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Blog at one month

At the one month anniversary of “Word on the Streeterville,” I am pleased to note the healthy interest in these Northwestern-centric musings.  This small blog has received over 15,000 site visits in its short history, with a few days of over 1,000 hits.  I encourage readers to continue to look at the blog, and even to become followers in the way that the blogosphere enables.

And I welcome your ideas about content.


NU Law in San Diego

Rewarding two days in San Diego, my old stomping grounds (having spent several years as dean at USD Law).  Joined dozens of leading securities/corporate lawyers at our annual Securities Regulation Institute, and spoke briefly about the unique emphasis at our law school on preparing students for high-level business law practice.  (Comments around the conference confirmed this Northwestern “difference”).

Nice reception under the stars in downtown SD, with an interesting group of law alums.

With over a hundred alums in the San Diego area, Northwestern Law has a significant beachhead (!) in this lovely locale.  We will look for more ways to keep them connected to their proud law school and, moreover, encourage networking within the region.


Stephen Colbert and Justice John Paul Stevens

Two Northwestern alumni in a battle of wits.  Enjoy!


Alumni Spotlights (L.A.)

As I venture to California for visits with alumni in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, I am pleased to spotlight a few of our many outstanding alumni on the west coast.  Here are a couple alumni who have been making great contributions in the world of sports and entertainment:


Courtney Armstrong is Senior Vice President of Business Affairs, Warner Bros. Pictures. He is responsible for negotiating agreements with filmmakers and talent, as well as for the acquisition of source material in connection with Warner Bros. Pictures’ film projects. Films with which Armstrong has recently been involved include Batman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ocean’s Thirteen and the Academy Award winning The Departed, as well as Fred Claus, Fool’s Gold and The Dark Knight.

Armstrong joined Warner Bros. Pictures in 2003 as a Director of Business Affairs, and was promoted to Vice President in 2004. Before joining Warner Bros., Armstrong spent three years at Walt Disney Pictures as an attorney in the Business and Legal Affairs department of the Motion Picture Group. Armstrong began his career as a litigation associate on the entertainment litigation team at the Los Angeles-based law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, LLP.  Armstrong is a graduate of Northwestern University, the Northwestern University School of Law, as well as the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.


David Rone joined Time Warner Cable as President of TWC Sports in May 2011. In this role, Mr. Rone provides leadership in strengthening the company’s position as a content provider with the sports community and oversees sports programming and existing sports channels. He also will lead Time Warner Cable’s new regional sports networks, featuring the Los Angeles Lakers, that will debut with the team’s 2012-13 season.

Mr. Rone, who has deep experience in all facets of the sports business, was previously with Evolution Media Capital (EMC), a boutique investment-banking firm for the media and sports industries formed in partnership with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), an entertainment and sports agency. As part of the firm’s sports media advisory leadership team, he provided strategic analysis, valuation and negotiation of media rights and regional sports network planning and operational strategy for the firm’s clients, which include, among others, professional sports leagues and teams and college conferences.

Prior to joining EMC, Mr. Rone served as co-head of CAA Sports, which represents more than 650 of the world’s top athletes and sports professionals and advises many leading sports organizations. Previously, Mr. Rone served as Executive Vice President of Fox Sports Networks and General Manager for Fox College Sports. Before joining Fox in 1999, he spent nine years at the Walt Disney Co., most recently as Vice President, Business Development for Corporate Alliances. He started his career as a corporate attorney.

Mr. Rone has been recognized with many honors, including being named to the list of the “50 Most Powerful African-Americans in Sports” by Black Enterprise, and the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports” by Sports Illustrated.


Restaurant Rec: Slurping Turtle

Yes, that’s what it is called and the name is, well, reasonably self-explanatory.

On a typically chilly Tuesday evening, we ventured out from the cozy walls of downtown apartment to 116 W. Hubbard where we found our way into a banquette in this new, noisy Asian-fusion restaurant.  No reservation policy meant we were chancing it but I guess we looked cold enough to justify seating us immediately.

The menu is eclectic and, as you will see from this link, cuts across a wide swath of Japanese specialities.  We mainly limited out choices on this round to the grilled items and a large bowl of ramen + noodles.  While not a budget restaurant, you can have a pleasant repast for a manageable amount.

Slurping Turtle:  two thumbs up.


McGinnis and Mangas Response

I am pleased to give Prof. McGinnis and Mr. Mangas the space to respond to my post, and to have the last word in this useful colloquy. 

We are grateful to Dean Rodriguez for allowing us to post a reply to his thoughtful response to our article. We are particularly glad of the opportunity, because it allows us to make clear that title of the piece was not of our choosing. We do not want to kill law schools, and the oped in fact refers the valuable role they will continue to play in a reformed system of legal education.  We wholly agree that Northwestern in particular will endure and prosper by providing an education that repays its students.

Another advantage of a reply on an academic blog is that is allows us to offer a more abstract, dare we say academic, premise for our piece. Markets are a dynamic discovery process. We do not pretend to know the optimal mix of educational institutions for the provision of legal education. But we do not believe that we should regulate their characteristics any more than is necessary to produce public goods. In this context we see the goods as important but limited to two: (1) providing assurance that lawyers are competent, given the asymmetries of information between lawyers and consumers, and (2) providing legal knowledge to be a resource to citizens when discussing legal and public policy.  We do not believe the dean has made a case that accredited colleges cannot provide these goods for some lawyers, particularly if followed by year’s apprenticeship.  The market would certainly provide feedback  in the terms of the bar passage rates and employability. Read more »


Wall Street Journal Post on “Killing all the Law Schools”: A Reply

My able colleague, Prof. John McGinnis and his co-author, Russell Mangas, have penned a thought-provoking essay in today’s Wall St. Journal.  Some thoughts in response (noting that I welcome a response by the authors to be posted separately on this blog).

So, what “McMangas” offer is essentially a brief for the standard European model of legal training, that is, an undergraduate degree in law combined with a year apprenticeship following graduation.  In a nutshell:  Saves costs, provides adequate education in the subject of law, and reduces legal fees.

Let us pry loose these claims:  “The high cost of graduate legal education,” McMangas writes, “limits the supply of lawyers and leaders to higher legal fees.”  Causal claim, certainly not proven.  And not especially plausible.  It is only in the last couple of years that law school applications have dipped; and law school spots have remained steady.  For better or worse, the supply of new lawyers has held fairly steady.  Legal fees, by contrast, are shrinking — which is the essential point, after all, behind growing calls for major reform in legal education and, at the very least, greater transparency by law schools with regard to employment opportunities.  The causal connection between law student demand, space in law school, supply of lawyers, and legal fees is, to say the least, a complex one; we need not, and in response to McMangas, I won’t simply stipulate the connection. Read more »


Employment Transparency and Northwestern Law

This report from the Law School Transparency Project will garner a lot of attention in the coming days, weeks, and months.  Many organizations and interest groups have been pushing law schools hard to provide more comprehensive data on employment opportunities.  Influential legislators have weighed in; and the ABA is undertaking reform efforts as well.

There is really no way around an essential fact:  Law schools need to do better; the difficult economic circumstances require law schools to be candid, thorough, and scrupulous honest in communicating with students and alumni about post-graduate employment.

Without claiming perfection, I will note that the LSTP report reveals that NU Law does the very best among its peer group law schools.  (Check out the appendix spreadsheet).  That said, we will continue our efforts to collect more data and sharpen our communication strategies so as to provide appropriately comprehensive, accessible information to anyone who is interested.


D.R.E.A.M. Day

Great day culminating week of activities at NU Law School commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In my remarks, I noted that the Law School is in the justice business.  We are committed to supporting human rights, safeguarding the rule of law, and honoring the legacy of Dr. King in our good works, good deeds, and devotion to highest ideals in legal practice and professionalism.

Proud to take part in these events on behalf of the Law School.


Kellogg School of Management: kudos and collaborations

Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management is one of the crown jewels of the University and its reputation for innovation and excellence has been long recognized regionally, nationally, and globally.  In the able hands of my visionary colleague, Dean Sally Blount, KSM has mapped out a multifaceted strategy for reaching new levels of prominence.  This article in Crain’s Chicago Business sketches this agenda crisply.  And Dean Sally’s blog, on the blogroll to the right, provides more detail.

Our Law School is proud of our historic connections with Kellogg.  Graduates of our joint JD/MBA program populate leading firms and organizations around the globe.  These alums are changing the world with their distinct interdisciplinary training in law and business.  The demand for this three-year program, the first of its kind in that format, is immense and we are making good strides in improving the student experience.

Moreover, we are working actively to develop collaborative Law-Kellogg initiatives both in Chicagoland and across the world, initiatives which will build on the expertise of our two faculties and will respond to the imperative of a complex economy and a diverse, well-wired society.

Stay tuned for more news on our joint ventures!