Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review Highlight Berger, Trial Advocay

Professors Berger, Mitchell and Clark recently published the 4th edition of Trial Advocacy

As the title states, this book focuses on trial advocacy. It is designed to help students learn to "think like lawyers." It focus on trial preparation and management.  The book itself is divided into  14 chapters. Each chapter covers a separate trial subject area—persuasion, jury selection, opening statement, objections, etc.  Each chapter presents a theoretical and practical approach to the particular skill that is the subject of that chapter, provides illustrations of practice as applied to hypothetical situations, and offers a series of practical and strategic pointers in the subject area.  Most of the assignments involve role play.

We have reviewed this book before and quite simply, the authors have "done it again." Professors looking to review a book on Trial Advocacy cannot do much better than this one. Additionally, the book is so well written, that practicing attorneys would likely find this book useful as well.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


May 11, 2015 in Book Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Savannah: Walking Dead Symposium

Alfred Brophy  at The Faculty Lounge has posted information about a call for papers for Savannah Law Review's September 15-16, 2015, symposium, "The Walking Dead."  From Brophy's post:

The Walking Dead Colloquium will provide a forum to discuss the “shadowy” legal interpolation of the dead on the living and explore both its positive and negative ramifications in an effort to strike a pluralistic balance between the law of past, present, and future.  Thematic examples may include legal recognition of the dead’s wishes affecting real property and intellectual property; regulation of pandemics from yellow fever to Ebola; constitutional analysis relying upon views of the dead—the Framers—versus a “living” Constitution; and other myriad examples of the dead influencing law: the death penalty; desecration laws; the Right to Die Movement; posthumous evidentiary privileges; wrongful death and rights of survivorship; regulation of corpses, organ donation, and burials; stigma harms to real property inhabited by ghosts; and post-apocalyptic justice.

The information also appears at  Calling All Papers!.

Craig Estlinbaum

May 6, 2015 in Conferences, Faculty, Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Judge Admonished for Facebook Post

Monday, April 27, 2015

Roberts Court at 10: The Fourth Amendment

On September 29, 2005, The United States Senate confirmed then appellate court judge John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States.  The current October 2014 Term for that court marks the tenth term completed with Roberts at the helm.  We can therefore expect a flurry of ten year reviews this summer and beyond.  The Constitutional Accountability Center has posted "Roberts at 10: Roberts and the Fourth Amendment:  A Mostly Pro-Government Vote with Some Important Exceptions" at the CAC's website.  The paper is authored by Briane Gorod.

Craig Estlinbaum

April 27, 2015 in Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Judge's Facebook Comments Raise Ethics Questions

From the ABA Journal earlier this week:

A judge in Louisville, Kentucky, says he was cautioning parents about racial stereotypes when he criticized a victim-impact statement on Facebook.

[The judge}...didn’t identify the crime victims by name when he wrote about the statement, which claimed that a home invasion and robbery had left a young girl with a fear of black men, the Courier-Journal reports in a story reprinted by USA Today.  The girl was 3 years old at the time of the crime, committed by two African-American men, in March 2013.

The ABA Journal's story goes on to provide comments from law professors Ronald Rotunda (Chapman), Jeffrey Shaman (DePaul) and Charles Gey (Indiana) on the ethics considerations rising from the judge's Facebook comments

The use of social media by judges is fraught with ethical traps.  Whether the judge's comments in this case cross the line or not will depend on the facts and the specific language in Kentucky's judicial ethics canons.  Kentucky, as it happens, is one of the few states with a judicial ethics opinion regarding a judge's social media participation

The National Center for State Courts has compiled a list of states that have, through their respective advisory or ethics committees, issued judicial ethics opinions relating to judges using social media.

See Also:

Craig Estlinbaum

April 17, 2015 in Ethics, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

E-Discovery, the Fourth Amendment and New Technology

I am always amazed at the ways new technologies raise into Fourth Amendment questions.  Monday, Michael Rich (Elon) posted "Machine Learning, Automated Suspicion Algorithms, and the Fourth Amendment." on SSRN as yet another example of a new technology giving rise to real Fourth Amendment issues.  The article is forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.  Here is the abstract:

At the conceptual intersection of machine learning and government data collection lie Automated Suspicion Algorithms, or ASAs, algorithms created through the application of machine learning methods to collections of government data with the purpose of identifying individuals likely to be engaged in criminal activity. The novel promise of ASAs is that they can identify data-supported correlations between innocent conduct and criminal activity and help police prevent crime. ASAs present a novel doctrinal challenge, as well, as they intrude on a step of the Fourth Amendment’s individualized suspicion analysis previously the sole province of human actors: the determination of when reasonable suspicion or probable cause can be inferred from established facts. This Article analyzes ASAs under existing Fourth Amendment doctrine for the benefit of courts who will soon be asked to deal with ASAs. In the process, the Article reveals how that doctrine is inadequate to the task of handling these new technologies and proposes extra-judicial means of ensuring that ASAs are accurate and effective.

For lawyers (and judges, too), it is very difficult to stay current on new technology -- and naturally even more difficult to imagine the ways this technology intersects our cases.  With this in mind, consider Jeff Bennion's excellent essay at Above the Law yesterday, "Litigators Who Don’t Know Enough About E-Discovery Should Be Afraid, Very Afraid."  This essay considers a proposed California ethics rule (or opinion) on the attorney's duties relating to technology.  Bennion makes a keen observation that it is increasingly impossible for attorneys to avoid technology issues compared to the ease with which attorneys can avoid certain types of cases (say, criminal cases) or matters (say, drafting wills):

The difference is that e-discovery can creep into any field of litigation. You don’t work on a products liability case and suddenly find yourself surrounded by the world of holographic wills. You don’t work up a partnership dispute case and suddenly find yourself having to prepare child custody declarations. But if your case involves parties or witnesses who text, Facebook, e-mail, or have information on computers, you can find yourself surrounded by boring and horrible questions about things like clawback agreements and native files and load files and computer forensics and preservation holds, and the like. Suddenly lawyers who still use WordPerfect are forced to be technology experts.

(Full Disclosure:  I still use WordPerfect).  What does this mean for adjunct professors (or even tenured professors)?  When I was in college, I remember a professor assigning an essay where a meaningful portion of the grade was grammar and spelling.   Obviously, there were complaints from most (read: all) of us, but his reasoning made sense, and I'm paraphrasing -- Good grammar and correct spelling are too important to be left to the English Department.  Well, maybe in law schools, how law and technology intersect is too important to be left to ... well I don't know who, but hopefully you get the point.  It is probably not necessary for every law professor to be a tech wizard, but it is absolutely necessary for professors to provide every student in every class the opportunity to learn that the days when attorneys could wear their neo-luddite credentials as a badge of honor are dwindling if not already long, long gone.

Craig Estlinbaum

April 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Duke Adjunct Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Paul Caron who owns the law professor blog network that hosts this blog and is the editor of Tax Prof Blog recently sent me a note to inform me that Daniel Bowling, III received a distinguished teaching award

While congratulations are certainly in order for Professor Bowling, this does not surprise me. In fact, I am a bit surprised that Paul even sent me this link to post. 

In the 2 laws schools that I have taught in (St. John's and New York Law School), students consistently have told me that they get more out of classes taught by adjuncts because of their focus on practice. Readings taken out of text books that merely survey the law are not that useful. It would be much more useful if professors would focus on a particular jurisdiction where, as a practical matter, most students will wind up working.

But, most professors can't because most law school professors never practiced or practiced for less than 5 years. This, of course, is nothing new and a problem with legal education today.

Now, there are exceptions, particularly in specialized areas of law such as tax and the FRCP where you could learn something immediately useful. There, are of course, many wondeful FT professors as well.

Am I biased. You bet I am. I am an adjunct.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 


April 10, 2015 in Adjunct Information in General, Adjuncts in the News | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New Immigration Clinic at South Texas

South Texas College of Law is opening a new immigration clinic the school announced earlier this week.

The General Immigration Clinic’s mission is to work with the region’s legal service network to provide pro bono legal assistance to unaccompanied minors, adults, and families, and to build on its existing program to expertly educate and train students in immigration law.

The clinic, part of the College’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics, will focus on helping immigrants with basic benefits such as naturalization and green cards as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) cases. South Texas already is home to the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic, which handles more complex immigration issues.

The clinic will handle 450-720 clients per year with 10-12 students participating each semester.  This clinic is funded in part by a significant grant from Houston Endowment.

Craig Estlinbaum

April 9, 2015 in Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Elhauge: Contrived Threats v. Uncontrived Warnings

Einer Elhauge (Harvard) has posted "Contrived Threats v. Uncontrived Warnings: A General Solution to the Puzzles of Contractual Duress, Unconstitutional Conditions, and Blackmail" on SSRN.  The article is forthcoming in University of Chicago Law Review.  This is the abstract:

Contractual duress, unconstitutional conditions, and blackmail have long been puzzling. The puzzle is why these doctrines sometimes condemn threatening lawful action to induce agreements, but sometimes do not. This article provides a general solution to this puzzle. Such threats are unlawfully coercive only when they are contrived, meaning the threatened action would not have occurred if no threat could be made. I show that such contrived threats can be credible because making the threat strongly influences whether the threatened action occurs. When such threats are uncontrived warnings, meaning the threatened action would have occurred even if no threat could be made, they are not coercive and can only benefit the agreeing parties. However, sometimes (as with blackmail) agreements produced by uncontrived warnings are also unlawful on the different grounds that they harm third parties. The contrived-threat test explains why the Medicaid defunding threat in Obamacare was unconstitutional and why (in the pending Supreme Court case) interpreting Obamacare as threatening to withhold tax credits from States that do not create insurance exchanges should either be rejected under the canon of avoidance or result in constitutional invalidation of that threat.

Craig Estlinbaum

April 8, 2015 in Constitutional Law, Contract Issues, Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fifth Circuit: Arbitrator's Attorney's Fee Award Reinstated

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court judgment and reinstated an arbitrator's attorney's fees award last week.  The case is Campbell Harrison & Dagley v. Hill, No. 14-10631 (5th Cir., April 2, 2015).

The underlying claim is an attorney's fees dispute that arose after Hill terminated two law firms' litigation services.  The contract between the Hill and each law firm provided for a hybrid-fee agreement with an hourly rate plus a contingency.  Hill later settled his underlying case for "approximately $188 million," and Hill refused to pay the two law firms.  The law firms sued Hill for their unpaid fees.

After the district court referred the case to arbitration as provided by the contract and after a nine day hearing, the arbitrator rejected Hill's defenses and awarded the two firms over $3.3 million in hourly fees plus their 15% contingency -- an additional $25 million.  The firms moved the district court to confirm the award; Hill moved to vacate on evident partiality, unconscionability and public policy grounds.  The district court vacated the contingency portion for unconscionability.

The Fifth Circuit noted the highly deferential consideration given to an arbitrator's award under Texas law.  "Under Texas law," the court wrote, "review of an arbitration award is so limited that an award may not be vacated even if there is a mistake of fact or law."  Further, the court cautioned that a court may not substitute its judgment for the arbitrator's simply because it would have reached a different decision.  The only grounds for vacation an arbitration award are corruption, fraud, evident partiality or the arbitrator exceeding its powers.  An award may also be vacated on common law grounds of "manifest disregard of the law, gross mistake and an award that violates public policy."  In reversing the award, the Fifth Circuit held the district court improperly substituted its judgment for that of the arbitrator.  The panel reversed the district court, rendered judgment on the arbitrator's award and remanded the case to the district court to determine pre-judgment interest.

Craig Estlinbaum


April 8, 2015 in Arbitration Law, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

That Bob Dylan Moment

Al Kooper's story about how he came to play on Bob Dylan's iconic song, "Like a Rolling Stone," remains among my favorite stories in music.  Kooper, the story goes, was in the studio as Dylan and his band recorded that song, but was not schedule to play.  Kooper took advantage of an opportunity to play and ultimately, his work became a signature feature in the song.  Kooper, in his singular style, related this story on the Martin Scorsese documentary "No Direction Home." 

Today at, John Greathouse relates Kooper's story and asks, "Did You Miss Your Bob Dylan Moment?"  Honestly, I until reading Greathouse's article, I never fully grasped the valuable life lesson lurking within Kooper's anecdote.  This is recommended reading.

Craig Estlinbaum

April 2, 2015 in Articles, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Call For Papers“Creating Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Today’s Law Students.”

Arizona Summit Law School will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a conference entitled “Creating Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Today’s Law Students.” Additional information can be found by clicking  Download Call for Papers-Presentations 1 page

Hat Tip: Professor Marren Sanders

Mitchell Rubinstein

April 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kerr: Kant, Evidence and 18th Century Bulgaria

Orin Kerr has posted "The Influence of Immanuel Kant on Evidentiary Approaches in Eighteenth Century Bulgaria" at SSRN.  Kerr's short essay, a response to Chief Justice Roberts' 2011 critique of law reviews, is forthcoming in The Green Bag.  This is the abstract:

In 2011, Chief Justice Roberts commented that if you "pick up a copy of any law review that you see," "the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria, or something, which I'm sure was of great interest to the academic that wrote it, but isn't of much help to the bar.” No such article exists, of course -- until now. This short essay explains why, in all likelihood, Kant’s influence on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria was none.


Craig Estlinbaum

HT: Lawrence Solum, Legal Theory Blog.

April 1, 2015 in Law Professors, Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (3)

Texas Tech: Criminal Law Symposium

Texas Tech Law Review is hosting its 2015 Criminal Law Symposium: The 4th Amendment in the 21st Century, on April 17, 2015.  The keynote speaker is Orin Kerr (George Washington).  The topics include:

  • What is (should be) the scope and limitation of the power to search cell phones and/or computers?
  • What is (should be) the scope and limitation of police power to track suspects?
  • What is (should be) the scope and limitation of governmental power to collect DNA?

Click here for more information.

Craig Estlinbaum

April 1, 2015 in Conferences, Faculty, Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

South Texas: Bankruptcy Symposium

South Texas Law Review's "Symposium: Bankruptcy Best Practices from the Bench and Bar," held in October 2013, is now in print:

  • "A Survey of Sanctions in Bankruptcy Courts: The Fifth Circuit and Beyond (Robin Russell)
  • "A Debtor's Duty to Update the Court" (Amy Catherine Dinn)
  • "Chapter 7 Debtor's Duty to Cooperate with the  Trustee (Rhonda R. Chandler, Lauren M. Virene)
  • "Keeping Things In-House: Increasing Scrutiny of the Chapter 7 Trustee's Selection of Counsel" (Spencer D. Solomon)
  • "Removal of teh Trustee From Office Under Sec. 324 of the Bankruptcy Code" (Vianey Garza)
  • "An Ethics Review of Issues in Seeking to Represent Debtors and Committee:  Professionals' Solicitation of Clients in Bankruptcy" (Patrick L. Hughes)
  • "Ethical Considerations When Litigating Against a Pro Se Debtor" (Ashley Gargour)
  • "Dual Representation Can Lead to a Duel with Your Clients" (Karmyn Wedlow, Jennifer Buchannan)

Craig Estlinbaum

March 24, 2015 in Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Weber, Accidentally on Purpose: Intent in Disability Discrimination Law

Professor Mark Weber has just posted an interesting article on SSRN which will appear in Boston College Law Review. The abstract provides as follows:

American disability discrimination laws contain few intent requirements. Yet courts frequently demand showings of intent before they will remedy disability discrimination. These intent requirements have come into the law almost by accident: through a statutory analogy that appears apt but is in fact false; by continued repetition of language pulled from an obsolete judicial opinion; and by doctrine developed to avoid a conflict with another law when the conflict does not actually exist. Demanding that section 504 and Americans with Disabilities Act claimants show intentional discrimination imposes a burden found nowhere on the face of those statutes or their interpretive regulations. 

This Article spells out the reasons not to impose any intent requirement either for liability or for monetary relief in section 504 and ADA cases concerning reasonable accommodations. It makes the uncontroversial point that no intent requirement applies to ADA employment cases, then explains that the same conclusion ought to apply to cases under the ADA’s state and local government provisions and section 504. It rebuts an analogy to caselaw under Title VI and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act that some courts use to support an intent requirement. It then identifies and corrects the reasoning of cases relying on the inappropriate analogy, those that rest on the obsolete precedent, and those that refuse to apply a full range of remedies for fear of conflict with the federal special education law. 

This Article breaks new ground in the scholarly discussion of the disability discrimination laws by placing into context and critiquing the infiltration of intent requirements into cases brought under the provisions that bind state and local government and federal grantees. It relies on a contextual reading of the decisions of the Supreme Court, on the history of the ADA, and on policy considerations that ought to determine liability and remedies for unintentional disability discrimination. 

The paper can be downloaded from:

 Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 19, 2015 in Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Graduate Assistant Strike at NYU

Graduate Assistants at NYU have been on strike for awhile. An article discussing the strike and NYU's recent threats from Inside Education can be found here

As readers to this blog as well as my former students all know, in Brown University, the NLRB held that Graduate Assistants were not employees; rather they were primarily students and therefore not protected under the NLRA.

This issue is again pending before the NLRB and I would not be surprised if the Obama Board reverses the Bush Board's Brown decision. But, we will have to wait and see.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


March 12, 2015 in Labor Law, News, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Upcoming Symposia

Here are upcoming symposia in the next few weeks that may be of interest to readers.

  • March 13, DePaul Law Review, Chicago IL, "The UAS Dilemma: Unlimited Potential, Unresolved Concerns." More information.
  • March 18, Creighton Law Review, Omaha NE, "Ethics and Electronics: Navigating Legal Ethics and New Technology."  More information.
  • March 20, Georgia Law Review, "Financial Regulation: Reflections and Projections."  More information.
  • March 20, LaVerne Law Review, Ontario CA, "Water: Crisis, Law & Culture." More information.
  • March 20, Mississippi College Law Review, Jackson MS, "Ten Years Later: The Effects of Tort Reform in Mississippi."  More information.
  • March 27, Memphis Law Review, Memphis TN, "In re: Valor:  Policy and Action in Veterans Legal Aid."  More information.
  • March 27, Ohio Northern Law Review, Ada OH, "New Solutions to Old Problems: A Practical Look at the Rebirth of Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System."  More information.
  • March 30, New York Law School Law Review, New York City, "Women in the Legal Profession: Leadership from Law School to Practice."  More information.
  • April 3, Idaho Law Review, Moscow ID, "Privacy in the Age of Pervasive Surveillance."  More information.
  • April 17, Northern Illinois Law Review, DeKalb IL, "Medical Marijuana Legalization, A Growing Trend: Social, Economic and Legal Implications."  More information.

Craig Estlinbaum

March 11, 2015 in Conferences, Faculty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Decline of Law Schools

There is a very interesting op ed article in the March 9, 2015 Washington Post written by a law professor that those interested in legal education should read. Law schools are in a death spiral. Maybe now they’ll finally change.

In this article, Professor Brown discusses how law schools are declining, how they put too much emphasis on U.S. News and World Reports rankings and the terrible job market new lawyers face. Professor Brown also questions the value of faculty scholarship and student edited law reviews.  As Professor Brown states:

Legal scholarship is in a terrible state, with counter-intuitive incentives for faculty. Status comes with publishing, but more publishing means less teaching and interacting with fewer students. In the legal academy, second- and third-year law students select which law professors’ articles to publish; while my second and third years are brilliant, they cannot select for quality the same way experts would. But even if you think the student-run system is fine, the value of legal scholarship, which is rarely read, has its skeptics, among them Chief Justice John Roberts. Scholars at the University of Florida argue in a recent study that very few articles are cited for their ideas. This broken system is also subsidized disproportionately by the tuition dollars of poorer law students.

Questioning the value of legal scholarship is heresy inside the legal academy – which is why I am grateful that I have tenure. Law schools are run by the faculty for the faculty. A former colleague once put it like this: “If we could run this law school without students, this place would be perfect.” He happened to be the dean. Such a system is unlikely to be changed from within.

But while faculty cannot be terminated, their summer research stipends can be. Other disciplines require faculty to obtain external funding to support their work. Law schools should take a similar approach. For all who argue that legal scholarship has merit, let the market decide. This won’t solve all of a law school’s financial woes, but it could be a place to start right now. My 20 years as a legal academic causes me to predict that no serious change will occur until a cataclysmic event occurs. My prediction: In three years, a top law school will close. Then watch how quickly things change.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 10, 2015 in Law Schools, Law Schools, News, Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grey: The Future of Emotional Harm

Recovery for emotional harm in tort is a dicey proposition for any plaintiff.  Court traditionally have cast a sharp eye to these claims and have erected procedural and substantive barriers against recovery.  The rationale supporting these barriers is that emotional injury is "less susceptible to objective medical proof" than is physical injury.  The Restatement (Third) of Torts adopts these distinctions between physical and emotional harm by requiring emotional harm be "serious" before any recovery for emotional injury may be had.

These barriers to recovery act as a check against claim's perceived subjective nature and resistance to objective proof.  In a recent article, however, Professor Betsy Grey (Arizona) argues that advances in neuroscience have blurred the lines between emotional and physical harm and render emotional harm objectively measurable, at least in some circumstances.  The article is "The Future of Emotional Harm," forthcoming in Fordham Law Review.  This is the abstract:

Why should tort law treat claims for emotional harm as a second-class citizen? Judicial skepticism about these claims is long entrenched, justified by an amalgam of perceived problems ranging from proof difficulties for causation and the need to constrain fraudulent claims, to the ubiquity of the injury, and a concern about open-ended liability. To address this jumble of justifications, the law has developed a series of duty limitations to curb the claims and preclude them from reaching the jury for individualized analysis. The limited duty approach to emotional harm is maintained by the latest iteration of the Restatement (Third) of Torts. This Article argues that many of the justifications for curtailing this tort have been discredited by scientific developments. In particular, the rapid advances in neuroscience give greater insight into the changes that occur in the brain from emotional harm. Limited duty tests should no longer be used as proxies for validity or justified by the presumed untrustworthiness of the claim. Instead, validity evidence for emotional harm claims—like evidence of physical harm—should be entrusted to juries. This approach will reassert the jury’s role as the traditional factfinder, promote corrective justice and deterrence values, and lead to greater equity for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claimants. The traditional limitations on tort recovery, including the rules of evidence and causation, are more than adequate to avoid opening the floodgates to emotional distress claims.

This article article makes clear that expert testimony regarding neuroscience may soon be (or already is)  coming to the civil courtrooms in the various states.  Whether you agree, disagree or reserve judgement on her conclusions, Professor Grey's article  represents a treasure trove of resources on these scientific advances and a good reference for lawyers, judges or students searching for a point of entry on the subject.

Craig Estlinbaum

March 10, 2015 in Civil Law, Law Professors, Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)