UCHastings Instagram

          Jeanette Acosta *highly recommends* the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic. #wiifm #asylum #hope
          Instagram Photo Likes aoverhouse, andrew.m.scott, paris.hayes and 18 others like this.
          Wednesday, September 25, 2013

          Joan C. Williams: Advocating for Laws that Promote Work-Life Balance

          Professors Robin Feldman, Elizabeth L. Hillman, and Joan C. Williams pursue dynamic and timely fields of legal inquiry.
          Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey

          Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey

          UC Hastings Professors Robin Feldman, Elizabeth L. Hillman, and Joan C. Williams chose to explore hot-button topics in their fields long before those issues became trendy. These professors are just three of the many UC Hastings scholars who have earned stellar reputations for having their fingers on the pulse of what’s coursing through society.

          Credit UC Hastings’ academic culture, which fosters thoroughly researched work, vetted by colleagues, that espouses novel legal theories. Spanning every discipline, scholarship at UC Hastings infuses public debate and often translates into policy changes adopted by legislative and regulatory bodies.

          Research by Feldman, Hillman, and Williams has triggered changes in legislation and rule making across agencies as diverse as the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Labor. The professors’ scholarly work in the fields of intellectual property, military violence, and work-life balance has been published in world-class law reviews and cited in court briefs; it has also reached mainstream audiences through blog posts and op-ed pieces.

          Joan C. Williams: Advocating for Laws that Promote Work-Life Balance

          According to the New York Times, Joan C. Williams has achieved “something approaching rock-star status” among work-life advocates.

          Case in point: as director of the Center for WorkLife Law, Williams devised innovative legal theories, adopted by the Second Circuit and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), about family-responsibilities discrimination, a rapidly growing area of employment law in which federal court plaintiffs win roughly two-thirds of the time.

          “A lot of organizations work for 20 or 30 years to get a law passed,” explains Williams, author or co-author of more than 70 academic articles and seven books, and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. “Our role is different. We seek to achieve concrete change in a three- to five-year span. Sometimes, law is the most effective change-delivery system. But not always: We also have developed best-practice flexibility policies for professional and hourly workers.” The center invented the modern part-time policies in law firms and academia, which keep professionals on partnership and tenure tracks. Its best practices for hourly workers are being built into scheduling software by Intuit. According to Victoria Lipnic, former assistant secretary at the Department of Labor and now an EEOC commissioner, the center’s path-breaking work documenting the work-family conflict among hourly workers, notably Williams’ 2006 report “One Sick Child Away from Being Fired,” helped save intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

          The center’s interdisciplinary working groups bring together social scientists and activists to produce action-ready research. This model has spread to Stanford and Columbia, which currently participate in working groups co-organized with the center.

          The center is developing new legal theories to secure pregnancy accommodations, the results of which will be published in the Yale Law and Policy Review. The center’s “Poor, Pregnant, and Fired” report found that many pregnant blue-collar women are fired every year “for not being allowed to carry a water bottle, for needing more bathroom breaks, for requiring larger bulletproof vests.” As a result, pregnancy accommodations are now a key strategic initiative for the EEOC.

          Choosing what to study is “idiosyncratic,” explains Williams, a recipient of the prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association and its Outstanding Scholar of the Year Award. “I was an environmental lawyer who had a baby and learned that the world was not set up for mothers.” 

          And today that baby—now a student at Yale Law School named Rachel Dempsey—has become one of Williams’ most frequent collaborators. Early next year, mother and daughter will publish their first book together, What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Every Woman Should Know, from NYU Press. “Work-life balance matters deeply to me,” says Williams.

          Read more from UC Hastings magazine here.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Friday, April 17, 2015

          3Ls Hayley Reynolds & Daniel Zarchy Win at Ninth Circuit

          Case presents novel issue of whether witness tampering is categorically a crime involving moral turpitude for purposes of federal immigration proceedings, writes Stephen Tollafield, Professor & Associate Director, Legal Writing & Moot Court Department.
          Thursday, April 16, 2015

          HAP Students Argue Police Evasion Case at Ninth Circuit

          3Ls Gregory Michael and Dorothy Yamamoto argued their
          Thursday, April 16, 2015

          Thinkers & Doers: April 09, 2015

          UC Hastings community members in the news and making moves,  April 10, 2015 - April 16, 2015.
          Friday, April 10, 2015

          UC Hastings Legacy Society Celebrates at "A View From Above" Reception

          Photos and more from the Legacy Society's "A View From Above" reception, hosted by Trustee Betsy England '78.
          Thursday, April 09, 2015

          Feldman and Frondorf: Patent Trolls Are Crashing The IPO Party

          Professor Robin Feldman and Research Fellow Evan Frondorf have published a new study demonstrating that companies are often approached by patent trolls shortly before or after an IPO.
          Go to News Archive