Law School Federalist Society Chapter to Host National Convention

The Law School chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies has been selected by the national organization to host the 2015 Federalist Society Student Symposium under the theme “Law and Innovation.”

The Law School chapter emerged from a competitive field to host the symposium, which is expected to draw about 500 students for a two-day event in late February. The board will finalize the date, speakers, schedule, and other specifics in the coming months.

“The University of Chicago Law School has been a very strong and very good chapter at doing the core thing we want to do, which is fostering a vigorous discussion of ideas,” said Eugene Meyer, president of the Federalist Society, based in Washington, D.C. “The topic of innovation and how law can promote it is incredibly important to society, and we’re confident the Chicago chapter will do a great job putting a thought-provoking program together.”

Kathryn Bi, ’15, symposium chair, said the chapter leadership was inspired to talk about innovation and the law because of the changing realities of business and technology. The symposium will give the country’s future leaders a chance to talk about how America can maintain its “innovation edge,” through favorable political, regulatory, and business environments.

“This is a great chance to showcase our strengths in law and economics,” Bi said. “Our faculty has long been on the leading edge of analyzing the systemic effects of regulatory and policy decisions.”

Professor Todd Henderson, the group’s adviser, said he was proud of the leadership team for “their hard work and dedication” in earning the right to host the symposium, which was last held at the Law School in 1999.

“The theme of ‘Law and Innovation’ is especially fitting, since much that defines our school is about innovation,” Henderson said. “Law and economics, the most innovative and influential movement in law in the past 50 years, was largely started and defined at the Law School, and we continue to be among the leading innovators in this field and others in law.”

The student chapter, which now numbers more than 100 members, was established in 1980 by Lee Liberman Otis and David McIntosh as one of the three founding chapters of the Federalist Society, along with Harvard and Yale law schools. The founders “questioned the prevailing notion that big government could solve our country’s social, political, and economic problems,” according to a chapter history. The students teamed with conservative professors, including Antonin Scalia, Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner, and Richard Epstein to found the organization.

Bi said today’s student chapter was indebted to Henderson and other faculty who offered help with preparing the bid, including William Baude, Adam Mortara, and Epstein. Dean of Students Amy Gardner and many Federalist Society alumni lent their support as well. “We’re very grateful to have alumni, administrators, and faculty who actively support our chapter,” Bi said.

One of those supportive alumni is Allyson Ho, ’00, who organized the last symposium at the Law School 15 years ago. Now she is co-chair of the appellate practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Texas. She was thrilled to hear the symposium was coming back to her alma mater.

“This is an outstanding opportunity not only for the Chicago chapter, but also for the Law School as a whole, to host some of the leading legal minds in the academy, in government, and in public service,” she said.