NYU Law and its faculty had a major presence at this year's annual meeting of the American Association of Law Schools in New Orleans, held in early January.
In one of the meeting's marquee events, Arthur R. Miller moderated a lively discussion commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The panel of legal heavyweights included Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Among other participants were Jack Balagia, general counsel of Exxon Mobil, and several prominent class-action attorneys.
A major focus of the discussion was access to the justice system. "We may have hit a point in the litigation of civil cases, particularly big economic cases or big civil rights cases, in which there is a fundamental disagreement among plaintiffs lawyers, defense lawyers and within the judiciary as to the use of civil litigation to promote public policies and whether the pendulum of civil litigation may have swung too far one way," said Miller following his return from New Orleans. If the disagreement on the panel was any indication, he added, revision of the Federal Rules is going to be very difficult.
Other faculty participated in discussion and debate on a broad range of topics:
• Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, spoke at a breakfast event about presidential power during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations;
• Cynthia L. Estlund, Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law, participated in a discussion that examined the evolution of labor and employment law after the global ascendancy of the financial sector and the financial crisis;
• Kevin E. Davis, vice dean and Beller Family Professor of Business Law, joined a panel about globalizing the legal curriculum in the U.S.;
• Claudia Angelos, clinical professor of law, moderated a panel that examined the new 50-hour pro bono requirement in New York State;
• Troy McKenzie, associate professor of law, took part in a discussion about the problems of non-Article III courts;
• Katherine Strandburg, professor of law, joined IP law experts in considering challenges raised by social media to traditional intellectual property law;
• Geoffrey Parsons Miller, Stuyvesant P. Comfort Professor of Law, spoke on the regulation of financial markets intermediaries.
Introducing Study Abroad
The Law School held a cocktail reception that highlighted the new study abroad programs that are being launched next academic year in Buenos Aires, Paris and Shanghai as part of a series of curricular enhancements emphasizing focused study in third year. About 80 scholars and practitioners, including law professors from around the country as well as NYU Law alumni, attended.
"It was wonderful to reconnect with our alumni in the New Orleans area and bring them up to speed on the Law School's new global initiatives," said Kevin Davis, who oversees NYU Law’s global initiatives.
Food and music from Argentina, France and China added an international flair to the reception.
Tribute to Professor Derrick Bell
The AALS meeting also included a ceremony honoring the late Derrick Bell. Bell, who taught at NYU Law from 1991 to 2011, was honored posthumously with the 2013 AALS Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education. Bell's decades-long legal career as a lawyer, activist, teacher and writer also included a professorship at Harvard Law and serving as dean of Oregon Law School.
"Professor Bell was my teacher, mentor, and friend," said Charles Ogletree, Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. "He also taught my daughter, Rashida Ogletree George, who was a student at NYU Law School from 2002-2005. I can't think of another person who has taught me more about life and opportunity than Derrick Bell. He wrote many tremendous books, but he also had a commitment to students. My career has been deeply impacted by his and I recall him and his late wife, Jewell Bell, when Derrick decided to file a protest against Harvard Law School for not hiring women of color. I consulted with my wife, Pam, and we both agreed that I would join Professor Bell’s protest and leave Harvard. Professor Bell told me to not join his protest, but to continue my pursuit of tenure, which I received, and that me becoming a permanent faculty member at Harvard Law School meant more to him than joining his protest."
"We should not forget that Derrick Bell left the doors open whenever he made progress to allow us to follow him," added Ogletree. "We should be sure to leave those doors open for future generations."