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Dean Duncan: Brandeis School of Law is on an upward trajectory

Brandeis School of Law Dean Susan Duncan hosted a Town Hall meeting Wednesday, offering an update on recent endeavors pertaining to the school and providing an opportunity for students to weigh in with their questions and concerns.
Dean Duncan kicked off the meeting by highlighting her personal objectives to increase alumni engagement and raise the profile of the school’s faculty and students.
For example, she noted that Brandeis students contributed more than 7,000 hours of public service last year. She has also started a new program to encourage faculty members to aim big for their published work, incentivizing them if they land in a top 50 or top 75 journal, and touting their efforts to help change laws, participate in symposiums, ride the media circuit and more.  
“You all have some incredible faculty members here. They’re making a huge impact in the legal profession and within the academy,” Dean Duncan said, noting that their efforts are helping to put the school on an upward trajectory. “We have two new professors starting in the fall. We made job offers on a Friday and they both accepted the positions within a day or two. That shows we’re up and coming.”
Dean Duncan was also candid about the issues plaguing law schools around the country, notably the dramatic drop in admissions. The biggest solution, she said, is to do something for students’ debt loads.
“We’re not part of the national narrative; we’re not $60,000 a year and we have good employment rates (after graduation),” Dean Duncan said.
Dean Duncan has also been engaging alumni constantly and challenging them to donate back to their alma mater.
Student concerns
Students had the floor following the Dean’s remarks. Among their top concerns and comments were:

  • How to contribute to the upward trajectory. “Join moot court teams and represent us well; fundraise with me; recruit good people,” Dean Duncan said.
  • Increasing marketing to out-of-state students.
  • Student retention, particularly among minority students. Brandeis’ diversity efforts have to be constant, Dean Duncan said. She also highlighted the Diversity Summit in April hosted by the school.

 Dean Duncan also suggested students share Brandeis’ best characteristics, including:

  • The open door policy. “We’re a family. We have a total open door policy.”
  • The close relationship with the bench and bar in Louisville. “Students have access to attorneys and judges because of this awesome relationship. You can’t just get that anywhere.”
  • The public service mission. “This is a big advantage. We have a culture that understands the need for public service.”

“We’re on a great trajectory. You can’t underestimate the ACC thing. We’re not Duke yet but there is no reason we can’t be,” Dean Duncan said. “Our sports teams have gotten there; we can be there too. We just have to keep going. There is enough energy here to do so.”

Incoming Editorial Board selected for the University of Louisville Law Review

The Editorial Board of the University of Louisville Law Review is pleased to announce their successors for Volume 54:

   Editor in Chief: Daniel Reed

   Senior Articles Editor: Emily Meyer

   Senior Notes Editor: Emily Irwin

   Articles Editors: Vlad Bursuc, Megan Diffenderfer, Tyler Larson

   Notes Editors: Lindsey Boyd, Kari DiCecco, Katherine Vail

   Articles Selection Editor: Carolyn Purcell

   Online Content Editor: Andrew Weeks

   Executive Editor: Dallas Selvy

   Managing Editor: Ben Jakubowicz

The University of Louisville Law Review is the principal law review publication of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. Managed exclusively by students, the Law Review is a scholarly publication devoted to developing the law, evaluating legal institutions and analyzing issues of law and public policy. The Law Review features student notes and articles written by nationally and globally recognized experts. The Editorial Board and Staff of the Law Review publish three issues per year and have editorial control over its content.

Congratulations to the newly minted Editorial Board for Volume 54!

Prof. Milligan’s originalist interpretation of Fourth Amendment argued to U.S. Supreme Court

Earlier this week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation – a leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world – drew heavily from Brandeis Professor Luke Milligan’s writings on the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Los Angeles v. Patel.

Los Angeles v. Patel addresses the constitutionality of a municipal ordinance requiring hotel operators to maintain guest registry information, and to make such information available to police officers on request without consent, a warrant, or other legal process. Owners and operators of hotels in Los Angeles filed suit, claiming the ordinance violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Last year, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, held the ordinance was unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on March 3.

The amicus brief states, in part:

[T]he Fourth Amendment is not merely a “right” against unreasonable searches, it is also a “right ... to be secure” against unreasonable searches. See U.S. Const., amend. IV (emphasis added). The inclusion of this phrase—“to be secure”—demonstrates the Founders’ intent for the Amendment to prevent, not merely redress, violations. Indeed, “[h]ad the framers sought only to safeguard a right to be ‘spared,’ they could have omitted the phrase ‘to be secure’ and drafted the Amendment to provide for a ‘right against unreasonable searches and seizures.’” Luke Milligan, The Forgotten Right To Be Secure, 65 HASTINGS L. J. 713, 745 – 46 (2014) (noting that “[i]nterpreting ‘secure’ to mean [merely] ‘spared’” raises the structural issue of “linguistic excess”).
Indeed, the warrant clause expressly regulates the issuance of warrants, not their execution. The founding-era discourse concerning searches and seizures—“which regularly emphasized the harms attributable to the potentiality of unreasonable searches and seizures”—further supports that the Founders intended the Fourth Amendment to have prophylactic effect. Id. at 718 (emphasis in original). The very text and history of the Amendment thus calls for a protective buffer against unreasonable governmental intrusion to ensure that constitutional violations are prevented—not merely dealt with after the fact.

The brief is available in its entirety online.

In addition, Professor Milligan will present his interpretation of the Fourth Amendment at the University of Michigan Law School as part of its symposium on “Privacy, Technology, and the Law.” The event will be held Feb. 21 in Ann Arbor.

Law School Diversity Reception

Join us Wednesday, February 11, as we celebrate Black History Month with fellow alumni at Champion Sports Bar (located in the Downtown Marriott). This pre-game party starts at 5:30.  Come join the fun!

Professor Cross to present on U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Roundtable

Professor John Cross has been asked to participate in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Roundtable in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 18. The subject of the roundtable is how the attorney-client privilege applies to both U.S. and foreign “patent agents” (people licensed to apply for a patent, but who do not have a general license to practice law).  

Professor Cross has been involved with this issue for several years now, having given presentations on it in Seattle, Hong Kong, Paris and Toronto.

At Brandeis, Cross' two main areas of focus include intellectual property law (both domestic and international) and the law governing court systems(Civil Procedure, Conflicts, Federal Jurisdiction, and Comparative Systems). 

January Bar Publications

Here's a roundup of recent law school related news from the Louisville and Kentucky Bar Associations.

Highlights from the LBA's January 2015 Bar Briefs:

  • "UofL Brandeis School of Law: 2014 Year in Review" (page 6)
  • The "2015 Library Series" advertisement on page 7 includes Professor Kurt Metzmeier's forthcoming presentation on November 4.

Highlights from the Kentucky Bar Association's January 2015 Bench & Bar (Vol 79, No 1): 

  • "The Duty of Confidentiality and the Attorney-Client Privilege Sorting Out the Concepts" by Professor Grace Geisel (pages 4-7)
  • "Effective Legal Writing: Nix the Acronyms" by Professor Judith Fischer (page 17)
  • "Kentucky Penal Code: Degradation and Reform" by Professor Luke Milligan (pages 26-27)
  • The bi-monthly UofL column features a list of upcoming events, including the ACLU's "60 Faces of Liberty" exhibit, the Brandeis Medal Dinner and Presentation, and the 2015 KBA Diversity Pipeline Program (page 21)
  • "On the Move" (pages 40-45)

Both publications are available in the Law Library. 


Brandeis students get a chance to meet with U.S. Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals Judge

Judge Reba Page, U.S. Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, was on campus this morning to meet with students curious about opportunities in Washington, D.C. Judge Page is a 1976 alumni of UofL's law school.

During her visit today, she met with a handful of students over coffee and donuts, brainstorming their areas of interest and offering words of encouragement and advice.

Judge Page is a native Kentuckian who received her B.A. and M.S. degrees in biology from the University of Louisville, as well as her J.D. She also received a Master of Judicial Studies from the University of Nevada, Reno.

She is admitted to the Kentucky, Florida and District of Columbia Bar Associations, and is an active member of the American Bar Association, Judicial Division and Public Contracts Section.

Judge Page was appointed in 1994 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Board of Contract Appeals and later served as chairman and chief judge; she has served on the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals since 2000, following the merger of these Boards. She previously was regional counsel for the Corps, headquartered in Cincinnati; Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection; and began her legal career in corporate work.

Judge Page frequently lectures and publishes on government contracts, trial practice and dispute resolution. She is an adjunct faculty member of the National Judicial College, University of Nevada, Reno.

Lost and Found Inventory February 2015

Please claim items in the Law Resource Center, Room 272. 

Bellarmine National Trial Competition

Bellarmine University will be hosting a National trial competition the weekend of March 13 to 15, with one round Friday evening from 6:00 pm  to 9:30 pm, second round Saturday morning 9:00 am  to 12:30 pm, the third round Saturday afternoon , 2:00 pm  to 5:30 pm and the final round 9:00 am  to 12:30 pm.  They want to recruit 24 law students who have taken Evidence to be presiding judges  to rule on objections and keep the trials moving forward. Law students will not be scoring judges only presiding judges. Law students will have the opportunity to meet over  a 100 local attorneys during the competition while attending the pretrial judges’ instructions and during the trials. Interested law students need to attend a two-hour judge’s boot camp prior to the tournament conducted by Chris Schaefer and Jim Wagoner.  Interested students should contact:  Jim Wagoner at (502) 582-1381 or  This is a GREAT way to network with practicing attorneys so please consider volunteering.

Brandeis playing host to National Conference of Law Reviews

The University of Louisville Law Review will host the 61st annual National Conference of Law Reviews March 11-14 at the Seelbach Hotel downtown. This is the first time UofL has hosted the event since 1986.

Leah Gravius, Managing Editor of the Law Review, expects attendance from more than 100 different law schools representing more than 200 law reviews and journals throughout the country.

The planning process for the event began with an initial bid in 2013, when she was a 1L. Edward O’Brien, who was Editor-in-Chief at the time and is now an associate at Louisville’s Wilson Elser, threw out the initial pitch. Gravius said such successive planning is what makes this event unique.

“The way this conference works is the people who are applying for the bid are not the ones planning it,” she said. Because he is local however, O’Brien has been involved in some of the planning and will present on some sessions.

Prior to bidding, the Law Review required the support of the school and administration. From there, an NCLR volunteer organization in Florida made the final determination about this year’s location.

“A lot of the initial work goes into ensuring the school that we can handle this and that we can uphold our reputation. We had a lot of support from Dean Duncan and the administration, which was very important,” Gravius said.  “This is a chance to get our Brandeis name out there and to showcase our city. We want our school to put on a great conference and get people talking about us.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Efficiency in Changing Times.” Gravius said a focus on efficiency is important because law review participation and readership are down, a trend consistent with lower law school attendance across the country.

“We have to work to be more efficient and pursue more avenues, either in the digital world using social media, or somewhere else. We really need to step it up. Everyone’s been hit, not just our law review. So this is a relevant theme,” Gravius said.

The NCLR will include 24 breakout sessions throughout the week, many fitting within this theme. One such session is on management efficiencies.

“What do you do when your members aren’t hitting deadlines? How do you change your thinking as a leader to keep up with what’s changing?” Gravius said. “These are the types of questions we’ll be addressing.”

In addition to the breakout sessions, the NCLR will also include four plenary sessions:

  • The first will be a judicial and clerkship panel, featuring formers students who have clerked for judges discussing their experiences on a law journal and how they used those experiences during their careers.
  • The second, Gravius explained, is about changing the mindset of law journal leadership and “joining the evolution of how we have to change from print-based to digital.”
  • The third session will focus on utilizing social media and ebooks to make the conversion with citations more efficient and to better promote the law journal product.
  • Finally, the fourth session will feature former University of Louisville Law Journal editors sharing their experiences on how they climbed the rankings in the past few years. “We streamlined the editing process and took the leadership more seriously and thought of it more like a business than just a student organization,” Gravius said. “We changed our system and really stepped it up.”

In addition to the welcome reception and a full slate of sessions, the NCLR will also include Louisville-themed excursions. Attendees, for example, can take a sports-themed tour, which includes lunch at the Sports and Social Club, as well as stops at the Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum.

Others can choose to follow the Urban Bourbon Trail or check out Louisville’s arts scene with a trip to Louisville Glassworks and the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

Gravius is looking forward to the event not only boosting the profile of the Brandeis School of Law, but also in helping to generate a “significant” amount of revenue for the city.

"The money spent on this conference goes to local businesses and the people coming into the conference will also spend on local businesses. It helps all of us,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to bring in all of these people from different cities and showcase that we’re not just some small Southern city.”

But the most important objective is that attendees are able to take away learnings from the event to better their school's product and underscore the importance of law reviews. 

“I want it to be clean, elegant, informative and occasionally fun,” Gravius said. “Attendees will hear from different schools and learn different processes and hopefully improve themselves. We’ll be successful if they’re able to do that.”

The NCLR kicks off with registration at 3 p.m. March 11, followed by a welcome reception on Wednesday night at the Seelbach’s 1920s-style bar. The reception is sponsored by the SBA and is open to everyone. The 61st annual event is being held in partnership with Thomson Reuters.