Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and Professor
B.A., 1982, summa cum laude, Case Western Reserve University
J.D., 1985, Stanford University
Alan Chen is a nationally recognized expert in constitutional law, federal courts and civil rights litigation. He pursues research in a variety of fields, including federal remedies for civil rights violations, free speech doctrine and theory, and lawyering for social change. Chen has published many scholarly articles, and his work has appeared in several of the country’s leading law journals. He is a past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Civil Rights. Chen is also interested in linking theory to practice. In recent years, he has litigated two high-profile, pro bono civil rights cases in the federal courts. One case challenged law enforcement officers’ use of pepper spray to subdue peaceful environmental protesters in California. The other lawsuit invalidated a Colorado law mandating that all students and teachers recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. Since joining the University of Denver Sturm College of Law faculty in 1992, Chen has received awards for teaching, contributions to the law review and pro bono legal work. Before entering teaching, Chen was a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Chicago office, where he was a civil liberties litigator focusing primarily on cases concerning the First Amendment, police misconduct and privacy rights. Before that, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Marvin E. Aspen, U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Illinois.
- Rights Lawyer Essentialism: Reflections on Richard Thompson Ford’s Rights Gone Wrong, 111 Mich. L. Rev. 903 (2013).
- PUBLIC INTEREST LAWYERING: A CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVE, co-authored with Scott L. Cummings, (2013).
- Rosy Pictures and Renegade Officials: The Slow Death of Monroe v. Pape, 78 UMKCL.REV. 889 (2010).
- Bureaucracy and Distrust: Germaneness and the Paradoxes of Academic Freedom Doctrine, 77 U. Colo. L. Rev. 955 (2006).
- The Facts about Qualified Immunity, 55 Emory L.J. 229 (2006).