Access to Justice in California: Challenges and Policy Innovations

Image of a statue of Lady Justice holding scales, photo by Michal_Bednarek/Adobe Stock

Event Details

Date:

January 26, 2024

Time:

7:45 a.m. – Continental Breakfast and Networking
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Symposium (lunch provided)
5 to 6 p.m. – Reception

Location:

RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, California 90401-3208

Register

Registration for this event is now closed.

Program

In 2019, fifty-five percent of Californians experienced at least one civil legal problem in their household. However, nearly 70 percent of them received no legal help. Courts are seeing an alarming rise in self-represented litigants and an even more alarming crisis of “lumpers,” a term used to describe people who have legal problems but who take no action in the face of those problems.

This symposium will bring together panels of experts and practitioners to discuss unmet legal needs, hear about the variety of policy developments across the country to address those needs, learn about what is working and what isn’t, and unpack critics’ concerns about the loosening of regulations around the practice of law.

For further information, email icjevents@rand.org.

Speakers

WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS: Access to Justice: Foundational Insights

8:00 a.m.
James M. Anderson

James M. Anderson

Director, Justice Policy Program; Director, RAND Institute for Civil Justice; Senior Behavioral Scientist

James Anderson is Director of RAND’s Justice Policy Program and a senior behavioral scientist. He has researched a variety of legal policy issues ranging from insurance and autonomous vehicles to the effects of zoning on crime. He has been funded by the National Institute of Justice, the National Institutes of Health, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the State of Pennsylvania, the Institute for Civil Justice, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation. His work has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Journal of Law and Economics, the Oxford University Press, and in numerous RAND publications. He has presented to a wide variety of academic and professional audiences. He is a member of the American Law Institute. Before joining RAND, Anderson clerked for the Honorable Morton Greenberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and represented death row prisoners as a public defender for 10 years. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A in Ethics, Politics, and Economics from Yale University.

David Freeman Engstrom

David Freeman Engstrom

LSVF Professor in Law and Co-Director, Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford Law School

David Freeman Engstrom is the LSVF Professor in Law and Co-Director of the Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession at Stanford. An expert in civil procedure, administrative law, and law and technology, Engstrom’s current work focuses on access to justice and the future of courts and legal services in the age of AI. He currently serves as the Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Principles of the Law, High-Volume Civil Adjudication, which will offer courts guidance on the millions of low-dollar but highly consequential cases, including debt collection, eviction, and family law matters, that shape the lives of Americans each year. His edited volume, Legal Tech and the Future of Civil Justice, was published by Cambridge University Press earlier this year, and a second volume, Rethinking the Lawyer’s Monopoly: Legal Services Regulation and Access to Justice will be published by Cambridge in 2024. Engstrom also co-founded the Filing Fairness Project, an ambitious collaboration with seven states to simplify court technology and filing systems and lower access barriers. From 2020 to 2022, he served as a public appointee to the California State Bar’s Closing the Justice Gap Working Group, tasked with proposing reforms to foster innovation in legal services. Engstrom is an elected member of the American Law Institute, an appointed member of the Administrative Conference of the United States, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a faculty affiliate at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI. He has a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an M.Sc. from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. (political science) from Yale University.

PANEL 1: Expanding the Supply: Allied Legal Professionals 

8:30 a.m.

Moderator

Bridget Mary McCormack headshot

Hon. Bridget Mary McCormack

President and Chief Executive Officer, American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution

Bridget Mary McCormack is President and CEO of the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution. She is also a Strategic Advisor to the Future of the Profession Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Until the end of 2022, McCormack was Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, a position her peers selected her for in January 2019 after she served for six years as a Justice. While on the Court, she championed innovation and the use of technology to improve access to justice.

A graduate of New York University Law School, McCormack started her legal career in New York City. In 1996, she joined the Yale Law School faculty. She then joined the University of Michigan Law School faculty in 1998, where she taught criminal law, legal ethics, and numerous clinics. She was Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs from 2002 until 2012.

McCormack was elected to The American Law Institute in 2013. The Attorney General of the United States appointed her to the National Commission on Forensic Science in 2014. In 2019, the Governor of Michigan named her Co-Chair of the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration. In 2020, she joined the American Bar Association’s Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar and currently serves as Vice Chair. In 2021, the Governor of Michigan asked her to co-chair the Michigan Task Force on Forensic Science and to chair the Michigan Jail Reform Advisory Council. She also chaired the Michigan Judicial Council, the strategic planning body for the judicial branch. In 2021, McCormack was also appointed to serve nationally on The Council of State Governments Healthy States National Task Force and the ABA Center for Innovation’s Governing Council. She was also named Chair of the ABA Board of Elections.

McCormack is an Editor of the ABA’s preeminent publication, Litigation Journal. She speaks and writes frequently about access to justice, innovation in the legal profession, and legal education.

McCormack is married to Steven Croley, General Counsel and Chief Policy Officer at Ford Motor Company. They have four adult children.

Panelists

Silvia Argueta

Silvia Argueta

Executive Director, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Silvia Argueta has been the Executive Director at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) since 2008. LAFLA is the frontline law firm for low-income individuals in Los Angeles County. LAFLA is committed to promoting access to justice, strengthening communities, fighting discrimination, and effecting systemic change through representation, advocacy, and community education. Silvia leads a 200 plus staff non-profit law firm with five offices, four self-help centers, and three courthouse domestic violence clinics. She oversees an annual budget of over $41 million and all aspects of strategy, legal advocacy, finance, fund development, and technology. She recently oversaw an $18 million capital campaign and construction of LAFLA’s new headquarters, a cornerstone of justice that brings respect and dignity to both clients and staff. Silvia’s career has been devoted to achieving equal justice using direct representation, civil litigation, and policy to effect change.

Prior to joining LAFLA in 1999, Argueta was a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and prior to that at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California. She attended UCLA and obtained her degrees in Political Science and French in 1985. She received her law degree from UC Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings College of the Law) in 1989. Argueta was born in Guatemala and immigrated to Southern California at the age of 6. She was the first in her family to go to college and she credits her mother for empowering her and for being a wonderful model of strength, love, and perseverance. Her father’s legacy to her was instilling values of hard work, fairness, and a belief that one should always question authority.

Christy Carpenter

Christy Carpenter

Limited License Legal Technician, WA

Christy Carpenter has been licensed as a Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) in family law in Washington State since 2016. After working as a paralegal for 22 years, she opened her own solo family law practice in Tacoma, Washington, where she worked for four years before joining her current firm, Pacific Cascade Legal. Carpenter is in her sixth year of serving on the Washington State Bar Association’s LLLT Board and was the first LLLT to serve on the WSBA’s Family Law Executive Committee (FLEC). She is devoted to advancing access to justice though limited licensing and other innovations in the delivery of legal services and has been involved in state and national efforts to work toward those goals.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Director of Strategic Projects, North Carolina Justice for All Project

Alicia Mitchell-Mercer is the Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Projects at the North Carolina Justice for All Project (JFAP), a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to expanding access to justice throughout the state. JFAP focuses on empowering individuals through legal profession reform and education, addressing critical issues affecting North Carolinians. Additionally, she serves as the Director of Project Management at Lex Project Management Consulting Group in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a FINRA securities arbitrator. Previously, she was a member of the North Carolina State Bar Subcommittee Studying Regulatory Change (2021–2022). Mitchell-Mercer is presently a special advisor to the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission. She is now pursuing a doctorate in public policy and administration.

Justice Ioana Petrou

Hon. Ioana Petrou

Justice, California First District Court of Appeal

Justice Ioana Petrou has served on the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, since 2018. She previously served on the Alameda County Superior Court, where she was Chief Supervising Judge of the Civil Division. She chaired the State Bar’s California Paraprofessional Program Working Group and is a current member of the Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions and the State-Federal Judicial Council Committee. Justice Petrou served on the Board of Directors of the California Judges Association and is the current chair of its Appellate Committee. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Justice Petrou was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York and San Francisco and worked at O’Melveny & Myers and Foley & Lardner. She was also pro bono general counsel for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and served on its executive board. Justice Petrou is a graduate of Berkeley Law, where she teaches trial practice.

PANEL 2: Harnessing Capital and Innovation: Entity Licensing

10:00 a.m.

Moderator

Eric Helland

Eric Helland

Senior Economist, RAND Corporation; William F. Podlich Professor of Economics, Claremont McKenna College

Eric Helland is the William F. Podlich Professor of Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College, a senior economist at RAND’s Institute for Civil Justice, and the Co-Director of the CMC Policy Lab. He is the author of over 50 books and articles on law and economics. His current research focuses on elections, the judiciary, and mass litigation. In 2002-03, he was a visiting fellow at the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. In 2003-04, he served as a senior economist on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. In 2008, he was a visiting professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2011-12, he was a visiting scholar at USC’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. Helland was president of the Society for Empirical Legal Studies 2018-22 and is currently a Fellow of the Society for Empirical Legal Studies. He has taught empirical methods and law and economics at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, the Claremont Graduate University, and The Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. Helland was a co-editor of the International Review of Law and Economics from 2011 to 2022 and a member of the Journal of Law and Empirical Analysis editorial board. He was a member of the California Bar Association’s Closing the Justice Gap Working Group. He holds a B.A. in Economics with honors, a minor in Mathematics (University of Missouri-Columbia), and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis.

His articles have appeared in scholarly publications such as the Stanford Law Review, the Georgetown Law Review, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, the Journal of Legal Studies, American Law and Economics Review, the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, the Journal of Law and Economics, and the Review of Economics and Statistics.

Panelists

Danny Abir

Danny Abir

Managing Partner, ACTS LAW

Danny Abir is the Managing Partner of ACTS Law, one of the largest plaintiffs only litigation practices in California. After co-founding the firm in 2016, Abir has played a pivotal role in its remarkable growth. Under his leadership, ACTS Law has expanded to comprise over 32 dedicated lawyers and has achieved an impressive record of over $1 billion in recoveries for clients. Abir is actively involved in all key aspects of the firm. He interacts personally with every attorney and staff member, reflecting his dedication to creating a unique culture within ACTS Law—a culture centered around fighting for justice and relentlessly serving clients’ needs.

He has been a speaker at a number of conferences, including but not limited to CAALA, Law-Di-Gras, CAOC, and Justice HQ. His written work has appeared in a number of publications, including The Advocate, The Daily Journal, Super Lawyers, KABC, Stanford Journal of International Law, Boalt Hall Journal of International Tax and Business Law and The Los Angeles Times.

Abir serves on the board of multiple professional organizations, including on the board of governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California and as 2024 Treasurer/2028 President for the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. He also is a member of the American Association of Justice. In addition to his law degree holds Master of Law (LL.M.) degrees from Georgetown University Law Center and the New York University School of Law in International Law and Taxation.

Don Bivens

Don Bivens

Chair, Arizona Board of Non-Legal Service Providers

Don Bivens is the founding partner of Don Bivens, PLLC in Scottsdale, a First Tier law firm as recognized by Best Lawyers. Bivens is rated as a Best Lawyer across six categories of complex litigation and mediation. He is past chair of the ABA Section of Litigation, and past president of the State Bar of Arizona. Bivens recently finished his term as chair of the ABA Center for Innovation. He is active in the space of Alternative Business Structure Law Firms in Arizona. He serves as the compliance lawyer for Legal Zoom’s ABS in Arizona, and also Saddle Rock Legal Group. He is a member of ALI. Bivens is married to Trish Refo, a recent president of the ABA and a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Phoenix office. They live in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Andrea Donahue

Andrea Donahue

Program Director, Office of Legal Services Innovation

Andrea Donahue is the Program Director for the Office of Legal Services Innovation, which operates the Utah legal regulatory sandbox. She currently resides in Salt Lake City. Donahue is a graduate of Stanford Law School and has worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Prior to law school, Donahue worked on access to education initiatives for the Codman Academy Foundation. After law school, she was the Michael P. Murphy Public Law Fellow for the County of San Mateo where she focused on impact litigation.Donahue also worked as a labor and employment associate for Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP.

Erin Levine

Erin Levine, Esq.

CFLS, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Hello Divorce

Erin Levine, leveraging her extensive experience as a divorce attorney, founded Hello Divorce to revolutionize the traditional, adversarial divorce process into a more equitable, positive, and efficient journey. The platform employs advanced technology to streamline legal and financial aspects, providing personalized care and expert advice as needed. This innovative approach not only reduces costs and time but also levels the playing field, allowing spouses to resolve matters fairly and amicably. Levine’s impactful work in legal technology has garnered prestigious awards such as the James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering, and has been featured in media including Forbes, Vice, Bloomberg, and TechCrunch.

Jack Rives

Jack L. Rives

President, Rocket Legal Professional Services, Rocket Lawyer

Jack L. Rives received both his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and law school degrees from the University of Georgia. Following graduation from law school, he began a 33-year career in the United States Air Force as a military attorney, or judge advocate (JAG). He served as The Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force, the senior U.S. Air Force attorney, and he was the first military attorney to attain the three-star rank of lieutenant general. Rives led some 4,600 legal professionals worldwide, including 2,600 active duty, reserve component, and civilian lawyers. Among his military awards and decorations are the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster and the Defense Superior Service Medal.

On Law Day (May 1), 2010, Rives began serving as the Executive Director of the American Bar Association. He had overall management responsibility for staff operations at the Association’s headquarters in Chicago, at its Washington, D.C. office, and at program sites in California, Texas, and some 60 countries throughout the world. He oversaw a staff of more than 1,000 and a consolidated budget of over $200 million, and he ensured the effective development and direct implementation of the Association’s strategic goals. He helped to ensure the ABA’s position as the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world.

On September 1, 2023, Rives began his current duties as the President of Rocket Legal Professional Services, a subsidiary of Rocket Lawyer, which makes the law affordable and accessible. Since 2008, Rocket Lawyer has helped over 25 million people create over 50 million legal documents and get their legal questions answered. Rives spearheads the company’s Alternative Business Structure initiatives and plays a key role executing AI strategy and solutions that accelerate productivity while being well-regulated and controlled by human judgment.

PANEL 3: Expanding the Impact: Justice Workers in Local Communities

11:30 a.m.

Moderator

Sacha Steinberger

Sacha Steinberger

Founder and Co-Executive Director, Legal Link

Sacha Steinberger is the Founder and Co-Executive Director of Legal Link. Prior to founding Legal Link, Steinberger litigated worker’s rights and civil rights cases at Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C. in Oakland, clerked for Federal District Court Judge Martin J. Jenkins, and worked with Bay Area legal non-profits on worker’s rights and benefits issues. Prior to law school, Steinberger did community, labor, and electoral organizing, and uses her community organizing background to employ the law as a tool to help clients move out of poverty. Steinberger received her J.D. from the UC Law SF (Formerly UC Hastings), and her B.A. from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She is a member of the State Bar of California.

Panelists

Hayley Cousin

Hayley Cousin

CAPP Program Director, Timpanogos Legal Center

Hayley Cousin is CAPP Program Director at Timpanogos Legal Center. Her career in law focuses on addressing the access to justice gap, primarily in the areas of family law and housing. She helped develop and now runs the Certified Advocate Partners Program, an innovative legal services program wherein victim advocates are trained in how to provide legal services to victims of abuse seeking a protective order. Cousin graduated with honors from BYU Law and currently resides in Utah.

Leigh Ferrin

Leigh Ferrin

Program Director, OneJustice

Leigh Ferrin, Program Director at OneJustice, graduated from Pomona College in 2002 with a B.A. in Psychology, and from Loyola Law School in 2008 with her J.D. After law school, Leigh began her legal career as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow working on foreclosure and bankruptcy at Public Law Center (PLC) in Santa Ana, California. She remained at PLC after her fellowship, holding various positions where she directed the pro bono work, supervised the Consumer Law unit, and led the systemic impact work before becoming the Director of Legal Services. Leigh joined OneJustice in 2022 as a Program Director focusing on strategy & impact, pro bono, and policy & advocacy.

Nikole Nelson

Nikole Nelson

Chief Executive Officer, Frontline Justice

Nikole Nelson is the founding CEO of Frontline Justice. Prior to joining Frontline Justice, Nelson was the Executive Director of Alaska Legal Services Corporation, Alaska’s only statewide provider of free civil aid. During her 25 years in the field, she worked to build community-led, people-centered justice models and to expand the scope of who can provide legal help including a groundbreaking launch of Partnering for Native Health, a Medical-Legal Partnership involving non-lawyer justice workers that won the 2019 World Justice Challenge. She also spearheaded reforming restrictions on unauthorized practice of law for justice workers in Alaska; these reforms were approved in 2022 by both the Alaska Supreme Court and State Bar Board of Governors. Nelson is a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) and is a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Rural Justice Task Force.

Devin Shakespear

Devin Shakespear

CAPP Certified Victim Advocate, Kane County Utah Attorney

Devin Shakespear works for the Kane County Attorney’s Office in Southern Utah as the Victim Services Coordinator. Shakespear graduated from Southern Utah University with her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Since then, she was hired as the Victim Services Coordinator and has been in this position for nearly 9 years. In 2020, she became certified through the Timpanogos Legal Center as a certified advocate. This program allowed her to expand services provided to victims by allowing her to assist in providing legal advice regarding protective orders, drafting the orders, and preparing the clients for court.

LUNCH AND KEYNOTE

12:45 p.m.
Hon. Kelli M. Evans

Hon. Kelli M. Evans

Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court

Justice Kelli M. Evans serves as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice Evans served as a Judge in the Alameda County Superior Court, presiding over both criminal and civil matters.

Prior to her appointment to the Alameda County bench, Justice Evans served as Chief Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary in the Office of Governor Newsom, where she advised the Governor and executive agencies on a variety of legal, policy, and legislative issues.

Justice Evans previously served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General at the California Department of Justice with a focus in criminal justice, public safety, and civil rights law and policy. Justice Evans has had a long career of public service. Before joining the California Department of Justice, she served as Senior Director for the Administration of Justice at the California State Bar. Prior to joining the State Bar, she was Associate Director of the ACLU of Northern California and served as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office. Justice Evans also has served as a member of federal court-appointed monitoring teams for the Oakland and Cleveland Police Departments.

Justice Evans has sat on the governing boards of a number of non-profit organizations and currently serves on the California Commission on Access to Justice. She has received numerous awards and recognition including the King Hall Distinguished Alumna Award, the Stanford Trailblazer Award, Judge of the Year Award, Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, State Bar President’s Award, and a Medal of Achievement from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.

Justice Evans received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her law degree from the University of California at Davis, where she was the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Public Service.

PANEL 4: The Doctrinal Horizon: UPL, First Amendment, and Antitrust

2:00 p.m.

Moderator

Nora Freeman Engstrom

Nora Freeman Engstrom

Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law; Co-Director, Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford Law School

Nora Freeman Engstrom is the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. A nationally recognized authority on tort law, professional responsibility, and complex litigation, she also co-directs the Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession. Beyond that, she is the author of numerous award-winning scholarly articles, the co-author of a leading legal ethics textbook, the co-author of a classic torts textbook, and a Reporter for two Third Restatement of Torts projects. In 2022, the American Law Institute awarded her the R. Ammi Cutter Reporter’s Chair for her work on the Restatements, one of the highest honors that organization bestows.

Before joining Stanford’s faculty in 2009, Professor Engstrom was a litigator and law clerk, including to Judge Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She also worked at the Department of Justice where she focused on international terrorism and was awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Superior Service. She earned her J.D. with distinction from Stanford Law School and her B.A. from Dartmouth College, summa cum laude.

Panelists

Maggie Goodlander

Maggie Goodlander

Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division

Maggie Goodlander currently serves as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice where she oversees the international, appellate, and policy work of the Antitrust Division. Prior to her appointment in September 2022, Goodlander served as Counselor to Attorney General Merrick Garland and advised the Attorney General on a wide range of legal, policy, and management matters, including antitrust enforcement, consumer protection, and the development and execution of the Justice Department‘s $35.3 billion budget. In addition, she helped launch two new components within the Justice Department: the Office for Access to Justice and the Office for Environmental Justice.

Before joining the Department of Justice in January 2021, Goodlander taught constitutional law and administrative law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Over the past decade, she has worked in each branch of the United States government and in both houses of Congress, including as a law clerk to both U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and then-Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee; as a senior advisor to U.S. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; and as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve. Born and raised in Nashua, New Hampshire, Goodlander is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

Brenda Murphy

Brenda Murphy

President, NAACP South Carolina State Conference

Brenda C. Murphy, a native of Ridgeway, South Carolina, is a renowned nursing professional and dedicated advocate for justice. Holding both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina, she has had a diverse career spanning nursing administration, education, and therapy. Murphy served in the United States Army Reserves Nurse Corp, achieving the rank of Major, and retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs as an Associate Chief Nurse.

Recognized for her leadership and advocacy, Murphy has received numerous awards, including the National NAACP Juanita Jackson Mitchell Award for Legal Activism. She is the first female president of the NAACP South Carolina State Conference and a life member of the NAACP. Additionally, she is involved with various organizations, including the United Way of South Carolina and the American Red Cross Regional Diversity Committee.

Dedicated to promoting justice and equality, Murphy’s work aligns with key societal game-changers in health, education, and justice. Her influence and commitment have established her as a prominent figure in the state of South Carolina.

Daniel B. Rodriguez

Daniel B. Rodriguez

Harold Washington Professor of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Daniel B. Rodriguez is the Harold Washington Professor of Law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, where he also served as dean from 2012 to 2018. Previously he was a tenured professor at University of Texas, University of San Diego, and UC Berkeley law schools, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, USC, and Virginia. A prolific scholar, Professor Rodriguez has authored many articles and book chapters on topics in American public law, including constitutional law, administrative law, regulatory federalism, and local government law. His latest book, Good Governing: The Police Power in the American States, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2024. Professor Rodriguez is a board member of the American Bar Foundation and a council member of the American Law Institute, in addition to other professional organizations.

Joe Schottenfeld

Joe Schottenfeld

Assistant General Counsel, NAACP

Joe Schottenfeld is an assistant general counsel for the NAACP, where he litigates a variety of constitutional and civil rights cases and helps develop new policies and programs. In addition to his work at the NAACP, he co-teaches a civil rights clinic at NYU and is a senior affiliated research scholar in the law school’s Community Equity Lab.

PANEL 5: Access to Justice and Consumer Protection: Perspectives from the Executive and Legislative Branches

3:30 p.m.

Moderator

David Freeman Engstrom

David Freeman Engstrom

LSVF Professor in Law and Co-Director, Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford Law School

Panelists

Francesca Gessner

Francesca Gessner

Chief of Policy, Office of the Attorney General Rob Bonta, California Department of Justice

Francesca Gessner has served as Chief of Policy to California Attorney General Rob Bonta since October 2021. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Gessner served in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office for 15 years, serving in a variety of roles including advice counsel to the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and various city departments, as well as litigating affirmative cases under California’s Unfair Competition law and defending challenges to city ordinances. Francesca graduated Order of the Coif from Stanford Law School and clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University.

Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur

Rick Zbur

California Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair

California Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair Rick Zbur was elected to the California State Assembly in November of 2022 to represent the 51st Assembly District. He was appointed in July 2023 by Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas to serve as the Democratic Caucus Chair of the California Assembly, one of the Speaker's key leadership positions.

A former Executive Director of Equality California, the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, Zbur worked to advance civil rights and social justice for the diverse communities to which LGBTQ+ people belong—communities of color, communities of faith, immigrants, women and people living with HIV.

He also fought to address climate change with urgency as an environmental lawyer and 20-year board member of the California League of Conservation Voters, now renamed California Environmental Voters and was its president for six years. Zbur fought for environmental justice and a focus on vulnerable communities that are hardest hit by pollution and to advance sustainable housing and green job programs.

Zbur grew up in a rural farming community in the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico and ultimately became the first person in his rural community to attend an Ivy League university. After graduating from Yale College and Harvard Law School, Rick moved to Los Angeles in 1985.

CLOSING REMARKS

4:45 p.m.
David Freeman Engstrom

David Freeman Engstrom

LSVF Professor in Law and Co-Director, Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford Law School

CLOSING RECEPTION

5:00 p.m.