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Renee Newman Knake

Renee Newman Knake
[Hi-Res Photo]
Associate Professor of Law
Associate Professor, Accounting & Information Systems, Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University
Co-Director, Kelley Institute of Ethics and the Legal Profession
Director, 21st Century Law Practice Summer Program in London
Co-Founder, ReInvent Law Laboratory

Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 441
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

J.D. 1999, University of Chicago Law School; B.A. 1996, North Park College, summa cum laude

  • 21st Century Law Practice
    This course provides students with an overview of the practice challenges facing lawyers in the 21st century, including economic pressures, technological advancements, increased globalization, international deregulation, and access to justice concerns. Building upon this background, the course will then explore a set of case studies to examine a variety of innovative new legal services delivery mechanisms and businesses in the US and the UK, such as Axiom, LegalZoom, QualitySolicitors, and others that have been created in anticipation of (or in some cases in response to) these practice challenges. Students will critically assess these legal service providers, and will reflect upon how lawyers and regulators should respond.
  • Entrepreneurial Lawyering
    Enrollment is by permission only. This course helps students understand the economic pressures, technological changes, and globalization facing the legal profession in the 21st century, and to assist students in successfully navigating their legal career given these challenges. The course explores the concept of a virtual law practice as well as the use of technology and cloud-computing in building a law practice; free and low-cost resources and tools will be shared that will help the entrepreneur-minded student identify ways to leverage leading-edge technology to defray start-up costs associated with launching a practice and to control overhead. Ethics, licensing, and malpractice issues will also be discussed. The course will be particularly useful for students who are contemplating solo practice, consulting, or engaging in an entrepreneurial venture, as well as those who are considering non-traditional uses for their law degree. Other topics to be covered include client development and networking, case studies of innovative legal services delivery mechanisms and alternative business structures, and work/life balance including the study of emotional intelligence and mindful lawyering practices. This course assumes students may (or may not) arrive with a range of experience in the use of technology—we will provide training for everything needed to succeed in this course.
  • Federal Jurisdiction
    (Formerly DCL 349) (This is a 2 credit course when taken in Washington D.C.)The focus of this course is the operation of the federal court system. It will cover not only the usual bases of federal court jurisdiction, such as diversity, federal questions and removal, but also other doctrines that impact federal courts, including standing, ripeness, mootness, abstention and state sovereign immunity. Significant attention will be focused on federal litigation under the Civil Rights Acts. This course will be of benefit to those intending to practice in federal courts and to those seeking a federal court clerkship.
  • Foundations of Law
    The primary focus of this course is to provide first-year students with an introduction to the study of law, with preliminary exposure to legal reasoning, the structure of the American legal system, and fundamental legal-theoretical concepts. This course also seeks to put students who come to the law from a variety of academic backgrounds on a more equal footing.
  • Lawyers & Ethics
    The course is taught in the first-year and supplements the required upper-level required Professional Responsibility course. The course exposes first-year students to the ethical philosophy necessary for making decisions in life, law school, and law practice.
  • Professional Responsibility
    (Formerly DCL 260) A course designed to acquaint the law student with many of the obligations owed by the lawyer, both individually and as a member of the legal profession, to the society in which he/she lives. In addition to a discussion of ethical problems involved in the practice of law, an overview of all phases of the profession will be undertaken, including disciplinary proceedings, the functions of Bar organizations and unauthorized practice. Students who have already taken Lawyer Regulation and Ethics in a Technology-Driven World may not take this course.
  • Topics in Professional Responsibility: The First Amendment and Regulation of Lawyers' Speech
    The First Amendment protection afforded to the speech of lawyers is a critically important aspect of professional responsibility and legal ethics. This seminar provides an opportunity for students to conduct an intensive study of Supreme Court cases, lower court decisions, legal scholarship, and other materials addressing the regulation of attorney speech. The topics to be explored in this seminar include attorney licensing requirements, regulation of professional advice, advertising/solicitation restrictions, legal blogs/websites, criticism of the judiciary, civility rules, courtroom decorum, pre-trial publicity/statements to the media, mandatory reporting/whistle-blowing, confidentiality duties, and judicial speech. It is recommended, but not required, that students take Constitutional Law II prior to enrolling in this seminar.

Michigan, Illinois (inactive), Virginia (associate)

Professor Knake (pronounced "kah-NAH-kee") joined the Law College Faculty in 2006. She received her J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School in 1999.

Professor Knake's expertise and research interests include intersections between the First Amendment and the law of lawyering; innovation in the delivery of legal services; comparative regulation of the legal profession in the United Kingdom and United States; lawyers as entrepreneurs; and the portrayal of lawyers in literature and media. Most recently she has turned her energies to consider ways that law, technology, and social media can democratize the delivery of legal services and enhance the practice of law. In 2013, she became a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Rule of Law.

Professor Knake’s scholarly articles have been published or are forthcoming in scholarly journals such as Connecticut Law Review, Fordham Law Review, Ohio State Law Journal, and Washington & Lee Law Review. She is also a co-author for the casebook Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach. The full list of her publications can be accessed on SSRN.

Professor Knake has spoken about her work at a number of leading institutions including Connecticut Law, George Mason Law, Fordham Law, Georgetown Law, Illinois Law, Oregon Law, Stanford Law, and Tennessee Law. She also has delivered talks to organizations such as the American Bar Association National Conference on Professional Responsibility, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the Legal Services Board (UK). Her research has been featured in a range of media including the Wall Street Journal, ABA Journal, National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Legal Futures (UK), Law Society Gazette (UK), and Bloomberg Law.

Sponsored in part by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2012, Professor Knake co-founded the ReInvent Law Laboratory, a collaborative venture devoted to innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in legal services. In 2013, she was named as a member of the Fastcase 50, an award which "recognizes 50 of the smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law." She was also named to the 2013 Class of "Legal Rebels" by the ABA Journal.

Professor Knake's teaching and scholarship on the legal profession are inspired by her years of law practice. Before her academic career, she worked as an associate at Mayer, Brown in Chicago, Illinois, and Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Virginia, where she specialized in commercial litigation, telecommunications, and labor/employment law. She also served as Assistant City Attorney for Charlottesville, Virginia. She is admitted to practice in Michigan, Virginia (associate), and Illinois (inactive).

Digital Commons Publications »

Recent Publications


Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach, 2nd Ed. with Russell Pearce, Daniel Capra, Bruce Green and Laurel Terry (West Publishing 2013)


Lawyers' Monopoly on Legal Information and the First Amendment, Fordham L. Rev. (forthcoming 2014)

Democratizing Legal Education, 45 Conn. L. Rev. 1281 (2013)

Democratizing the Delivery of Legal Services, 73 Ohio St. L.J. 1 (2012)

Attorney Advice and the First Amendment, 68 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 639 (2011)

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