Legal Studies Monthly News & Updates

September, 2023

Welcome Note from Rosalind Kabrhel, Chair of the Legal Studies Program

Dear Students, Alumni, and Friends:

Welcome to the fall semester, and Brandeis’s 75th anniversary!  Legal Studies is excited to welcome students and alumni to our newly-remodeled home on the third floor of the Brown Social Sciences Center.  We were fortunate to have a special guest visit us at the beginning of the year: Professor Emeritus Richard Gaskins, who was Chair of the Program for over 25 years. Professor Gaskins donated two wonderful pictures of Louis Brandeis that will hang in our new space. 

We have several fun and educational events planned this semester, so check out the calendar below.  If you have any questions or suggestions for activities, please reach out to this year’s Undergraduate Departmental Representatives, Sophia Koolpe, Maggie DiPierdomenico, and Jacqueline Lan.  Their emails are at the bottom of this newsletter.


Here’s to a wonderful year ahead!

September Trivia Question!

The first 3 students who answer correctly will win a faculty club lunch with Daniel Breen and a surprise guest!

What is the only Grammy-winning 'Best Song' title that includes in its name a state whose largest city has made it illegal to cry on the witness stand?

Submit Guess Here!

New Faculty Spotlight

The Legal Studies Program is excited to welcome two new faculty members to the Legal Studies team this fall: Tanishia Lavette Williams and Samantha Maltais. Please read their bios below!

Tanishia Lavette Williams, Ph.D.

Kay Fellow in Racial Justice, Education, Carceral State School of Arts and Sciences

New Cross-Listed Course: ED 172A Critical Race Theory and Education

Read More!

Samantha Maltais

Adjunct Lecturer

LGLS 122B: Indigenous Rights, Environmental Justice, and Federal Indian Law

Read More!

Save the Dates

The Social Construction of Race

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

6:00 - 7:00 PM

Shiffman 219

Sign Up!
Click Here to Take a Closer Look

Recent Event Highlights

Academic Fair

On August 28th, the Legal Studies Department participated in the Academic Fair. Our dedicated UDRs and esteemed faculty members engaged with numerous students, including enthusiastic freshman and others from the Brandeis community. It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the vibrant and dynamic legal studies department we have here at Brandeis University. Providing many students with valuable insights into the exciting world of legal studies, we look forward to welcoming these students into our department!

Legal Studies Affirmative Action Case Briefing Event

On September 19th, the Law and Society Internship and Seminar class hosted a successful event featuring Professors Breen and Kabrhel. The event, titled "How to Read and Understand a Case: Striking Down Race as a Factor in College Admissions," aimed to instruct attendees in reading and summarizing legal opinions. Additionally, it delved into the implications of the recent US Supreme Court decision concerning college admissions.

Faculty Summer Highlights

Summer Updates from Professor Stimell

ENACT Faculty Fellows from across the United States, with ENACT Director Melissa Stimell and Assistant Director David Weinstein at Brandeis in June for the ENACT Institute.

ENACT Expands to all 50 States: Welcomes Faculty from across the US to Brandeis

In June, ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation welcomed 22 faculty members from colleges and universities across the United States to Brandeis for the third in-person ENACT Institute. Each is an ENACT Faculty Fellow, teaching their version of “Advocacy for Policy Change” (LGS 161b) the ENACT course that forms the basis of the program developed and taught at Brandeis by ENACT Director Prof. Melissa Stimell, Professor of the Practice in Legal Studies and Chair of the Social Justice and Social Policy Program. Faculty Fellows traveled from as near as Connecticut and Maine to as far as Alaska and Arizona. This third cohort of ENACT Faculty Fellows brings the non-partisan ENACT program to all 50 states.

During the three-day institute new and experienced Faculty Fellows delved deeply into the ENACT model as they developed their courses, and they shared their own expertise. Discussion topics included how to teach an ENACT course in challenging political environments, how to empower students, and how to work with community partners. They were joined by special guests including Massachusetts State Senator Becca Rausch ’01.

Read more about ENACT

Summer Updates from Professor Breen

Summer of Art Research in Boston

Professor Breen's summer was dedicated to uncovering the artistic treasures of Boston. He immersed himself in extensive research into the archives of the Boston Art Commission and the Massachusetts State Art Commission. His dedication and scholarly inquiry are all part of his ongoing work, crafting a comprehensive book on the public art of Boston. We look forward to the cultural insights this project will bring to our community.

Commemorating the 1950 Chonchong River Battle Lecture

In June, Professor Breen demonstrated his commitment to historical education and tribute by delivering a lecture to the Lexington Veterans Association. His lecture delved into the significant 1950 Battle of the Chonchong River during the Korean War.

Professor Breen's AI and Maritime Law Paper

At the 2023 "Law, Culture and Humanities" Conference in Toronto, Professor Dan Breen presented his thought-provoking paper titled "Artificial Intelligence and the Future of the Maritime Duty to Rescue." This insightful exploration of AI's impact on maritime law has been met with great interest and anticipation. Professor Breen is currently in the process of enhancing this paper with additional material, and we eagerly await its publication in the winter of 2024.

Summer Updates from Professor Kabrhel

Reconnecting with Alums at Brandeis in the Hague Program

During a recent visit to the International Criminal Court in Hague, Professor Kabrhel had the pleasure of meeting up with Dan Saxon, former Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Some of our esteemed alumnus might remember him from the Brandeis in the Hague Program! Speaking of which...

If you are an alum of the Brandeis in the Hague program, we want to hear from you! We are planning to host a hybrid gathering during alumni weekend - stay tuned for details! In the meantime, please share your photos with us so we can include them in a slideshow. 

Higher Education Access in Prison

Professor Kabrhel's two workshop proposals have been accepted for the upcoming National Conference on Higher Ed in Prison. Joining Professor Kabrhel will be Professor Sherman from the English Department, along with our dedicated graduate students Jessi Brewer and Liz Peterson

164 Mile Journey for Dana Farber Cancer Institute

During this summer, Professor Kabrhel completed her second Pan-Mass Challenge, covering an impressive 164 miles on her bike. Alongside her was her colleague and BEJI co-founder, John Plotz from the English Department. Their shared mission: Raising vital funds for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Summer Updates from Professor Curi

An Italian Adventure and Linguistic Insights

Professor Curi recently embarked on her first trip to Italy, and her journey took an interesting linguistic turn. While in Montepulciano, approximately two hours north of Rome, she discovered "Studio Legale." In the world of law, the titles for female lawyers in Italian remain a subject of debate. In Italian, only a male lawyer is called an "avvocato." However, what to call a female lawyer with the same credentials is a matter of linguistic inquiry. Possibilities include "avvocata," "avvocatessa," "avvocato donna," or "donna avvocato." The question of what lawyers are called when they do not use masculine or feminine pronouns remains open. Professor Curi's observations offer a fascinating glimpse into language and legal culture.

ASLME Presentation

In June, our very own Professor Sarah Curi presented again at the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics’ annual conference of Health Law Professors. She spoke on Teaching Public Health during the COVID Years: Relevance, Respect & Hope. She has spoken on Designing Health Law Courses for Undergrads: Challenges & Opportunities and Content Warning: Pandemic Pedagogy & Other Sensitive Subjects.

Professor Curi Teaching at Wellesley College

This fall, Professor Curi is taking on a new academic adventure. In addition to teaching LGLS 114a – American Health Care: Law & Policy, Prof. Curi will be teaching a new course: Constitutional Law: Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, & Justice at Wellesley College, her alma mater.

Call for Submissions

ENACT Educate and Advocate Grants

ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation is pleased to announce a grant opportunity for Brandeis University undergraduate students. These grants are designed to provide support for student-organized events that focus 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.

The ENACT Educate and Advocate Grants will provide up to $1,000 to support events planned for the 2023-24 academic year. Applications will be accepted until 9:00 pm ET on October 4, 2023 for the fall deadline and February 12, 2024 for the spring deadline. Recipients will be notified soon after the deadlines.

If you have any questions, please email Melissa Stimell, ENACT Director at [email protected]

Apply Here!

Jane Kahn '77 Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Proposals Due by November 21, 2023

Fellowship funds up to two students $2,500 each for research on current and emerging issues in criminal justice reform including the rights of individuals with mental illness, disability, and socio-psychological factors frequently associated with incarceration.


Interested students should submit proposals to the Legal Studies Program by emailing Melissa McKenna, Program Administrator at [email protected] by November 21, 2023.  Faculty in the Legal Studies Program will evaluate submissions and select up to 2 successful candidates. The awardees will be announced in late December, 2023. Additional information is available on the Legal Studies Program website.

Clubs & Activities Highlight

Brandeis Pre-Law Society is Back!

The Brandeis Pre-Law Society is back and better than ever for the 2023-2024 academic year! If you're passionate about pursuing a career in law, this is your chance to connect with like-minded peers, delve into the law school application process, and gain access to exclusive events, panels, and trips. Join to be a member on campus groups to meet professionals in the field, expand your horizons, and embark on your legal journey.

Brandeis Law Journal

Publish a one of a kind law journal, showcasing Brandeis academic excellence. Brandies Law Journal solicit, edit, and publish the work of Brandeis students. Their articles cover a diverse array of topics with a shared grounding in law and law-related material. The Brandeis University Law Journal is run by and focused on undergraduates. They produce original, rigorously researched papers on a variety of legal topics!

Join ENACT Your Vote

A non-partisan, web-based initiative to encourage voter participation and civic engagement at Brandeis. Earn points, win prizes and encourage others to take action. Sign up now and you will get updates and reminders automatically!

Join Here!

Join the VoteDeis Campus Coalition

The VoteDeis Campus Coalition is a nonpartisan group of students, faculty and staff supporting voting and voter registration at Brandeis:

Join Here!

Brandeis University Press

New Publications in the Law & Society Series

"We're Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong" by Diane Dimond

"We're Here to Help" is a compelling exposé on the largely unregulated and misunderstood state-run guardianship system in the United States, shedding light on its detrimental effects and the rise of financially motivated predators within it. Drawing attention to the case of Britney Spears, the book reveals how individuals placed under court control lose their civil rights, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million Americans affected, and no proper oversight. Originally designed to protect vulnerable citizens, the guardianship system now often leads to financial devastation for wards, as billions of dollars fall under the control of court appointees. Investigative journalist Diane Dimond uncovers the alarming prevalence of exploitative and abusive cases, making a compelling case for urgent attention to this critical issue and providing insights on how to avoid the risks of involuntary guardianship.

"The Common Flaw: Needless Complexity in the Courts and 50 Ways to Reduce it" by Thomas G. Moukawsher

"The Common Flaw; Needless Complexity in the Courts and 50 Ways to Reduce it" offers a groundbreaking perspective on streamlining the legal system to increase public confidence in the legal process. Authored by Judge Thomas Moukawsher, this book promises to revolutionize the way we perceive and navigate the complexities of the legal world. For a sneak preview of the book's thought-provoking ideas, be sure to tune in to the ABA podcast featuring Judge Moukawsher. Prepare to embark on a transformative journey aimed at simplifying legal proceedings and improving efficiency in the realm of law.

Click Here!

Introducing our new UDRs for 2023 - 2024

Sophia Koolpe

[email protected]

Sophia Koolpe is a senior from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is majoring in Health: Science, Society, and Policy and minoring in Legal Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is passionate about understanding the intersection of public health and law, and how legal remedies can empower and achieve greater health outcomes for communities. Last spring, she interned at MLP Boston, a medical-legal partnership which equipped care teams with legal related tools that address social determinants of health. In her free time, Sophia volunteers at CareOne, a skilled nursing facility, and is a communication director for Brandeis' Partners in Health Engage club. She also plays guitar and has a love for classic punk rock music!

Sophia is excited to be a Legal Studies UDR and is happy to be a liaison between students and the legal studies department!

Maggie DiPierdomenico is a senior from Woodstock, Connecticut, majoring in American studies and Politics, Philosophy, & Law (PPL), an IIM, with minors in legal studies and Italian studies. Maggie is the President of the Student Association for The Right to Immigration Institute, a coordinator for Big Siblings, the Community and Social Justice Coordinator for Waltham Group, the Director of Communications for the Brandeis Law Journal, a Community Advisor, and a member of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. During the spring semester, she studied abroad in Milan, Italy, and interned at an Italian law firm. This summer, she will intern for the Worcester District Attorney’s Office. She is very interested in immigration law and criminal justice reform and plans to go to law school after graduating.

Maggie is thrilled to be a Legal Studies UDR and would love to talk about the minor or answer any questions!

Maggie DiPierdomenico

[email protected]

Jacqueline Lan

[email protected]

Jacqueline (Yiyu) Lan is a senior from Guangzhou, China, majoring in Economics, International and Global Studies, and minoring in legal studies. She interned at the Virtual Court Service Center under the Massachusetts Trial Court last year through the Legal Studies Internship class. She was also an orientation leader and a global fellow. She joined the Brandeis Mock Trial Association two years ago and is looking forward to providing more detailed information about the club to anyone interested. She enjoys taking legal studies classes and also, is familiar with some of the cross-listed classes of both the Economics and the IGS department. Jacqueline is very excited to be a Legal Studies UDR and is more than willing to answer any potential questions related to the department :)

Boston Courts and Civic Resources:

Did you know courts have reopened and students are welcome to attend live sessions?

You can also watch online!

Massachusetts Federal Courts

Supreme Judicial Court:

1 Pemberton Sq., Boston, MA (may be limited as to availability)

SJC: Log on remotely or go live. 

SJC Calendar:

US District Court (Federal) for MA:

1 Courthouse Way

Boston, Massachusetts 02210

State and District Court

Suffolk County Superior Court:

3 Pemberton Sq., Boston, MA

Boston Municipal Court - Central Division:

Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, Boston, MA

Suffolk County Probate and Family Court:

24 New Chardon St., Boston, MA 02114 

Just walk in any time.

Waltham District Court:

38 Linden St., Waltham, MA

Zoom meeting ID is 160 7740 6501

(Civil and criminal at same court in same courtroom)

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 SooMin (Christine) Kwon. For questions or to highlight your own work, organization, or event, contact [email protected]

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