Category: Conferences


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.


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.