Building on its strengths, the School of Law is welcoming to the faculty four new professors who bring diverse interests but a common commitment to making the law a real force for good in society.
Housing law, intellectual property, sentencing reform, international political norms – all have come under scrutiny in the work of these accomplished academics. They’re also deeply invested in the quality of their teaching, and bring with them solid experience in the classroom. After sometimes-tricky relocations in the midst of a pandemic, the School of Law is glad to have them aboard:
Associate Professor Heather Abraham’s research and advocacy interests center around fair housing, something she says “has captivated me for a decade now.” It was the basis of her master of public policy program at the University of Minnesota; and it informed her time at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she earned a J.D., magna cum laude, in 2012.
As director of UB Law’s Civil Rights & Transparency Clinic, Abraham is integrating fair housing into the clinic’s overall portfolio, which traditionally focused on civil liberties and freedom of information litigation. Abraham and her students will work to build a docket of potential cases “to move the needle on advancing housing choice.” She is also challenging students to think about the future of civil rights through a semester-long research and writing assignment. She asks them to consider the most pressing civil rights issues of today, as well as issues that are often overlooked, and then asks how the Clinic can make a meaningful impact on those issues—at the university level as well as the local, state, and national level.
Before joining UB Law, Abraham was a teaching fellow and a supervising attorney for the Civil Rights Clinic at the Georgetown University Law Center. [Read More]
Associate Professor Alexandra (Ali) Harrington, director of the Innocence and Justice Project, knows well how effective student attorneys can be in addressing critical gaps in the provision of justice. At Yale Law School, from which she earned a J.D. in 2014, she served in clinics addressing human rights issues, capital punishment, and refugee resettlement. She was also a public defender in Connecticut for several years after graduation.
She shares that experience with students in UB Law’s newly established Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic, which in its first semester will take on work under New York State’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. Enacted in 2019, the legislation draws on new understandings of the psychological underpinnings of domestic violence and allows state Supreme Court judges to reduce some survivors’ prison sentences. Clinic students will work in teams to represent clients – predominantly women – who are serving years in prison.
“Sentencing is supposed to be holistic,” Harrington says. “In practice, without this law that gives specific recognition to domestic violence survivors, mitigating factors weren’t always getting fair shrift at sentencing.” [Read More]
Paul Linden-Retek teaches in UB Law’s newly established undergraduate program in law, and jointly holds a research fellowship with the Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy. It’s in that role that he is drafting his current book, which explores post-national constitutionalism in the European Union through the distinctive lens of narrative interpretation.
“I’m interested in how international norms become a source of deep commitment on the part of citizens – something that has long been a fraught dimension of international human rights law,” Linden-Retek says. “The crises the EU presently suffers point to the fragility of that project, and the difficulty of building out political solidarity beyond the nation-state.”
The framework of narrative, he says, opens a path for studying how nation-states and their citizens understand such evolving commitments and for appraising the role law plays in this process. “We should think of our lives and our polities as open-ended stories that are constantly renegotiated over time,” he says. “Our particular commitments are not merely our own – they always refer, however implicitly, to others, and we need the other to give meaning to those commitments. Law can help us to better perceive and do precisely that.”
Linden-Retek earned a Ph.D. in political science with university distinction from Yale University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. [Read More]
A specialist in intellectual property law as well as administrative law, Associate Professor Amy Semet brings to her scholarly work the tools of quantitative analysis – compiling and mining data sets to understand how the law works in practice.
“I’m particularly interested in analyzing data to see how legal institutions can best be reformed,” says Semet, whose teaching at UB Law includes courses in property law, patent law and an IP survey course. Semet builds and analyzes legal databases in such areas as immigration law, National Labor Relations Board case law, environmental case law, and IP issues including patent, copyright and trademark.
In addition, Semet has researched and written extensively about administrative law – the rule-making and adjudication that governs the work of federal and state governments’ administrative agencies. “When people become lawyers, much of their legal work will not be in federal or state judicial courts,” she says. “There is a lot of legal work in federal and state administrative agencies.”
Semet graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, where she studied government and history, before moving on to Harvard Law School, graduating cum laude in 2000. She earned her doctoral degree in political science from Columbia University in 2015. She also did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University and was a Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. [Read More]