University of Michigan Law School - November 2009 Amicus


PBS' Nightly Business Report features a lengthy interview with Prof. Michael Barr, now on academic leave as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions.


Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Law School Dean Evan Caminker talk at Hill Auditorium about topics as disparate as building Supreme Court consensus and somehow improving the Chief’s severely limited basketball skills.

Prima Facie

Michigan Law alums in cities across the country fanned out one recent weekend to perform service for their communities. See the photos here.

$10 Million Aikens Gift Boosts Building Project
New Law School Commons to bear Aikens name

By Becky Freligh, Law School Development

Robert and Ann Aikens have made a $10 million gift to the University of Michigan Law School for the School's ongoing building expansion and renovation project. Robert Aikens, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is chairman of Robert B. Aikens & Associates L.L.C., a commercial real estate development and management firm based in suburban Detroit, and a 1954 alumnus of the Law School. The gift is the largest ever made to the Law School by a living donor.

The Aikens' gift will help fund construction that expands instructional space at the historic Law Quadrangle for the first time since the School's main classroom building opened in 1933. The $102 million project, for which ground was broken in September, includes a new Law School Commons adjacent to existing Law School buildings, and a new four-story academic building across Monroe Street south of the Quadrangle.

In recognition of the Aikens' extraordinary generosity, the Law School will name the new Commons the Robert B. Aikens Commons. Blending contemporary and traditional architecture, the two-story, 16,000-square-foot space will have a glass roof that affords views of the surrounding stone walls.

The Aikens Commons, which will include group study spaces, gathering spots for faculty and students, a café, and student organizational space, is destined to become the heart of Law School community life.

"Bob Aikens is one of the nation’s most respected developers of commercial real estate, and we are so pleased that his name will be associated in perpetuity with the Law Quadrangle, the architectural jewel in the University’s crown," said University President Mary Sue Coleman. "We are deeply grateful that Bob and Ann have chosen to invest in the University and the Law School at this critical time."

The couple has previously provided generous support to the Law School, the School of Art & Design, and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Ann Aikens earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University’s School of Art & Design in 2002 and is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council of the University of Michigan School of Art & Design.

"When I was in law school, there were few places for the off-campus students to have lunch or work other than the Law Library," Robert Aikens said. "When I was appointed to the Building Committee, we found that most leading law schools had a gathering place. I am pleased to help our school join other leading law schools with such a wonderful facility."

Law School Dean Evan Caminker said the Robert B. Aikens Commons will have a dramatic impact on the student experience, making a school already known for its collegiality an even warmer and more welcoming place.

"By helping build the new Commons, this splendid gift will enable generations of students to enjoy the soaring architecture of the Law Quad in an entirely new way," Caminker said. "The Robert B. Aikens Commons is sure to become a new nucleus for the intellectual and social life of the Law School and will help nurture the bonds students form here, both among themselves and with the faculty. We’re extremely grateful to Ann and Bob Aikens for their generosity."

A native of South Bend, Ind., Robert Aikens earned a B.A. at Brown University before coming to Michigan to study law. He was a senior partner with the law firm of Wunsch, Aikens & Lungershausen before forming a company in his name in 1973 in Troy, Michigan. His portfolio of projects has included regional shopping centers, main-street lifestyle centers, community centers, commercial office buildings, and resort communities.

At the University of Michigan, Aikens has served on the Law School's Committee of Visitors and its Detroit Major Gifts Committee. He has also served on the Brady Advisory Council of Johns Hopkins University, the Board of Trustees of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, and as stewardship chairman at Christ Church, Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills.

The new Law School facilities are scheduled for completion in 2012. The project architect is Hartman-Cox Architects of Washington, D.C., working in association with Michigan-based Integrated Design Solutions.

Simply Super
New rankings put Michigan Law in second spot

By John Masson, Amicus editor

A new ranking of American law schools finds Michigan Law in second place, trailing only Harvard in the estimation of Super Lawyers magazine.

The ranking system, published last week, reduces the convoluted comparisons used by other ranking systems to a single, eminently practical criterion: the number of graduates who go on to become Super Lawyers. It's a method Super Lawyers publisher Bill White says makes perfect sense.

"In the real world—the world of clients and juries and judges—no one cares about your GPA or LSAT score," both of which factor into ratings schemes like the one used by U.S. News & World Report. "All that matters is how good and ethical a lawyer you are. That’s the focus of Super Lawyers."

Michigan's showing won't surprise people who have tracked the school's placement in several other rankings that now compete with the frequently controversial U.S. News rankings. In 2008, career website ranked Michigan Law second from the perspective of its graduates' potential employers, and Princeton Review this year rated Michigan #3 for best career prospects. Additionally, University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter this year ranked Michigan fifth among schools producing legal academics.

Like other ranking systems, the Super Lawyers version is not without critics. The list came under immediate fire from observers such as Leiter, who noted that the magazine made no effort to account for class size in compiling its numbers. That means that large schools had a built-in advantage over smaller schools such as Yale. In fact, Leiter on Thursday published his own take on the same rankings, based on rounding recent class sizes to the nearest 50.

And where did Michigan place in that list?

At number two. Right behind Harvard.

Retired military brass continue push for Guantánamo closure

By John Masson, Amicus editor

Guantánamo Bay almost certainly won't close on schedule in January, a panel of experts told a Law School audience recently—but that doesn't mean the Obama Administration’s ambitious public one-year timeline to close the detention facility was for naught.

The panel—comprising the Navy's retired top lawyer, Rear Admiral John Hutson; retired Major General William Nash, who commanded troops in the first Iraq war and in Bosnia; and 1988 Law School graduate Elisa Massimino—addressed legal problems surrounding the facility, as well as the difficulties of protecting the United States once the prison is closed. The discussion was sponsored by the Law School’s Office of Public Service and moderated by Michigan Law Professor Monica Hakimi.

The panelists, who were introduced by 1987 grad and Assistant Dean for Public Service MaryAnn Sarosi, said they weren't surprised by the delay in closing the prison, located on the American naval base in Cuba. Rear Adm. Hutson said detainees’ cases were disorganized to the point of near-chaos when the new Administration took over and "just putting it all together was a pretty Herculean task." Among the problems, he said: "Who should we prosecute, who should we release, and if we do release them, where do we put them?"

Massimino, who heads up the advocacy group Human Rights First, said that closing the prison remains an important step in restoring American credibility among allies and foes alike.

Massimino argued that the federal courts are the appropriate place to try people now locked up at Gitmo. Since 2001, she said, federal courts have convicted 195 terrorism suspects, compared to the military's three.

Furthermore, she argued, the place to lock them up is in the existing prison system.

"Have you looked at who's already in there?" she asked. In addition to the aforementioned 195 terrorism convicts, the most dangerous domestic criminals, obviously, are also inmates. She added that the American Corrections Association, while not taking a position on whether Guantánamo should be closed, has already stated publicly that the system can handle the people now housed in Cuba.

"We should trust our institutions and stay true to our values," Massimino said. "That’s how we will get to our post-Guantánamo place."

Gen. Nash agreed, and added emphatically that for most Gitmo detainees, declaring them enemy combatants and holding them as prisoners of war is a bad option. To do so, he added, would be tantamount to making a thug into a soldier.

"I don’t want to credit them with being warriors—they're not soldiers, they’re goddamn criminals," Nash said. "Closing Guantánamo will hurt our enemies, help our friends, and it will help save soldiers’ lives. … The whole legitimacy of our effort, and the legitimacy of our fighting soldiers, is at stake."

The sad fact, Rear Adm. Hutson said, is that there are no perfect solutions—and there's been "an abject lack of leadership on … the part of the last two Administrations and certainly in Congress" for failing to say so to the American people.

"What we're looking for now is the least-bad solution," he said. "And what's the least-bad solution may involve releasing some very bad people."

Massimino agreed.

"If it were easy, it would already be done," she said. "Guantánamo itself was never just a place, you know. It was a symbol … of a great nation setting aside its values for expediency."

Law alum continues musical tradition
of holiday cheer

By John Masson, Amicus editor

Clearly the holiday spirit, for Lawrence Savell, includes a healthy dollop of music—and legal humor.

The New York City litigator and 1982 Michigan Law grad is releasing his fifth CD, "Seasons Briefings from the LawTunes," which he composed, performed, and recorded in his home studio in what he dubiously refers to as his spare time.

Among the 10 selections are "Season's Briefings," "Was That You I Saw in Santa's Suit?" "De Novo Dreidel," and "There's No Billin' on Christmas"—which dares to admonish listeners to shut off their BlackBerries.

Savell maintains that inspiration for a recording career came from his participation in what he modestly refers to as Michigan Law's Law Revue " 'alleged' talent competitions." Standards of evidence being what they are, it’s unclear how much proof will be required before those talent allegations are proven – five CDs of material seems like it may constitute a preponderance – but listeners are bound to get a wry chuckle out of Savell's legal-themed lyrics, no matter what.

More information is available on Savell's website,

In the News

The media buzz around U-M blows out Harvard – and the rest of the pack, too, says one recent study.

Prof. Reuven Avi-Yonah tells Bloomberg about the possibility of foreign banks being taxed by the U.S. for
concealing accounts.

The New York Times quotes M Law scholar Daniel Martin Katz, who notes that the House’s much-maligned health bill is really no longer than a Harry Potter novel.

1992 Michigan Law grad and Seton Hall law Prof. Rachel Godsil guest blogs on Concurring Opinions.

It shouldn’t take soft music and candlelight to make you love your inside trader, according to a Wall Street Journal story quoting Prof. Adam Pritchard.

The New Yorker quotes Prof. Jim Hines in a story about White House economist Larry Summers.

The Australian Broadcasting Company’s Background Briefing combines Prof. Jessica Litman, comedian Jack Black, and a cast of several more to discuss copyright in the digital era. Now THAT’S a mashup.

Prof. Monica Hakimi explains to NPR’s All Things Considered how it’s becoming easier to kill suspected terrorists than it is to figure out a way to legally detain them.

Whatever happened to that other ABA – the one with the squeaky sneakers and the funky red-white-and-blue ball? Alums Frederick Furth, ’59, and Dick Tinkham, ’57, both had something to do with it, according to the AmLawDaily.

TIME magazine comments on the Innocence Clinic’s latest triumph: the release of a man imprisoned for eight years for a murder he didn’t commit.

And, in the way of the modern media, a second story in TIME revisits the question a few days later. tells more of the Innocence Clinic story.

Angel Reyes III, ’91, writes in Texas Lawyer about starting his own firm.

Michigan Law 3L Alexis Grant previews Alvarez v. Smith for SCOTUSBlog.

The Internet Innovation Alliance names David Sutphen, ’95, co-chair of the broadband-focused organization.

A $5 million grant helps Michigan Law and Prof. Don Duquette create the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children.

Down, set, hut: 1987 grad Michael Huyghue, commissioner of the freshly minted United Football League, on his creation.

Prof. Vivek Sankaran, ’01, opens the new Law School Center for Family Advocacy in Detroit.

2000 grad Jeffrey Crouch, an assistant professor of American politics at American University, publishes The Presidential Pardon Power.


Coming Up:

Nov. 23: The Middle Eastern Law Students Association sponsors a talk on the Goldstone Report: Israel, Gaza, and International Law.

Dec. 4: Law School and U-M's Ross School of Business team up to present symposium on "Markets for Patents: Emerging Practices and Directions for Research." Registration deadline Dec. 1.

Dec. 18: Senior Day ceremonies for December graduates.


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.