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Life of the Law‘s growing community of scholars, journalists, producers, editors, writers and attorneys are having a conversation about the law in American culture and society. How does the law work in the courtroom, on the streets and in our homes? Who makes decisions, and when can they be challenged? Is anyone above the law or is the law truly the great equalizer? What happens if the law fails and no one notices?

Through sound-rich narrative storytelling, investigative reporting, thoughtful analysis and research presented over multiple platforms, including bi-weekly podcasts, public radio airwaves, blog posts and live events, Life of the Law offers an opportunity for you to join a conversation about the law and the role it plays in our lives.


Life of the Law Co-Founders Nancy Mullane and Shannon Heffernan with Advisory Panel Scholar Austin Sarat.

Life of the Law Co-Founders Nancy Mullane and Shannon Heffernan with Advisory Panel Scholar Austin Sarat.

Advisory Panel Scholars

Amy Bach, Executive Director of Measures for Justice and author; Scott Barclay, Williams Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute where he focuses on LGBT public opinion-related research; Peter Brooks,  Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar in the University Center for Human Values and the Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University;  Renee Ann Cramer, Director & Professor, Program in Law, Politics, and Society, Drake University; Ben Fleury-Steiner, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, University of Delaware; Elizabeth Joh, Professor, UC-Davis School of Law; Anna-Maria Marshall, Associate Professor, Law & Sociology, University of Illinois; Ajay K. Mehrotra, Associate Dean for Research, Professor of Law and Louise F. Niezer Faculty Fellow Indiana University Maurer School of Law and adjunct Professor of History at Indiana University; Naomi Mezey, Professor, Georgetown Law;  Laura Beth Nielsen, Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation, Associate Professor of Sociology & Director of the Center for Legal Studies, Northwestern University; Imani Perry, Professor, Center for African American Studies, Princeton University; David Onek, Executive Director of the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University Law School; Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence & Political Science, Amherst College; Heather Thompson, Associate Professor of History, Department of African American Studies and Department of History, Temple University


Mary Adkins, Senior Editor is a writer and lawyer. Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, Slate and more, and her academic scholarship has been published in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, on which she was a board member. She graduated from Duke University and Yale Law School, where she co-directed the Domestic Violence Clinic for two years. Read highlights of her work at


IMG_5037Graham Gremore, LIVE LAW Producer is a writer and cartoonist born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and he is the co-founder and co-director of StoryFarm, a literary arts non-profit in San Francisco. His cartoons have garnered over 125,000 views on Youtube, and have been featured on websites including The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.



20140817_1_0014Nancy Mullane, Co-Founder, Exec Director/Producer and Host is a writer, reporter, and photographer and has been a correspondent for This American Life, National Public Radio, Marketplace, Latino USA, and the NPR affiliates KALW News and KQED in San Francisco. In 2009, Mullane was awarded a Soros Justice Media Fellowship by the Open Society Foundations and in 2012 her first non-fiction book, Life After Murder: Five Men In Search of Redemption was published by PublicAffairs. In 2014, Penal Reform International presented Mullane with an award for her reporting on individuals serving death sentences. In 2013, Life After Murder was awarded the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s, Media for a Just Society Book Award. She is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists and the Association of Independents in Radio. In 2011, Nancy was the recipient of the National Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on This American Life, “Long Shot”

Kaitlin PrestKaitlin Prest, Senior Producer is an all around documentary audio artist and Executive Producer of Audio Smut, a sex positive radio show and art collective. Every few months Kaitlin directs the “Radio Cabaret” at Union Docs in Brooklyn, a public radio performance event. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Snap Judgment, at In the Dark as part of the International Features Conference in London, on Radiophonic Creation Day in France and was the winner of the 2010 NCRA award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary.


seiverSimone Seiver, Social Media Editor is an undergraduate at Yale University. She is intrigued by radio, writing, and the law and is excited to blend all three in her work for Life of the Law. In school, she competes with Yale’s Mock Trial Team and co-hosts a storytelling radio show for WYBC. On the weekends, she tutors inmates at a Connecticut prison as they pursue their GEDs. She is a native of the Bay Area.


Phillip Wilt, Web Manager is a software developer based in Seattle, WA. He currently is a freelance developer for a number of international software development projects. Phillip attended the University of Washington where he studied mathematics, computer science, and digital arts. He is also an amateur photographer.



katie b photo_bioKatie Barnett comes to Life of the Law most recently from the Open Society Foundations in New York City where she supported US Programs’ grant making related to criminal justice, arts and culture. Now based in Philadelphia, Katie brings her knowledge and experience of nonprofit organizations and the funding landscape to her role as Life of the Law’s Philanthropy Coordinator. Katie holds degrees from Hunter College School of Social Work in New York City and Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.


Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.44.06 PMJess Burnquist was raised in Tempe, Arizona. She received her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Arizona State University. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry ReviewPersonaClackamas Literary ReviewNatural Bridge and various online journals. She is a recipient of the Joan Frazier Memorial Award for the Arts at ASU. Jess currently teaches English and Creative Writing in San Tan Valley and has been honored with a Sylvan Silver Apple Award for teaching. She resides in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area with her husband, son, and daughter. Links to her most recent work are available at


Juan HainesJuan Haines is an inmate at San Quentin State Prison. He is Managing Editor of the San Quentin News and works as a jailhouse attorney.





Photo of Shannon HeffernanShannon Heffernan is a producer for Chicago Public Media/WBEZ’s in-depth reporting project Front and Center, where she has reported on everything from tribal fishing rights to the validity of GED testing. Prior to working at Chicago Public Media/WBEZ, Heffernan was awarded an Open Society Foundation Media Fellowship.




Sally Herships photo

Sally Herships is an award winning journalist who’s been making radio for over a decade. She’s produced or reported for BBC World Service, NPR, WNYC, Studio 360, has put in many hours at Radiolab and is a regular contributor to public radio’s Marketplace. Her investigative project “The Five Percent Rule” was awarded the 2011 Third Coast Radio Impact Award and best Prepared Report for the 2011 Front Page Awards from the Newswomen’s Club of NY and was an IRE finalist.  Sally has taught radio at numerous venues ranging from the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, to NYU, Smith and the New School and teaches writing for radio at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Sally has been a Brooklynite for almost 20 years and when she’s not making radio she loves to daydream and paint pictures of robots and cats. Follow Sally on Twitter @sherships.

1395933_10151757277994143_2046545507_nKatrin Higher is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and stand-up comedian living in New York City. Her focus is primarily on feminist issues. She has brought her humorous slant to them for The Frisky, New York Magazine, ThisRecording, and The Impersonals and will be featured on television in the coming months for The Fusion Network. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Marymount Manhattan College. You can find her on Twitter @katrahigher


258e323Chris Janak is a legal technology and ediscovery consultant based in New York City. He graduated from Bates College and New York University School of Law before choosing the intersection of law and technology as the location for his professional life.  He has worked for large and small law firms, ediscovery service providers, and regularly writes about ediscovery issues in his blog,Real Discovery.

Kyle Kaplan is an internationally based new media artist and performer. He has contributed to installations for NYC’s Harvestworks and Taipei’s National Palace Museum. He has had audiovisual performances in New York, Boston, Montreal, Los Angeles, and Taipei, including at Boston’s ‘Elecsonic’, Taiwan’s ‘Organik’ and ‘Lacking Sound Festival’, and Los Angeles’ ‘Breaking Open LA’. His work blends disparate emotional and textural elements, weaving soft ambiences with thick distortion, complex layers of percussion with delicate synths, nostalgic samples with abstract sound design. More sounds can be found at:

LOTLheadshotKate Leismer is a freelance writer and lawyer based in Berlin, Germany. Her work explores travel and life abroad, with a special interest in comparative law and culture. Kate worked as a Note and Comment Editor for the Minnesota Journal of International Law and received a MacCracken Fellowship from New York University for her doctoral studies in law and literature. She has published both fiction and creative non-fiction and performed at San Francisco’s FiresideLitUp, and live at the Porchlight series. For more information and links to other publications, visit or follower her on Twitter @kate_leismer


caseyminerheadshotCasey Miner is an independent audio producer and editor based in Oakland, CA. Most recently she was senior editor for the award-winning news, arts, and culture program Crosscurrents on KALW 91.7FM in San Francisco; she also coordinated the station’s youth training and outreach. Her work has appeared on NPR, KQED, Marketplace, Mother Jones, and Transportation Nation. Ask her about the time she met the Bay Area’s only kayak commuter.

Bio_photoSayre Quevedo is a college student at The New School in New York. He’s reported on juvenile justice issues for Youth Radio for the past three years. His work has been recognized by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated.




Alisa_Roth headshotAlisa Roth is a radio and print reporter and has reported extensively from abroad, most recently in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Her work has been broadcast on Marketplace, where she spent several years as a staff reporter, NPR, and The World. Her print work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and Gastronomica. A Fulbright scholar, she has received grants from the International Reporting Project and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.


SSchroeder for LOTLStephanie Schroeder is a freelance writer and activist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been published in The Guardian US, The Brooklyn Paper, Curve, Passport,, Station to Station, GO!, and other outlets. She holds a JD, but has never practiced law. Schroeder is the author of Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide.




IMG_2278Katherine Thompson is a teacher, and modern-day explorer living in Sydney, Australia. She has taught English, creative writing, and other subjects to students in Los Angeles, New York, and North Carolina, and was a winner in the UCLA Live Poetry Contest (judged by Billy Collins and Kay Ryan) in 2011. She loves traveling and being home, sleeping and being awake, and writing and receiving handwritten letters. She holds a B.A. in English from Duke University and an M.A. Ed. in English Education from Wake Forest University.


townsendMindy Townsend graduated law school at the height of the Great Recession. She took that as a sign from the universe that it was time abandon the law to pursue her first loves, physics and astronomy. She is a contributor to, and is the managing editor You can find her outside on any clear summer night confusing the Trifid and Lagoon Nebulas, and all other times on Twitter.


Life of the Law is supported by generous grants from the Open Society Foundations and the Law and Society Association. Graphic design and website design provided by Atul Varma and Jessica Brooke Klein. Logo design by Metography. Intellectual property advice provided by Shapiro Law. Life of the Law is a Project of the Tides Center.


All content produced (podcast, blog, website) by Life of the Law is the property of the executive producers. Content licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. is not the same as That site (now dormant) is/was a project of lawyer Andis Kaulins, now blogging at