Category: Conferences


Call for Papers — March 12, 2010 Deadline

Seton Hall Law School will host the Third National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference, September 9-12, 2010.  This conference will address critical national and global issues through the lens of legal scholarship that explicitly and implicitly examines contemporary racial context.  It will feature panels on the “war on terror,” urban revitalization, criminal law, health care, education, immigration, human trafficking, voting rights, international and comparative law, judicial nominations, environmental justice, and corporate responsibility, among others.  It will also include a Junior Faculty and Development Workshop.

The conference planning committee is seeking proposals for panels and workshops that fit within its broad theme, Our Country, Our World in a “Post-Racial” Era.  It is also accepting drafts for work-in-progress sessions and shorter “thoughts-in-progress” sessions to informally discuss future research and writing ideas. 

Please e-mail a one page abstract of your submission to Professor Kamille Wolff, Co-Chair of the Program Committee, at by March 12, 2010.  For more information about the conference, go to


Double Serendipity: Danielle Allen and the Institute for Advanced Study’s Sympoium on Technology and Education

One thing that Dan Burk, Mike Madison, Dan Solove, and a few others told me as I started my academic career was that it was important to read, read, read; attend conferences; and engage with other professors about their work. With that base one slowly but surely develops better material and grows a network of colleagues who will be able to let you know where you work is strong and where it needs improvement. I took that idea to mean go ahead and contact folks when you have something to say.

Just before I heard that I was going to be at Princeton, I contacted an old friend, Danielle Allen because some of her work on democracy and rhetoric caught my attention. Danielle and I had attended K-8 grades together but lost touch after that. It turns out that she just had seen my name in the acknowledgment section of one of Dan Solove’s books and wondered whether that was the same person she knew. It was. Danielle is at the Institute for Advanced Studies here in Princeton. We caught up over lunch, had a great time, and I learned about her work at IAS. One of her projects is the The Dewey Seminar: Education, Schools and the State, which she co-organized with Rob Reich. Here is the scope of the project:

Every society and political regime develops educational institutions and practices that substantially shape its evolution, revolutions, and stabilization over time. The Dewey Seminar will explore the interrelationships among education, justice, schools, and the state. Because of the centrality of education to the continuity of sociopolitical orders, its analysis embraces virtually all the social sciences. A significant number of the School’s Members this year will pursue work related directly to this theme-from exploring how diverse educational practices are linked to specific political orders to studying contemporary pressures on education and its capacity to support democratic political systems.

In 1916 the philosopher John Dewey published Democracy and Education: an introduction to the philosophy of education. He sought an account of education that could enable human flourishing both individually and collectively for democratic citizens. Our seminar takes its inspiration from his aspirations.

Anyone interested in these topics should go to the Seminar’s home page and check the participant list.

The seminar has various components one of which is a symposium series with practitioners. At lunch, Danielle mentioned that the January symposium is on Technology and Education. The people involved and their projects to use technology to generate real change in education are ambitious and inspiring. I will be attending and thinking about how these ideas connect to IP as a barrier to innovation, the Google Book deal, and where a combination of law and technology might be able to break through current problems in technology and education. In short, I have caught up with an old friend, and I get to hear leaders in their fields talk about the promises and challenges of technology and education. It is a great start to the new year, and I am grateful to those who were part of my enjoying a little double serendipity.


Overheard at AALS

Here are a few thoughts inspired by conversations I participated in or listened to at AALS (it’s not my fault that people persist in having very loud & irritating conversations over coffee, despite my dirty looks):

(1) A hiring committee chair talked about doing Google background checks on candidates for inconvenient facts. The rationale was that students would like come across pictures/stories themselves, and it was better to know than not. This struck me as an inevitable development, though sad.

(2) Many people complained about how the nametag culture at AALS encourages attendees to feel bad about themselves.  One solution offered was color-coded nametags that were keyed to the kind of social interaction you might expect.

Red: Individuals who, if spoken to, will inform you in great detail about a recent political fight on their faculty. Possible crazy. Avoid.  If you are engaged in a conversation with them, nod vigorously and say nothing.

Blue: Individuals who want a job at your school. Will laugh at your jokes and won’t look over your shoulder for at least two minutes. Engage as needed for a boost.  But don’t commit to anything.

Green: Individuals at schools you want to visit or move to. Will try to avoid you. Elevators are their weakness.

Black: Friends. Meet them later.

Orange: People who won’t deign to make eye contact with you.  There is no point in trying to hunt them down, except after they speak at a session, when they may treat you like a particularly dimwitted student.  Flattery will get you everywhere at that moment.

Purple: Members of your blog. Shouldn’t you know who they are?

Silver: Deans. Also known because they wear suits, and because they are looking at your pockets. Be careful. Their social skills are so much better than yours, that simply being near them makes you look more than ordinarily goofy.

Brown: AALS organizers, looking harried.  If you are outraged, consider engaging them at prepaid lunch over terrible food, when they are at a moral disadvantage.

(3)  I heard one professor telling another than she believed we were working “nine month” jobs since that is how the typical professor contract is worded (and since summer writing is rewarded through “grants” or “bonuses”).  I couldn’t disagree more.  Discuss.



A brief thanks and shout-out to all who attended the AALS happy hour last night. I saw Co-Op bloggers Frank, Dave, Deven, and Danielle, as well as Dan from Prawfs and a plethora of other blog readers and participants; there were far too many fascinating conversations to recap. Of course, discussions with Frank and Danielle merely whetted my appetite for their presentations later in the conference. Don’t miss Frank (and Danielle) on Privacy at 4 today (unless of course you’re going to Jaya’s immigration panel). And make sure to come to Danielle’s Saturday talk on cyberstalking. Or else we may have to track you down.


Intersectionality Conference

The Critical Race Studies program at UCLA is planning an exciting conference on intersectionality this March. (Full disclosure: The Women & Law Project at Thomas Jefferson School of Law is principal conference co-sponsor, and I’m the Women & Law chair this year.) A number of very good speakers will be participating, including well-known legal scholars like Patricia Williams and Mari Matsuda as well as many scholars from other disciplines. The full list of speakers so far is very impressive. In addition, the conference organizers have issued a call for papers which relate to the topic of intersectionality, with submissions due by January 15th. The overall conference description is:

Since the publication of Kimberlé Crenshaw’s formative articles – Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race & Sex (1989), and Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics & Violence Against Women of Color (1994) – the concept of intersectionality has traversed more than a dozen academic disciplines and transnational and popular political discourse, generated multiple conferences, monographs, and anthologies, and animated hundreds of articles and essays. In the twenty years since Crenshaw introduced intersectionality, critiques of identity politics and multiculturalism and, more recently, claims of a “post-racial” era have blossomed. In 2010, we will re-visit the origins of intersectionality as a theoretical frame and site of legal interventions and consider its still unfolding potential for unmasking subordination and provoking social change.

More information about the conference can be found here. I would encourage interested Concurring Opinions readers to take a look at this very interesting conference information, and if possible consider submitting a proposal or attending the conference.


High on CELS

potI’ve returned from CELS, which was a terrific conference.  Incredibly substantive and well-run.  As promised, here are a few reactions:

Best paper I saw: Amanda Geller and Jeffrey Fagan, Doubling Down on Pot: Marijuana, Race and the New Disorder in New York City Street Policing.  The original title was better: Pot as Pretext.  The idea is that if you look at the  surge of pot related arrests in NYC, a pattern emerges: using pot misdemeanors as a method of social control, with strong racial undertones.  The paper offers another perspective on the optimism expressed by many that legalization is around the corner, in turn prompted by polling data about its popularity.  To the extent that mere pot possession is now an important tool in order maintenance policing, the costs and benefits of its legalization seem different.  Indeed, the surprise of the paper is how well pot works as a method to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of felons (Volokh Conspirators’ perfect storm of bad outcomes).  Plus, Geller/Fagan’s data visualization is amazing (though the best stuff, with maps, is not in the paper).  Well worth reading, especially if you, like me, didn’t know that this was happening.

Runner Up: Yannis Bakos, Florencia Marotta-Wurgler and David Trossen, Does Anyone Read the Fine Print? Testing a Law and Economics Approach to Standard Form Contracting.  Remarkable dataset of 90,000 visitors to software sites, assembled by one of those firms that installs tracking software on your computer in return for compensation. The research question is how often to people read EULAs before entering transactions. It’s my sense that the results (almost never) give a huge, though expected, boost to the ALI Software Principles.  Consider it in tandem with Zev Eigen’s work on adhesion contracts, and the outlines of a research program are clear.

Best paper I wish I’d seenShareholderism: Board Members’ Values and the Shareholder-Stakeholder Dilemma, by Amir Licht, Renee Adams and Lilach Sagiv.  They did an experimental survey on real board members, albiet from Sweden.  Basic findings: board members have unique and stable values about corporate governance that aren’t those of the general public.

Most Potential To Be Brought Up in a 2012 Presidential Debate:   The Economics of Rape: Will Victims Pay for Police Involvement, by Emily Owens and Jordan Matsudaira.  Just your classic little economics project analyzing how making victims pay for rape kits affects the likelihood of reporting a rape to the police.  The dataset?  Wasilla, Alaska, during Sarah Palin’s tenure as mayor.

Obvious Finding:  Police recruits are more likely that members of the public at large to think that mistaken acquitals are a worse problem than mistaken convictions.  (Logically, this can’t be true, as mistaken convictions mean that a criminal is walking free.)  Non-obvious findings from the paper: the modern racism scale predicts the likelihood of making a bad decision to shoot an unarmed but threatening stranger, but the IAT doesn’t.

Reaction to Suckers? I need a better set of anecdotes about suckers and contracts.

Reaction to Punishment Realism? If you like this, our torture results are going to knock your socks off.  Stay tuned!

Cool Poster? Black and Spriggs, The Depreciation of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court. So cool.  I wish they’d coded for the age of precedent in the briefs, since I think the inputs are dispositive.  Notable as well was Eisenberg et al., The Decision to Award Punitive Damages: An Empirical Study. Sure, the results are interesting, and part of Ted’s holy war with the ridiculous folks at the Chamber of Commerce.  But the nice thing was that after a study, I concluded that Ted’s poster had the best ratio of expenditure on the poster :  vistors.  Given that he’d photocopied pages from the paper and put them on a board, my guess was a dollar spent per 20 visitors.  The mean in the room was more like 1 : 1.

Trend:  More instruments, less law.

Thanks to Dan Klerman, Mat McCubbins, Gillian Hadfield, Tom Lyon, Dan Simon and Matt Spitzer for putting together a great program!


Unmarried Couple Ban Symposium

This symposium announcement just crossed my desk:

The Arkansas Law Review will host a symposium on the Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban on November 5, 2009, at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The symposium will address the legal and political issues surrounding what was Arkansas’s Initiated Act 1, banning the adoption of children by unmarried couples in the state, as well as the national context in which it was passed. It will represent a balanced presentation of the various viewpoints on this widely debated issue.

Primary speakers will be Professor Mark Strasser of Capital University School of Law and Professor Lynn Wardle of Brigham Young University Law School. Representatives from Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families and the Family Council Action Committee will also participate.


Law and Entrepeneurship at LSA

Gordon Smith, Brian Broughman, and Darian Ibrahim are organizing a “conference within a conference” at the  Law & Society Association annual meeting on Law, Entrepreneurship & Society.  The meeting will be in Chicago, Illinois on May 27-30, 2010 this year. I attended last year’s entrepreneurship panel at LSA, and it was great.  Gordon reports:

“This year the LSA is soliciting proposals for projects in the early stage of development that could be presented at work-in-progress sessions. We would be interested in developing a proposal for such a session focused on law and entrepreneurship, so please feel free to submit such projects to us.

You may submit a proposal to any of us via email, but as a default matter, please send your proposal to Gordon Smith by November 30, 2009.”


Conference: Important Questions of Federal Law—Assessing the Supreme Court’s Case Selection Process

YLJ Online

The Yale Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic and The Yale Law Journal Online, the forthcoming online platform of The Yale Law Journal, will host a half-day conference, “Important Questions of Federal Law”: Assessing the Supreme Court’s Case Selection Process, on September 18, 2009, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The conference will consider the nature and causes of changes in the Supreme Court’s docket in recent years, as well as suggestions for reform of the certiorari process. The conference is made possible by the generous support of the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund. Practicing attorneys, judges, academics, and students are invited to attend. There is no charge for the conference, but space is limited, so all attendees must pre-register here. Breakfast and refreshments will be provided. If you are unable to attend, podcasts of conference sessions and downloadable papers from the panelists will be made available by Yale Law School’s main website. Select papers will also be published by The Yale Law Journal Online. Information on the conference can also be downloaded by clicking here.  For more information on The Yale Law Journal Online and the conference, please contact YLJ Online Editor Kathleen Claussen here.

Professor John Doe Is An Ugly [Insert Racial Slur]!

Law students sometimes use the internet to widely disseminate racist or gendered comments about women and minority faculty members. For example, I have heard about law students using teaching evaluation forms or Facebook or Myspace to make comments to the effect that that a female faculty member is a bitch with PMS or that an African-American faculty member is a [insert racial slur]. Indeed, the Auto-Admit debacle from a couple years back revealed that law students or potential law students seem to at least sometimes use the internet to convey vicious gendered and/or racist comments.

When I hear about these situations, I always wonder about the “character and fitness” implications. It seems to me that a law student who is publicly judging a female faculty member negatively on a gendered basis or who is characterizing minority faculty members by way of stereotyping and ugly slurs is raising questions about his/her character and fitness to practice law. In the same way that a lawyer who embezzles is not fit to practice, one might argue that a law student who dismisses individuals with ugly characterizations based only on race or gender might also be of questionable character for purposes of practicing law. Yet not everyone agrees with this assessment, and, with respect to law students using the internet for such attacks, there has not been a lot of discussion about the character and fitness issues raised.

Therefore, the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education will be presenting a panel at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans examining the issues raised – including the character and fitness issues – when law students, lawyers, judges, or potential law students use the internet to make gendered or racist comments. If a student posts on her Myspace page that Professor John Doe, who teaches Gender and Race and the Law, is an “ugly [insert racial slur] who only has a job due to affirmative action,” does that pose a character and fitness concern? Should we care?

There is a call for papers for this panel presentation, and anyone interested in submitting a paper or paper proposal is welcome to e-mail me for the details.