After a decade as a successful criminal defense practitioner, Terry Diggs returned to graduate school to study cinema – not for the purpose of making movies, but to interpret and write about the social, political and economic significance of film narratives. Building on that background of analytical technique and critical theory, Diggs developed Film and the Law, the seminar she has led since the early 1990s. One of the first of a still-growing number of law school classes that link law and film, Diggs’s seminar remains distinctive in employing formal analytical practices to locate in all kinds of narrative films the inherent -- and academically invaluable -- commentary on the effectiveness of courts in resolving social conflict.
Diggs’s many articles linking popular narratives and the role of law have appeared in a variety of mainstream and professional publications, most frequently in those of the American Lawyer Media organization, for which she has written a regular column. She has spoken extensively about the intersection of cases and culture before many and varied audiences, including those at federal judicial retreats, state bar associations, academic conferences and international film festivals. Among her most enjoyable roles has been as the director of successful film series that have presented the connections between film content and case law to public audiences, among them, “Sex & the Statutes: How Law Mixes Up Sexual Practice, Gender, Marriage and Procreation to the Detriment of Everyone” (Golden Gate University Law School).
In 2011, Diggs will begin her twenty-fourth year as an adjunct professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, where, in addition to her ongoing Film and the Law seminar, she has taught Criminal Procedure, Criminal Trial Advocacy and Trial Advocacy II.