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.

May 2, 2017

With commentary by Professor Daniel Hemel

Professor Nielson is a law professor at Brigham Young University and teaches/writes in the areas of administrative law, civil procedure, federal courts, and antitrust. Before joining the faculty, Professor Nielson was a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He also has served as a law clerk to Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Professor Nielson received his J.D. from Harvard Law School. Following graduation, he was awarded a Harvard Law School Post-Graduate Research Fellowship. Professor Nielson also received an LL.M from the University of Cambridge, where he focused his studies on the institutions that regulate global competition and commerce. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in economics and political science.

Daniel Hemel’s research focuses on taxation, risk regulation, and innovation law. His current projects examine the effect of tax expenditures on inequality; the role of cost-benefit analysis in tax administration; and the use of tax incentives to encourage knowledge production. As an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, he teaches tax, administrative law, and torts. Daniel graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and received an M.Phil with distinction from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He then earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. Prior to his appointment, he was a law clerk to Associate Justice Elena Kagan on the U.S. Supreme Court. He also clerked for Judge Michael Boudin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Judge Sri Srinivasan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and served as visiting counsel at the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Presented on April 26, 2017, by the Federalist Society.

April 21, 2017

Featuring Professors Nancy Chi Cantalupo, Katharine Baker, Daniel Hemel, and Richard Epstein. Moderated by Professor Emily Buss. Presented by the Domestic and Sexual Violence Project, Defenders, Law Women's Caucus, Education and Child Advocacy Society, and UChicago Assault Awareness and Prevention Committee, and funded in part by Student Government.

March 7, 2017

Gillian Thomas, staff attorney at the ACLU Women's Rights Project, will discuss issues in her recently-published book, Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years about Title VII and its effects for women in the workplace. The book details ten important Supreme Court cases for women's equality, and spends as much time on the personal details as the legal ones for an extremely compelling read. As Title VII is one of the most important safeguards for women and helps ensure gender diversity in the workplace, we believe it will be a valuable addition to the Law School's Diversity Month.

Presented on January 25, 2017, by If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, Labor and Employment Law Society, Public Interest Law Society, Employment Law Clinic, and Law Women's Caucus.

February 28, 2017

The choice between rules and standards in lawmaking is a central question. But the line between the two forms is not as clear as most scholars presume. This talk argues that the lack of a coherent  unifying principle in the rules-and-standards distinction is becoming more evident as technologies behind lawmaking evolve. It will explore the leading accounts of rules and standards, the insights they have provided into the process and meaning of law, and why the distinction may be reaching the end of its useful life. The talk will conclude with thoughts on how we should think about forms of law going forward.

This lecture is in honor of Ronald Coase. Coase, who spent most of his academic career at the University of Chicago Law School, helped create the field of law and economics through groundbreaking scholarship that earned him the 1991 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and through his far-reaching influence as a journal editor.

Anthony J. Casey is Professor of Law and Mark Claster Mamolen Teaching Scholar. This Coase Lecture was presented on February 21, 2017.

February 3, 2017

Professor Lash graduated from Yale Law School and served as law clerk to the Honorable Robert R. Beezer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Afterward, he joined the University of Illinois from Loyola Law School Los Angeles, where he served as the James P. Bradley Chair of Constitutional Law. His recent book, The Lost History of the Ninth Amendment, was published in 2009 by Oxford University Press. Cambridge University Press will publish his second book, American Privileges and Immunities: Federalism, The Fourteenth Amendment and the Rights of American Citizenship.

Alan Gura’s practice focuses primarily on constitutional law. Prior to founding Gura & Possessky, PLLC, Mr. Gura began his career by serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Terrence W. Boyle, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Subsequently, as a Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, Mr. Gura defended the State of California and its employees from all manner of lawsuits, in state and federal courts, at trial and on appeal. Thereafter, Mr. Gura entered the private practice of law with the Washington, D.C. offices of Sidley & Austin. In February 2000, he left the firm to serve for a year as Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight.

Presented by the Federalist Society on January 25, 2017.

January 26, 2017

Part of Chicago's intellectual tradition is a willingness to take nothing for granted. Comparative study of legal institutions often reveals to us exactly how much we take for granted in the design of our legal institutions. Take the US Supreme Court: Why nine justices? Why does the president, and not the current justices, appoint new justices? Why do they sit en banc in every case, rather than sitting in panels of, say, two justices? Why do they decide 80 cases per year--why not 800, or 8,000? Why do the justices wait for cases raising important issues, rather than just filing their own cases?

In this talk, I'll describe current empirical work on the Supreme Court of India, considered by many to be the most powerful court in the world. I'll present data on how the Court operates, which cases it decides, and how it decides them. This leads to two lines of inquiry: First, what does an apex court so radically unlike our own teach us about the possibilities for institutional design for courts? And second, how can empirical study of one court (such as the Supreme Court of India) inform our understanding of judicial behavior in very different courts (such as our own)?

William H. J. Hubbard is Professor of Law and Ronald H. Coase Teaching Scholar. This Chicago's Best Ideas talk was presented on January 17, 2017.

January 5, 2017

One of the great Chicago Ideas is the equivalence of positive and negative incentives. The government can motivate you by rewarding some behavior or by penalizing your failure to behave in the preferred manner. Private parties rarely have the authority to hit you with sticks, so they must usually begin with carrots, or positive inducements, unless law offers torts or other negative inducements in the background. But things quickly get more complicated. Rewards might draw people to an activity, and penalties might cause them to stay away, so that the carrots and sticks are not equivalent. How does law reflect these secondary effects? When is it a good idea to mix positive and negative rewards? Should we pay people not to commit crimes? Why didn’t any lawmakers try to pay people not to enter into same-sex marriages? Why not just impose higher taxes on people who do not engage in public service? This first lecture of the year in our Chicago’s Best Ideas series introduces some of these ideas and then takes them in surprising directions.

Saul Levmore is the William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

December 29, 2016

Jim Zirin graduated from Princeton University with honors and received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School where he was an editor of the Michigan Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. For three years, he was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and served in the criminal division under Robert M. Morgenthau.

William Baude is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches federal courts and constitutional law. His current research projects include papers on originalism, historical practice in constitutional law, federalism, the Supreme Court, and conflicts of law.

Presented on November 28, 2016, by the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society.

November 18, 2016

With commentary by Professor William Hubbard.

Michael W. McConnell is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, as well as Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a leading authority on freedom of speech and religion, the relation of individual rights to government structure, originalism, and various other aspects of constitutional history and constitutional law. He is author of numerous articles and co-author of two casebooks: The Constitution of the United States (Foundation Press) and Religion and the Constitution (Aspen). He is co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought (Yale Univ. Press). Since 1996, he has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Presented on November 15, 2016, by the Christian Legal Society, the St. Thomas More Society, and the Federalist Society.

October 4, 2016

In this First Monday event, Law School faculty discuss their insight and opinions on upcoming United States Supreme Court cases and the issues currently facing the Court.


Anthony J. Casey, '02, Professor of Law and Mark Claster Mamolen Teaching Scholar

Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Assistant Professor of Law

David Strauss, the Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

Moderated by Sarah M. Konsky, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Jenner & Block Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic.

Introduced by Dean Thomas J. Miles.