What was it like working for the New York Times during these trying times in journalism?
The Times was and remains an amazing institution. I had the chance to work alongside people who are the best in their fields. Of course, this is an uncertain and therefore stressful time for anyone working at a newspaper, even such an established institution as the Times. The pressure on the business has forced reporters and editors to think in creative ways about how to present information on the Web and, judging from the frequency of citations (links) to Times coverage, those efforts are working. I do not believe that the core of what good reporters do, pursuing the truth of events and conveying it to readers or viewers, will change, but I do fear that we will have fewer reporters on the job.
What area of law do you concentrate in?
My interests now are not different from my interests while a reporter. I remain interested in fraud and corruption and the legal regimes that try to prevent or allow redress for those wrongs, and I remain very interested in education, especially higher education - how students pay for it, how much institutions charge for it and how quality should be evaluated. There is increasing overlap in these areas, as I discovered as a reporter writing everything from trials of disgraced executives at companies with fraudulent finances to investigations of college financial aid administrators whose advice to students might have been swayed by goodies from loan companies. Educational institutions increasingly think like businesses, with all that entails; thinking about them requires an understanding of how businesses work.
What sort of work are you doing with students?
My goal with first-year students is to enable them, by the end of my class, to develop an argument in a criminal case, whether or not the case involves a law that they have seen. The course, Statutory Analysis: Criminal Law, exposes students first to the rules courts use and abuse in applying the law in criminal cases and second, introduces them to the concepts on which criminal liability generally relies. The course seeks to give students a toolbox holding concepts that they can use to construct arguments about what a given law means and how it should be applied.
What appealed to you about working at UC Irvine Law?
When my wife and I were debating whether to come to UCI, the chance to participate in a new venture was extraordinarily appealing. We both have thought and talked a lot about our own law school experiences and this institution offers a chance to take the best of what we learned and provide it to students here. Since we arrived I have been struck by the atmosphere of excitement, by the commitment, ambition and animation of the students. There is a profound sense of possibility here.
Has it been hard to balance your career transition and being a new father?
The transition has not been difficult but going back to work – I was on parental leave in the fall – has called for an adjustment. Fatherhood makes explicit personal costs that in the past were easier to ignore. Now I am much more deliberative about travel or any other commitment that might cut into time with the boy. I have become a more thoughtful person, as well as a more efficient worker.