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.

March 22, 2012

In 1937, Ronald Coase asked a profound question: if markets are so efficient at allocating resources, why are so many resources allocated within firms?  Coase’s answer was that market allocation entailed transactions costs and, when these were very high, transactions will take place within firms. Oliver Williamson, a Nobel Prize winner like Coase, elaborated on the sorts of transactions costs that discouraged market transactions. Among these was the holdup problem: buyer agrees to pay a set price for a widget to be supplied by seller at some future date, but when the date arrives the seller demands a higher price. Oliver Hart, with co-authors Sanford Grossman and John Moore, suggested this problem could be overcome if the buyer owns a key asset of the seller or the seller’s whole firm. This can prevent the seller from holding up the buyer. In this manner Hart et al. transformed Coase’s theory of how large firms were into a theory of who owns firms. Since then there have been numerous efforts to demonstrate that asset ownership or integration is not necessary to overcome the holdup problem. In this presentation, Professor Malani will describe a number of surprising contract provisions that can be used to tackle the holdup problem and how contract law can affect the scope and ownership of firms.

This talk was recorded on November 9, 2011 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series. Anup Malani is Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

March 8, 2012

It is common to hear Europe described today as the power of the past. Europe is perceived to be weak militarily. Its relative economic power is declining as Asia’s is rising.  Its common currency may be on the verge of disintegrating. On the world stage, the European Union is thought to be waning into irrelevance due to its inability to speak with one voice.  Contrary to this prevalent perception, "the Brussels Effect" highlights a deeply underestimated aspect of European power that the discussion on globalization and power politics overlooks: Europe’s unilateral power to regulate global commerce.  It explains how Europe is successfullyexporting its legal institutions and standards—ranging from antitrust and privacy to health and environmental regulation—to the rest of the world and why the markets, other states and international institutions can do little to constrain Europe's global regulatory agenda.

Anu Bradford is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.This talk was recorded on January 18, 2012, as part of the University of Chicago Law School's "Chicago's Best Ideas" lecture series.

December 29, 2011

As we near the end of the first term of our nation’s first African American President, does race still matter?  How have our perceptions of race changed?

In this talk, "Race in the Obama Era: Observations from Eight Square Blocks of Chicago's South Side," recorded on November 17, 2011, Clinical Professor of Law Craig Futterman will share observations and experiences arising from his and his students’ engagement working on issues of police accountability from the ground floor of a family high rise in a Chicago public housing community that made up eight square blocks of Chicago’s South Side.

Prof. Futterman argues that engaging this “view from the ground” is necessary to inform our policies and conversations around fundamental issues of race and class in America and to move us toward a more just society.

December 15, 2011

International Women’s Human Rights: Paradigms, Paradoxes, and Possibilities, a Sawyer Seminar organized by the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, addresses contradictions within the concept and practice of women’s human rights. The year-long program will include public lectures, symposia, faculty seminars, an undergraduate workshop and a large international conference in spring quarter, “Engendering Rights in India: The Colonial Encounter and Beyond.” Made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Catharine A. MacKinnon, Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, specializes in sex equality issues under international and constitutional law. She pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment and, with Andrea Dworkin, created ordinances recognizing pornography as a civil rights violation and the Swedish model for addressing prostitution. The Supreme Court of Canada has largely accepted her approaches to equality, pornography, and hate speech.

This talk was recorded November 14, 2011.

December 1, 2011

In November, the Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Jones, which will decide whether the Constitution allows police to put a tracking device on a car without either a warrant or the owner's permission. We asked several faculty members for their reaction to the arguments, including Deputy Dean and Sidley Austin Professor of Law Lior Strahilevitz, Bernard D. Meltzer Professor of Law Richard McAdams, and Clinical Professor of Law Craig Futterman.

November 17, 2011

This lecture was recorded October 27, 2011, at the celebration of Deputy Dean Lior Strahilevitz's appointment as the Law School's inaugural Sidley Austin Professor of Law.

November 3, 2011

Constitutions, it is conventionally believed, are institutions that define and limit the boundaries of government.  Yet the formal constitution is an institution adopted by virtually every modern political regime, including many that would appear to have no interest in codifying any form of limitation on government power. We have very little understanding of the logics and dynamics of constitutional design and practice in countries that have “constitutions without constitutionalism”. This conference, held on October 21-22, 2011, explored the roles that constitutions play in authoritarian regimes, drawing on a wide range of cases to try to produce some general conclusions.

Session II

  • Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago, James Melton, IMT Institute, Lucca Italy, and Zachary Elkins, University of Texas, “The Contents of Authoritarian Constitutions” 
    • Commentator: Milan Svolik, University of Illinois 
  • Paper: Michael Albertus, University of Chicago and Victor Menaldo, University of Washington, “Dictators as Founding Fathers? The Role of Constitutions Under Autocracy”
    • Commentator: Steven Levitsky, Harvard University
October 20, 2011

This lecture by Assistant Professor of Law Aziz Huq was recorded October 3, 2011, as part of the Law School's annual First Mondays lecture series.

October 6, 2011

Ponzi schemes come in many sizes. The colossal fraud engineered by Bernard Madoff is an occasion to rethink the legal rules and remedies associated with such episodes. But then there are smaller Ponzi-like schemes, such as fraud in law school admissions, and the question of whether law does or should play any role. At the other extreme are nation-size Ponzi schemes, such as our recent mortgage-and-foreclosure crisis and, similarly perhaps, long-range deficit spending in many countries, such that one generation defrauds another. In this CBI, Professor Saul Levmore asks why law might be much better at one of these levels than at the others. Concrete problems can help us understand law's comfort zone, or its proper domain.

The Law School would like to thank Faegre & Benson LLP for sponsoring this event, which was recorded on October 3, 2011.

September 22, 2011

This panel, sponsored by Law, Inc. and held on April 28, 2011, discussed hot topics in techology policy, law, and innovation.

Participants included:

  • DC's leading antitrust attorney (outside counsel for Microsoft), Rick Rule
  • Managing editor of a major technology blog (and former copyright attorney), Nilay Patel
  • The Theo Leffmann Professor of Commercial Law and Technology Policy, Randal Picker, and
  • Moderator Rick Karr, technology journalist for PBS, NPR and Columbia University