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NU Law grad to clerk on the Court

Sopan Joshi ’13 just selected as one of Justice Scalia’s law clerks on the Supreme Court. Many congrats to Sopan and to the good Justice for his wise and discerning judgment!


New NU Law chairholders

I am pleased to announce the appointments of our newest named rotating chair holders. These appointments will take effect September 1, 2014.

Please join me in recognizing the appointments of the following Northwestern Law faculty members to named professorships. We thank and acknowledge these faculty members for their hard work and commitment to our core teaching and research mission. We also thank our donors who have made these recognitions possible with their generous financial support.

Esther Barron
Harry B. Reese Teaching Professorship

Esther Barron is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the Entrepreneurship Law Center in the Bluhm Legal Clinic. Known for teaching innovation, Esther’s entrepreneurship law course, co-taught with Steve Reed, is extremely highly rated. In 2013, she and Steve Reed debuted a version of their entrepreneurship law course as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), the first to be offered by Northwestern Law. Prior to joining Northwestern’s faculty, Barron practiced at Goldberg Kohn in Chicago in its commercial finance department. Barron graduated Cum Laude from Brandeis University and received her JD from Northwestern University School of Law.

Tonja Jacobi
William G. and Virginia K. Karnes Research Professorship

Tonja Jacobi’s research interests include judicial politics, game theory, American governmental institutions and constitutional law. Her recent publications include Criminal Innovation and the Warrant Requirement: Reconsidering the Rights-Police Efficiency Trade-off (William and Mary Law Review, forthcoming 2015); Strategic Judicial Preference Revelation (Journal of Law and Economics, forthcoming 2014), and The Attrition of Rights under Parole (Southern California Law Review, forthcoming 2014). Jacobi earned her PhD in political science from Stanford University, and also holds a Masters from the University of California, Berkeley and a law degree from the Australian National University.

James Lindgren
Benjamin Mazur Summer Research Professorship

James Lindgren’s research areas include law and social science, criminal law, and estates. Many of his current projects examine the roles that viewpoint diversity plays in American society. Lindgren is a co-founder of the Section on Scholarship of the Association of American Law Schools and a former chair of its Section on Social Science and the Law. Lindgren received his JD and PhD in quantitative sociology from University of Chicago.

Jide Nzelibe
Harry R. Horrow Professorship in International Law

Jide Nzelibe’s research and teaching interests include international trade, foreign relations law, public and private international law and contracts. His recent publications include Contesting Adjudication: The Partisan Divide over Alien Tort Litigation (Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, 2013) and Our Partisan Foreign Affairs Constitution (Minnesota Law Review, 2013). Nzelibe joined Northwestern’s faculty in 2004. In addition to his JD from Yale Law School, he holds an MPA in international relations from Princeton University.

Please join me in congratulating these excellent law professors for these well-deserved honors.


More on interdisciplinarity and where law schools can meet the real world

Jeff Lipshaw has some spot-on reflections on interdisciplinarity in a post on The Legal Whiteboard — spurred, he kindly notes, by a recent post of mine on PrawfsBlawg.

The disconnect between what the business world knows, tells us, and shows us with respect to the collapse of disciplinary silos and what we ruminate about in the comparatively-less-innovative space of universities is a profound fact on the ground. At least twenty years behind says Lipshaw? I won’t quarrel with that description, although I might tepidly suggest that some universities are pushing ahead more innovatively. Stanford’s D-School may be just the most conspicuous example because, well, it is Stanford. But there are bits and pieces of innovation in universities which aspire to take a bolder path. Still and all, the incentive structure that impedes multidisciplinarity (perhaps a better mouthful term to capture the point than “interdisciplinarity”) in the university setting is important and vexing.

Let me offer a key amendment to Jeff’s general depiction of the problem: What we do in the curricular settings of professional schools is, much more often than not, drawing from bodies of research to undergird our teaching. So, it might be essential for a scholar aimed at moving the field forward to ground her contribution in a disciplinary tradition which is hard to marry to multidisciplinary reality and performance. Yet, what is to stop the innovative teacher, looking to arm his students with the professional equipment and skills to prosper in the new economy, from looking at the world in a fundamentally multidisciplinary (and, indeed, disruptive) way? Maybe the short term answer to the difficulties Jeff wisely illustrates is to focus, first, on the teaching and training function of legal instruction. Perhaps innovation will emerge in pedagogy and programs before it reshapes more fundamentally the literature of the practice.


Northwestern University graduation 2014!!

Some photos from our university graduation yesterday under relatively clear skies in Evanston.



Thoughts on “The Modern Engineer”

“[Engineers] who are knowledgeable about intellectual property, regulatory strategy, and legal issues can facilitate better decision-making throughout the innovation and design processes.”—Mark Werwath and Howard Wolfson

Our new Master of Science in Law program is getting some interesting attention—my cross-campus colleague, Professor Mark Werwath, director of the Engineering Management Program at the McCormick School of Engineering, recently co-authored a short article with engineer and adjunct professor Howard Wolfman from the University of Illinois at Chicago. “The Modern Engineer: New Skills, Opportunities, and Obligations” discusses the increasing need for engineers to understand business law, IP, and regulatory structures so that they can better assess when rules and regulations are a constraint and when they are an opportunity. The article was published in The Institute, an online publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Traditional disciplines are evolving out of their silos; the modern economy demands it.


JD Advantage Jobs

Earlier this month I got into a lively exchange of viewpoints with David Lat and Brian Dalton from Above the Law regarding their decision not to include JD Advantage jobs in the “ATL Law School Rankings.” My point, put simply, is this: many students choose “non-traditional” career paths (read: non-Biglaw) out of law school, deciding instead to pursue opportunities in business, consulting, banking, and—in a not-small number of cases here at Northwestern Law—to start their own companies. These jobs are highly consequential and, insofar as they drive innovation, are very important to the economy. And there is no doubt that a legal education helps them excel in these positions.

I won’t paraphrase their counter argument for why these jobs should be excluded from the ranking. Instead, I invite you to read the article ATL published yesterday about the exchange, “ATL vs. Law Dean vs. Common Sense.” The legal profession is evolving. How we evaluate value needs to evolve, too.


Changing law professor? Changing law schools?

“Expectations of hiring faculty have grown, especially with regard to more published writing.  In turn, law schools are demanding more advanced academic training — what Harvard’s James Greiner says is ‘essentially requiring them to do a Ph.D.'” Cross posted from Prawfsblawg.


Looks like President O got an early start on that coconut

How STEM-trained young people are leveraging their skills to pursue significant positions in corporate or entrepreneurial settings. Cross-posted from Prawfsblawg.


Op-ed on Justice Scalia’s ruminations on law schools

Thoughtful views by Dean Stephen Ferruolo of University of San Diego.


Prof. Carole Silver on international legal education

NU Prof. Carole Silver, a leading expert on the global dimensions of legal curriculum, describes succinctly a presentation she recently gave at a major conference on this topic in San Diego, California:

“The idea is that all lawyers need to learn how to work in a global environment, but not everyone is able to learn this through an overseas immersion experience. A second best approach is to create a global learning environment at home, and law schools can do this by offering opportunities for domestic and international students to interact in meaningful ways. Meaningful interaction does not automatically follow from presence on campus or in the building (or even in the same classes). Rather, according to a theory developed by Gordon Allport, it requires a particular framework involving equal status among groups, common goals, intergroup cooperation and the support of authorities. In the law school context there are a number of obvious challenges to this framework, some related to ABA accreditation/acquiescence standards and US News (slide 14). It is possible, of course, that law schools are different than other contexts and that bringing international students into the building is sufficient to create the sort of interaction that provides opportunities for learning – to that end, I draw on data from LSSSE showing the extent of interaction that JD students report having with international graduate students in their law schools. This is quite low (see slides 8-13, pp. 479-486). The last part of the article addresses ways in which law schools will differ in their approaches to trying to generate global learning environments because of differences in their international student populations.”

For more on this topic, see Carole Silver, “Getting Real about Globalization and Legal Education: Potential Perspectives for the U.S.” XXIV Stanford Law & Policy Review 457-502 (2013).