Program & Schedule

The full and complete GRITS conference schedule can be found here.

Friday, September 22

12:30 – 1:30 | Registration and Refreshments 

1:30 – 2:30 | Plenary Panel: Framing GRITS

Often, public interest lawyers struggle with incorporating their politics into a profession that requires compromise by necessity. Our panelists will discuss how progressives can bring their ideology and philosophy to their legal and policy work, and thrive. Our speakers believe it is possible to be radical and pragmatic, and will describe how thay try to apply their ideals to their practice.

Neesha Davé (Chief of Staff for District 4, Austin City Council; The Lilith Fund) | Stephanie Gharakhanian (Workers Defense Project) | Blake Strode (Arch City Defenders) 

2:40 – 3:40 | Revisionist 1L: Choose Your Session

  • Constitutional Law

    •  Jordan Steiker (University of Texas – Austin)
  • Contracts

    • Carla Sanchez-Adams (Texas RioGrande Legal Aid)
  • Criminal Law

    • Rhiannon Hamam (Texas RioGrande Legal Aid) 

Our speakers will give their view on three core courses of the 1L curriculum: Constitutional Law, Contracts, and Criminal Law. The Constitutional Law panel will discuss the difficulties of impact litigation. The Contracts panel will focus on the adverse impact contract law can have on disempowered populations (e.g., women, low-income individuals, non-english speakers) and areas of consumer protection which can be used to fight back. The Criminal Law panel will shine a light on the disproportionately negative impact of criminal law on low-income Americans.

3:50 – 4:50 | Women’s Economic Security Issues

Every day 15 million women go to work for $10.50 an hour or less to support themselves and their families in the face of sexual harassment, erratic work schedules, and bosses who refuse to respect their reproductive health decisions, accommodate their medical needs, or offer paid leave. This panel of women’s and workers’ rights advocates and attorneys will discuss how workplace policies faced by women working in the low-wage workforce threaten their economic security and the economic security of the families they support. The panel will also discuss legal, legislative, and organizing efforts to combat these destructive forces and lift up female workers and their families.

Kelli Garcia (National Women’s Law Center) | Tyfani Faulkner (OUR Walmart) | Pamelya Herndon (Southwest Women’s Law Center) | Kathryn Youker (Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid)

5:00 – 6:00 | Keynote Address

Our keynote speaker for the conference will be James King, an attorney with the District of Columbia Public Defender Service. As an undergraduate, King played Division I football for Central Michigan University and was drafted to the Cleveland Browns. But before his career as an NFL player could begin, he was falsely accused of second-degree murder. King will be sharing his personal and professional experiences with the criminal justice system. 

6:00 – 9:00 | Happy Hour at Hole in the Wall, 2538 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

Saturday, September 23

8:45 – 9:20 | Registration and Breakfast

9:20 – 10:35 | Radical Defenses Against the Prison-Industrial Complex

How can advocates and activists use their abilities to resist the criminal justice system in the 21st century? This panel will feature speakers who engage with the prison-industrial complex at various points: police encounters, the trial phase, incarceration, and reentry.

Tahir Duckett (LawforBlackLives) Rhiannon Hamam (Texas RioGrande Legal Aid) | Ruth Hamilton (Still She Rises) | Fatima Mann (CounterBalance ATX) Jorge Renaud (Grassroots Leadership) | Blake Strode (Arch City Defenders)

10:45 – 12:00 | Economic Solidarity

The Solidarity Economy describes a system where people seek to maximize social welfare over individual profit. In this panel, lawyers, academics, and organizers will explore alternative economic systems and the role of community organizing in putting people over profit. 

Dana Curtis (US Federation of Worker Cooperatives) | Mark Kaswan (University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley) | Frances Leos Martinez (University of Texas – Austin) Ahn-Thu Nguyen (Democracy at Work Institute) | Dwight Watson (Texas State University)

12:00 – 1:00 | Gavel Gap Lunch with The Honorable Aurora Martinez-Jones, sponsored by the American Constitution Society

1:15 – 2:15 | Choose Your Workshop:

  • Implicit Bias

    • Rene Salazar (Dell Medical School)
  • Restorative Justice

    • Dr. Marilyn Armour (Institute for Restorative Justice)

2:20 – 3:35 | Immigration & Border Militarization

This panel will feature lawyers and activists who work closely with immigrant communities and can use their experiences to examine strategies for deportation defense and grassroots organizing efforts.

Stephanie Gharakhanian (Workers Defense Project) | Barbara Hines (University of Texas – Austin) | Efrén Olivares (Texas Civil Rights Project) Karla Perez (United We Dream) | Pastor Jim Rigby (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church) | Rebekah Wolf (New Mexico Immigrant Law Center)

3:35– 3:45 | Cookie Break Panel

Just kidding! There is no panel. Just cookies.

3:50 – 5:05 | Healthcare Access for Vulnerable Populations

This panel will bring together lawyers, organizers, and community leaders whose work expands healthcare access for those most marginalized in mainstream conversations around health.

Schell Carpenter (Lilith Fund) | Beyonka Cook (Afiya Center) Kelli Garcia (National Women’s Law Center) Keegan Warren-Clem (People’s Community Clinic of Austin)

5:05 – 8:00 | Happy Hour Closing Event at Spiderhouse, 2908 Fruth St, Austin, TX 78705