The Lauren Edelman Legal Studies Honors Research Conference

Pictured here are the Honors students from the 2021-2022 cohort.

 Undergraduate Legal Studies Research Conference Presenters 2022

The 17th annual Lauren Edelman Legal Studies Honors Research Conference showcases original empirical research from undergraduate scholars in the Legal Studies Honors Program. The Honors theses presented have been developed over the 2023-2024 academic year via a sequence of two research seminars and with the support of dedicated faculty mentors. The conference is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the impressive work accomplished by these promising young scholars. The annual Legal Studies undergraduate research conference is dedicated to the memory of our beloved professor, Lauren Edelman, who was the Honors Program Director for many years.

APRIL 26, 2024, 10am - 4pm, Selznick Seminar Room, 2240 Piedmont
Zoom Link:

10:00-10:20 Introductory Remarks

Panels, Abstracts, and Moderators, 2024 Legal Studies Honors Symposium

10:20 - 11:20  Panel 1: Policing, Incarceration, and Identity / Moderator: Elliott Masouredis

Roman Hartwell, “From Cowboy to Technocrat: Policing in the Digital Age”
This project seeks to understand the influence that the rapid proliferation of digitized
technology has on the practice and culture of policing. An extensive research literature
exists on police in society, including their cultures and the newer digitized technologies
they employ in their everyday work. This project draws on eight in-depth, semi-structured interviews of two different cohorts of urban police officers – retired and active duty – to explore how years on the force, rank, and ethnoracial and gender influence how digitized technologies have been engaged in police cultures. My findings suggest that police culture remains mostly unchanged in the wake of the introduction of digitized policing. In-group solidarity and an “us versus them” mentality continues to be prevalent. However, the professional identity of police officers appears to be shifting towards more data literacy and away from community relations and engagement typically associated with walking beats. Current and retired officers interviewed for this study imagined a future in which robot dogs, autonomous drones, and surveillance cameras with facial recognition and license plate readers will replace all direct face-to- face police interaction with real people. In such a world, police officers will do their work safely ensconced and immune from criticism of racial and gender bias and unnecessary force.

Anna Diaz, “Incarceration and Identity: A Narrative Reflection of the Criminal Legal System”
Without an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of formerly incarcerated
individuals before, during, and after incarceration, policymakers lack the necessary context to draft effective post-incarceration rehabilitative policy. This project uses a life- course narrative interview approach to understand how individual interactions with the criminal legal system and incarceration can shape self- and social identities of formerly incarcerated individuals. While there is literature that explores the implications of incarceration on identity, there is limited sociolegal research exploring the implications of multifaceted identities (from both a pre-and post-incarceration perspective), through
the lens of a narrative identity framework. Preliminary findings indicate that experiences of incarceration have implications for both the self and social identity of formerly incarcerated individuals, including themes of agency, redemption, and meaning making resonant with previous social psychological research. These preliminary findings call for the development of incarceration and post-incarceration programming that takes into account shifts in incarcerated persons’ narrative identities.

Cecilia Wolfcale, Lawyering Behind Bars: An Examination of the Experiences of “Jailhouse Lawyers”

This research draws on in-depth semi-structured interviews with fourteen formerly-
incarcerated “jailhouse lawyers” and five prison wardens to examine how “jailhouse 
lawyers” operate in the United States legal system. Little previous research focuses on the experiences of “jailhouse lawyers” themselves and it has been fifty years since research has been conducted on the decision-making processes of prison wardens regarding “jailhouse lawyers.” This project increases our understanding of the motivations, struggles, and restrictions that “jailhouse lawyers” face in their work by examining (1) how “jailhouse lawyers” understand their role within the legal system, (2) how prison administrators understand the role of “jailhouse lawyers,'' (3) why “jailhouse lawyers” decide to represent themselves and/or their peers, and (4) what, if any, institutional barriers are in place that prevent “jailhouse lawyers” from their work. This research finds general discrepancies between the beliefs of wardens and “jailhouse lawyers” regarding the latter’s motivation for their roles inside prisons. Ultimately, the findings from this study may provide the basis for constructing a theory of the conditions under which “jailhouse lawyers” operate.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm Panel 2: How Courts Do Their Work / Moderator: Taylor Galdi

Christina Ruppert, “Identity Conditioning, Confliction, and Transitions: A Case Study on Legal Practitioners Who Serve on Traditional and Collaborative Courtrooms” 

This study examines judges, public defenders, and district attorneys who alternate between serving in adversarial and therapeutic courts, i.e., collaborative courtrooms. The language of collaborative courts differs from mainstream legal discourse as well as from the standard authority of the legal profession, creating a space for legal practitioners to engage with the law in entirely different ways. I combine in-depth interviews and participant observation of legal practitioners in a large urban court to illuminate how serving within both types of courts is associated with identity conflict or transformation. My findings suggest that collaborative courtrooms can operate as kind of “exposure” therapy for legal professionals, at the individual level even rewiring regimented law-on-the-books traditionalist belief systems. In collaborative courts, legal practitioners begin to redefine ideas of success, accountability, and gain acceptance for
employing positivity rather than punishment.

Avani Singh, “Judicial Insights: Unraveling Mental Health Decisions in Collaborative vs. Traditional Courts”

The implementation of mental health courts provided a new avenue for addressing mental health concerns in the criminal justice system. Although there is an extensive literature on the differing principles of “mental health” and “traditional” courtrooms as well as differences in judicial decision-making, there is little research on how these differences matter for judicial decision-making processes. This study draws on semi- structured interviews with six judges in three large urban California courts and observational data from one of these courts to explore how judicial decision-making regarding mental health differs in mental health compared to traditional courts. The study also focuses on the following sub-questions: (1) How do procedural variations between the two courts, such as pre and post-sentencing diversion, as well as the dynamics of the judge-defendant relationship, impact the decision-making process of judges concerning mental health matters? (2) How do judges feel prepared for their evolving roles as risk managers and their understanding of mental health? (3) How do the different court contexts influence judges’ perspectives on mental health and how they define success? My research shows the pervasive influence of the “medical model” in judicial decision-making about mental health regardless of the type of court. In traditional courts, however, judges express explicit dissonance in their decision-making as they seek to reconcile the medical model with legal procedure.

Stephen Dai, “Judges as Reasonable Consumers”
In trademark law, judges must take on the mantle of the “reasonable consumer,” a standard that sometimes looks at survey evidence or witness testimony. However, more often than not, a judge makes a unilateral finding of trademark infringement based on speculation and inference. While legal scholars and social psychologists have conducted significant research on factors that motivate judicial and consumer decision-
making, little empirical work has yet been conducted on how and to what extent differences in perceptions affect the accuracy of judges employing the “reasonable consumer” standard. This project fills this gap by exploring 1) what proportion of consumers agree with a judge’s finding of “confusing similarity” in select cases, 2) how the factor of “sophistication” affects the agreement rate, and 3) how demographic characteristics affect the agreement rate. To test these questions, I employ a survey experiment that drew samples from Reddit and Mechanical Turk. My findings reveal that only about 50% of consumers agree with judges’ findings of confusing similarity, though demographic characteristics and “sophistication” have no significant effect on this measure. Consequently, I argue that judges ought to reassess the factors they rely on in their decision-making about trademark infringement cases in order to better ensure that trademark law can serve the interests of consumers at large.

Elena Roth, “Supreme Spectacle: An Analysis of Judicial Temperament and its changing role throughout the Supreme Court Nomination Process”
In the last forty years, controversial nominees to the Supreme Court have appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, resulting in some of the most contentious confirmation battles to date. Much of this conflict appears to be over the question of “judicial temperament,” although there is little information regarding both the definition of judicial temperament and the weight it has as a quasi-criterion for Supreme Court nominees. This study examines the notion of judicial temperament and its role in Supreme Court nomination hearings to assess: (1) how judicial temperament has been used by senators Supreme Court nomination hearings, especially with respect to political ideology; (2) the ways in which temperament has shifted the content discussed in confirmation hearings; and (3) the ways in which senators use different or similar frames to construct the judicial temperament of nominees depending on their race/ethnicity and gender. To answer these questions, I use content analysis of the question portion of confirmation hearing transcripts to examine the frames used by senators to construct the judicial temperament of nominees. I also analyze the frames used by nominees in response to senators' construction of temperament. My findings suggest that use of judicial temperament has played two primary roles in senators’ questions during Supreme Court nomination hearings: (1) to admit a wider array of facts, characteristics, and experiences of a nominee and (2) to blur the boundaries of technical and non-technical questions, which shifts nominees response strategies from I call “acceptance” toward “substitution” and “deflection.” At a theoretical level, this study contributes to a deeper understanding of “frame disputes” over judicial temperament, and how such disputes give rise to more controversial confirmation hearings and feed into controversial confirmation politics.

12:30 – 1:30 pm Lunch Break

1:30-2:50 pm Panel 3: Gender, Race, and Law / Moderator: Sid Schlafman

Issabella Romo, No Hay Justicia Para Las Mujeres: Machismo’s Role in Mexico’s Law and Femicide Crisis
This study explores how the culture of “machismo” manifests in anti-femicide law and efforts by non-state groups to reduce and respond to the crisis of violence against women in Mexico. Machismo refers to symbols, beliefs, and language that together constitute a culture of male domination of women in a display of power. Prior research on machismo does not address its role in law or the diverse grassroots efforts to combat and endure femicide, including access to justice for survivors. I specifically ask, “How is the culture of machismo embedded in political and legal discourse and initiatives to intervene into the femicide crisis in Mexico”? I use a combination of in-depth interviews with employees of non-state organizations working to combat femicide and qualitative content analysis of federal and state anti-femicide laws to document the multifaceted nature of machismo’s manifestations, femicide’s characterizing features, and advocacy efforts related to femicide. My study finds that machismo takes four main forms in legal and policy initiatives: procedural, categorical, definitional, and lack of governmental support. These forms ultimately lead to gaps between what anti-femicide laws promises and their failure to reduce the number of femicides and administer justice to survivors. This failure points to the importance of non-state groups in closing these gaps.

Megan Yeh, “The Yellow Fever Epidemic: An Analysis of the Media and Legal Framing of Asian American Women”
This project studies the persistence of media and legal framing of Asian American women through an examination of race and gender-based incidents of violence during the COVID-19 era (2019-2021). In this period, Asian American women faced a unique, heightened vulnerability to gender and race-based violence. While sociolegal scholars have long studied the historical fetishization of Asian American women and its association with media and law, there has been a lack of research into how such historical imaginings resonate to the present day. I specifically examine: (1) how anti-Asian legislation from the 19th and 20th Century has been cited in hate crime legal cases from 2019-2021; (2) how media representation of Asian American women in the coverage of incidents of violence has changed over time; (3) how the depiction of violence against Asian women in America from 2019-2021 has impacted the role of Asian women in society; 4) and how the images of Asian American women have shaped the consciousness of While Americans in regards to the fetishization of Asian American women. Utilizing a comparative analysis of newspaper articles and Stop AAPI data documenting hate crimes from 2019-2021, this research provides evidence of how American media representations of Asian American women have shifted over time. This shift represents a change in social norms with less apparent stereotypes resonating in media depictions of Asian American women. Although there is less explicit hypersexualization of Asian women, my research suggests that media portrayals of violence against Asian women positions Stop AAPI Hate and Black Lives Matter movements in opposition to one another.

Ana Jimenez, “Beyond Compliance: The Muwekma Ohlone’s History of Indigenous Rights Mobilization”
I draw on legal mobilization theory to ask how the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area has mobilized over the past four decades to gain federal recognition and UC Berkeley’s compliance with the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and its California instantiation, CalNAGPRA? My sub-questions are: (1) What problems have the Muwekma identified (named) concerning sovereignty? (2) Who has the Muwekma held responsible for problems (blamed) related to sovereignty? (3) What has the Muwekma claimed in relation to sovereignty? (what do they want those responsible to do)? To answer these questions, I content coded documents – court cases, official correspondence, policy reports – collected from the Muwekma to assess continuities and discontinuities in their mobilization efforts. My findings point to continuities across the past four decades in their claims and that law in an of itself is not enough to resolve these struggles.

Natalie Fierro, “Resilient Roots, Empowered Community: Latine Student
Mobilization and Administration Accountability at UC Berkeley” This study investigates how Latine student social movements within the emerging UC Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), UC Berkeley, induce administration accountability. Since 1968 and the advent of the “Third World Liberation Front,” UC Berkeley Latinx students have been mobilizing for a Latinx Student Resource Center, Chicanx Studies, and other services to support Latine students. This ongoing struggle and student mobilization became more prominent at UC Berkeley starting in 2018. During the past six years, ASUC Senators have laid the foundation for both HSI and Latinx Student Resource Center (LSR) initiatives. Subsequently, Latine student coalitions and campaigns have formed to hold the administration accountable for these initiatives and to urge the administration to create a campus that genuinely embodies the principles of being an HSI. This study utilized in-depth, semi-structured interviews with Latine student coalition and organization leaders, as well as staff allies, to analyze the multifaceted ways in which these coalitions have mobilized together over time. This process allowed for insights into internal and external dynamics, and factors that have influenced and continue to influence how these coalitions mobilize and hold the university administration accountable. Findings indicate that these coalitions and organizations have evolved due to internal and external factors that have induced shifts in strategies and roles played in mobilizing. These findings call for Emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions, especially UC Berkeley, to understand and recognize how coalition leaders and members have worked tirelessly to ensure their institution is meeting the needs of the Latine community and to find ways in which administration and student coalitions can work together – where students have a seat at the table.

3:00-4:00 pm Panel 4: Law and Organizations / Moderator: Valentina Flores

Morinne Chane-Kuang-Sang, “Third Time’s Charm? The EU-US Data Privacy Framework: A Comparative Study of the Legal practice Between France and California”
The recent EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework embodies a consensus between Europe and the United States on a standard for data protection that corresponds to the European General Data Privacy Regulation’s foundational principles. Yet, this agreement appears fragile and may not withstand future litigation, especially for American firms relying on such agreements for their operations. This study explores how legal professionals on both sides of the Atlantic envision this new regulatory framework and use it to build risk-management systems. This comparative project
utilizes in-depth interviews with French and American lawyers, and content coding of
law firms’ and institutions’ public statements on the framework. Of particular interest are disparities between public statements and perceptions of legal professionals. Findings indicate that legal professionals’ perceptions of the new data transfer framework diverge significantly. French lawyers convey a pessimistic view on the lack of mechanisms for realizing European citizens’ rights. Their American counterparts, by contrast, appear to congratulate the legislation itself without much serious consideration of its implementation. The normative implications for my research include the development of better measures of the impact of the framework and more serious attention to the relationship of the framework with previous laws and current governmental collaborations.

Macy Craft, “Rethinking Legal Endogeneity in the Context of Environmental, Social, and Governance Disclosures” 
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting emerged as a corporate governance structure that allows investors to make informed decisions about the companies they choose to invest in, while appealing to concerns for a sustainable future. Although ESG reporting recently became mandatory in California under SB 261 and SB 253, little research exists on the construction of ESG reporting practices prior to these laws. I use Lauren Edelman’s legal endogeneity theory as a theoretical framework to examine: (1) how ambiguities in ESG reporting shape the data it produces; (2) what non-governmental actors and organizations are establishing ESG standards; (3) what evidence do companies produce that indicates they have changed their practices to be more sustainable; and (4) how has ESG reporting is becoming “legalized,” through the adoption of legal logics, procedures, and language. Through semi-structured in-depth interviews of “ESG professionals” and content analysis of eight ESG reports across four prominent California industries – Biotech & Pharmaceuticals, Oil & Gas, Software & Tech, and Consumer Services – I show how ESG legalization develop prior to ESG legislation. My findings suggest that ESG reporting practices are constructed within the market as ESG professionals shape the legal environment and facilitate the spread of symbolic forms of compliance throughout the organizational field. This process, in conjunction with the legalization of reporting practices, created legitimacy for ESG disclosures and facilitated the development of ESG regulations.

William-Henry Ku, “In the Door, But Not Up the Ladder: A Survey Experiment on the Impact of Identity Stereotypes and Visibility on Big Law Career Progress”
This project uses a survey experiment design to study how identity-based stereotypes and visibility impact the career advancement of disabled women in Big Law. Although there is a large body of literature on gender and disability stereotypes affecting career progress, there is little research that studies the combined impact disabled women face in a Big Law context. To fill this gap, I examined: (1) what identity-based stereotypes arise for disabled women in the workplace and how do they differ from stereotypes for members of dominant social groups; (2) how marginalized individuals perceive and
respond to these stereotypes; (3) how issues of hypervisibility and invisibility in the workplace impact these stereotypes; and (4) how stereotypes influence the perception of marginalized individuals in the promotion process. I find that while most stereotypical attributions of qualities to identities from the existing literature hold, only a few characteristics such as perceived warmth and competence have statistically significant differences across identities. Moreover, I observe that while women are on average more likely to be hired than men for a Big Law internship, with disabled women being considered the most likely to be hired, men are on average more likely to be promoted than women within Big Law.

Tyler Mahomes-Kramer, “Policy, Progress, Practice: A Critical Review of LAUSD's Efforts on Black Student Achievement”
This project examines the implementation and impact of the Black Student Achievement Plan (BSAP) within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to understand how teachers and administrators have understood and operationalized this policy in contributing to the academic outcomes, engagement, and overall well-being of Black students. This study offers a nuanced understanding of how the BSAP is perceived and executed by teachers and administrators, contributing to the broader conversation on educational equity, the role of policy in addressing disparities, and the importance of considering sociocultural contexts. My research employs a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative methods to offer a comprehensive exploration of the BSAP. In the quantitative phase, I draw on district data on academic performance, standardized test scores, culturally responsive literature, and demographic information from a diverse set of LAUSD schools, encompassing different demographics and levels of BSAP implementation. The qualitative phase involves in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with teachers, administrators, and stakeholders in BSAP- implementing schools. These interviews shed light on the BSAP's goals, professional development, classroom practices, and perceptions of its impact on student engagement and well-being. Findings from the study indicate positive academic achievement outcomes under the BSAP, with significant increases in early literacy benchmarks (kindergarten: 6.2%, grade 1: 2.1%, grade 2: 4.9%), attendance rates (5.7% rise for students with 96% or higher attendance), and graduation rates (a 4.8% increase in the five-year cohort graduation rate) compared to prior years. Findings from qualitative interviews highlight concerns surrounding implementation, particularly regarding challenges related to funding, bureaucratic hurdles, and pressures of performativity, alongside indications of community discontent and animosity. The findings from this research aim to inform educational policymakers and stakeholders in LAUSD and similar districts as they work toward more equitable educational outcomes for Black students.