Gerald M. Birnberg

Founding Partner

Williams, Birnberg & Andersen

Gerald M. Birnberg is a 50-year lawyer whose practice has been focused on civil rights litigation, primarily on the plaintiff’s side. The founding partner of Williams, Birnberg & Andersen, LLP in Houston, Texas, he is certified as a specialist in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a life fellow of the College of the State Bar of Texas, and an adjunct professor of law at South Texas College of Law-Houston, teaching a seminar course on recent United States Supreme Court cases.

          Upon completing law school at the University of Texas in 1971, Mr. Birnberg served as a law clerk to the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He has been in private practice since that time, concentrating on complex litigation and appeals. Mr. Birnberg has appeared before the Supreme Court of the United States (either on the briefs or in oral argument) on several occasions, including arguing Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103 (1992). He is admitted to practice before seven federal circuits, and has been involved in more than 100 appellate cases.

          From 2003 to 2012, Mr. Birnberg was Chair of the Democratic Party of Harris County, Texas. He also served on Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Task Force on Policing Reform and is a member the Houston Independent Police Oversight Board.

          A frequent lecturer, Mr. Birnberg has made numerous presentations to state and local bar seminars and published articles on attorney’s fees in civil rights cases and other topics. He also testified before the Committee on Education and Labor of the United States House of Representatives concerning the attorney’s fees provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1990.

           Mr. Birnberg has represented fee claimants in major attorney’s fees litigation on a number of occasions and has been involved in several cases in which the amount of fees in issue exceeded $1 million.


Karen M. Blum

Professor Emerita and Research Professor of Law

Suffolk University Law School

Karen Blum began teaching at Suffolk Law School in 1974. She has taught in the areas of Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, Civil Rights and Police Misconduct Litigation. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Wells College, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and an LL. M. from Harvard. Professor Blum is a regular faculty participant in § 1983 Civil Rights Programs and Institutes around the country. In addition, she serves as a faculty member for workshops sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center for Federal Judges and Federal Magistrate Judges. Professor Blum has authored numerous articles in the section 1983 area and is a co-author, along with Michael Avery, David Rudovsky, and Jennifer Laurin, of the treatise Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation. As a Professor Emerita, Professor Blum continues to engage in Section 1983 programs throughout the country and is actively involved in efforts to achieve police reform.


Erwin Chemerinsky

Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law

University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Erwin Chemerinsky became the 13th Dean of Berkeley Law on July 1, 2017, when he joined the faculty as the Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law.

Prior to assuming this position, from 2008-2017, he was the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, at University of California, Irvine School of Law.  Before that he was the Alston and Bird Professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University from 2004-2008, and from 1983-2004 was a professor at the University of Southern California Law School, including as the Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, and Political Science. From 1980-1983, he was an assistant professor at DePaul College of Law.

He is the author of fifteen books, including leading casebooks and treatises about constitutional law, criminal procedure, and federal jurisdiction.  His most recent books are Presumed Guilty:  How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights (Liveright 2021), and The Religion Clauses:  The Case for Separating Church and State (with Howard Gillman) (Oxford University Press 2020).

He also is the author of more than 200 law review articles. He is a contributing writer for the Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times, and writes regular columns for the Sacramento Bee, the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and frequent op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. 

In 2016, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 2017, National Jurist magazine again named Dean Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the United States.  In 2022, he is the President of the Association of American Law Schools.

Education

B.S., Northwestern University (1975)

J.D., Harvard Law School (1978


Jamie Franklin

Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Supervisor of the Civil Litigation Clinic

Chicago-Kent College of Law

Jamie Franklin joined the Chicago-Kent College of Law faculty in August 2020 as director of the C-K Law Group’s Employment/Civil Litigation Clinic. Her practice areas include employment discrimination and retaliation, wage and hour law, qui tam (False Claims Act) litigation, class actions, and other complex litigation.

From 2011 to 2020, Franklin owned and operated the Franklin Law Firm in Chicago, where she litigated extensively in federal and state courts nationwide on behalf of plaintiffs in the areas of employment discrimination, class actions, wage and hour law, employee benefits, consumer law, qui tam (False Claims Act) and whistleblower litigation, oil and gas royalties, and historic preservation law. Her goal was to provide the highest level of legal representation to those who were historically outmaneuvered in the legal arena. She also successfully resolved many employment disputes in mediation and arbitration and handled numerous appeals.

Before starting her own firm, Franklin was a partner and an associate at Meites, Mulder, Mollica & Glink, a plaintiff-side firm in Chicago that specialized in employment matters, class actions, and consumer law. There, she practiced in federal courts throughout the country, seeking to bring cases that served two goals: to help the employee or plaintiff in need and to have a broader impact on an area of the law affecting plaintiffs. Prior to that, she practiced consumer law at Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin. Franklin’s interest in plaintiff’s law extended to law school, where she was awarded a Consumer Law Fellowship while attending the University of Chicago Law School that enabled her to represent consumers at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Franklin is a member of the Illinois State Bar and the federal Trial Bar, and she is admitted to numerous federal circuit and district courts. She is rated as AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell and has been selected as an Illinois Super Lawyer each year since 2017.


Rosalie Levinson

Valparaiso University School of Law

Rosalie Levinson is currently the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Professor of Law and a Senior Research Professor at Valparaiso Law School, where she teaches constitutional law, civil rights litigation, and federal practices.

She previously worked as a staff attorney for a public interest organization and has been involved in substantial litigation. She has argued several civil rights cases before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and has been a frequent lecturer for continuing legal education programs, including those sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center for Federal Judges and the Practice Law Institute. In addition, she has team taught with Justices Scalia, Ginsburg and Thomas in conjunction with Valparaiso University School of Law’s summer program in Cambridge, England.

Professor Levinson received her J.D. at Valparaiso University School of Law (1973), her M.A. at Indiana University (Woodrow Wilson Fellow) (1970), and her B.A. at Indiana University (Phi Beta Kappa) (1969).


John B. Murphey

Odelson, Sterk, Murphey, Frazier & McGrath, Ltd.

John B. Murphey is currently a Partner at Odelson, Sterk, Murphey, Frazier & McGrath, Ltd.. He graduated cum laude from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in 1976.  He serves as counsel to many local government units throughout Illinois and is a nationally recognized expert on civil rights law.  John has successfully litigated complex zoning matters for private and public clients. He is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. 

Focusing his practice on cases involving civil rights defense for local governments, John represents public clients in all phases of litigation in state and federal courts.  He advises local cities and villages on matters involving zoning and serves as special labor counsel to many municipalities.

John serves as regular and special counsel to dozens of Illinois local governments.  He has argued numerous cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Illinois Supreme Court on issues including first amendment, fair housing, due process, employment discrimination and zoning.  He represents both plaintiffs and defendants in Section 1983 litigation.  

John frequently presents at conferences and workshops on topics affecting municipalities, including a zoning workshop organized by the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency in 2020.  He presents annually at Chicago-Kent’s Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation Conference. 

John is a two-time winner of the Litigation Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois Local Government Lawyers Association.  For the past 15 years, he has been selected to Super Lawyers and is one of Super Lawyers Top Rated lawyers in the State, Local and Municipal category.  He has been named to Best Lawyers in America.

John has been an elected official, serving for 12 years as a member of his local school board, the last four as President.


Sheldon H. Nahmod

University Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

Chicago-Kent College of Law

Sheldon H. Nahmod is a well-known expert on constitutional law, the First Amendment, civil rights and liberties and the law of Section 1983. He is the author of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Litigation: The Law of Section 1983 (4th ed. 2019); A Section 1983 Civil Rights Anthology (1993); a casebook, Constitutional Torts (5th ed., forthcoming 2020, with Wells & Smith); and numerous law review articles. He has written many certiorari petitions and amicus briefs in the Supreme Court. He has also successfully argued civil rights cases in the Supreme Court and the First, Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Circuits. In addition, he has lectured on civil rights matters to federal judges and attorneys throughout the country, including organizing and speaking at Chicago-Kent's own annual Conference on Section 1983, now in its 37th year. Further, he lectures to lay groups on constitutional law and the First Amendment.

Nahmod graduated from the University of Chicago, Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago Divinity School (1996). He practiced with a corporate law firm in Chicago and was a legal services staff attorney before entering academia. He also was a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School, where he earned an LL.M. After joining Chicago-Kent, he served as associate dean for three years, and was named IIT University Distinguished Professor in 1992. Over the years he has won awards for his teaching, most recently the Brill Award from the Student Bar Association. He was named University Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 2018.

Nahmod has served as chair of the Sections on Civil Rights, Law and Education and Law and Religion of the Association of American Law Schools. He founded and for many years co-directed Chicago-Kent's Institute for Law and the Humanities. In 2001, he received the Jefferson Fordham Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Section 1983 jurisprudence from the American Bar Association's Section on State and Local Government Law. In 2018, he received the Abner Mikva Award from the Chicago Chapter of the American Constitution Society for his contributions to civil rights and liberties.

Nahmod blogs on Section 1983, constitutional law, the First Amendment and other law-related topics at nahmodlaw.com.