Earlier this year, the Program Committee for the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting invited proposals from law faculty for a variety of open-submission programs to be held at the conference. These included “crosscutting programs,” which focus on interdisciplinary topics that transcend any one legal field and “academy programs,” which can cover any topic of academic interest. Faculty at AALS member law schools submitted proposals for programs highlighting a variety of different issues. These selected open-submission programs offer attendees the opportunity to engage with and debate topics at the forefront of legal education and the law.
International Environmental Law and the North-South Divide: At the Crossroads of Economic, Environmental, Human Rights, Energy, Food, Climate, and Sustainable Development Law
Friday, January 8, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
The unprecedented degradation of the planet’s vital ecosystems is one of the most pressing issues confronting the international community today. Despite the proliferation of legal instruments to combat environmental degradation, the global economy continues to exceed ecosystem limits, thereby putting present and future generations at risk and threatening the integrity of the planet’s biodiversity.
International environmental law has generally failed to halt or reverse the rapid deterioration of the planet’s life support systems. Conflicts between affluent and poor countries (the North-South divide) over environmental priorities, over the allocation of responsibility for environmental harm, and over the relationship between environmental protection and economic development have generated gridlock in environmental treaty negotiations as well as inadequate compliance with existing agreements. The fragmentation of international law has also created regulatory gaps in areas of acute concern to vulnerable communities in the global South (such as food, water, and energy) and inconsistencies between environmental and economic law and policy.
This panel examines the ways in which North-South conflicts have compromised the effectiveness of efforts to protect the global environment, and discusses strategies to bridge the divide. Drawing upon the expertise of the panelists in areas as diverse as energy, justice, food justice, human rights, climate change, and international economic law, this panel examines the limitations and promise of international environmental law through multi-disciplinary lenses. The program will be of interest to faculty who teach or write in the area of international economic law, international environmental law, human rights law, food law, energy law, climate change, sustainable development, environmental justice, and law and development.
Reforming Law, Scholarship and Pedagogy by Disciplinary Design
Friday, January 8, 10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
This roundtable discussion explores the potential for interdisciplinary design to improve legal institutions and education. In recent years, the push toward interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching has grown stronger in the legal academy, but there has been little quality control over what constitutes interdisciplinary. Determining exactly what makes a project interdisciplinary is not self-evident, and sometimes, rather than by careful design and methodology, haphazard projects are self-deemed interdisciplinary merely because ideas, methods, or models are imported from other fields of study. Sometimes, however, this is done with little mastery in the field, or worse, the inability to use knowledge effectively due to a lack of training in that very field.
Against this existential backdrop, this roundtable discussion explores how interdisciplinary approaches can be applied to improve the law as well as legal scholarship and education. It builds from the premise that understanding law is inextricable from understanding individuals, institutions, and society, and that all are critical to the project of legal reform. The discussion will focus on gender studies, psychology, ritual theory, and modes of studying law through multiple subject areas.
Peer-to-Peer Consumption: Emerging Legal Issues in the New “Sharing Economy”
Saturday, January 9, 10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
The past few years have seen the rise of a new model of production and consumption of goods and services grounded in peer-to-peer transactions. In this so-called sharing economy,startups such as Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, and TaskRabbit enable consumers to summon rides, rent accommodations, or hire help from peers via the internet or a mobile phone application. On the supply side, sharing enables owners of homes and vehicles, or those who possess certain skills to monetize those assets or skills into income streams. The technological platforms employed by these startups enable individual producers and consumers to transact with each other with unprecedented ease. Commentators suggest that the sharing economy is transforming the way people consume and supply goods and services, and that sharing arrangements have the potential to significantly affect traditional industries and models of employment and business. As such, the sharing economy raises important legal and regulatory issues, including questions of whether and how the new startups should be regulated and questions about the appropriate relationship between regulation and innovation. This panel will examine a variety of legal issues raised by the sharing economy, including questions of property, tax, labor, consumer protection, employment discrimination, privacy, and local government law.
Incorporating Medical-Legal Partnership Into Your Law School’s Triple Aim: Education, Research, and Community Engagement
Saturday, January 9, 1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) is a health care delivery model that recognizes that some barriers to good health have legal solutions. For example, a child suffering from asthma may require legal representation to force a landlord to address the mold or other adverse housing conditions that are exacerbating her condition. Other areas where unmet legal needs create barriers to good health include public benefits, employment, insurance, interpersonal violence, immigration, end-of-life, and education. In an MLP, legal care and health care are integrated, allowing lawyers to engage in preventive legal services that impact the health of especially vulnerable populations. Traditionally, MLPs have been forged between community healthcare providers and lawyers that work for legal aid organizations or law firm pro bono departments. But law schools have much to contribute to and gain from these partnerships. This program will introduce law faculty to MLP and its potential to further the educational, research, and community engagement/social justice missions of their schools. In addition to law school faculty currently engaged in MLP, the panel will also offer perspectives from the National Center for MLP and a law school dean regarding the benefits of MLP to legal education.
Creating & Publishing Teaching Materials–Navigating the IP Questions
Sunday, January 10, 10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Many law professors create edited case collections and other teaching materials, but may hesitate to make them more widely available out of concern for intellectual-property-law related questions. Others may consider creating them, but may opt against it out of concern for those same IP questions. This program, designed for professors across the law school curriculum, aims to dispel IP myths, answer IP questions, and help equip those interested in publishing casebooks and other teaching materials to do so outside the traditional hardcopy publishing channel. Presentations will be practical, take-aways will include written best practices guides, and there will be ample time for a question and answer session. All four presenters are experienced IP professors, and three have recent experience both creating and publishing casebook-style materials independent of the traditional publishers.