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?
by Andrew ’16
In law school, one of the rites of passage during your first year is oral arguments. I discovered this when I started researching schools, and it has stressed me out since. I never considered myself a performer, but I have had the opportunity speak publicly through research presentations to small crowds. As a result, I do not have an issue being “on stage,” though it was never something I particularly enjoyed. I am not sure what made me so tense exactly, but some of the pressure likely came from my only exposure to oral arguments before law school.
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 Andrew ’16
The Legal Skills in Social Context (LSSC) Project deadline has arrived! That means that it is time to submit the written portion of the social justice project we have been working on for the last seven months. Honestly, I think the deadline has been looming over the 1Ls for weeks. Each “law office” has had to tackle numerous challenges in preparation for the deadline. This likely included editing a document written by multiple authors for tone and cohesion. In addition, groups have been squeezing in last minute research and interviews. On top of the substantive work, some of the documents were 100 pages or more, so even simple grammatical editing was no small task. In spite of the last minute stress of the push to the deadline, it was rewarding to see the research come together.
by Cory ’16
Ah, we’re at the point in the semester, or the year rather, when everyone is stressed, classes are at their peak of conceptual difficulty, and the weather is less than ideal (this morning was the first in months in which I did not need to wear a hat to cover my ears from the cold). It’s no one’s fondest time period, but it’s a necessary one. We just returned from spring break – yes, we get a glorious, much-needed spring break at NUSL – and everyone is now biting at the bit for summer to be here. But first, we have to earn it.
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 Andrew ’16
Everyone knows that law school is a considerable amount of work. I wish I could say that everyone was wrong. Aside from the obvious requirements of classes and endless amounts of reading, NUSL really keeps you busy. From the outside, it may sound onerous. However, if you are someone that enjoys being busy, then it works out well. That does not mean that a break is not helpful. With Spring Break starting tomorrow, it seems appropriate to reflect on the semester so far.