The Cardinal Lawyer

The Cardinal Lawyer

Dear graduates, students, faculty, staff, and friends:

Jim Chen

Welcome to The Cardinal Lawyer. This forum represents your direct link to the University of Louisville School of Law and to the dean's office. I hope to post items here on a regular basis, the better to stay in touch with the Law School's most valued constituents.

This forum's archives, searchable through the box at upper right, represent a running record of news, thoughts, and observations I have collected as dean of this school. That box also enables you to search the entire Law School website.

I hope you will become a regular reader of The Cardinal Lawyer. I offer you a wide range of subscription options. One way or another, I hope that the entire UofL Law community congregates here regularly as birds of a feather.

Professors Levinson, Roberts, and Sweeny win research grants

I am pleased to announce that Professors Ariana Levinson, Tracey Roberts, and JoAnne Sweeny have won faculty research grants for summer 2012. Professor Levinson will write an article called "Movements of Consensus and Conflict: Founding Worker Cooperatives." Professor Roberts's project is titled, "Tracing the Incidence of a Financial Transactions Tax." Professor Sweeny will write "Adultery and Fornication Criminal Laws: What Happens to Obsolete Statutes." I congratulate all three of my colleagues and wish them the very best in their research.

— Jim Chen

The better angels of our profession

Adapted from the December 2011 issue of Louisville Bar Briefs


With his series of articles on legal education, David Segal of the New York Times has left a deep impression. From the beginning of calendar year 2011, Segal has repeatedly criticized some aspects of contemporary legal education. In an age when lawyer salaries have not kept pace with ballooning law school costs and student debts, he has questioned the economic rationality of attending law school. He has accused some law schools of offering financial aid packages that are tied to maintenance of seemingly attainable grade point averages, which then evaporate in the face of tough grading curves and expose scholarship recipients to second- and third-year bills for full tuition. He has challenged universities to prove that they are not running law schools as cash cows for cross-subsidizing lower-revenue units on campus.

But nothing else in David Segal's portfolio has caught the legal academy's attention like his November 20, 2011, article called "After Law School, Associates Learn to Be Lawyers." This excerpt provides the flavor of the article as a whole:

Drinker Biddle & Reath

[T]he three people taking notes are not students. They are associates at a law firm called Drinker Biddle & Reath, hired to handle corporate transactions. And they have each spent three years and as much as $150,000 for a legal degree.

What they did not get, for all that time and money, was much practical training. Law schools have long emphasized the theoretical over the useful, with classes that are often overstuffed with antiquated distinctions, like the variety of property law in post-feudal England. Professors are rewarded for chin-stroking scholarship, like law review articles with titles like “A Future Foretold: Neo-Aristotelian Praise of Postmodern Legal Theory.”

In other words, "Everything I needed to know about law, I didn't learn in law school."

James T.R. Jones, A Hidden Madness (2011)

Announcing James T. R. Jones, A Hidden Madness (2011):

Jim Jones, A Hidden Madness

A Hidden Madness tells the story of an accomplished individual who has reached the pinnacle of his profession despite suffering for over thirty years from the severe mental illness bipolar disorder. He has done so mostly in silence because of fear of stigma. Extreme childhood bullying helped cause his condition, which has seen him hospitalized five times in psychiatric facilities for periods as long as six months. It is an eye-opening voyage through the little-understood realm of severe mental illness featuring its powerful medications, periodic hospitalizations, often rocky relationships, and light as well as dark moments. The story offers both real hope for those afflicted by serious mental illness and deep insight into their many symptoms, numerous drugs, periodic crises, and potential triumphs. It shows that by being compliant with a medical regimen of therapy and medication, getting help and support from others with the same illness, benefitting from a loving family, discovering coping mechanisms to get through every day, having caring and understanding friends, and being too stubborn to let a disease ruin his life one can enjoy a successful and fulfilling professional and personal life.

James T. R. Jones earned an undergraduate degree with highest distinction from the University of Virginia and a law degree with honors from Duke University School of Law, where he served on the Editorial Board of the Duke Law Journal and graduated second in his class. He worked for an elite law firm on Wall Street, clerked for a judge on the United States Court of Appeals, and was a finalist for a clerkship with the then-Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He taught for a year at the Law School of the University of Chicago, and since 1986 has been a member of the faculty of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, where he is a full professor of law. He wrote a series of seven articles about using tort law to force law enforcement officials and medical professionals to report domestic violence to the appropriate authorities and has been recognized as a national expert on this important social issue. In 2008 he ended twenty-two years of secrecy about his disease at the Brandeis School of Law and twenty-eight years overall when he wrote the article “Walking the Tightrope of Bipolar Disorder: The Secret Life of a Law Professor” that was published in the leading peer-reviewed journal in legal education. The article generated an enormous positive response, as did pieces that appeared in public media in the Louisville area. Since 2008 he has spoken extensively about “Severe Mental Illness, Stigma, and the Value of Treatment” and is widely recognized for his award-winning mental health advocacy efforts. He now serves on the Boards of four local and national groups that focus on mental health and the way society treats those with serious mental illness. He has been happily married to attorney Kathleen Murphy Jones since 1997 and has two wonderful daughters.

A Hidden Madness includes a foreword by Elyn R. Saks, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness and winner of a 2009 MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant." Saks, who is a professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California and suffers from schizophrenia, is the only other law professor in the United States publicly to acknowledge having a severe mental illness.

Modern disaster theory

2004 tsunami

The 2004 tsunami in Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Thailand

Newly posted on my SSRN page and forthcoming in the Emory International Law Review's disaster law symposium

Jim Chen, Modern Disaster Theory: Evaluating Disaster Law as a Portfolio of Legal Rules, 26 Emory Int'l L. Rev. (forthcoming 2012) (available at

Disaster law consists of a portfolio of legal rules for dealing with catastrophic risks. This essay takes preliminary steps toward modeling that metaphor in quantitative terms made familiar through modern portfolio theory. Modern disaster theory, by analogy to the foundational model of corporate finance, treats disaster law as the best portfolio of legal rules. Optimal legal preparedness for disaster consists of identifying, adopting, and maintaining that portfolio of rules at the frontier of efficient governance.

Part I of this essay defines disaster and disaster law. In an effort to develop an analytically rigorous basis for modeling and evaluating disaster law, Part II expounds the principles of modern portfolio theory, a framework for assessing financial returns according to risk. Part III outlines the principles of modern disaster theory as the legal analogue of modern portfolio theory as a branch of finance. Part IV conducts an exercise in applied modern disaster theory. It evaluates legal tools for compensating disaster victims ex post and spreading catastrophic risk ex ante according to the terms of modern disaster theory’s catastrophic preparedness asset model. Part V concludes that modern disaster theory, through the use of sophisticated quantitative methods analogous to those used in financial analysis, promises to place disaster law and policy at the efficient frontier of legal preparedness.

Editor's note: Cross-posted to Jurisdynamics. Many thanks to Joshua P. Fershee for his comments on Modern Disaster Theory at the Business Law Prof Blog and to Lawrence B. Solum for featuring this article on Legal Theory Blog.

The Fall of the House of Zeus

Herewith a letter from The Cardinal Lawyer's mailbag:

Bill Cunningham

Justice Bill Cunningham of the Kentucky Supreme Court takes a keen interest in legal education, especially in the ethical training of law students and lawyers. He writes to recommend a book, The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer:

I have just finished reading the book, The Fall of the House of Zeus [The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer], by Curtis Wilkie. It is about the rise and fall of mega lawyer, Dickie Scruggs, of the famed asbestos-tobacco-Katrina lawsuits. The story dramatically relates how greed can transform erstwhile good people and fine people into criminals. If possible, I would make it required reading for every lawyer and law student in Kentucky.

Fall of the House of Zeus

The Cardinal Lawyer appreciates Justice Cunningham's recommendation and shares it with its readership.

Logan's Battery

Dear friends:

Logan's Battery needs your help. On behalf of the University of Louisville, its School of Law, and the legacy of one of UofL's all-time legends, I ask you to save one of our university's most beloved historic landmarks.

John Alexander Logan was one of the first law school graduates from the University of Louisville. He received his degree in 1851. During the Civil War, he served under Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant and rose to the rank of major general. As commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Logan called for a nationwide observance in honor of fellow soldiers who did not survive the Civil War. The observance, then known as Decoration Day, eventually became Memorial Day.

Logan served a distinguished career in politics. Before the Civil War, he had been elected twice to the United States House of Representatives from Illinois. After the war, he served an additional three terms in the House and two terms as a United States Senator. He joined the 1884 Republican Party presidential ticket as running mate to James G. Blaine.

On May 13, 1978, Air Force General (ret.) Russell E. Dougherty, a 1948 law graduate of the University of Louisville, dedicated Logan's Battery, a replica of a three-inch Parrott Rifle used in the defense of Louisville during the Civil War. This cannon has paid tribute to John Alexander Logan, his law school alma mater, and to the entire University of Louisville community.

Logan's Battery desperately needs restoration. I ask that you join me in designating a gift toward the restoration of Logan's Battery to a condition befitting this distinguished alumnus of our law school and our university. Once restored, Logan's Battery will sit in a new place of honor in front of the Law School and the University's Oval. To make a gift, please visit the Law School's page for gifts from friends and alumni.

Very truly yours,

Jim Chen

Jim Chen
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Louisville

Nicole Kersting appears on MSNBC's Hardball broadcast from the University of Louisville

Nicole Kersting

Chris Matthews of MSNBC and Hardball's fall 2010 tour of American college campuses made an October 18 stop at the University of Louisville. UofL Law student Nicole Kersting, representing the Lambda Law Caucus, joined Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) for a discussion on the emergence of gay rights as a campaign issue in the 2010 election. Watch the segment below, and be sure to follow the full coverage of Nicole's television debut on the Law School's news feed and on UofL Today.

The University of Louisville's 2010 symposium: Intellectual property law

Law review symposium

University of Louisville Law Review

The University of Louisville Law Review invites you to attend its symposium on intellectual property law. This symposium will take place on November 5, 2010, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the University Club on the University of Louisville's Belknap Campus. The symposium will focus on current developments, contested issues, and proposed improvements in intellectual property law. For sponsorship, registration, or additional information, please contact Jennifer Monarch, Symposium and Alumni Relations Editor, at or 270-617-4041.

Kentucky bar exam results, February and July 2010

The Law School congratulates University of Louisville graduates who have passed the Kentucky bar examination during its February 2010 and July 2010 administrations. During calendar year 2012, the Kentucky bar added 112 UofL Law graduates to its rolls. The following tables describe outcomes for first-time candidates and all candidates, from the University of Louisville and from the entire pool of candidates, throughout calendar year 2012 and during the individual bar exam administrations for February 2012 and July 2012:

 PassedAttemptedPass rate
February 2010 and July 2010 combined
University of Louisville
First-time candidates9910990.8%
All candidates11213384.2%
All examinees
First-time candidates41751281.4%
All candidates48062976.3%
July 2010 administration
University of Louisville
First-time candidates9410292.2%
All candidates9811188.3%
All examinees
First-time candidates31639180.8%
All candidates33543377.4%
February 2010 administration
University of Louisville
First-time candidates5771.4%
All candidates142263.6%
All examinees
First-time candidates10112183.4%
All candidates14519673.9%