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Beth Colgan
Thomas C. Grey Fellow

Biography 

Beth Colgan joined Stanford Law School as a Thomas C. Grey Fellow in 2011.  Her scholarship—which focuses on criminal and juvenile justice—around an understanding that constitutional interpretation is properly informed by the practical effects of the law.  She is particularly interested in the constitutional relevance of the full range of punitive consequences of arrest or conviction (e.g., prison terms, fines, barriers to rehabilitation, deterioration of one’s physical and mental health, etc.), individual characteristics (e.g., age), and the systemic consequences of accepting any specific constitutional interpretation (e.g., unsafe prison conditions, underfunding of indigent defense systems, etc.).  Recently, her work was cited by the Iowa Supreme Court in Iowa v. Hull, in which the court held a that a 52.5 year mandatory minimum sentence applied to a juvenile was unconstitutional.

While at SLS, Colgan has taught first year courses on federal litigation and legal writing, rhetoric, and research, as well as an upper level sentencing and corrections seminar.  She also has continued to serve the criminal justice community as a consultant on issues related to punishment and access to counsel, as well as through service on the Board of Directors of the Justice Policy Institute and Advisory Boards of Northwestern University’s Center for Wrongful Convictions of Juveniles and Seattle University’s Misdemeanor Counsel Project.

Previously, Colgan was the Managing Attorney of the Institutions Project at Columbia Legal Services in Seattle, Washington. Colgan’s practice focused on class litigation and legislative advocacy on behalf of juveniles and adults who were incarcerated on issues ranging from constitutional deprivations, conditions of confinement, duties of care, reentry services, and sentencing reform.  Prior to joining Columbia Legal Services, Colgan was an associate in the Seattle office of Perkins Coie, LLP.  Her practice involved complex litigation in federal and state courts in the areas of election law, torts, securities, intellectual property, and environmental disputes.  Colgan also engage in extensive pro bono work while at Perkins Coie, focusing primarily on access to competent public defense counsel in rural Washington and the treatment of youth in the adult criminal justice system.

Colgan is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, where she was a member of the Northwestern Law Review and the national Moot Court team, and was the winner of the prestigious Wigmore Key award.  She received a degree in Political Science from Stanford University.