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

          Wednesday, February 22, 2017

          ‘Always look for the helpers’: Meet 1L Michelle Human, AKA Miss Honey, Professional Faerie

          This little girl looked at me and she said, you're a flower fairy right? I said yes, I'm a flower fairy. She said, okay I have a wish, I wish that the garden in front of my house in Syria, I wish that the flowers could grow there again because right now there's fire and the ground is ash. I wish that we lived in a world where there's no bombs or bullets or fires, and that the earth was reminded how to grow flowers again.
          Tuesday, February 07, 2017

          Civil Rights Lawyer Zahra Billoo ’09 Is Fighting President Trump’s “Travel Ban”

          As leader of a Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter, she is standing up for the rights of Muslim Americans in court and in the media.
          Monday, February 06, 2017

          Hadar Aviram assumes the presidency of the Western Society of Criminology

          Congratulations to UC Hastings Professor Hadar Aviram, who is set to begin her term as the president of the Western Society of Criminology.
          Wednesday, February 01, 2017

          Statement from Dean Faigman: Deans Letter to California Supreme Court re California Bar Exam

          Today a group of 20 deans of ABA-accredited California law schools submitted a letter to the California Supreme Court, calling upon it to “exercise its legal jurisdiction over the California State Bar to adjust its scoring methods to bring them in line with the nation’s at large.”
          Wednesday, February 01, 2017

          Thinkers & Doers: January 2017

          THE RESISTANCE -- Haiku for Law Students -- Judge Gorsuch’s jurisprudence -- A Populist Crusade Against Corporate Greed -- THE MOST READ HBR ARTICLE OF ALL TIME -- Mom bias at work -- Will Trump’s refugee "ban" survive? -- Alumni recording artists -- and much more
          Go to News Archive