What excites you most about joining the UCI Law faculty?
I am excited to work with our pioneering faculty and students and energized by the opportunity to root our clinical program in the communities of Orange County. Law schools have the potential to serve as centers of justice, especially when other institutions remain impenetrable or impervious to people without power. I find particularly interesting that UCI has an institutional commitment to threads within traditional American legal education, which coexist with an ambition to innovate and to serve the public good. In this tension, there is great potential for intellectual ferment and institutional creativity.
Why did you go into law teaching? What is your teaching style?
I chose to teach because I believed law school clinics could serve as a primary site for innovative public interest practice. Clinics have been essential innovators in my main area of focus, the representation of low-wage, immigrant workers. As I have grown as a teacher, I have come to truly appreciate my collaborations with students and clients. They have challenged me both in class and in practice in ways that have enriched our joint work and my own development as a teacher, lawyer, and advocate. As a result, I consciously seek each semester to create a collaborative learning environment and to foster a sense of shared purpose amongst my students. I am especially excited to build a clinic from the ground up with the first class of UCI Law students.
Describe your scholarship, or a favorite pro bono or service project.
My writing has developed in two interwoven areas of focus: social justice advocacy on behalf of immigrants and poor people and the role of lawyers and legal education in such advocacy. I am interested in the ways that law has been used to strengthen (and weaken) subordinated communities. I am also interested in examining the role of law schools and clinics in the advancement of social justice in the United States.
What inspired you to go to law school?
I was inspired by the American civil rights movement and the Indian independence movement to believe that powerless people might overcome oppressive conditions. Law and lawyers played essential roles in advancing those movements for justice. Current campaigns for social change, such as in immigrant labor organizing, lead me to believe that lawyers continue to have a role in the pursuit of social justice. I feel fortunate to be able to engage in legal practice with some moral-ethical purpose. I aim to foster within my students their own capacity to pursue their highest aspirations and goals.