The Faculty Podcast

Listen to lectures by—and discussions with—the University of Chicago Law School's eminent faculty, as well as some very special guests.

November 19, 2014

While scholars in most fields argue about how laws can be changed to maximize their effectiveness, scholars of international law still regularly debate whether many of the most prominent international agreements have any effect on state behavior. Part of the reason that this foundational question is still being debated is that answering it with observational data has proven to be all but impossible. This talk will explain why research on international law has made so little progress determining whether two core areas of international law—human rights law and the laws of war—help to improve people’s lives, and then will explore how researchers are starting to use experimental methods to gain traction on the topic.

Adam Chilton is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on November 4, 2014, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

November 13, 2014

Richard A. Posner, Senior Lecturer in Law and a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, devoted a lunchtime keynote to discussing how judges might receive and view empirical research.

Richard A. Posner is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Following his graduation from Harvard Law School, Judge Posner clerked for Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. From 1963 to 1965, he was assistant to Commissioner Philip Elman of the Federal Trade Commission. For the next two years, he was assistant to the solicitor general of the United States. Prior to going to Stanford Law School in 1968 as Associate Professor, Judge Posner served as general counsel of the President's Task Force on Communications Policy. He first came to the University of Chicago Law School in 1969, and was Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law prior to his appointment in 1981 as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He was the chief judge of the court from 1993 to 2000.

This talk was recorded on October 23, 2014.

November 7, 2014

Two of the best ideas of the last half-century describe strategies for using legal remedies to solve social problems. One is the concentration of liability on a well-situated problem solver, or “least cost-avoider,” who can always contract out the work to be done (thus reflecting Chicago’s Very Best and Biggest Idea, the Coase Theorem). But another is the opposite of the first, for it involves the distribution, or spreading, of legal responsibility across many potential problem solvers, who might cooperate or work alone. Comparative negligence and Superfund liability for environmental harms reflect this strategy.  

This Chicago’s Best Ideas talk explores this tug-of-war, or evolutionary pattern, involving the two opposing strategies. How does law know which to use? Most important, what is the likely evolution of law as citizens call on Big Government to solve their big problems, like climate change or access to health care, and how does technological change alter the likely balance between these two strategies?

Saul Levmore is the William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on October 21, 2014, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

October 13, 2014

Supreme ​Court ​Preview: ​ Constitutional ​Interpretation ​at ​the ​Roberts ​Court 

Hear Professors ​Justin ​Driver, ​Jennifer ​Nou, ​and ​David ​Strauss​ discuss ​what ​divides ​the ​current ​Court ​and ​what ​unites ​it. ​Their ​lecture ​will ​be ​followed ​by ​a ​lively ​Q&A ​session ​with ​alumni ​and ​guests ​in ​attendance.

This First Monday alumni event was recorded on October 1, 2014 in Washington, DC.

June 5, 2014

Professor Brown-Nagin's talk examines the legacy of The Honorable Constance Baker Motley—and break new ground in the study of civil rights, women's rights, and the legal profession. A protégée of Thurgood Marshall, Motley litigated in southern courtrooms during the 1940s and 1950s, when women lawyers scarcely appeared before the bar.  She captivated onlookers who had rarely seen a woman or a black lawyer, much less the extraordinary combination—a black woman lawyer. 

In 1966 Motley then became the first African-American woman appointed to the federal judiciary.  After a long confirmation battle, she ascended to the United States District Court in New York.  In her new post, Motley sometimes ruled as segregationists had feared and as liberals had hoped. Typically, Motley deferred to constraints of the judicial role. Therefore, Professor Brown-Nagin  concludes, Motley's judicial career demonstrates that—more often than not and regardless of who presides—courts preserve hierarchy.  

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, Professor of History at Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and Co-Director, Program in Law and History at Harvard University.

This talk, the 2014 Fulton Lecture in Legal History, was recorded on May 8, 2014.

June 3, 2014

In a naïve model of judging, Congress writes statutes, which courts know about and then slavishly apply. But a Chicago lawyer might doubt this model, believing judges are maximizing something other than compliance with the law. In this CBI, Professor Henderson examines judicial compliance with a mandatory Congressional command, and uses it to offer a richer and more nuanced model of judicial behavior.

M. Todd Henderson is Professor of Law and Aaron Director Teaching Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on April 15, 2014, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

May 29, 2014

Professor Todd Henderson leads an engaging discussion with Yammer Founder and CEO, David Sacks. 

David has been involved in the Internet space more than 10 years as an entrepreneur, executive and investor, starting with PayPal in 1999. He was PayPal's chief operating officer and product leader, taking the company from startup to IPO and eventual sale to eBay for $1.5 billion. Subsequently, he founded Geni.com, a genealogy website that enables millions of family members to collaboratively build an online family tree. Geni was acquired by MyHeritage in 2012. He also produced and financed the movie "Thank You For Smoking." Also in 2012, David sold Yammer to Microsoft for $1.2 billion.
David holds a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

This talk was recorded on May 2, 2014.

May 20, 2014

As part of the anti-abortion movement's legislative campaign, seven states have passed bans on sex-selective abortion and many more are pending, including in Congress. Advocates of the bans argue that they are needed to prevent widespread elimination of female fetuses by Asians in the United States. They argue that the United States is contributing to the global pandemic of "missing women" and that sex-selective abortion must be banned to promote women's equality. Opponents of these bills point out that they are a "wolf in sheep's clothes" couched in the language of women's equality, but restricting women's autonomy and unfairly stigmatizing minorities.

Students in the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School have been working with economists and the National Asian Pacific Women's Forum to draft a report that will bring empirical data to bear on these policy debates.

This panel was recorded on April 24, 2014 and was sponsored by: International Human Rights Clinic, Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ), Asian Pacific Law Students Association (APALSA), and South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA).

Panelists included Sital Kalantry (UChicago Law), Sujatha Jesudason (University of California, San Francisco), Arindam Nandi (Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy), Alexander Persaud (University of Michigan), Kelsey Stricker (3L), Miriam Yeung (NAPAWF), and Brian Citro (UChicago Law).

May 15, 2014

This talk was recorded on April 25, 2014, as the Law School's annual Loop Luncheon.

April 24, 2014

The laws of intestacy are the same for men and women even though preferences for how one's estate should be divided differ by gender. Peanut-allergic octogenarian men and gluten-allergic pregnant women see the same warnings on consumer products even though they are interested in seeing information that is much better tailored to them. Companies have made enormous strides in studying and classifying groups of consumers, and yet almost none of this information is put to use by providing consumers with contractual default terms or disclosures that are tailored to their preferences and attributes. This lecture will explore the costs and benefits of personalizing various parts of American law and business practices. This talk was recorded on April 7, 2014. Lior Strahilevitz is Sidley Austin Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.