Our annual commemoration of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. includes a three-part lecture series, “Dismantling the Dream,” hosted at Northwestern Law. The third and final program, “The Wheels of Inevitability? An Examination of the Current Supreme Court’s Civil Rights Precedents,” will be held on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at 4 p.m. and will feature a panel of Northwestern Law faculty members, including Steven Calabresi, Clayton J. and Henry R. Barber Professor of Law; Erin Delaney, Assistant Professor of Law; and Miguel de Figueiredo, Visiting Assistant Professor. Leonard Rubinowitz, Professor of Law, will moderate.
The panel will examine the Roberts Court’s recent civil rights decisions and the current state of civil rights legislation. The program is open to the public, and CLE will be available. A reception celebrating the lecture series will follow in the Law School Atrium.
Please join us for what promises to be an engaging and interesting discussion of the appropriate role of legislation and the courts in enforcing civil rights.
The lecture series is co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association and the American Constitution Society, and is presented by the 2014 DREAM Committee of Northwestern University School of Law and Feinberg School of Medicine. Additional information about other Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration activities can be found on the Northwestern University website.
A remarkable center, as its director, Locke Bowman, describes it:
The MacArthur Center is a “law firm like no other,” as the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin once reported. The Center was founded in 1985 by the family of J. Roderick MacArthur to fight for the civil and human rights of persons in the criminal justice system whose interests might otherwise not be vindicated. We have become one of the premier civil rights organizations in the United States by taking cases that others wouldn’t or couldn’t litigate.
In the past several years, the MacArthur Center has won over $45 million in settlements and verdicts in lawsuits in which the Center has represented persons who were convicted or charged with crimes they did not commit. More important than these monetary victories, though, is the work of Center attorneys in a variety of different cases that have systemically challenged features of the Illinois criminal justice system. For example, Center attorneys are currently engaged in litigation to reform the procedures for deciding whether to re-incarcerate persons accused of violating the conditions of parole. A recent MacArthur lawsuit helped end the use of closed circuit video to conduct bond hearings for persons arrested by the Chicago Police. In another case, we ended a Chicago Police practice of detaining witnesses against their will and holding them for questioning. We won the appointment of a Cook County Special Prosecutor to investigate the death of David Koschman by persuading the court that the original investigation may have been tainted by political interference. In earlier litigation, the Center attorneys persuaded the Cook County court to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate criminal charges against Jon Burge, a disgraced Chicago Police officer who systematically tortured African American suspects in his custody on the south side of Chicago. We have represented several of Burge’s victims and are currently using class action litigation to win hearings for all still-incarcerated persons with potential claims that their convictions rest on confessions that Burge tortured from them. Another MacArthur case helped to dramatically improve the handling of criminal appeals brought by indigent persons convicted within Cook County. The list could be expanded. None of these cases were “easy,” all were costly and labor intensive and most of them were handled without any expectation of a fee.
Following on the track record of success in Chicago, the MacArthur Center recently opened a second office in New Orleans, where our attorneys are working on similar projects, including pursuing a massive class action challenge to the treatment of prisoners in the Orleans Parish Prison and fighting for the rights of men and women on the Louisiana death row. We have plans to open a third office this fall at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
(I’ll trust readers to get the “shoulders” reference.)
After an early January of quite wacky weather, Northwestern Law has moved past the polar vortex — or perhaps it is more accurate to say the reverse is true. We have begun classes a couple days late, but with an undaunted amount of optimism about the spring term to come. For second-semester 3Ls, I can say that we wish you the best as you begin your final semester in law school and focus, undoubtedly, on the transition looming before you. For second-semester 1Ls, congrats on finishing your first term and best to you as you sharpen your focus on law school beyond the beginning. Last, but not least, for second-semester 2Ls, you are halfway through!!
The remarkable energy at NU Law peers out from the snow and shows itself in the vital academic work of the faculty, the extraordinary public service contributions of our students, the new and renewed modalities of experiential learning in our legal clinic, the focus on exemplary teaching throughout the law school, and great achievements of our alumni, and the often unsung contributions of our able staff.
I can certainly see the energy manifest in the hard work of all those involved in our strategic planning efforts, efforts which focus on curriculum, new academic initiatives, outreach, law school economics, and student life. We have very high hopes for these efforts and a resolute commitment to putting these great ideas into action.
A little ice and snow doesn’t get us down. We just put on an extra layer of clothes, heavier gloves, and go forth to do good things — to make big plans and also small contributions, all in the unbending, incomparable city of Chicago.
Last minute invitation to New Yorker alums at the AALS annual meeting or nearby:
Alum reception at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm tonight, January 3, at the New York City Hilton (midtown), Nassau West Room, 2nd floor.
Come get out of the cold and join us for refreshments and conviviality!
Happy New Year and very well wishes for a healthy, productive, and in every way successful, 2014 to all of our friends.
As I begin my third year as dean of Northwestern Law School and embark on a new hobby, the presidency of the Association of American Law Schools, I want to say just a few words of gratitude to all of those who have been so supportive of my work, and our collaborative initiatives, at not only this fine law school but on behalf of legal education more generally. We live and work in challenging times. Indeed, legal education is at a crossroads, and we would do well to continue our hard work at thinking creatively, strategically, and boldly about how best to educate our students, reduce students’ financial burdens, and equip them for a successful future in a dynamic profession. There is no better time to rethink our central premises and refocus on our central objectives; and there is no better place to engage in this tall task than at a law school known for its innovation, its ingenuity, and its commitment to excellence.
This year brought some extraordinary successes and significant milestones. As always, the Bluhm Legal Clinic figured prominently in these achievements. Our Children and Family Justice Center received a MacArthur “genius” award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Our Center on Wrongful Convictions continued its remarkable work on behalf of the wrongfully accused by helping secure key exonerations and supporting criminal justice reform in our community. The Center on International Human Rights received many accolades, including a prestigious Berlin Prize for its distinguished director, Professor David Scheffer.
Other centers and programs prospered through their important scholarly work and professional outreach. Building on the strong financial support of Qualcomm, Inc., the Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth embarked on a novel new initiative in “innovative economics,” this along with the creative policy work advanced by the Center under the imaginative leadership of its new director, Professor Matt Spitzer. Outreach to the legal community was a prominent part of this year’s agenda at Northwestern, as we continued the good work of key programs such as the Corporate Counsel Institute (now in its second half century!), the Securities Regulation Institute, and the Garrett Institute. We organized many conferences and meetings, bringing in distinguished lawyers and jurists to discuss, for example, jury reform, juvenile justice, sports law and many other contemporary issues of significance to our students and to the profession. We welcomed many prominent visitors, including eminent judges and officials from the U.S. and abroad. This fall, we brought back hundreds of alums to Streeterville for our first-ever all-alumni weekend, including our inaugural alumni awards celebration at the University Club of Chicago. Read more
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court decision establishing the right to counsel in criminal proceedings, Northwestern Law is proud to announce the creation of the Gideon’s Promise Fellowship Program. This initiative will provide up to three graduating law students with grants, training, and job placement services that will allow them to begin their careers by representing some of those most desperately in need of legal assistance—at public defender offices in the American South.
These fellowships are offered in partnership with the Gideon’s Promise program and the Law School Partnership Project, which trains, mentors, and supports young public defenders. Gideon’s Promise will place fellowship recipients in one of several public defender offices in the South. To date, nine offices have joined the program with more to follow. The fellowship will provide training and support for these new lawyers for three full years.
Fellows will receive a stipend of $50,000 (plus benefits) and will be guaranteed permanent positions at the affiliated public defender offices after conclusion of the fellowship term.
The three Northwestern Law fellowships are supported by the Jay A. Pritzker Fellowship Program, funded by the Jay A. Pritzker Foundation, and the Bluhm Legal Clinic, which has been representing indigent individuals in criminal proceedings since its founding in 1969. (There will be additional Jay A. Pritzker Fellowships available later this year, for students interested in working at other nonprofit and government agencies.)
Earlier this year, HBO Documentaries produced Gideon’s Army, a remarkable documentary about three young public defenders in the Gideon’s Promise program. Information about this interesting—and revealing—film can be found on the HBO Documentaries website.
Northwestern Law students interested in applying should submit this application to Ali Flaum and Steve Drizin by January 21, 2014. Applicants will be interviewed in late January and selected in early February. If you have additional questions about the program, please contact Ali Flaum.
Alumnus Neil Bluhm has made a $15 million dollar gift to our Law School—the largest gift in the Law School’s history.
Neil Bluhm and I want his gift to be allocated in ways that will help us accomplish key law school objectives. The largest portion of the gift—$6 million—will be unrestricted. We anticipate that these funds will be used to fund key initiatives growing out of our strategic planning process. It will also enable us to make progress on the essential objective of alleviating student debt by attending to need-based financial aid. The Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program will be the next biggest beneficiary of the gift. $5 million dollars, invested in an endowment which we will establish and add to steadily, will be used to help graduates who accept public service and government jobs repay law school loans. The Bluhm Legal Clinic will receive $3 million to strengthen its endowment and enhance clinical legal education programs. (These funds are in addition to the $7 million that Bluhm has already given to support the legal clinic). The remaining $1 million will be used over a ten-year period to build ongoing, sustainable support from Law School alumni through annual gifts to the Law School Fund.
Many of you know Neil and his post-NU history. Following his graduation from Northwestern Law in 1962, Bluhm launched a remarkable and distinguished career. He began at the Chicago law firm of Mayer, Brown, and Platt, where he quickly became partner before co-founding the JMB Realty Corporation in 1970. JMB promptly became a major commercial real estate investment firm that owns, develops, and manages a variety of large real estate projects throughout North America, including malls, hotels, planned communities and office complexes.
As managing principal, Bluhm also oversees the strategic direction of Walton Street Capital LLC, a private equity real estate investment firm that he co-founded in 1995 with former senior executives of JMB Realty. The firm focuses on investing the principals’ own capital in real estate, in partnership with institutional and private investors. Since its founding, affiliates of Walton Street Capital have received total equity commitments in excess of $7 billion.
Additionally, Bluhm has a distinguished record of service and philanthropy to the University and to the Law School. In 1999, he and several members of his family gave a gift of $7 million that named the Bluhm Legal Clinic. He serves on the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee, and previously he served on the Law School’s Law Board, the Law School Visiting Committee, the Law Alumni Board, the Law Development Board and the Law Campaign Steering Committee (during Campaign Northwestern). In 2009, he received Northwestern’s Alumni Medal, the highest honor an alumnus can receive from the University.
Currently, he is a life trustee at Northwestern University, board president of the Whitney Museum of American Art, life trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, a member of the board of Northwestern Memorial Foundation, a benefactor of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an honorary director of the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. He has also served on the advisory board of the nonprofit group Chicago Cares, which his daughter Leslie founded.
He is the father of three children, Leslie N. Bluhm, Andrew G. Bluhm, and Meredith A. Bluhm-Wolf. Meredith is a 1995 graduate of Northwestern Law and serves on the Bluhm Legal Clinic Advisory Board.