Law School podcast nets over 100,000 downloads, named fourth best by legal news site

The Law School has embraced new media, gaining respect from fans and academics alike.

By Hannah Fine

The University of Chicago Law School’s podcast garnered a top-10 spot on’s legal podcast rankings released earlier this month. Legal writer Richard J. Ambrogi named the Law School’s podcast fourth on his list of “Ten Legal Podcasts to Keep You Informed.”

Since its inception in 2005, the podcast has broadcast lectures and events at the Law School by faculty and guest speakers. Recent episodes have included a debate between U of C Law School professors Cass Sunstein and Richard Posner on whether conservatives should vote for Barack Obama, and a lecture by Law School professor Adam Samaha on the outcome of the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court decided that the Second Amendment protects the right for individuals to own a firearm for private use.

“The Faculty Blog” was the brainchild of Dean of the Law School Saul Levmore, said Aaron Rester, manager of electronic communications at the Law School.

Originally, the podcast was “largely an experiment, kind of ‘let’s see what happens,’” Rester said. “The Law School has always been a leader in innovating legal education, and the blog and podcast are simply extensions of that tradition.”

Reston streamlined the podcasting process, enabling listeners to easily subscribe to the podcast through iTunes. Within the first year the Law School began tracking the podcast, its audio files were downloaded over 100,000 times worldwide. With 3,551 downloads, Emily Buss’s August 2007 talk on the Chicago Foster Care Project is the podcast’s most popular episode.

In addition to a faculty blog, the Law School runs a separate blog called “Law School: A Day in the Life,” which covers a typical day for students and faculty in the Law School. The school runs another podcast called “Open Minds: The Student Events Podcast,” which was prompted by overwhelming student interest in the original podcast and is a spin-off of the faculty podcast.

Reston said that the podcast enables listeners across the world who cannot attend on-site events opportunities to access lectures and events.

“We record just about every public talk that our faculty give at the Law School (and some elsewhere),” he said in an e-mail interview.

“[Online media] allow us to extend the sense of community that exists in our building out into the world at large.”