You have a very interesting and impressive bio. You have lectured all over the world and studied a variety of subjects in terms of law. Please tell us about your main focuses now.
I have two main areas of interest - the regulation of energy markets and offshore financial centers. On energy I am working on a book on gasoline markets and the impact of regulation for Yale University Press. On offshore finance, I am writing a paper with my colleague, Tony Freyer, on the development of the Cayman Islands as an offshore financial center in the 1960s-1980s. I also chair the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.
We see that you are currently a professor at The University of Alabama School of Law. What subject or branch of law do you enjoy teaching most?
I teach Contracts, Corporate Finance, and a special course on offshore financial centers in which the students and I go to the Cayman Islands over spring break. There they learn about how to set up captive insurance companies, hedge funds, and other specialized business entities. I also teach a course in advanced business entities in our online masters program (LLM).
I like all my courses - the online course is exciting because I am learning a new technology and interacting with some really interesting lawyers in the program; Contracts is fun because first year law students are excited about being in law school and very engaged, Corporate Finance is interesting because the materials are really challenging, and the Cayman class is a terrific model for learning because the lectures are mostly delivered by lawyers, accountants, and regulators in Cayman. I learn something new in every class.
What principles do you hope for your students to leave with when they leave the university?
The challenge for legal education today is to teach students some marketable skills. The University of Alabama was just named the #1 value in US legal education, and I think that says a great deal about how successful we are at doing that.
You seem to be involved in a lot of energy and environmental issues, how did you become interested in these issues and law in the first place?
Energy and the environment are sort of "Alice in Wonderland" areas - nothing is as it first seems. When you start unpacking various regulations, you discover all sorts of special interests manipulating the regulatory system. Because these issues touch all of our lives every day, it is fascinating to dig into the details and see how things work. I got interested when I worked for the Texas Department of Agriculture while I was in law school and had a chance to see how the regulatory system worked up close. That inspired me to dig into details.
We noticed that you have contributed to many papers on the Social Science Research Network. One paper about Harry Potter was particularly interesting. What parallels did you notice about Harry Potter, law and ethics?
The Harry Potter paper was great fun to write(and is a chapter in a book on Harry Potter and the law!). I got to present it at a law and literature conference in England, held at a university in Gloucester where part of the movies were filmed. I took my daughter, Julia, along as she is a huge Harry Potter fan. The great thing about those books is how complex they are. The plots require that Harry and his friends be in a situation where they have to solve some very difficult moral problems without resorting to just calling in adults, law enforcement, etc. The series would have been a lot shorter if Harry had just dialed the police to report Lord Voldemort! So watching how J.K. Rowling had her characters figure out how to solve hard problems - like reacting to the death of Cedric Diggory - was fascinating. Dumbledore's speech after Cedric's death is a great moral lesson for young people on their responsibility to stand up for what is right.
How did you first hear about 1DollarScan?
I read a story online.
What is the main reason that you are using 1DollarScan for?
I travel a great deal - I teach in Hong Kong in the summers for the Fund for American Studies, go to Cayman regularly for Cayman Financial Review board meetings, go to Cambodia and Nepal to work with alumni of the Hong Kong program, travel in China for research, and so on. I can't haul a library of physical books with me everywhere I go, but I can take a library of electronic references with me. That enables me to keep working even when I am away from the thousands of books in my house and office.
As an author, how do you feel about book scanning? What about as a scholar of law?
I think services like 1DollarScan are terrific - this makes my books far more useful for people. There's no point in writing a book if it is just going to gather dust on a shelf. I want people to use what I write, and I suspect other authors feel the same way. And since 1DollarScan only scans books for people who own the books, I don't think there are any copyright issues involved in converting a book I purchased into a different form.
What plans do you have for your future career?
I'm looking forward to doing more teaching and research. The great thing about my job is that there is always something new to learn!