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Abstract

On March 22-23, 2015, Touro Law Center hosted a Conference on Billy Joel and the Law. Speakers at the conference included judges, lawyers, law professors, and music scholars, who considered ways in which Billy Joel’s work relates to American law, society, and culture. The conference panels addressed a variety of interrelated topics, including: Billy Joel and Legal Doctrine; Billy Joel and the Practice of Law; Billy Joel, Law, and the Performing Arts; and Billy Joel, Law, and Society.

In some ways, the conference was a sequel—or rather, the third in a series—following in the path of previous conferences exploring connections between the work of a singer-songwriter and the American legal system. In 2005, Widener Law School initiated this set of loosely-connected conferences, with The Lawyer as Poet Advocate: Bruce Springsteen and the American Lawyer, and in 2011, Fordham Law School hosted Bob Dylan and the Law, co-sponsored by Touro Law Center.

Building on the success of these events, participants at the conference on Billy Joel and the Law engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of legal themes, as well as broader cultural and societal implications, that can be found in Billy Joel’s music. Along with the formal presentations, many of which revolved around recorded excerpts from Joel’s work, the conference proceedings included brief musical performances of a number of his songs, accompanied by scholarly commentary, further contributing to the educational focus of the conference. In addition, given Touro Law Center’s presence in Central Islip and Billy Joel’s well-known association with Long Island, the conference attracted a fair amount of media attention, both in New York outlets and beyond.

Indeed, the conference’s setting, a law school located near the geographical center of Long Island, inspired several speakers to take a closer look at Billy Joel, both the person and the musical persona, uncovering themes that are, at once, both particular and universal in relevance and application. Many of the speakers likewise reflected upon their own personal and professional experiences, finding in Billy Joel’s words and music a lens through which they presented their insights into various aspects of American law, culture, and society. The articles from the conference published in this Symposium Issue of the Touro Law Review provide a sampling of the variety of topics and disciplines explored and the range of perspectives represented

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