Posts for October, 2011

First Person

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

Jonathan Margolick is all about community—finding it and living fully in it. And he thinks that his classmates at Stanford Law School make this very small community a most amazing one.

“I don’t know how the school chooses students, but it’s clear to me that they look for the people with the most interesting life experiences,” says Margolick, JD ’13. “And I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this group.”

Your Privacy At Risk

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

Phone-hacking scandals at News of The World. One lawsuit after 
another alleging privacy breaches by major companies. A backlash over body-scanning machines in airport 
security lines. It’s been a busy year for those who work at the intersection of privacy law and technology. “2011 is the year that changed privacy,” [...]

International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

It’s safe to say that the “global village” envisioned by Marshall McLuhan a half century ago is here—with instantaneous electronic connections between nations, businesses, and individuals readily available at the click of a mouse or touch of a cell phone keypad. As communication between nations has developed, so too has awareness of shared experiences, differences, and human rights.

From the Dean

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

It takes a thick skin to be a legal educator these days, as anyone who reads newspapers or law blogs can attest. Law schools seem to have become everyone’s favorite whipping boy. I briefly questioned claims about the supposedly declining value of a JD in my recent state-of-the-school letter. A still more persistent criticism, however, has been that we’re not properly preparing students for practice, and I’d like to respond to that complaint as well. Many critics seem bothered by the fact that faculty do scholarship, as if that’s a waste of time and money. It’s a disturbing (not to mention misplaced) critique but only indirectly related to whether law schools provide an adequate education. It needs a reply, which I will offer in the next issue’s letter. Right now, I want to focus on professional education.

The most striking thing about the criticisms is that, so far as I can tell, the complaints come mostly from people who have little idea what law schools today actually do: people who assume that we still look like we did 20 or 30 years ago (when they were law students). We don’t. On the contrary, the professional education law students get today is far superior to the one I got in the early 1980s, which really did look like what the commentators are criticizing: three years of large Socratic classes with only an occasional academic seminar for relief. But law schools have been growing beyond that for years.

It is true that tenured and tenure-track faculty still teach a broad array of doctrinal classes in the traditional way. We do so because it remains as efficient and effective a method as anyone has found to teach the overarching theoretical structure of a field. Faculty also teach courses and seminars of a more academic nature, on everything from legal history to interpretive theory to the relationship of law to disciplines like economics, philosophy, sociology, and psychology.

Privacy and Mail

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

It’s a fairly common 
story. Mark writes an e-mail to Stephen about their weekend plans and, in a postscript, includes some choice comments—meant to be kept private—about their mutual friend Lisa. Stephen, not getting as far as the postscript, forwards the e-mail to his girlfriend and before long the e-mail [...]

Ralph Richard Banks

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

Should black women be held hostage to the failings of black men? That’s the provocative question at the heart of a new book by
 Ralph Richard Banks (BA ’87, MA ’87), the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law. His book—Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline [...]

Alison D. Morantz

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

Alison D. Morantz has an orange hardhat and a block of bituminous coal 
in her office—keepsakes from visits she made to a gold mine and a coal mine several years ago. 
“I found it interesting,” she says, responding to a question about whether she was scared. The underground worlds were, [...]

George G. Triantis

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

It’s hard to imagine American life today functioning without contracts—those often unread agreements that are central to the smooth working of everything from daily credit card transactions to the purchase of a home. Yet how contracts are designed and how contract law is taught to law students have, until recently, not been subject to critical review and improvement. Shedding new light on this central area of law in everyday life is George G. Triantis, JSD ’89, who joined the faculty from Harvard this summer.

Robert W. Gordon

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

Apparently, some people just can’t stay away. Robert W. Gordon, professor of law, is the latest member of an elite group of academics whose members, having spent time in the East, have seen the (sun)light and rejoined the Stanford Law School faculty. Gordon began his academic career at SUNY Buffalo [...]

James Cavallaro

October 28, 2011 | Issue 85

James Cavallaro prefers to be called Jim. “I hear ‘James’ with a stuffy British accent,” he says. And he’s anything but that. Born and raised in Flatbush, he was an out-of-place kid from Brooklyn at Harvard when he went there to study political science. 
“In the early 1980s a lot [...]