ContractsProf Blog

Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Saturday, October 1, 2005

Contracts Prof Weekly Spotlight: Meredith Miller

This week we inaugurate a new feature on Contracts Prof Blog: a weekly profile of a contracts professor.   Each Saturday, ContractsProf Blog shines the spotlight on one of the hundreds of contracts teachers in America's law schools.  We hope to help you get to know your colleagues better by bringing you the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the contracts teaching community. Please email me here suggestions for future Contracts Prof Profiles.

Over the next weeks, we'd like to focus a series of profiles on folks beginning their careers this year, so if you are, or know someone who is, a new contracts teacher, email me (Carol Chomsky) here to be included in this series.

We'll begin by introducing some of the AALS Contracts Section officers and ContractsProf bloggers. This week, we focus on Meredith Miller, contributing editor to the Blog.

Spotlight_2_6 Meredith Miller (Temple University Law School)

Union College, B.A.
Brooklyn Law School, J.D.
Temple University Law School, LLM in Legal Education (expected May ‘06)

Meredithmiller_4 As an undergraduate at Union College (in fabulous Schenectady, New York), I studied Art and English, with a focus in printmaking and poetry.  I love to go fishing, skiing, biking and for ambling walks in urban areas with my dog Milton (a mutt of highly speculative origin).  I collect Polaroid cameras, pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge and LP records, and I am fascinated with Vespa scooters (though I do not presently own one).  Once in a while, I try my hand at cooking and home repairs, with very mixed results.  Living in Philadelphia for a little over a year now, I have a newfound interest in football, though, admittedly, many of the rules of the game elude me.  The one thing I can say I don’t dabble in is music – the only thing I can play is the radio.

With such a diverse range of interests, it seems natural that I am drawn to the study of contract law – because contract law is everywhere.  It is present in so many of our human interactions, whether we are acting as businesspeople, employees, consumers, ebay resellers or family members in a bet.  I enjoy teaching contract law because the casebooks have the most captivating stories – hairy hands, botched nose jobs, broiler chickens, carbolic smoke balls and family promises gone sour.  Really, contract law has it all. 

Presently, I am an Abraham L. Freedman Fellow and Lecturer at Temple University School of Law.  In the first year of my fellowship, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Eleanor Myers in her Contracts class.  During the class on economic duress, the students had many good, unanswerable questions about Austin v. Loral, and it drove me to spend my summer thinking about the case and the doctrine.  I was also interested in the history of the case because it is a New York Court of Appeals decision, and I served on the Court’s Central Staff from 2000-2002. 

The end result of my studies is an article I recently completed, titled “Austin v. Loral: A Study in Economic Duress, Contract Modification and Framing.”  The article essentially does three things: (1) it reconstructs and retells the story of Austin v. Loral by referencing the trial testimony and placing the case in the historical context of the conflict in Vietnam; (2) it connects the parties’ arguments to theories of cognitive linguists concerning “framing” and (3) it uses the reconstructed story, and the themes that emerge, to explore revisions to the doctrine of economic duress in the context of contract modifications by business entities.  It will appear in the Hastings Business Law Journal in spring 2006.  As you might have guessed, the article is currently being optioned for a feature length film.

As a scholar, I am particularly interested in the intersection of employment, corporate and contract law.  I am also intrigued by all the ways the Internet has changed how we conduct business.

This semester, I am collaborating with Amy Boss in her E-Commerce seminar and surveying “the market” for a tenure-track teaching position.  Drawing on my experience as a litigation associate at Proskauer Rose LLP, next semester I will teach Civil Procedure II.  While procedure is also interesting to me, the stories in the casebooks are just not as captivating.

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