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by Vault Law Editors | July 24, 2008


Yesterday, it was my pleasure to audit a talk given by Arthur Miller at NYU law school to a group of rising 1Ls as part of the ‘SEO Corporate Law Institute.’ The students have all just finished (extraordinarily exclusive) SEO internships at BigLaw firms, and the CLI is “a two-week lecture series and networking forum led by top corporate lawyers and distinguished law school professors.” And there are none topper or more distinguished than Miller, who taught at HLS for 36 years, argued Supreme Court cases, wrote the standard text on Civil Procedure, married Marilyn Monroe, and was a fixture on Good Morning America for two decades.  (Also—and there is no easy way to say this—Professor Miller is the most dapper guy I’ve ever seen.  Look at the picture below—yesterday it was 100º and 99.9% humidity, and that was just what he looked like walking into the lecture hall.)


Miller began with some thoughts on the state of the standard law school curriculum. He noted that there has been a recent tendency to “semesterize” the courses.  (The great example being Civil Procedure, which traditionally had been a “year-long 90 hour behemoth” and now is commonly taught over a single semester.)  Why this trend? Miller said, “If I were a cynical man, I’d say the people who teach don’t want to be bored by the same students for an entire year.”  Or less cynically: “Modern life is more complex.” And so is the law: 30 years ago there were no distinct courses in IP, International, Technology and so forth, etc.  There is a lot more competition in the syllabus now, hence fewer “behemoths.”


Miller is such an epigrammatic, amusing and agile speaker that I think I’ll milk my notes for a couple more posts (Coming Soon: Miller on CivPro! Miller & Politics!). 


The Professor slipped a joke into his remarks on federalism, one that I’m not sure many of the students caught.  If I were a cynical man, I’d say he’s told it a few thousand times before: “The Eastern District of New York comprises Brooklyn, Queens, and the good part of Long Island—I mean, the rest of the island.”  Miller is, of course, Brooklyn-born.


                                                                        -posted by brian


Both monumental, both arch.


Filed Under: Law