The purpose of the conference is to explore the impact of new forms of governance on the theory and practice of law. In recent years a great deal of attention has been paid to new processes being used to establish norms and standards, regulate behavior, solve problems, and resolve disputes. Generically called "new governance", these include such processes or approaches as "democratic experimentalism", "reflexive coordination", "soft law", "open coordination", "deliberative supra-nationalism", and "management-based regulation". Thus defined, new governance covers a wide variety of processes but all differ to some degree from top-down, rule-based, command and control-type regulation.
New governance processes affect the way law functions in many spheres: they may operate as rivals to traditional regulation, replace it altogether, operate in tandem with more traditional forms, or lead to the creation of wholly new legal forms. While few doubt that new governance is having an impact on the law, there is much debate about the nature and desirability of the changes that are occurring. For some, the impact of new governance is a positive development, expanding law's capacities and enhancing its legitimacy. For others, these developments may undermine law and values associated with it.
These issues have been widely discussed in Europe and are also beginning to attract attention from legal scholars in the United States. The Fall 2009 conference is designed to explore the nature and extent to which these developments may transform areas of law, and debate its broader implications for theory and practice. This event will bring together scholars from the United States and Europe who have been studying some aspect of the new governance phenomenon and its implications for law and the legal academy. Special attention will be given to including younger scholars from both sides of the Atlantic who have begun to explore these themes.