American flag.

Mitchell Lecture to address the breakdown of democracy in America

Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig to speak

This event has been postponed until Fall 2020

The tenets of democracy promise a government representative of its people, a system in which all participate equally. Yet many argue that our system has failed us by giving preferential treatment to special interest groups over its citizens, rendering us unequal. Professor of Law Lawrence Lessig will address these fundamental flaws when the University at Buffalo School of Law hosts the 2020 James McCormick Mitchell Lecture, its signature lecture series that brings distinguished legal scholars to the law school.

photo of Lawrence Lessig.

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, and the founder of Equal Citizens, a non-profit organization "dedicated to reforms that will achieve citizen equality." He is a founding board member of Creative Commons and serves on the Scientific Board of AXA Research Fund. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, he has received numerous awards including a Webby, the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award, Scientific American 50 Award, and Fastcase 50 Award.

Lessig has been cited by The New Yorker as "the most important thinker on intellectual property in the Internet era," focusing much of his career on law and technology. His current work addresses "institutional corruption"—relationships which, while legal, weaken public trust in an institution—especially as that affects democracy.

"We all think that our government is fundamentally broken," says Lessig. "We're right. I'll describe why, and what to do about it.”

The Mitchell Lecture is free and open to the public and will be live-streamed to Rooms 107 and 108 to accommodate any overflow in attendance. Further information is available online.

More about the Mitchell Lecture:

The Mitchell Lecture Series was endowed in 1950 by a gift from Lavinia A. Mitchell in memory of her husband, James McCormick Mitchell. An 1897 graduate of the Buffalo Law School, Mitchell later served as chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo, which was then a private university.

Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered the first Mitchell Lecture in 1951, titled “Wartime Security and Liberty Under Law.” The lecture was published that year in the first issue of the Buffalo Law Review.

Mitchell Lecture programs have brought many distinguished speakers to the School of Law. These have included, C. Edwin Baker, Derrick Bell, Barry Cushman, Carol Gilligan, Elizabeth Holtzman, Irene Zubaida Khan, Stewart Macaulay, Catharine McKinnon, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Richard Posner and Clyde Summers.