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Spirit of the Law

A speaker series featuring legal professionals discussing how they find meaning, purpose, and identity in the law; how they use their law degrees in creative and innovative ways; and how they connect the personal and the professional in their lives.

Co-sponsored by the Office of Religous Life

2009-2010 Speakers

2010-2011 Speakers

  • 2012-2013 Speakers
  • Spring 2013
  • Spirit of the Law featuring Professor Alex Lee
    Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:30pm-1:20pm (USC Gould School of Law)
    Professor Lee teaches Securities Regulation and Regulatory Law and Policy at USC Gould. His interests include securities regulation, administrative law, corporations, contracts, consumer protection law, and antitrust. Before joining USC Law in 2012, Professor Lee served as senior council in the Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Professor Lee clerked for the Honorable Thomas B. Griffith, where he drafted opinions for large-scale administrative cases and cases involving Fourth Amendment violations. He also has extensive teaching assistant and research experience at Yale University, Yale Law School, and Harvard University. Professor Lee received his B.A. in Mathematics from Harvard College, where he graduated summa cum laude, and his M.A. in Mathematics from Cambridge University. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his Ph.D. in Economics from Yale Graduate School.  
  • Spirit of the Law featuring Dean Robert Rasmussen

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:30pm-1:20pm (USC Gould School of Law)

    Robert K. Rasmussen joined USC Law as dean and as Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law in August 2007. Dean Rasmussen's scholarly expertise is focused on the interaction of market forces and corporate reorganization law, and his most recent work addresses fundamental changes in corporate reorganization practice. He teaches Contracts and Realities of Commerican Lending. Rasmussen earned his J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was comment editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, and received his B.A. magna cum laude from Loyola University of Chicago. He clerked for the Honorable John C. Godbold, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and worked on the Civil Division Appellate Staff at the U.S. Department of Justice, handling litigation in the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and University of Michigan law schools. 
  • Spirit of the Law featuring Professor Niels Frenzen


    Tuesday, February 19, 2013 12:30pm-1:20pm (USC Gould School of Law)

    Niels Frenzen specializes in immigration law and is director of the USC Law Immigration Clinic. He has been teaching at USC since 2000 and practicing law since 1985. Prior to joining USC, Professor Frenzen practiced with nonprofit law offices in Los Angeles and Miami. His work experience includes serving as directing attorney of the Immigrants' Rights Project at Public Counsel in Los Angeles; as supervising attorney at the Haitian Refugee Center; and as legislative coordinator of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union. He received his B.A. from Beloit College and his J.D. from Drake University Law School. He also has taught at the University of California, Los Angeles and Southwestern Law School. 

  • Fall 2012
  • Spirit of the Law featuring Annette Wong

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:30pm-1:20pm (USC Gould School of Law)

    Annette Wong is a 2012 graduate of USC Law School. After taking the California bar exam, Annette spent three months in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, working with the Supreme Court Chamber in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. While at law school, Annette cofounded the Critical Legal Studies Association, a student-led organization that explores the law’s intersection with race, gender and sexuality. She was also active in the Faculty Diversity Initiative’s push for USC to hire a full-time Asian American professor, and was a Center for Law History and Culture Fellow. As a 3L she received an Edward S. and Eleanor J. Shattuck Award for demonstrating potential for becoming an outstanding legal professional. She is a 2008 Coro Fellow in Public Affairs and a 2006 graduate of Yale University, where she majored in history and international studies. 

  • Spirit of the Law featuring Janice Kamenir-Reznik

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 12:30pm-1:20pm (USC Gould School of Law)

    Janice Kamenir-Reznik is the founding president of Jewish World Watch, an organization that works to mobilize synagogues, their schools, their members and the community to combat genocide and other egregious violations of human rights around the world. Previously, she practiced environmental real estate law for the firm of Reznik & Reznik, which eventually merged with the statewide firm of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler and Marmaro. She chaired the environmental practice group and remained a partner until her retirement from the active practice of law in 2003. During those years in practice, she was president of California Women Lawyers, the statewide women’s bar, a founder and President of California Women’s Law Center, a public interest organization advocating for the rights of women and girls, a trustee of the California State Bar’s Trust Fund, and a trustee of the LA County Bar. Janice earned her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, her MSW from the USC School of Social Work, and her MJCS from Hebrew Union College. 

  • Spirit of the Law featuring Jesse Sisgold

    Monday, September 24, 2012 12:30pm-1:20pm (USC Gould School of Law)

    Jesse Sisgold is the founder of the corporate and entertainment law firm Sisgold P.C., which is based in Beverly Hills, CA. Previously he worked at Heller Ehrman LLP and Valle Makoff LLP. Active in public interest matters, he serves as a director of Angels at Risk, a nonprofit organization offering substance abuse counseling to at-risk teens and their families, and a director of SOL-LA Music Academy, a nonprofit organization offering free musical training and concerts for kids. He earned his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and received his B.A. from the University of California, San Diego. 

  • Past Spirit of the Law Speakers
  • Spirit of the Law featuring Elyn Saks

    Thursday, September 22, 2012 12:30 PM- 1:20 PM (USC Gould School of Law)

    Elyn R. Saks is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences. She teaches Mental Health Law, Mental Health Law and the Criminal Justice System, and Advanced Family Law: The Rights and Interests of Children. She served as USC Law's associate dean for research from 2005 to 2010. She also teaches at the Institute of Psychiatry and the Law at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and is adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego. Professor Saks was a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and in fall 2010 announced she is using the funds from the "genius grant" to create the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics.

  • Spirit of the Law featuring Hedieh Mirahmadi

    Thursday, October 20, 12:30 PM - 1:20 PM (USC Gould School of Law, Room 1)

    Hedieh Mirahmadi serves as legal counsel and consultant to a wide range of clients focused on counter-terrorism and violent extremism. As President of the World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE), she developed one of the first Muslim-led initiatives to address the evolving threat of homegrown radicalization. Her innovative research explores ways Muslim communities can forge greater cooperation between their communities and the United States government. As the co-chair of the first ever all female Islamic Law Council, she works with other influential Muslim women to re-examine the current standing of Islamic jurisprudence on a wide variety of issues. She earned her undergraduate degree in History from UCLA and law degree from USC's Gould School of Law. 


  • Spirit of the Law featuring Stephen Lee

    Monday, November 14, 12:15 PM - 1:15 PM (USC Gould School of Law)

    Co-sponsored by the Faculty Diversity Initiative and the Critical Legal Studies Association

    Stephen Lee is an assistant professor at UC Irvine School of Law. He writes at the intersection of administrative law and immigration law, and is particularly interested in the ways in which enforcement realities constrain immigration policies across a variety of contexts and institutions. His work has been published in the Stanford Law Review, the Arizona Law Review and the California Law Review. He received his B.A. from Stanford University, his M.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA and his J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law. A former Fulbright Fellow, Professor Lee worked at Skadden, Arps, clerked for Judge Mary Schroeder on the Ninth Circuit, and completed a fellowship at Stanford Law School before joining the UCI faculty.

  • Spirit of the Law featuring Neil Gotanda

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:15 PM - 1:25 PM (USC Gould School of Law)

    Neil Gotanda has litigated, taught and published deeply on discrimination and civil rights, and has extensive experience in the classroom and in practice. He has taught at California Western, City University of New York, Duquesne University and the Western State University College of Law. Gotanda has also worked with the Asian Law Caucus, California Rural Legal Assistance and the California Fair Employment Commission. His litigation experience includes trials and appeals involving employment discrimination, civil rights and constitutional law. Gotanda is presently active in the Society of American Law Teachers, the Association of American Studies, the Asian Pacific Americans and Religion Research Initiative, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California. He was awarded the 1997 Clyde Ferguson Award by the Section on Minority Groups and the American Association of Law Schools.

  • Spirit of the Law featuring Mia Frances Yamamoto

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:20 PM - 1:15 PM ( Musick Law Building, 103)

    Born in Poston Relocation Camp in Arizona in 1943, Mia Frances Yamamoto graduated from Cal State University, Los Angeles, in 1966 ad went on to serve in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. In 1971 she graduated from UCLA Law; while there, she co-founded the Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association. Before entering private practice as a criminal defense attorney, Yamamoto was a poverty lawyer for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, a deputy Los Angeles County public defender and California state public defender. She has been involved in many community-based organizations and is past president of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the Japanese American Bar Association. Yamamoto has been involved in the boards of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance, the Criminal Courts Bar Association and International Bridges to Justice. She is also a frequent commentator on issues relating to criminal law for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily Journal, KPFK, KPCC, MSNBC, CNN and other media outlets.