Top Gun

I was delighted to learn last week that Caroline Power, who graduated in May, had won Baylor Law’s prestigious Top Gun Mock Trial Competition.  It was a wonderful conclusion to Caroline’s amazing run as a trial advocacy student, and an even better beginning to her life as a trial lawyer.  We at her alma mater are immensely proud of Caroline, excited for her future, and not at all surprised.

For those unfamiliar with Top Gun, it is an elite invitational competition in which advocates from the top programs in the country have just 24 hours to learn the case file and prepare their arguments, after which they argue their cases solo, rather than in the traditional team format.  The pressure is intense and the stakes are high.  Only one person a year earns the right to call herself a Top Gun.

This year’s contestants argued a case regarding copyright law in which a publisher was accused of encouraging a novice writer to take elements from an established writer’s series of children’s books. To win, Caroline had to review depositions, records, and photographs before the case, work with new pieces of evidence as the tournament progressed, and argue in front of a jury of distinguished trial lawyers and judges. In the final round of competition, Caroline argued before presiding Judge Leonard E. Davis, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Judge Davis had high praise for Caroline, describing her as talented, fluid, articulate, and persuasive.  I couldn’t agree more, and in fact would add that Caroline is also incredibly hard-working, focused, and highly disciplined – all traits that contributed to her success as a member of the Temple Law National Trial Team and will most certainly serve her well as a trial lawyer.

Caroline’s Top Gun triumph, coming as it does at this particular moment, has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Eddie Ohlbaum, who created the program and whose passing this spring has been a loss for the school and for each of us who treasured his wisdom and friendship.  In particular, it has given me a reason to reflect on why trial advocacy is such a core element of our curriculum and to reaffirm our institutional commitment to it.

Becoming a trial lawyer isn’t for everyone.  That said, I believe that coursework in trial advocacy is.  Why? Three reasons:  Preparation, confidence, and agility.  No other course in legal education develops these three highly desirable – and transferable – traits in young lawyers as well as the classes they take in trial advocacy.

Preparation:  Trial Advocacy teaches students to synthesize a large amount of complex information, organize it into arguments that will be persuasive to their specific audience, and articulate it with passion and authenticity.  That audience may be a judge or jury, but could just as easily be an arbitration panel, corporate board, negotiating partner, or policy-maker.  Some people are gifted orators and can be decently effective extemporaneously.  But they will never be as great as if they’d prepared. The more prepared the lawyer is, the more effective she will be in representing her client well, no matter what the forum may be.  Trial Ad teaches preparation.

Confidence:  Trial Advocacy pushes students out of their comfort zone and challenges them to do things they didn’t know they could.  It is one of the great opportunities they have in the course of their legal education to layer skill and individuality on top of knowledge.  The best advocate understands that he or she – uniquely – determines the shape and contours of the case presented.  This artistry inevitably discloses something of the lawyer, and involves risk.  So, at Temple, our students will take risks to complete the course.  Learning that they can stand up in front of their peers and professors and deliver an opening statement or cross examine a witness is instrumental to their development as young lawyers, and the confidence they develop when they do what they thought was out of reach inevitably carries over into the rest of their work.

Agility:  Trial Advocacy requires students to think on the fly, drawing on their thorough understanding of the facts and how they relate to one another to quickly absorb new developments and make the necessary adjustments.  This ability to respond quickly and confidently under pressure is something that Temple’s trial advocacy faculty works to develop in every student, regardless of whether they are members of the National Trial Team or reluctantly enrolled in Introduction to Trial Advocacy despite a distinct aversion to public speaking.

What these three Trial Advocacy gifts really boil down to is this:  students who take the risks and the opportunities offered by the program, especially here at Temple, come out of it having discovered their own voices and with the tools to use those voices powerfully and passionately in the practice setting of their choice.  They have a “can do” confidence that they can make a difference, and so they do.  I’m proud of Temple Law’s leadership in this field and of the many members of the legal community whose participation contributes to our success.

The Heart of the Matter

Almost everyone who’s ever even thought about law school has heard that attending one will teach you, primarily, to “think like a lawyer.”  While that is universally recognized as an important element of any legal education, three events over the past week have led me to conclude that we cannot only be about teaching our students’ minds: we must also be engaging their hearts.  Fortunately, recent events have reminded me that this is something the faculty and alumni of Temple Law do exceptionally well.

On Friday, April 4th, Temple Law hosted Wills for Heroes, an organization that assists first responders and members of the military in drafting basic estate planning documents.  Dan McKenna ’05 and volunteers from Ballard Spahr joined Temple Law faculty, administrators and students to provide this much-needed service.  The feel-good vibes were palpable, and you could see in the faces of the clients the peace that comes from knowing that you are doing something tangible and concrete to protect the ones you love.

From left:  Professor Jane Baron, Shanna Miles, Amanda Cappelletti, Caroline Hubbard and Shelley Reinhart. In back are Kevin Hill and Nick Engel. Photo credit: Rich Baron.

From left: Professor Jane Baron, Shanna Miles, Amanda Cappelletti, Caroline Hubbard and Shelley Reinhart. In back are Kevin Hill and Nick Engel. Photo credit: Rich Baron.

On Saturday, Professor Jane Baron, who had also volunteered at the event on Friday, met students from her Property class at the East Poplar Playground and Recreation Center where, as part of the 7th annual Philly Spring Cleanup, they worked to spruce up a community garden.  Professor Baron has been a real driving force for the law school, reminding us that giving back to our community is not an obligation; it’s not even something we occasionally do.  It is who we are.

In between these two wonderful events was yet a third expression of the Temple Law Heart – -the tribute to Professor Eddie Ohlbaum, (“Eddie” to everyone), who passed away on March 13 after a valiant but too brief battle against cancer.  Judge Mitchell Goldberg (EDPA) gave comments from the judiciary, and as a member (with Andy Stern) of the inaugural trial team.  Luke Reiter, currently Executive Producer of “The Blacklist” but with legions of Hollywood credits to his name, spoke on behalf of the trial team (he was a member of Temple’s winning National Trial Competition team (NTC) where he received ‘best advocate honors).  Emilia McKee, a current 3L and member of the all-women NTC team just back from Texas where we once again made the Elite Eight, spoke about Eddie’s impact on trial team members, sharing with us an email Eddie had written to the team after a heart-breaking second-place finish earlier in the year.  (Members of the only other all women team, were also in attendance.  See both teams in the photo to the right).  In his message to this year’s team members, Eddie reminded them of all they had accomplished and how proud he was of them.  He told them, and forgive me for paraphrasing, that he would go into battle with them any day.  That unqualified support is what we all received from Eddie in various forms and settings.  And it is what we so very much miss.  After Emilia came David Layne, also a 3L, who talked about Eddie’s impact on students not on the trial team.  In reprising an encounter he’d had with Eddie about his success on Eddie’s Evidence exam, David reminded us that Eddie cared about every one of his students, not as competitors or numbers, but as people.

From left: Michelle Ashcroft, Emilia McKee Vassallo, Caroline Power, Brittne Walden, Anne Hendricks, Elaine Ugolnik,  Nancy Conrad

From left: Michelle Ashcroft, Emilia McKee Vassallo, Caroline Power, Brittne Walden, Anne Hendricks, Elaine Ugolnik, Nancy Conrad

David was followed by a trio of faculty members.  Professor Lou Natali reminisced about hiring Eddie at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and Eddie’s relentless commitment to out-work everyone else.  Professor Eleanor Myers reflected on Eddie’s service in the Temple Office of University Counsel, where he excelled at civil litigation, but just hated it.  Fortunately, Temple Law School came calling, and Eddie joined the Law School faculty in 1984.  Former University Counsel and former Dean Bob Reinstein shared memories of Eddie’s role on the Law School faculty, particularly as architect of the nationally-recognized advocacy program, an impact that single-handedly changed Temple Law School.

Having labelled both her presence and her participation as a game-day decision, Eddie’s widow, Karyn Scher, graced us with remarks.  She was at once nostalgic yet funny.  She shared a hilarious dream she’d had featuring Eddie and St. Peter.  I won’t reveal the punchline in case she chooses to tell it again — as she should.

The tribute ended with a short but poignant video, ending with Eddie’s hands over his head in victory.  (Thank you, Steve App, for finding the video).  It reminded us of his essence, his encouragement, and his love of success.   The planning committee concluded, afterwards, that the evening was as near perfect as one could hope.

Why do I go on like this?  In part, I want to honor my friend and colleague, Eddie Ohlbaum. But as I surveyed the several hundred people who had gathered to honor his contributions (the event was planned as a tribute, long before we had reason to suspect he would not be present to witness it), I realized that Eddie, and our reaction to his achievements and his loss, are what people love about Temple.  As an institution, Temple has a big heart  one with space and love for all of our community.

The Intersection of Law & Public Policy: 2014 Update

Last Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of spending some time at a symposium featuring the work of 15 Temple Law & Public Policy Scholars.  For those of you unfamiliar with this program, the Scholars are Temple Law students who have completed an immersive summer experience in Washington D.C., led by Professor Nancy Knauer.  Professor Knauer conducts the course as an integrated learning community. The students work during the day at high level, policy-oriented internships, spend evenings in a class on institutional change, and enjoy mentorship from Temple Law graduates working in D.C.  Through the integration of these experiences, students achieve a deeper understanding of the reciprocal relationship among theory, experience, and professionalism.  Of particular excitement, the Scholars work collaboratively (a 21st century innovation in legal education), supporting and encouraging each other’s work, while individually preparing white papers related to their internship position.  After just two years in operation, the Law & Public Policy Program is already delivering impressive results.

Each Scholar at the symposium presented an innovative policy proposal addressing a current pressing social or economic issue – often of national or even international significance.  They were organized in five panels along the following themes:

  • Financial Regulation and the Public Interest
  • New Approaches to Problem Solving: Courts, Conflict, and the Environment
  • Sexuality, Violence, and the State
  • The Power of Markets
  • Responding to the Information Revolution

I watched with pride as the students presented their ideas with confidence and authority, and then fielded questions from a very engaged audience.  I was also impressed with the sophistication of the proposals themselves, which were far from being merely academic arguments.  These were proposals designed to have impact in the relevant policy arenas.

We like to say at Temple Law that our students excel in making things happen, and these Scholars are no exception.  Several of them have already been involved or influential in policy changes at very high levels. Some have already been sought out as experts on their points of interest.  All 15 will be presenting their papers in May at the annual meeting of the Law & Society Association, a forum typically reserved for faculty.  I have no doubt that their contributions to that forum, and to our profession, will make everyone at Temple Law very proud.  And they are just the latest example of our efforts to ensure that our students are prepared – well-prepared – for 21st century practice.

Thoughts on Joining the Order of the Coif

The Coif

The Coif

Earlier this week, I received a letter from the Secretary of the Order of the Coif, confirming that Temple Law had been granted a charter and become a member school of the Order.  This is fantastic news for our students and well-deserved recognition of our faculty’s commitment to excellence, particularly in scholarship, and I could not be more proud.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Order of the Coif, it was established in the U.S. in 1902 as a national legal education honor society.  The history of the society, however, goes back much further.  It began with a tradition in the medieval era, when distinguished lawyers were entitled to the right to wear the coif.  For those unfamiliar with a coif, it is the wig or head-covering you might associate with an English barrister.  Members of the medieval order were the only ones appointed to certain legal positions, and in some cases, the only people admitted to practice in certain courts.

Today, the Order of the Coif exists to recognize those law students and lawyers who have distinguished themselves through hard work and a commitment to excellence.  Membership recognizes individuals who have set themselves apart in a very competitive field.

I’m also pleased about Temple’s membership in the Order because I think it is an affirmation of our core philosophy that academic scholarship and experiential learning share a deeply reciprocal relationship.  This philosophy has informed many of our most successful initiatives, from our theory-and-practice symposium series to our award-winning integrated trial advocacy and integrated transactional programs.  It’s not just that both are necessary for a legal education to be complete; it’s that they need each other to reach their full potential in the practice of law.

I’m hopeful that, as Temple Law’s best and brightest join the Order of the Coif, they will become beacons of excellence and inspiration, and will carry what they’ve learned at Temple to ever greater heights in our wonderful profession.

Remarks on Accepting the Philadelphia Bar Association’s 2014 Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award

There is no success that comes to us through our efforts alone.  In various ways, our friends, colleagues and loved ones contribute – by encouraging us, supporting us and, in many instances, making us look good as a result of their efforts.  I had the pleasure of introducing a program at which three of my colleagues spoke to audiences in Beijing and Tokyo.  Professor Greg Mandel spoke on evolutionary and revolutionary trends in Intellectual Property Law, Professor Duncan Hollis spoke on how well law is (or is not) promoting Cybersecurity, and Professor Salil Mehra spoke about the implications of the Apple e-book case (currently pending in the Second Circuit) on Antitrust Law.  In a few days, Professor Hollis will reprise his Cybersecurity presentation in Pusan, South Korea, and Dean Louie Thompson and I will speak there about US and International Legal Education.  I start this blog post with this information because my colleagues’ presentations have been spectacular, and have further enhanced the reputation of Temple Law School’s faculty.  Their work makes Temple Law School, and indirectly me as Dean, look good.  The same is true for my having been honored by the Philadelphia Bar Association with this year’s Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award.  The award was given to me, but I share it with my many colleagues who are also devoted to a more diverse legal profession and a more diverse and inclusive world.

What follows is a transcript of my remarks on diversity, offered in acceptance of the award.  To watch the video, please click here.

Friends, colleagues, members of the judiciary, and members of the Bar:  Thank you for selecting me as this year’s recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award.   Justice Sotomayor is a great, and smart and accomplished – and very cool – lady, and to have my name associated with her is deeply humbling.    I thank the Bar Association for giving me the chance to say a few words here – by video.  You’ll be pleased to know that I’m going take less time than they offered.  I’ve sat through these sorts of videos.  A lot gets lost across the airwaves.   But please bear with me.  There are a couple things I do want to say.  First, and most importantly, I deeply regret that I cannot be there in person to share this moment with you.  On the serious side, I worry that you’ll think me ungracious for not managing to be present.  But please forgive me.   I am with colleagues presenting on cybersecurity and intellectual property to audiences in China and Tokyo.  It just was not possible to undo these appearances.  On the less serious side, we debated an appearance by Skype.  But it’s after midnight in China.  You really don’t want to see me after midnight.  So instead, thank you for letting me offer a few – daytime – thoughts.

First, thanks to Mary Platt, Lynn Marks, and Phyllis Beck, who nominated me, and the many others of you who supported my nomination.  It’s humbling to be in the company of such prior recipients as Nolan Atkins, Andre Dennis, PDLG, the Liacouras Committee, and of course Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  Her achievements and her contributions, not just to our profession but to our nation, are proof that we are limited in what we can accomplish only by what we dare to dream.

Speaking of dreams, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities that I have been given to do more than I or my parents  ever dreamt was possible.  We have worked hard as a nation to remove the barriers that once shut people out on the basis of their race, gender, or orientation, and both I and the Justice have been able to dream bigger dreams as a result of that work.  But I’d like to suggest to you now, and I believe that Justice Sotomayor would agree, that diversity is more than access.  It’s more than tearing down fences, opening doors and removing barriers that might exclude. Real diversity lies in an embrace – a celebration – of difference.

Let me  make the point this way.  The children of Barack Obama, or Eric Holder, or Mayor Nutter will all be able to have diversity categories checked.  But their experiences will likely have given them exposure and sophistication that will, except for their skin color, render much of their “difference” invisible.  As an aside, don’t even get me started on the fact that as I was crafting examples to make this point, there were far more “male” examples than female.  We’ll dive into that topic some other day.  For today, let me implore you to understand that true diversity means difference.  Often, it means difference in ways that are unexpected, unusual, or uncomfortable, but at the same time incredibly delightful.  When we embrace difference in others, we often gain a new appreciation for our own unique contributions as well.  When we understand diversity not as an accommodation of difference but as a celebration of it, we open our eyes to horizons and possibilities far beyond anything we had dreamt was possible.  The opportunity to see the world, and ourselves, from another’s perspective is one that will always challenge us, dare us, to dream more.

Many in our profession believe that we can achieve diversity only if we personally lose something; power, status, opportunity.  Those who hold this view think that our profession is, at bottom, a zero sum game. Please allow me to suggest that this way of thinking is wrong, and in following it we place limits on our imaginations.  The most enriching, exciting, illuminating, stimulating, and thought- provoking ideas typically come in combination with people who are different from us.  Even if you think you are terrific, and many of you are, I guarantee you’ll be better if you are joined by someone who brings an entirely new and unexpected perspective.  I believe that if our profession is to continue in its pursuit of our highest ideals, if we are to continue to both thrive and serve our communities well, we must embrace difference as the valuable gift that it is.

I feel a solidarity with Justice Sotomayor. We have both lived a dream.  So it is easy for me to pass a commitment along to others – a commitment to diversity.  It is who I am, and it is my life.

It is an honor and a privilege to receive this year’s Justice Sotomayor Diversity Award.  I promise to work every day to pass my commitment on to others and to dare them – you – to dream as well.

Thank you for this most extraordinary honor.

Thoughts from the ABA Deans’ Meeting

At the end of last week, I attended the ABA Deans’ meeting. 127 of the 202 ABA accredited law schools were represented. The conference was entitled “Our Future: Changes and Challenges,” and that is what the programming and the conversations focused on. In other words, although there was a clear recognition of the changed circumstances in which law schools of today find ourselves, there was a commitment to talking constructively and positively about ensuring that we remain committed to our students’ future success. This was a day and a half conference, so all of the contents can’t possibly be conveyed here.  Here, though, are some of the conference highlights.

The first panel focused on forms and delivery of legal education and the delivery of legal services. In this context, we discussed varying opportunities for students, both before and after graduation, to be placed in settings that would allow them to contribute to the delivery of much-needed legal services while gaining needed experience. The panel also focused on the cost of legal education, and touched on initiatives such as 3+3 programs and expanded joint degree programs to shorten the time to degree and thus reduce student costs. There was almost no mention of shortening law school to two years. Rather, the discussion focused on ensuring that the third year was meaningful, important, and of clear added value.

The second panel, on regulation and accreditation, clearly generated the most excited discussion. Discussion centered around who should license lawyers, what kind of activity should be licensed, who accredits what sorts of programs, and the role of law schools and law school Deans in these discussions. There were representatives from the state licensing agencies of both New York and California, both of which are expanding the requirements to be admitted as a practicing lawyer. New York has a pro bono requirement, and California is contemplating an enhanced skills requirement. I think it is fair to say that collectively Deans responded to these initiatives with disapproval. Historically, a graduate of an ABA-accredited law school was eligible to sit for a state bar exam. Although I cannot speak for everyone, I think it is fair to say that the view of the Deans was that if states begin to impose extra requirements, the burden will inevitably be felt by law schools, who will need both to ensure that our students have the requisite opportunities, and who will be asked to certify compliance by our students. At least one state’s bar officials have been heard to say, “We are not going to be outdone by California and New York.” A race to 50 unique bar admission requirements would be a disaster for law schools to administer.  Additional administrative requirements impose increased administrative costs; this is especially unwelcome in an era where everyone is seeking to keep the cost of legal affordable.

The afternoon panel focused on the changing face of legal education. In particular, discussion focused on the many new programs that are being introduced, including education for undergraduates, new masters programs, and new programs for nonlawyers. This session also focused on distance-learning, hybrid learning, and whether the JD should be modified to require more skills-based content. We also discussed LLLTs: limited license legal technicians, and the likely or most desirable place for them in the future legal landscape.

Saturday’s morning session focused on the varying legal education organizations, and their role in the future of legal education. These include the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), and, of course the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. I think the highlight of the discussion was the commitment of all of these organizations to work far more collaboratively then has been done in the past, particularly with an eye towards addressing costs of education as well as ensuring that the pipeline promotes a diverse student – and ultimately lawyer – population.

The final session ended where we began – thinking about our future and what we as Deans might do together. There was a clear sense that we have not been as united in reminding people about the value of a legal education as we might be. That will change. There was a sense that we have operated in the past as silo institutions, and that there are exciting opportunities for collaborations between and among schools. Many of you know that I am particularly proud of my decision to open up our Innocence Project to students from other Philadelphia area law schools. The words “joint,” “shared,” “collaborative,” “consultative,” and even “consortium” were talked about enthusiastically. And although almost everyone was experiencing yet another decline in law school applications this year, we left with a decided sense of camaraderie and optimism.

To close, let me put this in Temple perspective. Don’t get me wrong; I took away several new ideas. On the whole, however, I was very pleased to recognize that we are already doing a lot of the things that people felt are important to our shared future. We have comparatively low tuition; we have a host of experiential programs, both for our students and our recent graduates; we have crosstown collaborations with our area law schools, we have dual degree programs, and we are exploring forms of online teaching. I could go on, but my point is not to list everything we do but simply to conclude with the recognition that this is not the law school of the 20th century, or even of the early years of the 21st century. We have continued to evolve and offer new and innovative opportunities for our students. It felt good to have this confirmed.

Congratulations to the Temple Law Trial Team

Emilia McKee, Caroline Power, Britt Walden, and Michelle Ashcroft

The Temple Law National Trial Team

I was delighted to learn this weekend that Temple Law’s National Trial Team swept the Region III championship and will advance to the National round, held in Austin from March 26-30.  Click here for the details about their victory and what comes next.

I was particularly excited to note that Temple Law was represented by four outstanding women – Emilia McKee Vassallo, Caroline Power, Britt Walden, and Michelle Ashcroft.  Each one is a powerhouse in her own right and I’m told that together they are simply astonishing.  It goes without saying that I am immensely proud of what they’ve accomplished so far and confident that there’s a lot more to come.

I’m also very encouraged, because I think this means that we are doing something right.  I hope it means that we are nurturing the passion, talent, and pride of the women who study law here, because our profession very much needs it – and them.  I hope it means that we are witnessing the evolution of our profession into one in which success begins with passion, not privilege.  And I hope it means that we are going to welcome many, many more women – and their passion, talent, and pride – to the fold.

So – to Emilia, Caroline, Britt, and Michelle – congratulations and thank you.  Your success reminds all of us – even those not fortunate enough to compete for a national title — what we can accomplish with passion, perseverance, preparation and plain old hard work.  No matter the setting, your work is an example to us all.

Temple Law as Family

APALSA's Lunar New Year Banquet always brings our community together.

APALSA’s Lunar New Year Banquet always brings our community together.

At Friday’s Lunar New Year banquet, APALSA president Andrew Moon described the 7th annual Temple APALSA Lunar New Year Banquet as a family reunion.  I could not agree more.  The sold-out event brought together students, faculty (David Sonenshein, Tom Lin and adjunct professor John Myers), administrators (Louie Thompson and Farlistcity El), alumni and friends to celebrate a most important Chinese holiday:  the Lunar New Year, this year welcoming the Year of the Horse.  Vice-President Richard Barzaga reminded us of the ties that bring us together.  We were treated to excellent food at Ocean City Restaurant (234 N. 9th Street), and the entertainment was, as always, captivating.  Lots of fun photos followed dinner, memorializing the enjoyment and camaraderie of the evening.  Most importantly, there was a wonderful sense among the participants that Temple Law fosters something more than education.   People who come together here – whether they stay for a few years or a career’s worth – discover the support and encouragement of friendships as enduring as the bonds of family.  Speaking of Temple Law as family, earlier on Friday members of the faculty came together, as part of our institutional book club, to discuss What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press 2013).  The book examines the teaching strategies of 26 exceptional law professors, one of whom is our own Professor Nancy Knauer.  Professor Knauer shared how she’d become involved in the project and how it had impacted – and improved – her already outstanding teaching.  Those of us in attendance talked about Professor Knauer’s successful tactics, and discussed ideas for encouraging our faculty to become even more intentional about teaching outcomes than they already are.  We all felt inspired to renew our focus on delivering the very best of our abilities to our students.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, law schools across the nation are under considerable pressure to shape our students into the lawyers – and leaders – of tomorrow.  But I think we should also take great care to help them connect to one another and to us as people, because it is our connection to each other that sustains and guides us in joyful times and in difficult times.  The sense of family that we’ve nurtured at Temple Law is intended to do just that, and I’m proud and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

Kids for Cash

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the screening of Kids for Cash, a documentary about two judges in Luzerne County serving lengthy sentences for receipt of cash in connection with sentencing children to detention (though one of the judges continues to proclaim his innocence – you’ve really got to watch this film).  The screening was very well attended, and I was happy to see so many “Temple” people there – alumni like Abe and Sherri Reich and Judge Phyllis Beck, faculty like Rick Greenstein and Lou Natali, and friends like Stephen and Sandy Sheller.  It was wonderful to see two of our alumni, Marsha Levick and Bob Schwartz, co-founders of the Juvenile Law Center, featured for their prominent role in shining a light on this injustice (and hailed as the “heroes” of the film in this Inquirer review).

Kids for Cash has a lot to say to every person learning, teaching, and practicing law today.  I hope you’ll see it and let it speak to you.  Let it remind you why you went to law school in the first place – because you knew that with the right skills, education, and training, you could change the world.  You were right, and you still are.  Let it help you connect with who you were when you first chose law as a profession (or perhaps when it first chose you).  What was the vision of justice that inspired you at that time?  I hope the movie rekindles, or perhaps reaffirms, that vision for you.

I also hope the movie inspires you to listen when that voice inside tells you that something feels wrong.  Trust that instinct, and follow it.  Look carefully and with an open mind, and when you do find injustice, don’t be afraid to shine a light on it.  And be persistent.  Injustice doesn’t often give up easily.  In fact, the work is likely to be as daunting and difficult as the outcome is rewarding.  Marsha, Bob, and their colleagues found their persistence rewarded when thousands of children had unfair convictions expunged from their records.  What could be more rewarding than that?

Go see Kids for Cash, which opens in select theaters this Friday, and then ask yourself: where will you shine your light?

On Cyberwarfare and Legal Education

Yesterday, the law school hosted a presentation on the international legal implications of cyber warfare by Gary Brown, Deputy Legal Advisor for the International Committee for the Red Cross and formerly the first senior legal counsel for U.S. Cyber Command.  Mr. Brown discussed whether the law of armed conflict, which was developed to address traditional forms of warfare, is well-suited to cyber conflict – and, if not, what law should apply.  The program was sponsored by the law school’s Institute for International Law and Public Policy, and was organized by Professor Duncan Hollis, one of the country’s leading scholars of cyber warfare.

The event underscores that today’s law students will soon enter a practice world marked by rapidly changing and highly disruptive technologies.   Not terribly long ago, no one had heard of cyberspace, much less thought about its legal implications.  Today, it is difficult to imagine life without the internet.  The web connects billions of individuals, machines and essential infrastructure in ways that have transformed our world – and made cybersecurity a critical policy and legal issue.

Thinking about cyberwar reminds us that today’s lawyers must be able to assist their clients in navigating through the complex regulatory and commercial issues raised by new technologies.  Temple is fortunate to have talented faculty who are national leaders in cutting edge issues involving technology and cyberlaw.  Before joining the Temple faculty, David Post clerked for then-Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, worked on intellectual property issues and high technology commercial transactions for a leading Washington, D.C. law firm, and taught at Georgetown University.   He is a Fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute.  He is co-author of the leading textbook on cyberlaw, and his most recent book, In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace (Oxford University Press) explores what cyberspace is, how it works, and how it should be governed.

Duncan Hollis approaches cyber issues from the perspective of international law.  Duncan is an award-winning author whose work on treaties has been cited by the United States Supreme Court.  He is now part of an interdisciplinary team headed by research scientists from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Department that was awarded a multi-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study existing norms of behavior and governance in cyberspace.  Before joining the Temple faculty, Duncan worked as an international lawyer at the U.S. Department of State.

Professors Post and Hollis embody the types of cross-cutting expertise that is increasingly necessary in today’s rapidly changing practice environment.   One of my key responsibilities – and joys – as Dean is to ensure that discussion of cutting-edge issues is part of our students’ everyday experience.