Planet Lex Podcast

Planet Lex Podcast Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Planet Lex podcast featured discussions on the role of law in today's most pressing issues, including politics, social justice, business and more. The full archive of episodes is below or available via Apple Podcasts.

Episode 43: A New Digital Infrastructure

audio play buttonProfessor Annelise Riles

The COVID pandemic precipitated a massive shift in digital infrastructure. Annelise Riles, the Executive Director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University, outlines her vision for the United States' role in global engagement, the future of transnational education, and addresses the growing skepticism of the costs of removing the human element.

Episode 42: A Safe, Fair, and Dignified Workplace

audio play buttonTina Tchen

Nearly 35 years after Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson made sexual harassment unlawful, the EEOC reports that 85% of women have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their career. Tina Tchen (JD '84), former chief of staff to Michelle Obama and president and CEO of Time’s Up Now and the Time’s Up Foundation, discusses how the law can actually impede progress in critical areas of workplace discrimination, and how businesses and government can more effectively move the needle.

Episode 41: COVID-19's Impact on the 2020 Election

audio play buttonProfessor Michael Kang

The 2020 presidential election has already seen unprecedented changes to the process by which votes are cast, tallied, and reported, and, as a result, the U.S. has seen an increased amount of litigation surrounding the election. Michael Kang, the William G. and Virginia K. Karnes Research Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, is a nationally recognized election law expert. He discusses COVID-19’s looming impact on the upcoming presidential election, the range of election-related litigation already in courts, and whether he thinks America will know election results on November 3.

Episode 40: New Light on the History of Commercial Fraud

audio play buttonProfessor Emily Kadens

Fraud is not a modern problem. In this episode of Northwestern Law’s Planet Lex, host Jim Speta is joined by Emily Kadens, Professor of Law, to discuss her new article New Light on Twyne’s Case, one of the oldest English cases still being cited by American courts. Through firsthand research and unprecedented access to Common Pleas writ rolls, she unearths some fascinating details about the complicated history of commercial fraud.

Episode 39: Anti-Discrimination Laws vs. Religious Freedom

audio play buttonProfessor Andrew M. Koppelman

The United States has a long history of religious accommodation. But is it possible to exempt those who object to an anti-discrimination law without defeating the purpose of that law? Planet Lex host Jim Speta is joined in this episode by Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law and author of Gay Rights Versus Religious Liberty: The Unnecessary Conflict, to discuss the intersection of religious freedom and anti-discrimination laws, the recent Supreme Court decision in Bostock v Clayton County, and the road forward in a free society where people radically disagree.

Episode 38: Juvenile Justice During the Coronavirus Pandemic

audio play buttonProfessor Julie L. Biehl

A criminal record can be an economic life sentence for those attempting to re-enter society. The cost of one year of incarceration of a child exceeds that of a four-year university. Juvenile justice is one of many areas of the law struggling to adapt to COVID-19. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Jim Speta discusses the pandemic’s impact on incarceration with Julie L. Biehl, Clinical Professor of Law, who has served as Director of the Children and Family Justice Center since 2009. She outlines the Center's efforts to release juveniles from prison and speaks about her vision for the future of juvenile justice.

Episode 37: Law in the Time of Coronavirus

audio play buttonProfessor Daniel B. Rodriguez

In the midst of a global pandemic, federal and state governments are tasked with addressing a public health emergency while steadfastly protecting civil liberties. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Vice Dean Jim Speta is joined by Daniel B. Rodriguez, Harold Washington Professor and former dean of Northwestern Law, to discuss the myriad (and ever-evolving) legal issues surrounding COVID-19. Rodriguez also discusses the “pop-up” course he created in order to teach the topic in real-time, and looks at the long-term ramifications that technology-enabled courts will have on the legal system.

Episode 36: Leading Edge of Legal: How In-House Attorneys Navigate Issues in High Profile Startups

audio play button Myra Pasek (JD '90) and Pete Cline (JD '08)

In this special live recording of Planet Lex at Northwestern’s San Francisco campus, host Jim Speta talks with Myra Pasek, general counsel at Ouster, and Pete Cline, associate director of legal at Twitter, about their experiences working in-house at start-ups and high-profile tech companies, including Tesla, Impossible Foods, Ouster, and Twitter. The guests share their unique paths from big law to Silicon Valley and offer insights on the cutting-edge legal issues and challenges that arise in tech and entrepreneurial ventures.

Episode 35: Solitary Confinement: Calling for Change in American Prisons

audio play button David Shapiro and Daniel Greenfield

Incarceration is the primary form of criminal punishment in the US today, and approximately 80,000 American prisoners are in some form of solitary confinement. What exactly does this look like in our prison system, and what are the effects of solitary confinement on individuals? Does this type of treatment violate prisoners' constitutional rights? David Shapiro and Daniel Greenfield, members of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker Law's Bluhm Legal Clinic, talk about their research and efforts to end prolonged solitary confinement in American prisons.

Episode 34: Innovation and Trends in Intellectual Property and Patent Law

audio play button Laura Pedraza-Fariña and David Schwartz

Professors Laura Pedraza-Fariña and David Schwartz discuss the study of innovation and the law in an era of rapid technological change. The guests share their individual paths to intellectual property and patent law and offer insights on how patents affect innovation. They also discuss their current research projects and outline the unique advantages of pursuing their scholarship with an interdisciplinary team.

Episode 33: The Bluhm Legal Clinic: Celebrating 50 years of Clinical Legal Education

audio play button Thomas Geraghty

As Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic approaches its 50th anniversary, Planet Lex host Vice Dean Jim Speta talks with Thomas Geraghty, the Clinic’s director from 1976-2017, about the clinic’s beginnings and how it evolved into what it is today. Geraghty shares how engaging students directly in the practice of law provides vital training and makes legal education more meaningful. They also discuss Geraghty’s work bringing clinical education to law schools around the world and the new innovations coming to this area of legal education.

Episode 32: Fairness and Equality: The Current Landscape of Antidiscrimination Law

audio play button Dean Kimberly Yuracko

If fairness doesn’t always mean treating everyone the same, then what does it really mean? Host Vice Dean Jim Speta is joined by Kimberly Yuracko, Dean and Judd and Mary Morris Leighton Professor of Law, to discuss her extensive research on gender equity. Speta and Yuracko survey current social issues and discuss how laws surrounding these matters are changing. They also examine gender equity in the legal profession, and discuss the responsibility of law schools and law firms to create a more equitable profession, especially at the top.

Episode 31: Law and Sports: A Conversation with Jerry Reinsdorf

audio play button Jerry Reinsdorf (JD '60)

When it comes to sports, the legal landscape is constantly evolving, and this episode’s guest knows that better than anyone. Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox, has been a franchise owner for over 25 years and has seen his sports teams through a number of critical changes. The Northwestern Law alum joins host Jim Speta to talk about going from law student to franchise owner, the impact of the law and technology on the future of sports, cheering on Jackie Robinson, and why he and his teams prioritize giving back.

Episode 30: Seeking Asylum: Reality at the U.S. / Mexico Border

audio play button Professor Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe

Late last year, all anyone could seem to talk about was the migrant caravan approaching the U.S. / Mexico border. Yet, despite all the coverage and conversations, very few people understand the legal and social complexities facing those seeking asylum. Law Professor Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe talks about her work representing unaccompanied minors seeking asylum as well as her recent trip to the U.S. / Mexico border with volunteer students and staff to provide assistance to those seeking asylum.

Episode 29: The Implications of Biometrics in Privacy Law

audio play button Professor Matthew Kugler

How much should people care about privacy? And what’s at stake when it comes to tracking biometrics? In this podcast episode host Jim Speta talks to Matthew Kugler about his research into consumer sentiment around biometric tracking. They discuss the landscape of privacy law and its current trends. They also talk about the various ways biometric information is (and can be) acquired and used, and the implications of this in the future of privacy law.

Episode 28: Jury Process: How Juries Bring Legitimacy to Legal Proceedings

audio play button Professor Shari Diamond

Many people complain when a jury summons arrives, but when they actually serve on a case they become quite invested in the process. But how can a group of lay people handle making such difficult and consequential decisions? In this episode of Planet Lex, host Jim Speta talks to Professor Shari Diamond about her research on jury process, including her finding that our trust in the jury system is not misplaced. Even in challenging and complex cases, juries typically work very hard to ensure a just outcome.

Episode 27: Making a Murderer: How Brendan Dassey's Case is Making a Difference

audio play button Steven Drizin and Laura Nirider

When cases like Brendan Dassey's are examined, many see a pressing need to rethink the definition of coercion and the law of voluntariness, especially in cases involving minors. Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth attorneys, and Netflix stars Steven Drizin and Laura Nirider talk about false confessions and the legal proceedings covered in the second season of “Making a Murderer.” They catch us up on what has happened in the Brendan Dassey case since season one and talk about the further options available to him as he continues to seek release. Steve and Laura also talk about the involvement of Northwestern Law’s clinical students in cases like Brendan’s, as well as their efforts to protect vulnerable juveniles by educating law enforcement on appropriate interrogation practices with children.

Episode 26: The Intersection of Media and Law

audio play button Megan Murphy and Kate Shaw

President Trump and other politicians have painted the media as the "enemy of the people" -- purveyors of fake news who use their platform as a means to defame others. But really, what are the legal requirements of the media when reporting news? In this episode of Planet Lex, host Jim Speta talks to Northwestern Law alumnae Kate Shaw and Megan Murphy about their experience as lawyers in the media. They discuss the many legal issues facing journalists and pundits, and whether more law is needed to manage these matters. They also give tips on how to cultivate an ideologically diverse media diet and discuss the impact of social media on news.

Episode 25: Election Law and Gerrymandering

audio play button Professor Michael Kang

As the November midterm elections loom, issues of election law continue to have a significant impact on the voting process. In this episode of Planet Lex, new host Jim Speta, Vice Dean at Northwestern Law, talks to Professor Michael Kang about everything election law, from partisan gerrymandering and the constitutional issues involved in redistricting, to the effects of voter ID laws. They discuss redistricting, the urban/rural divide, and the role of state courts in the voting process.

Episode 24: Should We Reform the Supreme Court?

audio play button Professors Sarah Schrup and Tonja Jacobi

With Brett Kavanaugh's ongoing confirmation battle, the Supreme Court and the partisan polarization of the nomination process has been fresh in the minds of many. Host Daniel B. Rodriguez talks to Tonja Jacobi and Sarah Schrup about major issues facing the Supreme Court and the implications they have on our democracy. They discuss possible reforms, like term limits and court packing, as well as topics like oral advocacy and the tendency for female justices to be interrupted more often when making arguments. 

Editor’s Note: This podcast was recorded on August 14, before the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings began and before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations were public.

Episode 23: Reforming the Chicago Police Department

audio play button Alexa Van Brunt

The violence that grips the streets of Chicago has been the subject of news outlets and even the President’s tweets, but what is actually being done to address the issue? In this episode, host Daniel B. Rodriguez talks to Alexa Van Brunt, an attorney at the MacArthur Justice Center, about police brutality and bias in Chicago and the draft consent decree to reform the Chicago Police Department.

Episode 22: Chicago’s Gun Violence Epidemic

audio play button Zach Fardon

Gun violence in neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides is a decades-long problem experiencing recently renewed media attention. Zach Fardon, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, talks about the complexity of the problem, the root causes, and what can be done to address it. The discussion touches on the distrust of law enforcement, the struggling public school system, and the role of federal law enforcement in providing aid to Chicago.

Episode 21: Facing the Challenges of the Global Legal Industry

audio play button Mark Cohen and Eva Bruch

The legal ecosystem is undergoing a massive transformation around the world, prompting some legal professionals to wonder if the industry is in crisis. As a prelude to Beyond Our Borders, a two-day summit on global legal innovation, host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Mark Cohen, the CEO of LegalMosaic, and Eva Bruch, Founder of AlterWork, about what’s broken within the legal industry around the world. Topics include the access to justice crisis, outdated performance metrics, and the rise of alternative business structures. They also discuss addressing these problems at the source by developing business management, technology, culture, and people skills at law schools.

Episode 20: Approaching Access to Justice with a Designer's Mindset

audio play buttonMargaret Hagan

Does the access to justice problem need a design solution? At Stanford's Legal Design Lab, Margaret Hagan and her colleagues use human-centered design and technology to create innovative solutions for legal services. Host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Margaret about the use of design thinking to help close the access to justice gap. Together they discuss what design thinking's methodology is and its application in legal structures, the importance of centering technology around the human experience, and how lawyers can incorporate a creative and empathetic mindset to their work.

Episode 19: The #MeToo Movement Through a Legal Lens

audio play buttonProfessors Laura Beth Nielsen and Deborah Tuerkheimer

What started out as a viral moment has grown into a movement that has resulted in both praise and controversy. Laura Beth Nielsen and Deb Tuerkheimer discuss how the #MeToo movement differs from similar assault accusations in the past, the role President Trump may have played in the movement's growth, and the impact the movement has had on public discussion surrounding sexual harassment and assault. They also look at the movement through the lens of the law, looking at what the law has to say about enablers and witnesses, the importance of modernizing the laws surrounding rape, and the adequacy of societal punishment.

Episode 18: What Hinders Innovation in the Legal Industry?

audio play buttonProfessor William Henderson

Committees have been formed, seminars have been taught, and conferences have been hosted — all in an effort to convince lawyers that new technology will save them time and money. Sometimes the message sticks; sometimes attorneys run in the opposite direction. But is it lawyers themselves or the industry's rules and culture that hinder innovation in legal tech? In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Bill Henderson about innovation in the legal industry, including the cultural and regulatory restraints that keep new technology from impacting the legal industry at large.

Episode 17: Taking a Closer Look at Free Speech

audio play buttonProfessor Martin Redish

Whether it’s Milo Yiannopoulos being unable to speak at Berkeley or James Damore being fired for his Google memo, freedom of speech has repeatedly emerged as a topic of controversy, especially in terms of hate speech. Marty Redish, a freedom of expression professor, discusses how the law defines free speech and the right of various institutions, like businesses and universities, to regulate speech.

Episode 16: Trump and the Presidency Through the Years

audio play buttonNeil Eggleston (JD '78) and Newt Minow (JD '50)

The Trump administration is constantly in the news but what's going on behind the scenes? Former White House Counsel Neil Eggleston and former FCC Chairman Newt Minow talk about their experiences working for past presidents and their concerns about the Trump administration. They discuss the way we elect our presidents, the failings of the media, and whether or not the government is currently experiencing a moment of constitutional crisis.

Episode 15: Scott Turow on Where Law and Literature Collide

audio play buttonScott Turow

Bestselling author and lawyer Scott Turow has written 13 books, including the law school must-read One L, and Presumed Innocent, the novel credited with creating the legal fiction genre. Host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Scott about legal fiction, his career as a writer and lawyer, and the nature of legal education. They also touch on Scott’s work to reform capital punishment and the legal complexities of being an author in the age of technology.

Episode 14: Law and Business of Cannabis: Regulation, Taxation, and Banking

audio play buttonCharlie Bachtell and Dina Rollman (JD '00) 

Stoner jokes aside, cannabis is a truly budding industry. In this episode of Planet Lex, Daniel Rodriguez talks to Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs, and Dina Rollman, Chief Counsel at Green Thumb Industries (GTI), about the complexities of the marijuana industry, including how Illinois has set a precedent for regulatory programs, the banking challenges facing cultivators, and the battle for more research within the United States. They also discuss the role of lawyers within the cannabis business, and how they each got involved in this new and evolving industry.

Episode 13: Cities, States and The Trump Administration: Clashes of Federal and Local Government

audio play buttonProfessors David Dana and Nadav Shoked

There are looming conflicts between the Trump administration and local governments on a number of issues, including (but not limited to) sanctuary cities and climate change laws. Daniel Rodriguez discusses these hot-button topics with Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law David Dana and Associate Professor of Law Nadav Shoked. Together they discuss the current state of sanctuary cities, response to the Trump administration pulling out of the Paris accord, and the ongoing clash between federal authorities and state and local government.

Episode 12: "Entrepreneurs Are the New Rock Stars"

audio play buttonJ.B. Pritzker (JD '93) and Howard Tullman (JD '70)

Success after law school doesn’t always mean practicing law, and these two guests are renowned examples of how a legal education can offer an advantage in the business world. J.B Pritzker, co-founder of the Pritzker Group and Illinois Democratic candidate for governor, and Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871 Chicago, talk about what it takes to pursue innovation in business. They discuss the five must-haves for an entrepreneurial mindset and dig into the startup tech scene in Chicago.

Episode 11: How the Government is Handling Online Privacy and Cybersecurity

audio play buttonProfessor James Speta

The speed of technological developments and change is so rapid that the government can’t craft corresponding rules and regulations fast enough. Professor Jim Speta, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and International Initiatives at Northwetern Law, discusses net neutrality, online privacy, cybersecurity, and how the government is handling these growing issues.

Episode 10: The Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, and the Nuclear Option

audio play buttonAttorney Carter Phillips (JD '77)

The Supreme Court has faced a whirlwind of change and controversy over the last year, first with the death of Justice Scalia and then with the election of President Trump and the actions of his Administration. Host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Carter Phillips about the current state of the Supreme Court in 2017. Their discussion includes President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch, the Democrat Party opposition during this process, and the consequences of the nuclear option, whether it’s used or not. They conclude the episode with a brief discussion of the textbook Phillips co-authored with Northwestern Law faculty, Advanced Appellate Advocacy.

Episode 9: Trump Administration and the Law

audio play buttonProfessors Eugene Kontorovich, Andrew Koppelman, and Deborah Tuerkheimer

Trump's presidency has brought about a lot of change, especially in regard to law. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez interviews Northwestern Law faculty members about recent actions by President Trump and the legal considerations facing this new administration. In their discussion, they cover a wide array of topics, including President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, his expansion of executive power, and the potential of the Department of Justice shifting away from certain civil rights issues.

Episode 8: The Future Impact of Technology on the Legal Profession

audio play buttonRichard Susskind

Professor Richard Susskind — an author, speaker, and independent adviser to major professional firms and to national governments  discusses the impact new technologies will have on the legal profession and whether law schools are sufficiently training law students to be the pioneering attorneys of tomorrow.

Episode 7: Law Enforcement and Implicit Bias

audio play buttonProfessor Destiny Peery

The increased media coverage of police shootings has coincided with the growing prominence of conversations about race and law enforcement. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez speaks with Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Assistant Professor of Law Destiny Peery about implicit bias, tensions between the police and the communities they serve, and how perceptions of race impact the legal system.

Episode 6: Technological Advancements and The Law

audio play buttonProfessors John McGinnis and Larry Birnbaum

Professor McGinnis from the Law School and Professor Birnbaum from the McCormick School of Engineering discuss emergent technology and its effects on the law. The guests debate how close we are to the day when computer intelligence surpasses human intelligence and consider the impact of artificial intelligence on the legal profession.

Episode 5: The Regulation of Public Corruption

audio play buttonProfessor Juliet Sorensen

Professor Sorensen defines public corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain and discusses the challenges of working within the various parameters of both civil causes of action and criminal law to regulate said corruption.

Episode 4: Sexual Misconduct on Campus

audio play buttonProfessor Deborah Tuerkheimer

The issue of sexual assault on campuses and how to best combat these incidents is a highly debated topic among legal professionals. How should these crimes be handled and what can colleges do to protect their students?

Episode 3: Integrating the Law and STEM Focused Multidisciplinary Education

audio play buttonProfessors Leslie Oster and Emerson Tiller

The increasing societal shift toward a more global marketplace encourages many graduates to seek a multidisciplinary education. How does learning skills from various fields help students in the workplace and what value can legal knowledge add?

Episode 2: The Evolution of Copyright in Music

audio play buttonProfessor Peter DiCola

New technology has greatly lowered the barrier of entry into the music industry for new artists looking to release recordings and distribute their music broadly. How have these emergent technologies affected copyright law and, subsequently, the salaries of working musicians?

Episode 1: Defending Brendan Dassey of "Making a Murderer"

play buttonProfessors Steven Drizin (JD '86) and Laura Nirider (JD '08)

Many people have become familiar with the trial of Brendan Dassey’s through the 2015 Netflix television series “Making A Murderer.” His case raises a number of concerns regarding youth interrogations and the associated confessions.