Category: Conferences


CCR Symposium: Risk Perception and Online Speech

I want to join the other participants in this symposium in congratulating Danielle for putting together such a terrific article. As James G. writes, Danielle frames a compelling case for thinking about online harassment as a civil rights problem, an approach both novel and bracing.

Back in March, Danielle put up a post on Trivializing Women’s Harms: The Story of Cyber Gender Harassment. That post attracted commentators, and links, who vigorously disputed both the seriousness of the risk posed by online speech and the (lightness) of the burden that she suggested be placed on anonymous speech. Were we not controlling the comment threads on these posts relatively carefully, we’d see a similar level of skepticism, expressed in vivid, personal, terms. But why would this be? Why aren’t the risks that the online “speech” pose as obvious to our commentators as they are to Daneille and others on this blog?

The reason isn’t because partisans (like the ACLU, whose inconsistency is remarked by Ann Bartow), or free speech advocates, are deliberately conforming their views of risk to their personal interests or ideological positions. Rather, as cultural cognition theory predicts, “individuals are disposed selectively to accept or dismiss risk claims in a manner that expresses their cultural values.” Persons of hierarchical and individualistic orientations will worry more about being rendered defenseless by gun control; egalitarians and communitarians will worry about the legacy of patriarchy and racism associated with guns and thus discount those risks. Similarly hierarchs will be worried about the risks of disorder following flight from the police; egalitarians will be more concerned about the risks of police oppression. And so on.

Applying the group-grid theory to the project of cyber risks suggests that individualists , who value markets and private ordering, might be disposed to discount the risks of online “mobs”, unless those mobs are directed at values of concern, like the right to be anonymous and free from regulation. By contrast, communitarians believe that individuals will interact with one another frequently, depend on one another, and that this mutual inter-dependence is a condition to be celebrated and supported. Thus, people of different cultural views will have distinct views of the risks of conduct & the benefits of regulation, and those views will (significantly) be less likely that you might think to respond to new sets of “facts”. Perversely, arguing from facts my accent, not ameliorate, dissension between individuals holding different values.

What, then, is to be done to convince the individualists that their values aren’t under assault and that the risks of online mobs are severe enough to warrant some form of regulation? Danielle suggests that framing this as a civil rights problem would serve a valuable “normative and expressive role.” The danger, I think, is that many will respond, as does Orin Kerr here, by suggesting that there are competing norms and expressed values in play. It’s a serious problem, and I don’t have the answers. But I do think that being more generous & attentive to those holding different values is an important part of coming to consensus, and thus I’m really pleased with the respect and collegiality demonstrated in this symposium so far.


List of Financial Regulation Conferences?

Financial regulation conferences are regularly held year in and year out by numerous organizations, including universities, throughout the world. But the current economic crisis seems to have caused a spike in the number and diversity of these gatherings. This may reflect how complex the current situation is.

A complete account of the precise causes of the ongoing crisis remains elusive. True, unregulated financial instruments seem to have contributed to excessive liquidity that fueled a speculative price bubble in many housing markets. But exact contours of the dynamics and the role of other forces remain uncertain.

In addition, the full consequences of these precipitating causes have not yet even manifested let alone been resolved. Billions of dollars of unregulated financial instruments remain outstanding, un-matured, and prospects for increasing default levels remain.

Efforts to mitigate or reverse the costs of the crisis, including the Treasury-Congress’s various interventions, are not working well or quickly. Additional support for the auto industry remains a political and economic challenge. Ultimately, therefore, most policy reforms designed to prevent or alleviate recurrences are necessarily made cautiously.

It is not surprising that there should be a proliferation of conferences probing the fundamental issues underlying all of this. It could be helpful to have a complete list of upcoming conferences. A short list appears below (concentrating on those with US, academic and/or law attributes). It would be wonderful if readers would use the comment feature to mention any other scheduled conferences with such attributes.

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Asking the “Right” Questions

Over the weekend, I attended a thought-provoking conference put on by the Discrimination Research Group, graciously hosted by Deborah Rhode at Stanford. There were a number of disciplines represented, including economists, psychologists, sociologists, and business school faculty. The conference was interesting because it put the explanations of “why” to the side for the moment, and instead focused on providing the “how” of empirically documenting some of the outcomes in employment discrimination cases. From the lawprof side, I especially enjoyed the insights of Tanya Hernandez (GW) on diverse workplaces and Susan Bisom-Rapp (Thomas Jefferson), who commented on the international aspects.

For me, though, and I’m still putting this together for myself, one of the “bigger picture” insights coming out of the conference was about values, change, and paradigm shifts. It started with the subject of the conference, employment discrimination, and asking whether diversity improves the bottom line. In other words, on purely an economic basis, can a “business case” be made for diversity in the workplace? The example used at the conference – an intriguing one, I think, especially because I teach business associations as well as employment law – is the shift to “green businesses” to create further economic gains. But is a shift to “green business” for the sake of further economic growth a mask for any kind of change? If the point of having green businesses is just to increase consumption of other sorts, then perhaps the paradigm itself is flawed. Do we only save the environment when it’s good for business, or do we do this at other times when it requires sacrifice because there are other values that matter? The same set of questions, I think, can be asked in relation to diversity at work.


Why This Profession Is Great a.k.a. Thank You Tulane and WIP IP

I just returned from the Works In Progress Intellectual Property Conference at Tulane. It was excellent. The IP crowd never fails to satisfy across a range of metrics from panel comments to individual feedback to dinner conversation about scifi, fantasy, film, and more. Glynn Lunney, Elizabeth Townsend-Gard, and Tulane were our gracious hosts and I’d like to say thank you, thank you, thank you. As Mike Madison once put it, these types of conferences get you jazzed up (he said that at Peter Yu’s winterfest). Add being in New Orleans and the description is even more apt. Just being around folks who love their work and want to help each other with constructive comments feeds the academic soul. So to all the junior folks out there, find a way to present your work. Internal presentations, works-in-progress conferences, street corners (O.K. maybe not), wherever you can present your ideas; do so. The talk forces you to distill the paper into a coherent whole. Just practicing the talk reveals flaws or problems in logic or places needing support. It is challenging and can be tough, but sharing your ideas usually leads to more good than bad results especially if you feed the system by reading your colleague’s work and share your thoughts with them. The joy of the give-take-give, give-take-give, give-take-give is contagious.

It may be that finding such a great venue is difficult. Now, I am not saying that no other area has such conferences (my guess is they do and I do not know about them, in which case share the names please). Still I know a few folks who have said they admire the way WIP IP and similar conferences operate but have not found analogs in their field. Solution: Just do it. Find a few peers and start a small workshop. Maybe it will start a wave of open workshops and conferences where junior and senior faculty mix it up. One warning: If you build it, it will grow. I would place a fairly large bet on that. Just look at the history of WIP IP. Glynn Lunney and Michael Meurer created the conference in 2003. The idea was to emulate a “protocol that was common in the field of economics, but relatively unknown in the field of law at the time. Specifically, rather than invite speakers and request presentations related to a specific topic within the field of intellectual property, the WIP IP Colloquium allows any scholar working in the field of intellectual property to present their current research projects in order to obtain feedback on their work.” As I understand it, attendance has grown significantly since the conference’s inception. Similar IP conferences such as IPSC, which Depaul, Cardozo, Berkeley, and Stanford host, and Peter Yu’s IP Roundtable are excellent examples of the way these conferences begin and evolve. Take a look. You may find a model to copy or come up with a new variation for your field. For that matter, you may come up with a model for others to follow. Either way it will be worth the effort.

So, again, many thanks to those who took the time to build these conferences and offer opportunities for us. It is an honor to be part of this group.


Fourth Annual Conglomerate Junior Scholars Workshop

Head on over to the ‘Glom, which is hosting the Fourth Annual Junior Scholars Workshop. One paper this week is about governance of VC-backed firms, and the lineup of commentators is terrific. I’ll be dropping by next week, to talk about James Park’s paper on materiality.

The JSW is always a substantive, interesting, conference, and one of the few “general interest” corporate law forums out there. Congratulations to Christine Hurt and her fellow bloggers, who have once put together a great event.


The Corporate Law Conference.

What and where is the major annual corporate law conference?

This weekend, the American Law & Economics Association is holding its annual meeting in New York at Columbia with a program featuring – depending on how you count – six or seven corporate and securities law sessions. But the majority of sessions are not on these topics; they focus, instead, on torts, litigation, property, labor, IP, &c.

The annual Canadian Law & Economics Association features a very similar format, as do regional associations (e.g., Midwest Law & Economics Association).

The AALS annual meeting has a session for corporate law and one for securities law – but, of course, they are only small components in an otherwise huge and ecumenical program. Something similar is true for the Law & Society Association.

Is there an enormous yet oddly shy corporate conference out there – or is this a curiously large gap in the academic calendar?

Computers, Freedom, and Privacy


I just wanted to announce that the preliminary program for the 2008 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference (in New Haven, CT) has been announced. The theme this year is “Technology Policy ’08,” and it includes several topical panels for the election year:

Presidential Technology Policy: Priorities for the Next Executive

States as Incubators of Change

Activism and Education Using Social Networks

Network Neutrality: Beyond the Slogans

Discounted early bird registration closes this Friday, but general registration is open until 5/23. The conference is also looking for bloggers!

Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference

As a member of the Program Committee, I just wanted to post this announcement for CFP. This has been a great conference and I’m sure this year’s will be a terrific event. Note that the deadline for Panel, Tutorial, and Speaker proposals is March 21, 2008.


18th Annual CFP conference

May 20-23, 2008

Omni Hotel

New Haven, CT


This election year will be the first to address US technology policy in the information age as part of our national debate. Candidates have put forth positions about technology policy and have recognized that it has its own set of economic, political, and social concerns. In the areas of privacy, intellectual property, cybersecurity, telecommunications, and freedom of speech, an increasing number of issues once confined to experts now penetrate public conversation. Our decisions about technology policy are being made at a time when the architectures of our information and communication technologies are still being built. Debate about these issues needs to be better-informed in order for us to make policy choices in the public interest.

Open participation is invited for proposals on panels, tutorials, speaker suggestions, and birds of a feather sessions through the CFP: Technology Policy ’08 submission page. More details below.

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Missouri v. Holland, in Missouri

I spent the end of last week at the University if Missouri-Columbia, attending a great conference organized by Peggy McGuinness, on the (in)famous case of Missouri v. Holland. There, of course, Justice Holmes wrote for the Supreme Court, holding that Congress could enact legislation otherwise beyond its constitutional authority, in furtherance of a duly-enacted treaty obligation.

With a great line-up of panelists and a fascinating set of underlying issues to explore, we had what I thought was a fantastic day-and-a-half of discussion. In particular, and perhaps appropriately, we spent a substantial amount of time assessing the continuing significance of the decision, given the dramatic expansion of Commerce Clause authority since it was handed down in 1920. There is, of course, the “loaded-gun” notion that the very availability of the expansive authority invited by the decision constitutes a substantial threat. Likewise, one might question whether the Court’s decisions in Lopez and Morrison augur a potential revival of Missouri v. Holland as constitutional doctrine.

From my perspective, though, the most fascinating element of our discussions concerned the ways in which Missouri v. Holland might be significant, regardless of its jurisprudential force. I was struck, for example, by one participant’s recollection of an occasion on which U.S. treaty negotiators’ attempts to assert constitutionally grounded federalism constraints as a basis to resist a proposal by their foreign interlocutors were parried with invocations of Missouri v. Holland.

More broadly, I was interested to think about what continuing significance the decision has, for how we conceptualize the relationship of international, national, and state law. In the scheme of jurisdictional interaction exemplified by Missouri v. Holland, international law functions as a kind of trump card – an Ace available to the federal government to coerce state authorities. If Missouri no longer captures the political economy of U.S. federal-state relations, however, as I argue in my submission to the symposium, we might do well to reconsider that traditional conception of international law as a threat to state authority, and federalism more broadly.


Criminal Law Conversations

Professors Paul Robinson (Penn. Law School) and Kimberly Ferzan (Rutgers-Camden School of Law) invite criminal law scholars from around the world to contribute to a peer-engaged project of criminal law “conversations” to be published collectively as a book. Concise “core” papers not to exceed 5000 words (approximately ten single-spaced pages) presenting a theory or position will each be followed by a number of short comments (normally no more than 800 words – approximately two pages or less), with a final reply to the comments by the original core paper author.

The goal of Criminal Law Conversations (CLC) is to promote thoughtful critiques of important issues. Too often opposing advocates talk past each other. CLC’s web-based virtual “conversations” are designed to help opponents join issue. The website is not a blog but rather a vehicle for nominating and organizing the project’s topics and contributors.

The selection of core texts will be made by the criminal law scholarly community at large, as people express interest in the topics on which they would like to comment. All scholars are invited to submit nominations for the subject of a “core text” based on either previously published articles or new material. All are also invited to submit comments on any one or more of the nominated core texts.

The book collection will be assembled by late 2009. Oxford University Press has expressed an interest in publishing the volume. In addition, there will be a permanent CLC website that contains core texts and commentaries not included in the published volume. The permanent website also will allow the future submission of comments on the published volume’s contents, and may be used to produce subsequent collections.

The selection of core texts and responses will be coordinated by the CLC webpage.