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Northwestern Law represents (!!) at two major academic conferences

Extraordinary presence by our faculty at two important national conferences:  The American Law & Economics Association annual meeting and the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education, both being held this year in Chicago.

At ALEA, we have, presenting papers:  Ken Ayotte, Bernie Black, Zev Eigen, Josh Fischman, Ezra Friedman, Eugene Kontorovich, Kate Litvak, and Max Schanzenbach.  Michael Frakes, who will join us this summer, is also presenting.

At the AALS Clinicians conference, panel presenters from NU Law include:  Esther Barron, Erin Delaney, Laura Nirider, Uzo Nzelibe, Sue Provenzano, Stephen Reed, Sara Schrup, Juliet Sorensen, and Cindy Wilson.



In Memoriam: The Honorable Richard J. Elrod

Daniel J. Elrod, the Honorable Richard J. Elrod, and Steven M. Elrod, at Dan’s graduation from Northwestern Law last spring.

Daniel J. Elrod, the Honorable Richard J. Elrod, and Steven M. Elrod, at Dan’s graduation from Northwestern Law last spring.

The Honorable Richard J. Elrod (JD ’58) was laid to rest earlier this week. He was a tremendously influential figure in Cook County politics.

In 1968 he was one of the attorneys who advised Mayor Richard J. Daley to let the people protesting the Democratic National Convention camp in Grant Park. Mayor Daley did not heed this advice, with disastrous results. A year later, during the “Days of Rage” protests, Daley ordered Elrod into the streets to make sure the protestor’s civil rights were protected. It is a horrible irony that he was severely injured and ultimately paralyzed as the result of a confrontation with an activist during one of these protests.

Despite the physical challenges resulting from his injury, he ran for Cook County Sheriff in 1970. He was elected and held that office for three terms, from 1970 to 1986. In 1988, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed him to the Cook County Circuit Court, a position he held for 25 years.

His son, Steven M. Elrod (JD ’82) is executive partner at Holland and Knight here in Chicago, and he is also an adjunct faculty member at the Law School, teaching “State and Local Government Law”—the same class, many of you will recall, that was taught by Dawn Clark Netsch (JD ’52) for many years. In 2013, Steve’s teaching was recognized by students, who voted to award him the Adjunct Teaching Award—the same year his son, Daniel J. Elrod (JD ’13), earned his JD from the Law School. Dan is currently an associate at Katten Muchin Rosenman in Chicago.

My colleague, MaryPat Mauro, represented the Law School at the memorial service at Temple Am Shalom in Glencoe. She sent me a note about it, which I am happy to share:

“I was really touched by how much Northwestern Law meant to the Elrod family, and fostered their commitment to public service in the community at large. Steve spoke very eloquently about his father’s life and career. Law was half-jokingly referred to as the family business. Dan’s graduation last May was an important event for all of them. Steve shared family memories, including the years after his father was injured. Initially, the prognosis was terrible and the doctors told the family they did not expect him to live. It’s an extraordinary point of pride for the family that despite this incredible difficulty and permanent disability, it never held the Judge back from things he wanted to accomplish. He also shared a wonderful family story about a trip to Great America: the grandchildren were determined to have their grandfather join them on an “extreme” roller coaster ride. He agreed, and after some effort he was safely strapped in. At the end of the ride, extracting him from the coaster was more complicated. Good-naturedly, rather than making people in line wait longer, Judge Elrod went around again while the park staff figured out how to get him out. Unfortunately, it took more than one more ride to figure it out. Finally, when the coaster was parked and there was enough staff to lift him out, he joked to the people waiting in line: ‘I was fine when I got on this thing.’”

Judge Elrod was a remarkable man and public servant. May he rest in peace.


Neil Eggleston named White House Counsel

“Neil brings extraordinary expertise, credentials and experience to our team. He has a passion for public service, is renowned for his conscientiousness and foresight, and I look forward to working closely with him in the coming years.” –President Barack Obama

Yesterday President Obama named Northwestern Law alumnus, Neil Eggleston JD ’78, as his next White House Counsel.

This appointment acknowledges Neil’s vast experience in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, Neil has been a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in the firm’s government, regulatory, and internal investigations practice. No doubt, though, the President is tapping into Neil’s extensive experience representing high-profile cases and public figures by appointing him to this post. During the past 20 years, he has represented the Office of the President, the former White House Chief of Staff, a Secretary of Labor, a Secretary of Transportation, and a U.S. Senator. Perhaps most notably, Neil was an Associate White House counsel for the Clinton administration during the 1990’s and a member of the Iran-Contra Committee in 1987 where he questioned Reagan administration officials in a series of highly publicized public hearings. Earlier in his career, Neil served as a law clerk to former Chief Justice Warren Burger and, during the 1980’s, was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York. Closer to home, Neil has been a member of our Law Board since 2000 where we, too, have been able to call on his wisdom and judgment.

Please join me in congratulating Neil on this important appointment.


Northwestern athletes union controversy

Report in the N.Y. Times.


Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, R.I.P.

Rubin Carter died this morning at age 76.  Immortalized in Bob Dylan’s song from the mid-70’s and in a film several years ago in which he was portrayed by Denzel Washington, Rubin was exonerated for a triple murder he didn’t commit.  Sadly, this came after many years of incarceration.

When I was dean at the University of San Diego, my wife and I have the great pleasure and honor of meeting and spending time with Rubin.  He came to USD at the behest of our colleague, Judge Lee Sarokin, the federal judge who released Carter from prison after overwhelming evidence showed his innocence.  Carter, ebullient, sensitive, and at peace, spoke easily and movingly about his experience.  For all the years following his release, he campaigned tirelessly on behalf of criminal justice reform, efforts to release the wrongly convicted, and against the death penalty.

His legacy, like the legacy of others wrongfully convicted, endures through their powerful stories and, in the case of Rubin and so many others, through their voices on behalf of justice and against injustice.  And, in a concrete way, it endures through the good works of initiatives such as our Center on Wrongful Convictions and other importance advocacy groups.


Minow Professorship in the News

Terrific article about the Newton N. Minow Professorship and the Minow Debates from the National Law Journal.


Colorado innov conference: Critical Competencies for the New Normal

Panelists: Deborah Cantrell, Prof at Colorado; Neil Hamilton, Prof at St. Thomas; Paul Lippe, CEO at Legal OnRamp; Mark Roellig, Gen Counsel at MassMutual Life Ins.  Moderator: Helen Norton, Associate Dean at Colorado.

Paul Lippe [PL]:  World of law firms is the world of camera companies (analogize Kodak v. IPhone).  Value that private lawyers are providing is declining relative to most other fields, and that’s a problem.  On the other hand, the value of the rule of law has never been higher.  Law schools can choose.  They can become the IPhone; or they can say, well, it was fine being Nikon; why not just stay doing what we are doing.

PL:  law firms are not infinitely wise and sagacious.  Law school must look more capaciously at the world.  When you do so, it is obvious that it will be design thinking, and a new reality.  Coalition of the willing is a plurality, but not a majority in the law schools.

Neil Hamilton [NH]:  Expert-based professionals have been quite slow to change (perhaps excepting medicine, given radical changes to the market and to regulation).  Business friends think that legal educ and higher ed in general doesn’t survey folks to see what they want.  Surveys of firms list, in order, these key competencies:     1. Integrity/honesty/trustworthiness; 2. good judgment/common sense/problem solving; 3. analytical skills;  4. initiative/ambition/drive; 5. effective written/oral communication skills; 6. dedication to client service; 7. commitment to firm; 8. initiates and maintains strong work and team relationships.

NH:  least important, according to survey:  17. stress/crisis management; 18. leadership; 19. negotiation skills; 20. pro bono/community involvement.

Mark Roellig [MR]:  skills he views as necessary:  1. getting good results; 2. judgment; 3. strong work ethic; 4. communication skills; 5. strategic thinking; 6. teamwork; 7. efficient use of resources (decommodification/decoupling); 8. use of technology; 9. talent management; 10. environment of engagement.

Deborah Cantrell [DC]:  Practical wisdom (hat tip to Aristotle).  Competencies aren’t static; they change over time.  Practical wisdom is important to understanding the particularities of the issue before them.  Often in law schools we have seen practical wisdom as equivalent to professional responsibility and ethics.  But should be seen in more dynamic sense.

How can law schools specifically teach these competencies?

DC:  very hopeful that law profs can do this well.  Think, for example, of clinics in this regard.

MR:  Making effective, productive decisions in a multifaceted setting.  What are the elements of a good decision?  identifying what is the problem; get the right information; determine the facts & trends; critically evaluate the goals, obstacles, and responses; need to understand impact on multiple constituencies.  Right legal answer is not always the right answer.  Avoid immediate impulses; know what is socially right and wrong; know when to escalate a decision; and, frankly, your decision has to solve the problem; balance the degree of uncertainty compared to the certainty.

NH:  We should be sharing what we are learning.

PL:  a primary identification of lawyers and law students is the federal judge.  This a model of insulated folks with a high level of discretion and distance.  This doesn’t reflect much of what actually goes on in legal practice.  Law schools are structured to resist feedback.  In, say, medicine, the feedback look re patient care is much more efficient.



Colo innov conference: Teaching Law Students

Participants: Libby Cook, exec director of Philanthropiece, Inc.; Tyrone Glover, Office of Colo State Public Defender; Dan Katz, Prof at Michigan State; founder, ReInvent Law Lab; Jason Mendelson, Managing Director, Foundry Group.  Moderate: Paul Ohm, Prof at Colorado.

What are the drivers of change?

Dan Katz [DK]:  Legal startups are increasingly in volume (nearly 500).  This is an enormously big development.  Re students, they are responding to design mindset.  Need polytechnic skills.  If you can get those skills into people, you can open up a range of opportunities.  Not enough to have these skills; need to show them.  Example of a recent grad: worked on MiLaw, company works to digitize Michigan laws; now works at Novus Law.  Another student works at FTI Consulting.  “You want a job at newlaw, you need to look the part.”

T-shaped lawyer idea:

horizontally, encompasses the breadth of experience and background; vertically, the depth of knowledge in particular legal area.

Law (substantive legal expertise) + Tech (analytics, AI, computing) + Design (process mapping; design thinking) + Delivery

“Why in law schools?”  DK:  fundamental idea is building better lawyers.  They are leveraging technology to the max.

Jason Mendelson [JM]:  Is the demand for lawyers, growing, shrinking, or flat?  Are we about market share or are we expanding the pie?  The value of lawyers has never been lower, and will continue going lower.  Many clients now are not going to their lawyers; they are going to other things.  From standpoint of venture capitalist, which part of the market do I want to participate in.  I could invest in traditional legal marketplace where demand is flat; or I could invest in areas which may wipe out traditional law firms.  E.g., Modria.





Colo innovation conference: Change Management

Panelists are:

Nora Demleitner, Dean at Washington & Lee; Melissa Hart, Prof. at Colorado, William Henderson, Prof. at Indiana-Bloomington; Michael Moffitt, Dean at Oregon.  Moderator is Scott Peppet, Prof. at Colorado.

“What is going to be the rate & pace of innovation?
William Henderson [WH]:  experiment is taking place principally in the classroom.  By 2014, we are pretty good at it. Students, e.g., at IU, have teamwork and other key elements now hard-wired into the first year curriculum.  Now students would fight to keep it.  Trouble with experimentation is usually students.  They are the key resisters.  Need to persist by collecting data, presenting best arguments for change, undertaking experiments.

Melissa Hart [MH]:  Need institutional support.  Not easy.  Students evals can get in the way.  “Painful on a semester to semester basis.”  How does individual instructor evaluate when it does or doesn’t work?  Structures push back against experimentation.

MH:  costs of experimentation are very high.  Novel experimentation takes place at fancy private schools (thinking, especially, of K-12).

Nora Demleitner [ND]:  This generation and next generation of students will force us to do things differently.  Often driven by what their friends are doing at other schools or other sections at the same school.  Important to have a core group of faculty who buy in.  Students like being part of the process; they like being asked what works and what doesn’t.  Much more of a partnership.

ND:  on innovation in law schools, key problem is with the discipline of lawyering, especially risk aversion among lawyers and law firms.

Michael Moffitt [MM]:  One problem is the academic cycle (of the semester and students’ progression).  Not many opportunities to iterate if you want is wild experimentation.  Law schools may be punished in rankings.  Moreover, we are in an era in which innovation is essential, but the present time is difficult given the downtown in law apps.  What we’ll find is this:  “Well, we have changed the way we teach first-year property, but law students still don’t come here.”  In other words, what will law schools see as the principal payoff for innovation (at least in the short and intermediate-term).

“What are some of the positive things you have seen around your or another law school?”

ND: Description of Washington & Lee third-year curriculum.  Deep immersion in legal practice.  (Interesting, as ND notes, that law firm training has been changing in meaningful ways.  Key that skills-training curriculum keeps up).

MM: Recognition that there was a declining demand for our principal product — the JD — and so we have moved some of our teaching capacity to the undergraduate and graduate level.  This focus mirrors “Tetris-like” the shifting demand among JD students.  The graphs (declining law school apps) stop debate in faculty meetings about whether there should be significant change.

MM:  Undergrads want this stuff.  Learning law from law profs is “unbelievably sexy to undergrad students.”  At the undergrad level, it is a marriage of capacity (law school) and demand (undergrads).

“What are the real barriers to developing a new model?”

WH:  faculty meetings.  Idea that you have to have consensus.  Why not:  “I have an idea.  In my small sandbox, no one gets hurt.”  How about take a small group of the willing?  Doubt is the biggest barrier, simply not starting.  Make the contributions small.  Little wins.

MH:  Way that the reward system for legal academics is structured.  Where traditional model is 40-40-20 (teaching, research, & service).  Suppose law school said, for awhile, it should be 80-20, the idea being “take on an experiment.”  ND:  But this would be unrealistic for untenured faculty member.  Would be a career killer.

WH:  It is critical that the market responds well to these innovations.  This isn’t an aesthetic enterprise where the professors are impressed by what we are doing.  It needs to catch fire in the employment context.  (DBR:  Hard question for Wash & Lee is why employers haven’t taken to the experiment, that is, they haven’t seen meaningful upticks in bar-required employment.  Doesn’t mean that the matter is settled. Could be a time lag.  But it is a real question of why it is that Biglaw has not affirmed the value of W & L unquestionably novel curricular experiments).

“Is tenure a barrier to change?”

MH:  yes, as it is currently structured.  Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have it.  Rather, the question is how we best think about our jobs and our responsibilities.  Why should we think law prof job is like history prof job?

Do what extent do deans incentivize faculty members to engage in entrepreneurial activity?

DBR:  The main matter is what the market values.  In the case of faculty members, this value comes from the elite legal academy and also, to a lesser degree, opinion leaders in legal practice.  When the external marketplace values innovative teaching and (especially) research, faculty members will respond to these incentives and will devote greater effort and energies to these endeavors.

Why don’t a few law schools brand themselves as real innovators?

WH:  It’s going to happen.  New models are emerging.

Are students responding?



Colorado innov conference: Discussion of design thinking; relevance to legal education

Entrepreneurship & innovation is a mindset.  Doesn’t pertain to private sector versus public sector.

If we’re not careful, innovation becomes associated with young, hungry tech entrepreneur.  But this doesn’t capture.   Weiser:  “young, African American woman in the local public defenders office” can be an innovator, an entrepreneur.

Difficulty is law students, training to be lawyers, don’t view their professional identity, as students and would-be lawyers, as entrepreneurs.

Gembel:  challenge is to get students to unlearn all the bad habits they learned in elementary school.   In addition to, founders are working on creating a K-12 lab to get at the kids early.  “How do you educate legal thinkers starting in grade school?”

Weiser:  challenge of “dualistic thinking.”  “It’s really important to get good grades, nothing else matters” or “grades don’t matter, it is important how I develop my personal narrative.”  Neither captures it.  How do you create a narrative of the whole person and professional so that you can identify the mindset of an emerging entrepreneur.

Individuals should discover their own narrative based on their own experiences.  Don’t force the law student into the box of “LAWYER.”  How to you give confidence to form their own narrative.

With regard to developing “competencies,” how has the reverse engineered the “competencies” in order to get the students to the right level.  Gimbel:  capacity is better way to frame it than competency, as competency views an “end” rather than an iterative, ongoing process.

Importance of resilience.  Weiser: lawyers identify this quality as essential.  Gimbel:  “How do you deal with failure” is not quite the right way to capture it.  Should reframe the tackling of problem that doesn’t yield good result as potentially successful in enabling students to make better progress.  Other element of resilience is how students respond to crashing.  How does student get him/herself back up?

Q:  what is the future of legal education?  Weiser:  Bright, for those willing to experiment; figure out where are these successful alums and how did their get there?  Answers are out there; we have just been looking at the wrong problems.  Gimbel:  future will depend on its ability to experiment.  Don’t look at alums; look at the current and prospective students.

Q:  our job is prepare our students from the profession that is here now.  Usually that means Biglaw.  challenge is how to enable students to succeed for profession that will emerge in 10-20 years, even though we want to be sure that they get jobs today.

Weiser:  need to define success in law placement broadly and imaginatively.

Gimbel:  transformation comes from outside in first, and then inside out.