Thursday, September 20, 2012

          For This Award-Winning Professor, the Human Element Keeps the Legal Field Engaging

          This summer, UC Hastings Professor Evan Lee traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 15th year in a row to provide on-air analysis of U.S. Supreme Court cases for a television program called Supreme Court Term in Review. The show, produced by the Federal Judicial Center, demands extensive preparation and pays little, says Lee. Yet he loves every minute of it.

          "Interacting with my fellow panelists is truly stimulating," Lee says of his colleagues Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of UC Irvine, Laurie Levenson of Loyola Law School, and Suzanna Sherry of Vanderbilt University Law School. "These are some of the most impressive legal scholars in the nation. And I thoroughly enjoy all the people who work at the Federal Judicial Center. Really, everyone looks forward to it."

          That melding of law and personal relationships has kept Lee engaged in his profession for the past 23 years. The Yale-educated academic is fascinated by the law, which comes across in his energetic and animated teaching of criminal law and federal courts classes at UC Hastings. Yet it's the personal attention to students that has contributed most to Lee's numerous awards, including Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year, Professor of the Year, and the Rutter Group Award for Excellence in Teaching.

          "The most fun I ever have as a law professor is with a single student in my office, talking about everything: law, courts, society, politics, philosophy. There's nothing I do that's more gratifying than that," he says.

          Lee also is passionate about helping his students see the law--and federal courts in particular--as dynamic, rather than something preordained and untouchable. This philosophy led to his 2011 book, Judicial Restraint: How the Ageless Wisdom of Federal Courts Was Invented, which discusses the evolving shape of judicial restraint rulings.

          "I used to present constitutional law to students as if the rules were handed down from the mountain because that's the way I was taught," he says. "Now, I tell students that law is a product of human beings, of economic, political, and cultural currents that run through a society at any given time. It's important to remember that and not cop out, not to say our hands are tied here, because that absolves us of responsibility."

          In addtion to his own teaching, Lee--recently named the Honorable Roger J. Traynor Director of Scholarly Programs--has long been committed to enhancing intellectual life on campus. When he served as associate dean for research, he brought in heavy-hitting guest speakers, including U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. Lee looks forward to continuing to foster dialogue wiht "the most interesting lawyers in the world" by co-directing Legally Speaking, a UC Hastings lecture series created withCalifornia Lawyer magazine. Offering opportunities to discuss law while developing relationships--you might say it's another role tailor-made for Evan Lee.

          [ADVICE CORNER]

          What advice would you give to attorneys preparing to argue before a federal judge?

          If the judge is leaning your way, just look confident and hammer home the same points you made in your briefs. If the judge is leaning the other way, the best you can do is plant a big seed of doubt and get the judge to take it under advisement. Hopefully, opposing counsel will say something inadvisable, and then you go on the offensive. Most important, when the judge finally rules in your favor, throw your papers into your briefcase and run out of the courtroom.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Thursday, April 20, 2017

          Legalized: Aaron Herzberg ’95 is at the forefront of California’s budding cannabis industry.

          2L Jeremy Schwartz, President of UC Hastings Law Students for Sensible Drug Policy, interviews the divorce attorney turned marijuana real estate entrepreneur and dispensary owner.
          Tuesday, April 18, 2017

          UC Hastings Courtside: 3L Tom Lin Externs at the Supreme Court of California

          With the goal of becoming a first-generation attorney, Tom served as a judicial extern to the Hon. Goodwin H. Liu and Hon. Ming W. Chin, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of California.
          Monday, April 10, 2017

          Healing and Trust: Students Organize Public Hearing for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission

          The “rebellious” Community Group Advocacy and Social Justice Lawyering Group Clinic students strive to create dialogue around the current state of community-police relations and take steps toward building a safer community.
          Friday, April 07, 2017

          Judge Jed S. Rakoff to Keynote 136th UC Hastings Law Commencement

          Prominent legal thinker and scholar hailed as “a legal hero of our time” by Rolling Stone, and among “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” by Fortune.
          Thursday, April 06, 2017

          Thinkers & Doers: March 2017

          The Californian who tried to fix Washington -- TRIAL TEAM IS #1 -- Clean Water Regulation Rollbacks -- Big Whistle-Blower Lawsuit Win -- “Defender” Documentary -- Boutique Suing Ivanka Trump -- The Endangered Antiquities Act -- and much more
          Go to News Archive