On Wednesday February 11, renowned legal historian and comparative law expert Lawrence Friedman, the Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, visited the University of Maryland School of Law. While in law school at Stanford I served as a research assistant to Professor Friedman and we ultimately co-authored a book (The Roots of Justice) and two articles (including “A Tale of Two Courts”). Friedman inspired me to become a law professor and he has been a wonderful mentor to me over the years. I have long wanted him to visit Maryland and I was delighted when our faculty agreed to invite him and he accepted the invitation. He spoke to the faculty about his forthcoming book “Dead Hands,” which will be published next month by Stanford University Press.
Professor Friedman is a truly remarkable human being and, for me at least, the very model of what a law professor should aspire to be. He is the author of the classic “A History of American Law,” and “Dead Hands” will be the 27th book he has written. He is the author of more than 200 articles and is (by far) the most-cited legal historian in the world. On Tuesday I met him at Dulles airport and my wife and I had a wonderful dinner with him in D.C. on Tuesday night. In his talk to the faculty on Wednesday, Lawrence made a compelling case for the importance of research on how the legal system facilitates wealth transfers, a topic that too often is considered a legal backwater. His forthcoming book examines how the law of trusts and estates and property law have evolved over time in response to significant changes in society and families. Professor Friedman’s talk sparked a lively debate among the faculty over why the Bush administration was able to garner so much political support for eliminating the estate tax.
Because I had long ago agreed to serve as the host for Lawrence’s visit, this week I rescheduled my Environmental Law class at Harvard, which normally is taught on Wednesdays, for Friday. I flew up to Boston on Friday morning and taught a class on the common law roots of environmental law on Friday afternoon.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) has issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for an environmental law capacity-building project to assist law schools in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The project will fund a collaborative environmental law partnership between a U.S. law school and schools in these three other countries, similar to the partnership AID has funded between Vermont Law School and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. This looks like a wonderful opportunity. Further information about the project is available in the RFA, which can be viewed online at: http://www.hedprogram.org/tabid/66/itemid/174/CAFTADR-Environmental-Law-Capacity-Building-Initi.aspx