For The Record

The complexities of employment law get a bit easier to digest in the classroom of Richmond Law professor Luke Norris.

When Luke Norris prepares to teach a course, the first thing he does is put himself in his students’ shoes. After beginning as a Richmond Law assistant professor in fall 2018, Norris set out to ensure that his classes are engaging and fun, whether that’s creating mock trials or having his students competitively diagram improbable hypothetical situations.

Norris’ specialties are civil procedure, employment law, and arbitration — areas that are vastly changing in the modern U.S court system.

As a law student during the 2008 recession, he began his ongoing research on how the legal profession supported the United States during the Great Depression and New Deal era.

“My work is really at the intersection of civil procedure and workers’ rights,” said Norris, who came to Richmond from Cardozo School of Law in New York. “Our civil adjudication system is increasingly moving disputes out of courts and into private, arbitral settings, and so there’s a question about the future of courts as the vindicators of rights for parties like workers and consumers.

“In some sense, the extent of the decline of these fields also presents an opportunity to rethink their futures.”

In his recent article for Slate, “Google Employees Are Leading the Way on Sexual Harassment Reform. The Rest of the Country Should Follow,” Norris examines how the practice of mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims has recently become more prominent in the workplace, which ultimately forces employees into private agreements that sidestep the court system and the public eye.

Although his current teaching focuses on civil procedure and employment law, he knows that not all of his students will leave his courses remembering every detail of every doctrine.

“I hope what they come away with is an understanding of the logics and rationales that animate this area of law,” said Norris. “Even if they don’t know the answer to a thorny or complex question, they’ll still have a good enough sense that they could probably predict the answer.”