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Richard D. Freer

Richard D. Freer is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. At the...

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Jake Villarreal

Jake Villarreal is a third-year law student at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He is interested...

Episode Notes

In this edition of the ABA Law Student Podcast, host Jake Villarreal interviews Professor Rich Freer about his long career in legal education, his expertise in civil procedure, and his passion for helping law students realize their potential. They discuss his early and decisive path to becoming an educator, and Professor Freer offers tips for law students on building confidence, bar review, and much more.

Richard D. Freer is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia.


ABA Law Student Podcast

Richard Freer: Insights on Bar Review and Civil Procedure



Intro: Welcome to the official ABA Law Student Podcast, where we talk about issues that affect law students and recent grads. From finals and graduation to the Bar exam and finding a job, this show is your trusted resource for the next big step.

You are listening to the Legal Talk Network.


Jake Villarreal: Hello and welcome to another episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast. I am your host Jake Villarreal and I am a third-year law student at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.

I am excited to introduce today’s guest. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia and he teaches Civil Procedure for the BARBRI Bar Review Course.

Professor Rich Freer, welcome to the show.

Richard D. Freer: Thank you Jake. Good to be with you.

Jake Villarreal: Good to be with you. Now, Rich, before we get started can you please tell us some more about yourself, like where you grew up, how you got started in the law and what you are up to now in your career?

Richard D. Freer: Sure. I grew up in San Diego and I had a very interesting path to the law; people don’t believe this, but it’s absolutely true. When I was five years old my mother said I would be a lawyer. Now, it wasn’t a command, but she said that. And I think she said that because I was very argumentative. I was always pushing back. And she probably just threw up her hands one day and said oh, you will be a lawyer.

Well, I took it to heart and it never occurred to me that I was going to be anything else. And so as a kid when people said well, Richie, what are you going to do when you grow up? It was always going to be a lawyer. I had no idea what that meant. There were no lawyers in the family, but it made life easy because in high school and college, that’s what I was going to do.

And so in college I knew that my goal was to get a broad-based liberal arts education, but it really was to get into law school. That’s what I wanted to do. When I was in college I had a wonderful professor of sociology; I was a Sociology major at University of California, San Diego, and I did an independent study with him, Dr. Bennett Berger, and he was just wonderful. And it’s there that I discovered this incredible world of the academic.

And I remember talking to my girlfriend, who has been my wife now for 43 years, and said that’s what I want to do, I want to be an academic, you get to teach, which is the world’s greatest thing to do, but you also get to write. You get to follow up on ideas. And you get to talk to people about interesting ideas. And so I simply thought I would merge the law, which I knew from age five I was going to pursue and an academic career.

So when I went to law school I thought, well, I am going to practice, but I always had it in mind that I was going to go into teaching as well.

Jake Villarreal: That’s fantastic. What an incredible parental insight too for your mom to see like how successful and how happy you would end up as a lawyer.

Richard D. Freer: Well, thank you. And she knew my brother would be a doctor too and that’s all worked out well.

Jake Villarreal: Oh my gosh.

Richard D. Freer: It was all very good.

Jake Villarreal: She should be a career counselor.

Richard D. Freer: Absolutely.

Jake Villarreal: So you said one of the things that you like about being a law professor is that you get to travel and speak. And I know we were talking before the show started about your experience going to different cities. I was wondering what your experience has been with that and are there any places that you have been particularly excited to go to or are there any topics that you have had the opportunity to speak about that have really excited and interested you?

Richard D. Freer: Well, I have been very lucky to be on the BARBRI trail really for 34 years now. And each summer you travel around the country and you get to lecture on, in my case, civil procedure and corporations everywhere from Boston to Los Angeles and San Francisco to Miami. And it’s just great fun, because I get to meet all these wonderful students and I get to see these great cities and you get to know cities along the way. I have always been interested in baseball, so I go to ballgames wherever I can, major league cities, minor league cities. And it’s just been wonderful.

But more than anything else, it’s just the interaction with the students, because here they are studying for the Bar exam and so many of them make my day by saying, oh, I remember your lecture from first year civ pro and we get through the Bar Review Course with them and I get to see them and visit with them. And I always give my phone number if anybody has any questions and I end up talking with them, in some cases for years and years, we end up being pals and talk on the phone. So it’s just a huge blessing and I love the travel and I love the interaction with the students.

Jake Villarreal: Yeah, that sounds like an incredible experience kind of being not just a professor at your own school, but also a professor to so many law students across the country.

Richard D. Freer: That’s nice of you to say. It’s been wonderful.


Jake Villarreal: I was wondering how you first got into civil procedure or how you kind of landed there as a specialty within the wide world of the law?

Richard D. Freer: Well, that was a little bit by happenstance and I am so lucky that it worked out. When I went to law school, as I mentioned, I thought well, I will go practice, but I had in the back of my mind I wanted to go into teaching and I did two clerkships before I went into the practice. And I urge people to think about all kinds of opportunities, there are these wonderful opportunities out there.

When I was in law school, one of my buddies who was a year ahead of me talked about an externship, that you could spend a quarter away from law school; I was at UCLA Law and you could go work for a judge for a quarter, and I thought well, gosh, that sounds great.

And I was so fortunate to be able to go to the California Supreme Court during my second year; I took the middle quarter and spent the whole quarter in San Francisco clerking for Justice Tobriner on the California Supreme Court and it was a wonderful experience and that led me to decide that I wanted to clerk after I graduated.

My wife and I got married right before our third year. We were both San Diego kids. I spent a year clerking in the Federal District Court in San Diego for the wonderful Judge Schwartz.

And I thought about doing a second clerkship at the appellate level. I called one of my mentors at UCLA and she told me yes, by all means, pursue that. It might help you in the job market when you go into teaching. And she suggested the Fourth Circuit. Now, the Fourth Circuit is in the east, in the southeast. It sits in Richmond, Virginia. And I was kind of late applying and by the time I applied there was really just one judge I applied to. And it was Judge Clement Haynsworth in the Fourth Circuit in Greenville, South Carolina.

Well, my wife and I grew up in San Diego. It never occurred to us that we would live east of Pasadena, but we spent a year in Greenville, South Carolina, and it was great, and it really changed our lives, because we assumed we would go back, I would practice in LA and go into teaching in LA, but I ended up loving it in South Carolina. We had never seen seasons before.

And so I went back and practiced for three years. I did litigation at Gibson, Dunn in downtown Los Angeles. And when it came time to go into the job market because of our clerkship experience we only applied to schools in the Southeast. And I had an offer at Emory and we accepted it. We didn’t know a soul in Atlanta. We didn’t know — we were 2,000 miles away from anybody we knew. But we did it. And I urge people, always think about these opportunities. That externship led to the clerkships, which led to the geographic experimentation without which I would never have been in Atlanta.

So I came to Emory and the dean said well, what would you like to teach and we worked out something and civil procedure was on the list. That’s what I was interested in, because that’s what I had practiced, I was a litigator, and I got to teach it my very first year, and now 37 years later I am very happily still at Emory and I have the best job in the world.

Jake Villarreal: Fantastic. What a really perfect narrative, all of your experiences building on each other and getting to that point of being an expert and teaching other people for so long.

Richard D. Freer: Well, thank you. It’s been a wonderful run. And I always tell students when they ask, I never try to — I am wary of giving advice, because we are all just doing the best we can day-to-day. But one thing I tell young people and I told my kids when they were coming along is be open to opportunities. It’s great to have a plan. You should have a plan. You should have an overarching plan, maybe where you want to be in five years, etc., etc., but don’t measure success by whether you are there, because some interesting opportunity may come along in the meantime and it takes you in a different direction. And that’s fabulous. That’s fabulous.

We only get to do this once and the older I get, the more profound that becomes. And you just never know where these opportunities are going to take you. So by all means, it’s a rich world out there and get some of those enriching experiences.

Jake Villarreal: Definitely. Yeah, I think that’s an important thing for all of us to internalize is that new experiences can be so important to our personal development and can open so many doors in our lives. It’s really great that you took that opportunity to explore an entirely new geographic region and ended up where you are now.

I was wondering, you mentioned you have been teaching for 37 years now, which is absolutely impeccable and in your years of teaching how have you seen law schools or law students change, maybe what trends have you noticed over the years in things that people are studying or the structure of universities or how classes are being taught, just broadly, what has your experience been like?


Richard D. Freer: Well, that’s a great and very interesting question, because I was just talking to a colleague about part of this recently, and it was about students and how have students changed over the years. And one of the things that I am simply in awe of with my students is how much more broadly gauged they are than I was.

When I went to law school, I had just gone straight from high school to college to law school. I had had the odd summer job here and there. I had not traveled much. I had not done any meaningful service for other people. And I was a pretty narrow guy. I didn’t really know much about the world out there.

I am so impressed with the young people I meet across the board. They are just much more broadly engaged than I was and I admire that and I think it’s important. So you see young people have traveled more, but more to the point they have engaged in service. You have a lot of students who have gone out, maybe for a whole year, Teach for America or whatever it is, or maybe through a civic group or a church group or whatever it is, they have gone out and engaged in the community. They are aware of their blessings. They are aware how fortunate they are to be where they are and that not everybody has those opportunities and I think that is one of the things I find so impressive. They are aware of the broader world and the broader human experience, certainly than I was. I was completely clueless. I was very immature and I think young people today bring a level of maturity that I admire.

Jake Villarreal: That’s really great to hear. Going to law school now in the age of the Internet is definitely interesting. Keeping up with current events and seeing all of the law and policy related things going on in the news at the same time that you are kind of learning more about the nuances of the law in class is definitely an experience.

Richard D. Freer: Absolutely right. I completely agree. And one of the things I have noticed through the years is how much more interdisciplinary the law school curriculum has become. There is much more law and whatever it is policy-based stuff or sociology, philosophy, anthropology or whatever it might be, literature and all these are enriching things, they are good things and they make you a broader gauged person.

I have never been interdisciplinary as I always tell my colleagues. I have enough trouble with the law, so I can’t do law and anything, but I certainly admire it and I think that legal scholarship and the discussion in the halls at law schools are better because of it.

Jake Villarreal: Oh absolutely. Yeah, it’s so great to feel like everything you are learning is so relevant to the current moment and to kind of have an understanding as to why that is.

I was wondering maybe if you have any advice for law students, including what you mentioned about engaging more in the broader world outside of law, that maybe you wish somebody had told you either when you were in law school or when you were just starting out as a new attorney?

Richard D. Freer: Well, I do think it’s important to get involved and for me it came later in life, in large measure because my wife and I were raising our children and you realize that they are part of a larger community and you get engaged in that community in any number of ways and I, again, admire the level of engagement I see in so many students and I think it’s important to be a member of organizations that strive to do the things you find important. It’s much easier I think to have an impact if you are part of a group rather than out there as the lone wolf. And I think it’s just important to do that.

At the same time I want to say I think it’s important that we all learn to listen even to people we don’t agree with and one of the things you run the risk of sometimes is that if I am in this group or that group and so forth, that’s terrific, but it’s important to be able to listen to the other side of arguments civilly and to react to them with logic rather than emotion.

We see a very polarized political situation today and I think we as lawyers are trained to be dispassionate and it’s a good thing to do. It’s a good thing to check the emotion at the door and reason with people and maybe you are convinced the other side is wrong and your side is right. Try to convince the other side of that. And I think civil discourse is a very important thing and it goes along with this community engagement idea.


So I always caution folks, whether they are on the left or on the right it doesn’t matter to me, always listen to the other side and try not to live completely in an echo chamber. Push yourself. Be a little uncomfortable sometimes when you are talking to some other folks.

Jake Villarreal: Yeah, that’s great. I think that’s a very important insight that the skill that makes good lawyers and good law students, which is understanding both sides of things and being able to see and explain the logic behind different ideas also kind of makes you a better citizen also.

Richard D. Freer: I think there is something to that Jake, I agree. And of course it is right in the wheelhouse for the lawyers’ art, for what we do, because we are trying to appreciate the argument on the other side, but to rebut it and rebut it with the law and the logic and policy, it’s a wonderful exercise. The law is just a wonderful mental discipline.

I remember when I was at law school, I thought, how can anybody not want to go to law school, this is the greatest. It does strike me that we are all so lucky to have found this field because the JD is a wonderful degree. Now, think of all the doctorates that are out there, the JD, it seems to me, is the one that does not paint you into a corner.

If you get PhD in sociology, as I thought about for about ten minutes, there is not a lot you can do. There are not a lot of options. You can have a wonderful career, but there are not a lot of options there in terms of career.

With a law degree, my goodness, there is simply no limit. Now, you can’t do surgery of course, but you can do all kinds of things and you bring to everything you do, to your community organization, whatever it is, you bring this discipline, this logic, a way of arguing and a way of trying to get to the right answer.

Jake Villarreal: I had never really considered that. Thank you so much for bringing that up, just the breadth of careers and life experiences and practices that you can have as a lawyer.

And you have helped so many people become lawyers and enter that professional world through your work with BARBRI and as a law professor. I was wondering if you have any insights on paths to success on the Bar exam for students either taking BARBRI or other courses, or any advice on that transition of leaving law school and becoming a lawyer and becoming a professional?

Richard D. Freer: Yes, absolutely. The Bar exam is one of those things we simply have to deal with. I don’t know of any other profession that has it quite this way. I realize that the doctors have to pass boards and all that sort of stuff. But I don’t know of another profession that has this broad an exam.

It’s a generalist’s exam on more than a dozen topics, and it’s a two day effort. You don’t know exactly what kinds of questions are coming, or from what fields, you need to be in command of so much material. And I tell students all the time, the tough thing about law school is you graduate, you celebrate, everybody is happy, the family is together; oh, that’s terrific. Then the next day oops, you start studying.

But here is what I would say. It is a six or seven week marathon, eight week marathon, and it’s important, but it is a marathon. Don’t make it a sprint or you will run out of energy before the big day arrives. I think it’s important that you pace yourself.

All the Bar Review courses do this. They all do an excellent job of that and if you follow the directions to that. Resist the temptation to say oh, well, wait a minute, in law school we did this and in law school we did that. And my professor thought that Sarbanes-Oxley was the most important thing and so forth and so on. Well, that’s great and it may be the most important thing in the real world, but the Bar Review courses know what’s been hit on the Bar exam and that’s the key. Put yourselves in the hands of the Bar Review folks. They know what they are doing. Study what they tell you to study, do practice questions.

And my other bit of advice, and this comes from the experience of having my son go through the Bar exam; oh, gosh, it’s been 11 years ago now, is don’t drive yourself batty with the idea that you have to be perfect. You know, we are just people, that’s all we are and no matter how much we try, perfection is not there. It’s not in our DNA. We are not going to get it perfect.


So, one of the things I noticed with my son studying for the Bar was that he would do some practice essay questions and they would have model answers. Now the modeling answer is just that, the model answer is written by somebody with unlimited time who’s going to chase down every conceivable issue, and time and again, my son would say, gosh, the model answer had 12 issues and I only saw three.

Well, you know what, three is exactly what most people would get on the Bar exam. Perfection is not an option, and that’s true in everything we do. That didn’t mean we don’t strive for that, strive to be the best we can; but, at some point if you can look in the mirror and say I gave this my best shot then you just pat yourself on the back and say look the chips fall. It will all work out, we all get pass the Bar exam, it does work, but don’t drive yourself daddy saying, oh gosh I — there is — this doctrine I don’t remember and that doctrine I don’t remember. Nobody goes in there with a 100%, nobody. It’s just not humanly possible.

So just whatever it is we do, if you can look in the mirror, look yourself in the eye and say, I gave this the best shot I could, then be happy with it, because that’s the best any of us can do.

Jake Villarreal: Yeah, I think that’s fantastic advice, especially the element of trust that you have to have in the Bar review course and in yourself also to be confident that you are able to pass this, like you mentioned kind of a monster of an exam.

Richard D. Freer: I agree and it’s one of the things that breaks my heart a little bit. As I mentioned in my lectures, I was give them my phone number and I invite them to call with any questions and I will get these heartbreaking voicemails — voice messages where a student says, oh gosh, I just — I am going to flunk, I don’t remember this, I can’t remember that, and I will him up and I will say, look, you have to have confidence and you’ve earned that confidence. You are farther along in the academic world than most people ever dream of going. You have completed law school, do you realize what a huge, huge thing that is? And that should give you the confidence to go in there, give this the best shot. You have the tools for it, now go believe in yourself.

And I say that to 1Ls. I will see them in their — they look kind of scared before that first exam and I will say, look, if you give this the best shot you can, what else could you do? There’s nothing else you can do. Give it your best effort, believe in yourself. You belong here. It’s not a fluke that you were admitted to law school. You worked for four years in college, you have worked, do a master’s, wonderful record, believe in yourself. You have deserved that.

Jake Villarreal: Yes, I am nodding and snapping on the other side of this microphone.

Richard D. Freer: I could.

Jake Villarreal: I would like that pump up speech to be played every day while I am doing Bar Review.

Richard D. Freer: Yes. It is a long haul, but believe in yourself and put yourself in the hands of the pros, they know how to put the course together.

Jake Villarreal: Fantastic. In your experience has teaching on BARBRI and teaching civil procedure been different in some ways from teaching civil procedure in a traditional classroom setting?

Richard D. Freer: Yes, and that’s a wonderful issue. I often get students come up to me in the Bar Review course and they will say, gosh, Professor, we just did personal jurisdiction in 18 minutes. We just did Erie in 17 minutes, whatever it is, how is that possible, why did I spend all that time in law school? And I always remind them, we could not do it in 18 minutes if you had not been wrestling with it in law school. The reason a truncated version of it makes sense in Bar Review is that you did the heavy lifting in law school when you were studying materials.

Now I do want to say that Bar Review has been so helpful to me. It is the purest form of teaching and I will mention how it has had an impact on my law school teaching an on my law school writing.

One of the books I’ve been so blessed to be a part of through the years is a civil procedure casebook that I’ve written with Dean Wendy Perdue, she is the Dean at the University of Richmond and a very dear friend of mine. Wendy and I decided to do that casebook years ago. We have been teaching, oh godly, probably six, eight, ten years something like that at that point, and we had an idea that civil procedure is the toughest first year course, because students have no exposure to that material before they come to law school.


Everybody seen something about contracts, you have a cell phone contract or whatever it is, but nobody seen anything about in-rem jurisdiction before they come to law school.

So we wanted to set up a casebook that had more text in it than just cases and imponderable questions, and so our casebook set out to be much more of a treatise along the way, so that we don’t stitch together law review articles and things like that. It’s independent brand-new treatise kind of stuff that explains personal jurisdictions different from subject matter jurisdiction in this way, this way, this way. Here is what we’re trying to do.

And what I have found in Bar Review is it teaches you to break down complicated ideas to simple components and then they fit together again and just took one example, casebooks back in the day when Dean Purdue and I started, and I am thrilled to say we are coming out with our eighth edition now, it should ship any day, and Robin Effron, a Professor at Brooklyn Law School has joined us on the book and she is absolutely wonderful and it’s been so great working with Dean Purdue and with Professor Effron on that book. And one area where Bar Review really helped was supplemental jurisdiction.

A lot of the casebooks used to treat supplemental jurisdiction along with diversity and federal question, and Wendy and I got to thinking about it, and we thought that didn’t work because they do different things, diversity and federal question get a whole case into federal courts, supplemental jurisdiction just gets a claim in the federal court. And so, we decided that supplemental jurisdiction should be treated not in the subject matter jurisdiction chapter, but in that joinder chapter, when you do counterclaims, cross-claims, impleader claims, it is there that supplemental jurisdiction becomes relevant.

So without that insight from Bar Review I would not have had that insight for the casebook and I think that’s one of the things on the casebook side that we are especially proud of, and so I think it’s been a great experience for me because you do learn to break things into constituent parts and then build them back up again.

Jake Villarreal: Yes, I love those insights. Actually just hear you mention that made civil procedure make more sense in my head.

Richard D. Freer: Good.

Jake Villarreal: It sounds like teaching this subject over-and-over has kind of helped develop and clarify even your understanding of the material.

Richard D. Freer: No question about it; absolutely right. I am the biggest beneficiary of doing these lectures and I must say it’s just a lot of fun, and one of the things you do with civil procedure because it is a tough class, it’s foreign to your experience, it’s tough for the professor, it’s tough for the student.

But one of the things you do is just make the big point. Personal jurisdiction, we spend weeks on it, what is it? All we are trying to figure out is can the plaintiff sue the defendant in this state? It’s all we are asking. There is just one question, and that’s it.

Later we will figure out what court we go to in that state, is it federal court, is it state court, but that’s subject matter jurisdiction, PJ the first question in my book is simply can you sue in this state? And when you break those things out you get a lot more clarity.

One of the questions I’ve gotten many times through the years when I leave my phone number on the BARBRI lectures is somebody will call and say, well, wait a minute, personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, I don’t understand, are they different things? Yes, and here is what they do. They do totally different things and if we start at that level then we break down, we see the individual parts of it and then I think it becomes much easier.

Jake Villarreal: I had an excellent civil procedure professor here at WashU named Ronald Levin and one of the things that he liked to talk about were the kind of policy and justice implications of who can get their claims into court and which claims are valid and what you need to plead, things like that, and I was wondering if there are any interesting current civil procedure cases either on the Supreme Court docket or another Appeals Court that you are watching right now and that might have some impact on how law is practiced in the future?

Richard D. Freer: Yes, Jake, I am concerned on two fronts and it’s always important to remember that civil procedure has a lot a great doctrine and a lot of great things to learn, but let’s remember what it’s about in terms of the big picture. This is about access to justice. If you cannot get into the court system with a civil case, then you are not going to be able to vindicate your claim. We believe in private enforcement of the law and if you cannot get to court, you are not going to enforce the law, you are not going to get the compensatory aspect of the law, you are not going to get the deterrent aspect of the law.


Two things I’m worried about. Number one is personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has limited personal jurisdiction, I think, significantly in recent years. One, to me, oddly, has been led by Justice Ginsburg, who ordinarily would be trying to open the courts up, I would think. But with Goodyear and Daimler and BNSF, she has led the charge to limit so-called general jurisdiction, which is where you can sue a defendant for a claim that rose anywhere in the world and that is substantially narrower than it used to be.

On specific jurisdiction, that is where the claim arises from something the defendant did in the forum. The court has been very narrow. Now that general jurisdiction is so much narrower, it puts more strain on so-called specific jurisdiction. In Bristol-Myers Squibb a few years ago, the court read that relatedness requirement very narrowly. There are two cases of the Supreme Court now. They will be argued shortly. They both involve Ford Motor Company, one is out of Montana, one out of Minnesota, and I think they will lead to further sclerosis of access to the courts, because I think it’s going to be tougher to get personal jurisdiction. These are specific jurisdiction cases.

The other thing, and I think it’s more important is the rush to arbitration and the fact that the Supreme Court has decided that the Federal Arbitration Act should apply in contracts of adhesion, and I think that’s a mistake. The Federal Arbitration Act says that if you and I have a contract for whatever it is and we agree to arbitrate that you and I will not go to court.

We’re going to arbitrate about that, and it’s one thing when commercial ventures of equal bargaining power want to do that, that’s fine if they want to give up access to a court. But what we see now is arbitration clauses routinely in consumer contract and it means that if we have — not just consumers, but even in employment contracts, if you have a significant claim of discrimination against an employer or some sort of product liability issue with a product, you do not have access to the courts if the arbitration provision is enforced, and the court really for the last 20 years has gone out of its way to make sure that those get enforced and on so-called negative value claims, that is where you and I each have a $30 claim. You’re not going to sue for 30. I’m not going to sue for 30. Nobody is going to go to that effort for 30 bucks. So the only way to make that case economically viable is for you and me and everybody else who’s out 30 bucks to join together, to have a class action where we have a hundred thousand of us or a million of us, and we’re all ripped off to the tune of $30.

But there we see that companies have been successful in putting in class action waivers so that now most claims you and I would have against companies we do business with, cell phones, banks, anybody, you’re going to have to arbitrate. You’ve given up your right to the courthouse and not only that, you cannot join with somebody else, and so on those low value claims, it really means that folks are not going to assert those claims, and to me, it means that the law is not being enforced in the way it’s supposed to be enforced through the civil system.

So those two things, personal jurisdiction and this rush to arbitrate everything and enforce every arbitration clause, even when it’s not bargained for, even when it’s part of a contract of adhesion, I find those very troubling.

Jake Villarreal: Yeah, those are definitely current and it’s very frightening to see what’s happening with the limitations on private rights of action.

I remember — I believe, reading the Sotomayor dissent in Bristol-Myers Squibb, and that was one of the things that really drove home for me, like how these kind of procedural rules have real-life impacts on people’s lives and our ability to see laws being enforced.

Richard D. Freer: Absolutely right. This stuff matters on the ground and one of the things I always find so heartening is that I will hear from students after they’ve graduated and they’ll say, Professor, I get it now. Now that I’m litigating civil procedure was at least for me because I’m a litigator, the most important course and it does deal with these huge, important societal issues. There’s nothing more important than access to justice.

You can have the world’s greatest court system, and I must say, as designed, our system with the centerpiece of the trial and the jury trial, it is a wonderful system, but it is not working terribly well now for a bunch of reasons and I hope we can fix it rather than lose it and right now, the problem with arbitration is we are sending a whole bunch of cases that, in my judgment, ought to be in the courts to arbitral forums where you don’t have any of the procedural rights that you do in litigation.


Jake Villarreal: Wow, yeah, this is — there are so many moving parts to the system and it’s so great to hear somebody like you who’s able to kind of name them, take them apart and clarify them. It’s a really powerful skill and with your work with BARBRI and as a professor, it’s helped a lot of people. So thank you so much.

Richard D. Freer: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

Jake Villarreal: All right. It looks like we’re just about out of time. I did want to ask you a fun question before we head out. I’m sure you’re aware that you’re a bit of an Internet celebrity. There are lots of memes about you. You’re very popular on social media, in law student circles.

I was wondering if either you had a favorite meme, or if you just have feelings in general about being a kind of icon of the law community.

Richard D. Freer: Well, I am so flattered to hear you say that. I don’t do any of the social media. I don’t do Twitter or Instagram. I am challenged by email. So, I am not into that tech world at all. But I’m so touched when students will come to me and they’ll print out a copy of something from a meme, a Facebook meme, or Instagram or whatever it is, and I’m just touched by that, that folks find the first year BARBRI lecture helpful. It makes my day and I can simply tell you with all sincerity that I get so much joy out of doing those lectures that the idea that anybody finds them useful just makes me so happy and I get more out of doing those than anybody gets out of listening to them, and I’m so flattered that anyone would put in the effort of listening to the lectures and doing all the heavy lifting that they require in terms of the amount of material we cover and that they would remember who I am or think to thank me. It really is such a lovely thing and it makes my day.

Jake Villarreal: Oh, that’s so great to hear. I’m so glad that you enjoy them.

Richard D. Freer: Thank you and again, I don’t go on there, my kids say, oh, did you see this or did you see that? And then they roll their eyes and say, well, of course not, because you didn’t see it because you don’t do this.

Jake Villarreal: I would love to see you on Twitter. You’ve got to let me know if you are on so that I can follow you.

Richard D. Freer: Okay. I’ll think about it.

Jake Villarreal: Awesome. All right. Before we close it out today, Professor Freer, I have one last question for you, very important. If our listeners would like to follow up with you, how can they reach you?

Richard D. Freer: Well, I think you email at the Emory website, it’s the best deal. That would be the best idea. It’s just [email protected].

Jake Villarreal: Perfect. Thank you so much.

Richard D. Freer: Absolutely. Thank you.

Jake Villarreal: Well, we hope you enjoyed this episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast.

I would like to invite you to subscribe to the ABA Law Student Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast or your favorite podcasting app. You can reach us on Facebook at ABA for Law Students and @abalsd on Twitter.

Signing off, I am Jake Villarreal. Thank you for listening.


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The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.


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Episode Details
Published: May 7, 2020
Podcast: ABA Law Student Podcast
Category: Law School
ABA Law Student Podcast
ABA Law Student Podcast

Presented by the American Bar Association's Law Student Division, the ABA Law Student Podcast covers issues that affect law students and recent grads.

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