The College of Law is pleased to announce the appointment of Lena Shapiro as a clinical professor and Director of the new First Amendment Clinic funded by the Stanton Foundation. The Clinic, which will enroll its first students in the fall of 2023, will represent clients with claims arising under the speech, press and assembly clauses of the First Amendment. The Clinic will also engage in a wide range of educational and related programmatic activities.
"The Free Speech Clinic here at the College of Law promises to be a boon not just for the College, but for the University, the state and indeed the whole nation. Without free speech, democracy itself would be impossible, yet much of today’s society lacks a good understanding of free speech history, theory and doctrine here in America. This new Clinic, under Professor Shapiro’s able leadership, will help redress some of that. We are very excited about this opportunity the Stanton Foundation has generously facilitated, and about Professor Shapiro, who will be a terrific addition to our already exceptional faculty," said Dean Vikram Amar.
Lena Shapiro received her J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2015. During her time at the College of Law, Lena participated for two years in the Federal Civil Rights Clinic. Lena also won best oralist in the Frederick Green Moot Court Honorary Round and served as Head Coach of the undergraduate Illinois Trial Team. Lena is a double Illini: she received her B.A. degree in economics from the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2012.
Lena brings broad and deep civil litigation experience from her work at two Chicago firms, Chapman Spingola and Swanson, Martin & Bell. Lena has worked on all phases of cases in federal and state court and she has first-chaired fifteen civil jury trials to verdict. Lena’s professional experience also includes, while she was in law school, a summer clerkship at the criminal division of the Cook County Circuit Court and a year-long clerkship position at the office of the Federal Public Defender in Central Illinois.
Lena has taken an active role mentoring new law graduates. She is also an active member of the Illinois legal community. She currently serves on the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, which conducts evaluations of candidates for judicial offices and sitting judges seeking retention within Cook County.
Lena will arrive on campus at the end of January to start the work of launching the Clinic.
"I am honored to be given the opportunity to build the First Amendment Clinic at the College of Law. It will provide students the opportunity to apply their classwork directly to cases with real-world clients and build their confidence as litigators. I look forward to ensuring the Clinic serves both students and the community at large on the deeply important issues affected by the First Amendment," she said.
Jason Mazzone, Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor and Director of the Program in Constitutional Theory, History and Law, chaired the search committee, and is eager to welcome Lena to the College.
"I am thrilled that the Stanton Foundation identified the College of Law as the home for a new First Amendment Clinic and thrilled that Lena Shapiro will be creating and running the Clinic. After a national search over many months that yielded a strong pool of finalists, Lena emerged as the clear top pick for the position. Lena is the best kind of lawyer: smart, diligent, principled, and tireless. She cares deeply about preparing our graduates for practice. And she is strongly committed to promoting First Amendment interests. Lena was a star 1L student in my first constitutional law class at the College of Law and it is wonderful to welcome her back now as a colleague."