Alan Chen

Alan Chen

Thompson G. Marsh Law Alumni Professor


Constitutional Law, Federal Courts, First Amendment Law, Public Interest Law

Professional Biography

Alan Chen is a leading national expert in free speech doctrine and theory, the law of federal courts, and public interest law.  He is the co-author of two books, Public Interest Lawyering: A Contemporary Perspective (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2013) and the forthcoming Free Speech Beyond Words: The Surprising Reach of the First Amendment (NYU Press 2017).  He has also written numerous scholarly articles that have been published in many of the leading national law journals, including the Columbia Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and Iowa Law Review.  Since joining the Sturm College of Law faculty in 1992, Chen has received several awards for his teaching, contributions to the law review, and pro bono legal work.

Although he is a full-time academic, Professor Chen continues to carry an active litigation docket and represents the plaintiffs in many high-profile civil rights cases in federal courts around the country, including constitutional challenges to police use of pepper spray on peaceful protestors in California, the State of Oklahoma’s botched lethal injection execution of Clayton Lockett, “Ag-Gag” laws in Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, and Utah that punish undercover investigators and journalists, and Colorado’s mandatory Pledge of Allegiance law.

Before entering teaching, Chen was a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Chicago office, where he was a civil liberties litigator focusing primarily on cases concerning the First Amendment, police misconduct, and privacy rights. Before that, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Marvin E. Aspen, U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Illinois.

View CV


  • JD, 1985, Stanford University
  • BA, 1982, summa cum laude, Case Western Reserve University

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Pro Bono/Emeritus Attorney License
  • Law license

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