LAW PROF OUTPACES REST OF THE WORLD
A very quick study
Law professor Eugene Volokh already has worked for nearly two-thirds of his life, and he’s only 30.
It’s not that hard if you start at age 12, as Volokh did. In fact, his whole life has been running at 78 rpm while the rest of the world stumbles by at 33 1/3. For instance, Volokh who was 7 when he came to this country from his native Kiev, Ukraine was just 10 when he took linear algebra classes at UCLA. That same year, he entered Beverly Hills High School but left halfway through. “I was a high school dropout,” said Volokh, smiling. “UCLA was kind enough to admit me full-time in the fall of ’80.”
The 12-year-old college student not only did well in his classes, he also worked part-time as a computer programmer for such companies as Hewlett-Packard and 20th Century Fox. At the same time, he cofounded a small software business with his father in Los Angeles called VESOFT to write and market software for the HP-3000 business mini-computer.
“While there may have been a few problems to being young, it was also something of an advantage because you’re different,” Volokh explained. “And if you’re different and good, people are more likely to remember you.”
Volokh graduated with a B.S. in math and computer science in 1983, worked for two other companies, then returned full-time to VESOFT from 1986 to 1989. He still helps out at the company, which booked $5 million in sales last year.
But although he loves computers, Volokh got the urge for a more public life. “I wanted to play a role in some of the debates that I’d just been observing up until then,” he said.
So Volokh enrolled at UCLA School of Law, graduating first in his class in 1992. He clerked for one year for Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and for another year with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
In 1994, Volokh returned to UCLA as an acting professor and immediately began doing research in cyberspace law, free speech, sexual/religious/racial harassment, affirmative action, copyright law and gun control, among other legal topics.
His broad expertise has brought him national and international attention. Volokh has appeared on “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” “Today” and other TV programs to discuss everything from cyberspace law to the Supreme Court. He has also been cited in Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report. He was featured in the Los Angeles Business Journal’s special section on “L.A.’s Up and Comers” for his scholarship and Internet presence. And just two weeks ago, he testified before a State Assembly subcommittee about follow-up bills to Proposition 209, for which he was legal adviser to the campaign.
The recipient of the John M. Olin Fellowship this year, Volokh is taking a break from teaching copyright and free speech law and a firearms regulation seminar to write journal articles about his myriad interests.
“All of these things are so terribly interesting, I can’t choose,” said Volokh. “Which is why I try to do them all!”