Shaking the Foundations

Shaking the Foundations is an annual conference that brings together law students, practitioners and academics from around the country who share a commitment to use the law for positive, progressive social change. Through panels, workshops and speakers, the conference is designed to provide a forum for advocates and law students to discuss innovative strategies and solutions to the world’s most pressing social justice issues.

This year, the conference will be held on October 15th, 2016 at Stanford Law School. The panel discussions and presentations will focus on building, shaping, and sustaining political power, and our keynote speaker will be Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Please register at!  Directions to the conference can be found here.

9:00 – 10:00          Registration and breakfast (Stanford Law School; Crocker Garden)

10:00 – 11:30       Keynote Address from Nina Perales (SLS Room 290)

11:45 – 1:00          First Block of Concurrent Panels

  • The Plaintiffs’ Lawyer: Aligning Justice with Profit (SLS Room 180)
    • Description: How do we define the “public interest lawyer”? Should this label be determined by motives, results, or financial compensation? This panel builds off of an article by Professor Howard Erichson, “Doing Good, Doing Well,” and will critically examine the assumption that public interest lawyering inherently requires a high level of financial sacrifice. While it can be jarring to hear well-heeled mass torts attorneys cite Martin Luther King, Jr., the litigation that these attorneys bring often has substantial positive societal value. Moreover, there are consequences to the unspoken assumption that public interest work is inherently less well compensated. As Erichson puts it, “If it is assumed that public interest lawyering is what lawyers do for little or no pay, then does that suggest that in the majority of lawyers’ work—that is, in their standard fee-paying work—lawyers simply pursue wealth and raw client interest without regard to whether their work advances the public good?” Who within the plaintiffs’ bar can rightly claim to be public interest lawyers, and what are the consequences of who we include and who we exclude in this category? 
    • Panelists
      • Howard Erichson (moderator)
      • Lindsay Nako, Director of Litigation and Training, Impact Fund
      • Sara Peters, Walkup Law Office
      • Rafey Balabanian, Managing Partner, Edelson PC
  • Frisco 5: Employing Radical Tactics to End Police Brutality (SLS Room 280A)
    • Description: The growth of social media has alerted the public to the epidemic of police killings of black and brown communities that has undergirded the foundation of the American legal system since its inception. This growing awareness has inspired radical movements to push forward and fully devote themselves, even placing their bodies on the line, towards ending police terror. This panel will showcase the local efforts of activists in employing tactics outside of the traditional routes to change (legislative advocacy/litigation) in their goals of ending violence by the state. Panelists will speak to ways in which lawyers can be plugged into these larger movements and which supportive roles they can play in the efforts of community activists.
    • Panelists
      • Edwin Lindo
      • Yayne Adeba
      • Equipto Sato
      • Ike Pinkston
    • Background Reading:
  • Arts, Activism, and Social Change: Using Art to Combat Gentrification in the Bay Area (SLS Room 280B)

1:00 – 2:15              Lunch

2:30 – 3:45              Second Block of Concurrent Panels

  • Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt: Making a Case for Reproductive Justice (SLS Room 180)
    • Description: Abortion access has traditionally been framed as a matter of “right” or “choice.” But while the constitutional right to abortion has long been established, whether women have a meaningful opportunity to exercise that right is always impacted by economic, social, demographic, and geographic barriers. This panel will discuss the recent Supreme Court decision, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down two provisions of a Texas law that threatened to close a majority of abortion clinics across the state, through the framework of reproductive justice. It will cover how the Texas law disproportionately impacted poor, rural communities of color, how the availability of child care, transportation, time off from work, and other factors weighed on women’s ability to access reproductive health care, and how victories like Whole Woman’s Health remain costly, demonstrating a need for social mobilization to prevent the enactment of restrictive abortion laws.
    • Panelists:
      • Wendy Fu, Attorney & Pro Bono Programs Coordinator, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice (Moderator)
      • Andrea Ferrigno, Corporate Vice President, Whole Woman’s Health
      • Guadalupe Rodriguez, Board Chair, ACCESS: Women’s Health Justice
      • Stephanie Toti, Senior Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights
    • Background Reading:
  • Empowering Native Voices at the Ballot Box: Current Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities in Native American Voting Rights (SLS Room 190)
  • Linking Immigration Detention Centers to the Prison Industrial Complex (SLS Room 280A)
    • Description: Immigration detention centers are the latest outgrowth of the prison industrial complex. With over 200 facilities, an annual budget of $2.3 billion, and 441,000 people detained each year, the United States has the world’s largest immigration detention system. The criminalization of immigration and “tough on immigration” policies like the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detention bed quota are largely responsible for the system’s size. This panel will discuss the immigration detention system in the context of immigration and criminal law, and feature a conversation about how to link immigration reform with the prison abolition movement.
    • Panelists
      • Christina Mansfield, CIVIC
      • Eunice Cho, Southern Poverty Law Center
      • Kelly Lou Densmore, TGI Justice Project and National Lawyers Guild
    • Background Reading
  • Just Transition: An Intersectional Framework for Pursuing Climate Justice (SLS Room 280B)
    • Description: Although California is praised as a climate leader, its most marginalized communities still bear the brunt of impacts from the fossil fuel industry. The Chevron refinery in Richmond exploded in 2012 yet continues to operate near low income communities of color. Meanwhile, fracking operations in the Central Valley are polluting the water supplies of small rural communities. What role do frontline communities play in the fight for climate justice? How can communities build power through climate policy and litigation? This panel will explore climate justice and how we can pursue a Just Transition from a fossil fuel based economy to a clean energy economy. We will examine these issues together from the perspectives of law, policy, and community organizing.
    • Panelists
      • Michelle Anderson, Professor, Stanford Law School (moderator)
      • Madeline Stano, Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment
      • Joel Espino, Greenlining Institute
      • Jose Lopez, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE)
      • Amee Raval, Policy and Research Associate, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
    • Background Reading

4:00 – 5:15              Third Block of Concurrent Panels

  • Prison Abolition and Mass Incarceration (*4:00 – 5:30 PM; SLS Room 190)
    • Description: The U.S. has the largest incarcerated population in the world. Black men are put behind bars at six times the rate of white men, according to Human Rights Watch. There is a growing consensus that federal and state governments must adopt measures to reduce mass incarceration. This panel will discuss a broad range of solutions to the problem: is it more politically feasible, and pragmatically possible, to start with reform focused on reducing sentences for “nonviolent” offenders? Or is it a social, political, moral, and activist imperative to move towards more radical changes, such as reduced sentences for “violent offenders,” or even prison abolition?
    • Panelists
      • Corene Kendrick, Staff Attorney, Prison Law Office
      • Dolores Canales, Organizer, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
      • Jeremy Haile, Federal Advocacy Counsel, The Sentencing Project
      • Misty Rojo, Justice Now, Director of Campaign and Policy
      • Anne Weills, Civil Rights Attorney, Siegel & Yee
    • Background Reading
  • The Role of Social Media in Human Rights Activism (SLS Room 280A)
    • Description: This guided panel discussion will explore the role of social media and messaging platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc.) in suppressing or encouraging human rights activism and speech movements under repressive regimes. Our panel will examine the legal duties, human rights responsibilities and market pressures that inform corporate policy, to come away with a better understanding of the possible pathways towards—and barriers to—improving these platforms ability to promote international grassroots human rights advocacy. Attendees will have the opportunity to pose questions to the panel at the end of the discussion.
    • Panelists
      • Luiz Moncau, Intermediary Liability Fellow, Stanford Center for Internet and Society
      • Shahid Buttar, Director of Grassroots Advocacy, Electronic Frontier Foundation
      • Keith Hiatt, Vice President of the Human Rights Program, Benetech (a nonprofit in Palo Alto)
  • Emerging Legal Issues in/for the Trans+ Community (SLS Room 280B)
    • Description: Transgender and gender non-conforming Americans face exceptional challenges in accessing basic services. According to National Resource Center for Domestic Violence, half of trans-identifying survey respondents have been victims of sexual violence, but report at a drastically lower rate, at least in part due to institutional inaccessibility. The numbers are just as jarring for health care: one in five respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on Health and Health Care reports being refused service by a medical professional. Nearly one in three reports having been harassed within a healthcare setting, and no fewer than half of respondents report having to teach their health care providers about transgender care. And even where formal legal rights against such mistreatment exist (as in post-ACA healthcare), many transgender folks don’t have access to legal assistance.

      So what can you do? Come learn from practitioners in the field of gender-inclusive legal advocacy about what they are doing to improve access to services for transgender and gender non-conforming people. With work spanning impact litigation, education, direct services legal aid, and training mental health care providers, our panelists bring dedication and expertise to these challenging legal issues. Come find out what you can do to help.
    • Panelists
      • Lisa Cisneros, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.
      • Shawn Meerkamper, Transgender Law Center
      • Kelly Lou Densmore, TGI Justice Project and National Lawyers Guild
    • Background Reading

5:30 – 6:30              Happy Hour Reception


We look forward to you joining us this upcoming October 15th to celebrate, collaborate, and explore progressive lawyering in this key political and social moment. If you have any questions, please contact Drew Flood at

2016-17 Board Members

Project Manager:
Savannah Fletcher

Conference Manager:
Anya Havriliak

Travel Manager:
Katherine Moy

Gemma Donofrio
Nina Monfredo

Zach Glubiak
Kelsey Merrick
Kelsey Townsend

Max Schoening
Sarah Brim
Matt Garcia

Web and Social Media:
Drew Flood

Aaron Forbath
Nina Monfredo