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Northwestern Law Takes on Judicial Education

Formerly affiliated with leading Washington think tanks, the judicial ed program is now housed at Northwestern where it will continue to offer training in fundamentals related to today's complex cases.

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July 30, 2008 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel
CHICAGO --- The Judicial Education Program (JEP) has moved to Northwestern University School of Law, where it will continue to offer judges premier courses on economics and quantitative fundamentals that relate to the complex cases they must decide today.

Formerly affiliated with the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, two of Washington's leading think tanks, the JEP has followed its founder, Henry Butler, to Northwestern Law.

Butler, executive director of Northwestern Law's Searle Center on Law, Regulation and Economic Growth, is a leading public policy analyst and law and economics specialist who has devoted much of his career to improving the country's civil justice system.

JEP is based on the premise that a well-informed and well-educated judiciary is essential to a sound civil justice system.

Paige Butler, a lawyer with more than 10 years experience as in-house counsel, is the director of the Judicial Education Program; she has managed the operations of JEP for more than 10 years.

"Many judges don't have the basic quantitative knowledge that is necessary to distinguish between valid and invalid arguments in the cases that come before them," said Paige Butler. "They didn't learn in college or law school the types of skills that our programs provide."

State and federal judges come together in timely specialized JEP programs, including in the flagship program, the popular Economic Institutes for Judges, to learn basics in economics, finance, statistics and scientific methodology.

JEP will benefit from the affiliation with a leading university, a top-10 law school, the Kellogg School of Management and the economics department. The program will draw from the wealth of expertise of Northwestern faculty and professors from other universities who teach the classes.

"Basically, we are teaching what is being taught in principles of economic classes throughout the nation," said Paige Butler. "We are teaching fundamental skills that good judges and good lawyers need to maneuver in today's complex worlds of business and law."

The quantitative methods emphasized in the JEP also are stressed in Northwestern Law's major new plan to maximize its graduates' career success. Based on input from legal industry leaders, "Plan 2008: Preparing Great Leaders for the Changing World" offers a number of initiatives to help law students understand not only legal challenges, but also the business, strategic and organizational contexts in which they arise.

"Quantitative skills are central to the way lawyers work today, whether in the public or private sector," said David Van Zandt, dean, Northwestern University School of Law. "And such skills are critical to sound judicial decision making."

More than 3,000 state and federal judges are JEP alumni, and more than 500 will attend Northwestern Law JEP courses next year.