Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Summarizing Miami

During my time in Miami I've been living on South Beach--a great place to be. One of its pleasures to me is going for a run in the morning on the beach. I see the sun rising, the ships leaving port, and I have an opportunity to let my mind float free.

So I have been thinking what has my experience been at Miami? This is good thing to do as I am presently grading exams, so one must always accentuate the positive. Rather than just say I've had a great time, which is true, I want to list the points that have made being away from home so worthwhile.

First and foremost has been my good fortune to be part of an exciting and stimulating faculty. I have written about the quality of the faculty seminars. It was the best introduction to the intellectual life of the law school a newcomer could have. To benefit from a large number of people focusing on your work for more than two hours is a real boon. You get to know them and they get to know you. It is the "Big Bang" of introductions, and it's effective.

For me it put me into a good group of colleagues and as a result I formed some valuable friendships.

Subsequent seminars enabled me to learn more about my colleagues' work and of those outside the law school and the university. Each was conducted with same rigor and dedication that I experienced.

I was lucky to be asked to teach a new subject, Professional Responsibility. Ethics was one of those areas I tended to sideline. But since teaching this course, I've gained a new respect for this subject and now lament that it isn't taught, at least properly, in English law schools. Through my experience of this course, the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics has asked me to review the second edition of the casebook I used, Lerman and Schrag's Ethical Problems in the Practice of Law (disclosure time: it contains two pages of my comments on the future of the legal profession post-Clementi).

I felt for the students having a teacher from outside the US teaching them a subject that was mandatory and part of the bar exam. I was constantly thinking would my students pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)? I saw my students after they had taken my exam and was overjoyed to hear them report that everyone who took the MPRE from my class had passed. A big relief.

I was also asked to participate in some other classes, talking about my research.

In addition to the classes I had about five students who elected to do independent writing projects with me. Unlike a class where one moves from topic to topic week by week, here there is one topic which is examined minutely and refined over the weeks. It is immensely satisfying to see a paper get better and better. The result is that one maybe two of the papers are potentially publishable. I hope we can get them into print: they deserve it.

My research received a boost while I was here. I expected to work on research in progress. I had an article that had been reviewed by a journal which needed revising and at least two research grant proposals to work on.

The Law School, however, had put together a seminar on the regulation of the legal profession in the EU and the UK and I was asked by Caroline Bradley if I would like to present a paper. I took this as an opportunity to plan out ideas that I could also use at the Georgetown Symposium on the Future of the Global Law Firm. Knowing one is to give a paper in a short time truly concentrates the mind. Nevertheless, it allowed me to experiment with some new approaches (one of which came out of work by my colleague, Rob Rosen). The result was that I was able to refine my ideas in time for the next presentation. The result of that being that the Georgetown ethics journal invited me to publish my paper with them.

Even though I was in Miami, the UK reached out to me. I am a member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). And they seemed to have an unusually large number of law grant applications and I found myself reviewing six or seven of those over the semester, which was in addition to requests from journals to review articles and former students to write references. A friend at LSE has suggested I might like to be involved in a new research project and another colleague has proposed a new collection for us to edit.

One of the most pleasant and surprising aspects of my visit was a new research project I started. After my first presentation, I got talking to Peter Lederer, a Visiting Practitioner and member of the Law School's Visiting Committee. He had been a partner with Baker & McKenzie. We talked about the firm and his role in it and as we did so I realized here was someone whose career spanned the globalization of law. Why not capture this experience and tell the story of the globalization of law? Peter and I then began a joint project with me interviewing him. So far we have done about 15 hours of interviews with more to do. It's a new venture for both of us. We are booked to give two papers, one at the International Institute of Sociology's 38th World Congress in Budapest and the other at the Society of Legal Scholars meeting in London. To gain a new research project and a new friend together in this way is good fortune indeed.

There are about two weeks of my visit left. Most of it will be taken up with grading. I have also revised the Miami Summer Program course on Global Lawyering which will start not long after my return.

So, it has been a full semester full of new experiences, and surprises, that I have found quite revitalizing. I shall miss Miami, but I don't think it will be the last time I visit. Moreover, I hope it wasn't a one-sided visit and that I was able to contribute to Miami.
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