Archive for October, 2013

Prof. Mark Drumbl Presents on Child Soldiers, Rwandan Criminal Tribunal

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment
Prof. Mark Drumbl

Prof. Mark Drumbl

Washington and Lee law professor Mark Drumbl is making two presentations in late October dealing with international criminal justice.

On Oct. 25th, he presented on child soldiers at a conference of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA). His panel was titled “Accounting for Children Affected by Armed Conflicts.”  The panel brought together distinguished experts for a moderated dialogue that assessed both current and alternative approaches to securing the rights and well-being of children affected by armed conflict.

The ABILA conference brings together hundreds of practitioners, law professors, members of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and students. The theme of the conference was “Internationalization of Law and Legal Practice”. The event included more than 40 expert panels that examined how and why knowledge of international law is an increasingly relevant and important professional tool for virtually every lawyer.

Next, Prof. Drumbl travels to Johannesburg, South Africa for an international conference titled, “The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.”

The Tribunal (ICTR) has significantly contributed to the development of international criminal law and international humanitarian law since its establishment in 1994.  The Conference will critically probe the role of the Tribunal, its successes, failures and challenges in order to evaluate the legacy and legitimacy of the Tribunal.

Prof. Drumbl is participating in a panel on the ICTR and Domestic Courts. His presentation is titled “The ICTR’s jurisprudential Legacies in domestic civil litigation: A case-study of US Alien Tort Statute judgments.”

For more details, see the conference program.

Prof. Josh Fairfield Presents at Major Conference on Empirical Legal Studies

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment
Prof. Josh Fairfield

Prof. Josh Fairfield

On Oct. 26, Washington and Lee law professor Josh Fairfield presents his paper on social media privacy at the Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS) at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prof. Fairfield coauthored the paper with Christoph Engel of the Max Planck Institute.

Now in its eighth year, CELS features original empirical legal scholarship by leading scholars from a diverse range of fields. The conference is very selective in terms of the presentations and includes commentary from top scholars on each paper.

Fairfield’s paper is titled “Big Brother is Watching You Because Little Brother has Opened the Door: An Experiment on Information Sharing in Social Networks.” The paper studies the problems people have protecting their privacy over social networks.  Fairfield and Engel observe that legal policy characterizes privacy as a private problem that each person needs to protect for themselves.  But they argue that in reality privacy is a social construct: you do not need it on a desert island.

Consequently, the authors study data pollution as a public bad–a pool to which we all contribute information about each other.  In the wake of the Snowden revelations about the Prism program, in which Americans’ social network data was provided to intelligence agencies on a massive scale, the authors believe it is more important than ever to understand how privacy is everyone’s problem.

For more information about CELS, visit the conference website.

Dean Demleitner, Prof. Moliterno Present at Seton Hall Symposium on Legal Education

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment
Dean Nora Demleitner

Dean Nora Demleitner

Washington and Lee School of Law Dean Nora Demleitner and Prof. Jim Moliterno present at Seton Hall Law School on Oct. 25 as part of a symposium titled “Legal Education Looking Forward.” Panelists at the event will discuss current proposals for revamping, revitalizing, and reestablishing the value of law school. Paulette Brown, President-Elect of the American Bar Association, will deliver the keynote address,

Dean Demleitner is participating in a plenary panel titled “Bold Approaches to Legal Education,” with Dorothy Brown, Vice Provost, Emory; Evan Chesler, chairman, Cravath, and David Lat, Above the Law. Prof. Moliterno is on a breakout panel titled “Law School: What Return(s) on the Investment?”.

Some of the questions the symposium attempts to answer include: Is law school still economically viable? Should it last two years instead of three? Would increasing “skills classes” increase preparedness? Could an apprenticeship program or post-graduate “low bono” service clinic give students a means of building experience in a tough legal market? Do we need the bar exam?

For more information about the event, visit the Seton Hall Symposium website.

Prof. Kish Vinayagamoorthy Presents at W&L/VMI Economics Seminar

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment
Prof. Kish Vinayagamoorthy

Prof. Kish Vinayagamoorthy

On Friday, Oct. 25, Washington and Lee law professor Kish Vinayagamoorthy will present as part of the W&L and Virginia Military Institute Economics Seminar, a series of discussions featuring experts and guests from both campuses.

Prof. Vinayagamoorthy will present a work in progress titled “Governing Amidst the Fragments.”  Her topic explores ways to improve corporate social responsibility in global value chains.  It specifically looks at ways to create incentives for suppliers and proposes different ways that stakeholders can transmit these incentives to suppliers.

The joint seminar brings together members of the VMI and W&L academic communities to explore the economic dimensions of a wide variety of current issues in trade, conservation, transnational business, and mergers and acquisitions, among other topics.  Through presentations by internal and external faculty, participants discuss how economics can improve the effectiveness of private sector and public sector responses to the issues identified above.

For more information, see

Prof. Lyman Johnson publishes piece on teaching business purpose in Catholic higher education

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment
Prof. Lyman Johnson

Prof. Lyman Johnson

W&L Law Professor Lyman Johnson has just published a piece entitled Rethinking How Business Purpose Is Taught in Catholic Business Education, 32 J. Cath. Higher Ed. 59 (20103).  Here is the abstract:

Business education at a Catholic university should engage students and faculty across the university in critically examining the purpose of business in society. Following the best practices of leading business schools, the Catholic business curriculum has mostly focused on the shareholder and stakeholder approaches—with the shareholder approach being the predominant view. Creatively engaging the Catholic Social Tradition (especially the “community of persons”) can bring a richer appreciation of the purpose of business in our contemporary society than either the shareholder or stakeholder approaches. We argue that far more discretion to pursue various corporate purposes in manifold ways exists than is frequently appreciated by business managers and those who educate them. This article examines how, given this legal and moral discretion, the Catholic Social Tradition is a rich resource for teaching corporate purpose, and reveals how tapping into a religious tradition with a long philosophical discourse can shape a rich dialogue in the curriculum as to a company’s moral direction. We contrast two philosophies of business: an Association of Individuals (the shareholder and stakeholder approaches) and a Community of Persons (mission-centric approach), and their respective views of corporate purpose. While business scholars tend not to question their underlying anthropological presuppositions because of the desire to be “practical,” a business education grounded in the liberal arts must engage the first principles of its discourse.

Prof. Michelle Drumbl on Balancing Complexity, Sophistication, and Accuracy on Tax Returns

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment
Prof. Michelle Drumbl

Prof. Michelle Drumbl

Prof. Michelle Drumbl of Washington & Lee has recently made available on SSRN her forthcoming article Those Who Know, Those Who Don’t, and Those Who Know Better: Balancing Complexity, Sophistication, and Accuracy on Tax Returns, 11 Pitt. Tax Rev. ___ (2014).  Here is the abstract:

Refundable credits, particularly the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit, serve an important anti-poverty measure for low-income taxpayers. Annually, millions of taxpayers who do not owe any federal income tax must file a tax return in order to claim these credits that are in the nature of social benefits. The eligibility requirements for refundable credits are complex, and these returns are particularly prone to audit: EITC audits comprise one-third of all individual income tax audits. Because of the large dollar amounts at stake, a taxpayer’s mistaken understanding of the eligibility requirements for these refundable credits can often result in a deficiency of several thousand dollars. Though studies indicate that taxpayer error is more commonly inadvertent than intentional, the section 6662 20% accuracy-related penalty applies once the deficiency reaches a statutory “understatement” threshold; it is imposed computationally and without regard to the taxpayer’s intent.

By statute, taxpayers have the right to contest the accuracy-related penalty by demonstrating that there was reasonable cause for the underlying error and the taxpayer acted in good faith. Treasury regulations provide that such a circumstance might include “an honest misunderstanding of fact or law that is reasonable in light of all the facts and circumstances, including the experience, knowledge, and education of the taxpayer”. Yet for all of these reasons – lack of experience, lack of knowledge, and relative lack of education – the taxpayer is unlikely to have the knowledge or resources to raise the very defense that is meant to protect an unsophisticated taxpayer.

Drawing comparisons between refundable tax credits and social programs administered by other agencies, this article calls upon the IRS to better differentiate between inadvertent error (“those who don’t know”) and intentional or fraudulent error (“those who know better”). The article argues that the current accuracy-related penalty approach is unduly punitive. It concludes by proposing solutions that the IRS might consider in light of Congress’s desire for the Service to administer these social benefits through the Internal Revenue Code.

Prof. Russ Miller Presents on Cyber Security and Comparative Law

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment
Prof. Russell Miller

Prof. Russell Miller

On Oct. 16, Washington and Lee law professor Russell Miller presented in Bonn, Germany at an international program on security and the law. He will join with German and international experts to discuss key challenges of effective legal protection in regards to cyber security.

Shortly after, on Oct. 18-19, Prof. Miller will return to host the First Annual Montpelier Roundtable on Comparative Constitutional Law. He will lead a number of comparative law scholars in a discussion on Superficial Convergence. Miller co-convened this inaugural session with University of Virginia colleagues Dick Howard and Mila Versteeg.


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