Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Giving Papers at Miami

One of the attractive features of going somewhere new is receiving fresh feedback on one's ideas and research. And that's intensified when one leaves one's home turf and crosses continents.

I was asked early on if at some point in my stay I would present a paper to faculty. Of course one says yes, imagining the scene a couple of months down the road. So it was a shock when after seven days in the school, the faculty seminar organizer tracked me down and said those fateful words, "We've had a cancellation. How would you feel giving your paper now?" I smile and say, blithely, yes. Inside I realize this is it. I was to be the first of the faculty presenters for this semester.

Fortunately I had a paper ready. It's Lawyers, Law Firms, and the Stabilization of Transnational Business (with Fabian Sosa) available at SSRN. My chair for the session, Michael Froomkin, gave me the game rules. There would be lunch beforehand, then exactly at 12.35 he would call to order and I would be given 20 minutes to present my paper. During that time Michael would take questioners and organize them into a queue and feed them to me. He had also distributed the paper to the faculty, which would be read.

I took my 20 minutes, then turned to Michael for my cross-examination. He said we have six questioners lined up and we started. I had been told that the faculty was lively and vigorous in their seminars. I can confirm that.

Questions ranged over a wide area including legal ethics, licensing, regulation, legal theory, finance and more. Some commented, others criticized. The queue grew longer. It was both daunting and exhilarating. Not only were they tackling my ideas, but the faculty was giving me new ones. Realistically I considered there five new papers that I could write from the questions and comments directed at me.

Just over an hour later, Michael called a halt so we could return to the classroom. I had seen the Miami Law School faculty at their best.
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