Often new law students want to know what kind of help is available to them as they begin law school. After all, students are learning a new language, new concepts, and a new way of thinking. Added to that, students will have five classes in the first semester: Civil Procedure, Property, Torts, Legal Research & Writing and Social Justice (Legal Research & Writing and Social Justice are two parts of a course called Legal Skills in Social Context (LSSC)). That is a lot of work but, as one of the student bloggers on this site has said, it is doable.
by Roger Abrams, Richardson Professor of Law
This fall I start my 41st year in legal education, teaching Torts, exactly as I did in 1974. Over that period of time, I have taught at five law schools and served as dean at three of those schools, including Northeastern. I thought it might be useful to share with you my experiences at those various schools.
By Emily A. Spieler, Edwin W. Hadley Professor of Law
As an expert in labor and employment issues, I seek out NUSL students who share my interests. I am interested working collaboratively with students on projects that matter in the outside world.
Here are two examples from this past spring:
I asked one student to act as my research assistant for the quarter. She was going to graduate, and she was particularly interested in the intersections between law and policy in the labor area. As Chair of the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee – a federal advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Labor – I was asked to testify before a Senate committee regarding the effectiveness of the law that forbids retaliation against workers who raise safety complaints. She and I together conducted a full literature review of the subject, read the legal cases, looked at data that was compiled by the Department of Labor, and worked together to finalize my testimony. She said it proved to her that one can combine interests in policy and in law in ways that matter. The testimony from that hearing is posted on the Senate HELP Committee website.
by Gabriel Arkles, Legal Research and Writing Professor
In 2006, Christina Sforza, a homeless Latina transgender woman, went to a MacDonald’s in NYC with her friends. While there, she used the women’s restroom. Trans women should always be able to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, but in this case she didn’t have an alternative anyway: the men’s room was out of order. Christina even asked an employee which restroom to use and the employee pointed her to the women’s room. Nonetheless, when she was inside it someone began pounding on the door and threatening to kill her unless she came out. When she did, a MacDonald’s manager began beating her with a lead pipe on her chest, groin, head, and arms. Employees began chanting “Kill the faggot!” Christina’s friend called the police. Christina was on the floor bleeding when the police arrived. Still, when her attacker accused her of being a “man in the women’s restroom,” the police arrested Christina rather than her attacker. While the charges against Christina were ultimately dismissed, the police threatened to arrest her again when she tried to make a complaint against her attacker.
Why are poor people poor? There’s a question lawyers, law students – indeed, many in the U.S. and around the world — could chew on for many hours. The answers, one would assume, are highly complex, and vary substantially by country and over time. In fact, however, American law has shown a remarkable tendency to oscillate between two highly simplistic explanations of poverty, what we might call the “luck hypothesis” and the “work ethic” hypothesis. Under the luck hypothesis, anyone could wind up poor. Those of us who aren’t poor were/are lucky. We had gifts like competent, loving parents, good health, decent schools. Those who are poor, under this hypothesis, have been unlucky. Under the “work ethic” hypothesis, by contrast, the poor are, at least disproportionately if not entirely, individuals who lack self-discipline and good habits. Yes, people are dealt different hands in life, but those who wind up poor didn’t try very hard. They don’t plan, they don’t work hard, they don’t capitalize on what is available to them. Given these competing – and seemingly mutually exclusive – hypotheses about poverty, what makes for sensible social policy?
Monday March 10, 2014 marked the launch of the 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58). Representatives from Member States, UN agencies, and civil society have come together in New York City to address the issue of equality for women and girls. The theme for this year’s session is “Challenges and Achievements in the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls.” These goals were adopted 13 years ago to promote women’s fullest enjoyment of their rights. Particular target areas include eradicating the disproportionate poverty of women and girls, increasing women’s participation in politics, and ending gender-based violence. CSW58 provides an opportunity for stakeholders to review what progress has been made in these areas, and what improvements are still necessary.
by David M. Phillips, Professor of Law
“What will I learn in the first year of law school?,” is a frequently asked question directed at a law professor. There are many answers to this question. Without pretending to be exhaustive, let me tender a partial answer, one focusing upon a changing conception of what we mean by law and one related to a skill that the first year of law school enhances.
by Luke Bierman, Associate Dean for Experiential Education and Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Law
The Northeastern University School of Law Class of 2014 will graduate at the end of May, leaving the members of this class with just one more quarter to spend as students at the law school. Some of these students are completing their last classes as they prepare to head off to co-op. The rest of these students are starting to appear in the Dockser Commons as they return from co-op for their last classes before graduation.
This week, the Law School hosted a series of events to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The events were co-sponsored by the Law School’s own Program on Human Rights in the Global Economy and Domestic Violence Institute, along with several partners within Northeastern University: the College of Social Sciences and Humanities’ Human Services Program; the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; Bouvé College of Health Sciences’ Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice; University Health and Counseling Services’ ViSION program; and student groups Not For Sale and UNICEF. The fact that these diverse partners share an interest in raising awareness around this issue speaks to the important and cross-cutting nature of human trafficking.
The famous phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” is associated not only with Spiderman, but also with American prosecutors, who possess the discretion to charge people with crimes and are therefore arguably the most powerful players in the criminal justice system. One significant check on that power is the Brady doctrine, which stems from a 1963 Supreme Court case holding that, prior to trial, prosecutors must disclose all information to the defense that is “favorable” to the defendant and “material” to guilt or punishment.