What law school ought to be.



Louis M. Brown Program In Preventive Law

Louis M. Brown, the father of preventive law, will continue to have lasting impressions on next-generation lawyers as his legacy is carried on in the newly created Preventive Law program at California Western School of Law. The Louis M. Brown Program in Preventive Law came to fruition through a generous gift from the Hermione and Louis Brown Foundation of Beverly Hills, Calif.

"With this grant, we are now able to fully integrate preventive law into parts of the curriculum that will complement the Creative Problem Solving models in our academic program," said Steven R. Smith, dean at California Western.

The premise of preventive law is that the legal profession can better serve clients by investing resources in consultation and planning rather than relying on litigation as the primary means of addressing legal problems. This theory recognizes that while litigation is sometimes necessary to address past wrongs, the fact that one ends up in an adversarial proceeding may be evidence of a lack of planning or communication. By applying foresight, lawyers may limit the frequency and scope of future legal problems. Preventive law techniques are currently being practiced in the design of sexual harassment policies, in environmental law, in family law (especially estate planning) and in computer law. Virtually any forum setting with avoidable legal problems has room for the practice of preventive law.

Internationally recognized as the pioneer of preventive law, the late Louis Brown was the founder and chairman of the National Center for Preventive Law at the University of Denver. His work on preventive law dates back to the 1950s and is chronicled in his autobiography, "Lawyering Through Life." Leading legal scholars and practitioners and numerous legal institutions have carried on Brown's legacy. Edward Dauer, professor and dean emeritus at the University of Denver College of Law, helped found the National Center for Preventive Law and is its current president. Forrest S. Mosten, who considers Brown his mentor and credits him for "inspiring me to be the best attorney I can be," is the founder of the Mosten Mediation Centers and an original partner in the nation's first legal clinic, Jacoby and Meyers in Van Nuys, Calif. Mosten, a nationally recognized award-winning expert in preventive law, was the 1997 recipient of the American Bar Association's Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.

An attorney, author, educator and legal scholar who taught at the University of Southern California, Brown (1909-1996) has been honored for his contributions to such vital areas of legal concern as client counseling, legal access and conflict prevention. His advocacy for affordable legal services was recognized when the ABA established the award for legal access in his name. The Los Angeles County Bar Alternate Dispute Resolution Section has a perpetual Louis M. Brown Conflict Prevention Award. In 1991, Brown's conflict resolution work earned him the Pacem in Terris Medal from the Manhattan College School of Arts and Sciences and the Peace Studies Program. He authored and co-authored 10 books and more than 150 articles on these subjects.

Upon the announcement last month of the preventive law program, Brown's widow, Hermione, noted that her late husband "would have been very excited" about the creation of a program dedicated to a practice of law that her husband was so passionate about throughout his professional life. "This is a great project for Southern California. We are very pleased to be creating the Brown Program in Preventive Law," she said.

The Louis M. Brown Program in Preventive Law will be part of California Western's William J. McGill Center for Creative Problem Solving and operate as a separate program. Professor Thomas Barton, a member of the California Western faculty since 1989, has been named director of the Preventive Law program and Dauer has been appointed director of the program's Professional Risk Management section.

"Preventive law is a fundamental aspect of Creative Problem Solving," said James Cooper, executive director of the McGill Center. "We can only grow with the synergies that exist within these two legal movements."

The McGill Center is named after the late William J. McGill, former president of Columbia University and former chancellor at the University of California, San Diego. McGill, a widely respected voice of reason during the turbulent 1960s and lifelong humanitarian, conceived of a place where lawyers could learn to become creative problem solvers. His vision became reality in 1998 when the Weingart Foundation awarded California Western a grant to create a center for Creative Problem Solving