A key part of our Northwestern Law entering class are our foreign students — that is, the dozens of students from across the world who join us either as part of our LLM graduate program for foreign lawyers, our first-year JD class, transfer students, and members of our new Master of Science in Law program for STEM professionals.
Whatever the program, these foreign lawyers enrich our community in tangible ways. They bring the perspectives gleaned from educational and legal experience in other countries — some quite different than the U.S. So, for example, many of our foreign lawyer law students have been educated in civil law systems and bring to bear unique perspectives to our essentially common law system in the U.S. Others have worked on significant international transactions and can and do enrich class discussions with critical experiences emerging out of this unique work.
Likewise, the exposure these foreign students have to American law students and (mostly) American law faculty enriches their work and their lives here in the U.S. It is truly an international dialogue at work, with foreign perspectives drawn into the mix of our pedagogical work and domestic perspectives radiating out among a large foreign contingent. None of this is accidental, of course. We are a purposive international community of students and faculty and we are proud to build upon our global strategies while improving the quality of our educational program provided to our foreign visitors.
In the coming months, I expect to report more specifically on some of our central global programs and projects.
From my remarks at the Orientation ceremony this morning:
On behalf of the faculty and staff, I am pleased to welcome you to the Northwestern Law School entering class of 2014. We have here students in our several degree programs, including entering JD students from our regular and accelerated JD programs, and of our JD/MBA program. We also welcome the students who have transferred to Northwestern after spending their first year elsewhere. Last, but not least, we welcome the students to our two LLM programs, the program in Tax and the LLM program for foreign lawyers. All of you share in common that you are valued new members of our Northwestern Law School community and we are looking forward to working with you during your time here and, when your studies are completed, welcoming you into the Northwestern family as treasured alumni.
While we look forward to our accomplishments at Northwestern Law, you are already a very accomplished group. You come here with outstanding academic credentials of course, but also equally outstanding backgrounds and experience. Ours is a multidimensional, multilayered admissions process, one that looks holistically at all the criteria that goes into a great law student. And while we are of course interested in your record of accomplishment, we are also very interested in fit, that is, in students who we believe will thrive in the unique environment of Northwestern Law School. Yes, indeed, you are all here because our confidence in you as a Northwestern law student and of your confidence in us as a law school.
It is customary at this point in an Orientation ceremony to describe some of the exceptional new students — to talk about the student who hiked Mount Everest clad only with a Chicago Bears jersey and nourished by a bottle of water and a fistful of Ritz crackers or the student who came here after a career as a two-term senator from the northeast, elected at age sixteen naturally or the Olympic decathlon who arrived after a Rhodes scholarship and a tour of military duty, doing counter-espionage work. Yes, you are an amazing group and among you are men and women who have had truly remarkable experiences and travels and have accomplished great things. But rather than offer tantalizing anecdotes, I thought I would take the more unconventional path of leaving to you the valuable task of learning about one another on your own. You are all incredible entering law students and I urge you to get to know another over the next few days of Orientation.
To those of you – and this figure is approximately three quarters of the class – who have come from outside the Midwest, welcome to the City of Big Shoulders; welcome to Chicago. This is a great city, filled with world-class culture and amenities of all sorts and a city with Midwestern charm. This is the city of the Bears and Bulls, the Blackhawks and White Sox, and the national champion Little League Team! I should mention the subject that shall not be spoken of in the student recruitment process, and that is the weather. As you look outside on this beautiful late summer day, please note that it won’t look like this beginning in December or in January or February, for that matter. Yes, we are at Northwestern, but when the new year rolls around, it would seem a bit more “North” than “West.” But you will get used to this; and you will see our four seasons – well, maybe three seasons – as part of the cadence of ordinary life in this great city and in this grand part of the country.
With this Orientation ceremony, we bring more or less officially to close the summer season. If you are at all like me you are not altogether thrilled by this fact. It is tempting to think back to all the goals you had at the beginning of the summer and all you look forward to accomplishing. I know the feeling well. I had set out this summer to accomplish all sorts of great things, to complete grand projects and continue to lead change through speeches, articles, and books. But as late August rolls around, my goals have become more modest. I congratulated myself on completing the second season of the House of Cards and I might just manage to get organized for my fantasy football draft later this week. But that’s OK. A new school term brings new goals and new energy. At the very least, let me give you this unsolicited advice: You should think of this Orientation period as a transition, a reentry of sorts. Do keep your focus, but do enjoy this time – watch some baseball, catch up on some TV, enjoy a hot dog . . . some of you will be with us this coming Saturday in Evanston as the Northwestern Wildcats take on the California Golden Bears. Go Cats.
I want to speak briefly about the institution you will join. First, as to our history, you should know that Northwestern Law School has a grand tradition of excellence. Through our halls have come governors, judges, including both state and United States Supreme Court Justices, captains of industry, able public servants, and incredibly accomplished lawyers who practice throughout the nation and across the world. Yes, ours is a glorious history and all of you are a part of this extraordinary legacy. Yet, ours is a living history. And we are constantly building and shaping that history through our work and efforts in the here and now. You have heard and will hear much about the Northwestern Law difference. Yes, much of this is intangible, but I believe I can summarize it like this: This is a student-centered community, one that treats law students like the adults you are and with significant ownership over your academic pursuits and your careers. The legal profession is an intense, demanding, and occasionally competitive profession and there is every reason to believe that it will become more, rather than less, so in the coming years. Northwestern Law School is fundamentally a collaborative place, a place where much of the real work takes place outside the classroom, in your interactions with your classmates, with the teams you build and nurture in coursework and in the cooperative endeavors among students, faculty, and alumni. Our physical space is an admixture of the old and the new. And the environment of the Law School, here in the beating heart of Chicago, is a hothouse of energy and enthusiasm. With myriad student organizations, opportunities for social gatherings, often spontaneous interactions with not only law students, but with other graduate students who come down here from Evanston to take advantage of our cross-campus programs, Northwestern is a place in which great things happen and in which real learning takes place.
It is also an institution with relentless forward momentum. In an era in which the legal profession is changing in key ways and in which there is legitimate uncertainty about precisely what lawyers’ careers will look like five, ten, twenty years from now, it is fundamentally important to make sure that law students are equipped with the right mix of skills and the best foundational education and practical training to flourish, to adapt, and to lead in this brave new world. Northwestern Law is responding to this dynamic landscape intentionally and strategically. We have a faculty of top lawyer-educators, many with substantial interdisciplinary training and all with a passion for educating modern lawyers with modern skills. We have a curriculum that is rigorous and comprehensive, yes, but also imaginative and future-focused. At Northwestern, we understand that the lawyer of 2020 (which is not that far past your graduation date) will encounter a profession in which the practice of law will not be preoccupied with a separate language – legalese – cordoned off from the rest of the world. Rather, lawyers will be social engineers, managers of information, and developers of novel techniques to help facilitate the objectives of government and of the economy – and alongside all of this, they will – you will – continue to be the front line protectors of the rule of law and of civil rights and liberties in a world that demands just this sort of protection. You will be lawyers working at the intersection of law, business, and technology and I promise you that the intensive, multidisciplinary education you will receive at Northwestern Law will equip you well to be this new kind of lawyer, this professional leader for the modern age.
I envy each and every one of you in the journey you are about to begin as a law student – whether as part of our JD or LLM programs This is a wonderfully interesting, intellectually rich and rewarding experience. You will engage with complex issues in your readings and your class discussion. And these are issues that matter. The study of law is the study of the structure and contents of rules and institutions which foster a civilized society. It is the study of “wise restraints” that keep us free. You will spend most of your time focused on the trees, but don’t forget about the forest. It is not only big data that matters in our increasingly complex world; it is the big picture – how we ought best to think about our legal system, our rule of law, our structure of justice, and how what we study as law students and lawyers contributes to the well-being of our civil society, both in the United States and throughout the world.
I envy you in another respect as well. This is an extraordinarily exciting and important time to be in law school. This may be an incongruous and perhaps even odd observation given the broadsides one hears about law school and legal education in the media. What do these challenges mean for our law schools? Or, to cut to the point deeper, “is now a good time to go to law school?” When the question is framed around the educational programs at Northwestern Law, my answer is an unequivocal yes.
So, in conclusion, let me again welcome you to law school, welcome you to Northwestern Law School, and wish you the very best in the coming weeks and months. I look forward to getting to know all of you. I hope you will check out my blog (it is listed on the front of the Law School web page) and my twitter feed. And, likewise, I hope you will share with me and my colleagues your thoughts and advice about we can make your law school and your law school experience as great as possible. We care what you think; we value your advice. For now, just a proud purple welcome to the entering class of 2014.
Northwestern Law alumni: a very generous anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 to the Law School Fund if 500 fellow alums donate before the end of the school’s fiscal year—August 31, 2014. Gifts of every size count toward the challenge.
This summer, we’re asking you to show our current students that no matter where they go after graduation, they have the support of a strong alumni community. Participating in our Summer Road Trip Challenge is a great way to do this.
Please make a gift and help us secure the match!
Our Northwestern Law colleague, Steven Lubet, published an interesting opinion piece on the Steven Salaita controversy at the University of Illinois in today’s Chicago Tribune. The link is here.
Timely write-up in the New York Times that includes a shout-out to what we are doing here at Northwestern Law at the law/business/technology interface.
Great news to share today: our Northwestern colleague, Erin Delaney, was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant for her extraordinary work on comparative constitutionalism. She will spend the Fall 2014 semester at McGill University in Canada working on “Safeguarding Federalism: American Federalism in Comparative Perspective.”
Earlier this year Erin was a MacCormick Visiting Fellow at the Edinburgh Law School, where she was researching constitutional change in the United Kingdom—a timely topic in the lead up to the national referendum on Scottish independence. The changing nature of the British constitution is captured in an interesting recent article of hers, “Judiciary Rising: Constitutional Change in the United Kingdom,” which was published in the Northwestern Law Review earlier this year.
Description here courtesy of one of our Communications & Legal Reasoning faculty members, Dana Hill:
The Legal Writing Institute (LWI) recently held its 16th Biennial Conference of legal writing and research, library, and academic support professors in Philadelphia and Northwestern Law’s faculty was well-represented among the presenters, planning committee, and attendees. LWI’s mission is to improve legal writing by providing a forum for discussion and scholarship about legal writing, analysis, and research. Clinical Assistant Professor Elizabeth Inglehart was a member of the conference planning committee. The following Northwestern professors made presentations:
Elizabeth Inglehart presented “Practicing Today for Practice Tomorrow: Innovative Approaches” with Karl Okamoto & Terry Seligmann of Drexel University School of Law and Lori Johnson of UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law;
Dana Hill & Kathleen Dillon Narko presented “Using the Problematized Teaching Method to Engage Students in Critical Thinking in the
Michelle Falkoff & Chris Martin presented “When the Student Becomes the Teacher: A Different Kind of Flipped Classroom” with Lorie Reins-
Schweer & Caroline Sheerin of University of Iowa College of Law;
Deborah Borman presented “De-Grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics in Favor of Authentic Analysis”;
Susan Provenzano & Sarah Schrup presented “Are Law Graduates Legal Writing Mushfakers? Designing Upper-Level Courses to Promote
Mastery in Analytical and Persuasive Legal Writing”; and
Cliff Zimmerman presented “A Multicultural Perspective on PLAGIARISM: Teaching about an Age-Old Problem in the
New Age of the Global Student” with Jaime Bourier & Jonathan Gordon of Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
More detailed descriptions of the presentations can be found here: http://lwionline.org/uploads/FileUpload/ConferenceProgram625.pdf
Additionally, Professor of Law Emerita Helene Shapo and Clinical Professor Judy Rosenbaum were recognized for their years of service with LWI.
from my remarkable colleague, Tom Geraghty, the Class of 1967 James Haddad Professor of Law and Director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic:
I write from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I am attending a UNODC-sponsored International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice System. (View conference program.) In attendance are 250 advocates for the improvement of legal aid systems, including high government officials from around the world (Africa, Asia, the Middle East, U.K., Eastern Europe), leaders of NGOs, leaders of legal aid offices, and faculty from law school clinical programs. I am moderating a panel on meeting the demand for legal services in criminal justice systems and making a presentation on children’s access to legal services while in police custody.
I was invited to participate in this conference as the result of work that my colleagues, students, and I have done over the years on access to justice in developing countries. At the opening of this conference, Justice Dustan Mlambo, Judge President of the Gautang Division of the High Court of South Africa and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Legal Aid South Africa, referenced the Lilongwe Declaration on Legal Aid (2004) as a foundational document for the recently adopted (2012) U.N. Guidelines for Access to Justice in Criminal Justice Systems. The Lilongwe Declaration, a document that students and I had a hand in drafting in 2004 in Malawi (along with Justice Mlambo, then head of Legal Aid South Africa, and Adam Stapleton, who will be visiting the Bluhm Legal Clinic this year to expand international human rights opportunities for our students), has turned out to be a foundational document for those advocating for the improvement of legal aid and an inspiration for the new U.N. Guidelines, which are truly transformative.
Our country has much to learn from international practices and particularly from the Lilongwe Declaration and the recently adopted U.N. Guidelines on Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice System. These documents set forth a comprehensive human rights-based approach to the provision of what we call public defender services, including early provision of legal assistance to children and adult suspects in police stations and special consideration for the needs of children in conflict with the law, women, vulnerable groups, as well as victims of crime and witnesses. The documents also emphasize the need to expand legal aid to those in need through the use of paralegals who can deliver many necessary services less expensively than lawyers and who are available to deliver legal aid in rural areas. Those seeking to improve the quality of indigent defense services here and abroad should use these documents as sources of a comprehensive view of the range of services that should be provided to those affected by the criminal justice systems.
Participation in international conferences, such as this week’s International Conference on Access to Justice in Criminal Justice Systems, provides our programs at the Bluhm Legal Clinic with fresh perspectives on legal practice, human rights, and the effective delivery of legal services. We use this information in our representation of our clients, especially when international standards and documents respond more concretely to real world problems in our juvenile and criminal justice systems. Collaboration with our international counterparts also gives our students opportunities to perform meaningful legal services/human rights work on the ground. And curiously, attendance at such conferences enable us to meet with our colleague in the U.S. who are doing remarkable work. An example of this was the presentation made yesterday by Seymour James of the Legal Aid Society of New York. His description of the fine work done by his office was inspiring and underscored what I view to be a priority for law reform in Cook County—improvement of the quality of services that we provide right at home. Let me add that we could learn a lot from Legal Aid, South Africa.