Classrooms May Be Mostly Empty, but Columbia Law School is Anything But Quiet over the Summer

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New York, July 14, 2009 – No doubt, the energy is a bit more subdued at Columbia Law School during the summer.
There isn’t a scrum for a seat in the lobby of Jerome L. Greene Hall. You can claim a desk at Arthur W. Diamond Library and pretty much call it your own. But quiet? Not here.
Many professors have found themselves in lively discussions with colleagues as part of a weekly series of lectures given by their colleagues on current legal topics and trends. Among them was a talk on July 6 featuring Nathaniel Persily, Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law and Political Science, and Yale Law School Professor Richard Pildes.
They analyzed the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Northwest Austin v. Holder, which upheld a crucial piece of the Voting Rights Act. A law review article about the VRA written by Persily was cited in the majority opinion.
“The summer public law lunches present some of the most enjoyable workshops we have at the Law School,” Persily said. “They are characterized by vibrant interchange in a casual format. They also allow the faculty to bone up on contemporary legal controversies by hearing from our own resident experts in the field.”
Other topics in the series have included same-sex marriage, campaign finance, and financial–market reforms.
Faculty members have also been in demand since classes ended by journalists seeking them out for commentary on a host of hot-button court cases, and on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. Besides U.S. television networks and newspapers, reporters from such countries as Russia, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada and the United Kingdom have interviewed professors, many of whom are leading experts in their fields.
That international flavor is a natural fit at the Law School. The Class of 2009, for example, included students from more than 50 countries, and the incoming class promises equal geographic diversity. Summer is no exception to that trend. That was apparent during a recently concluded visit by 30 Chinese judges, who spent a month at the Law School learning about the U.S. legal system as part of an LL.M program at a Hong Kong university
This is also the time of year when a team of professors travel to Europe to share their knowledge with budding lawyers from around the world.  The Law School’s Summer Program, held this year at the University of Amsterdam, is geared primarily toward international law graduates or students considering an LL. M degree, and immerses them for one month in the basics of the American legal system.
Closer to home, the Law School’s Summer Institute allows qualified students to work closely with faculty analyzing complex legal problems and real-world issues leading to research and policy recommendations. For example, Persily has students assisting him with a study on which Congressional seats Democrats won in the last two elections to determine the effects of gerrymandering.
The Law School also offered this summer a chance to get closer to the political process with the Social Justice Program’s “DC Summer Breakfast Club” in Washington, where students can meet alumni who work or have worked in and around the federal government. The first breakfast featured Trevor Morrison ’98, who is on leave as a Law School professor while he serves as an associate White House counsel, and Lewis Yelin ’00, a lawyer in the State Department.
In other words, no shortage of ways to keep busy during the summer, as Associate Professor Jamal Greene has found out. He spent two weeks teaching in the Summer Program. After a brief rest, he is back in New York to edit and write several law review articles and a book chapter.
“I have more control over my schedule than I do during the semester,” Greene said, “but there’s just as much to do.”
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