Miami Law Faculty Add Expertise at Law & Society Association Conference in Lisbon

Miami Law Faculty Add Expertise at Law & Society Association Conference in Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal
By Catharine Skipp

Lisbon, Portugal

Miami Law Faculty Add Expertise at Law & Society Association Conference in Lisbon

By Catharine Skipp
Professors bring context and value to an annual global conference in Portugal.

Miami Law was well represented recently at the global Law and Society Association meeting, "Rage, Reckoning & Remedy."

A cohort of Miami Law faculty traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, to present and participate in the interdisciplinary scholarly conference committed to social scientific, interpretive, and historical law analyses across multiple social contexts. 

"Miami’s deserved reputation as a home of sociolegal inquiry is longstanding," said Charlton Copeland, associate dean for intellectual life. “It was one of the earliest sites of the migration of economics into legal education and research in the 1970s and early 80s. It was the home, and birthplace, of a host of critical-legal engagements in the 1990s  –  including, but not limited to, LatCrit as a birthplace, and early participants in Critical Race Theory, and important voices in feminist legal theory, especially in the domestic violence space.”

The Law & Society Association's mission is to acknowledge that for sociolegal scholars, law consists not only of the words of official documents. Law also can be found in the diverse understandings and practices of people interacting within domains that law governs, in the claims that people make for legal redress of injustices, and in the coercive power exercised to enforce lawful order. Sociolegal scholars also address evasions of law, resistance and defiance toward law, and alternatives to law in structuring social relations.

Anthony Alfieri presented and participated in a panel with a paper "Racial Trauma in Civil Rights Representation." In the article, Alfieri joins a chorus of attorneys and academics, using recent civil rights cases as an example of how trauma-informed lawyering can advance civil rights and provide healing for affected communities and individuals. 

Building on the panel's prior work on race, cultural trauma, and civil rights lawyering, they investigated the meaning of racial trauma for individual, group, and community clients and for their legal teams in civil rights and criminal cases while detailing the importance of establishing a trauma-informed practice for today's civil rights lawyers. 

Kathleen Claussen presented "Transnational Legal Ordering, Rights, and Corruption" (part of the Transnational Ordering CRN), which, she writes, was "entirely enabled by a terrific team of UM research assistants."

The article presented findings from a content analysis of congressional hearings featuring the lead trade policymaker – the U.S. Trade Representative – from 1979 to the present. The analysis yields at least three noteworthy results: First, the study of more than 3,000 transcript pages explores how the separation of powers and oscillating trade policy objectives have been discursively constructed and performed. Second, it draws on insights from relational sociology to ask whether USTR's unique authority can be derived in some part from playing a tertiary role in an otherwise dyadic story. Third, these hearings constitute records of a critical site of interaction between Congress, USTR, and the White House. Studying them allows us also to examine how shifting relationship dynamics map onto the formation, implementation, and enforcement of trade law as exercised by the U.S. government. 

Andrew Elmore presented his co-written paper with Scott Cummings, "From a Living Wage to Fight for $15: Mobilizing Wage Mandates to Build Local Labor Law," at the Labor Movements Panel. Elmore is also a co-chair of CRN 08 (Labor Rights).

Their article challenges the conventional account of labor law's national deradicalization and local resurgence; the movement for city-level living wage laws — emerging in the 1990s with Los Angeles leading the way — was a second-best, limited anti-poverty device designed to raise wage floors, with only indirect effects on organized labor. 

Their account argues that the lost history of the living wage law can be recovered as a tool to rebuild union density and reshape city politics. Through this new history, the article makes two significant contributions to labor and local government law scholarship. First, it reconceptualizes living wage mandates as mobilizable labor law: deliberately crafted to facilitate union organizing and build power to influence local politics through innovative legal design that addressed federal labor law's weakness, responded to agency resistance and employer countermeasures, and produced a new legal consciousness essential to scaling up legal strategies for new, more ambitious goals. Second, the article revises the conventional historical arc of labor localism by reclaiming the living wage law as an inflection point: building upon earlier experiments in immigrant worker organizing to reshape the direction of contemporary union and new labor campaigns. 

Mary Anne Franks led a roundtable discussion on "Public and Private Approaches to Online Hate Speech Regulation," addressing the proliferation of hate speech online has added new dimensions to an old problem. Hate speech regulation can interfere with free expression, face weighty definitional issues, and regulators may suffer from a trust deficit in policing hate speech, even as international law imposes certain obligations to curb its spread. Online regulation faces the difficulty of identifying hate speech at scale, variation in the nature of the problem across states, the risk of amplification that social media presents, and the fact that the internet crosses borders. This roundtable discussion among a diverse group of experts will assess government, industry, and civil society options for regulating and mitigating the impact of online hate speech, including but not limited to the Digital Services Act, Sec. 230 reform, and Facebook's Oversight Board.

Pablo Rueda Saiz presented a paper titled "The Politics of Treaty Implementation: A Comparative Analysis of the International Labor Organization Convention on Indigenous Rights in Latin America," which focuses on the need to understand divergence in the diffusion of international law. The paper compares the implementation of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of the International Labor Organization 169 Convention of 1989, in Latin America. Fifteen out of twenty-four parties to the convention are countries from Latin America, which constitutes a kind of “natural experiment” that enables a controlled comparison of the roles that different factors, processes and mechanisms play in accounting for variation in treaty implementation. This article shows that variations in the interpretation and implementation of the treaty depend on three domestic factors: the legal mobilization of ethnic cleavages, judicial responsiveness, and governmental structure.

Ileana Porras participated in a panel "Law, the 'Region,' and Designing Pathways Toward Better Worlds" on the Law and Political Economy and Prefigurative Law session, part of a new working group on the "region" to think beyond the current "crisis" in capitalism, with its unsustainably racialized, growth-fetishized and earth-destroying political economies. 

The panel examined how the region members have used critical legal analysis to study, e.g., distributional inequalities, global value chains, race/capitalist economies, and regimes of expertise. In the roundtable, discussants and regions group members considered questions like how local experiments, social movements, and other practices might leverage profound change in neoliberal political economies and their racialized subjectivities while engaging law to project new post-growth imaginaries.

Rob Rosen participated in a panel, presenting his paper "Critical Dialogue and Regulation," which argues that regulators also need to become adept in critical dialogue. In the regulatory process, the critique of the rationality of extant techniques and practices can be an engine to advance public interests. Such critical thinking is attentive to false objectification and the limitations of truth claims. The article calls for the employment of adepts at critical dialogue by parties to the administrative process.

Scott Sundby was on a panel that looked at how the legal system does and does not accommodate what it asks of its actors and presented his paper, "Recanting Jurors: What Should the Legal System do When a Juror Wants to 'Take Back' Their Vote for Death."

Sundby uncovered a number of jurors in a variety of cases who, as the execution date nears, decide to "go public" and state they no longer support executing the defendant, according to media accounts and legal cases. A question thus arises in stark relief: In a system that strives mightily for finality in its decision-making, especially with the death penalty, how should the legal system respond to the recanting juror? 

"The talk looked at the question of how we should respond to recanting jurors in light of the variety of reasons they give for no longer supporting the death penalty despite voting for it at trial.," Sundby said.

"My panel consisted of scholars from Australia, Italy and the United States," Sundby said. "It was organized by Susan Bandes who used to teach at Miami Law. It was a wonderful way to gain new perspectives, both from an international and policy perspective."

Previous Law & Society Association meetings have brought participants from over 60 countries across six continents. 

“The University of Miami has also been home to leading legal historians and social scientists who have engaged important issues of professional structure and election systems.  Miami’s corporate law scholars have been unusually represented in socio-legal inquires of financial regulatory structures and their development.  This has been across generations and subject areas.  It is, to my mind, the most intellectually identifying trait of the University of Miami,” said Copeland.  “It is great that so many of our colleagues were able to re-convene with other leaders in this space in Lisbon.”