Thompson G. Marsh Law Alumni Professor
Constitutional Law, Federal Courts, First Amendment Law, Public Interest Law
Alan Chen is a leading national expert in free speech doctrine and theory, the law of federal courts, and public interest law. He is the co-author of two books, Public Interest Lawyering: A Contemporary Perspective (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2013) and the forthcoming Free Speech Beyond Words: The Surprising Reach of the First Amendment (NYU Press 2017). He has also written numerous scholarly articles that have been published in many of the leading national law journals, including the Columbia Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and Iowa Law Review. Since joining the Sturm College of Law faculty in 1992, Chen has received several awards for his teaching, contributions to the law review, and pro bono legal work.
Although he is a full-time academic, Professor Chen continues to carry an active litigation docket and represents the plaintiffs in many high-profile civil rights cases in federal courts around the country, including constitutional challenges to police use of pepper spray on peaceful protestors in California, the State of Oklahoma’s botched lethal injection execution of Clayton Lockett, “Ag-Gag” laws in Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, and Utah that punish undercover investigators and journalists, and Colorado’s mandatory Pledge of Allegiance law.
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.
- JD, 1985, Stanford University
- BA, 1982, summa cum laude, Case Western Reserve University
Licensure / Accreditations
- Pro Bono/Emeritus Attorney License
- Law license
- Cause Lawyering for the Caged: Invisibility, Moral Suasion, and Disenfranchisement in the Prisoners’ Rights and Animal Protection Movements (with Vikram D. Amar) (book chapter) in Carceral Logics (Justin Marceau & Lori Gruen eds.) (Cambridge University Press) (2022).
- Investigative Deception Across Social Contexts, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University (forthcoming 2022).
- Compelled Speech and the Regulatory State, 97 Ind. L.J. 881 (2022).
- Lawyer Speech, Investigative Deception, and the First Amendment, U. ILL. L. REV. 1267 (with Rebecca Aviel) (to be reprinted in First Amendment Law Handbook 2022-2023, Thomson Reuters, Rodney Smolla ed.) (2021).
- Cheap Speech Creation, 54 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 2405 (2021).
- Free Speech, Rational Deliberation, and Some Truths About Lies, 62 WM. & MARY L. REV. 357 (2020), (to be reprinted in FIRST AMENDMENT LAW HANDBOOK 2021-2022 (Thomson Reuters, Rodney Smolla ed.).
- The Intractability of Qualified Immunity, 93 Notre Dame Law Review 1937 (2018).
- Developing a Taxonomy of Lies Under the First Amendment, co-authored with Justin Marceau, 89 U. COLO. L. REV. 655 (2018).
- Free Speech Beyond Words, co-authored with Mark Tushnet and Joseph Blocher (New York University Press) (2017).
- Free Speech and the Confluence of National Security and Internet Exceptionalism, 86 Fordham L. Rev. 379 (2017).
- Free Speech and Democracy in the Video Age, co-authored with Justin Marceau, 116 Colum. L. Rev. 991 (2016).
- Instrumental Music and the First Amendment, 66 Hastings L.J. 381 (2015).
- High Value Lies, Ugly Truths, and the First Amendment, co-authored with Justin Marceau, 69 Vand. L. Rev. 1435 (2015).
- 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).
- Forced Patriot Acts, 81 Denv. U. L. Rev. 703 (2004).
- Foreword: Bill Beaney's Continuing Relevance, 81 Denv. U. L. Rev. 217 (2003).
- Statutory Speech Bubbles, First Amendment Overbreadth, and Improper Legislative Purpose, 38 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 31 (2003).
- Teens in the UV Tanning Booth? Tax the Tan, co-authored with with Dellavalle, RP, Schilling, LM, Hester, EJ, ARCHIVES OF PEDIATRIC AND ADOLESCENT MEDICINE 2003, 157: 845-846.
- Youth Access Laws: In the Dark at the Tanning Parlor, co-authored with with Dellavalle, Parker, Cersonsky, Hemme, Burkhardt, and Schilling, 139 ARCHIVES OF DERMATOLOGY 443 (April 2003).
- Liability of Private Firms Performing Public Functions, TRIAL, Oct. 1999, at 60.
- Shadow Law: Reasonable Unreasonableness, Habeas Theory, and the Nature of Legal Rules, 2 Buff. Crim. L. Rev 535 (1999).
- Constitutional Law, in 1997 ANNUAL SURVEY OF COLORADO LAW (1997).
- The Burdens of Qualified Immunity: Summary Judgment and the Role of Facts in Constitutional Tort Law, 47 Am. U. L. Rev. 1 (1997).
- "Meet The New Boss . . . ", 73 Denv. U. L. Rev. 1253 (1996).
- The Ultimate Standard: Qualified Immunity in the Age of Constitutional Balancing Tests, 81 Iowa L. Rev. 261 (1995).
- Burns v. Reed--Narrowing the Prosecutor's Protection From Liability for Unconstitutional Conduct, 3 POLICE MISCONDUCT AND CIVIL RIGHTS LAW REPORT 121 (1991).
- Due Process As Consumer Protection: State Remedies For Distant Forum Abuse, 20 Akron L. Rev. 9 (1986).