The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

Faculty Focus

J.S.D. Candidates Present Their Work at ‘Turn to Scholarship’ Conference

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A different sort of student conference was held at Furman Hall last January, as candidates for the Doctorate of Juridical Science (J.S.D.) degree presented their research to fellow students and leading academic figures in their fields of study.

Each year, the NYU School of Law admits a small number of academically outstanding students to candidacy for the J.S.D. degree, enabling them to produce a dissertation that will represent a significant and valuable contribution to legal scholarship in their chosen field. There are currently 25 students in the program, which is the legal equivalent to the Ph.D. in the arts and sciences. The research being undertaken by J.S.D. candidates is extremely diverse, ranging from international law, jurisprudence and constitutional law to taxation and law and economics.

At the “Turn to Scholarship” conference, 12 doctoral candidates presented their recent legal research in four panels, encompassing the areas of International Law, Law and Economics, Law and Gender, and Law and Social Change. Each panel provided the opportunity for comments and critiques from Law School professors and professors from other graduate schools both at NYU and beyond.

“This has been a tremendous opportunity for J.S.D. candidates entering the academic market to make connections and present their research,” said Christine Bateup, one of the conference organizers and a candidate in the J.S.D. program. Bateup said she hoped the conference would be an “important step toward the J.S.D. program playing a more integral role in the Law School.”

Dean Richard Revesz echoed Bateup’s hopes for the continued growth and vitality of the J.S.D. program. He also announced that students in the J.S.D. program would be taking over the old offices of the lawyering professors at 135 MacDougal Street. The dedicated office space, he said, was part of a commitment to the mission of the J.S.D. program.

“We’re very proud of our J.S.D. program,” the dean said. “Its focus is on producing good scholarship that will get people academic jobs as quickly as possible.”

Professor of Law and Director of the J.S.D. Program Mattias Kumm highlighted three key components of the students’ work: globalization of perspective and relevance, interdisciplinary research, and the intellectualization of legal work.

Among the papers related to international law was Roy Schöndorf’s “A Theory of International Criminal Law as International Legislation.” Schöndorf (J.S.D. ’03) said there is a need for a “contextual application” of international criminal law that takes into account national criminal-law systems.

In her paper, “Authority, Legitimacy and Participation in International Legal Institutions: The Case of the Milosevic Trial,” Maya Steinitz (J.S.D. ’03) made the case that international law gains more authority through the “performance” of a trial that internationalizes the process of understanding and digesting a terrible event. In his comments on her paper, Benedict Kingsbury, Murry and Ida Becker Professor of Law and director of the Institute for International Law and Justice, noted the presence in the room of Professor Richard Goldstone, now a global professor at the Law School and the former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia.

Among the presenters studying law and economics was Michal Tsur (J.S.D. ’03). In his paper, entitled “Anti-Takeover Defenses in Light of the Peacock’s Tail (Evolutionary Insights into the Widespread Use of Anti- Takeover Defenses),” he argued that much like the peacock’s tail that attracts the peahen but serves little other purpose, anti-takeover defenses prevalent in today’s corporate culture have survived simply because of their ability to propagate, not because of their inherent efficiency.

A particular highlight of the conference was Harvard Law School Professor Janet Halley’s presentation, “Split Decisions: Theories of Sex and Power in Legal Thought and Action.” The keynote speaker drew a large crowd and provoked a lively debate regarding the contemporary position of feminist theory within the legal academy.