I am honored to be here with my fellow alums and all of the members of the N.Y.U Review of Law & Social Change. It is the perfect time to reflect on the theme of this evening’s celebratory panel-From Page to Practice. As lawyers, legislators, policy-makers, and academics, this theme resonates with us because it is common to all of our work. This commonality is found on the page where we grapple with theories, doctrines, and rules to understand the societal issues that we seek to address. The page is where this process begins, where we look at everything from judicial decisions that explain and critically analyze pre-existing norms to scholarship that is written to specifically resolve contradictions or doctrinal gaps in the law. My reference to the page is expansive because I want to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the page – how the ideas and concepts embodied on the page can be transformed in practice. Our primary objective should be to move from the theoretical to the practical implications of implementing ideas from page to practice. This is not a simple task.
I have always been involved, on some level, with social justice issues. Before I arrived at N.Y.U., I spent my college years at Oberlin College, a very progressive institution in the liberal tradition. So, naturally, I was attracted to the institutional mission of N.Y.U.: a private university in the public service.
My own experience on the Review of Law & Social Change had a great impact on my choice to become an academic lawyer: I learned about the dynamics of collegiality, collaboration, and editing, as well as many other practical skills. I also learned the importance of the page. I learned that ideas are powerful and that they have tremendous value when you commit them to paper.
Now, just as in 1969, Social Change remains committed to providing a forum for progressive legal thought and to promoting work that bridges the gaps between page and practice.
Journals make a difference in shaping both policy work and litigation. Practitioners often search journals to find new ideas, to gain an understanding of what is being done on a particular problem, or to determine whether an approach has merit.
My theory, and the theory behind Broken Lives from Broken Windows, is that the combined economic and legitimacy costs of aggressively policing minor offenses undermine the efficacy of policing social order to reduce crime.
Mandatory arbitration for guestworkers, a uniquely vulnerable group, will result in class inequality and worse conditions for all workers.