Civil Rights Leader Keynote Speaker at U.Va. Law School Public Service Conference

February 06, 2008
February 6, 2008 — Civil rights advocate J. Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will deliver the keynote address at this year’s Conference on Public Service and the Law, to be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, at the University of Virginia School of Law. Founded by law students nine years ago, the conference brings together students, citizens and attorneys to discuss current public interest legal issues.

Cohen, a 1979 graduate of U.Va.'s Law School, will deliver his address Saturday, Feb. 9, at 11:30 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion. Known for his efforts to monitor and stamp out white supremacist activity, Cohen has been involved in a wide variety of civil rights initiatives, ranging from traditional employment discrimination and voting rights cases to campaigns to reform state juvenile justice and educational systems. He has served as the executive producer for six of the center's award-winning documentary films, four of which were nominated for Academy Awards. Two of these films — "Mighty Times: The Children's March" in 2005 and "A Time for Justice" in 1994 — have won Oscars.

Other conference events include panels on the upcoming reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, political redistricting, the regulation of greenhouse gases, the expansion of children's health care, wrongful convictions, jurisdiction on Indian reservations, refugee migration from Iraq and prosecutorial discretion. All events are free and open to the public, but registration is required to receive lunch on Saturday.

The conference, which has hosted more than 1,700 participants and 275 panelists since its inception, draws students and speakers from across the country. There is no cost to register and students attending from other law schools are offered free housing with U.Va. law students during their stay. The conference's workshops are designed to help students learn about public service law careers, while the panels are designed to facilitate discussion on key public interest legal issues.

For information and to register, go to A complete schedule is below.


2-7 p.m.            Registration (Clay Hall)
4-5:15 p.m .      Regulation of Greenhouse Gas After Massachusetts v. EPA (WB 126)
5:30-6:45 p.m.  Justice in Indian Country (WB 126)

9-11 a.m.     Registration and Breakfast (Clay Hall)
9:45-11 a.m.     PANELS

•    Conflict-Driven Migration in Iraq (WB 102)
•    Prosecutorial Discretion (WB 104)
•    The No Child Left Behind Act: Goals and Implications for the Act’s Reauthorization (WB 105)
11-11:30 a.m.     Seating for the Keynote Address (Caplin Pavilion)
11:30 am-12:30 p.m.     Keynote Address (Caplin Pavilion)
J. Richard Cohen ’79, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center
1-2:15 pm     Workshops
•    Careers in International Public Interest Law (WB 103)
•    Careers in Poverty Law (WB 105)
•    Careers in Prosecution and Defense (WB 126)
•    Women in Public Interest Careers (WB 102)
•    Careers in the Federal Government (WB 128)
•    Public Interest Law in the Private Sector (WB 104)

2:30-3:45 p.m.  PANELS
•    Redistricting and the Law: Are Voters Choosing Their Representatives or Are Representatives Choosing Their Voters? (WB 103)
•    S-CHIP Expansion: The Debate and Its Implications for America (WB 105)
•    Wrongful Convictions (WB 104)
4-5 p.m.     Closing Reception (Withers Lounge)