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Ambassador Scheffer awarded Fall 2013 Berlin Prize Fellowship

I’m delighted to share the news that our esteemed colleague, Ambassador David J. Scheffer, was named a Fall 2013 Berlin Prize Fellow.

The American Academy in Berlin was established in 1994 by Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke to promote dialogue and understanding between Americans and Germans. As part of this mission, they sponsor the Berlin Prize to create an opportunity for scholars and artists to have the time and resources to expand their work through independent projects, and to engage with their German counterparts.

David will use his Fellowship to develop an in-depth examination of American policy-making during the Yugoslav wars, with particular focus on the years 1993 through 1996. During the first term of the Clinton Administration, he served on the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council and as senior counsel to Dr. Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He will draw upon those experiences to write a comprehensive narrative about how policy was formulated and executed by the United States as war and atrocities swept over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, and how initiatives at the United Nations and within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization confronted realpolitik in national capitals and among the major players on the ground.

David is the author of All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals, which chronicles his work in the Clinton Administration, including during its second term when he served as the first U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues and was instrumental in creating war crimes tribunals for atrocity crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. He led the U.S. delegation in negotiations creating the International Criminal Court. In addition to his writing and teaching, David also serves as the UN Secretary-General’s special expert on United Nations assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials.

His excellent scholarship and advocacy help has aided greatly in the development of meaningful international justice mechanisms. This Fellowship will allow him to expand that important work.

Congratulations to David!


Blog is back!

After a two month hiatus.

Looking forward to posting on a variety of topics, including pressing issues in legal education, the state of the legal economy, the role Northwestern Law is playing in this new normal, and, as always, the myriad issues percolating here at the law school.  Going forward, I will (usually) enable the comments function so that you should certainly contribute your own thoughts and perspectives to this blog.  Please:  non-anonymous and constructive comments only.


Dr. King’s birthday

As we celebrate MLK day, I would urge readers to reflect on the contributions legal educators and their students — at Northwestern and other law schools — have made to the legacy of Dr. King.  We are in the justice business, after all.  Our profession demands scrupulous attention to the rule of law and to promoting equal justice under the law.  Hard to see this as anything but rather banal in the face of client service, billable hours, and other severe demands of the day-to-day practice of law.  Yet, law schools are the place for deep, sustained reflection, nested in a coherent training program, on what it means to strive through our work for equal justice.  Out from under the particulars of our law school curriculum, we ask in myraid ways the question “what is the purpose of law?”  Dr. King and so many others understood this in idealistic terms.  The purpose centrally is to develop structures, instiutions, and rules to implement ordered liberty, to safeguard civil rights, and to facilitate and maintain justice for all individuals.

The “purpose” question can also be understood in quite practical terms.  And so we as legal educators work on our teaching, our research, and our service to carry out specific, constructive strategies to realize the aims of law and the legal profession.  We frequently fail, to be sure.  And the demands of the profession crowd out the larger matters which undergird our central objectives.  But, on this day of remembrance, we should remember why the legal profession plays such a central role in contemporary society and why legal education ought to be focused on justice considerations, that is, on the objectives that were so powerfully reflected in Dr. King’s life and achievements.  Moreover, we should commit ourselves to making real improvements in this vein in both the profession and the academy.



Greetings from the Crescent City

Happy New Year to readers!

Returning to blogging after short holiday hiatus.

I am writing from New Orleans, where the Association of American Law Schools is holding its annual meeting.

Be on the lookout for recent and new posts on legal education, as well as the other eclectic content that makes up “Word on the Streeterville” version 2013.


Midwest legal market

“Back to the Land” is how the National Law Journal puts it.  Well, not exactly “Grapes of Wrath” here, but a more intriguing theme, which is the interesting perspective in these articles on the patterns and practices in the Midwest legal market.  We at Northwestern Law are proudly part of the Midwest — America’s heartland, squarely embedded in Chicago, the quintessential American city.  Elsewhere in the Midwest are extraordinary opportunities for professional success and personal fulfillment.

Notice the chart at the end of the post which describes the large cohort of Midwest, non-Chicago law firms.  These firms are, if I may say so, highly interested in our terrific students.  Given the conditions of the American legal employment market, it is important to think constructively about promising opportunities in our nation’s great midwest.  I say this with care.  Our students — highly talented, competitive, and ambitious — should pursue emplohyment opportunities where they desire.  Our students compete well with students of other law schools in every major job market in the U.S.  But we are responsible only if we help counsel our students to maximize their options; and I am committed, as dean, to advance the interest of our law school wherever that interest lies.  To that end, I am anxious, as is our able Career Strategy office, to enhance opportunities in the key cities of the midwest — all of the cities.


“Don’t be an idiot”

Says Northwestern Prof. Susie Spies Roth, in this sensible piece of advice to new lawyers.


Guest post (Leslie Oster): Visit to Wimbledon

Centre Court Wimbledon

Dan and I are in London this week doing various Northwestern-related things; also in London is a friend of ours from Austin, Sam.  Just being in London during Wimbledon is exciting for me; there’s a lot of press and buzz, and also lots of live match coverage on BBC.  I love watching tennis, and particularly love watching Roger Federer play tennis, even these days, when all the talk is about his being in the twilight of his career and the timing of his retirement.  Actually, “enjoy” may not be the right word.  Compelled to watch is probably more accurate, because the truth is that sometimes I don’t enjoy it at all, and my husband tells me I am impossible and way too nervous when I am watching a close Federer match.  Be that as it may, I thought it would be neat to get out to Wimbledon and just see the place, and if I could see some tennis, even better.  We didn’t get tickets before coming to London, but I read that there were tickets available online at 9:00 am and noon each day, and so on Sunday and Monday, I sat at my computer at 9:00 and then again at noon, but after numerous tries, I did not pull up any tickets, and I kind of gave up on that route.  Then there was the queue.  At Wimbledon, they allow folks to line up each morning and they let in a lot of people — 500 people get in for each of the show courts (Centre Court, Court #1 & Court #2), and thousands more get a grounds pass that allows them to see play on Courts #3-19 and to watch the big screen television outside Court #1 on “Henman Hill” (officially Aorangi Terrace, aka Rusedski Ridge and Murray Mound).  Also, a grounds pass allows for the possibility of purchasing “resale” tickets for the show courts, but more on that later.  From what I could pick up on the Wimbledon website and various blogs, it sounded like folks line up quite early for the queue and many actually camp out — there are campgrounds right on the Wimbledon site.  My research suggested that to get the show court tickets, you’d probably have to camp overnight, and to get grounds passes, you’d probably need to arrive by about 6 or 7 am.  (Play starts at 11:30.)  For a variety of reasons, that early thing wasn’t in the cards on this trip.  But then I read about the evening queue:  you can line up for entrance to the grounds around 5:00 each evening.  And word on the street was that the evening queue was less frenzied and more civilized than the morning queue, and that lots of people get let in for the evening session.  So we decided to give it a try.  Dan finished work at about 2:30 on Friday, and then me and Dan and our friend Sam took the tube to Wimbledon.  Two tube trains and a double-deck bus ride later, we were in the afternoon queue.  It was about 3:30 or so and the line was already long; we had no idea where the line even started, and pretty soon, we also could not see the end of the line, as so many people had gotten in behind us.  It was a very orderly process — a nice Wimbledon staffer came over and gave us a queue ticket with a number on it, though when we saw our numbers (10,467, 10468, and 10,469), we were not particularly encouraged.  Another Wimbledon worker came by and gave us a brochure on the Rules of Queuing, which taught us things like “Loud music must not be played at any time (use personal headphones),”  “Queue Jumping is not acceptable and will not be tolerated,” and “Overnight queuers should use tents which accommodate a maximum of two persons.  Please do not bring or erect gazebos.”   Good thing we had left our gazebo at home.  At some point a guard walked by and I asked her what the chances were of our getting in the grounds and she said that she thought it likely that we would get in the grounds, but we were unlikely to be able to get tickets to one of the show courts.  That felt like good news. Read more »


Homage to Davey Jones of the Monkees

Trip down memory lane.  Enjoy!


Pre-March madness

For college basketball afficionados looking forward to March Madness, I note that Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology on the ESPN site lists Northwestern as one of the last teams to make it into the NCAA Tournament.  Dare to dream!


Civil rights

I have been quite wary of using this blog for comments on an expressly ideological themes.  All respect to my friends and colleagues whose blogs are about politics, public policy, even partisan electoral debates.  But this blog, which is framed around matters of interest to the Northwestern Law School family, as well as interested friends, has a different purpose.

That said, I will break this rule in this instance because, frankly, I cannot help myself.  I am speaking here of the remarkable developments of this past week in recognizing the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans, first by the decision of U.S. Court of Appeals in California invalidating the voter-approved initiative proscribing same-sex marriage and, second, the passage by the Washington legislature of marriage-equality legislation.  Simple justice, wisely executed through key institutions in our political system.

Having worked a small amount on these legal issues, and having spoken in various venues about the twists-and-turns of the same-sex marriage controversies, I cannot hide my enthusiasm about this small steps toward equal justice and anti-discrimination.  A happy week.