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Alyse Bertenthal


Alyse Bertenthal is a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Criminology, Law & Society.  She has a law degree from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in Literature from Yale University.  Prior to graduate school, she served as a judicial law clerk on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and worked as an attorney for the ACLU.  Alyse’s current research interests include dispute transformation, legal consciousness, and the relationship of law, language, and society.

Every year more than 7,000 non-criminal appeals are filed in California state courts.  The number of appeals is a significant court statistic, yet there exists virtually no research on individuals who appeal or why they decide to reassert a claim after previously unsuccessful legal experiences.  In this project, I will conduct a detailed exploration of the claims that emerge as appellate issues, and will ask how litigants and legal professionals jointly construct the meaning of these claims.  Using data from a California state court self-help clinic in which litigants and attorneys discuss potential appeals, I plan to investigate the discursive practices used by clinic participants to construct legal meaning and understanding of the law’s role in resolving disputes.  This study will contribute to an expanded model of the dispute transformation process, and has implications for rethinking the production of legal knowledge in terms of communicative interaction and social activity.