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Annual Mitchell Lecture to Address Whether "Artificial Persons" Are Taking Over the Legal System

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: April 6, 2005

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The increasing role of artificial persons (APs) within the U.S. legal system will be the topic of the University at Buffalo Law School's annual Mitchell Lecture to be held April 18 from 3-5:30 p.m. in 106 O'Brian Hall on UB's North (Amherst) Campus.

Keynote speaker Marc Galanter, a leading scholar writing on litigation, lawyers and access to justice, will speak on, "Planet of the APs: Are Corporations and Other Artificial Persons Taking Over the Legal System?"

Galanter is the John and Rylla Bosshard Professor of Law and South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of several classic legal articles, including "Why the 'Haves' Come Out Ahead: Speculations on the Limits of Legal Change" and "Reading the Landscape of Disputes: What We Know and Don't Know (and Think We Know) About Our Allegedly Contentious and Litigious Society."

Galanter also is author of "Law and Society in Modern India" and co-author of "Tournament of Lawyers: The Transformation of the Big Law Firm." He has served as editor of the Law & Society Review, president of the Law and Society Association and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Commentators for the event will be Meir Dan-Cohen, the Milo Reese Robbins Professor in Legal Ethics at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law and author of "Rights, Persons and Organizations: A Legal Theory for Bureaucratic Society;" Gerald Berk, associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Oregon, and author of "Alternative Tracks: The Constitution of American Industrial Order, 1865-1917;" and  David Westbrook, UB law professor and author of "City of Gold: An Apology for Global Capitalism in a Time of Discontent." 

UB Law School professor James Wooten, chair of the 2005 Mitchell Lecture committee, said the lecture topic is especially timely. "Empirical research reveals that artificial persons, principally business corporations, consume a large and growing share of the legal services provided in the United States.  It is important to ask how this trend will affect ordinary citizens. Can the legal system provide justice to individuals when large organizations possess much greater legal resources and sophistication?"

The James McCormick Mitchell Lecture was endowed in 1950 in honor of its namesake, an 1897 graduate of the UB Law School, and has been delivered annually since 1951.

The lecture is open to the public. A reception will follow from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the foyer of O'Brian Hall.