Cover image of Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast

Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast

Planet Lex is a series of conversations about the law, law and society, law and technology, and the future of legal education and practice. In other words, a bunch of interesting stuff about the law.

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Law in the Time of Coronavirus

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.


20 May 2020

Rank #1

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

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, 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. Charlie Bachtell is the CEO of Cresco Labs, LLC. In this role, Bachtell ensures that Cresco is an industry leader, setting new standards for a progressive, transparent and reputable medical cannabis community. Dina Rollman is GTI’s Chief Counsel – Compliance. In this role, she monitors and ensures full compliance with state and federal laws pertaining to GTI’s multi-state cultivation and dispensary operations.


20 Sep 2017

Rank #2

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Should We Reform the Supreme Court?

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. In this episode of Planet Lex, 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. Tonja Jacobi is a professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker Law School where her research focuses on judicial politics, behavior, and strategy. Sarah Schrup is the founder and director of Northwestern's Appellate Advocacy Center, which includes the Federal Appellate Clinic and the Supreme Court Clinic.


19 Sep 2018

Rank #3

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The Implications of Biometrics in Privacy Law

How much should people care about privacy? And what’s at stake when it comes to tracking biometrics? In this episode of Planet Lex, 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, and Professor Kugler explains the methods and findings of his recent research. 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. Matthew Kugler is an assistant professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.


20 Mar 2019

Rank #4

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Taking a Closer Look at Free Speech

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. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Marty Redish, a freedom of expression professor, about how the law defines free speech and the right of various institutions, like businesses and universities, to regulate speech. They also discuss what is and isn’t protected by the first amendment, including the defense of hate speech. Martin H. Redish, the Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law and Public Policy at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, teaches and writes on the subjects of federal jurisdiction, civil procedure, freedom of expression and constitutional law.


20 Dec 2017

Rank #5

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Chicago’s Gun Violence Epidemic

Gun violence in neighborhoods on Chicago’s south and west sides is a decades-long problem experiencing recently renewed media attention. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel B. Rodriguez talks to Zach Fardon, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, about the complexity of the problem, the root causes, and what can be done to address it. Their 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. Former U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon is managing partner and head of litigation at King & Spalding's Chicago office and a partner in the Special Matters and Government Investigations practice.


20 Jun 2018

Rank #6

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Solitary Confinement: Calling for Change in American Prisons

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? In this edition of Planet Lex, host Jim Speta talks with David Shapiro and Daniel Greenfield, members of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern’s Bluhm Legal Clinic, about their research and efforts to end prolonged solitary confinement in American prisons. David M. Shapiro is the director of the Supreme Court and Appellate Program of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. Daniel M. Greenfield joined the MacArthur Justice Center as the Solitary Confinement Appellate Litigation Fellow in March 2017.


18 Dec 2019

Rank #7

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The #MeToo Movement Through a Legal Lens

What started out as a viral moment has grown into a movement that has resulted in both praise and controversy. But what are the legal considerations of the #MeToo movement? In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Laura Beth Nielsen and Deb Tuerkheimer about 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. Deborah Tuerkheimer is the Class of 1940 Research Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and an expert in criminal law, evidence, and feminist legal theory. Laura Beth Nielsen is a research professor at the American Bar Foundation as well as a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Legal Studies at Northwestern University.


21 Feb 2018

Rank #8

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“Entrepreneurs Are the New Rock Stars”: A Conversation with J.B. Pritzker and Howard Tullman

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, too. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez talks to J.B Pritzker, co-founder of the Pritzker Group and Illinois Democratic candidate for governor, and Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871 Chicago, about what it takes to pursue innovation in business. They discuss the five must-haves for an entrepreneurial mindset, how law degrees prove helpful in building a business, and a day in the life of 1871. They also dig into the startup tech scene in Chicago, a city abundant in community and support but with its own set of obstacles, and how education needs to change to keep up with technology. J.B. Pritzker is a venture capitalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and private business owner based in Chicago. He is a Democratic candidate in the 2018 Illinois gubernatorial race. Howard Tullman is the CEO of 1871 and the Managing Partner for two early-stage venture capital funds, Chicago High Tech Investment Partners, LLC and G2T3V, LLC.


22 May 2017

Rank #9

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What Hinders Innovation in the Legal Industry?

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. They discuss the diffusion theory, which explores how innovative ideas percolate within a market; traditional practices in law firms that impede the adoption of new ideas; and the role of law schools in encouraging exploration. Bill Henderson is the Stephen F. Burns Chair on the Legal Profession at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and a visiting professor at Northwestern Law.


17 Jan 2018

Rank #10

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How the Government is Handling Online Privacy and Cybersecurity

The speed of technological developments and change is so rapid that the government can’t craft corresponding rules and regulations fast enough. In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez talks to Northwestern Law Professor Jim Speta about net neutrality, online privacy, cybersecurity, and how the government is handling these growing issues. Their discussion dives into the new net neutrality legislation and how the new chair of the FCC will affect this and future regulation. Jim Speta is a member of the faculty at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and International Initiatives. His research interests include telecommunications and Internet policy, antitrust, administrative law, and market organization.


24 Apr 2017

Rank #11

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

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. In this episode of Planet Lex, 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. Nadav Shoked joined the Northwestern faculty in 2012 as an Assistant Professor of Law. His work focuses on the law and theory of property, local government law, and American legal history. As Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Northwestern University, David Dana is a leading scholar in the fields of environmental law, property, land use, and professional responsibility.


16 Aug 2017

Rank #12

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Facing the Challenges of the Global Legal Industry

The legal ecosystem is undergoing a massive transformation around the world, prompting some legal professionals to wonder if the industry is in a crisis. Others, though, argue that the legal community can start to fix problems within the industry by first recognizing them. 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.


16 May 2018

Rank #13

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The Intersection of Media and Law

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. Megan Murphy is an award-winning journalist and commentator whose 20-year career has spanned multiple countries and events, from the 2016 presidential campaign to the global financial crisis. She most recently served as editor-in-chief of Bloomberg Businessweek. Before starting her career in journalism, Murphy was securities lawyer at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, CA. She currently lives in London. Kate Shaw is a Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School and the Co-Director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy. Before joining Cardozo, she worked in the White House Counsel’s Office for the the Obama Administration. She clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Kate is a legal and Supreme Court analyst for ABC News.


14 Nov 2018

Rank #14

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The Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, and the Nuclear Option

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 election of President Trump and the actions of his Administration. In this episode of Planet Lex, 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. Carter G. Phillips is the chair of Sidley Austin LLP’s Executive Committee and was the managing partner of its Washington, D.C. office from 1995 to 2012. He has argued 75 cases before the Supreme Court since joining Sidley, more than any other lawyer while in private practice.


14 Mar 2017

Rank #15

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Innovation & Trends in Intellectual Property & Patent Law

Northwestern Law’s intellectual property and patent law scholars are truly leaders in their field. In this edition of Planet Lex, host Jim Speta welcomes Laura Pedraza-Fariña and David Schwartz to 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. Laura Pedraza-Fariña is an assistant professor of law and a faculty affiliate of the science in human culture program at Northwestern University. David Schwartz is a professor of law and associate dean of research and intellectual life at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.


13 Nov 2019

Rank #16

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Scott Turow on Where Law and Literature Collide

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. In this episode of Planet Lex, 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. Scott Turow is the author of 11 bestselling novels and two nonfiction books, including One L, about his experience as a law student.


18 Oct 2017

Rank #17

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Election Law and Gerrymandering

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 how the different parties have used redistricting to gain an advantage, the urban/rural divide, and the role of state courts in the voting process. Michael S. Kang is the William G. and Virginia K. Karnes Research Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and a nationally recognized expert on campaign finance, voting rights, redistricting, judicial elections, and corporate governance.


17 Oct 2018

Rank #18

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Reforming the Chicago Police Department

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 of Planet Lex, host Daniel B. Rodriguez talks to Alexa Van Brunt, an attorney on the MacArthur Justice Center, about police brutality and bias in Chicago and the draft consent decree to reform the Chicago Police Department. They discuss the Justice Department’s report on police misconduct during the Obama Administration, how new policies might impact law enforcement, and the challenges of reform. They also talk about the MacArthur Justice Center’s role in combating police misconduct in Chicago. Alexa Van Brunt serves as a clinical associate professor at Northwestern Law and an attorney on the MacArthur Justice Center team where she works on key cases, including litigating on behalf of victims of the Jon Burge police torture scandal and other police misconduct.


15 Aug 2018

Rank #19

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Jury Process: How Juries Bring Legitimacy to Legal Proceedings

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. Shari Diamond is one of the foremost empirical researchers on jury process and legal decision-making, including the use of science by the courts.


16 Jan 2019

Rank #20