The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

Faculty Focus

A Packed Calendar to Mark 50 Years of Teaching

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If his golden anniversary year as a law professor is any indication, University Professor Arthur Miller has no plans to rest quietly on his laurels. In addition to maintaining a full course load, he has kept up a busy schedule of appearances, some at events celebrating his long and distinguished career.

Last March, Miller delivered his inaugural University Professorship Lecture, titled “Are They Closing the Courthouse Doors?” (Read an excerpt on page 65.) In it, he decries recent Supreme Court rulings that, he says, erode plaintiffs’ chances of getting to trial in federal court. The topic came from the field with which he is most closely associated: civil procedure. But in introducing Miller at the event, NYU President John Sexton noted that a university professorship is reserved for outstanding scholars whose work reflects exceptional breadth. Miller has written more than 40 books, and the focus of his work has ranged from copyright to privacy to sports law. He is best known, of course, as the nation’s preeminent authority on the rules that govern our courts, and he is co-author, with the late Charles Wright, of the legendary treatise in that field, Federal Practice and Procedure. His reputation also extends beyond his scholarship. “Generations of students … would point to him as the greatest teacher they ever experienced,” said Sexton, who took Miller’s Civil Procedure class at Harvard Law School.

In April, Miller flew to Portland, Oregon, for a daylong symposium honoring his career, sponsored by the Oregon Law Review and the University of Oregon schools of law and journalism. Although Miller was far from his NYU Law home, he did not lack for familiar faces. The law school at Oregon boasts an extraordinary concentration of Miller’s academic progeny: Seven of the school’s 37 full-time faculty, including the current dean, Michael Moffitt, were Miller’s students at Harvard before he moved to NYU. And the symposium featured roughly two dozen speakers and panelists—academics, practitioners, jurists, and journalists—who have worked with Miller over the course of his long career.

Miller, who honed his skills as a discussion moderator on the acclaimed “Fred Friendly Seminars” on PBS, is still in frequent demand to play that role. During the 2011-12 academic year at the Law School, the Emmy-winning moderator took panelists through the paces at two Milbank Tweed Forums, one in the fall that looked at career options for J.D.s, and the other in the spring on sports and the law. And the requests keep coming. In January 2013, at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in New Orleans, Miller will moderate a discussion commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Among the scheduled panelists is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

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