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The Final Word

Three years ago I started this blog to share my observations about Northwestern Law, legal education, legal practice, and life in Chicago. It’s been a great experience and I’ve enjoyed writing it very much.

This is my last post on this blog for now. I don’t make any promises or predictions about whether this is a permanent or only semi-permanent hiatus, but at this time I need to focus on the long-form writing projects to which I have committed.

Thank you for your readership, and for your support of this enterprise, these past few years.



Reports of higher ed’s demise greatly exaggerated

Good sense from my president, Morty Schapiro, and his co-author.


Prof. Tonja Jacobi on judicial behavior

NU prof. has published (with co-author) major new study on “Strategic Judicial Preference Revelation” in new issue of Journal of Law & Economics.  Abstract is here.

This is part of a large and ambitious research agenda of Prof. Jacobi on judicial behavior and strategy — too, part of an expanding, influential literature of positive political theory and law.  Northwestern Law faculty have been important contributors to this literature and Prof. Jacobi has been an especially creative and impactful scholar in this area.  You can check out many more contributions in this vein, as described on her Northwestern website.


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.


Big win at NLRB for Northwestern athletes

UPDATE: Professor Zev Eigen discusses implications of the NLRB ruling on public radio


The National Labor Relations Board today decided that Northwestern University football players are employees, and that means the players can vote on whether to form a union.

Peter Sung Ohr, Director of the NLRB’s Chicago office, wrote in his ruling:

College Athletes Players Association (“the Petitioner”) is a labor organization within the meaning of the Act. At the hearing, the Employer stipulated that the Petitioner was a labor organization if two conditions were met: (1) its football players who receive grant-in-aid scholarships are found to be “employees” within the meaning of the Act; and (2) the petitioned-for-unit was found to be an appropriate unit within the meaning of the Act. I find that both of these conditions have been met.

Here is a link to the decision, with thanks to Inside Higher Ed for posting it. It’s a lengthy document but well worth a read. It describes some of the cultural and financial mechanics that operate behind Northwestern football—mechanics that are certainly not unique to one school.

Many legal experts were not optimistic that the students would prevail, including my colleague Zev Eigen, who is one of the media’s go-to experts on this subject. In January Zev wrote a great post for this blog in which he described the relevant history and precedents, and suggested the law be revisited to clarify “…categories of work that now dominate the employment landscape.”

It’s fascinating stuff.

The NCAA, not surprisingly, disagrees with the decision, and the University will likely appeal, so this is a story that is only beginning to be told. Judging from the incredible public interest—this exploded on social media today, in case you didn’t notice—we can expect a lot of conversation around these issues. And that’s a big win, too.


Justice John Paul Stevens Wants to Change the Constitution

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the swearing-in ceremony for 40 new Northwestern Law alumni members of the Supreme Court Bar. Carter Phillips, JD ’77, one of the stars of the appellate bar (who recently argued his 77th case before the Supreme Court), led the ceremony.  It was a wonderful event and I was proud to be there.

In chatting with these distinguished Northwestern Law alumni, I was reminded of another—retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (JD ’47) who recently wrote an interesting book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. It won’t be on sale until April 22, 2014, but it is already lighting up the blogosphere. ThinkProgress reported on Justice Stevens’ call for an amendment to prevent gerrymandering rather gloomily: “…the Republican Party has six very good reasons not to support an anti-gerrymandering amendment…” Breitbart hastened to illustrate the error of Justice Stevens’ thinking about the Second Amendment by explaining that “…The rights protected by the Second Amendment are individual rights, as are the rights that are protected, but not created, by the First, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments…” These are but two examples of how people are reacting to this book. I’m confident there will be many more, and I’m pleased to see it—we need robust public discussion on the essential issues of our own governance.

Congratulations to the newest members of the Supreme Court Bar, and to Justice Stevens on the book.



In Memoriam: Don H. Reuben, JD ’52

A great friend of the Law School passed away earlier this week. Don H. Reuben, valedictorian of the Northwestern Law Class of 1952 and a passionate supporter of the University and the Law School throughout his life, died Monday, February 3, 2014, at the age of 85.

His legal career spanned sixty-five years, during which time he became one of Chicago’s most prominent First Amendment lawyers. He litigated or served as counsel to over 700 libel and First Amendment cases, and represented prominent media organizations including Time, Look, and Life magazines; the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal; as well as broadcast outlets including ABC, CBS, and NBC. He began his career at Kirkland, Fleming Green, Martin & Ellis (now Kirkland & Ellis) in 1952 and continued there until he established his own firm, Reuben & Proctor, in 1978. Later Reuben & Proctor merged with Isham, Lincoln & Beale in 1989, and a few years after that Don became Of Counsel at Winston & Strawn.

Many of you remember his generosity with his time and expertise. Don was a member of Law Board and served on several committees at the Law School. He was elected to Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees in 1977 and he became a Life Trustee in 1990. The University awarded him the Alumni Merit Medal in 2002. He was also an active member on the boards of a number of charitable, cultural, and educational organizations in Chicago and in California.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Jeanette Hurley Reuben, and his five children, two stepchildren, and eleven grandchildren. Services will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 43775 Deep Canyon Road, Palm Desert, California on Tuesday, February 11 at 11:00 a.m.


Recent Thinking on the Anti-Injunction Act of 1793

Leave it to Jim Pfander to find something new to say about a statute that’s over 200 years old.

Here’s his take, with co-author and former NU student Nassim Nazemi, on the Anti-Injunction Act of 1793, recently published in the Texas Law Review.


(south)westward ho!

On a short adventure to Houston (and then to Denver).

Perhaps not natural to think of Chicagoland and Houston in the same breath, for all sorts of reasons I will leave to readers’ imagination.  But those in the know are bullish (!) about Houston legal market and business community.  This is a vibrant, economically prosperous region of the country, with significant progress in the legal market.  Of course, much of this stems from the energy of the energy biz.

Houston transplants, and also natives, speak glowingly of the strong opportunities for lawyers in excellent law firms on the one hand and the advantages of a major metropolitan area (with the cultural amenities befitting such a city).

When our superb Northwestern law graduates think of pursuing professional opportunities outside the Midwest and the two coasts, they should think about Texas.



Brought a smile to my face, or was that a wince?

Looking at the blog stats page, I skimmed the section on “search engine terms.”  Someone put in as a search:  “dean rodriguez famous works and accomplishments.”

Let me know if you find something good!!!