Northwestern University School of Law

In 2009, Professor Martin H. Redish of Northwestern Law School published a book arguing that class actions are in large part unconstitutional: Wholesale Justice: Constitutional Democracy and the Problem of the Class Action Lawsuit (Stanford Univ. Press 2009). Where is the practicing bar?

I understand that nobody reads law review articles or books published by an academic press. And I wouldn’t condemn any practicing lawyer to reading any issue of a law review from cover to cover. But I don’t think it’s asking too much to insist that lawyers remain gently abreast of the academic literature in their field and deploy new ideas aggressively when scholars propose them. Redish’s book shows why in-house counsel should demand more of their outside lawyers.

This post is a two-fer: I’m going both substantive — by summarizing Redish’s argument about why many class actions are unconstitutional — and pragmatic — by criticizing law firms that ignore ideas springing up in the academy that should be used in litigation. (For me, drafting that two-fer is an unusual trick. As regular readers know, it’s typically hard to find even a single thought tucked into one of my columns.)

What does Redish say about class actions, and how have most law firms been derelict?

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It’s almost Thanksgiving, an entire American holiday centered around gluttony and based upon the kindness of people we later tried to exterminate.

And football.

And pie. Lots of pie.

Now, normally pie is an unqualified good (unless you are on a diet, which I never am). It’s hard to see how this all-American treat could be overcomplicated. But leave it to a group of law students to ruin pie….

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Not good times.

Earlier this week, we told you about the Northwestern Law student who made a joke about Thailand on the Northwestern listserv. The joke was in poor taste, especially given that it was in response to a solicitation for charitable donations after a deadly flood in Thailand.

I thought the penalty would be a chorus of “too soon” every time somebody saw him on campus. But the Northwestern Dean tells us that the kid is being punished….

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Many people have a cartoonish understanding of Brazil.

At Northwestern Law, the PC Police have a long and storied history. You are, of course, free to say what you want to say, but if you offend other people’s cultural sensibilities, you had best expect a reaction from other Northwestern students — whether the cultural slight was real or just perceived.

This week, a group of Northwestern Law students planning a study abroad trip in Brazil got smacked down by the PC police for being insensitive toward Brazil’s culture.

Now, in fairness, everything I know about Brazil comes from cultural stereotypes. If I went, I’d expect to be hanging out with amazingly attractive women who get horny for Jesus, while the men play soccer by day and capoeira dance-fight at night. It would all be a wonderful time, unless I went into the rainforest, where I’d die in short order from either a new species of venomous mammal or at the hands of illegal loggers who are selfishly destroying the world’s best carbon scrubber.

Is that wrong? According to some Northwestern kids, I am way off base….

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It’s impossible to know what would have happened if I had done something differently. Ultimately, I have what was, and remains, most important to me — a happy, healthy son.

Elana Nightingale Dawson, the recent Northwestern Law graduate who went into active labor during the bar exam, commenting on the good news of her passing the Illinois bar.

Last summer, David Van Zandt announced that he was stepping down as dean of Northwestern Law, in order to assume the presidency of the New School here in New York. In the fall, he put his magnificent mansion on the market — for a whopping $4.7 million. (DVZ bought the 6,300-square-foot house, in Chicago’s tony Lincoln Park neighborhood, for $922,550 back in 1996.)

We were impressed. We wrote at the time: “It seems that Dean Van Zandt’s talents extend to real investing as well as academic administration!”

But some commenters were less enthused. Wrote one, “Let’s wait and see how much he actually gets, shall we?” Said a second, “I live in the area…. he will be lucky to get $3.0M.”

We can now report that a buyer has closed on President Van Zandt’s former home. How much did he get for it?

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'These MBE questions are way easier than the practice ones!'

We thought we had a winner for most gutsy bar exam performance of July 2011. On Thursday, a woman taking the New Jersey bar exam passed out during the test — then picked herself up off the floor, and went right back to typing.

That’s impressive — but we may have spoken too soon. Here’s a labor-intensive story that tops it.

“A friend of mine went into labor while taking the Illinois bar exam,” a tipster told us. “She calmly finished, went to the hospital, and had her baby an hour or two later. Girl’s a real trooper.”

“A certain Northwestern Law alumna went into labor during the second day of the Illinois bar,” said a second source. “She finished the exam and had her baby, her first, at 5:58 p.m. I think that is worth noting.”

You better believe it’s worth noting. If ever there was a baby immaculately conceived by a lawgiver, this might be the one.

We have all the details — including a picture of the Bar Exam Baby, whom we’ll nickname “Baby Bar”….

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Today we bring you a new installment in our popular series on celebrity summer associates. The stories in this series have been positive and uplifting — but we should note that we welcome tales of summer associate scandal as well.

With the summer winding down, it’s safe to share salacious tales of SA misbehavior. Please submit them by email, to tips@abovethelaw.com (subject line: “Summer Associate Story”), or by text message. As you know, we keep our tipsters anonymous.

Now, on to today’s celebrity summer associate.

Last week, in a piece for the New York Times’s Room for Debate project, I argued for reforming legal education by bringing back apprentices in law. But I was not optimistic about that change happening anytime soon.

Well, it seems that my call for apprentices has been heard. A former star of Donald Trump’s popular reality television show, The Apprentice, is now “apprenticing” at a major law firm, as a summer associate.

Who is this ex-Apprentice, and where is this person working?

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Almost a year ago, David Van Zandt, one of the most admired figures within legal education, announced his departure as dean of Northwestern Law School. Van Zandt moved to New York, leaving behind his multimillion-dollar mansion in Chicago, to assume the presidency of the New School (a move that made headlines here in NYC).

A search committee went to work, to try and find someone to fill Dean Van Zandt’s large shoes. Today the law school announced its new leader.

The new Northwestern Law dean, like his predecessor, is a distinguished scholar. He also comes with a strong track record as a law school administrator.

Who is he? Let’s find out….

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When a law student is described as a “rock star,” this usually means she has a high-ranking position on law review and is going to clerk for the D.C. Circuit. The closest most lawyers get to rock stardom is playing Rock Band (a favorite pastime of Elie and Kash; I can’t quite get the hang of it).

Well, what if we told you that a real international pop star is in law school now? And that she’s currently summering at a well-regarded boutique law firm in Chicago?

Meet the latest profile subject in our series on celebrity summer associates. We’ve previously written about a star athlete, a noted actor, and the child of a Supreme Court justice.

Now let’s meet a pop-star princess, shall we?

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