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Imagining a More Just World

April 10 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Imagining a More Just World: The Place of Moral and Political Commitment in the Work of Judges and Lawyers

“Justice, Drucilla Cornell argues, is always present to law, but never completely realized by law. It is, in her view, precisely what eludes our full knowledge. Understood this way, law in the liberal state requires both an acknowledgement of its inadequacy in the face of the demands of justice and other moral virtues and a commitment to their future realization. Commentators from Plato to Derrida have called law to account in the name of justice, yet the justice they name is elusive. In a last abstract vein the place of moral and political commitment in the work of lawyers and judges has been, and remains controversial. “Thinking like a lawyer,” as every first year law student knows, seems to require a divorce of law from that commitment. And today getting confirmed to sit as a judge seems to require a similar disavowal.

In this conference, we are less interested in rehearsing old pieties than in thinking anew about the moral and political work of lawyers and judges. How has that work changed as the American legal system has developed? How do lawyers and judges navigate in a world in which they are expected to be mere technicians or referees and in which, at the same time, they know that their world is inescapably moral and political? Can we identify different ways of responding to this dilemma by turning to history? To literature? By examining the work of lawyers and judges from different religious, ethnic, cultural traditions?

In what ways is the work of law conducive to imagining a more just world? This conference will investigate the place of such imagining in the work that judges and lawyers do. When and where those imaginings present? When and where are they condemned? What can we learn about law by examining its attitude toward such imaginings?”

Professor Roger Berkowitz, Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and Associate Professor of Politics, Human Rights, and Philosophy at Bard College
Professor Adrienne Davis, Washington University School of Law
Professor William Simon (keynote speaker), Columbia Law School
Professor Laura Weinrib, University of Chicago Law School

Register Here

For CLE Credit Register Here



Continental Breakfast outside the Moot Courtroom (140)

8:30 – 9:00

Welcome & Introduction
Vice Dean James Leonard, The University of Alabama School of Law
Dr. Austin Sarat, Justice Hugo L. Black Visiting Senior Faculty Scholar, The University of Alabama School of Law and Associate Dean of the Faculty, William Nelson Cromwell Professor Jurisprudence & Political Science, Amherst College

9:00 – 10:15

Session I – From Left to Rights: Civil Liberties Lawyering Between the World Wars
Laura Weinrib, University of Chicago School of Law

Moderator: Brad Watts, The Journal of the Legal Profession

10:15 – 10:45


10:45 – 12:00

Session II – Lawyering in the Political & Racial Margin: Reparations and Black Equality
Adrienne Davis, Washington University School of Law

Moderator: Julian Bibb, The Journal of the Legal Profession

12:00 – 1:30

Session III – Keynote Speaker and Lunch: Justice and Accountability
William Simon, Columbia University School of Law

Moderator: Michael Stallings, The Journal of the Legal Profession

1:30 – 1:45


1:45 – 3:00

Session IV – Investigator, Therapist, and Lawyer: Title IX Panels and the Flight from Legal Judgment
Roger Berkowitz, Bard College

Moderator: Robby Marcum, The Journal of the Legal Profession

3:00 – 3:15


3:15 – 3:45

Overview and Commentary
Paul Horwitz, The University of Alabama School of Law