All posts tagged: law students

China Has Big Plans for Your Future

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Democracy's Constitution / lawyers without borders

When I first visited China in the 1980’s, the tallest building in Shanghai was the fourteen story Peace Hotel; when I returned a few years later, there were over fifty skyscrapers over fifty stories. So China’s economic miracle is no  surprise to me.  But up till now, it has consisted mostly of  supplying low price goods to Western consumers at very competitive prices.  Now  China is planning to provide over a trillion dollars of  capital […]

What it Means to”Think Like a Lawyer”

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I have always been puzzled by the venerable phrase “thinking like a lawyer.” What does it mean and should we take it as a  compliment or a put-down? I think the idea is  best captured by a metaphor trial lawyers sometimes  use to describe the craft of a colleague they especially admire or an adversary they fear — he or she can “see out the front.”  It means the ability to look over a complex […]

Small Revolutionary Acts

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Heroes / Repairing the System

How does social reform happen?  History books tend to portray social reform as a tidal wave  that sweeps away an unjust and obsolete status quo, but I think reform is better understood as the  cumulative result of  individual acts of opposition to concrete injustices people encounter in their own lives. Only with hindsight can we  assess the importance of any one action. Even  an idle question posed  in a conversation between old friends might turn […]

The Psychology of Equal Protection

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Repairing The Systen / The Supremes

A  brotherly difference of opinion about cake portions  presents the  same type of  issue that the Supreme Court will soon decide in an important  case. They both involve examples of inequity. Nicholas Kristoff  reports  that scientists have found that monkeys  are very sensitive to   unequal treatment.  If you give one monkey  tastier food, the others resent it.   But Kristoff  also gives us a lot of examples of situations where humans protest  unequal […]

Blind Justice

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Repairing the System

Social Science tell us that situational pressures, more than personal  ethics, drive our decisions. Remember  the volunteers in a Yale study who willingly “tortured” people when directed to do so by authority figures. It seems that almost every day we read of some  corporate rip-off of unsuspecting  consumers.  If we have any hope of controlling these fraudulent practices  our laws must put  in place incentives  for corporations to encourage ethical  behavior and prevent illegal […]

Creative Math

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Heroes / Repairing the System

I believe that imagination, not logic, is the essential ingredient in good legal reasoning.  But imagination need not be vague or dreamy. Sometimes the imaginative solution to a thorny legal problem can be as clear and simple as 1,2,3. A good example is found in a recent case involving the recurring evil of political gerrymanders. This NYT editorial tells the story well. “Gerrymander” is a term most people have heard of, but few understand. […]

The Art of Herding Coyotes

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Book/film List / Legal Fictions

It’s hard for lawyers not to be envious of scientists, fellow professionals who seem to continually come up with discoveries that improve the human condition while law muddles through from one crisis to the next. Dan Flores’ book Coyote America may help us to better understand why law seems so fallible. The book is about coyotes, not law, but its discussion of “Old Man Coyote”, the mythical beast that is featured in thousands of […]

The Makings of a Great Lawyer

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Book/film List / Legal Fictions

What separates a “great” lawyer from a merely good one? Graham Moore’s new novel The Last Days of Night gives us what I think is a persuasive answer to that fascinating question. The Last Days of Night tells the story of Paul Cravath, a 26 year old recent law graduate, who in 1888 suddenly becomes lead defense counsel for the industrialist George Westinghouse in one of the most famous patent cases of all time. Thomas […]

Let’s Give Law a Chance

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Repairing the System / Repairing The Systen

We are all unhappy about continuing stories of widespread police abuse of African-American citizens, but there seems to be no effective remedy available. One egregious example was the police killing of  seventeen year old Laquan McDonald  in Chicago.  McDonald  was shot by officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke claimed McDonald  was coming at him with a knife and he only  shot in self-defense. Several of his police colleagues filed statements corroborating Van Dyke’s story. Then a […]

A Wise Latina

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Democracy's Constitution / Heroes / The Supremes

Sonia Sotomayor has been a different kind of Supreme Court justice from the beginning.   At her confirmation hearing, instead of putting the Senate committee to sleep with platitudes, she told a male Senator that she thought a “wise Latina” might  have some valuable insights to offer in constitutional discussions. Then she ignored the  tradition for first term justices  to be  seen but not heard by  immediately joining in the colloquies  with counsel  during oral […]