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Law school podcasts: Freedom of speech and innovation in the legal industry

CHICAGO - In the 17th episode of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Planet Lex podcast series, Dean Daniel Rodriguez takes a closer look at free speech with Martin Redish, the Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law and Public Policy at Northwestern Law.

Whether it’s Milo Yiannopoulos being unable to speak at Berkeley or James Damore being fired for his Google memo, freedom of speech has repeatedly emerged as a topic of controversy, especially in terms of hate speech. Redish, who teaches and writes on the subjects of freedom of expression and constitutional law, discusses how the law defines free speech and the right of various institutions, like businesses and universities, to regulate speech.

Professor Redish on free speech on college campuses
“Private universities are not at all controlled by the First Amendment because with the exception of the Thirteenth Amendment dealing with slavery the constitutional protections apply only to government, so we leave out all private universities.

“But even state universities have a greater degree of ability to maneuver in this area than would, for example, a local mayor or police department on the streets of a city. A university is not a pure public forum whereas streets of a town are; it’s what you would call a limited public forum.

“…A university could, within the framework of its proper function, prohibit the Flat Earth Society, for example, from coming and holding a conference on-campus simply on the grounds that that doesn’t further the university’s intellectual mission.”

In episode 18, Dean Rodriguez discusses innovation in the legal industry, including the cultural and regulatory restraints that keep new technology from impacting the legal industry at large, with William Henderson, the Stephen F. Burns Chair on the Legal Profession at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and a visiting professor at Northwestern Law.

The legal community has formed committees, taught seminars and hosted conferences -- all in an effort to convince lawyers that new technology will save them time and money. Sometimes the message sticks; sometimes attorneys run in the opposite direction. But is it lawyers themselves or the industry’s rules and culture that hinder innovation in legal tech?

Professor Henderson on “new” skills lawyers need today and going forward
“The key here is being able to collaborate with multiple professionals…We’re entering into this higher order complex problems, and we have to be able to solve them with other disciplines besides pure law, and it will only become even moreso in 25 years…I do think we can take some of that three years of legal education and practice the collaboration and communication so that we’re more skilled as professionals when we go into the workplace. If we can deliver on that in our three years of legal education, people will be anxious to hire our grads.”

About Planet Lex
Northwestern Law Dean Rodriguez hosts and the Legal Talk Network produces the Planet Lex podcast series. The podcasts typically feature interviews with prominent Northwestern faculty members, discussing the law’s role in changing global, societal and technological landscapes.

Topics of earlier episodes include defending Brendan Dassey; the evolution of music copyright law; sexual misconduct on campus; the regulation of public corruption; technological advancements and the law; law enforcement and implicit bias; and integrating the law and STEM-focused multidisciplinary education; online privacy and cybersecurity; and the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Listen to all 18 episodes

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