law Associate Professor and ABF Fellow Margaret Drew, discusses her focus on domestic violence as a practicing lawyer and in academia. Finally, Matthew interviews Kristina Fluty, Assistant Professor at the Theatre School at DePaul University, who also works as an Intimacy Director. All of the guests touch upon how attitudes toward consent have evolved in recent years, how institutions create rules and handle training around consent, and how the law responds when consent is violated.

Listen here.
Fellow Spotlight

John S. Skilton is a Partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Madison, Wisconsin and a Benefactor Fellow of the ABF. He served as co-chair of the ABF Wisconsin Fellows and has been an active leader in numerous legal organizations, including the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Wisconsin. He has received recognition for his extraordinary lifelong service to the profession from publications such as Chambers USA and The Best Lawyers in America, as well as organizations such as the Wisconsin Equal Justice Fund and Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.

John S. Skilton
Benefactor Fellow


Q: What does being a Fellow mean to you?
A: I have enjoyed my participation in the ABF Fellows. It has led to establishing a new group of friends, particularly in the Big ABA. It has also been an effective mechanism for bringing younger lawyers into the ABA because it is a relatively small, more personal and more local group of ABA lawyers. Wisconsin’s ABF Fellows is a good example of what I mean.

Q: Where were you born and raised?
A: I was born in Washington D.C. during WWII--my father was then stationed in D.C. as a Navy lawyer. My first permanent home was Philadelphia, as my father was then teaching business law at the Wharton School. We then moved to Madison permanently in the fall of 1953, when my father took a job as a law professor at the UW Law School. So for purposes of the question, I guess I was raised in Madison, but with the caveat that my family returned to “Philadelphia” every year, vacationing in Ocean City, N.J. to visit family.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a career in law?
A: My father was a lawyer, practicing in Philadelphia for one year (1935) before taking a job at the Wharton School. Because of his interest, I became very interested in Abraham Lincoln. (In 2011, I gave a Fairchild Lecture on Lincoln the Lawyer.) And Perry Mason was everybody’s hero in the 1950’s. In 8th grade (1958) I was asked by my teacher to write a paper on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote then--and have never wavered--that I wanted to be a lawyer.

Q: If you hadn’t pursued a career in law, what would you have done?
A: I am named after two ministers in my family, my grandfather and my father’s brother. My mother was a minister’s daughter. I have the ability to speak my mind. I think I would have been a minister.

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I like to read and learn. I like to walk (alone). I like to travel. I enjoy people, although, on occasion, particularly concerning politics, they test my patience. (And I, undoubtedly, theirs).

Q: Anything else you'd like to share with us?
A: I am very lucky to have had the privilege, through good health and God’s grace--and a little help from my friends, particularly my wife Carmen--to have spent the last 52 years practicing law. The mix of work and commitments: legal, billable, pro bono, professional, etc., has been rewarding and fulfilling. And I have not lost my belief in the practice of law, if done right by those privileged enough to have the right to do it. A career in law affords the platform to serve the better good: to resolve disputes, to advance the Rule of Law, to work for social progress. Lawyers have made a tangible, affirmative difference in the history of this country. That is because the Practice of Law is a calling--NOT A “BUSINESS”. We must ignore the “money-changers” in the Temple and commit to the real “business” of just being a LAWYER.

Read more Fellow Spotlights here.
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