The United States Constitution is not only the basic law of the United States. It has also inspired politicians, philosophers, and ordinary people around the world. Scholars have devoted intense attention to the Constitution, its interpretation by the Supreme Court of the United States, and its impact on the American people.
Constitutional law forms an important part of the Law School's curriculum and research agenda. University of Louisville faculty members have devoted considerable attention to the Constitution, its interpretation, and its social meaning. Lawyers with diverse practices and specializations share a background in constitutional law, which in turn unites the practicing bar in a common civil culture based on the Constitution and its role in American history and politics.
The Law School therefore takes great pride in presenting an annual commemoration of Constitution Day on behalf of the entire University of Louisville. This year's program consists of two video presentations. In the first video, Law School faculty discuss the appointment of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Professors Laura Rothstein, Judith Fischer, Luke Milligan, Samuel Marcosson, and Cedric Merlin Powell and Dean Jim Chen, joined by Professor John McGinnis of the Northwestern University School of Law, ponder the significance of Justice Sotomayor's arrival on the nation's highest court. In the second video, Professor Joseph Tomain presents Fleeting Expletives and the Shadow of the First Amendment.
We invite other institutions, throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky and elsewhere, to link to this page and to use its resources in their efforts to commemorate Constitution Day. In addition, we invite students, graduates, and friends of the Law School and of the University of Louisville at large to treat this page as a standing guide to constitutional law. The resources section of this page includes a 21-question constitutional scavenger hunt and a photo gallery depicting constitutional controversies throughout American history.
Finally, we are pleased to provide archives of the Law School's Constitution Day programs from 2008 and 2007.
When you supplement your course outlines this week, consider what graphics may work for you to help with the bigger picture, the analysis, and the synthesis of the material; some examples of graphics are:
- Tables with material in rows and columns
- Decision trees – flow charts with questions and yes/no choices to work through the analysis
- Tree diagrams – the main concept is the trunk and the sub-topics (and beyond) branch off
- Legal diagrams – the main concept starts in the center of the page and lines connect outwards to the sub-topics and beyond
- Balloon diagrams – similar to the legal diagram using balloons to hold concepts and sub-topics instead of lines alone
- Mind mapping – use pictures and shapes to brainstorm about the interconnections
- Venn diagrams to show the overlap between several concepts
- Time lines for chronological events
- Columns of material to show connections and progression
Do you have a writing assignment to complete but can't seem to find the focus to get the project started? Consider these tips for more focused writing:
- Make sure you understand the parameters of the assignment before you begin – ask the professor if you are unsure
- Brief cases that you will use; make notes on general reference volumes that you have found; consider how you will use each source for the paper or project
- Outline your thoughts and the supporting materials before you start writing so that you will be more focused and clear
- Divide the paper or project into smaller sections and focus on one piece at a time while you write
- Review what you wrote previously for a section before you continue writing that section at a later time
- Review other sections that inter-relate before you start to write a new section
- Keep a pad handy to write down reminders about thoughts you have on other sections (or other tasks entirely) so that you can re-focus quickly on your task at hand
- Edit in stages rather than looking for everything at once: grammar and punctuation; depth of analysis; logic; clarity; writing style
The law school is prominently featured in the September 2009 issue of Louisville Bar Briefs, a publication of the Louisville Bar Association. It contains an update about the law clinic, a summary of the library's prized collections, a lovely piece by Jim Chen, "Rhapsody in Red and Black", and an outstanding article by Joshua A. Spiers (3L), "Police-Referred Mediation: Filling the Void Between Police Authority and the Court Room".
Drop by the law library to view a copy of the publication.
Several proceedings from the Second Annual Conference on Innovation and Communication Law are now available online. More will be added as they are received.
The Second Annual Conference on Innovation and Communication Law, hosted this year by the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, came to a successful close on Saturday, August 22. The two-day conference featured over 50 speakers from four different continents around the world and from local law firms, discussing the role intellectual property and communications law play in the dissemination of information. Professors Cross and Smith, the faculty sponsors for the conference, want to thank everyone involved for their hard work which helped make the conference such a success. They would particularly like to thank Becky Wenning and Vickie Tencer for their assistance in planning and coordinating everything from the logistics of bringing in the speakers to arranging the event at the Marriott; and Jim Becker and Joe Leitsch for ensuring that the technology worked smoothly. They would also like to thank the many students involved in the conference as well, including Mike Swansburg, Mari-Elise Gates and Brian Stempian. None of this would have been possible without everyone's hard work. Well done and thank you! ~Lars Smith
To improve your understanding and recall of the cases you read, consider these tips:
- Read your cases at the times of day when you are most alert and productive and save “lighter” study tasks for other times
- Read the subject that is most difficult (or that you find least interesting) first each day so that you are your most alert and finish it early in the day
- Create a context for reading the case through a quick survey before you read: what is the topic; what is the sub-topic; what court are you in (federal or state; level of appeal); what are the party categories (buyer and seller of land; buyer and seller of widgets); what is in dispute; what is the holding (now you know the issue and its answer); what questions has the casebook editor included at the end
- Divide what you are reading into small “chunks” – paragraphs on facts; paragraphs on procedural history; paragraphs on precedent; paragraphs about policy
- Ask yourself questions about the chunk as you read to keep yourself interested and to draw out the most important points
- Write margin notes to distill the chunk to the most important points
- Re-read only the chunk you are on if you lose focus
- Prepare a brief after you read the entire case to see if you understand the case AND the bigger picture of this case in relationship to other cases and the topic
The new semester has begun, and our halls are once again filled with students eager to join your ranks as alumni. We have a number of events planned for this semester. I'd like to highlight a few and invite you to join us:
October 1 - Lawlapalooza
Lawlapalooza, the Louisville legal community's annual Battle of the Bands, benefits the Judge Ellen B. Ewing Fund, which provides summer fellowships for Brandeis School of Law students to work in the areas of family law, domestic violence and spouse abuse, and HIV/AIDS. We hope that you will join us at Phoenix Hill to cheer on your fellow - musical - alumni and to support this important program.
October 7 - Law Alumni Banquet
You are cordially invited to the Law Alumni Awards Banquet on October 7, 2009. The Banquet will be held at the Seelbach Hilton at 500 Fourth Street. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed at 6:30 p.m. by dinner and the program.
We are excited to spend this time with you as we honor several individuals who have made significant contributions to the legal community and to the work of the University of Louisville's Brandeis School of Law.
We will be honoring the following individuals for their tremendous accomplishments:
- Alumni Fellow - Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson
- Lawrence Grauman Award - Robert L. Ackerson
- Distinguished Alumni/ae Award - Kathleen Pellegrino, Mary E. Barrazotto, Shelton R. Weber, Ronald E. Meisburg, Judge Geoffrey P. Morris
- Recent Alumnus/a Award - Demetrius "D" Holloway
- Dean's Service Award - Thomas M. Williams
- Excellence in Teaching Award - Kathleen S. Bean
October 9 - Pirtle Washer
In town for Homecoming? Then join us on October 9 to see our students put to the test their trial practice talents at this annual competition. The competition will run 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the Allen Courtroom.
December 11 - Law Council Holiday Party
Each year, the law school and Alumni Council host a holiday party. This year will be no exception! Please mark your calendar and plan to join us for this annual holiday event.
For additional alumni news, please visit one of the following links:
Do you have news to share? Send your class notes to Virginia M. Smith.
Do you ever feel that you have put in time but do not understand or recall anything that you heard in class or read in your casebook? Do you ever “zone out” during class or study time? One of the most essential study skills is the ability to focus. Here are some general tips that you might want to consider:
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night so that your brain cells can be ready to work productively for you
- Take short 5- or 10-minute breaks every 90 minutes of studying
- Take a 30-minute break after you have been studying for 3 or 4 hours
- Take a short 5-minute break if you completely lose your focus and cannot get it back with more active study strategies: asking questions; reciting out loud; talking with someone else about the material
- Find a setting where you can study without interruptions or distractions
- Have all of your supplies and study materials gathered and ready for use before you sit down to study
- Eat a light snack before studying to assuage hunger pangs: an apple; a box of raisins; a handful of nuts; a granola bar
- Use ice water to keep you alert instead of coffee or sodas