Lawyers, Community and Impact

Message from Dean Gillian Lester

Fall 2017

One of the great pleasures of being part of an intellectual community such as ours is the opportunity to have thoughtful and respectful discussions about the legal and social ramifications of domestic and world events as they unfold. To catch up on some of the most significant events of this summer, our Lawyers, Community & Impact series is kicking off with two important panels: “Reflection on Charlottesville” on September 6th and “An Update on Recent Developments in Law and Politics” on September 13th.

The series will continue this fall with a focus on the role lawyers play at the subnational level—how they shape public policy and collaborate with the private sector in states, counties, cities, and towns. New York will be the focus of early discussions on environmental reform, civil rights, immigration, and labor issues vis-à-vis the federal government.

Throughout the school year, you will hear me emphasize the importance of building and cultivating community, performing meaningful service, pursuing new ideas, and pushing the boundaries of discussion in courses and seminars.

I consider this sort of proactive engagement to be a critically important part of the process of growing collectively as an inclusive, innovative, and empathic community. Many thoughtful discussions—in task forces, committees, and organized convenings—and informally in hallway conversations between faculty, staff, and students are happening here each day. These exchanges are an essential facet of the intellectual discovery happening on our campus.

The goal of the  Lawyers, Community, and Impact Series, which is sponsored by the Dean’s Office, is to strengthen connections and build texture by bringing deeper context and perspective to the work we do both inside and outside the classroom. I hope you will all want to participate, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

2018 Events

The Fair Housing Act at 50:  A round table discussion on the past, present and future of integration in America

A roundtable discussion with Lance Freeman, Professor, Columbia School of Planning; Diane Houk '83, Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady (counsel in the fair housing challenge to Facebook among other high profile cases); Valerie Dent '93 -- First Deputy Commissioner, New York State Commission on Human Rights moderated by Professor Olatunde Johnson.  

This event is co-sponsored by the Lawyers, Community and Impact Series, the Columbia School of Planning, and the CLS Journal of Race and the Law.

Our panelist bios. 
NFHA v. Facebook 
Easterchester Amended Complaint 


Monday, April 23rd, 2018 @ 12:10pm to 1:00pm in JG 104


Law and Politics in 2018

Professors Suzanne Goldberg, Jamal Greene, and Alex Raskolnikov will provide an update on legal, cultural, and policy responses to sexual assault; partisan gerrymandering; and tax reform. Professor Olatunde Johnson will moderate the discussion.

This event is co-sponsored by the Lawyers, Community and Impact Series, the Vice-Dean of Intellectual Life, and the Office of Student Services.

Tuesday, January 17, 12:10 pm to 1:10 pm in JG 103


Video of the event:

2017 Events

Faculty Film Series: A Civil Action

Join Professors Philip Genty, Bert Huang, Olatunde Johnson, Thomas Lee, Benjamin Liebman, and Kristen Underhill. Snacks will be served.

Plot: The year is 1979.  The location is East Woburn, MA.  Two drinking wells supplying water to the town are found to be contaminated with industrial solvents.  Toxic waste is discovered the same year.  Are local factories to blame?  Residents think so.  Based on a true story. 

Co-sponsored by the Lawyers, Community and Impact Series, the Vice-Dean of Intellectual Life, and the Office of Student Services.

Wednesday, October 25th, 4:20 pm to 6:20 pm in JG 104


Pro Bono Opportunity: Election Protection

Help to ensure eligible voters are able to participate in our democracy while collecting data for meaningful reform so that our elections are free, fair, and accessible.

October 25th, 6:00pm to 7:00pm in JG 104


The Question of ID: Access to Vote and the November 2016 Election

Professor Richard Briffault and Julie Ebenstein, Staff Attorney, Voting Rights Project, will discuss the history of voter identification laws as well as the impact of recent federal judicial rulings related to various states’ passage of these laws.

Thursday, September 29th, 12:10 pm to 1:10 pm in JG 103

Materials from the event: Presentation 1, Presentation 2

Video of the event:


Policing the Police: The Future of Police Reform

A conversation with Professors Jeffrey Fagan and Olatunde Johnson will explore the possibilities and future of police reform in America.

Wednesday, September 14th, 12:10 pm to 1:10 pm in JG 103

Materials from the event: Presentation

Video of the event:


An Update on Recent Developments in Law and Politics

Professor Kathryn Judge, Professor David Pozen, and Professor Elora Mukherjee will provide an update on the significance of recent legislation and policy addressing national security, speech, immigration, and financial regulation. A non-pizza lunch will be provided.

Co-sponsored by the Lawyers, Community and Impact Series, the Vice-Dean of Intellectual Life, and the Office of Student Services.

Wednesday, September 13th, 12:10 pm to 1:10 pm in JG 103


Reflections on Charlottesville

Join Professor Olatunde Johnson, Professor Katherine Franke, Professor Jeremy Kessler, and Professor Kendall Thomas in a roundtable discussion on the history, law, and politics of the issues being raised as a result of the protests in Charlottesville, Virgina. Light refreshments will be served.

Suggested readings: “Donald Trump's Identity Politics” (The New York Times); “The ACLU's Free Speech Stance Should Be About Social Justice, Not ‘Timeless’ Principles” (Los Angeles Times); “Equality, Justice and the First Amendment” (ACLU Speak Freely blog); “ACLU of Virginia Response to Governor’s Allegations that ACLU is Responsible for Violence in Charlottesville” (ACLU); “The Debate Over Confederate Monuments” (Take Care blog).

Co-sponsored by the Lawyers, Community and Impact Series, the Vice-Dean of Intellectual Life, and the Office of Student Services.

Wednesday, September 6th, 4:20  pm to 5:30 pm in Case Lounge


Good Old-Fashioned Park CleanUp!

In honor of Earth Day, join Student Services and Student Senate for a good old-fashioned cleanup of the 116th Street section of Morningside Park. Sign up here!

Should you have any questions, please email [email protected].

Friday, April 21st, 10:00am to 2:00pm at Morningside Park


Beyond the 1L Curriculum: Shelley v. Kraemer

In Shelley, the Supreme Court held that a state court could not enforce a racially restrictive covenant. Still, residential segregation by race is a persistent feature of American life. In this conversation, scholars of contracts, property, anti-discrimination, and constitutional law come together to talk across the curriculum about a landmark decision and its continuing legacy.

Thursday, April 14th, 4:45 pm to 6:45 pm in JG 103


Beyond the 1L Curriculum: Gideon v. Wainwright

More than half a century after the Supreme Court first declared a constitutional right to state-provided counsel for indigent criminal defendants, access to competent counsel remains one of the justice system's most vexing challenges. In this conversation, a scholar of criminal law, a judge and former prosecutor, and two clinical professors who have worked closely with indigent clients offer their unique perspectives on Gideon's legacy.

Wednesday, April 20th, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm in JG 103


The Constitution in the Age of Trump

This panel will address the impact of the election on the constitutional dimensions and governance of the media, internet, press, national security and human rights. Confirmed panelists are Thomas Merrill (Charles Evens Hughes Professor of Law), Cristina Rodriguez (Samuel Rubin Visiting Professor of Law), Jessica Bulman-Pozen (Professor of Law) and Jameel Jaffer (Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute). This panel will be moderated by Gillian Metzger (Stanley H. Fuld Professor of Law).

The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Governance, Lawyers, Community and Impact, Vice-Dean of Intellectual Life  and Student Services. Light refreshments will be provided.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 4:20pm to 6:00pm in JG 103

Watch the talk here:



The Immigration Executive Orders: What We Know and What's Next

Join the Samuel Rubin Visiting Professor of Law Cristina Rodriguez,  Visiting Associate Clinical Professor of Law Jason Parkin, and Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute Fellow Mr. Waleed Alhariri who will discuss the impact of President Trump's Executive Orders on Immigration. Lunch will be served.

Co-sponsored by Vice Dean of Intellectual Life, SJI, Human Rights Institute, Student Services and the Lawyers, Community and Impact Series.

Tuesday, January 31st, 12:10pm to 1:10pm in JG 106


What’s Next for American Democracy?

Law, Culture, and Policy in an Age of Trump. Join Professors Tim Wu, Katharina Pistor, and Kristen Underhill for remarks and a discussion. Lunch will be served.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 12:10–1:10 p.m. in Jerome Greene Hall, Room 103

Video of the event: