Francine J. Lipman is a William S. Boyd Professor of Law at University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ William S. Boyd School of Law and an elected member of the American Law Institute, the American College of Tax Counsel, and the American Bar Foundation. Francine serves as Vice Chair of the Section's Economic Justice Committee.
Where are you from? How have your experiences here, or throughout your upbringing, influenced your passions and aspirations today?
I was born and raised in St Louis, Missouri, but my family moved to San Diego where I became a Southern California teenager and lived until I headed off to college. During the pandemic I have been isolating with my spouse on his family dairy (former) farm in rural Wisconsin. Needless, to say four dramatically distinct seasons have been an eye-opening experience. As a poverty law scholar, the last few years in rural farm country have informed my understanding of significant demographic distinctions in impoverishment. I have borne witness to the differences and similarities in rural versus urban impoverishment. This experiential learning has informed my thinking in critical ways that I am grateful for and that empowers my outreach and education efforts and scholarship.
What drives you?
A child is born into poverty every second of every day in America. Childhood poverty undermines the lives of millions of children and their families directly and all of us indirectly. Because of broad and deep systemic racism, Black children suffer poverty rates that exceed 25 percent. The National Academy of Science has estimated that child poverty costs between $800 billion and $1.1 trillion each year. In 2021, the advanced, enhanced Child Tax Credit effectively reduced childhood poverty by 40 percent. However, Congress failed to extend it into 2022 because not enough Senators voted for this life- and cost-savings tax benefit. As a poverty tax scholar, I am driven to open minds, hearts, and souls to understand the crippling injustice of not economically supporting all our children to be their best selves.
What is one thing most people do not know about you that you feel they should?
My secret power is my (hopefully) infectious middle-name: Joy.
When you look back, what is it that you want your advocacy and professional career to stand for?
Humanizing tax systems in a way that makes them not only accessible, but exciting as a phenomenal fiscal tool that has broad reach and can be managed to serve communities, individuals, and literally save economies. Congress’ use of the tax system during the pandemic saved the country and families from falling into a devastating depression. The salience of this experience for hundreds of millions of Americans put the tax system front and center as one of the most effective, nimble, and powerful fiscal tools and profound safety nets.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge to economic justice today?
The racial wealth gap undermines the success of tens of millions of children and their families every day in America. Hundreds of years of racism have created an enormous financial gap that is present in every institution and system. We need to dismantle these impediments one by one and redress these wrongs or we will continue to suffer economically. There is no one solution, but rather it will take a myriad of different new and innovative changes to move toward economic justice for all.
What CRSJ project(s) are you working on? Or, what have you undertaken in CRSJ that you found most rewarding to have worked on? Are there any upcoming events or projects you want us all to know about?
Serving as an editor for the Human Rights magazine has been an incredibly rewarding and mind-expanding experience. The editorial team is phenomenal, and the breadth and scope of the topics covered are inspiring. The magazine is readily accessible online (including exceptional archived issues) and everyone should read every article in each issue. The articles are written by top advocates in their fields and are accessible, informative, and engaging. Chair Juan Thomas has charged the 2022-23 editorial board to address Economic Justice from several different aspects including voting rights, wealth disparities, and criminal justice. Make certain you get your hands on a copy of each issue! The Human Rights magazine subscription alone is a great reason to join the Section.