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Paul MahoneyE-mail  E-mail    print  Print

A Crowded Crossroad

Paul Mahoney

The past six months have been filled with drama. Real estate and securities markets have suffered some of the sharpest declines of the past century. The economy is in a recession that is already longer than the postwar average and will rank as one of the deepest since the Great Depression. A new president was elected and inaugurated in the midst of financial and economic crisis, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and threats from Iran, North Korea, and non-state terrorist groups.

Law and lawyers will play a large role, as they always have, in resolving these crises. Many Virginia graduates have been directly involved in these events and members of our faculty have given policy makers the benefit of their analyses of the underlying problems. This issue of the UVA Lawyer offers insights from both.

Four years ago, we assembled a panel of faculty members with deep and varied experience in international law and foreign policy to discuss the legal implications of the war on terror. In light of the Obama administration’s desire to change tactics in the struggle against terrorist organizations and those who facilitate or fund them, we re-convened a faculty panel to talk about what has changed, what hasn’t, and what should. David Martin, one of our original panelists, is now providing his advice more directly as the principal deputy general counsel in the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Janet Napolitano ’83. Paul Stephan ’77 — who has since served as the counselor on international law in the State Department — and John Norton Moore rejoin the panel. They are accompanied by Barb Armacost ’89, who has recently expanded her research on the control of police brutality in domestic law enforcement to include the international setting, and Fred Schauer, whose influential work on the function of legal rules is of obvious relevance to a discussion of the rule of law in the war on terror. In addition to this fascinating academic discussion, we hope you will enjoy a first-hand look at the rule of law in the Iraq conflict by Lieutenant Colonel Jack Ohlweiler ’93.

It takes a lot to push war off the front page, but the financial markets have managed to do so recently. The only regret I had at succeeding John Jeffries as dean was putting aside a book I have been writing on the New Deal’s financial reforms. I do, however, get to offer my two cents on the current financial crisis along with several colleagues in this issue.

I often tell new law students that they should look at their education here not as learning a set of rules but instead as acquiring a set of analytical tools that they can use to understand and evaluate law as it exists and as it may change in the future. We stand at the threshold of changes in law relating to financial markets, the environment, and health care, among others. Virginia graduates stand ready to contribute to and navigate these changes.