Chief Justice of California to Speak at Commencement
The Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California, will serve as the commencement speaker at Southwestern's 96th Commencement Ceremony on May 15, 2011, at the Shrine Auditorium. At the event, Justice Cantil-Sakauye, as well as alumni Matthew K. Fong '85 and Brian Panish '84, will also receive honorary doctor of laws degrees.
The 28th Chief Justice of California, the Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye is the first Asian-American and second woman to hold the office in state history. She has served on the California trial and appellate bench for the past 20 years. In 1990, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the Sacramento Municipal Court, and in 1997, Governor Pete Wilson elevated her to the Superior Court of Sacramento County. In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated her to the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, and in July 2010, he nominated her to succeed retiring Chief Justice Ronald M. George in the highest office in the California judicial branch. California voters confirmed her to the position in the November 2010 general election. Read more.
Former CEOs to Discuss Importance of Legal and Business Degrees in "Breaking the Glass Ceiling"
Two highly successful business leaders who are trailblazers in their fields, Larraine Segil and Joan Herman will share their tips for success in a special lunch presentation on "Breaking the Glass Ceiling: How a J.D. and an M.B.A. Helped Two Women Become CEOs." The program is being presented by Southwestern's Business Law Society and Women's Law Association, and The Drucker Graduate School of Management on Monday, March 21 at 12:30 p.m. on the Southwestern campus.
In their discussion, Joan Herman, former President and CEO of WellPoint's Consumer Business Unit and Larraine Segil, former CEO of a variety of entrepreneurial companies (healthcare, aerospace and consulting), will cover how they applied their J.D. and M.B.A. training in building their careers, key issues students should consider when choosing a career path, the special challenges of being a woman CEO and how both women and men can balance career and family.
Dean Bryant Garth said, "This is a rare opportunity to hear from two extraordinary leaders about what it takes to build and sustain a high-level career." Read more.
LAWS Final Rounds to be Judged by Distinguished Jurists and Top Prosecutors
On April 9, students in the culminating rounds of this year's LAWS Intramural Competitions will demonstrate their skills to prominent elected officials and leading judicial officers from around the country serving on the three final bench panels.
The top advocates in the 2011 Trial Advocacy Intramural Competition will present their case to the Final Bench composed of the Hon. Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County District Attorney; the Hon. Carmen Trutanich, Los Angeles City Attorney; and the Hon. Andre Birotte, United States Attorney for the Central District of California.
The top advocates in the 2011 Moot Court Intramural Competition will present their appellate arguments to the Final Bench of the Hon. Scott Bales, Arizona Supreme Court; the Hon. Louis B. Butler, Jr., Wisconsin Supreme Court; the Hon. Rives Kistler, Supreme Court of Oregon; the Hon. Petra Jimenez Maes, New Mexico Supreme Court; and the Hon. Charles Wilson, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
The top team members in the 2011 Negotiation Intramural Competition will be judged by the current and past Presiding Justices of the California Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate District, Division Four: the Hon. Norman Epstein and the Hon. Arleigh Maddox Woods, respectively.
Save the Date for Upcoming "Conversations With..."
Each "Conversation" in conducted in a dialogue format, allowing the guest to explore issues confronting the entertainment industry and the media with students and members of the legal profession. The events, which are free of charge, are held at 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Bullocks Wilshire Building, with a reception immediately following. Click here for more information. Reservations are requested and can be made by contacting the Biederman Institute.
- Tuesday, April 12: "A Conversation with..." Jonathan Handel, Entertainment Attorney and Author of Hollywood on Strike
- Thursday, May 26: "A Conversation with..." Warren Lieberfarb, Chairman of Warren N. Lieberfarb & Associates and "The Father of DVD"
Don't Miss Spring Table Days
Table Days provide students with the opportunity to obtain advice from faculty, deans and staff on planning their schedule for the upcoming academic year and preparing for their legal career. Tables will be grouped by areas of interests, including entertainment law, business law, criminal law, international law, skills courses (Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation, etc.), bar preparation, public interest, student honor groups and much more. If you have any questions, please contact the Dean of Students Office.
Table Days will take place on the Promenade at the following times:
- Monday, April 4, 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 5, 12:15 - 2:00 p.m. & 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 6, 12:15 - 2:00 p.m.
Please contact the Career Services Office with questions or for more information about any of the following events:
Government Career Day
Saturday, March 12, All Day, Chapman Law School
Last year, many government agencies from around Southern California participated in this event, which included informal table-talk, panel discussions, lunchtime discussions focusing on different substantive areas of practice, and formal interviews for summer and postgraduate positions.
Public Interest and Post-Graduate Fellowships
Thursday, March 24, 12:30 p.m. & 5:00 p.m., W311
If you are interested in pursuing a post-graduate fellowship after law school, this is the workshop for you! These one and two-year fellowships are a great way to break into public interest or other areas, such as international law, public policy and the like. Come to learn when and how to explore these exciting opportunities.
Post-Graduate Judicial Clerkships
Thursday, April 7, 12:30 p.m. & 5:00 p.m., W311
If you want to learn about the benefits of a Judicial Clerkship and the process of obtaining one, you should mark your calendar so you don't miss this event!
How to Participate in the On-Campus Interview Program (OCIP)
Tuesday, April 12 and Thursday, April 14, 12:30 & 5:00 p.m., W311
Learn the procedural guidelines for participating in the Fall OCIP. Attendance is MANDATORY for those who would like to participate in the program. Interviews will start in August for Summer 2012 and post-graduate positions.
Summer Clerk Boot Camp
Wednesday, April 13, 12:30 p.m. & 5:00 p.m., W311
A must attend for all students who are planning to work or extern this summer! The discussion will cover what you need to know and do to get the most out of your summer experience.
Southwestern Law Students Launch Entertainment Law Blog Through New Course
A course where surfing the Internet and blogging about Hollywood is not only encouraged but required? For Southwestern students in Entertainment Law and Web 2.0, that is the way to earn academic credit while honing both tech skills and getting a pulse on legal issues in the world of entertainment.
Through this unique, new eight-week mini-term course and follow up semester-long course, Adjunct Professor Craig Matsuda and Professor Michael Scott guide students in creating Biedermanblog.com, a website where participating students research, write and post on matters related to entertainment law and serve as editors.
"Many Southwestern students closely follow the latest legal developments in the entertainment industry," Professor Scott said. "The Biederman Blog lets them share their developing expertise in entertainment law with other law students, entertainment industry professionals, and everyone who is fascinated by Hollywood." Read more.
Pictured: Panel on International Criminal Law
Law Journal Symposium Explores Global Legal Climate
Renowned legal scholars and practitioners from around the Western United States convened at Southwestern on February 26 for the symposium on 2021: International Law Ten Years from Now. Examining a broad range of legal areas affected by challenges of conflict, technology and globalization in the modern era, the program was presented by the Southwestern Journal of International Law in conjunction with International Law Weekend-West of the International Law Association (American Branch).
Panels featuring more than 50 legal scholars and practitioners explored a panoply of public and private international law issues including: litigation, trade, human rights, climate change/environment, criminal, cultural rights, dispute resolution, entertainment and media, financial and institutions, intellectual property, and investment, as well as the international legal profession (see the complete breakdown online). Michael Traynor, President Emeritus and Council Chair of the American Law Institute and Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Ethics 20/20, presented the keynote address, "Do We Need a New Foreign Relations Restatement? International Law from 1987 to present ... to 2021." Articles written for this symposium and the proceedings will be published in the Southwestern Journal of International Law.
Pictured: (from left) Keynote Speaker Michael Traynor and Professor Robert Lutz
"The international system underwent transformative changes fueled by technology and globalization in recent decades," according to Professor Robert Lutz, faculty organizer of the symposium and co-advisor to the law journal. "The accelerated impacts on international law and institutions are blurring borders and transcending institutional boundaries, so that the role of law increasingly functions in a transnational and international context. Bringing together the best scholars and practitioners in the Western United States to speculate on the future of International Law in a broad array of important legal fields is Southwestern and the International Law Association's effort to capture and showcase the insights and analyses of the West's 'best and brightest.'"
Siderman Fellow Explores American Approach to Criminal Law and Procedure
Federico Ramos is the 2010-2011 Fulbright-Jose Siderman Human Rights Fellow at Southwestern. In an effort to promote the training of young Argentine lawyers in civil liberties and human rights, the family of Jose Siderman and the Fulbright Commission in Argentina established the specialized fellowship at Southwestern in 2008. The Fellowship brings an Argentine law graduate to Los Angeles to complete an LL.M. degree in Civil Liberties and Human Rights or Advocacy at the law school, including an externship with a civil rights organization. The fellowship complements the association Southwestern has maintained for many years with Argentina through summer programs, judicial externships and exchange programs in Buenos Aires.
Ramos worked as an advisor to the Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina, where he defended claims against the State, mostly in instances involving criminal issues. "The State tried to use the cases as a tool for improving human rights conditions in my country," he said. "Sometimes, these cases may be used to suggest or make reforms or statutory changes." Read more.
JLE Examines Impact of War on Terror on Legal Education and Scholarship
The Journal of Legal Education, in its latest issue, presents an unprecedented examination of how law school curricula and faculty scholarship have been impacted by events since 9/11. The February 2011 edition of the Journal, a publication of the Association of American Law Schools that is hosted and produced by Southwestern, features a symposium on the legal academy and the War on Terror, exploring the significant changes that have taken place in legal education and legal scholarship since September 11, 2001. The symposium's articles include an assessment of burgeoning legal efforts to challenge such contentious policies as torture, preventive detention, and extraordinary rendition; a comparison of the silence of legal academics following the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II with the response to the War on Terror; and a call for better understanding of the issues that have surfaced in military law in recent years.
According to Dean Bryant Garth, "There is no question as this symposium makes clear that the legal academy has responded to the War on Terror by making a huge commitment to teach and write on national security issues and in so doing, institutionalizing national security and related subjects as a part of the curriculum."
The Journal's editors also compiled an inventory detailing the large number of courses and clinics that law schools around the nation have created or significantly redirected in response to the events of the past decade. Taken together, this symposium may be the first systematic exploration of the extraordinary changes in legal education since the September 11 attacks. The February issue, as well as previous issues of the Journal of Legal Education, are posted online.
Law and Society Retreat Builds Intellectual Social Network
With a commitment to cultivating research, conversation and engagement on a range of issues that affect scholarship, teaching and service, Southwestern hosted the Fourth West Coast Law and Society Retreat on February 11 and 12. The program attracted more than 120 faculty and graduate students in law-and-society studies from California and other Pacific Region schools as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and British Columbia. Previous retreats were held on law school campuses at U.C. Berkeley, the University of Hawaii and Stanford.
"This is especially pleasing for me as dean, because the Law and Society Association has been my own intellectual home for more than 30 years," Southwestern's Dean Bryant Garth said. Southwestern Professors Danielle Hart, Roman Hoyos, Gowri Ramachandran and Molly Selvin were among the presenters.
Informal panels and discussions explored the substantive questions emerging at the leading edges of law and society scholarship, the state of the field as an academic discipline, and the role of law and society scholarship in identifying and shaping dialogue around new legal challenges.
Law and Society is the leading organization in the world devoted to the social-scientific study of law. Approximately half of its members are academic lawyers who use history, economics, sociology, linguistics and other social-science tools in their scholarship. The other members are social scientists who study law as a social system. According to Professor Arthur McEvoy, who coordinated the event, "There is no other group that brings lawyers and social scientists together like this, on common ground, speaking a more-or-less common language, and addressing common concerns."
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
"W.A.Y." - Who Are You & Why Are You here?
This month - Shanna Moore, Second-year SCALE Student
SCALE student Shanna Moore loves to learn. "I am a sponge," she said. "I don't think there is anything on this earth that I don't have some interest in." During the years prior to law school, the Long Beach native attended Boston University and then transferred to San Francisco State University, where she completed two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Journalism and Vocal Jazz. She worked in several entertainment-related positions, including as manager for syndicated operations at Paramount in New York City, which included shows such as "Montel Williams," "Judge Judy," and "The Insider." She spent nearly three years doing this but became restless and craved another opportunity to challenge her mind and gain knowledge. "I just felt like, we're not saving lives here. We're putting commercials on TV." Then CBS downsized and Moore was laid off, which she referred to as "the happiest day of my life."
She returned to Southern California in 2007 and applied to Southwestern, initially considering a part time program so she could continue to work. But she ultimately chose the two-year accelerated program. "Joining SCALE has by far been the best decision I ever made," she said. "What I like most about SCALE is probably what stresses me the most, too: it never stops. There's no opportunity to second-guess what you're doing. That's a good lesson for life. I think SCALE teaches you how to do this."
She enjoys the synergy of the SCALE program, the way her professors teach and give students the tools to deal with real-life scenarios in legal practice. Her favorite classes have been "anything taught by Professors Joerg Knipprath, Karen Smith or Butler Shaffer." Because Moore has an interest in pursuing international entertainment law (with a specific focus on related tax law), she chose to spend the summer studying abroad and participated in Southwestern's International Entertainment Law Program in London. She especially enjoyed Professor Jeff Biederman's course in international transactions.
Although SCALE keeps her very busy, Moore has delved into campus life. She is a member of BLSA, where she was recently named Best Oralist at the Moot Court Competition that was part of the organization's Western Regional Convention in Las Vegas (Moore and teammate Maria Olaguez also won Best Petitioner's brief). Additionally, Moore is a member of Women's Law Association, Entertainment Sports Law Society and Tax Law Society. She participated in Southwestern's VITA tax law program, served as a Dean's Fellow and assisted Professor Ron Aronovsky in researching an article about civil procedure.
These days, when she's not studying, Moore trains for marathons. She has run the Long Beach and LA Marathon several times and will run the LA event again in March. She considers SCALE an amazing adventure and admires the way the program is preparing her for the legal profession. "Every day we think like lawyers. I think because of the way our classes are structured - we take finals every six to eight weeks - we think about how to budget our time and manage deadlines. In SCALE, I feel like a practicing lawyer. I don't feel like a student. I feel like I'm learning on the job."
Southwestern Partners with RAND for New Law and Public Policy Certificate Programs
The Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS) and Southwestern Law School will jointly offer two certificate programs for the schools' public policy and law students. Beginning in the Fall of 2011, qualified students from PRGS can take courses in law at Southwestern leading to a Certificate in Legal Studies. Qualified students from Southwestern can take courses at PRGS leading to a Certificate in Public Policy. The non-degree programs are intended to provide students with a basic knowledge of law and public policy, and an understanding of the tools and frameworks relevant to each field.
"Public policies are largely contained in legislation and in regulations grounded in the law," said Susan L. Marquis, Dean of PRGS. "Both law students and public policy doctoral candidates can benefit from a better understanding of how the law and public policy are interconnected."
Currently, few public policy programs include law coursework and few law schools include training in policy analysis, said Southwestern Dean Bryant Garth. "While this gap has been addressed to some extent by joint degree programs, many students want the exposure to another discipline without the time and expense of a dual degree program," Garth said. "Our new programs provide a very practical solution." Read more.
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PROFESSOR WARREN GRIMES
PROFESSOR DANIELLE KIE HART
- Moderator and Panelist, "Competition Issues and Framework," International Trade Law Panel, 2021: International Law Ten Years From Now, Southwestern Law Journal Symposium
- Interviewed regarding resale price maintenance and the Supreme Court's 2007 decision addressing that topic, "Money 101 with Bob McCormick," KFWB (CBS affiliate)
PROFESSOR ROMAN HOYOS
- Panelist, "Rethinking Equality," West Coast Law & Society Retreat, Southwestern
PROFESSOR STEVEN KRONE
- Session Participant, "Borders and Boundaries," West Coast Law & Society Retreat, Southwestern
PROFESSOR ROBERT LIND
- Moderator, International Entertainment and Media Law Panel, 2021: International Law Ten Years From Now, Southwestern Law Journal Symposium
- COPYRIGHT Q&A (with D. Fagundes; LexisNexis, 211)
- CLICK HERE FOR MORE FACULTY ACTIVITIES -
Southwestern Negotiation Teams Impress in National Competition
Southwestern made a notable debut at the Liberty University School of Law National Negotiation Competition as both of its representative teams advanced to the finals and finished within the top four spots. Andrew Sommers (second-year evening student) and Jenna Sleefe (SCALE II) took Third Place, and Philip Hall and Michael Laufer (both second-year day students) earned Fourth Place. Natalie Weatherford, chair of Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program, and fellow board member Nathan Harpham coached both teams.
"We were the only school that had two teams move forward into the final round," Weatherford explained. "It was an absolute pleasure to coach both teams. They are incredibly skilled negotiators and have made invaluable contributions to the Negotiation Honors Program."
Twelve teams from seven different law schools competed. Other participating law schools included: University of California Hastings College of the Law, University of Maryland School of Law, Stetson University College of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, and Regent University School of Law. While Southwestern's teams placed third and fourth behind teams from Stetson and Hastings, Sommers explained that only two points separated first from fourth place. "Our coaches and teammates did a great job of preparing us," he said. Read more.
Southwestern's BLSA Chapter Excels at Regional Convention
At the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) Western Regional Convention held in Las Vegas, Southwestern's chapter performed exceptionally well, racking up the top awards in appellate advocacy as well as chapter achievements.
For the second consecutive year, Southwestern's organization won Regional Chapter of the Year. Shawna Wright, Co-President of Southwestern's Black Law Students Association (BLSA) chapter, explained the extent of the group's commitment to the law school, public interest activities and student development. "This year, it was BLSA's mission to impact our community by participating in various events such as our Expungement Clinic, donating services, volunteering for various functions, and sponsoring academic events for our students and local youth," she said. "All of the hard work that went into executing these events - so that BLSA could be considered for Regional Chapter of the Year - could not have occurred without the support of Southwestern and our BLSA members. We were excited and honored to have won this award."
Third-year evening student David Brown was named Western Regional Board Member of the Year. Additionally, three first-year students were elected to Regional Executive Board Positions, including: Michelle Henderson, Director of Membership; Lakeshia Dorsey, Attorney General; and Erin Lovelace, Secretary. Read more.
Immigration Appeals Practicum Students Win Cases for Their Clients
In partnership with Munger, Tolles & Olson (MTO), this fall Southwestern launched the Immigration Appeals Practicum. The first students to participate in the practicum, John Guo and Christianne Macaraeg, each handled a Board of Immigration Appeals case under the close supervision of MTO attorneys Avi Braz and Marina Torres. The students had about one month to review the immigration court case file and record of proceedings, and to research and analyze case law. They crafted strong arguments and helped draft appellate briefs. In Guo's case, he also prepared portions of an opposition to a motion to remand within a short time-frame. The students were required to quickly get up to speed in an unfamiliar area of law and work under extreme time pressure, and prevailed for their clients in both cases!
For more information, on any of the events below, click here or contact the Institutional Advancement Office.
- Thursday, March 10 - South Bay Alumni Regional Reception
- Tuesday, March 22 - Westside Alumni Regional Reception
- Tuesday, April 26 - Riverside Alumni Regional Reception
- Thursday, April 28 - San Fernando Alumni Regional Reception
24th Annual Awards Recognition Reception and Silent Auction
This annual event, being held this year on Thursday, April 14, allows the Alumni Association and other members of the Southwestern community the opportunity to recognize alumni and friends for their outstanding service to the law school, community at-large and legal profession. In addition to the awards ceremony and cocktail reception, the evening also features a silent auction with great items on which guests can bid.
- Honoring -
Alumni of the Year: Gerald E. Agnew, Jr. '77, Partner, AgnewBrusavich and Bruce M. Brusavich '80, Partner, AgnewBrusavich
Outstanding Judicial Officer: The Honorable Gerald Rosenberg '75, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, West District
Outstanding Friend: James A. Coufos, Former Managing Director, Goldman Sachs and Trustee, Southwestern Law School
Alumni Q&A with Judge Paul Stark '75, Family Law Court, Israel
Q: Please describe the Child Abduction course you taught during the January Intersession at Southwestern. What are some of the critical elements you hoped to impart to your students?
A: I presented a seminar on the Hague Convention, Child Abduction. I tried to present a perspective on an International scale. Only recently in Abbot v. Abbot, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first opinion on the matter. Since there are many Israelis as well as other ethnic groups which present issues of migration and abduction to and from foreign jurisdiction, I felt the time was appropriate for such a seminar. I related to the treaty, the causes of action and defenses.
Q: What is your fondest memory of being a law student yourself at Southwestern?
A: My fondest memory as a law student was my time at CLAC, the clinical law studies. Rob Williamson and Diane Wayne (Judge Ret.) were the faculty. I started as an assistant student director and then moved on to the student director slot. There were 5 of us. Judge Fainer was the advisor. It was a great learning experience.
Q: What are some of the most notable changes you've observed at Southwestern since you were a student?
A: The biggest change is in the campus. I started at the Hill Street location and moved to the current (Westmoreland) locale in my second year. There had been no time to really make it into a law school campus. Today, the addition of the Bullocks Wilshire Building adds a sense of history and grace as well as presenting a full law school campus experience.
Q: When you came to law school, did you know what kind of law you wanted to practice? What activities (organizations, honors programs, externships) did you participate in and how did they help you decide?
A: My only goal was to be a trial attorney. CLAC helped to firm that up. I also wrote on Law Review which gave me a background in writing. I had wanted to go into civil litigation, but ultimately wound up as a criminal defense attorney. Read more.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Q: Prior to entering law school, what was the most interesting thing you learned while serving as a Legislative Correspondent for Senator Barbara Boxer?
A: Okay, so let me be a little cynical here for a moment: the three "P's" of politics: Pandering, Placating, and Posturing. So much of politics is fundraising and campaigning that these are really the keys to staying in office, even if understood less cynically. Somewhat related to this, I was shocked at how much power 20-somethings have on the Hill. I was amazed by how much work, and I'm talking legislative work here, gets done by people in their 20s and early 30s.
Q: What is your favorite law school memory?
A: Laughing. I had a friend, Jen Hubbard, who had the same sense of humor as I do. It got to the point where we could just look at each other and know what the other was thinking. Our other friends were always baffled by our sense of humor, but this was just more fodder for us. Sometimes in law school all you can do is laugh, so it was great to have someone to laugh with.
Q: What was the most interesting case you argued when you practiced law at Rosen, Bien & Asaro?
A: I only practiced law for a few months, and never argued a case. I just did your standard legal research. However, I loved working on our attorneys' fees cases. That area of law was a complete mess, so it allowed for some real creativity.
Q: After earning a J.D., what inspired you to pursue a Ph.D. in American History?
A: The Ph.D. was always the goal, actually. It was law school that was novel. I had never considered going to law school. There were no lawyers in my family, and no one who really wanted to be one. I didn't even know what you studied in law school. It was only when I began working in Senator Boxer's office that I was finally exposed to attorneys and law school hopefuls. But it wasn't until I worked with one of the legislative assistants, Karen Day, that I considered going to law school. I was just impressed by the way she went about her business, particularly since she was an African-American woman working in areas that were especially dominated by white men. The ways in which she handled that situation, and navigated the attempts to exclude her was inspiring. I thought if that's what law school can do for you, I'm in. Karen encouraged me to go to law school and even recommended that I apply to Northwestern, a school I probably would not have applied to otherwise. Good thing, too, since that's where I ended up. And going to law school helped me to figure out my interests in history, specifically that I am a legal historian. That is something that becomes more and more clear to me each day.
Q: Why did you pursue a career in academia?
A: Academia was always a desire, at least since college. Had I not gone into teaching I probably would have done legislative or policy work. I was never particularly interested in being a "lawyer," in the sense of litigation or transactional work. I am a pure academic, to the annoyance of some of my students at times, I think. But I do love teaching, and trying to get my students to stretch themselves intellectually.
Q: What did you like most about teaching at Duke University Law School?
A: My experience at Duke was valuable on so many levels that it's hard to narrow down this question. But I'd say that it was the personal relationships I developed there that were most valuable, with faculty, students and staff. And it wasn't just limited to people at Duke. Al Brophy moved to UNC Law the same year I moved down to Duke. We shared similar interests as legal historians, and quickly became friends. I really miss my lunches with Al.
As a teacher you really value those students upon whom you seem to have an effect. This can happen in any number of ways, but at Duke I seemed to be an outlet for some students who were unhappy with their law school experience. One, in fact, who was almost completely fed up with law school when he enrolled in one of my classes, has recently applied to graduate school to get his Ph.D. in American legal history. He has thanked me several times for helping to salvage his law school experience. Experiences like that are very humbling.
Q: Having also taught in History departments, what do you see as the biggest difference between teaching law and teaching history?
A: There was not a whole lot of difference between them. Many of my history students were budding law students. The main difference is just that between liberal arts and professional schools. Law students are more apt to question the utility of the material they are studying. History students are just trying to understand the past, and are generally more interested in ideas for the sake of ideas. Of course, my experience was a bit skewed as I dealt mostly with senior history majors working on their B.A. theses. For the younger college students I taught the major challenge was coaxing them out of their shells. It hasn't been hard to get law students to talk.
Q: What do you currently see as the most important facet of property law?
A: A lot of attention recently has been devoted to eminent domain, though I think most of it has been overblown. For me, the more interesting questions concern the scope of the police power. We all know that this power exists, but no one is quite sure exactly what it is, or its extent. There is a budding effort to create a "new" (or critical) police science that is growing out of the work of legal historians and criminal law theorists (e.g. Markus Dubber, Mariana Valverde, Chris Tomlins, Bill Novak). But there remains a great deal of diversity about the power, and much to be explored. More sustained attention to the police power might help to bridge the divide between the so-called "private law" aspects of property law and its "public law" dimensions. I explore this power more in my State and Local Government Law course, and hope eventually to develop a seminar exploring its theoretical and historical dimensions.
Q: What is the focus of your current research/scholarship?
A: Broadly speaking, I am interested in the relationship between law, democracy, and the state in American history. My current project is a book-length examination of the role that the constitutional convention played in this triangular relationship in the 19th century. U.S. Constitutional conventions were enormously important political institutions in the 19th century. In fact, the constitutional convention was understood as the "visible embodiment" of the people. This idea was of course contested and major changes occurred as a result of the Civil War. One of the things that I'm trying to suggest is that the Civil War radically changed American notions of popular sovereignty, and of democracy more generally. In fact, to the extent that a democracy is possible, and I'm not convinced that it is, I believe that we have been living in a post-democratic state since the end of the 19th century.
Q: What aspect of living in Los Angeles do you appreciate most?
A: Dry air and cold rain. Although I will miss thunderstorms.
Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of the legal profession?
A: Just two words: Pittsburgh Steelers! Although I have to say that I'm disappointed in Big Ben's off-field offenses. I just hope his suspension was a wake up call.
I also enjoy watching mixed martial arts. I even got my mom watching it. Occasionally, I'll go out salsa dancing, but it's been a few years. And I do like to bake (especially cheesecakes), but haven't had much time for that lately. Mostly, I'm a homebody.
Q: If you could do anything and knew you could not fail, what would you do?
A: I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing, and have done most things I wanted to do. But something that would be a blast would be to go toe-to-toe with Anderson Silva, the UFC Middleweight Champion, or BJ Penn, for a full five rounds. Of course, I have zero martial arts training, so it's purely "what if!"