Celebrating 50 years of Valparaiso Law Review

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deans desk lyonAs I (and others) have written before, legal education is at a crossroads. We recognize the need to prepare our students for the practice of law; to train them not just in case-law analysis but in the myriad skills needed to practice law. Among them is mastering legal writing and research.

One of the educational challenges facing those of us in higher education (not just law) is teaching writing. The entry of what is often referred to as the millennial generation into higher education has shown a marked decrease in prior opportunities to write, to be critiqued, and sadly, even to have been instructed in the basics of grammar, sentence structure and syntax. Certainly those of us in legal education know and understand those challenges and are working to overcome them. Not only that, we are working to understand the ways that our students communicate and the technology they embrace, as it is imperative that we adapt to the many changes in our society.

One of the communication shifts we are seeing is the very public sharing of private information (both intentionally and not), along with the ability of anyone to make their thoughts public. We hear about the degradation of journalism and the lack of support for investigative reporting in favor of the quick-soundbite world. The place for thoughtful reflection, for scholarly inquiry and serious study often may seem beside the point. In that regard, a question that pops up from time to time is what is the point of law reviews? What do they accomplish, and who (if anyone) reads them?

There is no way to answer that question globally. Some law review articles are so abstract as to be inaccessible except to the writer and a small subset of other scholars. As noted in a New York Times article, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at a judicial conference, “Pick up a copy of any law review that you see and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria, or something, which I’m sure was of great interest to the academic that wrote it, but isn’t of much help to the bar.”

Citations to law reviews by courts have decreased over the years as well. Yet, we still write them and believe them to be of use to the bar. And they are of use. Before the decision in Batson v. Kentucky holding that prosecution peremptory challenges cannot be used in a racially discriminatory way, there were law review articles written about the problem and its possible solution. Before Morgan v. Illinois, there were law review articles written about the one-sided nature of excusals for cause of those opposed to the death penalty but not those unable to consider anything else.

Did those articles cause the change? Well, that would be very hard to assess, but they certainly contributed to it, if in no other way than by giving capital punishment defenders and others a way to make an objection and create a record.

So, 50 years later, what has Valparaiso’s Law Review accomplished? The Valparaiso University Law Review has tackled such thought-provoking topics as the Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights, cellphone use behind the wheel, immigration issues, child pornography, freedom of the press, con?ict of interest, regulation of the Internet, bioethics, and countless legal conundrums, addressing each with the rigor established under the vision of the first dean to establish the review, Alfred Meyer, and the early editors. The Women in the Law Symposium published in 1994 (Volume 28, Number 4) was a triumph. The issue featured lead articles by Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Valparaiso University Law School professor JoEllen Lind. “The emergence of women in legal education and legal practice is probably one of the most important things that’s happened in the United States over the past 50 years,” Professor Emeritus Bruce Berner (and one of the editors of that first edition) says. “That issue of the Law Review received a great deal of play in other law schools,” he comments, saying others wondered why they hadn’t thought of this idea themselves.

And what can it accomplish in the future? Berner remarks that over the years, he’s seen the Law Review — and all law reviews — feature “fewer big-picture articles,” addressing instead more “particularized issues.” He attributes this shift to the evolution of law itself. The body of law has grown immensely, he points out, such that law becomes “not so much an overall philosophy and very much about maintenance of smaller ideas, codi?cations.” He also suggests technology has changed the productivity and perspectives of practicing attorneys. Editorial lineups of law reviews, Berner believes, do and will continue to re?ect more intensive specialization today.

Law review articles serve our students, our faculty and the bar. They also give a voice to new ideas and to changes big and small that the law should contemplate (or not). Valparaiso University Law School points with pride at its first 50 years, and looks forward to its next.•

Andrea D. Lyon is dean and professor of law at Valparaiso University Law School. She joined the school in July 2014. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review:

  2. Wow, over a quarter million dollars? That is a a lot of commissary money! Over what time frame? Years I would guess. Anyone ever try to blow the whistle? Probably not, since most Hoosiers who take notice of such things realize that Hoosier whistleblowers are almost always pilloried. If someone did blow the whistle, they were likely fired. The persecution of whistleblowers is a sure sign of far too much government corruption. Details of my own personal experience at the top of Hoosier governance available upon request ... maybe a "fake news" media outlet will have the courage to tell the stories of Hoosier whistleblowers that the "real" Hoosier media (cough) will not deign to touch. (They are part of the problem.)

  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: