5 Great TED Talks About the Law

  • Michael Sandel's Justice Series
  • The Bail Project
  • How Judges Can Show Respect
  • Patent Trolls
  • Freeing the Innocent

TED talks about law issues are a fascinating way to learn more about the legal system. Speakers discuss flaws and ideas for improvements. They also show the many ways a law degree can be put to use.

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1. Michael Sandel's Justice Series

Professor Michael Sandel teaches one of the most popular courses ever at Harvard University. Every semester, hundreds of students pack his lecture halls to hear his thoughts on justice, ethics, and philosophy. Now, his talks are available through TED. He covers common philosophy questions like the train-track dilemma while deeply probing how society determines which actions are correct. For law students looking to understand the thought processes behind the modern system of law, this is a great philosophy talk.

2. The Bail Project

This TED legal talk racked up almost a million views in its first three months online. Public defender Robin Steinberg has a 15-minute call to action for reform on the bail system in the United States. Although many commentators have criticized the way that bail drives false convictions, few have any solutions. Steinberg and her husband founded The Bail Project, which uses community funds to bail defendants out of jail. She has an ambitious plan to expand to fifteen cities in the United States. Her video is part of TED's The Ambitious Project, which is leveraging the company's platform into social action.

3. How Judges Can Show Respect

New Jersey Jude Victoria Pruitt has a deep respect for the law. She also thinks the law should show respect for litigants. That's why she released her talk on procedural justice; today, more than a million people have watched her thoughts. Judge Pruitt argues that judges can increase compliance from petitioners simply by acting with respect. She shares tips on how she has personally used procedural justice to maintain order and drive better outcomes from the bench. Viewers will learn about the importance of giving petitioners a voice, exhibiting neutrality, using simple language rather than legalese and showing respect for everyone. This TED talk about working as a judge shows how law students can bring their unique backgrounds to their work.

4. Patent Trolls

Drew Curtis won his lawsuit, so why is he so mad about it? In his TED talk, "How I Beat A Patent Troll," Curtis explains how patent troll companies make life difficult. Patent trolls file broad claims with the U.S. government and use those claims to sue legitimate companies and try to force a settlement. Curtis was able to win because he had a large war chest and a passion for justice. He provides plenty of technical details for viewers wanting to study the legal system.

5. Freeing the Innocent

The legal system has its flaws. Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan wants viewers to understand these flaws with his video "How I Help Free Innocent People From Prison." He gives three clear cases of justice being misused for false convictions and explains how he worked to overturn those actions. Future prosecutors and public defendants will benefit from learning about the intricacies of the legal system in this video.

There are many online resources for learning more about a legal career. TED talks about law, justice, and legal matters are a good place to start.

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