Faculty Notes

Jane Wettach

Jane Wettach, the William B. McGuire Clinical Professor Emerita of Law, has received the North Carolina Justice Center’s Lifetime Champion of Justice award for her work as an education advocate. Wettach, the founding director of the Children’s Law Clinic, was honored at a luncheon on April 13, at which she also was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, the governor’s highest honor, given for exemplary service to the state of North Carolina.

“Jane’s remarkable work improved the quality of education for tens of thousands of families across the state,” said Matt Ellinwood, director of the Education & Law Project at the NC Justice Center. “She represented students with disabilities and advocated on behalf of communities dealing with disparities in the use of exclusionary school discipline policies and served as a mentor to the next generation of attorneys working on behalf of North Carolina’s children.”

In the Children’s Law Clinic, which she led from 2002 to 2020, Wettach supervised students in providing free legal advice, advocacy, and legal representation to low-income, at-risk children in cases involving special education, school discipline, and children’s disability benefits. One of the state’s foremost experts in special education law, she led the revision of school discipline statutes to protect the due process rights of suspended students and outlaw the “zero tolerance” approach to school discipline. She also developed the state’s special education bar by organizing an annual roundtable held at Duke Law and won a case before the North Carolina Supreme Court, King v. Beaufort County Board of Education, which established the right of students to attend alternative school during a suspension in most cases. Her work on that case earned her the NC Justice Center’s Defender of Justice Award for litigation in 2010. She continues to serve as a resource to media and policymakers on the state’s private school voucher system and other issues related to education.

Wettach is the author of A Parents’ Guide to Special Education in North Carolina, School Vouchers in North Carolina, The First Three Years, and a contributing author of Special Education Advocacy and Guide to Student Advocacy in North Carolina.

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Neil Siegel

Neil Siegel, the David W. Ichel Professor of Law and professor of political science, served as special counsel for U.S. Senator Christopher Coons during the March confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Siegel previously served as special counsel to Coons during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Associate Justices Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and advised Coons during the confirmation hearing of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017. Siegel also served as special counsel to then-Sen. Joe Biden during the confirmation hearings of Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005 and Associate Justice Samuel Alito in 2006.

A scholar of constitutional law, politics, and theory, Siegel teaches Duke Law students, undergraduates at Duke University, and judges in the Law School’s Master of Judicial Studies program. He also directs the Duke Law Summer Institute on Law and Policy. In July, he begins a two-year term as associate dean for intellectual life.

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Powell book

Professor H. Jefferson Powell has published The Practice of American Constitutional Law (Cambridge University Press, 2022), his 14th book, in which he challenges the common belief that constitutional law arguments are, as a rule, substantively political. He explains the longstanding, shared practice of constructing and evaluating constitutional law claims in a way that transcends current political disagreements, describing how lawyers and judges identify constitutional problems by using a specifiable method of inquiry that enables them to agree on what the questions are, and thus what any plausible answer must address, even when disagreement over the most persuasive answers remains.

Powell is a leading scholar of constitutional law who has served in a variety of positions in federal and state government during his career, including in the U.S. Department of Justice as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel and as principal deputy solicitor general.

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Matthew Adler

Matthew Adler, the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of law and professor of economics, philosophy, and public policy, has co-edited Prioritarianism in Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2022) with Ole Norheim of the University of Bergen.

Prioritarianism is an ethical theory that gives extra weight to the well-being of the worse off.

Based on the work of the Prioritarianism in Practice Research Network founded by Adler and Norheim, the book is the first to show how the theory can be used to assess governmental policies and evaluate societal conditions, and uses prioritarianism as a methodology to evaluate governmental policy across a variety of policy domains such as taxation, health policy, risk regulation, education, climate policy, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributors also demonstrate how the theory improves on GDP as an indicator of a society’s progress over time.

Adler’s previous works on prioritarianism and other policy-evaluation methodologies include Well-Being and Fair Distribution: Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis (Oxford, 2012), Measuring Social Welfare: An Introduction (Oxford, 2019), and the Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy (2016, editor, with Marc Fleurbaey).

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Zhang book
Alex Zhang

Alex Zhang, the Archibald C. and Frances Fulk Rufty Research Professor of Law, associate dean of Information Services, and director of the J. Michael Goodson Law Library, is the co-editor, with Katherine Siler, of Global Animal Law Research: Strategies and Resources (Carolina Academic Press, 2022).

The book includes contributions from 12 research specialists with expertise in U.S., foreign, international, and comparative law research who identify and analyze research resources, strategies, and current and emerging legal frameworks on animal rights and welfare in the laws of more than 15 countries across five continents. They also discuss a diverse set of research methods in both common law and civil law legal systems, including regulatory, legislative, statutory, case law, international agreement, and comparative law research. Each chapter focuses on a particular legal topic, identifying unique problems within that topic and exploring effective approaches to address them.

Zhang’s research interests include legal information and technology, law library management, open access to information, and Chinese law and research. She teaches Advanced Legal Research.

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Lawrence Zelenak, the Pamela B. Gann Professor of Law, is co-editor, with Ajay Mehrotra, of A Half-Century With the Internal Revenue Code: The Memoirs of Stanley S. Surrey (Carolina Academic Press, 2022). In addition to editing the former assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy’s professional memoirs, Zelenak and Mehrotra contribute an introductory essay on his professional life and his contributions to tax policy, as well as annotations offering background on the people and events Surrey discusses in his memoirs.

Surrey, who died in 1984, was the most prominent mid-20th-century American tax law academic and had a tremendous influence on tax policy in that capacity and through two “lengthy tours of duty in the service of the U.S. Treasury Department.” According to the book, Surrey’s influence on the federal tax system was deep, pervasive, and ongoing, with such contributions as his development of tax expenditure analysis, which since the 1970s has played a central role in a wide range of tax policy discussions.

Zelenak teaches Federal Income Taxation, Corporate Taxation, and Tax Policy. His publications include numerous articles on tax policy issues and a treatise on federal income taxation of individuals.

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Sara Sternberg Greene

Professor Sara Sternberg Greene has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. Greene, whose teaching and research interests include poverty law, housing law, consumer law, bankruptcy, family law, contracts, qualitative research methods, and law and sociology, uses primarily qualitative empirical methods to study the relationship between law, poverty, and inequality. Her work focuses on how low-income families understand, experience, and interact with the law, how legal institutions may inadvertently perpetuate poverty and inequality, and how structural conditions create barriers to accessing law and justice for low-income families. 

The academy advances solutions to challenges facing the nation by increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security. “This mission encompasses established social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation, and Unemployment Insurance — as well as related policy areas, including Medicaid, long-term services and supports, paid leave, other social assistance programs, and private employee benefits,” according to a January statement announcing the election of 48 new members. All were nominated by existing members on the basis of their professional contributions.

Greene’s recent work explores the connection between the use of personal data and economic insecurity in the United States. Two key projects involve investigating how gatekeepers understand and interpret the law related to personal data use when deciding how to allocate scarce economic resources, and how low-income victims of identity theft navigate the legal remedies available to them.

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Nita Farahany

Nita Farahany JD/MA ’04, PhD ’06, the Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law and professor of philosophy, was appointed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, in April, to the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). Also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, the ULC “provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law,” according to its website. Appointed by each state and territory, members research, draft, and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas of state law where uniformity is both practical and prudent.

Farahany is a leading scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies. She is the founding director of the Duke Initiative for Science and Society, the faculty chair of the Duke MA in Bioethics and Science Policy, and principal investigator of SLAP Lab. She is a member of the standing committee on Biotechnology Capabilities and National Security Needs at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

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Jeff Ward

Students honored Clinical Professor Jeff Ward JD/LLM ’09, the associate dean for Technology and Innovation and the director of the Duke Center on Law & Technology, with the Duke Bar Association’s 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award in April.
In presenting the award, DBA Academics Chair Benjamin Spencer ’24 read from nominations that lauded Ward’s support in and out of class.

“When I hit my mid-semester slump, was feeling unmotivated by school, and didn’t do very well on his final, I went to a meeting with him and couldn’t have walked out feeling better,” one student wrote of Ward. “He reminded me of the importance that lawyers play in our society and what kind of contributions I could make even while in law school, and assured me that everything was going to be okay moving forward. It wasn’t a generic speech — he truly cared about me and valued my experience being a positive one.”

Ward, who teaches Contracts as well as courses in law and technology, thanked his students for being “unbelievably gifted, hardworking, kind, always eager to grow. You make Duke Law a very special place to be.”

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Jesse McCoy

Clinical Professor Jesse McCoy spoke at a Jan. 28 virtual event hosted by the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice on law schools’ response to the national housing and eviction crisis. The “Eviction Prevention Convening” followed an earlier call to action by the Office of the Attorney General to the U.S. legal community to help address the crisis as federal and local eviction moratoriums expired around the country.

Nearly 100 law schools responded, including Duke Law’s Civil Justice Clinic, which created a walk-in Eviction Advice Clinic on Friday mornings at the Durham County Courthouse. The clinic, staffed by four to five students from either the Civil Justice Clinic, for which McCoy is the supervising attorney, or the broader student body, provided legal assistance to local residents facing eviction, often related to circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated after the federal eviction moratorium ended. 

In addition to teaching and supervising clinic students, McCoy, a former staff attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina, co-teaches the Social Justice Lawyering seminar at Duke Law.

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Duke Law Magazine Cover Summer 2022

Summer 2022
Volume 41 | No. 1