William Mitchell Law Review


Sam Magavern

Publication Information

30 William Mitchell Law Review 295 (2003-2004)


In 2002, a group of professors, deans, equal justice practitioners, and a Minnesota Supreme Court justice formed a Legal Scholarship for Equal Justice committee (LSEJ) to explore ways to link the work of professors and students to the equal justice issues faced by the bench and bar in our state. Since then, LSEJ has become a formal project of the Minnesota Justice Foundation, a nonprofit group that works at the four Minnesota law schools to integrate public service into the law school experience. So far, LSEJ has created an issues list, a class, and an annual symposium. The issues list contains topic descriptions and contact information for equal justice research-and-writing projects identified by practitioners or academics. Available at www.lsej.org, the list can be used by professors and students searching for topics for law review articles, independent research projects, and term papers. The list also forms the basis for the new “Equal Justice: Advanced Research” class rotating through the four schools and described by Eric Janus in an article in this issue. To generate more ideas and inspiration for equal justice scholarship, LSEJ also instituted an annual symposium to bring national equal justice scholars together with local equal justice scholars and practitioners. In selecting our first keynote speaker, we turned to an obvious choice: James Liebman, whose careful, empirically based studies of the death penalty system and its failure rate have radically altered public debate and public policy. After his address, reprinted in this issue, he joined our local panel of three professors and one practitioner to address the interplay of scholarship and practice. The panel discussion does an excellent job in providing examples of how legal scholarship has helped equal justice advance in the past, what some of the barriers to equal justice are, and how those barriers can be overcome so that academics like Liebman, Magee, Balos, and Janus, along with practitioners like Thompson who have successfully bridged the gap between theory and practice, become the norm instead of exceptions. The following panelist comments were drawn from transcription of the event held at William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, on January 24, 2003. The panel participants reviewed this written form prior to publication.