Welcome to RebLaw 2023!

Welcome to the Rebellious Lawyering Conference!

The 2023 RebLaw conference will be held on Saturday, March 11 at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut. Registration for the conference will open on Thursday, February 23. 

Register for RebLaw 2023 here!

If you would like to support RebLaw and our efforts, please click here to make a donation. Put “RebLaw” in the “Other” section.

RebLaw Directors’ Letter

Rebellion, by its very nature, is sustained resistance to something much larger than yourself. When we rebel, we push back against powerful forces that to many seem inevitable, “normal,” or at their very worst, unquestioned and invisible. As a community united in resistance, we push back against the celebratory narratives of legal and political progress which veil the urgent need for organized action, and against the oppressive racism, sexism, and xenophobia at the core of our institutions of power and learning. Rebellious Lawyering is fundamentally about pushing back. This year, as a community, we are not only fighting the forces of inequality; we are pushing back against memory itself. We are resisting through revival.

Since 1994, the Rebellious Lawyering conference (“RebLaw”) has put Yale Law School on the map as a home for public interest law, movement lawyering, and grassroots political action. Each year RebLaw brings together practitioners, students, and activists from around the country to discuss innovative, progressive approaches to social justice. The conference, firmly rooted in the spirit of Gerald López’s Rebellious Lawyering, seeks to build a community dedicated to challenging the hierarchies of race, wealth, gender, and expertise within legal practice, organizing spaces, and academia. This student-run conference, the largest of its kind, has influenced an entire generation of attorneys, civil rights leaders, social justice activists, and educators in service of liberation movements. 

But there has not been a RebLaw conference for three years. Like so many of the essential aspects of political engagement and resistance—breaking bread, protest, marches, teach-ins, town halls, mutual aid— this 25-year tradition of rebellion was abruptly interrupted by COVID-19. Many of us doubted if it would ever come back.

Organizing RebLaw is an undertaking. Ever since RebLaw was canceled due to the pandemic, students have tried desperately to bring it back. For the past three years, quarantine-induced isolation, student apathy (accelerated by Zoom law school), changing administrative guidelines, fading institutional memory, and the stress and grief of the global pandemic itself proved to be effective barriers to student leadership and community organizing. Yet it is with the greatest empathy and humility that we thank the organizers who were thwarted in 2021 and 2022 (as well as those of us who were almost thwarted this year) because, despite their frustration, they kept the spark of RebLaw alive. They resisted the apathy, disorganization, and institutional turnover. They zoomed in from full-time jobs in the “real world,” to tell us what needed to be done, and to sober us to the reality of the undertaking.

Like a burning baton, they carried a fading spark of knowledge, passion, and imagination that YLS could be home to such a community and movement. Now, we see, that the failures to bring back RebLaw were not failures at all. Quite the contrary: they were successful at keeping the flame of this radical tradition burning. Behind this year’s RebLaw directors and organizers sit generations of leadership and dedication to this relay race. To be very clear, out of our entire team, only two of our organizers have ever attended a RebLaw conference. That is the impact that a three-year hiatus has on a law school community. We could not have won this rebellious push against fading memory and fractured community without the students who came before us.

This year, RebLaw will be different. The conference is smaller and shorter, with events spanning several powerful topics in a single day. While all are invited, due to diminished resources, timing constraints, and our limited capacity as a small group of rabble-rousers, we are unable to formally organize free housing for students visiting from across the nation. But if your school, organization, or a friend in New Haven can host you, then we would love to have you. Your presence will be treasured.

Our focus is on reviving the RebLaw community within Yale Law School, New Haven, and the broader northeast, but this narrowed scope does not come from the spirit of exclusion. Instead, we are dedicated to doing something smaller well and inspiring our community to unite and bring back a more robust RebLaw to the world in 2024 (Thirtieth anniversary celebration, anyone?). To expand the reach of this vital conference, we will post videos of our events to YouTube, and publish the proceedings and related articles and artwork in the form of a website and associated symposium-style journal. 

While we are deeply proud of what we have managed to build this year, our dearest hope is that this event, while more compact and limited in scope, will inspire the next generation of students both here and around the world to grab the baton. The original goals of RebLaw were not to bring an incredible student-run conference to attendees from across the nation, nor to be the largest student-run conference in history, but to build a lasting community for those dedicated to rebellious lawyering. The organizing team of this year’s event believes firmly in the power and necessity of community to create change and to build a better future. 

Our goal this year is to nurture that community—to keep the true tradition of RebLaw alive. We will ignite the imagination of our community, as to what is possible within the halls of a law school. Ultimately, no one can do this relay on their own. It’s not about the runners, or how large the crowd is, or how old the tradition is. We are a movement, we are a gift from those who came before us, we are the spark that we carry. And that spark is the point.

Join us in pushing back.

 The RebLaw Directors

About RebLaw

The Rebellious Lawyering conference brings together practitioners, law students, and community activists from around the country to discuss innovative, progressive approaches to law and social change. The conference, grounded in the spirit of Gerald López’s Rebellious Lawyering, seeks to build a community of law students, practitioners, and activists seeking to work in the service of social change movements and to challenge hierarchies of race, wealth, gender, and expertise within legal practice and education.

Yale Law School is wheelchair accessible. Please note any access needs or other accommodation requests when you register for the conference.