Professor Mary Anne Franks Appointed to the Michael R. Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair


Professor Mary Anne Franks

Professor Mary Anne Franks

University of Miami School of Law Professor Mary Anne Franks has been named the Michael R. Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair to recognize her substantial contributions and ongoing accomplishments in scholarship and advocacy at the confluence of civil rights and technology.

Faculty chairs acknowledge the distinction of the law school's outstanding professors and are made possible by the incredible generosity of Miami Law's alumni and friends.

“I am truly honored by this appointment,” said Franks. “Michael R. Klein’s extraordinary contributions and leadership in the areas of civil rights, the arts, and education are inspiring. I am grateful to the School of Law for this demonstration of support of my scholarship and advocacy.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently named Franks a 2021 Knight Visiting Scholar, charged with curating a research series and convening thought leaders from industry, policy, and academia on the internet, democracy, and society.

The Dean's Distinguished Scholar is widely regarded for her writing on First and Second Amendment law and the intersections of law and technology. She serves as president and legislative and tech policy director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating online harassment and discrimination. Franks regularly provides expert analysis on free speech and the internet for nationally acclaimed media outlets and advises legislators and tech industry leaders on online privacy, harassment, criminal law, and threats.

"Dr. Franks is a prolific and innovative scholar whose work has garnered national and international attention and acclaim," said M. Minnette Massey Professor of Law and Dean Anthony E. Varona. "Her advocacy is celebrated for its effectiveness and impact. And she is a thoughtful and valued institutional servant here at UM and Miami Law."

The Taiwanese-American is the author of the award-winning 2019 book The Cult of the Constitution. Her second book, Fearless Speech, which argues that free speech doctrine and practice should be centered around courageous, other-oriented speech of vulnerable communities rather than reckless, self-centered speech of powerful groups, is expected in 2022.

A former Rhodes Scholar, Franks holds a Harvard J.D., and D.Phil. and M.Phil. degrees from Oxford, and is an instructor in Krav Maga.

“The chair is a fitting and well-deserved recognition for Dr. Franks, whose scholarship, advocacy, and teaching have enriched our Miami Law community and contributed significantly to the law and technology discourse at every level, from the kids to the international,” Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Judge A. Jay Cristol Professor of Bankruptcy Law Andrew Dawson.

According to Varona, Klein is one of Miami Law's most distinguished alumni, having blazed trails in law practice, entrepreneurialism, and philanthropy. "Mr. Klein's long and demonstrated commitment to internet law and policy, and social justice, make the Klein Chair especially resonant with Professor Franks's achievements. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Klein is very enthusiastic about the bestowal of the Klein Chair upon Professor Franks,” he said.

Miami Law has 90 full-time faculty members and four endowed chairs. Franks's investiture ceremony will be held in the fall.