Yesterday, I posted a short piece, a quiz really, designed to test the reader’s analytical skills regarding the question of whether the current Supreme Court is radically more pro-business than past courts. I will let that post percolate, but later today I will reveal the paper and its conclusions from which I stole the graph that forms the basis for my skills test.
As an aside, I want now to add a personal note. Before I went to law school, I had a scholarship to get my PhD in political science. The only problem was that the graduate school was pretty insistent that I do empirical research, as opposed to my interest in teaching classical political thought. At the last moment, I decided on law school. I once said that I was not interested in spending the rest of my life deciding whether an R-squared of .89 was sufficient to correlate one insignificant thing with another insignificant thing.
Fast forward to my practice. Foregoing graduate school, I thought I had left the world of empiricism behind, but I was surely wrong. I had the privilege of representing the Central Platte Natural Resources District in environmental and water rights litigation on the “Big Bend” reach of the Platte River. If you are a “bird person,” you know how (allegedly) significant that place in the high plains is to whooping cranes and other migratory birds.
Anyway, the manager of the district was a fellow by the name of Ron Bishop. He retired last week after serving the NRD for more than 40 years. He was one of the most amazing (and one of the fairest and most decent) people I have ever known. For example, he could glance at the data output from a complex mathematical model of river flows and merely by eyeing the data tell whether the modeller was right or wrong. Representing Ron and his District was like doing high level graduate work in empirical methodologies.
The point: A lawyer can learn a lot from a client and that is particularly true for a client who has a commitment to intellectual honesty. Thanks Ron. You did your best to make me a better lawyer and person.