Conference Schedule

Saturday, January 25, 2020
University of California, Irvine • Beckman Center

Livestream >

9:00-10:00 a.m. – Registration and refreshments

10:00-10:05 a.m. – Welcome by Dean L. Song Richardson **livestream available**

10:05-10:15 a.m. – Brief Comments by Brooke Weitzman, Co-Founder of Elder Law & Disability Rights Center **livestream available**

10:15-11:15 a.m. – Morning Keynote Panel **livestream available**


  • University of California President Janet Napolitano 


  • UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
  • UC Davis School of Law Dean Kevin Johnson
  • UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin
  • UC Irvine School of Law Dean L. Song Richardson

11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. – Breakout Sessions #1

12:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. – Lunchtime Presentation **livestream available**

A discussion with UC President Janet Napolitano and Jeff Davidson, Partner at Covington & Burling LLP, regarding DACA litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court, moderated by Mónica Ramírez Almadani.

2:15-3:30 p.m. – Breakout Sessions #2

3:45-5:00 p.m. – Breakout Sessions #3

5:00-6:30 p.m. – Reception and Evening Keynote Speaker Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA 45th) (introduced by UCI Law Dean L. Song Richardson and in conversation with Henry Weinstein, UCI Law Professor of Lawyering Skills)

About the Keynote Speaker: 

Congresswoman Katie Porter represents the Orange County families in California’s 45th Congressional District.

Before coming to Congress, Rep. Porter spent nearly two decades taking on the special interests that dominate American politics and drown out the voices of working families. A long-time Irvine, CA resident and a tenured professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, Katie Porter is widely recognized as an expert on bankruptcy and consumer finance legal issues, having authored two textbooks published by Aspen Publishers/Wolters Kluwer: The Law of Debitors and Creditors (co-authored with Senator Elizabeth Warren) and Modern Consumer Law. She has appeared as an expert witness in front of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, among other key government entities.

In 2012, she was appointed by then Attorney General Kamala Harris to be California’s independent watchdog against the banks. Rep. Porter made sure the big banks that had cheated Orange County homeowners followed through on their promise to help affected families get back on their feet. As a consumer finance expert, she also helped Congress pass the original Credit CARD Act in 2009, which enacted federal protections from abusive credit card fees. 

In Congress, Rep. Porter remains dedicated to putting Orange County families first. She has been a key supporter of legislation to reduce the influence of dark money in politics and restore ethics to Washington.

As a single working mom, Rep. Porter knows firsthand about the challenges faced by working families. She is committed to finding solutions to make life easier for these parents and has supported proposals to allow more pre-tax income to go towards childcare and expand access to paid family medical leave.

Rep. Porter lives in Irvine with her school-age children: Betsy, Paul, and Luke.

Breakout Session Descriptions

BREAKOUT SESSION #1 - Choose one session to attend
11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

A) Funding Your Public Interest Passion

Whether you want to secure a post-graduate fellowship, start a new project or organization, or take on a leadership position in an existing public interest organization, you’re going to need the skills to attract resources, including volunteers, pro bono attorneys, and financial support. How do you develop your own style for what the Echoing Green Foundation calls being a “resource magnet” that attracts money, people, and other resources to your cause. This does not mean you need to be the person on stage at a 10,000 person rally. Some leaders are more unassuming and still able to get others to care about their cause and take action. What are your unique strengths and personal style for attracting resources? What are the skills you would like to develop? This session will help you define your own path for attracting resources and map out a number of practical strategies for funding your public interest passion.


  • Tamika Butler, Director of Planning for California and Director of Equity and Inclusion, Toole Design
  • Maria Hall, Civil Rights Lawyer and Director, Los Angeles Incubator Consortium
  • Brad Sears, Associate Dean of Public Interest Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Victor Narro, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center

B) Plaintiff Side Litigation

This panel features practitioners from a range of public interest issue areas who are fighting for justice at Plaintiff-side law firms. Hear about what it’s like to be an attorney at a private public-interest oriented firm taking on big civil and human rights issues. Panelists will discuss their multi-faceted, varied work, which includes:  human trafficking cases, fighting the opioid epidemic, the PG&E fire cases, taking on the gun industry in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting litigation, and what it was like to serve as class counsel in the USC sexual assault litigation. 


  • Anne Bloom, Executive Director of the Civil Justice Research Initiative at Berkeley Law.


  • Anne Andrews, Managing Partner, Andrews & Thornton 
  • Khaldoun Baghdadi, Shareholder, Walkup Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger
  • Richard K. Bridgford, Founding Partner, Bridgford Gleason & Artinian
  • Melinda Davis Nokes, Associate Attorney, Weitz & Luxenberg 
  • Annika Martin, Partner, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP New York Office 

C) Voting Rights: Access to the Polls, Freedom from Outside Influence, and Fair Representation

The panel will discuss current hot topics in voting rights, including felony disenfranchisement, redistricting, and election security. Hear about policy and litigation efforts to protect the right to vote, who gets to vote, how votes are distributed, and efforts to prevent outsiders attempting to influence U.S. elections.


  • Jamila Benkato, Counsel, Protect Democracy
  • Dan Vicuna, National Redistricting Manager, Common Cause
  • Keramet Reiter, UC Irvine Associate Professor, Criminology, Law & Society and School of Law

BREAKOUT SESSION #2 - choose one session to attend
2:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

A) Rural Law

Interested in making a difference in closing the access to justice gap? Want to work somewhere where your legal degree can make a huge impact? Each year at least one third of low-income rural people seek legal services for basic human needs and the availability of legal aid is sparse. Join practicing attorneys working in both civil and criminal law in a discussion about what it means to practice rural law and how rural California can be a great place to start your public interest career.


  • Rebecca Buckley-Stein, Delano office of California Rural Legal Assistance 
  • Adriane Bracciale, Office of the Public Defender in Imperial County
  • Curtis Davis, El Centro office of California Rural Legal Assistance

B) Environmental Justice: Access to Clean Water

Water Justice is an important environmental justice issue in California. Please join this panel of experts who are working on achieving water justice through a variety of methods. This will be an informative discussion with academics, regulators, community organizers, and attorneys. Learn why water justice matters and what we need to do to achieve it.


  • Camille Pannu, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law


  • Laurel Firestone, State Water Resources Control Board Member
  • Jed Borghei, Founding Partner, Robins Borghei LLP
  • Melissa Kelly, UCI Law Center for Land, Environment and Natural Resources, Staff Director and Attorney

C) Practicing in Chaos: Life as an Immigration Attorney Today

Attendees will learn about the day to day work of attorneys practicing immigration law under the current administration. Attorneys will discuss the many ways in which executive rules provide hurdles for clients and attorneys alike, and how attorneys must pivot, sometimes on a daily basis, to assist vulnerable clients. Attendees will hear about the struggles as well as the victories and creativity of today’s immigration attorneys, and how they practice self-care in times of chaos.


  • Caitlin Bellis, Clinical Fellow, Immigrant Rights Clinic, UCI Law


  • Helen Boyer, Public Counsel, Staff Attorney in Deported Veterans Project
  • Eric Vera, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Managing Attorney of the Children’s Representation Project
  • Monika Langarica, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, Immigrant Rights Staff Attorney

BREAKOUT SESSION #3 - choose one session to attend
3:45 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

A) Criminal Justice: Perspectives on Reform from the Prosecution and Defense

Former Assistant Chief of the LAPD and San Francisco City District Attorney, George Gascon, has been one of the most public proponents of progressive prosecution. He has earned a national reputation as a visionary in criminal justice reform. He will discuss opportunities to seek justice as a prosecutor and how to work towards systemic reform with Prof. Katie Tinto of UCI Law’s Criminal Justice Clinic. Attendees will hear about opportunities to seek justice from both the prosecution and defense perspectives.


  • George Gascon, Former Assistant Chief of the LAPD and San Francisco District Attorney
  • Katie Tinto, Director, Criminal Justice Clinic, Clinical Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law; Former public defender with the Alternate Public Defender’s Office of Los Angeles County

B) Housing Justice: A Growing Movement and New Opportunities for Lawyers

Gentrification and displacement are rampant everywhere, with low-income communities -- often communities of color -- bearing the brunt. Even localities with renter protections are suffering as there simply are not enough advocates to enforce existing protections. Following New York City's lead in 2017, communities across the nation -- including San Francisco and Los Angeles -- are responding to this need for housing justice by joining the Right to Counsel movement. Hear from tenant organizers and attorneys about the Right to Counsel movement in California and the need to enforce hard-won tenant protections. Panelists will discuss housing as a racial and economic justice issue and as a homelessness prevention strategy, balancing being a community lawyer and litigator in the fast-paced world of eviction defense, and careers in the evolving housing justice area.


  • Steve Diaz, Deputy Director of Organizing for LACAN
  • Evelina Nava, East Bay Community Law Center
  • Nisha Vyas, Public Counsel, Directing Attorney of Homelessness Prevention Law Project
  • Dianne Prado, Founder, Housing Equality & Advocacy Resource Team (HEART L.A.)

C) Public Service: State and Local Government

This panel, comprised of state and local government attorneys, will discuss the work of these various offices and the inroads to public service.


  • Susan Pithey, Acting Senior Assistant Attorney General, California Department of Justice
  • Kenneth So, Deputy City Attorney, San Diego City Attorney’s Office
  • Irina Trasovan, Staff Counsel, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing