Summer Discussion Series

W&L Law is pleased to offer a robust discussion series this summer for our incoming students. Several professors have agreed to lead optional, short discussions relating to their fields of expertise or on a topic that interests them. Each offering will be tailored by the professor, but as a group they are centered around cutting-edge topics, case developments, books, or movies. The discussion groups are designed to spark your interest in a range of topics and to build community prior to the start of your 1L year.  

These discussions will consist of two virtual sessions, and all are scheduled to take place in July. The current lineup is detailed below. REGISTER HERE

Professor Subject Description Date and Time
Brian Murchison and Brant Hellwig Separation of Powers The Supreme Court has been active in recent terms with cases delving into the balance of power between branches of government.  This discussion will focus on two such cases, one concerning the Consumer Financial Protection Board (can Congress make the agency head removable by the President only for cause?) and the other relating to a challenge to the propriety of the Puerto Rican Oversight Board (Appointment Clause question - are the members principal officers?).  For the first session, students will read edited versions of two SCOTUS cases (Freytag v. Commissioner, and Morrison v. Olson) and for session two they will read news articles and one edited SCOTUS case (Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Board). Tuesday, July 7 and Friday, July 10 at 11am - 12pm EST
Mark Drumbl Responsibility, Choice, and Choicelessness Discussion of the complex legal and moral issues relating to child soldiers, centered on the case of Dominic Ongwen: Students will read two articles and one group exercise (1 page). Monday, July 13 and Wednesday, July 15 at 11am - 12pm EST
J.D. King and Brandon Hasbrouck Race, Democracy, and Criminal Justice Transformation   Professors King and Hasbrouck will lead a discussion on several important themes in criminal justice that are presented vividly in the award-winning book and movie Just Mercy. Students are expected to watch the movie "Just Mercy" prior to the sessions (reading the book Just Mercy is recommended but not required).    Monday, July 13 and Thursday, July 16 at 5-6pm EST
Jill Fraley County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund   Discussion of recent decision of the United States Supreme Court addressing the reach of the Clean Water Act.  The case addressed whether a municipality could avoid the restrictions of the Act by discharging pollutants into the ground (and ground water) rather than directly into the ocean.  For locals, this case represented a major problem with the protection of coral reefs and other sensitive marine ecosystems, along with the tourism implications. For the rest of the country, this case represented a significant question that has been described as whether a work around could gut the Clean Water Act. Students will read the SCOTUS opinion of the case.    Monday, July 20 and Wednesday, July 22 at 5-6pm EST
Beth Belmont Law in Action in Little Fires Everywhere - Building Families Up, or Burning them Down?  Perhaps you binge-watched the new Hulu miniseries.  Perhaps you read the book.  Perhaps you are just interested in how law shapes and defines family - for good or for ill.  In this session, we will explore the legal and law-adjacent threads that run through this popular work, sharing thoughts and ideas about such things as (1) the behavior of the lawyers portrayed in the work, (2) the rights of biological parents and what (if anything) warrants state interference in the parent/child relationship, (3) what courts should and should not consider (Biology? Neglect? Race? Culture? Economic status?) as they resolve custody and adoption/termination of parental rights disputes like that between Bebe Chow and the McCulloughs, and (4) whether surrogacy contracts like that between Mia Warren and the Ryans should be enforceable.  In the event you have not had an opportunity to read the book or watch the miniseries, a summary of the book and a collection of relevant excerpts (along with references to significant scenes in the miniseries) will be distributed to all attendees in advance of the sessions. Tuesday, July 21 and Thursday, July 23 at 2-3pm EST
David Baluarte DACA:  What's Next? In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, consolidated with Trump v. NAACP and McAleenan v. Vidal, holding that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) violated the law when it rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Participants in this session will read and discuss the opinion. In the first session, we will consider the history of the DACA program, its positive impact on the lives of nearly 700,000 beneficiaries, and the persistent challenges to the policy's legitimacy. In the second session, we will discuss the legal findings of the Supreme Court and what this decision means for the uncertain future of the DACA program.  Tuesday, July 28 and Thursday, July 30 at 11am - 12pm EST
Josh Fairfield The Application of Property Law to Virtual Property Property law is the law of information about who owns what. We use that information to allocate scarce resources. This property sneak preview explores exciting new forms of ownership -- cryptocurrency and virtual items -- as a way of understanding what property law has always been about and what it is becoming.  Students will read 2 short book chapters and one article or video.     Tuesday, July 28 and Thursday, July 30 at 2-3pm EST