UCLA School of Law
Eugene Volakh is a UCLA law professor who has become well known not only for his strongly opinionated articles in law journals and newspapers, but for his active presence in Internet discussion groups.
Volakh is already an established expert in some of the hottest areas of law: the Internet, intellectual property and freedom-of-speech issues.
A self-described “moderate Republican libertarian,” Volakh helped draft the language of California’s controversial Proposition 209, which ended preferential treatment of people based on race. “I think people should be treated equally without regard to race or sex, and this was an initiative I could really get behind,” he said.
A prodigy who speaks at a dizzying rate of speed, Volakh graduated UCLA at age 15 with a degree in computer science, and worked for several years as a computer programmer before going back to UCLA for his law degree at age 21. “It helps to have been a computer programmer,” he said. “That’s one reason why I got into cyber law.”
Volakh is not a traditional academic. “I am willing to stick my neck out on politically hot issues, and I go beyond the academy,” he said. “I talk to reporters, and participate in other kinds of discussion. And I hang out a lot in cyberspace.”
“He is very well known, and he is very prolific on the Net,” said David G. Post, associate professor at Temple University Law School.
Volakh, he added, “is part of a small but growing number of people who have built their reputations, to some degree, by their activity on discussion groups. He got a reputation early on because of his provocative and thoughtful and interesting ideas.”
For example, Volakh is a critic of sexual harassment cases in which employees have been disciplined or dismissed for casual remarks or for displaying pictures of women in bathing suits. He regards such cases as infringements of free speech. On similar grounds, he also defends the right to display Bible verses in public places. He is wary of censorship: “The law has not been able to draw good lines between pornography and art,” he said.