Summer Legal Briefs News from Wake Forest Law


Judges Berger Jr. (JD '99) and Dietz (JD '02) lead online seminar for law students affected by COVID-19

Judge Philip Berger Jr. (JD '99) and Judge Richard Dietz (JD '02) are leading lectures for a new online seminar offered by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. This opportunity, which aims to benefit law students whose summer employment was impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is offered at no cost to students interested in practicing in North Carolina appellate courts.

The 5-week series is designed to provide law students with practical knowledge and experience in what could otherwise be a lost summer for learning and application, according to a press release issued by the North Carolina Judicial Branch.

Mary Pollard (JD '93) named executive director of N.C. Office of Indigent Defense Services

The North Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense Services appointed Mary Pollard (JD '93) as executive director of the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with the Commission to help ensure that no person facing criminal charges in our state is disadvantaged in court simply because they are poor,” said Pollard in a press release issued by the North Carolina Judicial Branch.

Background photo (source Ken Bennett): Statue of the Wake Forest Demon Deacon outside McCreary Tower.

Annual Fund at Work

Making An Impact In Our Local & State Communities

Serving our local and state communities is a big part of who we are — it is integral to our vision and mission. A deep and intentional focus on collaborative teaching and doing allow our students and faculty to inspire change in a way that swiftly and positively impacts our neighborhoods in Winston-Salem and throughout the state of North Carolina.

The Wake Forest Pro Bono Project reflects this value as it responds to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's newest project allows North Carolinians to ask questions and get researched answers about unemployment insurance and federal supplements.

“The COVID-19 economic fallout has led to a tsunami of unemployment filings and the system is overwhelmed," said Wake Forest Law Dean Jane Aiken. "We are so pleased our school’s Pro Bono Program can help provide free legal guidance to North Carolinians affected by the pandemic."

Students and faculty are already working together to make an immediate impact in the community. As North Carolinians get the information they need to navigate unemployment, this project allows our students to learn the skills they’ll need to become effective and compassionate lawyers.

The Wake Forest Pro Bono Project is continuing to evaluate the ways it can help local and state communities as a result of the global pandemic as well as other prominent events. Stay tuned to @WFULawSchool on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & LinkedIn to see how our students and faculty are working together to serve our local and state communities.

Background photo (source Ken Bennett): Wake Forest University campus with Winston-Salem skyline in the background.

Annual Fund at Work

Helping Our Neighbors With Landlord-Tenant Disputes

Knowing how to collaborate through difference is essential to building partnerships and coalitions, but practicing collaboration is also a vital experience that develops Wake Forest lawyers into leaders with character who can assess problems with integrity and professionalism.

This practice — this focus on collaboration — is happening now as Wake Forest Law students assist the City of Winston-Salem Human Relations Department with the mediation of landlord-tenant disputes that are related to the non-payment of rent. Students go through a training course to learn more about landlord-tenant law as well as the special provisions that followed COVID-19 emergency declarations. All mediations are being conducted remotely.

Background photo (source Ken Bennett): The Winston-Salem skyline at dusk.

Isolated By The Law

A fully online symposium on health and economic issues arising from COVID-19

As the world began to shut down from the global coronavirus pandemic, Wake Forest Law moved quickly to remotely bring together lawyers, scientists, and public health experts to deliver Isolated By The Law, an online symposium that assesses the legal and ethical issues arising from COVID-19.

Listen to the latest contributions to symposium, which features Professor Seema Mohapatra, Professor Doron Dorfman, Professor Marie-Amélie George, Dr. Sandro Galea, Professor Elizabeth Pendo, and Professor Stacey Tovino.

Background photo (source iStock): Man wearing a face mask looking out a window.

Faculty Highlight

Professor Kami Chavis discusses police accountability, hate crimes, and police reform with media worldwide

Professor Kami Chavis, a globally recognized expert on policing and police accountability, hate crimes, and police reform, contributed to national and international media coverage on the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

Below is a list of her recent contributions to the media:

  • Senators are demanding a solution to police stopping black men for wearing — and not wearing — masks (Vox)
  • After Ahmaud Arbery killing, push for Georgia hate crime law sees "newfound resurgence" (CBS News)
  • What would meaningful police reform look like? (Minnesota Public Radio)
  • Protests Spread Beyond Big Cities, From Raleigh to Santa Rosa (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Anger and Unrest Sweep Across U.S. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • 'Enough is enough': 'Intensity' of US protests could be catalyist for change (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  • The US movement to abolish the police (Al Jazeera's The Take podcast)
  • 7 Ways Mindfulness Could Support Compassionate Policing (Mindful)
  • Improving Community Safety Means Addressing Police Violence as a Public Health Problem (Jurist, op-ed)
  • A Former Minneapolis Police Officer's Case Shows An Example Of Selective Justice (NPR Weekend Edition)
  • Who Is the Floyd Family’s Lawyer? (The New Yorker)
  • If we truly value Black lives, end stand-your-ground (Columbus Dispatch, op-ed)
  • Georgia's lieutenant governor proposes new hate crimes bill, igniting new concerns over passage (CBS News)
  • DA's Police Reform Proposals Stop Short of Addressing Prosecutions (Voice of San Diego)
  • Georgia leader proposes expanded version of hate crimes law (Associated Press)
  • Body cameras are seen as key to police reform. But do they increase accountability? (PBS News Hour)
  • Law Schools Have Started a Criminal Justice Reform Movement (Insight Into Diversity)

Professor Chavis is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia whose litigation experience serves as a cornerstone to her scholarship in criminal justice and criminal procedure. Because her expertise is expansive, Professor Chavis is a leader in criminal justice reform and often writes and consults on matters of police and police accountability, federal hate crime legislation and enforcement, and racial profiling. She is also the authority on police body-cameras, having frequently contributed to local, national, and international media coverage on police killings of black men in the U.S.

Professor Kami Chavis is currently the associate provost for academic initiatives at Wake Forest University in addition to her role as director of the Wake Forest School of Law Criminal Justice Program.

Background photo (source Logan Weaver from Unsplash): Protest sign that says "Justice for Black Lives."

Faculty Research & Media

Our faculty are publishing research and contributing to media coverage of current events happening all over the world. See what our experts are saying:

Professor Mark Hall

Professor Tanya Marsh

Professor Ron Wright

  • Justice Is Blind. What if She Also Has the Coronavirus? (New York Times)
  • Why arrests take so long in cases like Ahmaud Arbery's and Breonna Taylors (Vox)

Professor Marie-Amélie George

Background photo (source iStock): A row of microphones.

Wake Forest Law Welcomes New Faculty Members

Wake Forest University School of Law welcomes four new full-time faculty members and a visiting professor for the 2020-2021 academic year. Their experience will bolster Wake Forest Law’s classrooms and clinics in areas ranging from health justice to environmental issues to food law policy and legal writing.

“These new teacher-scholars will bring remarkable thought leadership to our students and our community,” said Jane Aiken, dean of Wake Forest Law. “We look forward to enhancing our experiential learning opportunities and focus on important practice areas of law with their addition to our faculty.”

Alyse Bertenthal comes to Wake Forest Law as an assistant professor of law. She brings experience as the Mysun Clinical Fellow at the University of California-Irvine Law’s environmental law clinic, where she supervised student casework, connected academic centers and community leaders, examined community legal needs, and designed programs and projects to support those needs. Additionally, her recent research focuses on how assigning legal rights to nonhuman nature (like trees) can reframe relational and legal frameworks – in short, a community view of this environmental issue. Professor Bertenthal earned her PhD from University of California-Irvine, her JD from the University of Chicago School of Law, and her BA from Yale University, with distinction.

Assistant Professor of Law Meghan Boone returns to Wake Forest Law to teach reproductive rights and family law. Boone served as a visiting assistant professor teaching civil procedure and other courses at Wake Forest from 2016-2018. Since that time, she served as assistant professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, where her teaching and research focused on civil procedure, family law, and reproductive rights. Her recent scholarship has focused on lactation law, reproductive law, and gender equality in the workplace. One of her articles “Reproductive Due Process” is the winner of the 2020 American Association of Law School (AALS) Scholarly Papers Competition. Professor Boone earned an LLM in Advocacy with Honors from Georgetown University, her JD from American University Washington College of Law, and her BA from Trinity College. She has also worked in the public and private sectors.

Assistant Clinical Professor Ellie Morales (JD ’10) returns to Wake Forest Law to play a major role in the Veteran’s Clinic. Professor Morales was the first female judge advocate to be awarded the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. This prestigious honor is presented to fewer than 20 Army junior officers each year. Professor Morales joined the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in 2010 which included a tour in Afghanistan. In 2015, she transitioned to the Army Reserves where she continues to serve as a JAG one weekend a month. She has also worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice. Professor Morales earned her JD from Wake Forest Law in 2010 and her BA from Davidson College.

Sarah Morath will bring her legal writing, teaching, and focus on agriculture and environmental law as an associate professor of Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research (LAWR). She comes to Wake Forest Law from the University of Houston Law Center, where she was director of Lawyering Skills and Strategies. She has previously served as an associate professor of legal writing at the University Akron School of Law. Before moving to academia, Morath held several clerkships in Maine. Her scholarly interests include single-use plastics, environmental and natural resources law, food law policy, organic farming, and legal writing education. Morath frequently presents at national and regional legal writing conferences and was elected to the editorial board of Legal Writing: Journal of the Legal Writing Institute in 2016. Professor Morath earned her JD from the University of Montana School of Law, her MES from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and her BA from Vassar College, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Well-known in the field of health justice, Emily Benfer joins Wake Forest Law as a visiting professor, where she will set up a medical-legal partnership. This clinic will offer JD students clinical experience with a focus on community legal needs. Her practice and research areas include social justice and health equity, environmental and racial justice, and medical-legal partnerships. Recently, she created housing policy scorecards for all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions enacted by many states and local communities. This project examined tenant protections and housing stability measures. Professor Benfer has served as a visiting associate clinical professor of law at Columbia and a visiting distinguished scholar and senior fellow at Yale Law School. She has also been a clinical professor of law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Stritch School of Medicine where she founded the Health Justice Project. Benfer earned her LLM from Georgetown Law Center and her JD from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Background photo (source Pixabay): A blank chalkboard.