University of Michigan Law School - December 2009 Amicus


The World Service of the BBC discusses tainted drinking water with Prof. David Uhlmann after the New York Times quotes him in a front-page story about U.S. municipal water systems that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act.


Emeritus Prof. Joe Vining recently delivered his lecture "The Consequence of Human Differences" at The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law.

Prima Facie

The Headnotes, at their seasonal best.

Career Corner:

By Career Services staff

We’re hearing that the federal government is poised to open up new legal positions in various government agencies as soon as the federal budget bill is passed, which may be as soon as this month. We know, for example, that the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division will be hiring. The Civil Rights Division just released this description of their process for hiring new attorneys.

While we haven't confirmed that other DOJ units will expand their attorney ranks, any new DOJ jobs will be posted at or USAJobs is another place to look for new postings from other federal agencies, as well.

And keep in mind that the federal government has regional offices for many of its agencies. To find out whether a federal agency has regional offices, look at the U.S. Government Manual.

Passage of new federal budget—possibly this month—may open hiring for new legal positions.

A little networking can go a long way in a tight economy, and the AlumNetwork can help. Update your profile and check out a wide variety of career tools.

Senior Sendoff
Humor, high purpose mark December graduation ceremony

Proud Michigan Law graduates pick up their J.D. and S.J.D. degrees Friday during December's Senior Day cermonies at the Michigan Theater. Afterwards the new graduates and their friends and families strolled back down State Street for a reception in the Lawyers Club Lounge. Watch a video ...

They’re Jurists, and His Peers
Law profs moot Rich Friedman for his return trip to Supreme Court

Katie Vloet, Law Quad Editor

The highest court in the land makes an appearance at the U-M Law School, and playing the part of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., second from the right, is none other than Professor Eve Brensike Primus.

Professor Richard Friedman’s colleagues mooted him recently to prepare him for arguments in an upcoming Supreme Court case. Professors Christina B. Whitman, David Moran, Samuel R. Gross, Brensike Primus, and Douglas Laycock, as well as Joan Larsen, counsel to the associate dean for student and graduate activities, acted as members of the High Court.

"I’m doing this because it’s an essential part of preparing for arguing before the Supreme Court," Friedman said. He joked about the stand-in justices: "They are a lot nastier; they have a lot less need for decorum" than the real Supreme Court.

Friedman, one of the nation’s leading scholars of Constitutional law and an expert on the confrontation clause contained in the Sixth Amendment, will argue for the petitioners in Briscoe, et al., v. Virginia on January 11. The case could help define the limits of a criminal defendant’s right to be confronted with the government’s witnesses against him.

Ludwig van Lunchbreak
New "Bach’s Lunch" music series features concerts by students and faculty

John Masson, Amicus editor

Michigan Law’s new Bach’s Lunch music series may be named after a guy called Johann Sebastian, but it was a guy called Ludwig who drew scores for a recent lunch-hour concert featuring a string quartet made up of three law students and a professor.

The Lawyers Club performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7 in F Major featured students Ben Bodnar and Nathan Simington on violin, Richard Kim on viola, and Professor Ted Parson on cello.

Professor Parson introduced the piece and also composed program notes to guide listeners through the composition. Among other odd facts about the piece, revolutionary in its time, Parson said, was the reaction of the first musicians who were to perform it. They were a professional group (possibly the first) who were employed by Beethoven’s patron, and when they encountered the opening theme of the second movement—which is played on a single note—Parson said they broke up in laughter, convinced the composer was playing a joke on them and had the real music stuffed in a pocket.

Even though they were professionals, the musicians found this composition daunting, as they did others from this period of the composer’s life. When one violinist complained about a difficult passage in a companion work by Beethoven, he prompted the composer’s famous outburst "Do you suppose I think about your blasted fiddle when the spirit moves me?"

The program, one of several slated for this academic year, was sponsored by the newly constituted Law School Classical Music Society, whose goal is to encourage appreciation of classical music and the similarities between it and the law. Further support came from Whole Foods and the Law School Student Senate. A video of the performance is available here.

Weight of the World
Heroic figures bear burden of Quad architecture; now they cheer on new construction, too

John Masson, Amicus Editor

He bears a striking resemblance to Harry Burns Hutchins, this cramped, carved little man who’s visible in one of the archways leading into the Law Quad.

And it’s no coincidence. Hutchins and several other Law School and U-M luminaries were immortalized in stone in various key locations when the Quad was built. Passersby who look up while passing through the Quad's stone archways, for example, are sure to spot the tiny granite men who seem to be bearing the weight of the buildings (as well as the occasional tennis racket or football).

Because the stone characters are such beloved Law School icons, we’ve chosen the Harry Hutchins figure as the logo and the standard-bearer (literally) for information updates about the School’s ongoing construction project. He’ll appear in his stylish maize hard hat in ongoing communications about the progress of the work. More information is always available on the construction updates website and the building project website.

While they are referred to casually as "gargoyles," the stone Harry Hutchins and the other figures—including fellow former U-M presidents Angell, Burton, Tappan, Haven, and Frieze—are properly known as "corbels," or, as their supportive stance would corroborate, "Atlas figures," or "atlantes."

But whatever we call them, we hope Hutchins’ no-nonsense figure will help us pay homage to the Quad's remarkable history and architecture even as it links us to the future, and to the new buildings that are destined to be an exciting part of it.

Considering the Hutchins corbel has been holding the place up since the 1930s, we believe bearing something as ethereal as construction news ought to be pretty light duty for him.

In the News

Venture capitalist Chris Rizik, ’86, co-authors an op-ed on job creation in The Detroit News.

1997 graduate Zach Falcon lauded for his fiction writing.

1982 grad Sharon Barner named deputy director of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Salty dogs: brothers, including 2000 grad Christopher McVety, launch Michigan-based gourmet salt company despite a bitter economy.

Chuck Greenberg, ’85, joins in bid for Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers.

The Christian Science Monitor quotes Prof. Richard Primus, whose work was cited by both the majority and the dissent in the recent Supreme Court decision over the New Haven Fire Department, in a story on the recent promotion of the New Haven 20.

President Barack Obama nominates 1991 grad Barbara McQuade as U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Michigan.

Gregory Gallopoulos, ’84, appointed senior vice president, corporate counsel, and corporate secretary for General Dynamics.

Ambassador Luis de Baca, ’93, in charge of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, tells U.S. Catholic that Vatican II helped guide his decision to become a civil rights lawyer.

Pamela Hyde, ’76, appointed to head Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Torts for toasters: who’ll be responsible when robots run amok? 2005 grad Ryan Calo tells the San Francisco Chronicle he hopes we figure it out soon.


Help support students and faculty by making a tax-deductible gift to Michigan Law by December 31. Give online at or, if you have questions or would like to talk with someone about your gift, please call the Office of Development & Alumni Relations at 734-615-4500.

Coming Up

Jan. 18: Martin Luther King Day program features Saul Green, ’72, former U.S. Attorney and now Deputy Mayor of Detroit, on his life in public service.

Feb. 5-6: Michigan Journal of Race and Law symposium on "Reinventing the Wheel: Why Broken Cities Stay Broken and New Ways Civil Rights Attorneys Can Fix Them."

March 19: Student Funded Fellowships auction.


Have a story of interest to fellow alumni? Contact Amicus editor John Masson, Media Relations Officer for Michigan Law, at or call 734.647.7352.