Tag Archives: credit

Prof. Abbye Atkinson (Berkeley) @ IFLS: “Debt by another name ” on Monday February 3 1230

Monday February 3, 2020 1230-2PM IKB 2027 (Faculty Lounge)

event poster - all text is in the post. Includes author photograph

Lunch Served. RSVP bit.ly/DebtFeb3


ABBYE ATKINSON Berkeley Law, University of California

The US Congress’ reliance on “credit” as a tool of liberation and equality following the Civil Rights and Women’s Right Movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s suggests that Congress viewed credit as a reliable and viable social good.

This valorization of credit, however, explicitly excluded any meaningful consideration of the countervailing force of debt.  Given that debt necessarily accompanies credit as extended and then used, in order for credit to be a social good, debt also has to be a reliable and viable social good. 

Yet debt has itself functioned as a mechanism of the very subordination in marginalized communities that Congress’ invocation of “credit” hoped to address. Credit cannot, in fact, meaningfully function as a social good without due attention to and solution for the work of debt as a social ill.

Professor Abbye Atkinson’s research focuses on the law of debtors and creditors as it affects economically disenfranchised communities. Her work examines how certain legal institutions—such as consumer bankruptcy—that were created with a purpose of improving economic health do not attend to and may actually exacerbate existing inequalities experienced by economically disenfranchised groups. Her recent work has explored structural inequality in the Bankruptcy Code, and whether and how bankruptcy law might serve as a back-stop against debt that results from social problems such as intractable mortgage discrimination and policing for profit. Her work is forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review and has been published in the Vanderbilt Law Review, the Arizona Law Review, and the Michigan Journal of Race and Law.

Before joining Berkeley Law, Atkinson was a Thomas C. Grey Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School and the Reginald F. Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School.  Previously she worked as an associate attorney in the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald M. Gould of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a special education teacher in California public schools. 

Feminist Friday Followup

Thanks to lovely Friday afternoon audience and wonderful colleagues who presented at today’s FF.  I ate too much antipasti + cookies + banana bread, so this attempt to fulfill my promise to send out links for those interested in following up the brief samples available may fall slightly short.


Associate Dean Professor Shelley Gavigan presented pieces of her Something Old, Something New: Re-Theorising Patriarchal Relations and Privatisation at the Outskirts of Family Law, a shortened reprise of her presentation at this Conference in Tel Aviv.  The paper is forthcoming in Theoretical Inquiries in Law, but isn’t publicly available at the moment. I will be sure to post/tweet when it becomes available, whether through SSRN or the Journal.   She spoke about a few very interesting cases, including A.A. v. B.B., 2007 ONCA 2.  She also mentioned Angela Campbell’s work collecting the “voices” of women from Bountiful B.C.’s polygamous community.  That work is available on SSRN here.

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Professor Stephanie Ben Ishai showed us some great commercials, including the one below to open her presentation of Debtor Assistance and Debt Advice: The Role of the Canadian Credit Counselling Industry, co authored with Saul Schwartz of the Carleton School of Public Policy and Administration.  The full text is available here.


She also referenced former Osgoode colleague Prof. Iain Ramsay (now at Kent Law School) and his (very fun sounding) paper “Wannabe Wags and Credit Crunch Binges”: The Construction of Over-Indebtedness in the UK. In: Niemi, Johanna and Ramsay, Iain and Whitford, William, eds. Consumer Credit, Debt and Bankruptcy: Comparative and International Perspectives. Hart Publishing, Oxford. Click here for Osgoode Hall of York University Library listing, not available online.

Professor Carys Craig’s paper What’s Feminist About Open Access? A Relational Approach to Copyright in the Academy co authored with Rosemary Coombe and Joseph Turcotte, is available here, from the (open access) journal Feminists@Law – also from Kent Law School.


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She mentioned that people could buy or otherwise read her book, so check out this post from earlier this year, wherein she introduces the book and provides a great set of links for those new to the topic (excerpt below).

Carys suggested these articles to those intrigued by the connections between feminist theory and copyright (or IP more generally).  Carys adores alliteration, so she described these as favourite/fundamental:
Malla Pollack. “Towards a Feminist Theory of the Public Domain, or The Gendered Scope of United States’ Copyrightable and Patentable Subject Matter” William & Mary J. of Women and the Law 12 (2006): 603. Link is to Hein Online (requires account – will likely work if you are accessing from a university IP address):

the public domain is feminine because it provides essential nourishment; it is the birthing and lactating mother. As one seed becomes a plant due to the fecundity of the earth goddess, so one human sprouts poems due to the fecundity of the public domain, the daemon, the muse.”

Says Carys, “A sure way to make upper year law students shift uneasily in their seats.”    Another must-read classic (and Canadian to boot): is Shelley Wright, A Feminist Exploration of the Legal Protection of Art, 7 Can. J. Women & L. 59 (1994).  (Another Hein Online link. Apologies, but (irony?) these articles are not available “openly”.)

Since two is too few, she offered these more recent pieces as well – true to her convictions, both of these links should open for everyone.

Ann Bartow, Fair Use and the Fairer Sex:  Gender, Feminism, and Copyright Law,  Am. UJ Gender Soc. Pol’y & L., 2006,

Greene, K.J. “Intellectual Property at the Intersection of Race and Gender: Lady Sings the Blues.” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law. 16, no. 3 (2008): 365-385


Final words – thank you to @MelaynaM who “won” the job of livetweeting the event from @osgoodeifls through our contest, and thank you to the students, staff and faculty who came out and listened/participated.  Comments/thoughts/suggestions always welcome.