New MSU College of Law Dean Linda Greene Wants Graduates to “Make a Difference”

Linda Greene is the inaugural dean of the MSU College of Law following its transition from an affiliate to a Michigan State University constituent college in the summer of 2020. Dean Greene's appointment is effective June 1st of 2021.

Russ White 0:00
Linda Greene is the inaugural dean of the MSU College of Law following its transition from an affiliate to a Michigan State University constituent college in the summer of 2020. Dean Greene's appointment is effective June 1 of 2021. And she comes to MSU law from the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Law, where she joined the faculty in 1989. As a full professor, and holds the view bascomb professorship, she was a visiting professor at both Georgetown University Law Center and Harvard Law School at Harvard, she was the first African American woman to teach at the law school. And it's a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Dean green to MSU. Today, good to see you.

Linda Greene 0:45
Oh, thank you so much for inviting me.

Russ White 0:48
Could you give us a little bit of your your background, your career path to MSU, and maybe any past experience with either MSU, or the state of Michigan,

Linda Greene 0:57
as you said, I've been in the big 10 for three decades at Wisconsin. So MSU has been a big part of that big 10 experience. I love sports. I was a member of the athletic board at Wisconsin. So the rivalry with MSU has been an integral part of my experience at Wisconsin. I've also been in administration before, I was an associate vice chancellor at Wisconsin, and I was also vice chancellor at UC San Diego. But but the opportunity to be a lot, Dean is so special right now, all of society's challenges and opportunities require legal intervention and legal reform. So it's a great time to be at a great law school. So I was also excited to have opportunity to do this at what I'm calling my sister institution in the big 10. So this was a really great fit for me. I could go on just to say a little bit about why the University of Wisconsin law school experience really prepares me to work with my colleagues to carve out a really important role for the College of Law at MSU. At the University of Wisconsin, the law school plays a really important role in the university's intellectual enterprise. There are many examples of cross college collaboration, cross disciplinary, intellectual work, for example, the law uses other disciplines such as sociology, economics, and philosophy and history in order to examine law. And also the law also contributes to other disciplines with its knowledge and perspectives. So examples I think, that people would probably be able to see easily see might be the intellectual property law aspects of bio engineering, people are creating body parts or creating machines that interact with the body. And they want to protect their invention so that they can earn money from all of that pre work. So that's the intellectual property side that focuses on how you are able to protect your own ideas so that others will not be able to appropriate them, or perhaps the role of labor law in shaping economic conditions. I think you can see in these two areas that the law has an important role to play. And yet the law in isolation is necessary. But it's not necessarily sufficient to really understand what's going on in many aspects of human experience. So our societal challenges require multi disciplinary approaches. And this is a new phase of growth for both the College of Law and Michigan State. I always say that the best law schools are embedded in great universities. And conversely, a university will not be truly great without an intellectually preeminent law school. So that's where MSU College of Law comes in. So I'm really excited to lead the College of Law. But I'm also excited to expand our work with other colleges at Michigan State University for our mutual benefit.

Russ White 4:40
What would you say are some of the research and curricular strengths of the MSU College of Law?

Linda Greene 4:47
There's so many, so I have to give my apologies to all of my distinguished colleagues because I won't be able to mention them all. And so that's, I have the idea of a podcast that stars the MSU college Law Faculty and staff, and students discussing our many areas of excellence. But let me just name a few. We're very strong in innovation and entrepreneurship. We have a Center for Law, technology and innovation. What are some of the courses that are a part of our work here, artificial intelligence and the law, automated vehicles and the law, Information Privacy and Security Law. And we're going to launch an intellectual property and entrepreneurship clinic soon, we also have strengthened intellectual property law. So that is copyright law for creative works, such as music, such as writing, for example. And then patent law, for example, for scientific inventions and processes. So our legal expertise here will enhance msus position as a global leader in many areas that require intellectual property law for their growth and expansion, such as engineering, I mentioned bio engineering, computer science, agriculture, and communications. All of these fields have important intellectual property dimensions. Another I want to mention is our work in Indian law in policy, we have the leading scholars in Indian law and policy at Michigan State University College of Law, we have an indigenous Law and Policy Center that's recognized nationwide as a center of excellence. Two of our college of law professors had a nationwide project to compile Indian law in a document that is called the restatement of the law. The American Indian, the organization overseeing this project is the prestigious American Law Institute. That is the legal equivalent of the National Academies is made up of just over 2000 members of the 1.3 million members of the legal profession. So it's just 2000. Judges, professors and lawyers 2000 total, and our two Michigan State professors for heading up this project are members of that Institute. This restatement is going to cover a number of important topics, the federal government role in federal Indian law, the powers of Congress, the Federal tribal trust relationship, the powers of Indian tribes, tribal economic development activity, including Indian gaming, Indian Country hunting, and fishing rights and water rights. So this is a really significant undertaking that's going to shape the future of Indian law for many decades to come. Many of our program graduates have gone on to serve dozens of tribes across North America. They work for indigenous focus law firms that serve both indigenous people and their tribes. They work for federal agencies with important responsibilities in this space. For example, one of our graduates has been nominated to head the federal agency responsible for Indian issues the Bureau of Indian Affairs, we have other clinics that are really significant. Our civil rights clinic recently has been advocating for people in prison during the devastating COVID outbreaks behind bars. Our Immigration Law Clinic is helping refugees from violence and global conflict resettle in our community. Our housing Law Clinic is fighting to keep families in their homes throughout the pandemic. We have faculty members in the forefront of exploring the role of race in criminal justice. We have two faculty members who focus on cases where innocent people are convicted of crimes. They're leaders in the creation of what's called a national registry of exonerations, which collects detailed information on people who've been wrongfully convicted of crimes. We also have advocacy programs. The renowned fiber Institute for trial advocacy is one of those programs. We have leading scholars in business and regulatory law. We have again, I want to say that we I can't mention them all. I would be remiss if I didn't mention, however, that the governor Gretchen Whitmer is an alumna of the class of 1998, just as an example, but we have many other graduates who are doing outstanding things on the Supreme Court throughout public and private law firms in Michigan as well as around the country. So there's a lot A lot going on. It's the center of excellence. One of my job's is to tell that story. In every place, I am able to do so. But to make sure that the story of our excellence is not only understood on the campus, but also beyond.

Russ White 10:17
That's quite a list and I can tell you're excited to be here. And now we're getting to know brand new MSU College of Law Dean Linda green here on MSU. today and Dean green as a leading scholar in sports law, you've done work specifically on Olympic governance, with the Summer and Winter Games approaching, what controversies Do you think we'll be hearing about this year?

Linda Greene 10:39
Yes, there will be a few there always are? Well, one controversy is whether the Olympics will take place at all, given the current COVID search in Japan. My understanding is that the many 1000s of workers who will be working at the Olympics will not be vaccinated. There's so many unanswered questions about whether the Olympics will take place. There have been sports competitions taking place around the world, but not on the scale of the Olympics. And so that's one another is whether the ban against illegal substances will be effectively enforced. That has been a serious problem during prior international competitions, especially at Soshi. Whether women will be barred from competition, because their hormonal levels vary from what is typical in women. And this involves the question whether people are allowed to choose their gender identity, or whether we will approve a biological definition of womanhood. For purposes of competition. This has been an ongoing issue over 10 years.

Russ White 11:56
And you also write and speak on intercollegiate athletics what what are you focusing on? Now,

Linda Greene 12:02
the really big issue? Well, there are two big issues, but one I think people can really understand is whether collegiate athletes will have an opportunity to share in the wealth they produce, and whether they will be able to use their images and their likenesses for financial gain. This issue is salient. When people compare the salaries, for example of coaches or of athletic directors with the money that athletes receive, primarily for their education. There's legislation in many states around the country that will permit athletes to profit from their images and from their likeness. That means that if you are popular athletes, you might be able to get a shoe deal where in exchange for an amount of money, you allow your name to be associated with an athletic shoe, that would be an example. Or you might be able to have branded apparel, and then obtain profit from the sales of that apparel. So those are just a couple of examples. There's legislation around the country state legislation, Congress is considering this possibility. And the NCAA has said it was open to this discussion. But now that there is so much pressure, the NCAA may now oversee a process where athletes will be able to participate in NCAA intercollegiate sport and also derive some compensation from the value of their brand. So that's a very important issue. People pay for women coaches is already an issue. There there. There are a number that are out there right now I'm looking at the opportunity for athletes to share the wealth they produce, as I think the next hot button

Russ White 14:08
issue and Linda green, you've touched on your interest in diversity, equity and inclusion before you've been the chief diversity officer at two institutions, the University of Wisconsin Madison and the University of California, San Diego, and you're a noteworthy scholar and commentator in this area. How will your commitment to dei shape your vision as dean of MSU law

Linda Greene 14:31
in a nation that is becoming ever more diverse? Our future competitiveness and excellence as a nation, as a state, as a university depends upon our capacity to educate a diverse population of students. That is the only way that we are going to be able to draw on all of our talent for Creative, scientific and social science advancements. I see our diversity as our future excellence. And I plan to collaborate with my colleagues at the College of Law, and also at MSU. On a vision of excellence through diversity.

Russ White 15:19
That's Linda green. She's the new dean of MSU College of Law. And I, I know, Linda, you're just getting started. But as you're thinking ahead, what are some of your maybe short and long term goals for the college?

Linda Greene 15:30
I'll start with a couple of goals that may seem a little bit unique to the College of Law. But I think they're really important for this audience to understand the College of Law is accredited by two bodies. One is the American Bar Association. And the other one is the American Association of law schools. This coming academic year 2122, the College of Law must engage in something called a self study, that is a comprehensive review of every aspect of the College of law's operation.

And that review then becomes the basis for the ABA, and the American Association of law schools review of the college in 2223. So that is definitely on my front burner, our front burner I should say. In addition, during the next academic year, we will complete a college of law strategic plan. The ABA requires that we complete a strategic plan in conjunction with our self study review, but more importantly, the provost and I agreed that during my third year, we would conduct a strategic planning process so that we can identify our College of Law strategic priorities for the next 10 years. In that strategic planning process, we will be taking into account the strategic priorities of the university's strategic plan, which is close to completion. But we'll also be establishing our own strategic priorities for the next decade. So those two are very important for your priorities, the self study, and also the completion of a visionary strategic plan for the next 10 years of the College of Law. We also have a priority to participate in important campus wide projects and initiatives. For example, there are some emerging opportunities to make ethics a significant focus in education at MSU. I'm already working with the Dean of the business school, and also the Dean of Arts and Letters on that project. We have some joint degree programs such as law in business and others, we want to expand those opportunities. We have a food law program, an online food law program that is very, very successful. That's an area of strength, where I know that we want to expand, we have programs with other colleges, such as James Madison, where students can complete their law degree, an undergraduate degree in six years, rather than seven. Those are already underway. But we really want to make them much more robust programs, and expand the manner in which the law College and the other colleges cooperate for the benefit of our undergraduate students as well as other graduate students on campus. It's really important that we recruit a more diverse cohort of students from every corner of the state. And of course, around the world in the country, this is going to be more important because the American Bar Association is actually considering a, a standard for accreditation that will focus on the diversity of the student body, as well as will focus on the diversity of the staff and faculty. And so diversity is going to be not only important to our service to the state, but it's also going to be important to our success in our review process upcoming. We of course want to be sure we're providing service to every corner of the state. Some of our clinics are actually engage in that enterprise, but we need to do more. I talk about making sure that the College of Law is a significant presence in Our historic home which was in Metro Detroit, all the way up to the peninsula, we are Michigan's law school, and we need to serve all of Michigan's people, I want to work closely with our lums. They have so much to offer to our current students. And we also want to be sure that we understand their needs, and that we are supporting their development throughout the arc of their legal careers. Of course, a priority is to raise private money to support the College of Law, we have had some incredibly generous donors in the past. Now, we need transformative financial support, to retain and recruit faculty. We also need transformative scholarship support to maintain access and affordability to legal education. And those are just a few of the priorities that are on my radar. I'll be working with the faculty, the staff and the students in the coming year to develop a shared vision for the future excellence of the College of Law. And I really do look forward to that work.

Russ White 21:10
Well, Dean green. I know we could have probably an entire conference on this. But I'm wondering, you know, what's the state of the legal profession your graduates are entering? How have legal education and the legal profession evolved over the years? What does the future look like?

Linda Greene 21:26
legal education is more important than ever. Every controversy, every challenge, in which our society is embroiled has a legal dimension, from George Floyd, to COVID-19. To the disputes over executive power. There's so many areas of society in which law plays an important role. I outlined some of those. And so this is probably one of the most important times for people to attend law school and to become lawyers. So the law is important. What are some things that have changed? Well, of course, the legal profession, and legal education have had a number of ups and downs, we have a diminishment of demand for legal education after the crash of 2008. And then what we're now seeing is a surge in interest in legal education. But it's not just an interest in the legal education of the past, but a legal education that focuses on the most important issues in society. I outlined some of them, issues of intellectual property, issues of corporate governance and accountability, issues of racial justice, issues of accountability, and civil rights, and many other areas. All of these issues are so important in society, and they are fueling in if I could say, the challenge that we face in our communities in our country, around the world, the challenges that we face, are significant. But those challenges are fueling a much greater interest in the study of law than ever before. And the challenge of the law school, of course, is to make sure that we prepare our students to address these evermore complex problems. I look at the legal education as the beginning of a long process in which our graduates will have to learn and re learn and acquire new information in order to serve people effectively across a 50 year career. Many of them will practice law for 50 years or more. So how do we provide a legal education that provides a foundation not only in the areas that are currently important, but also the kind of foundation that will enable our graduates to be lifelong learners and leaders in the field of law. So there's just more opportunity than ever, very exciting. And I would argue that at every stage of our country's development, law has always played an important role. It is the responsibility of the College of Law to provide the kind of legal education foundation that will not only prepare students to hit the ground running as lawyers today, but also to be leaders, policymakers and servants throughout their careers, and those careers will extend 50 years and beyond. So we've got to prepare them to serve the society. And I'm so excited to have the opportunity to do that at MSU College of Law, well, that's

Russ White 25:21
brand new MSU College of Law Dean Linda green, who has been my guest on this edition of MSU. today and, Linda, as we close, just sort of summarize as you get started, what you'd like those joining in on our conversation to take away about you and the college.

Linda Greene 25:36
This College of Law has a history of over a century. And the College of Law has made enormous contributions to the state during that history. This is a new phase of the College of law's development. And we are very excited to play not only an important role in Michigan State University's activities, but to be an important player in every place in the state, every place, every neighborhood, every community, we want Michigan State College of Law graduates to make a difference. That's our goal.

Russ White 26:18
That's MSU College of Law Dean Linda green and much more about what we've talked about Linda, thank you for joining us today. Great, thank you. I'm Russ white, this is MSU today

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New MSU College of Law Dean Linda Greene Wants Graduates to “Make a Difference”
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