Journal of Law and Policy to live webcast ‘Disrupting the Death Care Paradigm’ symposium on Friday, Feb. 24

Photo graphic of a broken tombstone in a cemetery depicting 'James Hawkins Aug 5 1803 May 6 1903' with a graphic overlay that says 'Disrupting the Death Care Paradigm February 24'

The Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy will present the symposium, “Disrupting the Death Care Paradigm: Challenges to the Regulation of the Funeral Industry and the American Way of Death,” on Thursday, Feb. 23, and Friday, Feb. 24, in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312. The event is free and open to the public. Up to four hours of free Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit is available from the North Carolina Bar for both the live in-person event and live webcast, according to organizers. The event will be live webcast. Registration is available (but not required).

“We encourage those watching the live webcast to submit questions for any of our presenters on Twitter @WFULawJLP or e-mail JLP at wfulawpolicyjournal@gmail.com,” says Symposium Editor Erica Oates.

Professor Tanya Marsh, who literally wrote the books on funeral and cemetery laws, says there have been a number of academic conferences addressing death and death care, “but this symposium is unique because it is focused on the very active legal, political and grassroots challenges to the funeral industry and the dominant paradigm of death care in this country.”

There are two main fronts of challenge to the existing paradigm – first, from those primarily concerned with the occupational licensing regime that shapes the funeral industry and the choices available to the public (i.e. court challenges to the casket laws and the ready to embalm laws); and second, from those primarily concerned with promoting new methods of memorialization and disposition.

Caitlin Doughty, a funeral director, well-known voice in the Death Positivist movement, and the author of a New York Times best-selling book on this topic, will give a keynote address at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312.

Agenda –  Friday, Feb. 24

9:30 a.m.    Welcome

9:35 a.m.    Overview of the Law Regarding the Disposition of Mortal Remains

Part I: Challenges to the Regulation of the Funeral Industry

9:55 a.m.    Regulated to Death: Re-imagining the Funeral Services Market

Tanya D. Marsh, Professor of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law

10:05 a.m.    More Regulation = Higher Prices: An Economist’s View of the Funeral Industry

David Harrington, Himmelright Professorship in Economics, Kenyon College

10:25 a.m.    Economic Liberty: Constitutional Challenges to Funeral Director Licensing Laws

Jeff Rowes, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice

10:45 a.m.    There Is a Funeral Rule for a Reason: Why It Matters and Why It Needs Modernizing

Josh Slocum, Executive Director, Funeral Consumers Alliance

11:05 a.m.    Morning Break

11:10 a.m.    Panel Discussion: Challenges to Regulation of the Funeral Industry

David Harrington, Tanya Marsh, Jeff Rowes and Josh Slocum

12:15 p.m.    Lunch Break

Part II: Challenges to the American Way of Death

1:15 p.m.    Jessica Mitford Was Wrong

Tanya D. Marsh,  Professor of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law

1:30 p.m.    Exercising the Right to NOT Be a Funeral Services Consumer

Lee Webster, Director, New Hampshire Funeral Resources, Education & Advocacy; President, National Funeral Home Alliance

1:50 p.m.     Basic Cremation: White Bones, Black Boxes, and Alkaline Hydrolysis

Philip Olson, Assistant Professor, Department of Science & Technology in Society, Virginia Tech

2:10 p.m.     A Funeral Entrepreneur’s Experience: What Needs to Change

Amy Cunningham, Fitting Tribute Funeral Services, New York City

2:30 p.m.    Afternoon Break

2:45 p.m.    Panel Discussion: Challenges to the American Way of Death

Amy Cunningham, Caitlin Doughty, Tanya Marsh, Philip Olson and Lee Webster

3:45 p.m.     Closing Remarks