Category: Conferences

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Upcoming UCLA Con Law Conference, & My Paper on Prisoner/Student/Employee 1st Amdmt Claims

A few days ago I finished drafting my paper for this Friday’s UCLA Law Review Symposium, Constitutional “Niches”: The Role of Institutional Context in Constitutional Law”. You can download my paper here; it’s very much a draft, and I’ll be busily working on the final version over the next two or three weeks, so I’d love any feedback!

For anyone interested in the topic and in/near L.A., the conference looks like a really tightly-packed day of Con Law bigwigs: Fred Schauer (whose work I really admire, though my paper notes an exception to one of his theses); Cynthia Estlund (the conference’s resident employment law bigwig); John Yoo, formerly of the Bush Admninistration (will he offer more “tortured” interpretations of executive power and detainees’ rights against torture?); Dawn Johnsen, formerly of the Clinton Administration (most likely to have her torture authorized by John Yoo?); and many others, but this list already is getting too long. Don’t ask how I got into this crowd — I’m just happy to be there; Paul Secunda and I feel like we’ll be the kids at the grown-ups’ table!

I haven’t written a real abstract yet, but here’s an informal one:

The paper notes Fred Schauer’s criticism that First Amendment law gives too little consideration to how speech rights should vary in different institutions (e.g., government institutions sponsoring arts or election speech; obscenity/pornography being judged similarly whether in print, on the internet, over the phone lines) — but the paper notes one area in which institutional context appears to be given too much consideration. Specifically, would-be speakers located within certain government institutions — students in public schools, employees in government workplaces, and prisoners — have far lesser speech protection; rather than apply heightened scrutiny to speech restrictions, courts substantially defer to those institutions’ speech restrictions and actually apply different legal “tests” in each of the three contexts. Courts rarely explain why different tests apply in these areas, so the article, partly based on economic analysis, (1) tries to discern, as a descriptive matter, the reasons courts apply less speech-protective tests in these contexts and (2) criticizes those reasons as exaggerations of the uniqueness of the three institutions (schools, prisons, and workplaces), or at least finding that those reasons vary in persuasiveness among the three institutions. Ultimately, the article concludes that courts should apply not institution-specific legal tests, but standard heightened scrutiny, to speech rights claims in these institutions, just as it does under the Equal Protection Clause.

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Workshop Opportunities

The “Blogging and the New Professor” session was interesting and informative. I’ll post some more detailed discussion when I’m not on a rent-a-terminal at the Wardman; for this post, I’d like to break out one point.

Larry Solum emphasized the importance of workshopping one’s work. He noted that, if a professor can workshop her article at several schools, she may double or triple her article’s real readership. And as we know, many schools offer ongoing workshop opportunities, often under titles like “workshop series,” “colloquia series,” “brown bag,” or “works in progress series.” Professor Solum emphasized the importance of workshopping one’s work at those kinds of venues.

An audience member then asked the natural follow up question: Where does one find information about workshop opportunities, organizers and chairs?

Of course, some information about workshop series crops up online. Information is available on SSRN about some workshops. Announcements appear on individual blogs, and I know that workshop series are sometimes announced on Legal Theory blog. (Is there another clearinghouse that I’m unaware of?) The fact remains that many workshop opportunities are not widespread public knowledge. This post is one step towards reducing that information gap (and will follow in the tradition of the “Hiring chairs, please identify yourselves” line of posts).

So: If you are a chair or organizer of a workshop series or program at your school, please weigh in in the comments. Your name, your school, your contact information, any workshop goals or requirements your workshop series has (“we’re looking for papers on mass torts” or the like). If you are not a workshop chair but your school has such a program and there is another chairperson you can point to, feel free to do that as well.

I’ll start the festivities by noting that I am co-chair (along with current Co-Op guest blogger Deven Desai) of Thomas Jefferson’s scholarship committee, and that we operate one such works-in-progress workshopping series. (Further details to follow in a blog comment.) Workshop chairs everywhere, identify yourselves! You have nothing to lose but your relative obscurity.

Hopefully, we can get feedback from enough workshop organizers to end up with a working (incomplete, but still quite helpful) list of workshop opportunities. I’ll put that information into chart form in post updates, and keep it as updated as possible with occasional reminders.

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Good news and bad news

With regards to the scheduling of the AALS session on blogging and scholarship tomorrow today, I see both good news and bad news.

The good news is that it doesn’t conflict with either Dan’s privacy panel or Gordon and Scott’s Wal-Mart panel. Whew! (It does, alas, clash with the “12 Angry Men” panel, meaning that 8:30 is the hour of “Solum or Solan — pick your favorite Lawrence.”)

The bad news is that the session starts at 8:30 . . .

. . . in the morning. Yikes!

Who forgot to tell the organizers that we bloggers need our sleep? (Markel? Didn’t we task that one to you?) Does no one realize that bloggers like to party ’til the wee hours of the morning? Or that any attempt to extract information from a blogger in the early morning is likely to result in gibberish or worse? I’m not making this up — note that one recent attempt to get information from a blogger in the early morning resulted in a cherry-picked list of bad puns. Alas, I suppose I have no choice but to bite the bullet and attend the panel — and then to blog mercilessly about any evidence of panelists in pajamas, snores among the audience (I realize, these are not limited to the 8:30 sessions), or bad puns.

Oh, and Miriam, you should definitely remember to attend the privacy panel later on. You will So-Love what those speakers have to say.

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Ideas on Sharing Ideas

Last weekend, Seton Hall Law School hosted its first annual Employment and Labor Law Scholars’ Forum. My sense (hopefully not over-influenced by optimism bias, one of the many topics discussed) is that the participants found it to be a great success. Part of this is attributable to the terrific and diverse working papers presented by Elizabeth Emens, Julie Chi-hye Suk, Noah Zatz, and Matthew Bodie. But I think the format and size also worked well. There were fourteen participants (including the authors) who collectively covered the waterfront of the labor and employment law fields. Each author presented for about fifteen minutes, with two commentators giving their thoughts for about ten minutes apiece. This set the stage for what was a terrific informal interchange for about an hour for each paper. Everyone learned a lot, in large part because the conversation began on such a high level, everybody had read the papers in advance, and the size of the group permitted all of us to participate in a meaningful way with each paper. Kudos to our colleague Kathleen Boozang for suggesting this kind of forum as a result of her participation in something similar in the health law area at St. Louis University.

Needless to say, despite the rise of electronic media and the seemingly endless number of ways for members of the academy to share information and ideas, sometimes there is no substitute for getting together to talk about scholarship. And, of course, it can be fun too.

So, I thought perhaps sharing ideas on how to share ideas might be a useful exercise. I am wondering what types of formats – whether characterized as a forum, workshop, roundtable, or conference – others have found to be particularly useful as a presenter, commenter, or participant. I am concerned here just about the beneficial exchange of ideas rather than other ways in which one might benefit from attendance (and I realize there are plenty of the latter). What, in your experience, has worked well? If anyone can speak to the “science” of this, that would also be helpful.

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Call For Papers: National Security Leak Prosecutions

The Association of American Law Schools Section on National Security Law is sponsoring a competition for papers on the topic of national security leak prosecutions in connection with its program at AALS in January. The winning piece will be published in the Journal of National Security Law and Policy and the author will be included on the panel itself. Three page abstracts are due September 5. The competition appears to be open only to law faculty. The Call for Papers is posted at:

http://www.wfu.edu/%7Echesner/NationalSecurityLaw/CallForPapers.pdf.

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Law and Society Ass’n. Conf. Next Week

I hope many of you are planning on attending the Law and Society Ass’n. Annual Meeting in Baltimore next week.

I will be there, and I hope to meet as many readers and bloggers as possible. To that end, Prawfs/Glom are organizing a happy hour for bloggers/readers.

I am lucky enough to be presenting a Director Liability paper on a Corp./Secs. panel on Thursday, at 8:15 a.m., and Jayne Barnard and Erica Beecher-Monas will also be presenting papers at that panel session (I have seen Jayne’s paper, and it is incredibly interesting – a bit of a profile on the secs. fraudster). Usha Rodrigues (such a superstar!) will be the discussant, Barbara Black will be the panel chair, and Joan Heminway is the organizer. I am anticipating a great session.

Though I am busily finishing my paper and preparing my presentation, a bigger, more pressing issue looms. To wit, should I run in the 5K Fred Dubow Memorial Fun Run on Sunday? I don’t suppose any readers/bloggers are planning to run?. . . . You see, it is one thing for me to be willing to put my academic thoughts out there and risk people saying “Nowicki has no idea what she is talking about.” It is entirely another thing to be willing to risk having people walk away from the conference saying “Not only are Nowicki’s ideas moronic, she is a painfully slow runner. So slow it hurts to watch.” To that end, who are the runners among us, and what sorts of times do you anticipate? . . .

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Live from the AALS Conference on New Ideas for Law School Teachers: Teaching Intentionally

Today is the first day of the AALS Midyear Conference on New Ideas for Law Teachers. Before commenting more substantively on the Conference itself, I want to ask this preliminary question: why are so few law professors from “elite” schools participating in the conference? There are approximately 150 professors registered for the Conference. By my count, only about 3 percent of those registered teach at law schools ranked within the “top 10″ according to US News & World Report (I am aware of the controversy associated with US News rankings, but have referenced them here for the sake of convenience.) Similarly, only about another 10 percent of the participants teach at law schools ranked within the “top 25″ according to the same US News ranking.

A causal observer might argue that the relative lack of participation by professors at “elite” law schools signals a lack of interest in teaching. Or an observer might say that professors at “elite” law schools already know how to teach well and therefore are unlikely to register for such a conference. But I think both of these arguments are far too facile. I believe that law professors at highly ranked law schools care deeply about teaching; and teachers at all levels can always benefit from sharing best practices. Instead, one arguent is that the difference in registration rates can be explained by the differing markets for law students. Arguably, schools in the “middle range” are incented to constantly improve and refine teaching methods because they compete against other schools in the same range directly on that basis. Upper tier schools, by contrast, are largely competing against each other in terms of branding and prestige of the institution.

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Labor and Employment Law Conference

Marquette University Law School will host the 2006 Colloquium on Current Scholarship in Labor and Employment Law on Friday, October 27, 2006. From the conference website:

The Colloquium offers an opportunity for labor and employment law scholars from around the country to present their works in progress or recent scholarship, to get feedback from their colleagues, and to have a chance to meet and interact with those who are also teaching and researching in the labor and employment law area. Although all participants are encouraged to present their scholarship, one need not present in order to attend.

More here, or to register, click here. The conference, interestingly, is the result of a blog post by Scott Moss (Marquette) and responses to that blog post from Paul Secunda (Ole Miss) and Joe Slater (U. Toledo).

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Empirical Studies at ALEA

Bill Henderson (at the ELS Blog) has a very useful round-up of empirical papers presented at the recent ALEA conference. Blog-traveller Kate Litvak comes in for special praise:

Kate Litvak [presented] “The Effect of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on Non-US Companies Listed in the U.S.,” which was an extremely well-done event study that used a natural experiment approach to capture the market reaction to SOX (it was generally negative). In the last couple of years, Kate, who does not have a PhD, has spent a lot of time learning sophisticated econometric techniques. It really showed. Very impressive (and easy to follow) presentation.

To be frank, I’ve been quite skeptical of studies showing a negative relationship between SOX and equity prices, on several grounds: (1) my practice experience managing the creation of event studies that dealt with changing legal regimes suggested that results are rarely as robust as one might hope; (2)) the passage and eventual implementation of SOX were so attenuated that event studies would seem hard to perform; and (3) the debate is quite politicized, with folks already disposed to dislike federalization of corporate law leading the charge on the empirical front as well. But, having read Kate’s paper, I’m inclined to rethink my position. It is well-worth a read.