Elizabeth F. Loftus

Elizabeth F. Loftus

This Wednesday, October 22, the University of Arizona law school co-hosts an event with cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus. Speaking on her topic “The Memory Factory,” Loftus explores “how the mind is a ‘memory factory,’ one that can construct a richly detailed and emotionally vivid story, believed sincerely by the speaker although it is entirely false.”

Often described as a memory expert, Loftus’s own university page describes her own work this way: “Her experiments reveal how memories can be changed by things that we are told. Facts, ideas, suggestions and other post-event information can modify our memories. The legal field, so reliant on memories, has been a significant application of the memory research.”

You are likely familiar with her work via the pitched “memory wars” that waged in legal circles. Through her research on “the malleability of human memory,” Loftus examined eyewitness memory and what was called “the misinformation effect.” Numerous cases and headlines over the years have centered on how false and recovered memories may be created, even inadvertently; those dialogues played out most notoriously in childhood sexual abuse cases.

University of Arizona Law School logoThe free event is open to the public and does not require registration (though seating may be limited).

When: Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 pm (doors at 6:00)

Where: Ares Auditorium (room 164), James E. Rogers College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway, Tucson

As the organizers say, Loftus’s presentation is “part of ‘The Mind & The Law’ Lecture Series sponsored by the UA’s College of Science, the School of Mind, Brain, and Behavior’s Cognitive Science Program and the James E. Rogers College of Law.”

More information on the series is available here.

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

This Thursday, October 16, former U.S. Representative Barney Frank speaks at the University of Arizona Law School, where he delivers the annual McCormick Lecture.

His topic: “Why We Need More Government and How We Can Pay for It

The event is free and open to the public (though seats may be hard to come by; register here).

As the law school reports:

“Barney Frank served as United States Representative from Massachusetts for more than three decades, starting in 1981. An outspoken and deeply respected legislator, noted for his keen sense of humor, Frank has played a key role in some of the most important legislation of our country’s recent history, including the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

“As Chair of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011, Frank helped craft the compromise bill to slow the tide of home mortgage foreclosures in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, as well as the subsequent $550 billion rescue plan, and the landmark Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—the sweeping set of regulatory reforms named partly after Frank and signed into law in July 2010, to prevent the recurrence of the financial crisis.”

Arizona Law logoMore detail is here.

School representatives say that they anticipate a large crowd for the event. Capacity is limited to 300 registrants; the first 100 individuals to register will be seated in the Ares Auditorium, where Frank will deliver his lecture. The additional 200 people will be seated in adjacent overflow rooms to watch the lecture streamed live.

Arizona UA Law School logoYou may have wondered: What are the best reasons for an American university to launch a Bachelor of Arts in Law degree? This week, you got an answer.

I wrote before about the University of Arizona’s decision to be the first in the nation to offer such a degree. Time will tell whether the notion will catch on.

Yesterday, a UA Law professor took to the pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education to offer multiple reasons why the idea is overdue in the United States. In “The Case for Undergraduate Law Degrees,” Professor Brent T. White wrote, “Stepping back from the culturally embedded assumption in America that legal training should be provided in professional schools, the lack of an undergraduate route to legal education is perplexing.”

How perplexing? He suggests that the model has been successfully adopted in many other nations, and there’s no reason it wouldn’t work well here.

And when it comes to our evolving legal profession, “The question is not whether nonlawyers will provide legal services; it’s whether they will be well trained. Undergraduate law degrees offer the most cost-effective and broadly accessible way to offer such training.”

As always when opinionated people are engaged, the comments below the article offer some props to the writer as well as some pointed rejoinders.

Where do you stand on this experiment? Do you see the role of a B.A. in Law? Or do you see pitfalls on the path?

Susie Salmon, UA Law School

Susie Salmon, UA Law School

Color me nostalgic, but this week I’m offering a few great pieces of content from the departing issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine—in case you missed it.

Today. I point you to our new-ish column on legal writing. Wisely enough, that column is written by an expert in the subject, a legal writing professor at the UA Law School, Susie Salmon.

I have been impressed by Susie’s work from the first time I spotted it. Concise, witty, salted with just enough pop-culture and other references to keep us coming back for more.

This was not the legal writing approach I got in law school, I can tell you that.

(Ironically, Susie and I attended the same law school. I have never asked her about her experience at UC-Hastings as a writing student. Perhaps it was a stellar one; someone had to get the good section.)

Susie’s column in the current issue is spot-on as usual. She takes something you think you can live without knowing—in the June issue it’s the comma spliceand demonstrates that no, no you cannot.

Like all great writing teachers (and writers), Susie shows; she does not just tell.

And sometimes, she’ll tell off—but with courtesy.

When I received her April column, for example, I laughed out loud. For there, right in her lede (don’t know what that is? She explains it here), Susie gently pointed out a point of disagreement between us. You may chuckle (or chortle, if you’re legal-word pundit Bryan Garner), but debates over the Oxford comma are serious business.

Here is how she handled it. (And a sample of her column lede is below.)

Commas may look innocent, but can they be unnecessary? (Sorry, Oxford.)

Commas may look innocent, but can they be unnecessary? (Sorry, Oxford.)

Well, unlike the musings of my own law school professor, I take to heart Susie’s suggestions. And so I am pleased to tell you that since reading her gentle remonstrance, I have (deep breath) … taken a less hardline view that the Oxford comma is a ridiculous relic of a stodgy past.

Yes, I still strive to follow the AP Stylebook, our particular bible. And yes, my skin does break out in a rash when I see that damned O.C. wheel around the corner of a paragraph, grinning the power-drunk grin of a self-satisfied colonial monoglot.

But now, at least, I do not obliterate it with relish, striking it out with a violent Sharpie slash. Instead, I read the sentence multiple times, slowly, over Port, as I imagine baffled O.C. lovers do, considering every possible way a comma’s omission may lead to confusion or a monarchy’s collapse. And then, every once in a while, I allow the comma to remain.

See. I can learn.

Well, so can you. So enjoy Susie’s column now and in the future. But go easy on adding the commas, would you?

 

 

James E. Rogers

James E. Rogers

This morning, I share some very sad news from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. The following note by Dean Marc Miller was distributed Sunday evening:

“I am sorry to share the sad news that our friend and namesake Jim Rogers (’62) passed away last night after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

“All of you who knew Jim realize what a loss this is to the entire University of Arizona community, and we feel this loss especially deeply at the James E. Rogers College of Law.

“Jim’s passion for higher education, and indeed his passion for the role of great educational systems and institutions at all levels, was matched by his generosity towards those who create such institutions. He transformed Arizona Law and afforded all of us—students, faculty, and staff—opportunities that we would not have had without his vision and encouragement. His legacy continues in the programs he helped build, the students of lives he changed, and the many people here who became his friends, and his character and vision will continue to shape the experience and careers of future generations of graduates.”

law-schoolOn Monday, the University of Arizona reported that it will be “the first major research university to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Law” beginning in the fall of this year.

The initiative is a novel approach to serving an undergraduate community that seems less and less inclined to pursue a legal career, but which may find legal training a great benefit.

According to the school, the degree is “the product of a partnership between the James E. Rogers College of Law and the School of Government and Public Policy in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.”

In January, I got a brief preview of the new initiative when I interviewed UA Law School Dean Marc Miller for our magazine Q&A. At that time, the proposal remained unannounced as it was still in process to garner Board of Regents approval. Monday’s announcement indicated it had cleared that hurdle.

Why a B.A. in Law? As Dean Miller puts it:

“A Juris Doctor is a highly valuable degree and there are roles that only lawyers can serve. But training a broader range of students will serve society, open careers in areas of substantial regulation, respond to changes in technology and the forces of globalization, and invite opportunities for the delivery of new and more accessible legal services.”

The degree will require core courses taught by the university’s School of Government and Public Policy. Then, students can take their core law courses, taught by full-time law school faculty.

University of Arizona Law School logoThough the university intends to train students to “think like a lawyer,” the intended consumer of the new bachelor’s degree may not be headed toward a law school J.D.

Reports the university, “Possible careers open to graduates of the program include corporate compliance, city planning, water resources management, tax advising, business management, trade, banking and finance, conflict resolution, healthcare administration, contracts, government, human resources, policy analysis, and legal technology consulting.”

Those who opt for law school after graduation may find their way made easier by a “3+3” program, which will allow certain students to complete their B.A. and their J.D. in six years.

More news on the initiative is here and here.

What is your thinking on this initiative? Do you predict it will be a popular choice for undergrads? Do you interact with clients in positions that touch on legal issues whom you wish had some legal education? Would such a degree fill that need?

University of Arizona Law School logoIn the March Arizona Attorney, which just went live online, I take the opportunity to praise some law student leaders. Among them are the winners of an annual writing competition at the University of Arizona law school. That competition is named for attorney Richard Grand.

If you read my column, you’ll see that I also get to share a nice photo of the winners.

Here’s the portion of my column pertaining to the UA Law School:

“A January ceremony provided the announcement of the UA Law winners: Kate Hollist (first place), Jessica Schulberg (second), Matt Smith (third), and Omar Vasquez and Tim Butterfield (both honorable mention). Congratulations to all.

“This year’s competition asked for the students to locate the storyteller within them. They were asked to write a profile of a real person who had some experience with the law or legal system. The diversity of responses was matched only by their compelling writing. Well done.”

“The UA competition holds a special place for me due to Richard Grand. The successful and talented attorney died last April, making this the first contest without his involvement. I am pleased to see the continued passion for the student writing experience in his wonderful widow, Marcia. I am sure I will raise a glass to Richard’s memory on February 20, when he would have turned 84.”

But because law school folks are some of the nicest in the legal profession, I also get to share with you, here, a second photo. You see, the school’s own Juan J. Arévalo insisted I step into a shot with the winners. That let Dean Marc Miller and me bookend the talented writers.

Thanks, JJ!

The 13th annual Richard Grand Writing Competition winners. L to R: me (not a winner!), Tim Butterfield, Katherine Hollist, Jessica Schulberg, Matt Smith, with UA Law School Dean Marc Miller. (Not pictured: Omar Vasquez)

The 13th annual Richard Grand Writing Competition winners. L to R: me (not a winner!), Tim Butterfield, Katherine Hollist, Jessica Schulberg, Matt Smith, with UA Law School Dean Marc Miller. (Not pictured: Omar Vasquez)

Please let me know if you hear of any other law student and young lawyer honors.

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