The Liman Center sponsors an annual Public Interest Law Colloquium, bringing together advocates, scholars, and students from across the country for two days of discussion. Colloquia have addressed many topics, including: the federal funding of legal services, encountering the criminal law, low-wage workers and workfare, the challenges of becoming and staying a public interest lawyer, the role of mass media in public interest advocacy, public interest lawyering, and public interest advocacy at the state and local level in an era of high anxiety.

The Twenty-third Annual Liman Colloquium
Money and Punishment: Five Years after Ferguson
October 1-2, 2020
Yale Law School

Related Readings: Money and Punishment, Circa 2020

Thursday, October 1st, 4:10 – 7:30 pm

Funding and Defunding Criminal Systems
Amna Akbar, Associate Professor of Law, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Emily Bazelon, Lecturer in Law, Senior Research Scholar, Truman Capote Fellow, YLS
Wesley Bell, Prosecuting Attorney, St. Louis County
Kellen Funk, Associate Professor, Columbia Law School
Julie James, Director of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures
Jamelia Morgan, Associate Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law; Senior Liman Affiliate, YLS; Liman Fellow 2016

Seeing Inequality
Dwayne Betts, Ph.D. Candidate, Senior Liman Research Scholar, YLS; Liman Fellow 2016
Scott Hechinger, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Zealous
Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, YLS
The Liman Center at Yale Law School
Policy Advocacy Clinic, UC Berkeley School of Law
The Fines and Fees Justice Center

Friday, October 2nd, 11 am – 6:30 pm

The Theory and Law of Money as Punishment
Abbye Atkinson, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley School of Law
Beth Colgan, Professor, UCLA School of Law
Bernard Harcourt, Professor, Columbia Law School
Alexis Harris, Presidential Term Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Washington
Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, YLS
Who Pays, Who Is Harmed, and Who Benefits from Money as Punishment
Nusrat Choudhury, Legal Director, ACLU of Illinois
Karin Martin, Assistant Professor, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington
Alexandra Natapoff, Lee S. Kreindler Professor, Harvard Law School
Josh Pacewicz, Associate Professor, Brown University
John Robinson, Assistant Professor, Washington University
Jeff Selbin, Clinical Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law
Anna VanCleave, Director, Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law

Funding Government Services
Alicia Bannon, Managing Director, Brennan Center for Justice, Liman Fellow 2009
Rebecca Goldstein, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley School of Law
Brian Highsmith, Ph.D. Candidate, Government & Social Policy, Harvard; Senior Research Affiliate, Liman Center, YLS
Ariel Jurow Kleiman, Assistant Professor, University of San Diego School of Law
Chris Mai, Research Associate, Vera Institute of Justice
Kim Rueben, Sol Price Fellow, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
Michael Sances, Assistant Professor, Temple University
Cortney Sanders, Policy Analyst, Center on Budget Policy and Priorities
Hye Young You, Assistant Professor, Wilf Department of Politics, NYU

Revisiting Money as Punishment
Chesa Boudin, San Francisco District Attorney, Liman Fellow 2012
Brandon Buskey, Deputy Director for Smart Justice Litigation, ACLU
Beth Compa, Officer at the PEW Charitable Trusts, Liman Fellow 2011
Lisa Daugaard, Executive Director, Public Defender Association, Liman Fellow 1998
Lisa Foster, Co-Director, Fines and Fees Justice Center
Rachael Rollins, District Attorney, Suffolk County

Past Colloquiums

poster from 2018 Liman ColloquiumWho Pays? Fines, Fees, Bail, and the Cost of Courts

April 5 and 6, 2018

Yale Law School



Liman at 20: Public Interest(s)

Launching the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law

April 6-7, 2017

Yale Law School

Speakers and topics

Moving Criminal Justice

Arthur Liman Public Interest Colloquium

March 31-April 1, 2016

Yale Law School


Reform projects are underway in every phase of the U.S. criminal justice system – to reshape policing, prosecution and defense, sentencing, incarceration, and reintegration. Concerns about the toll of mass incarceration have created consensus across the political spectrum about the need for change. But questions abound about how law, organizing, media, and advocacy tools can be successfully deployed and to what ends. This colloquium considered how reform agendas are formulated, gain currency, and result in changes in laws and practices that produce consequences, whether generative or harmful. By examining how reform efforts build on extant social, legal and political movements, or create new ones and imagine the future, we sought a better understanding of both the promise of this political moment and its limits.

Detention on a Global Scale: Punishment and Beyond
Thursday and Friday, April 9-10, 2015
Yale Law School

The eighteenth symposium was jointly sponsored by the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program and the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship.

This convening, the first jointly sponsored by both programs, explored the expansion of the justifications for and forms of confinement. A record number – more than 11 million – of people are in detention. In addition to the classic justification of criminal punishment and detention prior to criminal trial, governments also have categories of “civil” detainees, including the mentally ill, juveniles, migrants, and those deemed a threat to national security. Their confinement often takes forms largely indistinguishable from prisons. Critics have numerous objections on legal, practical, and moral grounds, and because the numbers in detention place immense fiscal burdens on governments, many commentators believe that opportunities now exist to revisit these practices.

Colloquium schedule

Speaker biographies

Isolation and Reintegration: Punishment circa 2014
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Yale Law School

This colloquium explored how to reduce the isolation of prisoners, in terms of the manner and the degree to which correctional facilities rely upon separation of prisoners to maintain order, and the distances separating prisoners from their communities of origin and from society at large. In centuries past, reformers such as Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham offered what were then radically new conceptions of punishment. Today’s conditions invite comparably ambitious aspirations to reframe the practices of punishment in the twenty-first century, even as Bentham’s proposed Panopticon stands as a reminder that one generation’s efforts at improvements may come to be challenged by the next.

Colloquium schedule

Speaker biographies

Navigating Boundaries: Immigration and Criminal Law
April 4-5, 2013
Yale Law School

Participants will explore the concept of “borders” and how, in various contexts, law, political orders, and social movements construct, invoke, rely on, and relax borders. Our plan is to explore the idea of borders, its relationship to territorial and jurisdictional borders, and its impact on relationships among individuals, communities, and states. Because civil/criminal, administrative/judicial, and federal/state systems of adjudication and enforcement seek to regulate individuals and borders, we will consider such delineations, particularly as they relate to past, current, and proposed immigration policies. Borders also provide a lens through which to consider how certain groups – women, juveniles, the mentally ill, members of certain communities identified by religion or ethnicity – can be made vulnerable and how law can render their situations peripheral, literally or figuratively.

Colloquium schedule

Speaker biographies

Accessing Justice, Rationing Law
March 1-2, 2012
Yale Law School

Most state constitutions guarantee “open courts” and rights to remedies. Further, in 1963, Gideon v. Wainwright established a constitutional right to counsel for indigent defendants facing felony charges. Implementation of these rights, however, remains elusive. A 2004 report on criminal counsel by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defendants reached “the disturbing conclusion that thousands of persons are processed through America’s courts every year either with no lawyer at all or with a lawyer who does not have the time, resources, or in some cases the inclination to provide effective representation.” On the civil side, California counted 4.3 million civil litigants without lawyers in its courts in 2009; New York tallied more than 2 million in 2010, and that number includes almost all facing evictions and 95 percent of those in family conflicts.

For its fifteenth anniversary, the Liman Colloquium will take up an overarching question for the twenty-first century: how can courts respond to the demand for their services? The issues include providing adequate representation to criminal defendants, the right to “civil Gideon” for people unable to afford lawyers, and what role, if any, alternative processes and new kinds of courts may play in addressing these challenges. Joining the conversation will be current and former chief justices from several states as well as scholars, students, practitioners, and many of our Liman Fellows. Click here to see the schedule.

Download the 2012 Liman Colloquium book here


Collaboration, Cooperation, and Confrontation
March 3-4, 2011
Yale Law School

Current and former members of the executive and legislative branches joined advocates to examine their respective roles in serving the public interest. We began the afternoon of Thursday, March 3, with the discussion In and Out of Government: A Conversation. We have asked our panelists to discuss the opportunities and challenges of working in government. On Friday, March 4, we continued to consider the promises and limits of cooperation, as well as the utilities of confrontation and conflict, among public and private actors. Topics included enabling access to justice, responding to environmental disasters, facilitating or discouraging migration, and encounters with the criminal justice system.

Colloquium Schedule

Speaker Biographies

March 4-5, 2010
Yale Law School

On March 4 and 5, 2010, the Liman Program hosted the Thirteenth Annual Liman Public Interest Colloquium, Imprisoned. With co-sponsorship from the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund, the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, and Yale Law School, the Colloquium brought together over 350 guests and speakers to discuss critical issues in the prison system. In his opening speech on Thursday, Dean Robert C. Post called the Colloquium’s theme “particularly appropriate” for the Liman Program, given Arthur Liman’s work to reform prison conditions as Chief Council to the Special Commission on Attica.

Colloquium Schedule

Speaker biographies

Forty Years of Clinical Education at Yale: Generating Rights, Remedies, and Legal Services
On March 5 and 6, 2009
Yale Law School

On March 5 and 6, 2009, the Liman Program hosted the Twelfth Annual Liman Colloquium, Forty Years of Clinical Education at Yale: Generating Rights, Remedies, and Legal Services. Co-sponsored by Yale Law School and the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund, the colloquium addressed the history of and contemporary issues in clinical education, as it also honored the innovations of Yale clinical faculty members Dennis Curtis, Francis X. Dineen, Carroll Lucht, and Stephen Wizner. Yale’s clinical program has served as an inspiration for many Liman Fellows, and more than two dozen current or former Liman Law Fellows participated, along with Liman Summer Fellows from Barnard, Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Spelman, and Yale – all part of the group of more than 350 people attending the two-day conference.


Colloquium Schedule

List of Speakers

Speaker Biographies


Liman at the Local Level: Public Interest Advocacy and American Federalism
On March 6 and 7, 2008
Yale Law School

On March 6 and 7, 2008, the Liman Program hosted the Eleventh Annual Liman Public Interest Colloquium, Liman at the Local Level: Public Interest Advocacy and American Federalism. More than 200 people – including scholars, advocates, students, judges, government officials, and Liman Law and Summer Fellows – attended the Colloquium. The first panel, States and Cities as Advocates for the Public Interest, focused on government lawyers. William Marshall (Solicitor General of Ohio and professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law) provided a historical account of the role of state attorneys general. Unlike the “unitary” executive structure in the federal system, many state attorneys general are elected and operate independently from governors. Marshall argued that this divided structure can be productive, serving to produce debate about norms.

Colloquium Schedule

Speaker Biographies

Liman at Ten: Looking Forward to Another Decade of Public Interest Lawyering
March 1-3, 2010
Yale Law School

In March 2007, the Liman Program celebrated its tenth anniversary. The Tenth Colloquium opened with an inspiring speech by Mayor Cory Booker, who joined us as the Ruebhausen Fellow. Booker graduated from Yale Law School in 1997, the year the Liman Program was founded. At the Liman anniversary celebration, Mayor Booker inspired the Yale community with stories about his work in Newark and reflections on how to serve the public interest.

Dean Koh’s introduction of Cory Booker (pdf)


On March 2, members of the Liman community spent the day reflecting on the lives of public interest lawyers, discussing their practices with others engaged in similar work, exploring the role of universities and law schools in shaping public interest law, and marking the accomplishments of the Fellows and the Program. The Liman community also bid farewell to Deborah Cantrell and honored her with a gift of more than $1500 collected from fellows to donate to New Haven Legal Assistance.