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August 03, 2017


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Steve Lubet

Great news. Congratulations to Al.

Al Brophy

Thanks, Dan. Very nice of you to post this. I'm honored and delighted to be in the company of Rashauna Johnson and Manisha Sinha and their fabulous books.


I have great respect for Prof Brophy, but, alas, this nomination points to a problem, IMHO. The finalists for this prize are historians. Is Brophy a historian? If so, I wonder if he might be suited better in that department of the University.

Really, history is useful, interesting, illuminating and necessary to an understanding of law and society. SOme history creeps into any study of law, of course.

Law school is a professional school to train attorneys, however. Someone so wrapped up in Civil War issues regarding slavery cannot really be as involved as one who is wrapped up in the study of contemporary law and practice.

As we've seen in another series of posts on the FL, the employment prospects for law school grads have been steadily declining. I would submit that this is not only because of the economy. This circumstance coincides with the move in law school hiring committees toward a Ph.D. and focus on ANYTHING BUT LAW.

As these posts note, albeit obliquely, there is actually a dearth of attorneys in some underserved areas/specialties, and there are new areas of law to explore.

Not by folks who are wrapped up in whether the antebellum South was populated by racists in favor of slavery, however. Seeing the world today thru that lens would be seeing the world in a very, very distorted and biased way, and ultimately, a way entirely and utterly useless to aspiring attorneys.

Bernie Burk

Hear, hear! A great honor, richly deserved, for an important work that Al labored over for years on end. Congratulations!


Patrick S. O'Donnell

I join the chorus of congratulations to Al.

Alas, one comment sours the thread, which reminds one of the decline of good taste and propriety in our world ... or at least on social media.

Anon strikes me as a cynical if not aggrieved sourpuss. The myriad socio-cultural, political and psychological effects of slavery in this country persevere (and these have had and continue to have, implications for law), even if they are not always and everywhere transparent to those seemingly unaffected by or apparently unable to see them. Consider, for instance, the so-called culture wars and the continuing debates on reparations and affirmative action; or the workings of our criminal justice system; or the seeming intractable nature of segregation in the public education system and in housing; or the conditions of gross absolute and relative economic inequality. And so forth and so on.* I think Professor Brophy provides ample evidence of being able to perform as an accomplished law professor as well as a distinguished historian (and his enviable ability to link these two worlds in a profoundly meaningful and urgently relevant manner has been rightly acclaimed). To insinuate otherwise requires one meet a rather demanding burden of proof, and there was not even a gesture in that direction by anon. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few law professors who have cultivated gardens outside the legal profession proper (and not just in economics, as in ‘law and economics’), and their trans- or multidisciplinary skills (in literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology, art, this or that natural science, etc.) in this regard benefits their students as well countless others, if only because the law ramifies throughout the phenomena intrinsic to theses sundry fields, both academically and in the “real world.” Some aspiring attorneys may find Brophy’s historical work useful, others not. Some aspiring attorneys may think it has nothing to do with their professional ambitions and qualifications, only to discover later in their lives they were mistaken. Having varying perspectives generated from “outside” the law proper doesn’t necessarily entail a distorting or debilitating bias, indeed, the default presumption should be that it enlivens one’s study of the law, that it makes the practice of the law more true to life, even if one cannot precisely catalogue or definitively specify all the possible and many ways this will or may turn out to be the case, even if one cannot count on this state of affairs adding zeros to one’s future earnings.

* Yes, I have a bibliography relevant to this claim: please see the compilation, “After Slavery & Reconstruction: The Black Struggle in the U.S. for Freedom, Equality, and Self-Realization” available on my Academia page.


As usual, PSD completely misses the point, in order to deliver another one of his condescending, boring and irrelevant lectures on irrelevant matters.

Since PSD is throwing around personal name-calling ("cynical if not aggrieved sourpuss"), I would put his moralistic bs about "good taste and propriety in our world" in context. along with his angry retorts to imaginary straw men.

Ian Holloway

Bravo, Al! This news really made my day!

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