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Rebellious Lawyering Conference, Feb. 18-20, Aims to Provoke

The Rebellious Lawyering conference does not limit itself to a single theme, but aims to cover as great a variety of subjects of interest to progressive lawyers, law students, and activists as possible. However, this year, the eleventh time the conference has been held, it has an inspiring quotation:

"Mere passive citizenship is not enough. [We] must be aggressive for what is right if government is to be saved from those who are aggressive for what is wrong."
--Robert "Fightin' Bob" La Follette, Aug 11, 1924

Katherine Kimpel, one of the organizers of the conference found the quotation and thought it was particularly appropriate for this year's conference. "It acknowledges we're at a time when there are some big fights coming up," says Kimpel. "I think it is a good rallying cry."

(For complete information about the conference, visit the Rebellious Lawyering website.)

Looking ahead to the conference schedule, Kimpel says, "I'm really excited about Paul Butler's speech." Butler is a professor of law at George Washington University School of Law and a former federal prosecutor; he will give the conference's keynote address at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 19. His talk is titled "Justice Outside the Law: Reflections of a Reformed Prosecutor" and will describe ways the criminal justice system can be more progressive. Butler will discuss what he's learned from rebellious jurors and hip hop music, celebrating the role of subversives within the legal system. "He really challenges people to think about pushing things," says Kimpel, adding that such a challenge is an important way for activists and others interested in progressive politics to keep from becoming complacent.

A presentation on Friday evening will look at how newly ubiquitous video technology has changed human rights advocacy. Titled "Video as Advocacy: Social Change through Documentary Filmmaking," the event will feature video presentations and discussion. The speakers will be Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, founders of Off Center Productions, a media advocacy and documentary production company; and Hakima Abbas, program associate for Africa and the Middle East at Witness, a human rights organization that trains, equips and supports human rights defenders to use video as a tool for advocacy, and at I-Witness Video, an advocacy group that uses media to monitor and document police abuses at protests and riots. Kimpel argues that the new generation of progressive lawyers needs to be aware of what can be done with video technology.

Panels at the conference will cover subjects from "Challenging the Constitutionality of the Juvenile Death Penalty" to "Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy in a World after Lawrence." Another panel will address the subject of industrial farming, which hasn't been discussed at Rebellious Lawyering in recent years.

Kimpel says that the conference will be a great opportunity for law students and others to "get access to the latest ideas."