Scholarly excellence is a primary value of UC Hastings Law.
In keeping with our public-service mission, our scholars strive to be influential in ways that advance legal understanding, shape public policy, and facilitate solutions to complex challenges facing California and the world. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, faculty are already exploring how the workplace could be permanently altered by sheltering in place and telecommuting; how drug pricing structures could inhibit—or encourage—vaccine development and treatment availability; how the virus could change approaches to bail, court appearances, litigation, and incarceration.
Our faculty scholars harness our academic and geographic assets to shed light on matters of legal theory, law practice, emerging technologies, and societal circumstances affecting the lives of people in all walks of life. They illuminate important issues through sophisticated research, academic publishing, Congressional testimony, diverse partnerships, media outreach, and other avenues.
Our senior faculty includes prominent, widely cited scholars who are thought leaders within their specialties. Meanwhile, we’ve recruited a new generation of scholars that is gaining national recognition for groundbreaking work, focused on the intersections of law with healthcare, business, technology, the environment, international affairs, and the many facets of social justice.
We’ve recruited a new generation of scholars that is gaining national recognition for groundbreaking work.
A key priority of the institutional strategic plan is to build on existing scholarly strengths by launching new subject-specific centers of excellence that connect our research, our students, and the practice community in powerful new ways.
To channel our capabilities for wide, practical benefit, we operate 10 major centers of research and program excellence: concentrations of scholars addressing legal issues in arenas as wide-ranging as intellectual property, immigration, and taxation. In alignment with our strategic plan’s goals, we established our tenth center in 2019: the Center for Racial and Economic Justice—a prime example of combining scholarship with cross-disciplinary problem-solving.
These centers serve as integrating hubs within the college. They also link our faculty members with scholars in other academic institutions and organizations. As their diverse sources of funding attest, the centers function as high-performing analysts and advocates.
Our Civic Center setting plays a pivotal role in this work, placing us physically and intellectually at the nexus of legal theory and practice. Located a brief walk from city, state, and federal courts, UC Hastings is vitally connected to the challenging realities of human lives and legal needs. At the same time, our proximity to Silicon Valley—and to the headquarters of some of the planet’s preeminent technology giants—keeps us closely engaged with the people, companies, and innovations that drive some of the fastest, most disruptive changes in societies worldwide.
To support our community of top-tier legal thinkers in producing influential scholarship and maximizing its impact
- Provide faculty with the resources necessary to pursue their research interests and to produce scholarship that serves the public good
- Extend the reach of faculty scholarship and its utility to government, business, policy, and advocacy leaders
- Continue to build centers of excellence that integrate our research, our students, and our alumni with broader practice and academic communities
- Maintain a vibrant and engaged intellectual community
Meet Some Scholars
Professors recognized for important and influential scholarship share the interests that spark their passions.
Law and the Pandemic Podcast Series
COVID-19 Legal Perspectives & Information
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Research and Program Centers of Excellence
Our centers serve as integrating hubs, linking faculty members who function as high-performing analysts and advocates.
Center for Business Law
To bring together top scholars, business leaders, practitioners, regulators, and students to engage in the study, teaching, and practice of business law.
Faculty Director Jared Ellias tapped to lead committee of top scholars advising Congress on preparing for a pandemic-related spike in large corporate bankruptcies.
Center for Gender and Refugee Studies
To defend, as a national leader in refugee law, the rights of asylum seekers through research, advocacy, strategic litigation, and education.
Won a major victory in the D.C. Circuit Court in Grace v. Barr, removing barriers to protection for asylum seekers.
Center for Innovation
To promote data-driven law-making, problem solving, and policy-making at the intersection of law, health care, and technology.
In 2019, Startup Legal Garage paired 50 students with senior attorneys to provide free legal resources to 60 tech and life science firms.
Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
To deliver superior experiential education and cutting-edge scholarship in dispute resolution to law students, attorneys, judges, practitioners, and international organizations.
Introduced Leadership Lab Certificate program focused on “soft” skills such as de-escalating volatile situations, breaking down biases, and managing power imbalances.
Center for Racial and Economic Justice
To work to reframe the discourse in legal education and to center the treatment of people of color under the law.
Produced Black Hastings Speaks, a six-episode podcast series that presents authentic stories of Black experiences within the Hastings community.
Center on Tax Law
To connect students, faculty, alumni, and friends who study, discuss, practice, and seek to improve tax law.
Established Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic to provide free legal assistance to taxpayers with IRS issues plus education and outreach to underserved communities.
Center for WorkLife Law
To conduct research and advocacy to advance gender and racial equality in the workplace and in higher education.
Developed Bias Interrupters toolkit including two-page handout used to increase bonuses and performance evaluations of Black men and women and white women.
Institute for Criminal Justice
To promote fair, effective, ethical administration of criminal justice through rigorous scholarship, high-quality pedagogy, legal representation, and community outreach.
Hosted a symposium about progressive prosecution with the Hastings Journal of Crime and Punishment and the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal.
To serve as an accelerator for legal tech startups where students and alumni collaborate with entrepreneurs and students pursue a concentration in law and technology.
Hosted 10 events on legal technology and innovation, including an international public hackathon focused on access to justice.
UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy
To support interdisciplinary collaboration on subjects at the intersections of law, science, and health policy, with special focus on education, research, and clinical training and service.
Faculty and students provided free advocacy to address health-related legal needs of low-income older patients at high risk of hospitalization during the pandemic.
A Place to Stand, Wielding Levers of Change
Center for WorkLife Law takes practical approach to promoting equality in the workplace
“Pessimism takes no imagination,” says Professor Joan Williams. “I strive to be always optimistic.”
Williams—Founding Director of UC Hastings’ Center for WorkLife Law—has good reason to hope: The center has won numerous victories at the state and national levels, helping dismantle workplace discrimination against pregnant women, nursing mothers, and farmworkers. Her center also is at the forefront of evidence-based approaches to diversity and inclusion, with a particular focus on STEM and women of color.
The center’s social change lawyering philosophy enlists strategic “change levers,” such as doctors and scientists, to fuel legal and organizational progress. Beyond winning specific battles, the center’s two decades of research, testimony, and litigation have created the practice specialty of family responsibilities discrimination, elevating the center—and Williams—to national prominence.
The center’s diversity and inclusion work includes the Hastings Leadership Academy for Women, a preeminent leadership program for women law firm partners for over a decade. The center’s online Bias Interrupters toolkit has been used by organizations in the U.S. and abroad to identify and measure bias—and reduce it. Williams’s book What Works for Women at Work is now in its tenth printing, and a video-series adaptation—created by Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn Foundation and featuring Williams—has been downloaded nearly half a million times.
Obstacles still abound. So does Williams’s formidable optimism.
Deciphering the Tax Code, in Theory and in Practice
Center for Tax Law grapples with issues of universal impact
Professor Manoj Viswanathan views taxes through an uncommon lens: the lens of engineering. After earning a master’s degree in chemical engineering, he switched to tax law—a shift that wasn’t as incongruous as it might seem. “Science and law are both analytical,” he says. “Tax law has a technical component I like. It also has powerful real-world impact.”
That impact is magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re now looking to our government to make the right decisions and provide the resources to get us through some tough times,” he says. “Whenever you talk about allocating resources, you have to talk about taxes.”
Viswanathan does more than talk. As co-director of UC Hastings’ Center on Tax Law (with Prof. Heather Field), he guides research, scholarly publishing, symposia, and professional networking. A nexus for faculty scholars, expert practitioners, alumni, and students, the center creates a critical mass of brainpower aimed at advancing knowledge, strengthening skills, and improving tax law.
The complementary public-facing clinic Viswanathan helped launch—the new Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic—harnesses Hastings’ formidable expertise to help people resolve urgent issues. “During the pandemic,” Viswanathan says, “our clients face novel issues: collecting overdue refunds; requesting stimulus payments even if they have overdue taxes.”
Some people might find the load of research, teaching, and practical application a bit . . . taxing. Viswanathan thinks he’s engineered the perfect job for himself.