Monthly Archives: March 2014

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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.