April 7, 2014
University Center, UCSC
Professor Morris Ratner successfully prosecuted Holocaust-era private law claims against Swiss, German, Austrian, and French entities that profited from Nazi atrocities by retaining dormant bank accounts, failing to pay on life insurance policies, and benefitting from the use of slave labor. Ratner’s litigation resulted in a series of settlements that, together, yielded payments in excess of $8 billion to victims of Nazi persecution. Using Holocaust litigation as a lens, this lecture explores the topics of “what ‘justice’ means for victims of major atrocities like the Holocaust, the role of private litigation in advancing social causes, and the ability of individual advocates to prevail on behalf of victims in seemingly lost causes.” Ratner’s discussion of “social justice lawyering” also addresses the question: “Did it matter whether the lawyers in the Holocaust cases were–like the victims–Jewish, Gay, or Romani?”
Morris Ratner joined the UC Hastings Faculty in 2012, after teaching at Harvard Law School. An expert in civil procedure, legal ethics, and law practice management, Ratner’s research explores ethical, procedural, and organizational questions that arise in multi-party actions, including class actions and multidistrict litigations. Ratner worked as a litigator at the San Francisco-based plaintiffs’ firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, where he was a partner for 10 years. During that time he prosecuted product liability, mass personal injury, consumer, and human rights actions.
This was the inaugural lecture in the UC Hastings Social Justice Speakers Series given by Hastings faculty at UCSC. The Series is a product of the UCSC-Hastings collaboration that also features the 3+3 BA/JD Program which enables UCSC students to complete the BA and JD degrees in six, rather than the usual seven, years by attending both UCSC and Hastings College of the Law.