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October 23, 2008

Innovation and a big move

Last week I traveled to rural Buie's Creek, North Carolina to give the Professionalism Lecture at Campbell Law School.  Campbell is an interesting place, but the real intrigue (and innovation) will occur next year.

Put simply, Campbell is picking up and moving, pretty much for pedagogical purposes.  It will leave the rest of the university in Buie's Creek behind and move into a beautiful new building in the middle of Raleigh, just a block or two from the state capitol, the offices of major law firms, and clinical opportunities.  Unlike other moves (for example, the move of Detroit College of Law to Lansing to become part of Michigan State), this relocation has nothing to do with an acquisition-- Campbell will remain a part of the larger university.  Rather, the move is intended to provide a better educational experience and a location more attractive to students. 

As part of the move, Campbell has designed into their building a home for the Raleigh division of North Carolina's business court.  While many schools (including Baylor) will host court hearings on occasion, it is rare to have a permanent court within a law school, though the advantages are obvious.

-- Mark Osler

October 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 21, 2008

The University of Louisville's law faculty SSRN aggregator page

»  Reprinted from The Cardinal Lawyer and MoneyLaw  «

The University of Louisville is justifiably proud of its law faculty and of the high-impact academic work generated by this community of scholars.  In earlier posts (like this and this and this), The Cardinal Lawyer has made much of SSRN.Despite its small size, and despite having taken active part in SSRN for less than two years, the University of Louisville ranks 41st among American law schools in recent SSRN downloads and 57th in all-time downloads as of October 12, 2008.

Many law professors and some law schools make an effort to promote papers available for download from SSRN.  The University of Louisville has taken aggressive measures to promote its entire faculty's SSRN portfolio.  Louisville publishes an SSRN aggregator page that collects every faculty member's contributions to the SSRN database as they are made.  A summary of each article, complete with a link to that article's own SSRN page, appears on the aggregator page.  And best of all, in harmony with Law 2.0 and the thoroughly interconnected environment in which contemporary legal education operates, the University of Louisville's faculty SSRN aggregator page has its own RSS feed .

ouisville's own SSRN aggregator page complements but does not replace the University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series on SSRN.  This series has its own subscription mechanism.  Like other subscribers, I receive periodic updates by e-mail and can click through to my colleagues' most recent work.

Judith Fischer

One byproduct of Louisville's faculty-wide SSRN aggregator is an individual SSRN aggregator page for each member of the faculty.  Consider, for example, the SSRN treasure troves associated with my colleague, Judith D. Fischer. Judy's University of Louisville-generated SSRN aggregator page and regular SSRN page testify to a prolific and creative mind.  For my own part, I am considering the possibility of linking to my own UofL-generated SSRN aggregator page wherever I have already seen fit to promote my regular SSRN page.  Through its facility with scripts and feeds, Louisville's information technology staff has given the entire faculty many weapons for heightening awareness, within the academy and among members of the public at large, of the powerful legal scholarship being generated at the University of Louisville.

— Jim Chen

October 21, 2008 in Deans and innovations, Scholarship -- online, Technology -- for advancing scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2008

Great (though incomplete) look at HLS, innovations, and the future of elite law schools

The Boston Globe yesterday had this terrific article discussing the recent past, present and future of Harvard Law School.  The article has lots of interesting passages for would-be law school innovators:

For the first time in years, Cambridge is home to some of the most important new voices in public law.  And Harvard's rise is shaking up other top schools, creating a hiring war as they scramble to recruit new scholars. "It has unsettled things at the top of the legal academy," said Leiter. "Harvard is this giant vacuum with endless amounts of money, and it keeps sucking up more."

Just as striking, though, at a place full of professional arguers and their students, is the sense of frictionlessness and good feeling that now pervades the campus. This, as much as anything, marks a stark change for a school whose august name was not always buttressed by the realities along Mass. Ave....

[Dean Elana] Kagan set to work early, making small but visible changes to improve the everyday lives of students. She started providing free coffee in classroom buildings, and free tampons in the women's bathrooms. On a lawn outside the student center, she added a beach volleyball court that doubled, during the long Cambridge winter, as a skating rink....

For her part, Kagan describes that early flurry of face lifts and new perks as an idea borrowed from her former boss, Bill Clinton: The faith that small, symbolic policies could help solve big problems.  "When I got here I looked around for little things I could do: things that don't cost much money, don't take much time, that you don't have to have a faculty meeting to do," she said in an interview in her office. "As it turns out," she said with a slight laugh, "you can buy more student happiness per dollar by giving people free coffee than anything else I've discovered."

On the broadest level, Kagan's governing philosophy seems to be one of persistent experimentation, of making the school more open to innovation and change.  "Before, every possible change had to be weighed against hundreds of years of illustrious history. Now changes are weighed by asking whether it might make something better," said Elizabeth Warren, a bankruptcy law professor who chairs the school's admissions committee.

There is a lot more in this great piece that also makes it a must-read for anyone who follows the dynamics of elite law schools and the role of faculty hiring (though I may be biased because the article says so many nice things about my alma mater).

I also found interesting what the article did not discuss: modern political dynamics.  If polls are to be believed, the country is about to elect a president who graduated from Harvard Law School.  (Indeed, I believe that, if Senator Obama wins, he will be the first HLS graduate elected to be President.)  A number of Senator Obama's mentors are HLS Professors, including prominent figures including Professors Ogletree, Sunstein and Tribe.  In addition, Dean Kagan has been high on many Supreme Court short lists for those considering what kinds of judges a President Obama might appoint.  (Dean Harold Koh of Yale Law School has also appeared on a lot of these lists.)

There is good reason to believe a President Obama would look to the legal academy for help with his administration and for potential judicial nominees.  If so, HLS would likely be the law school he looks to first -- perhaps along with Chicago, where Senator Obama taught for a number of years.  Though I doubt we should expect a huge migration to DC from HLS and other elite law schools (as occured in some prior generations), I do expect the future of a number of elite law schools to be greatly impacted by what happens on November 4 this year.

Posted by DAB

October 20, 2008 in The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack