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Spring 1999

Young Guns
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Eugene Volokh '83, J.D. '92
Acting Professor of Law
School of Law

Just 30, Volokh is already a veteran "outer envelope-pusher." The child prodigy formed a computer software company (in which he is still a partner) at the age of 12. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in math-computer science at age 15. He attended UCLA School of Law and clerked for both U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Judge Alex Kozinski on the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

But being a brilliant child isn't much help these days, Volokh insists.

"Ultimately, you can't live in the past or bask in whatever glory you had -- or what some might think of as glory," he explains. "You have to add to those accomplishments in some way. The important thing is what I'm going to do next."

Today, he writes serious, precedent-setting law-review articles on smut in cyberspace, gun control and free speech in the workplace, while also cranking out informative -- and decidedly more entertaining -- pieces like Lawsuit, Shmawsuit, (coauthored by Judge Kozinski) and Hum a Few Bar Exams, a mock test with questions such as "Environmental Law: Big wheel keeps on turning; Proud Mary keeps on burning (or 'boining'). What is the maximum level of particulate emissions Proud Mary may put out? Is an Environmental Impact Statement required?" In between he teaches law school courses on free speech law, copyright law, the law of government and religion and the law of firearms regulation.

What he plans next includes more teaching, scholarship, writing, media appearances and advocacy. Volokh, who describes himself politically as "a man of the center right," worked as legal adviser to the Yes on Prop. 209 campaign.

In all his work, Volokh says he's motivated by the idea of finding "a small sliver of the truth" -- and the need to share it.

"Sometimes, we're not really approaching the truth, or what we think is not that novel," he explains. "But sometimes, there's the tantalizing possibility that people might say, 'Yeah, that makes sense,' and maybe in a small way, you move the world in the direction of what is right."

-- C.L.

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