Pitt Law School’s March 21 Lecture to Feature Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres

Issue Date: 
March 14, 2011
Lani GuinierLani Guinier
Gerald TorresGerald Torres

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Lawyering for Social Change Lecture Series will present a lecture by Lani Guinier, the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law in Harvard University Law School, and Gerald Torres, Bryant Smith Chair in Law in the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, at 6 p.m. March 21 in the Teplitz Memorial Courtroom, Barco Law Building. This event is free and open to the public.

Guinier and Torres’ talk, titled “Changing the Wind: Demosprudence of Law and Social Movements,” is based on their forthcoming book of the same title to be published by Oxford University Press. The two law professors coined the term “demosprudence,” which they define as a democracy-enhancing jurisprudence that builds on the idea of lawmaking as a collaborative enterprise between judges or legislators and ordinary people.

In 1998, Guinier became the first Black woman to be appointed a tenured professor in Harvard Law School. Before that, she was a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. A civil rights attorney for more than 10 years, Guinier served in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division during the Carter Administration as a special assistant to then-U.S. Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days. President Clinton nominated her in 1993 to be the first Black woman to head the Civil Rights Division, but attacks on her views of democracy and voting led Clinton to withdraw his nomination without a confirmation hearing. This incident influenced Guinier to become more involved in issues regarding race, gender, and democratic decision making and to call for candid public discourse on these issues.

Guinier has authored numerous books and articles, including a personal and political memoir, Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback Into a New Vision of Social Justice (Simon and Schuster, 1998), in which she used the nomination debacle as a window on the civil rights movement’s past, present, and future.

Guinier has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Champion of Democracy Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus. The quality of her teaching earned her the 1994 Harvey Levin Teaching Award from the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s graduating class and the 2002 Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence from Harvard Law School.

Torres is the former president of the Association of American Law Schools. A leading figure in critical race theory, Torres also is an expert in agricultural and environmental law. He began his academic career teaching in Pitt’s School of Law. Prior to joining the University of Texas in 1993, Torres taught in the University of Minnesota Law School, where he also served as associate dean.

Torres was deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and served as counsel to then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. He has served on the boards of the Environmental Law Institute and the National Petroleum Council and on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute.

Among Torres’ honors is the 2004 Legal Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund for his work to advance the legal rights of Latinos.

Torres and Guinier are coauthors of The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2002), which Publisher’s Weekly described as “one of the most provocative and challenging books on race produced in years.”

For more information on the March 21 lecture, visit the law school’s Web site, www.law.pitt.edu. This program has been approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Board for one-and-one-half hours of substantive CLE credit. Cost for CLE credit is $25.