One of the unique things about U of C is the Law School's commitment to educating our students not only about the law but also how the legal education they receive in the classroom interacts with current events in society. Each year the Law School hosts the Chicago's Best Ideas series, or as we affectionately call them around here, CBI's. The CBI's are an opportunity for individual faculty members to discuss broader issues born and developing right here at the Law School.
The inaugural CBI lecture, held last week, featured Professor Cass Sunstein, who delivered a speech entitled "The Second Amendment: The Constitution's Most Mysterious Right" to a standing room only crowd full of curious and engaged students (Update: an audio recording of Professor Sunstein's talk is now available).
Here are few quotes from our students about the event:
Curtis Strong, a 1L, summarized the talk as follows: "From the founding fathers and all the way down to the NRA, Professor Sunstein let us all in on a dirty little secret: no one really knows what the Second Amendment means. Paradoxical as it may seem this was one of the most enlightening talks I've heard in a long time."
2L Brett Reynolds shared with us a similarly enthusiastic perspective:
"Professor Sunstein's lunch talk was given to a completely packed house in one of our largest lecture halls. This is one of the things I like most about the Law School -- it's the kind of place where students actually want to spend their lunch hour attending a talk about important legal issues. At the end of the talk there was time for questions and those who did ask questions didn't shy away at all from challenging Professor Sunstein's argument, suggesting a different view, or asking for elaboration on a point. It's great to see faculty who are true giants of the legal scholarship be just as engaged and responsive to questions from the students as they would be to their faculty colleagues when presenting formal papers."
Another one of our 1L students, Catherine Kiwala, who is also a student in Professor Sunstein's "Elements of the Law" course, or "Elements" in the Law School shorthand, shared her thoughts below. Elements is an introductory 1L course, unique to U of C, that teaches our students to begin the process of approaching legal issues with an eye towards critical analysis and creative solutions to a variety of legal quandaries. Past and current students routinely comment on how helpful Elements was to learning how to "think like a lawyer" and what a uniquely interesting way it is to start your legal education. And now here are Catherine's thoughts on the connection between the classroom and the CBI:
"It's stimulating and illuminating, but most of all incredibly exciting, to listen to your first quarter Elements professor apply the same sort of thought patterns and analysis to a topic totally different from what you're covering in class. Because we have Professor Sunstein for Elements, we don't just witness top-notch intellect in action at public talks; week in and week out we have front-row seats for it. We're not listening to and absorbing legal scholarship; we're actively participating in discussing and creating it in class and in our conversations during lunch and after school. When we are in class the temptation is to take down every word so you don't miss a thing and your fingers literally can't move quickly enough over the keyboard. But I never fear though because my classmates are really nice and we help fill in each other's gaps in order to make sure we take away all the pillars of complex ideas we discuss in class."