Monday, July 29, 2013

Introducing Guest Alumni Blogger James Gilliam

It is with great pleasure that I introduce our third guest alumni blogger: James Gilliam '03. James has long been a champion of social-justice issues -- a topic area on which he will blog in this space. James teaches the Public Interest Law Practice Seminar, Sexual Orientation and the Law and other subjects as an adjunct professor at the Law School, where he was a public interest scholar. James has served as the deputy executive director of the ACLU of Southern California since 2010. Previously, he was a litigation associate and associate pro bono coordinator at Paul Hastings, where he helped the firm notch its first appearance on The American Lawyer's "A-List Pro Bono Score Card."

-Associate Dean Michael Waterstone

In time of change, an affirmation of the power of the law

By James Gilliam, Guest Alumni Blogger

Twenty years ago, I attended my first gay Pride celebration in my hometown of Nashville, Tenn. It marked the beginning of my advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community -- and has informed all that I have done since. This is the work that drives me.

Over the past two decades, the tools I've used to enact change have evolved as I have continued my education. I began my career in the LGBTQ movement as the director of the organization that produced the Pride event in Nashville. But I soon learned the power of the law. City officials tried, time and again, to block the celebration. They increased the number of costly, off-duty police officers we had to hire to provide security. They demanded, the morning of the event one year, that we display documents proving that our tents were flame retardant. Every year but one, they refused to close the main street for our parade. When necessary, we threatened a lawsuit; and each time, our celebration proceeded.

I wanted to wield the power of the law for good. So I came here, to Loyola Law School, on a public interest scholarship. When I graduated a decade ago, many states still considered gays and lesbians criminals. Just months later, while I was studying for the bar exam, I witnessed the law serving as an agent of justice: In Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Texas's law -- which criminalized sexual acts between same-sex partners, but not partners of the opposite sex -- was unconstitutional.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Prof. Levenson reviews Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America's First Women Lawyers

By Professor Laurie Levenson

Professor Laurie Levenson recently reviewed Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America's First Women Lawyers in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Excerpt:
The book jacket may say it all. Three of the most prominent women scholars of our time, Stanford's Deborah Rhode (Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law) and Barbara Babcock (Judge John Crown Professor of Law), and Yale's Linda Greenhouse (Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Senior Fellow at Yale Law School), describe Jill Norgren's, Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America's First Women Lawyers, as providing "detail and lively prose," told "with awe and gratitude," and a tribute to "bold, brave women." Yet, that is not the real story. The real story is told by the titles of each of these modern women legal luminaries. Each holds a prestigious title at a prestigious law school in the name of -- prestigious men.
Rebels at the Bar describes the struggles of a handful of women who sought to break the gender barrier for women becoming lawyers in the 19th century. Who were these women and what prompted them to fight the good fight? How did they manage to "lean in" when there were no harnesses to hold them? Norgren tells the story of how they clawed their way into the legal profession -- they did not have it easy. While today's women lawyers still struggle for equality, there is no doubt that our path was made possible by the sacrifices of these pioneers. They started the journey for us. The least we can do is pay attention to the lessons they learned.
Read the full review.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Myths by Mariana Mazzucato

By Professor Jeffery Atik

This review is cross-posted from Jeff Atik's blog, Attraverso.

From start to finish of this superb book, I want Mariana Mazzucato to be right. In The Entrepreneurial State, Mazzucato suggests that the state has had a much more powerful role in stimulating innovation that the dominant narrative admits. The state pushes the key breakthroughs; private firms enter the game quite late (though they often capture an inordinate amount of the social gains from innovation).

Mazzucato's book is timely (indeed, it has had a considerable impact in Brussels), as countries shift away from austerity policies and look towards Keynesian-style spending to get their economies moving. Keynes famously suggested burying a treasure in an abandoned mine as a make-work project (his point, of course, was not to endorse pointless exercise; rather, he meant to show that pure make-work could act as a stimulus). Mazzucato argues countries can improve on Keynes by spending on state entrepreneurship. In a best-case outcome, state-sponsored innovation will shock the economy back to expansion and will lead to frontier-shifting welfare gains.

And maybe it would - if the political class could be convinced by Mazzucato's account of the hidden state-centric nature of innovation. Her recent historic examples involve pharmaceuticals and information technologies. The private drug development narrative is deliberately cultivated by Big Pharma: bold firms undertake massive R&D in their laboratories, to be rewarded (in the event of success) by patent monopolies. Big Pharma asks to be 'left alone' by the State: no tort liability and quick market approvals are the best policies. In fact, Mazzucato observes, it is the state that undertakes the greatest risks in developing new approaches and active agents, through public funding (such as NIH grants in the United States) of medical research. Left to their own devices, Big Pharma would undertake little research; indeed, the current trend among large pharmaceutical firms is to reduce R&D expenditure and to look to smaller, research-oriented firms to do later-stage development work, then in-licensing or acquiring fairly proven projects. But without the substrate of state-funded science, even this system would grind to a half.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die by Niall Ferguson

By Professor Jeffery Atik

This review was originally posted on Jeff Atik's Blog, Attraverso.

The civilized world is falling apart in Niall Ferguson's view. The world of Ferguson's concern comprises the United Kingdom and the United States, which (in sequence) have enjoyed long periods at the top. In The Great Degeneration, Ferguson signals the decay afflicting our central and defining institutions. Ferguson mixes nostalgia with alarm: nothing is as it was. Unlike Acemoglu and Robinson, who give an institutional account of why poor countries remain poor in Why Nations Fail (reviewed here), Ferguson tells us why great nations decay, why ours is degenerating.

Although Ferguson distances himself from those who give a purely cultural account for the rise of British and American prominence, he celebrates the particular constellation of democracy, capitalism, rule-of-law and voluntarism found nowhere else. A sequence of accidents may have created our cheerful and wealthy societies. The reduction in the Great Divergence seems to concern Ferguson most: the ratio of our well-being to that enjoyed by the rest of the world (as if a more equitable distribution were a bad thing).

If great (though quirky) institutions served us in the past, their present 'degeneration' is a cause for concern. Ferguson divides The Great Degeneration into four short essays, each devoted to an institutional category displaying distinctly Anglo-American characteristics. These are democracy, capitalism, rule-of-law and a civil society marked by voluntarism. The book is a write-up of a series of lectures Ferguson presented on the BBC, summarizing and synthesizing his earlier work. Ferguson's argues that institutions and not culture were the central determinants of the Great Divergence. Yet he also sees the 'intergenerational partnership,' the awareness and the willingness to act publicly on behalf of future generations, as foundational. The better democracy we practiced in the past was wiser; perhaps we didn't think about our neighbor, but we certainly thought about our grandchildren. (Fear not - the last thing Ferguson will address is climate change - he supposedly believes it a hoax.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Am Luscious, and Other Campaign Slogans

By Associate Clinical Professor Jessica Levinson

This op-ed was originally posted on Pacific Standard.

I have a new idea to increase civic engagement, and it is all about vegan food.
Some background for the non-hipsters out there. So all three of you, listen up. There is a vegan restaurant with locations, unsurprisingly, in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley, the birthing centers of true hipster culture. The fun (or perhaps failure, depending on your perspective) of this chain is how they name their dishes: Each is a personal, positive, declarative statement. Instead of rice with lentils, you'll order the "I Am Humble." Feel like hummus and pesto? You'll dine on the "I Am Abundant."

If you're a rain-on-your-parade curmudgeon like me, you'll do your best to avoid ordering the dishes by their given names. Instead of confidently telling my server, "I Am Terrific," I prefer to spend three minutes describing the dish, which is, as the name fails to indicate, made of kelp noodles. One of my very favorite dining companions suggested that I should "pick my battles," but the opportunity to avoid announcing, "I Am Liberated" (another kelp noodle dish) is well worth the time I spend boorishly pointing at the menu.

Monday, July 1, 2013

With Housing Crisis, State Bar Helps Pave Road to Recovery

By Patrick Kelly, Guest Alumni Blogger

While the housing market finally seems to be rebounding, the effects of the foreclosure crisis continue to reverberate throughout California. Many homeowners are still struggling and in need of help in order to save their homes. The State Bar of California, in partnership with the Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris, has stepped up to provide assistance.

In November, Harris announced a $10 million grant program for organizations that provide housing counseling and legal services to homeowners. The funds were secured through the National Mortgage Settlement . The State Bar offered to help administer the new grant program, in conjunction with the Attorney General's Office. Because the State Bar already administers legal services grants, we were able to offer our help at no cost to taxpayers. That means that the entire $10 million will go to the people who are struggling and need it most.

The State Bar has been compiling and processing dozens of applications to help the selection teams set up by the Attorney General's Office make funding recommendations to the Attorney General. These applications are from legal aid organizations and other nonprofits proposing innovative, scalable and sustainable approaches for helping California families dealing with a foreclosure crisis. About $9 million is going toward Consumer Assistance Grants, which will give families the resources they need to achieve longterm financial security, including counseling, legal representation and financial planning assistance.

The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess by Turney Duff

By Professor Jeffery Atik

This review was originally posted on Jeffery Atik's Blog Attraverso.

The Buy Side is part tell-all, part movie treatment and part self-therapy. Turney Duff presents the rise and fall of a Wall Street trader (Duff himself, or a character resembling him) in the years leading up to the 2007/2008 financial crisis. Duff is well on the way to crashing long before the crisis hits; The Buy Side is a story of self-absorption, addiction and perhaps (though it does not arrive by book end) redemption.

Duff would have us believe that he was one of those Masters of the Universe - magically in touch with the hidden rhythms of the markets, knowing just when to hit the buy or sell button. And his sure-footed ascent is predictable. He deftly passes from sales to the Buy Side - the trading firms who engage the fawning brokers to execute their transactions. The Buy Side may or may not be where the big compensation is - but it's certainly where the perks lie. And Duff relishes the Buy Side life: imagine buying six extra Yankees tickets in order to take out-of-park smoke breaks.

Duff claims no special savvy; he's just a party guy who attracts other party guys (and party gals). Somehow this leads to universal admiration and a seven-figure bonus check. I wonder if Duff is calculating in his modesty: it makes a better film. Still he must have had some knowledge of the health-care sector (he was heralded as an expert).