In today’s New York Times, John Schwartz has an interesting article on Charlie Nesson’s performance in the Tenenbaum trial.
Reading over the trial reports, I’m struck by how similar Nesson’s approach was to how he taught “Introduction to Lawyering” (ITL) in the fall of 1994, in my 1L year at Harvard. The ITL class was supposed to be about introductory legal writing and research. Nesson instead focused on how he thought the Internet would change everything; whether cameras should be allowed in courtrooms for high-profile cases; and his fascination with the neckercube. I very much liked Nesson as a person. He was passionate and unfailingly kind, something that couldn’t be said for many other Harvard professors. But most of the students became pretty frustrated, as Nesson’s lectures didn’t have much to do with legal research and writing.
Fifteen years later, Nesson was on the same three themes in the Tenenbaum trial — the Internet changes everything, cameras should be in the courtroom, and the lessons of the neckercube. But this time it was a real case, and it was Judge Gertner who was frustrated with Nesson’s following his own path.