Cynthia Alkon

Associate Professor of Law

Alkon_Cynthia1

“The law matters in our daily lives. Democracy and rule of law depend on good lawyers who work hard to help others and to make their corner of the world a better place.”

Get to Know Cynthia Alkon

What drew you to the law?

While living abroad and volunteering in an economically depressed area, I saw that knowledge of the law helped people live better lives by allowing them to advocate for improvements that they were legally entitled to have. I wanted to learn how to use the law to make the world a better place by improving the lives of individuals. I still believe the law can be a powerful tool to better our communities, our state, our country and our world.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

What I love about teaching is that it allows me to provide opportunities for my students to think about things they haven’t thought about before, or to think about things differently.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

I hope that my classes will help students to think about how to be a lawyer and how they will practice law. I hope that my classes will contribute to students learning how to be both highly professional and highly skilled in how they use the law and the variety of processes that make up the practice of law, such as negotiation.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

I was a deputy public defender in Los Angeles County and represented criminal defendants charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies such as murder. After the Public Defender’s Office I lived abroad and did rule of law development work in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. I lived and worked in Belarus, Albania and Poland and supervised projects in over 20 countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. I focused on issues of criminal justice reform in these countries. I worked for the American Bar Association (in Belarus) and for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (in Albania and Poland).

What are your research interests?

My research focuses on criminal dispute resolution (including plea bargaining), comparative criminal procedure and rule of law reform.

Publications

My publications are available on BePress SelectedWorks™.

Presentations

  • “Reversing Mass Incarceration: What Reforms are Working (or Could Work) and Why?”; upcoming presentation as part of a panel at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference, Boca Raton, Florida (July 2015)
  • “Hard Bargaining Tactics and Fundamental Fairness in Plea Bargaining: When do Prosecutors Cross the Line?”; upcoming Law and Society Association Conference, Seattle, Washington (May 2015)
  • “Teaching Practical Negotiations,” upcoming ABA Dispute Resolution Conference, Seattle, Washington (April 2015)
  • “What’s Law Got to Do With It? Plea Bargaining Reform after Lafler and Frye” (February 6, 2015); symposium presentation for the Yearbook on Arbitration and Mediation (Penn State University School of Law) (2015)
  • “Towards Defining Competence in Negotiating Plea Bargains: Beyond Lafler and Frye” (November 2014), AALS ADR Section Works-in-Progress Section, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, California
  • “Plea Bargaining: Enabler of Mass Incarceration?”; paper presented during panel on “Mass Incarceration: The Criminal Justice That Got Us Here,” at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference on August 5, 2014; also acted as a mentor through the New Scholars Program
  • “Making a Deal in Criminal Law, Panel,” ABA Annual Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference on April 4, 2014, Miami, Florida
  • “What am I reading 2, Panel,” ABA Annual Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference on April 4, 2014, Miami, Florida
  • “Rule of Law: How, Where, When?”; presentation at a conference on Advancing the Rule of Law in East Africa, Regent University School of Law (February 2014)
  • “Towards Defining Competence in Plea Bargaining Negotiations: Beyond Lafler and Frye”; paper presented at a works-in-progress session during the Criminal Law Symposium at the Southern Methodist University School of Law (January 2014)
  • “Expand Defense Rights to Discovery in Plea Bargaining: Re-visiting Brady v. Maryland in the Wake of Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye”; paper presented during panel on the 50th Anniversary of Brady v. Maryland, Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Conference (August 2013)
  • “Does Your Lawyer Make a Difference? Plea Bargaining Drug Cases for Indigent Defendants”; presented paper with coauthor Jon Marshall, Professor of Political Science, at Carthage College at Law and Society Association Annual Meeting (May 2013)
  • “Can the Supreme Court Fix Plea Bargaining?”; AALS Dispute Resolution Works-in-Progress Conference (October 2012)
  • Criminal Law Pedagogy Roundtable presenter, Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Conference (August 2012); also acted as a mentor through the New Scholars program
  • “Legal Education and the Emotional Lives of Law Students: Preparing our Students for Happy Professional Lives Panel,” Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Conference (July 2011)
  • “Teaching Multi-party Negotiations Panel,” Conference on Teaching Law School ADR Courses: Negotiation, Mediation, Arbitration, Pepperdine University School of Law (June 2011)
  • “Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic: Rule of Law Development Assistance to Weak, Warring and Troubled Countries,” Law and Society Annual Meeting (June 2011)
  • “Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic: Rule of Law Development Assistance to Countries in Conflict,” AALS Dispute Resolution Works-in-Progress Conference (October 2010)
  • “Crawford v. Washington Panel Discussion,” Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference (July 2010)
  • “Be Careful Who You Fire: A Survey of Rule of Law Assistance Providers in Afghanistan”; Law and Society Association Annual Meeting (May 2009)
  • “Plea Bargaining as a Legal Transplant: A Good Idea for Troubled Criminal Justice Systems?”; Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference (July-August 2008)
  • “Plea Bargaining: An Idea Good Enough to Import into Troubled Criminal Justice Systems?”; AALS Dispute Resolution Works-in-Progress Conference (October 2007)
  • “Plea Bargaining: Are We Importing a Bad Idea to Troubled Criminal Justice Systems?”; Law and Society Association Annual Meeting (July 2007)
  • “Reconciliation of Criminal Cases in Central Asia: A Sign of Reform or Cause for Concern?”; Law and Society Annual Meeting (July 2006)

Expertise

  • Dispute resolution, including negotiation
  • Plea bargaining
  • Specialty courts: drug courts, veteran’s courts, mental health courts, etc.
  • Criminal procedure
  • Comparative criminal procedure
  • Rule of law development

Courses

  • Criminal Law
  • Negotiation: Theory & Practice
  • Advanced Issues in Criminal Justice
  • ADR Survey

Academic Experience

  • Associate Professor of Law
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2013-present)
  • Associate Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2010-2013)
  • Assistant Professor of Law
    Appalachian School of Law (2006-10)

Education

  • LL.M. in Dispute Resolution, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law
  • J.D., U.C. Hastings College of Law
    • Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, Associate Articles Editor and Staff Member
  • B.A. in International Relations, San Francisco State University, magna cum laude

Other Professional Activities

  • Chair-Elect, AALS Alternative Dispute Resolution Section
  • Contributor to the blog indisputably.org