Jim Chen

Jim Chen is the Justin Smith Morrill Professor of Law, Michigan State University (effective July 1, 2013). In addition, he is also the founder and administrator of the online Jurisdynamics Network.

Arbitration as an Article of Constitutional Faith

arbitration and the constitution

Scarcely any legal question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, through arbitration.  If Alexis de Tocqueville could survey contemporary American legal culture, he would rub his eyes with amazement at the privatization of adjudication across a wide swath of issues previously committed to judicial resolution.  Cf. Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 807 (1999) (Souter, J., dissenting); Federal Maritime Comm'n v. South Carolina State Ports Auth., 535 U.S. 743, 755 (2002).  From trade disputes posing serious questions of economic diplomacy to consumer contracts adhering to cell phones and credit cards, mandatory arbitration has displaced…

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The End of the American Lawyer’s Guilded Age

law student rockwell

“Golden ages” figure prominently in history and in myth.  Golden ages invariably take place in the past.  Their very existence insults the present.  To invoke the term golden age implicitly speaks ill of today, as though those misfortunate enough to be alive today lack the strength and the resolve to restore the virtues of their forerunners.  The contemporary legal profession languishes in the memory of a golden age.  Some time before the global economy collapsed, law in America was a profession.  Success in law school translated directly into career success, whether in private practice, public service, or academia. Nostalgia has its…

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Legal Education at the Intersection of Two Guilds

Jim Chen is right.  Contrary to the mythical image repeated in the past two decades—exemplified by Anthony Kronman’s The Lost Lawyer and Sol Linowitz’s The Betrayed Profession—the American legal profession has never had a golden age.  As preeminent scholar of the legal profession Marc Galanter wryly remarked, “We are surely living in the literary Golden…

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The Self-Sustaining Guild: American Lawyers Will Still Own the Future

For decades it seemed as if the demand for legal services would keep growing indefinitely, and the prosperity of the American legal profession would keep mounting year by year. Then in 2008 came the smash-up, and boom gave way to sudden bust. Does this sequence of events relate to the loosening of the legal profession’s…

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