The Harvard Law Review, volume 104

Harvard Law Review

The above image of the editorial board of volume 104 of the Harvard Law Review, which appeared in the January 28, 2007, issue of the New York Times, became part of the video introducing Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on August 28, 2008:

Dreaming of "Me and the Possum"

From The Cardinal Lawyer's electronic mailbag — two recent dispatches from faithful alumni of the Law School:

  1. From Reginald Van Stockum comes this video of his performance of Me and the Possum:

    Me and the Possum from Reginald Bareham on Vimeo.

    "The Reginald Bareham Singer Songwriter Showcase at the Rudyard Kipling in Louisville, Kentucky on August 23, 2008. Reginald Bareham with Kelly Hickerson on guitar. © 2008 by RVS."

    Me and the Possum

  2. From Creighton Mershon, Sr.:

    "My son Creighton Jr. and wife Jessi have a graphic design company in NYC, Workshop NYC. Last January they did a project for Martin Luther King day walking the streets of NYC asking people randomly to write in their hand a part of the I Have a Dream speech. Sometime the video goes a bit fast but I think it is a very creative idea. Of course I would. I pass it along as a proud father . . . ."

    Workshop NYC

Speed and power

Steve Kragthorpe Cardinal football

Download the August 29, 2008, edition of The Docket Passer . Or simply mash the "play" button above.

The Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility

Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility

I'd like to take this opportunity to spotlight the University of Louisville's Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility. The Center has a threefold mission:

  1. to support and engage in academic research on land use and environmental problems in society;

  2. to engage in public service that brings cutting-edge research, knowledge, and ideas to the benefit of the public, government agencies, community groups, professional organizations, and others with the goal of improving land use practices; and

  3. to organize or sponsor interdisciplinary educational programs, such as lectures, conferences, workshops, symposia, and other educational endeavors, that are of benefit to the University community, experts and the public in the Louisville Metro region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and experts nationally and internationally.

At once word and world together

»  Adapted from the August 2008 issue of the Louisville Bar Association's Bar Briefs  «

In the hope that homage delayed is not homage denied, I dedicate this post to the first legal academic I ever met. A quarter century of familiarity with that scholar's work lights a path toward understanding the place and the power and the grace and the grandeur of law in a world beyond borders.

Harold J. Berman died November 13, 2007, at the age of 89. I knew him as an advisor and an instructor. I first met him at Emory University in the mid-1980s, where he recommended the study of law. Professor Berman later supervised one of my first scholarly papers in law, which began as an assignment in his Harvard Law School seminar on international business law.

Law and Revolution ILaw and Revolution II

The legal world will long remember Professor Berman for his contributions to Soviet law, legal history, international law, and above all his "integrative jurisprudence" of law in concert with history, politics, and morality. His work reached its apogee in the two books called Law and Revolution. Part I, published in 1983, addressed The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition; part II, published in 2004, explored The Impact of the Protestant Reformations on the Western Legal Tradition.

Professor Berman's work informs the global practice of law at multiple levels. In the first instance, his expansive view of law transcends the conventional understanding, often expressed in "international" or "transnational" settings, of law as a product of the contemporary nation-state and of the nation-state, in turn, as a creation of the Peace of Westphalia. To Professor Berman, to think so narrowly would be to party as if it were 1648. The Western legal tradition grew from many sources beyond national authority, including canon law and the law of feudal lords and global merchants.

Ithaka: Legal education as an odyssey

Like all other journeys, legal education has a fairly well defined end. Like the best of journeys, legal education at its best does not set its destination in advance, but rather refocuses along the way. Moreover, this is no overnight trip. Although students spend as few as a thousand days at the Law School, the University of Louisville's bond with its graduates lasts a lifetime.

With those thoughts in mind, I am pleased to offer readers of The Cardinal Lawyer a bit of literary inspiration on the first day of classes during the 2008-09 academic year. Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis (Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης), better known in the English-speaking world as Constantine P. Cavafy, was a major Greek poet who lived from 1863 to 1933. Among his 154 poems, perhaps the best known and most beloved is Ithaka. This poem makes apt reading for all new beginnings, including the first day of a life in the law.

Editor's note: All texts are drawn from The Official Cavafy Archive and its Greek-language mirror site.

C.P. Cavafy

Thalia-Flora Karavia, Portrait of C.P. Cavafy (1926)

Quantifying access to knowledge


Herewith Access to Knowledge: Defining and Measuring Economic, Legal, and Human Capital , my contribution to a July 13, 2008, program called International Law and the Evolving Knowledge Society at the 2008 meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries.

My presentation responded to (and should be read in conjunction with) Lea Bishop Shaver, Defining and Measuring A2K: A Blueprint for an Index of Access to Knowledge, 4:2 I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society (forthcoming 2008):

Comparative indices are widely used in international development circles to benchmark and monitor public policy objectives. To date, however, no one has examined how an index of Access to Knowledge might be constructed. This article examines the methodological issues involved in such a project and provides a blueprint for the development of a robust and reliable A2K Index. For those new to the Access to Knowledge framework, this article also serves as a concrete and concise orientation to the ideological perspective rapidly reshaping the fields of international development, communications, technology, education, and intellectual property policy.

I intend to address this issue in future posts. In the meanwhile, I note that many of the observations in my A2K presentation were derived from my work on inflation indexes and the methodological problems that confound the measurement of price change — The Price of Macroeconomic Imprecision: How Should the Law Measure Inflation?, 54 Hastings L.J. 1375 (2003) — and my work on the use of right-skewed statistical distributions in bibliometrics — Modeling Law Review Impact Factors as an Exponential Distribution,

I thank Lea Shaver and the program's organizer, Marylin Raisch, for a most entertaining and engaging program at the AALL conference.

The Louisville bar welcomes Chief Justice John Minton

A Flickr photo set by Donald Vish (class of 1970) commemorates a July 9, 2008, event honoring the Honorable John D. Minton, Jr., the fifth Chief Justice of Kentucky. Chief Justice Minton met members and leaders of the Louisville Bar Association and the Jefferson County judiciary.

The Cardinal Lawyer II: Birds of a Feather

The Cardinal Lawyer welcomes members and friends of the UofL Law community to collaborate on a new project — The Cardinal Lawyer II: Birds of a Feather.

Birds of a Feather represents an extension of the original Cardinal Lawyer blog. At Birds of a Feather, I invite graduates, students, faculty, staff, and friends of UofL Law to build pages that present people, news, events, and ideas of interest to the entire Law School community. The key is collaboration: this new site, unlike the original Cardinal Lawyer weblog, counts on an entire community of readers to contribute content of their own.

Truth and beauty: A legal translation

Winter reflections
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultán’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

— Edward FitzGerald, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1859)

Truth and Beauty: A Legal Translation

Translations, according to conventional wisdom, are like lovers. Though the most faithful translations may be plain, the most beautiful translations tend to be unfaithful.

The opening words of Edward FitzGerald’s translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám leave little doubt: the Rubaiyat’s 75 quatrains would take their place among the most beautiful lines of English verse. How faithful FitzGerald was to the original Farsi is, to put it mildly, a different matter: “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, / Moves on . . . .”

What concerns me here is the question of fidelity in translation in a realm far removed from poetry. Law, which is after all a truth-seeking enterprise, is so thoroughly dedicated to the disciplinary and organizational functions of government that it must banish “falsity, irrationality, and seductiveness” — the very traits that make all literature, lyric, epic, or prosaic, irresistibly beautiful.

This essay addresses questions of truth and beauty, of poetry and fidelity, as applied to legal education and ultimately to law. After discussing how law schools can most faithfully translate their teachings to lawyers’ real concerns, I shall ponder how the law itself reconciles its duty to truth with its practitioners’ longing for beauty.

Editor’s note: This essay extends themes first developed in Fidelity in Translation and Law’s Double Helix.