This is Professor Leslie Harris
, who wrote this book. She runs family and child law stuff at the University of Oregon. Maybe she runs family and child law stuff in the world, but I am not qualified to give definitive information about that. I think it’s safe to say that there is some tension between her and me that I won’t get into now because that’s not really the point. She did give me a Child Advocacy Fellowship for this year, and it’s paid, and that was nice of her. In that clip, you miss the part of the presentation where she spends about ten minutes trying to shut down the slide screen and ends up turning all of the lights off in the room. That was pretty funny. At the second event we did this year, she ended up turning all the lights off again. I hope it happens at all of the events during the year.
What I do want to talk to you about is my new theory about how to choose law school classes in your second and third years of school. This is probably not a really interesting topic to you since, like, almost no one here is in law school, but I’m going to tell you anyway. The first year of law school classes are all required, which makes it easy because you just have to suck it up and take them. It’s a lot harder to try to figure out what you want
to take because, let’s face it, how do you know if you want to take Land Use Law instead of Natural Resources Law until you’ve taken them? The thing I realized, though, is that the first year isn’t really about the topics you’re learning. It’s about learning how to read cases and find the law. So, once you’ve learned how to do that, you can pretty much do it for any topic within the law. What you should do, then, in your second and third year of law school is take classes from professors you like, or in areas of the law that you find challenging. Unless you are really driven in a particular area of law, in which case you’ll obviously follow a certain track, I don’t think it matters so much whether or not you come out of law school with complete coursework in a particular area of the law. You can teach yourself an area of the law later if you need to.
And that’s my point. Particularly with kid law and family law, you can teach yourself this stuff. Probably, you could teach yourself Administrative Law, too, but that’s a little less likely, I think. After having taken Administrative Law from a professor I really like, and still having no idea what that topic is about, I would hate to encounter it on my own. There are minotaurs in there. Kid law, though, is doable. So, I think, if you look at a class title and think, “I have no idea what that means,” you should take that class. If you look at a title and think, “I can pretty much picture that,” you probably don’t need to take it.
Also, if you work for Aspen Publishers, I want to work for you and edit your casebooks. Will you give me a job? I want to reform your casebook editing department because shape up, people. Why are you releasing these books with weird errors? Actually, it was the family one that was so bad, not this one, to be fair.
Anyway, kid law is about how parents have a fundamental right to care for and raise their kids, but the state also has a parens patriae
interest in caring for children. Kids don’t have rights themselves. The stuff we do to kids is terrible, both on the state side and the parent side. It turns my stomach. If kids get bad parents, it pretty much just gets worse and worse for them in general as far as I can tell. The juvenile court system is separate from the criminal court system in the US, so juveniles aren’t protected by the Constitution in the same way as adult criminals. In many ways, they are more protected today than they have been in the past, but still not as much as adult offenders.
I guess, my frustration with the juvenile justice system is similar to my frustration with the criminal justice system in general. I feel like it’s not a productive solution to put people in boxes when they’ve done something harmful. I don’t have a better solution, but this seems like a bad one. And, with kids, it seems like they grow up in a bad environment and either they get removed and put into foster care, which often is worse than their original homes, or they wind up in juvenile detention, which is worse, too. So, kid law is depressing.
Next term I’m taking Trademark Law and Federal Jurisdiction. I’m crossing kid law and environmental law off of the list of potential futures for me.