John J. Donohue III '74 Honored at Stanford Law School

John J. Donohue III '74 was named the William H. Neukom Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. The professorship is a gift of William H. Neukom, Microsoft executive vice president for law and corporate affairs.

Stanford University news release: Donohue, the inaugural chairholder, is an exceptionally prolific scholar whose articles, which use statistical analysis to show how law affects social relations, have often sparked wide public notice and discussion. His early work demonstrated that race discrimination lawsuits had the effect of breaking up racial cartels in various employment sectors. Over time, however, employment discrimination lawsuits have focused far less on opening up new areas to protected workers but in preventing employers from discharging such workers. Working with James Heckman, the 2000 Nobel prizewinner in economics, Donohue has shown that the litigation strategies of civil rights lawyers a half-century ago greatly increased the resources available to segregated black schools.

His later work focuses on patterns of crime, demonstrating that levels of most crimes have been dropping over time, and suggesting that, because of the law of diminishing returns, the costs of the relentless expansion of the prison population may have come to outweigh the benefits in terms of reduced crime.

Donohue coauthored a paper demonstrating that crime rates have decreased approximately 18 to 20 years after the legalization of abortion, suggesting that this legal change reduced the number of persons born into circumstances that put them at higher risk for later involvement in crime. He is currently studying the impact of the race of police officers on arrests and the impact of laws permitting the carrying of concealed handguns.

In addition to his professorial duties, Donohue also serves the law school as Academic Associate Dean for Research. He joined Stanford's faculty in 1995 from the faculty of Northwestern Law School and a position as Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. When asked to comment on Donohue's appointment to this new chair, Dean Sullivan said, "He is one of the most prolific, original, and highly reputed and sought-after legal scholars in the nation today, and it is most fitting that he be the first to fill the tall order for distinction set forth in the Neukom gift."

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