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Ford Foundation

As much as any other institution, the Ford Foundation has shaped the modern American law school, having provided key backing for developments such as clinical legal education, public interest law, identity-based legal studies, and transnational law. Whether you agree or disagree with Ford’s ideological thrust — and as a libertarian, I regularly disagree — it’s a pretty remarkable set of accomplishments. I give an overview and brief history in this new article for the Capital Research Center’s Foundation Watch, adapted from my book Schools for Misrule. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty; welcome readers from George Leef, NRO)

More: some essays on Ford’s crucial support during the formative period of public interest litigation [Steven Schindler, more, Scott Kohler]

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Employment law roundup

by Walter Olson on February 7, 2012

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Schools for Misrule roundup

by Walter Olson on January 20, 2012

Maryland professor of mathematics emeritus Ron Lipsman reviews my book at The Intellectual Conservative, calling it “penetrating,” “comprehensive and detailed”:

He traces, in mostly a chronological fashion, how progressive philosophy and leftist ideology at first seeped into and eventually flooded the halls of American law schools. He begins by pointing out that law schools became well established on American campuses precisely during the so-called Progressive Era, 1890-1914. The law schools’ newfound prominence dovetailed nicely with the advent of professional licensure in America. By that I mean the process by which the heretofore free-for-all entry of individuals into numerous professions and vocations began to be subject to government (or government-sanctioned) certification. This became common a century ago in various American businesses and industries – from meat slaughtering to pharmacy, from barbering to chauffeuring, from teaching to medicine. Well, there was no reason to exempt lawyering from the process. And so the country’s law schools became the gatekeepers for the nation’s legal profession. Thus the faculty at the nation’s law schools – especially, those of the elite variety – obtained control over the training and philosophical outlook of the nation’s lawyers. Since we are a country under the rule of law, those who control the lawyers thereby control the law and thus the country to a great extent….

Olson’s style is actually quite engaging. Although he treats deadly serious issues with the earnestness that they deserve, he manages to maintain an understated, even restrained tone, which if anything makes his arguments more dramatic.

At Liberty Fund’s newly launched Library of Law and Liberty, lawprof/blogger Mike Rappaport after listening to my interview resolved to put the book on his reading list, having not previously appreciated how central the role of the Ford Foundation has been in influencing the schools’ development. For more on that role — as well as that of other donors like George Soros and nonprofit groups like the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) — see Scott Walter’s interesting essay in Philanthropy Daily, which includes a link to SfM.

Admit it: you want an electronic copy of Schools for Misrule for your e-reader. No problem: there are great bargains in the Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble/Nook or Google e-books versions, the Kindle version, and the Sony version. Also check out the e-books at the Cato store, on offer this month at great savings with the code “EBOOKSALE.”

P.S. Ted Lacksonen picks up on the book’s oral-tradition “Yale Law School Anthem” (“Don’t Know Much About Property…”).

“An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border. Roger Barnett, 64, began rounding up illegal immigrants in 1998 and turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol, he said, after they destroyed his property, killed his calves and broke into his home.” MALDEF, the famous Ford Foundation-founded litigation group, is representing the plaintiffs. [Jerry Seper, Washington Times]

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“International human rights law” — what could sound more cuddly and humanitarian? Who could disapprove of such a thing? That’s one reason it’s so popular at almost every law school nowadays following years of generous support by the Ford Foundation, Soros, and other donors. In practice, as is now clear, it often tends to furnish a set of handy weapons for carrying on “lawfare” — warfare by means of courtroom action against one’s adversaries, particularly in the courts of third countries. (Anne Herzberg, “Lawfare against Israel”, WSJ, Nov. 5). For the closely related issue of laws empowering private attorneys and litigants to pursue foreign entities over alleged terrorist support whether or not such actions advance U.S. diplomatic goals, see Sept. 12, 2007.