Speaker Series: Perspectives on Justice, Equity, and the Law

The Perspectives on Justice, Equity, and the Law speaker series will feature legal scholars, practitioners, and jurists working to advance more just, equitable societies--here locally in San Diego, in the United States, and throughout the world. Speakers will present diverse perspectives on topics ranging from working with criminalized populations to transform penal systems and protecting the human rights of LGBTQ+, to the transformation of the legal profession to be more representative, equitable, and inclusive. 

This speaker series is organized by the law school in partnership with various law student organizations. 

New speakers will be added throughout the year.

Past Events

Fourteen Months of the Biden Administration: Trump Border Polices Still in Action

When: March 17, 2022, 12 p.m. Register here 

Where: In-Person (Warren Hall - 2B), and Virtual

Join us for a lunch event examining the state of immigration under President Biden. The event will be moderated by Professor Tammy Lin, the supervising attorney for USD School of Law's Immigration Clinic, and feature Leah Chavarria, Director of Immigration Services at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, and Maria Chavez, Partner at Jacobs & Schlesinger, LLP and an active member of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium. Boxed lunches will be provided for the in-person event. 

tomiko brown-nagin

Celebrating Women’s Month: 37th Nathanson Memorial Lecture with Tomiko Brown-Nagin

The USD School of Law invites you to join us for the 37th annual Nathaniel L. Nathanson Memorial Lecture Series on Monday, March 28 at Noon (Pacific). Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin will discuss her book Civil Rights Queen, the first major biography of Constance Baker Motley—a legendary crusader for civil rights—that provides a masterful and eye-opening account of the twin struggles for racial and gender equality in twentieth-century America.

"A seminal biography of an extraordinary figure…a magisterial work that befits its subject.”—Ibram X. Kendi, bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist

Born to an aspirational working-class family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to make a career as a hairdresser. Instead, she earned a law degree and used it to transform American society. For many years the only woman member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s legal team, Motley helped litigate Brown v. Board of Education, defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South. During a second act, she broke barriers in politics by becoming the first woman elected borough president of Manhattan and the first black woman elected to the New York State Senate. In a third act that capped her career, she was the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary, becoming both a symbol of change in the American power structure and a part of it—an outsider within the system that she had long fought.  
This deeply researched and incisive examination of gender, race, and class tells the inspiring story of a remarkable American life and of a tumultuous period of social change. Against the backdrop of Motley’s pathbreaking life, Tomiko Brown-Nagin ponders some of our most timeless and urgent questions: How do historically marginalized people access the corridors of power? How does access to power shape individuals committed to social justice? And what is the price of the ticket?

TOMIKO BROWN-NAGIN is Dean of Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, and Professor of History at Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 2019, she was appointed chair of the Presidential Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the American Philosophical Society, and of the American Law Institute, and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Her previous book, Courage to Dissent won the Bancroft Prize in 2011. She frequently appears as a commentator in media. She lives in Boston with her family.

Please register to receive the Zoom link

USD Students are invited to a Watch Party in the Grace Courtroom to view the lecture. A grab-n-go lunch will be provided after the lecture. Students, please use this link to register for the Watch Party and lunch order form. 


12 p.m. - Welcome and Introductions
12:05 p.m. - Lecture
12:40 p.m. - Q&A and Discussion
12:55 p.m. - Closing Remarks

LGBTQ+ Human Rights in the U.S. and Internationally: A Talk with Victor Madrigal-Borloz, United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

When: March 2, 2022 at 12:00pm

Where: Virtual (register to receive Zoom link) and Warren Hall-314

Organized with Pride Law, the International Law Society, the Name and Gender-Marker Change Clinic and the Health Law Society.

Lunch hour talk over zoom; 30 minute talk followed by Q&A with students.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz is the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Senior Visiting Researcher at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. As the UN Independent Expert, he assesses the implementation of international human rights law, raises awareness, engages in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, and provides advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building to help address violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity.

Previously, Mr. Madrigal-Borloz served as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, as a member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, and was the Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and was the Director of the Legal Department at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Mr Madrigal-Borloz is a founding member of the Costa Rican Association of International Law (ACODI), a founding Board member of the International Justice Resource Centre (IJRC), and a founding Board member of Synergia-IDH.

Becoming Black Lawyers poster

Black Lawyers and the Law School Experience

When: February 28, 2022 from 5:00-6:30pm, Register here

Where: Warren Hall - 2B

Organized with the Black Law Students Association.

Please join us for an event in celebration of Black History Month, in which we will reflect on the theme of "Black Lawyers and the Law School Experience". We will screen the award-winning short documentary film, Becoming Black Lawyers, followed by a panel discussion with distinguished Black alumni of the USD School of Law, and moderated by USD's chapter of the Black Law Students Association.

Justice Goodwin Liu

Justice Goodwin Liu, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court

When: February 15, 2022 at 12:00pm

Where: Virtual (register to receive Zoom link)

Organized with the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) and the Office for Law Student Affairs.

Lunch hour talk over zoom.

Nominated by Governor Jerry Brown, Justice Liu was sworn into office in 2011 and retained by the electorate in 2014. Before joining the state’s highest court, Justice Liu was Professor of Law and Associate Dean at the UC Berkeley School of Law. His primary areas of expertise are constitutional law, education law and policy, and diversity in the legal profession. The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Justice Liu grew up in Sacramento, where he attended public schools. He went to Stanford University and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1991. He attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a masters degree in philosophy and physiology. Upon returning to the United States, he went to Washington D.C. to help launch the AmeriCorps national service program and worked for two years as a senior program officer at the Corporation for National Service.

Justice Liu graduated from Yale Law School in 1998, becoming the first in his family to earn a law degree. He clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then worked as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. He went on to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the October 2000 Term. From 2001 to 2003, he worked in the litigation practice of O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C.

Justice Liu continues to teach constitutional law as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. He is an elected member of the American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Law Institute. He serves on the Council of the American Law Institute, on the Board of Directors of the James Irvine Foundation, and on the Yale University Council. He has previously served on the California Commission on Access to Justice, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science, Technology, and Law, the Board of Trustees of Stanford University, and the governing boards of the American Constitution Society, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Public Welfare Foundation.

Vanessa Racehorse and Angela Medrano From top to bottom: Vanessa Racehorse, Angela Medrano

The Contemporary Fight for Tribal Sovereignty

When: November 30, 2021, 12:00pm

Where: Grace Courtroom, Warren Hall

Register here.

Organized with the Student Bar Association, American Constitution Society, Law Students for Cross-Racial Understanding, and Public Interest Law Foundation.

Join Vanessa Racehorse and Angela Medrano for a lunch talk, “The Contemporary Fight for Tribal Sovereignty”. This discussion will cover the social, political and legal foundations of tribal sovereignty, Federal Indian Law, and the case law that shapes current efforts to advance justice, equity, and tribal sovereignty in the U.S. 

Vanessa Racehorse is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and a descendant of the Cherokee Nation and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. She has a JD from Columbia Law School and an LLM in International Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. Ms. Racehorse has worked in-house for the Colorado River Indian Tribes, was an associate with a boutique law firm that provides general counsel services and represents tribes across the country in litigation, and is currently an attorney for the California Native American Heritage Commission where she focuses on cultural resources protection. Ms. Racehorse will be teaching Native American Law at USD Law in Spring 2022.

Angela Medrano is a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and is an alumna of University of San Diego School of Law. She operates her own law practice in North County specializing in general civil, tribal, and federal Indian law. Ms. Medrano is a current board member of the San Diego County Bar Association and is President of the Native American Lawyers Association of San Diego County. In 2019, Ms. Medrano joined the Intertribal Court of Southern California as a pro tem judge.

jasmine Sankofa wearing black t-shirt reading "Black Lawyers Matter"

Career Talk with Human and Civil Rights Lawyer jasmine Sankofa

When: November 8, 2021 at noon

Where: Guadalupe Patio

Organized with BLSA, SBA, Criminal Law Society, Pro Bono Advocates, and the Public Interest Law Foundation. Register for the event.

Casual lunch hour career and mentorship talk. 

jasmine Sankofa is a human and civil rights lawyer who works alongside people directly impacted by criminalization in radically transforming punitive systems. She is the inaugural Activist-in-Residence at the Kroc School of Peace Studies at USD, is a Policy & Research Manager focused on criminal justice reform with FWD.us, and Co-Founder of Just Futures, a social justice consultancy group. She was previously awarded the Aryeh Neier Fellowship with the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, and was a clerk for Judge Ronald L. Ellis in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.