Legal scholar seeks reinstatement to practice law

By Karen Kidd | Jan 17, 2018

LOS ANGELES (Northern California Record) — Renewed health and vigor is behind the decision by noted land use and planning legal scholar James Alan Kushner to seek readmission to the California Bar, following his resignation in 2012, Kushner said during a recent interview.

"We cannot say how long we live," the 72-year-old professor of law emeritus at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles said during a Northern California Record email interview. "But if one takes care of their body with proper diet and exercise, and health care, we can maintain a youthful outlook and remain productive. We can continue our productivity as long as the equipment holds up. I do not feel particularly old."

In a decision filed Dec. 14, the California State Bar Court recommended the California Supreme Court approve his petition for reinstatement, which Kushner filed the previous June. Supreme Court action on Kushner's petition is still pending.

Kushner passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination in March.

A graduate of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, and the University of Maryland's School of Law in Baltimore, Kushner joined the full-time faculty at Southwestern Law School in 1975. That same year, he was first admitted to the bar in California, according to his profile at the state bar's website.

An adjunct faculty member at several law schools, earlier in his career Kushner was director of housing for Ohio's Office of Economic Opportunity and was managing attorney of the Legal Aid and Defender Society of Greater Kansas City's law reform unit. He also served as a project attorney for the Earl Warren Legal Institute's National Housing and Economic Development Law Project in Berkeley.

Kushner is a former adviser on fair housing enforcement, law and policy for the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, as well as other governmental entities, and former president of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California Board of Directors. Kushner also has served on a number of executive boards, including the Association of American Law Schools Sections on Constitutional Law, Local Government Law, and Poverty Law.

His books include the civil rights litigation series "Government Discrimination: Equal Protection Law and Litigation", "Global Climate Change and the Road to Extinction", "Fair Housing: Discrimination in Real Estate, Community Development and Revitalization", "Comparative Urban Planning Law" and the latest editions of "Subdivision Law and Growth Management".

For years, he was a visiting professor to law schools across the nation and in Europe, including universities in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In 2011 he completed a Fulbright Scholarship as visiting professor in the Fulbright chair, Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy.

The following year, after about 37 years of state bar membership, Kushner said his health forced him to take a step back from full-time teaching and to take stock of himself. "I was suffering from an immobilizing back injury and diabetes," he said. "At that time I did not see my requiring a license and resigned."

That same year, he underwent back surgery and moved to San Francisco. "Within the year I had at first lost 80 pounds, had - continuing to today - engaged in a serious exercise regimen, and I'm happily married," he said.

Following his resignation, Kushner also became a part-time adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, and authored or co-authored casebooks on land use regulation, urban planning law and housing and community development. He also wrote and continues to maintain two multi-volume treatises.

Last year, Kushner began taking steps to restore his membership to the bar in California. "The diabetes is done and I feel more like 50," he said. "Although half my time is spent writing and keeping up my treatises on land development and equal protection and civil rights, I do have additional time and my knowledge of law practice may help someone in need or advance a cause I believe in."

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