Omni William Penn Hotel
Rivers of Law: The Confluence of Life, Work and Justice
The conference theme—Rivers of Law—draws on Pittsburgh’s topography. Pittsburgh lies at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, which together form the Ohio River. The Ohio River has played important historical roles: as a pathway of American westward migration, as a border between slavery and freedom, and as a great industrial concourse. The river metaphor evokes many attributes of the interplay of law and society—currents and countercurrents, nature and regulation, borders and unions, erosion and change, and dams that direct resources toward some and away from others (to name just a few).
The Program Committee invites participants to consider the confluence of life, work, and justice in the broadest sense. Pittsburgh’s rich history offers some key examples of how life, work, and justice come together. Pittsburgh has been the site of significant industrial development, made possible by the immigration of large numbers of European workers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and some of the most violent labor conflicts in the U.S., such as the Homestead Strike of 1892. The city is also a rare example of successful environmental cleanup, as smokestack industries have given way to high technology, including biotechnology. Today, medicine and health care account for a great portion of Pittsburgh’s economy. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has pioneered many medical techniques including organ transplantation, is the region’s leading employer. With its active, influential African-American community, Pittsburgh is also an excellent site for discussions of the construction of racial and ethnic identities in relation to themes of life, work, and justice.
Professor Derrick Bell, of New York University Law School, will deliver the plenary address at the Pittsburgh meeting. Professor Bell is one of the world’s leading legal scholars; he is also a native of Pittsburgh. Bell’s path-breaking and provocative scholarship on race, law, and justice should provide an excellent venue for conversations about race at the Annual Meeting.