Monday, December 20, 2010

Professor Keith Rowley Strives to Serve

In May and July 2010, respectively, the American Law Institute (ALI) and the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) approved extensive amendments to the official text of Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Article 9, governing personal property security interests. William S. Boyd Professor of Law Keith Rowley actively participated in 18 months of UCC Article 9 Joint Review Committee meetings and conference calls that culminated in the amendments and accompanying commentary.

That experience has already paid dividends for students enrolled in his Secured Transactions course; forms the basis of an article he is writing for the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal; has provided additional fuel for his ongoing research and writing about what he calls the “Polyform Commercial Code,” a portion of which he presented in mid-November at the University of Tulsa College of Law; and is infiltrating a less provocative book about the law of secured transactions he is currently writing for Aspen (Wolters Kluwer). It has also made him the resident expert on the proposed amendments and the de facto liaison to the Nevada Bar and the Nevada Legislature, which may take up a bill to enact some or all of the amendments after it convenes in early 2011.

This latter role is not unfamiliar: after reading a two-part article Rowley wrote for the Nevada Lawyer in 2004 (which later morphed into a longer, updated article in the Uniform Commercial Code Law Journal and continues to thrive as a periodically-updated on-line resource), then-Senator Terry Care sought Rowley’s counsel during the 2005 legislative session regarding pending bills proposing to revise or amend six articles of Nevada’s version of the UCC. Rowley has since consulted with legislators, state bar leaders, and other interested parties regarding similar efforts in eleven other states and keeps a wide audience updated on UCC legislative developments (and related topics) through two blogs to which he contributes, his Boyd website, and his work as Developments Reporter for the American Bar Association Business Law Section’s UCC Committee.

In addition to serving all who legislate, adjudicate, practice, teach, study, or are otherwise affected by commercial law through his work with the ALI, the ABA, and his presence in the cybersphere, Rowley more directly serves the legal academy through leadership roles in the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Having chaired the AALS Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law until the January 2010 AALS annual meeting in New Orleans, Rowley continues to serve on that section’s executive committee as Immediate Past Chair. In January 2010, he became Chair-Elect of AALS Section on Contracts, and will take over as Chair at the January 2011 AALS annual meeting in San Francisco.

Rowley pursues scholarship across a broad spectrum of contract and commercial law topics (while also indulging a passion for law and popular culture that has thus far produced a book chapter on lawyers and lawyering on The West Wing, contributions to two ABA Journal cover articles and another forthcoming in National Jurist, and several conference papers). Along with several law review articles, book chapters, and conference papers in various stages of progress, and his forthcoming book for Aspen, he is also currently writing a second book on selected topics in the law of contracts for LexisNexis, and is under contract to write a third. Just as Rowley’s involvement in the Article 9 amendment process informs the secured transactions book he is writing for Aspen, his awareness-raising and consulting efforts pertaining to UCC Articles 1, 2, and 2A will benefit both of the LexisNexis books.

In addition to pursuing his own scholarship, Rowley also devotes considerable effort to promoting scholarship across a broad spectrum of contract and commercial law topics.

In January, Rowley moderated a program he conceived and organized for the AALS Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law on the recently-promulgated ALI Principles of the Law of Software Contracts. The program – The Principles of the Law of Software Contracts: A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes of Article 2B and UCITA? – yielded a print symposium in the Tulane Law Review, which Rowley organized, and is the launching point for a book-length collection of essays, responses, and replies.

In February, Rowley brought more than 80 legal academics and practicing attorneys from thirty-one states and several foreign countries to the Boyd campus for the 2010 Spring Conference on Contracts, which received rave reviews virtually guaranteeing a sequel in the not-too-distant future. Several papers presented at the conference have since appeared, or are forthcoming, in a variety of law reviews.

In January 2011, Rowley will moderate a program he has conceived and spent considerable time this fall organizing for the AALS Section on Contracts. Navigating Lombard Street in a Fog: Seeking (or Ignoring) Landmarks of Intent and Context will explore foundational issues including whether the parties’ intent is or should be an integral part of contemporary contract law; the extent to which context affects or should affect a party’s ability to consent or the significance of its manifested consent; and, assuming that intent and context matter, how best to determine and give effect to the parties’ intent in the context of their transaction. The discussion promises to be lively and the program, like the 2010 Spring Contracts Conference, will provide a platform for several emerging contract scholars as well as a showcase for some of the leading lights in the field.

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