Friday, December 21, 2007

“A Fair(y) Use Tale”

The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) at Stanford Law School (part of the Law, Science and Technology Program) has posted a humorous and informative video by Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University about the Fair Use of Copyright for education. The film called “A Fair(y) Use Tale” uses clips from almost every Walt Disney film ever made to convey the meaning of copyright law, public domain and how fair use exceptions for education can inspire creative presentations. The idea is to encourage creativity, while at the same time get people talking about how Disney and other companies have effectively lobbied to extend copyright from the original 14 years it once lasted, to the now 100 years for corporate copyrights and how that affects new uses of old media.

With the end of final exams and the start of the Christmas holiday, take the time to enjoy the film. BLS Library Blog looks forward to sharing more postings in the coming New Year.

Happy Holidays!


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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Disappearing Jury Trial

Today's Wall Street Journal Law Blog has a post by Peter Lattman about the disappearing jury trial in the US justice system.
The American jury system is dying.
It is dying faster in the federal courts
than in the state courts.
It is dying faster on the civil side
than on the criminal,
but it is dying nonetheless.
—Judge William Young, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, March 6, 2004

That’s the epigraph of an essay in the American Interest by Neal Ellis, a lawyer at Hunton & Williams in Raleigh. Ellis thinks our legal culture has come to view trying cases as a failure of the judicial system rather than as its cornerstone. Here’s the evidence: Fewer than 2% of civil cases went to trial in 2002, down from 11% 40 years earlier.

While he praises alternative dispute resolution like mediation, he raises concerns over several reasons why jury trials are dwindling. Among them: Rising litigation costs deter potential plaintiffs and encourage the settlement of even negligible claims. Also: The growing fear — which Ellis says is unfounded — that jurors are too unsophisticated and too easily swayed by emotion to render fair verdicts in increasingly complex cases.

Among his suggestions for filling up more jury boxes: capping lawyers’ fees on cases and restricting lawyers’ ability to question potential jurors, which in his view would deepen the jury pool. Without reform, he warns, Americans’ confidence in the judicial system, including the Constitution’s right to a trial by jury, will be dangerously undermined.

Source WLJ Law Blog December 20, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

US Supreme Court on Sentencing Guidelines

Commentators have characterized this week’s decisions by the US Supreme Court (Kimbrough v. US and Gall v. US) dealing with sentencing guidelines as victories for criminal defendants. See the December 10 entry in the Volokh Conspiracy. At first blush, Kimbrough and Gall appear to be victories for opponents of the Sentencing Guidelines. In Kimbrough, the Court addressed the disparity in the sentencing guidelines related to convictions for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine and affirmed that district court judges are free to impose sentences lower than the guidelines. In Gall, the Court held that a district court sentence of a defendant to a below-guidelines sentence should be reviewed only under a deferential abuse of discretion standard.

A case pending in the Eastern District of New York demonstrates that the grant of greater discretion to district court judges in the use of sentencing guidelines may also result in above-guideline sentencing. The December 13th edition of the New York Sun reports on a gun trafficking case in Brooklyn where Judge Charles Sifton of U.S. District Court sought to impose on a defendant a longer sentence than that sought by the prosecutors. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Judge Sifton on the theory that the stricter sentence would create widespread disparities across the country for how people are sentenced for violating the same federal law. Judge Sifton has reasoned that judges should be permitted to impose longer sentences for gun crimes in New York based on the large population of the community where the unregistered gun was transported. See 5 Fed Sent’g Rep. 303 (May/June, 1993). The Sun article states “Criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors are watching to see if the Supreme Court's case emboldens Judge Sifton to try again to get the longer sentence to stick.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Exam Time Etiquette in the Library

Library 20 minute rule!

Reading period and exam time is very stressful. It is the most crowded time in the Library and, therefore, the time when we need to be most considerate toward each other. There is a group of students that find it acceptable to hog workspace - table space, computer space and conference room space - by planting their personal belongings in the desired location and then leaving for hours at a time.

During exam time, we will enforce a 20 minute rule. This means that if you vacate a seat for more than 20 minutes, you will loose that spot to waiting students. This procedure has been applied to conference rooms for a number of years. We are now extending it to computer workstations. If you see a seat that has been abandoned by a physical body, you can ask someone at the circulation or reference desk to place a sign on the space indicating that the user has 20 minutes to return the sign to the library staff, or loose their space. Material will be moved to the side and if a library-owned computer is involved, that person will be logged off. We will not save your documents.

We hope that this presents a good solution to the problem caused by a few inconsiderate people. I'd be interested in hearing other solutions too!

Episode 012 - Conversation with District Attorney Joe Hynes

Episode 012 - Conversation with District Attorney Joe Hynes.mp3

Last month, Brooklyn’s own Charles J. "Joe" Hynes, the Kings County District Attorney spoke at the Law School’s Subotnick Center about his novel Triple Homicide. The event featured a reading and discussion by DA Hynes of his new novel which examines a district attorney’s fight to expose police corruption. DA Hynes, who serves as a BLS Adjunct Professor of Law and teaches Trial Advocacy at BLS, talked about some of the reforms in the police community since the Mollen Commission of 1992.



The audience for the novel is cops, trial lawyers and the library community. The Library Journal published a favorable review of Triple Homicide in its May 15, 2007 edition. In a recorded interview for the BLS Library Blog, DA Hynes shares some of his experience as a novelist and as a key player addressing official corruption.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law

The Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law has just published its latest issue, Volume 2 Fall 2007 Number 1.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ARTICLES
Prima Paint Pushed Compulsory Arbitration Under the Erie Train
Richard L. Barnes

Against Shareholder Participation: A Treatment For McConvill’s Psychonomicosis
Harry G. Hutchison & R. Sean Alley

Attorneys’ Fees Incurred In Defending Insurance Policy Non-Covered Claims: Who Pays?
Joseph F. Cunningham with James N. Markels

The Case for Mandatory Disclosure In Securities Regulation Around the World
Allen Ferrell

A European Solution to the Regulation of Cross-Border Markets
Eric J. Pan

NOTES
To Sue or Not to Sue: Video-Sharing Web Sites, Copyright Infringement, and the Inevitability of Corporate Control
Andrea Frey

Merkels & Acquisitions or Locusts and Labor Law: What’s Really “Plaguing” Cross-Border M&A in Germany?
Margaret L. Hanson

Hedge Fund Regulation: A Proposal to Maintain Hedge Funds’ Effectiveness Without SEC Regulation
Carl J. Nelson

The Need for a Long-Term Federal Backstop In the Terrorism Insurance Market
Laura M. Reiter

Friday, November 30, 2007

Societal Impact of the High Cost of Law School

Recently, legal blogs and the media have written about the impact on society of the increasing cost of attending law school. In yesterday’s Balkinization, Brian Tamanaha writes about “the implications of the astronomically high and ever-increasing costs of attending law school, combined with stagnating pay for all legal positions outside of corporate law”. The post addresses the financial implications of attending law school which few prospective students fully analyze (e.g. how much money will be borrowed, the expected amount of monthly loan payments upon graduation, and expected income upon graduation).

More important is what the high cost of law school means for social justice. The cost barrier is becoming increasingly burdensome so that people from low income backgrounds are less willing to assume the huge debt that comes from attending law school. This may result in a return to the past when lawyers came mostly from wealthy backgrounds.

Tamanaha writes: “Another implication relates to the provision of legal services. Students who enter law school with the desire to work in public service positions often instead go on to become associates at corporate law firms owing to concern about the hefty loan they must repay.”

An entry in yesterday’s Washington Post by Ian Shapira discusses this last point in greater detail. According to this article: "About 56 percent of law school graduates immediately enter private practice, 14 percent go into business, 22 percent enter government, and 5 percent work for a public interest organization or an advocacy practice such as Legal Aid."

Earlier this month, Scott Moss in FindLaw discussed how high law school tuition may backfire on law schools unless they start self-imposing limits. He wrote that it is possible that market forces may respond to address the issue. It is possible that there will be a decline in law school applications resulting in declining student quality. High law school costs may result in increased drop out rates. If a large enough percentage of a law school's students drop out, and only half of graduates pass bar exams, the school faces a loss of ABA accreditation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Plans for New Law School in New York State

The National Law Journal reports that the State University of New York at Binghamton is making plans for a new law school. Staff reporter Leigh Jones writes:

“Binghamton University President Lois DeFleur said that she has been in ongoing talks with State University of New York (SUNY) officials and with the American Bar Association about the school. The proposal would need the approval of state's education department and the governor.

“The other publicly supported law schools in New York are the University of Buffalo, part of the SUNY system, and the City University of New York School of Law at Queens College.”

Source: National Law Journal, Leigh Jones, November 20, 2007

Judge Removed From Bench for Jailing 46 over In-Court Cell Phone Use

The use of cell phones in public places is an irritant that reminds us of the need for basic standards of etiquette. In courtrooms throughout the country, judges and court personnel impose serious consequences for the inconsiderate use of cell phones. The issue took an interesting turn this week when the NY State Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of an upstate judge for overreacting to the use of cell phones in his courtroom. The judge jailed an entire courtroom audience after no one admitted responsibility for a ringing phone.

"Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now," the judge told the courtroom's audience, according to the commission. When no-one came forward, the judge ordered that the entire courtroom audience of 46 people be taken into custody and set bail at $1,500.

Details of the story are reported in the NYT and the Niagara Gazette.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Online Constitutional Law Treatise

Law students preparing for the upcoming final exams might find useful the free online constitutional law treatise that is available on GPO Access. The treatise is titled The Constitution of the United States of America, Analysis and Interpretation: Analysis of Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of the United States and is updated through 2006.

There are two editions, the 1992 Edition (with Supplements from 1996, 1998 and 2000, available in HTML and PDF) and the 2002 Edition (with Supplements from 2004 and 2006, available in PDF only).

Episode 011 - Conversation with filmmaker Ben Selkow

Episode 011 - Conversation with filmmaker Ben Selkow.mp3

Today, BLS-ACLU and the Brooklyn Entertainment Law Society presented a film called A Summer in the Cage. The documentary tells the story of filmmaker Ben Selkow's friend Sam's battle with manic-depressive illness, also known as bipolar disorder. The film follows Sam for seven years as he suffers delusional manic episodes, battles paralyzing depressions and tries to escape the legacy of his father. The film attempts to put a human face on an illness that affects millions of American families. Robert M. Levy, United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of New York and an Adjunct Professor of Law at BLS who teaches Mental Health Law graciously permitted recording of the Q&A session that followed the screening of the film.

Recommended reading: Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

A trailer of the film can be viewed below.


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Monday, November 26, 2007

ABA Poll Shows Increase in Tech Use

The 2007 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report shows expected increases - and some perhaps unanticipated stagnancy - in lawyers' use of technology.
Each year, the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center surveys private practice attorneys to analyze their use of technology. This year, more than 1,800 ABA members responded, with results reported in five categories: law office technology; litigation and courtroom technology; Web and communication technology; online research; and mobile lawyers.
The 2007 survey results definitely reflect a small firm focus: More than half of respondents are either solo practitioners (24 percent) or work in firms of two to nine lawyers (28 percent). Only 18 percent are from firms of 10 to 49 attorneys, 7 percent from firms with 50 to 99 attorneys, and 23 percent of respondents are from large firms, with 100-plus attorneys.
Most respondents have a significant amount of experience: 47 percent have been admitted for more than 30 years, 14 percent for 20 to 29 years, 19 percent for 10 to 19 years, 10 percent for five to nine years and another 10 percent for less than five years.
Respondents do buy smartphones - 53 percent use a PDA outside the office, 32 percent check their e-mail. And they trust their systems: 49 percent send confidential or privileged communications to clients via e-mail one or more times a day, with 79 percent relying on a confidentiality statement accompanying the transmission, and 17 percent on using encryption.

Litigation and E-Discovery
In the wake of last year's e-discovery revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it is not surprising that the 2007 survey documented a substantial increase in the number of lawyers who make electronic discovery requests on behalf of their clients. This year, only 26 percent of lawyers said they have never made an electronic discovery request, compared with 69 percent in the 2006 survey.
Electronic discovery efforts are escalating in firms - 28 percent of respondents report e-discovery programs are in place; with 71 percent of large firms on board. Technology partners (26 percent), IS staff (18 percent) or litigation support specialists (15 percent) are primarily responsible for EDD programs.

Policies and Planning
Despite the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, disaster recovery planning held steady at 54 percent, equal to last year's survey. Twenty-three percent of respondents have no disaster recovery plan, and another 23 percent said they did not know if their organization has a plan in place. Surprisingly, with discovery of e-mail and other electronic documents playing an important role in high-profile cases over the last few years, fewer respondents to this year's survey report having relevant technology policies in place - 45 percent reported that their organization has an e-mail use policy; 29 percent reported an e-mail retention policy; and 38 percent reported a document management or records management policy as opposed to 56 percent, 33 percent, and 50 percent, respectively, in the 2006 Survey.
Training programs are not available to many lawyers and law firms: 34 percent of respondents indicated that they have no technology training available, including 61 percent of solos and 46 percent of small firm attorneys.

Online Research
Almost all respondents (96 percent) rely on the Internet for news at least once a week. The top five online resources are third-party Web sites (72 percent); e-mail newsletters (58 percent); e-mail discussion lists (38 percent); e-mail case alert services (37 percent); and online advance sheet services (30 percent). Used less frequently are podcasts (2 percent), RSS feeds (5 percent) and automated clipping services (10 percent).
Just about everybody (91 percent) conducts legal research online. But don't rule out print: 52 percent regularly use print materials, and 38 percent use print materials occasionally. For more information about the survey reports see www.lawtechnology.org/survstat.

Source: New York Law Journal, Catherine Sanders Reach, November 20, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Episode 010 - Conversation with Professor Nelson Tebbe

Episode 010 - Conversation with Professor Nelson Tebbe.mp3

Professor Nelson Tebbe joined the BLS Faculty this year after serving on the faculty of other New York area law schools, working as a litigation associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell and as an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union National Drug Policy Project and clerking for the Hon. John M. Walker in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In this conversation, Prof. Tebbe discusses his article Excluding Religion to be published next year in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

Theme Music: Charlie Hartwell, Religion. (Charlie Hartwell's music is available through PodShow.com.)

Conviction for Standing in Times Sq. Is Overturned

The New York Times has an article in today's NY/Region section reporting that "The Court of Appeals, New York State's highest court, threw out the conviction yesterday of a man who was arrested for standing and not moving on a Times Square corner in 2004. The man, Matthew Jones, was on the corner of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue in the early morning of June 12, 2004, chatting with friends as other pedestrians tried to get by."

Jones was charged in Manhattan, by information, with disorderly conduct under New York Penal Law § 240.20. Writing for the court, Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick concluded that the allegations in the document used to charge Mr. Jones did not meet the burden of factual proof required. "Nothing in the information indicates how the defendant, when he stood in the middle of a sidewalk at 2:01 a.m., had the intent to or recklessly created a risk of causing ‘public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm,’” Judge Ciparick wrote.

Yesterday's ruling from the New York State Court of Appeals is available here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Capital Punishment in the News

In the November 18 edition of the Sunday New York Times, Adam Liptak has an article about a number of recent studies addressing the central justification for capital punishment: whether the death penalty deters murders. The studies conclude that executions save lives. Liptak writes: “For each inmate put to death, the studies say, 3 to 18 murders are prevented…The studies, performed by economists in the past decade, compare the number of executions in different jurisdictions with homicide rates over time — while trying to eliminate the effects of crime rates, conviction rates and other factors — and say that murder rates tend to fall as executions rise.”

Liptak goes on to write that there has been sharp criticism of these studies because they are grounded in theories of economists that do not apply to the violent world of crime and punishment. Some say that the studies are based on faulty premises, insufficient data and flawed methodologies.

Some interesting facts in the article include:
Only about one in 300 homicides results in an execution. In 2003, for instance, there were more than 16,000 homicides but only 153 death sentences and 65 executions.
The cost of a capital litigation case exceeds more than $1 million.
Canada has executed no one since 1962. Murder rates in the US and Canada have moved in close parallel since then, including before, during and after the four-year death penalty moratorium in the United States in the 1970s.

The US Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case of Baze v. Rees and will decide this term whether death sentences carried out by lethal injection violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. As a result, a number of states that use the lethal injection method have indicated they will stay executions pending the Court's decision.

Another New York Times article reports that the State of New Jersey is set to become the first state to repeal the death penalty since the United States Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976. According to the article, a 13-member commission in New Jersey that studied the death penalty reviewed some of the studies and found them “conflicting and inconclusive.”

The studies referred to in the articles are:
Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate, by John J. Donohue and Justin Wolfers (Stanford Law Review, December 2005)
Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? Acts, Omissions and Life-Life Trade-offs, by Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermuele (Stanford Law Review, December 2005)
Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence From Post-moratorium Panel Data, by Hashem Dezhbaksh, Paul H. Rubin and Joanna M. Shepherd (American Law and Economics Review 2003)
Deterrence Versus Brutalization: Capital Punsishment's Differing Impacts Among States, by Joanna Shepherd (Michigan Law Review, November 2005)
Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment and Deterrence, by Lawrence Katz, Steven D. Levitt and Ellen Shustorovich (American Law and Economics Review 2003)
Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment, by H. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings (Journal of Law and Economics, October 2003)
Capital Punishment and Capital Murder: Market Share and the Deterrent Effects of the Death Penalty, by Jeffrey Fagan, Franklin E. Zimring and Amanda Geller (Texas Law Review, June 2006)

On the international front, the UN General Assembly's Third Committee voted Thursday 99-52 to place a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty. Thirty-three countries abstained from the vote. Opponents of the resolution included Singapore, Egypt, China and the US. The resolution will go to the UN General Assembly later this year. The resolution states that capital punishment "undermines human dignity," that "there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty's deterrent value" and that "any miscarriage or failure of justice in [its] implementation is irreversible and irreparable." Though non-binding, supporters of the resolution believe international opinion against capital punishment is growing.

Source: Jurist November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Most Associates Leave Big Law Firms

The National Association for Law Placement recently released a study indicating that almost 80 percent of attorneys at large law firms no longer work there five years later. This news comes as no surprise, considering the factors that drive this rate. The study found that "attrition is, of course, necessary, as large firms hire significantly more associates than they plan to share equity with as a partner." According to the report, "attrition rates are, to some extent, the price of doing business."

In her article for Law.Com, Kate Neville examines the forces that drive attrition to help attorneys on both sides of the table maximize their respective investments. "Regardless of why they came, what has kept them there or how long they stay, the majority of attorneys at large firms leave. While some do so because they are not made partner or are asked to start looking, most come to recognize on their own that they do not want a long-term future there."
To read the full text of the article, click here.

Source: Law.Com's Daily Legal Newswire November 14, 2007

Free online archive of federal case law

Legal researchers without access to LexisNexis and Westlaw subscriptions will soon be able to access federal case law online according to an announcement today by Public.Resource.Org and Fastcase, Inc. They plan to release a large and free archive of federal case law, including all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754. The archive will be public domain and usable by anyone for any purpose.

“The U.S. judiciary has allowed their entire work product to be locked up behind a cash register,” said Carl Malamud, CEO of Public.Resource.Org. “Law is the operating system of our society and today's agreement means anybody can read the source for a substantial amount of case law that was previously unavailable.”

Fastcase, the leading developer of next-generation American legal research, has agreed to provide Public.Resource.Org with 1.8 million pages of federal case law. This is a marked departure for the online legal research industry, which traditionally has charged expensive subscription fees to access this information.

See announcement here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Will Arbitration Deny Litigants their day in Court?

In today’s Financial Times, Patti Waldmeir in her article The Renationalisation of American Justice praises the development of arbitration as a good thing. “Over the past 20 years, America has created a superior system of second-hand justice: arbitration, mediation, and other increasingly creative forms of privatised justice have replaced the elusive American trial,” she writes. “But in a world where only 2 per cent of lawsuits ever get to trial, second-hand justice from an arbitrator is better than none at all.”

She also raises some concerns in Congress and elsewhere that arbitration has some negative aspects. In Congress, she writes, “the complaint is that Americans are being denied their day in court when they sign contracts that force them to arbitrate disputes with companies that provide everything from their mobile phones to their jobs.”

A recent post in the WSJ Law Blog called The Supremes Arbitrate Arbitration reported that the Supreme Court is considering in Hall Street v. Mattel whether the Federal Arbitration Act prevents a federal court from enforcing a party’s clearly expressed agreement to appeal an arbitration award rather than the limited grounds of appeal provided for in the FAA. The FT article says that the case raises a host of important questions. “What role should the government have in supervising the private resolution of disputes? Should rivals who agree to arbitrate a dispute privately also have the right to call in a judge at the last minute, to pronounce on whether the deal is fair? Or would that defeat the whole purpose of privatising justice?”

Will arbitration replace the court house? Is it as good as or better than the courts? Is it biased in favor of corporate America?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two New Sites 'Uncover' Gov Docs

Two new Web sites have similar missions: making secret and hard-to-find government documents, revealed through FOIA requests and other means, available to the public in order to promote government transparency.

The first and more sophisticated, GovernmentDocs.org, is being officially launched tomorrow. It will provide a database of FOIA responses and other government documents contributed by a number of public interest organizations. The site's goal is to become a central repository of government documents. A key feature of the site is that every document, while provided in PDF, is also run through an OCR process so that its text is fully searchable. Every page of every document is given a unique URL, so users can link directly to a key page from their blogs or Web sites. Registered users can add comments to documents and highlight important parts. The primary backer of the site is Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), with support from the Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation.

The second site, GovernmentAttic.org, describes itself as "rummaging in the government attic." Like the other site, its purpose is to provide access to government documents unavailable elsewhere, most obtained through FOIA requests. Documents are listed by name under general headings. There appears to be no search mechanism.

Source: Robert Ambrogi's LawSites posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Regional Rounds of the 58th Annual National Moot Court Competition

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York in conjunction with the American College of Trial Lawyers will host the 58th Annual Moot Court Competition this Wednesday, November 14 and Thursday, November 15. The competition presents two issues not previously addressed by the US Supreme Court: First, does the Second Amendment protect an individual’s right to "keep and bear" arms for private use? And, second, does the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempt a State from exercising its own public health and police powers to regulate the delivery of handgun ammunition?

The issues facing the Moot Court teams are not mere academic exercises. In Today's New York Times, Linda Greenhouse's article called "Case Touches a 2nd Amendment Nerve" says "Both sides in a closely watched legal battle over the District of Columbia's strict gun-control law are urging the Supreme Court to hear the case. If the justices agree -- a step they may announce as early as Tuesday -- the Roberts court is likely to find itself back on the front lines of the culture wars with an intensity unmatched even by the cases on abortion and race that defined the court's last term."

According to a post entitled "Court Takes No Action on Gun Case" in the SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston reports that "The next date for possible action on these cases is likely to come after the Court’s pre-Thanksgiving Conference — either on the day of the Conference, Nov. 20, or the following Monday, Nov. 26.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Legal Research Questions on Future Bar Exams

The Daily Texan Online, the newspaper for the University of Texas at Austin reported on the three-day Teaching the Teachers Conference which I recently attended. A key new development of interest to law schools that was discussed at the conference was summed up as follows: "Law professors from across the U.S. and Canada joined for a conference at the UT School of Law to discuss how law students research and how they can improve these methods." Click here for the full article.

Source: Daily Texan Online, October 22, 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

On October 23, the House passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR 1955) by vote of 404 - 6. The bill now moves to the Senate.

According to an October 24 PR Newswire Report, the bill creates a National Commission to examine the causes of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism and propose recommendations and legislative strategies for mitigating these threats. It also establishes a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Radicalization and Home Grown Terrorism that will study the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of the problem to provide further suggestions for action to address these dangers.

Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) issued the following statement regarding the legislation:
"This vital legislation puts our nation on the path to addressing an emerging threat -- homegrown terrorism. We simply don't know how many would-be terrorists' are living right next door. Now we will have the ability to analyze our and other nations' experience with this critical issue, propose and adopt recommendations for a safer America, and also protect civil rights and liberties of U.S. Citizens."

Chair Jane Harman (D-CA) added the following:
"The threat of a 'Made in the USA' suicide bomber has never been greater," said Harman. "This bill, though not a silver bullet, will help develop a better understanding of the root causes of homegrown terrorism, and the steps we can take to stop it. We must intervene before a person crosses the line separating radical views from violent behavior, create an environment that discourages disillusionment and alienation, and instill in young people a sense of belonging and faith in the future."

Sec. 889A of the bill defines "violent radicalization" as "adopting or promoting an extremist belief system (to facilitate) ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change". “Homegrown terrorism” means "the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily with the (US) or any (US) possession to intimidate or coerce the (US) government, the civilian population....or any segment thereof (to further) political or social objectives."

Among the legislative findings in Sec. 899B of the bill is that “The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the US by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to US citizens”. Sec. 899F of the legislation states “The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of US citizens or lawful permanent residents.” There are concerns that the legislation is an attempt at preventing domestic terrorism by judging the thoughts of American citizens, including those expressed on the Internet. See post entitled House Passes Thought Crimes Bill and No One Notices? at http://www.talkleft.com/.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Legal Implications of Throwing Eggs


Today's Wall Street Journal Law Blog posted a look at the legal consequences of some traditional Halloween pranks, including smashing pumpkins, stealing candy and "toilet papering". Enjoy!

Happy Halloween Law Blog readers! We might shut down a little early today to go celebrate with the kiddies, but before we do we want to make sure you’re all aware of the legal implications of trick or treating.

Let’s revisit an email we received last year from San Diego lawyer/radio host Jeff Isaac, who calls himself the “Lawyer in Blue Jeans.” “While some Halloween pranks are entirely predictable and sometimes regarded as a child’s ‘right of passage,’ most do break a law of some kind,” says Isaac, who ticked off the legal consequences of Halloween mischief. Here are a few examples:

  • Theft: Stealing candy from another person, or a location, is classified as “robbery.” Use a real or fake weapon in the commission of this robbery, and the stakes get even greater with possible felony-level re-classification as a “violent” crime for which penalties get gravely serious. So, trick-or-treaters should wield that pirate’s sword judiciously.
  • Vandalism: Throwing eggs or any other item at cars, homes or other personal property, smashing mailboxes, putting shaving cream on cars or garage doors can all cause permanent damage, and are considered more than just a prank by police. Retribution can include community service or repaying monetary damages that can add up to thousands of dollars.

  • Criminal Mischief: “Toilet papering” trees or other personal property, smashing pumpkins and other seemingly innocuous pranks are also unlawful, and can result in fines to cover property damages and other forms of civil law punishment.
Source: Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Posted by Peter Lattman October 31, 2007

Finding Old Web Pages

Greg R. Notess updated his guide, Finding Old Web Pages: "The Web changes constantly, and sometimes that page that had just the information you needed yesterday (or last month or two years ago) is not available today. At other times you may want to see how a page's content or design has changed. There are several sources for finding Web pages as they used to exist. While Google's cache is probably the best known, the others are important alternatives that may have pages not available at Google or the Wayback Machine plus they may have an archived page from a different date. The table below notes the name of the service, the way to find the archived page, and some notes that should give some idea as to how old a page the archive may contain."

Source: beSpacific

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

History of Federal Judgeships

The History of Federal Judgeships focuses on appellate and district court judgeships, but also includes historical information on authorized judgeships for all courts and judgeship appointments by president since 1933. With the exception of judgeship appointments by president, information on this site changes infrequently. When changes do occur, the appropriate sections are updated.

Courts of Appeals
Authorized Judgeships (pdf)
Chronological History

District Courts
Authorized Judgeships (pdf)
Chronological History

Judgeships and Appointments
Authorized Judgeships (pdf)
Judgeship Appointments by President (pdf)

Source: U.S. Courts
http://www.uscourts.gov/history/contents.html

See also Gibson, James L. and Caldeira, Gregory A., "Knowing About Courts" (June 20, 2007).

In the abstract for this article, the author states: "Conventional wisdom holds that the American people are woefully ignorant about law and courts. In light of this ignorance, many question whether the public should play a role in the judicial process, as in whether legal actors should be accountable to the majority....The purpose of this paper is to revisit the question of how knowledgeable the American people are about the United States Supreme Court....[P]aying attention to courts not only provides citizens information, but it also exposes them to the powerful symbols of judicial legitimacy."

BOO! -- Scary Books in the BLS Library

Halloween means it’s time for a list of frightful Halloween books found in the generally not-so-scary stacks of the Brooklyn Law School Library. From mortuary law to witch-children, we cover the frighteningly fraught field where fear meets the law.

Anatomy of a murder /Robert Traver
Main -- PZ3.V857 An

Disputing the dead : U.S. law on aboriginal remains and grave goods / H. Marcus Price III
Main -- KF8210.A57 P75 1991

Helter skelter : the true story of the Manson murders / Vincent Bugliosi, with Curt Gentry.
Main -- HV6533.C2 B83



Highroad to the stake : a tale of witchcraft / Michael Kunze ; translated by William E. Yuill
Main -- BF1583 .K86 1987

Judging evil : rethinking the law of murder and manslaughter / Samuel H. Pillsbury
Main -- K5172 .P55 1998

Malevolent nurture : witch-hunting and maternal power in early modern England / Deborah Willis
Main -- BF1581 .W55 1995

Men of blood : violence, manliness and criminal justice in Victorian England / Martin J. Wiener
Main -- HV6535.G4 E55 2004

Mortuary law / Thomas F.H. Stueve
Main -- KF2042.U5 S734 1963


Salem story : reading the witch trials of 1692 / Bernard Rosenthal
Main -- BF1576 .R67 1993




The Salem witchcraft trials : a legal history / Peter Charles Hoffer
Main -- KFM2478.8.W5 H645 1997

Satan's silence : ritual abuse and the making of a modern American witch hunt / Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedeker
Main -- HV6626.52 .N37 1995

Witch-children : from Salem witch-hunts to modern courtrooms / Hans Sebald
Main -- BF1576 .S43 1995




Witchcraft and witch trials : a history of English witchcraft and its legal perspectives, 1542 to 1736 / Gregory Durston
Main -- KD371.W56 D87 2000

Come to the 2007 BLSPI Annual Talent Show in the cafeteria on Thursday, November 1. Doors open at 7pm. Dress up as your favorite undead person or make up your own undead character.

A Fresh Look at Legal Education

A network of 10 law schools has launched an ambitious project aimed at improving how law schools operate, ranging from changes in curricula to providing more practical, real-world training for law students.

Several reports and discussions this year have pointed out the challenges law schools face in educating and preparing students to become lawyers, including a report issued earlier this year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The California-based organization and Stanford Law School have taken the lead by forming a network of 10 law schools to tackle these issues. "We're hoping to create a significant catalyst for rethinking the idea of legal education for this millennium," said Lawrence Marshall, associate dean for public service and clinical education at Stanford Law School, who is spearheading the project.

Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of University of Dayton School of Law in Dayton, Ohio, which is among the participating schools, said, "I hope that this will give momentum to real change in law schools." Edward Rubin, dean of Vanderbilt University Law School, which will take part in the project, said one of the things he'd like to discuss is how programs can do a better job of advancing students from year to year so that the third year looks different from the previous two and the engagement of third-year students improves. Michelle Anderson, dean of City University of New York School of Law, said one of the areas that needs improvement is how law schools handle the relationship between theory and practice. "I'm most concerned with the assumption of the professional role of an attorney and the way that much of legal education does not talk about and teach the skills of what it means to be wielding the power of being a lawyer," she said. Details of the project have not been worked out. The agenda will not be set until the first meeting is held in Stanford, Calif., in December, Marshall said.

Other schools participating in the project are: Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard Law School, University of New Mexico School of Law, New York University School of Law and Southwestern University School of Law.

Source: The National Law Journal, Vesna Jaksic, staff reporter, October 29, 2007
http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1193389422325

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching website at http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/programs/index.asp?key=1819 has a detailed description of the Foundation's two-year study of legal education along with a link to Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law published in March 2007.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Future Hot Topics in the Law

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS ON TECHNOLOGY-RELATED CASES

According to the Deseret Morning News, Chief Justice Roberts recently responded to a question at Brigham Young University about areas of law likely to be important in the future by suggesting "that technology-related cases could be the most important area of law considered by the Supreme Court over the next quarter of a century."

Emerging technologies can create new questions about old laws. For example, imaging technology exists that allows law enforcement officers to see through walls. "Is that an unlimited search and seizure?" Roberts asked. "People tend to be focused on what are the hot issues right now," he added. "Those are not the issues I think 25 years from now will be the ones people will look back on and say were significant."

Justice Roberts' speech is available online at byubroadcasting.org.

Justice Alito made a somewhat similar comment last year after judging a moot court that touched on how the Fourth Amendment applies to computer networks: What constitutes a "search and seizure" online is a critical law debate and is constantly reshaping the Fourth Amendment, he said. "Now we're entering this new virtual world," Alito said, "and we have to translate the precedents and principles we have dealing with physical grounds to the world of electronic communication."

Source: The Volokh Conspiracy, Monday, October 29, 2007
http://volokh.com/

Building a Better Legal Profession

IN STUDENTS' EYES, LOOK-ALIKE LAWYERS DON'T MAKE THE GRADE

A bunch of law students at Stanford have started assigning letter grades to their prospective employers, which pretty much tells you who holds the power in the market for new associates. It’s not easy to persuade new lawyers from the top schools to accept starting salaries of only $160,000.

The students are handing out “diversity report cards” to the big law firms, ranking them by how many female, minority and gay lawyers they have. “Many of the firms have atrocious, appalling records on diversity,” said Michele Landis Dauber, a law professor at Stanford and the adviser for the project, called Building a Better Legal Profession. The rankings are at http://www.betterlegalprofession.org/.

In New York, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton got the top grade, an A-minus. At Cleary, the project says, 48.8 percent of the associates are women, 8.7 percent are black, 8.3 percent are Hispanic and 4.5 percent are openly gay. Herrick, Feinstein, by contrast, got an F. Its numbers: 37.7 percent women, 4.9 percent black, 1.6 percent Hispanics, and no openly gay people. In Washington, no firm got an A. But seven scored in the D range, including Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Kelley Drye Collier Shannon; Baker Botts; and Mayer Brown.

The numbers were provided to a central clearinghouse by the firms themselves. “Our process is simple,” the student group said in explaining its methodology. “Cut, paste and rank.” Firms in the top fifth received A’s, in the second fifth B’s, and so on. Overall grades were arrived at by averaging grades for partners and associates in five categories: women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and gay people.

The firms with low rankings did not dispute the basic numbers, with one exception. Herrick Feinstein said it reported that it had no openly gay lawyers “because, at the time of the filing, we did not ask for that information.” There are, the firm said in a statement, openly gay lawyers working there, “including one on the diversity committee.”

The students have ambitious plans, including asking elite schools to restrict recruiting by firms at the bottom of their rankings. They also plan to send the rankings to the general counsels of the Fortune 500 companies with the suggestion that they be used in selecting lawyers. “Firms that want the best students will be forced to respond to the market pressures that we’re creating,” said Andrew Bruck, a law student at Stanford and a leader of the project.

Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a research group that supports colorblind policies, said the whole thing was pernicious. “Diversity is all too frequently a code word,” he said, “for preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex, or lower standards, or being opposed to assimilation.” Vikram Amar, a professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, added that law firms might well be violating employment discrimination laws in the process of trying to improve their rankings. “As bad as their numbers are,” Professor Amar said of the firms, “the relevant applicant pool of law students with top grades is more white and Asian still.”

Whatever their consequences, the numbers the students have collected offer a fascinating snapshot of the profession. In New York, a third of the big firms had no black partners, and an overlapping third no Hispanic ones. Half the firms in Boston had no black partners, and three-quarters no Hispanic ones. “This is 2007,” Professor Dauber said. “If you can’t find a single black or Hispanic partner, that’s not an accident.”

The students also found relatively few female partners in New York, ranging from 7 percent at Fulbright & Jaworski to 23 percent at Morrison & Foerster. Those numbers are “a bit of a canary in the coal mine,” said Deborah L. Rhode, another Stanford law professor. “The absence of women as partners often says something about how firms deal with work-family issues.”

I asked the firms with particularly poor rankings for comments, and most of them responded, generally with quite similar statements. The issues are serious and difficult ones, they said, but they are working hard to make progress. Some questioned the grading system. Paul C. Rosenthal, a partner at Kelley Drye, called it “totally ridiculous,” for instance, because the firm’s Washington office received an A for the number of black associates and yet a D overall.

Others pointed to offices at their firms with better numbers, to particular partners of color, to expanded recruiting efforts and to “affinity groups” and “diversity coordinators” and a “diversity protocol.” None questioned the essential premise of the report, which is that numbers matter. The report cards seem to be having an impact. Mr. Bruck said a second-year student at Stanford had recently turned down an offer from one firm “as soon as he saw that it got an F on our diversity report card.” Professor Dauber said the student, who is white and male, “is the poster boy for our effort.” But the student did not get into Stanford by being stupid enough to pick a fight with a prominent law firm at the start of his career. He would not discuss the matter.

By ADAM LIPTAK
Published in the New York Times: October 29, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/us/29bar.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Legal Research - The Movie

Legal Research - The Movie

The Stanford Law Library reference librarians, who teach Advanced Legal Research, posted this video on YouTube.
Website: http://www.law.stanford.edu/library

Other law schools have posted videos relating to legal research that may be useful. See them at:

www.law.harvard.edu/library/services/research/video/index.php

http://www.bc.edu/schools/law/library/research/researchguides/shepards.html

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Episode 009 - Interview with a Law Professor Elizabeth Schneider

Episode 009 - Interview with a Law Professor Elizabeth Schneider.mp3

Professor Elizabeth M. Schneider, a national expert on gender and the law, joined the BLS faculty in 1983, after serving as a staff attorney with the Rutgers Law School-Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic, and as a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. Professor Schneider chairs the Law School's Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship Program and is a prolific author of many publications. In this episode, Professor Schneider discusses her recent article The Dangers of Summary Judgment: Gender and Federal Civil Litigation which she presented at the BLS Faculty Workshop.

Theme Music: The Kings of Nuthin, Judge or Jury. (The Kings of Nuthin’s music is available through PodShow.com.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Episode 008 - Interview with CLARO/SAG student coordinators

Episode 006 - Interview with CLARO/SAG student coordinators.mp3

CLARO/SAG (the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office Student Action Group) provides BLS students with pro bono opportunities in a weekly clinic at the Kings County Civil Court where unrepresented litigants who are being sued for consumer debt can get free legal advice. Last year, volunteer attorneys and students assisted over 500 unrepresented litigants. CLARO/SAG offers the opportunity to learn about consumer debt issues and New York civil practice while helping unrepresented litigants and interacting with practicing attorneys and fellow BLS students.

In this interview, the student coordinators of CLARO/SAG talk about their work. They also discuss the video In Debt We Trust which they recently presented at a session in the Student Lounge. For more, see http://www.indebtwetrust.org/ and the trailer for the video below.


video

Email: CLARO@brooklaw.edu, John.Buhta@brooklaw.edu, Natalie.Peled@brooklaw.edu

Theme Music: The Undercover Hippy, Money, Money, Money. (The Undercover Hippy’s music is available through PodShow.com.)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Critical Reading Skills Key to Success in Law School

Legal Reading and Success in Law School is the title of an article written by Leah Christensen from The University of St. Thomas Law School, in Minnesota. Ms. Christensen presents the results of a study examining how first year law students in the top and bottom 50% of their class read a judicial opinion and whether their use of particular reading strategies impacts their law school grades. The results were significant: even when students had gone through the same first-semester classes, the more successful law students read a judicial opinion differently than those students who were less successful.

It is well worth the time to read this article which you can download from the SSRN site.
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=924650
Follow the prompts to download the document.

New HeinOnline Blog

For more than 80 years, Hein Online has been a leading preservation publisher producing long out-of-print legal research materials in reprint and has become the world's largest distributor of legal periodicals. With increased use of the Internet, Hein Online provids access to image perfect older editions of American legal periodicals. As Hein adds newer content to its database, you can read the latest news about HeinOnline at HeinOnline’s new blog. Hein says: "This blog will offer insight to our newest products, notify customers of our latest interface enhancements, and share tips to help improve customers research experience....Additionally, we will be offering Blog giveaways to our faithful readers. Don't miss your chance to win prizes including: ipods, iphones, and much more!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Web Resources for Pension Rights Class

CIS: Congressional Universe

WestLaw

Hein Online

PCAOB

SEC

Code of Federal Regulations

eCFR

LexisNexis

Legal Trac

BNA Products

CCH Health and Human Resources

CCH Internet Tax Research Network

RIA Checkpoint

Bloomberg

Episode 007 - Interview with a Law Professor David Reiss

Episode 007 - Interview with a Law Professor David Reiss.mp3

David Reiss is an Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School and concentrates his study and practice in real estate issues. Professor Reiss is active with the Law School Community Development Clinic program and the Commercial Development Seminar. He was most recently a Visiting Clinical Associate Professor at the Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice. Before that, he was an associate in the New York office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in its Real Estate Department and an associate at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco in its Land Use and Environmental Law Group. He was also a law clerk to Judge Timothy Lewis of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

In this podcast, Prof. Reiss talks about the subprime mortgage crisis taking place nationwide and legal efforts to address predatory lending abuses. Besides other areas of legal scholarship, Prof. Reiss has written on real estate issues including:

Subprime Standardization: How Rating Agencies Allow Predatory Lending to Flourish in the Secondary Mortgage Market, 33 Florida State L. Rev. (2006)
Predatory Lending: Let the States Legislate, 179 N.J.L.J. 1051 (March 14, 2005)
Modeling a Response to Predatory Lending: The New Jersey Home Ownership Security Act of 2002, (with B. Azmy) 35 Rutgers L.J. 645 (2004)
Unusual Impetus for a Consumer Law: Amendments to Antipredatory Lending Statute Underscore Investors’ Clout, 177 N.J.L.J. 683 (Aug. 23, 2004)
Hold the Line Against Diluting Anti-Predatory Lending Law, (with B. Azmy) 175 N.J.L.J. 267 (Jan. 26, 2004 )
Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program in New York City, 5 J. Affordable Housing & Devel. L. 325 (1996)
Housing Abandonment and New York City’s Response, 22 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 783 (1996)

Theme Music: Johnny Rawls and the Rays, Show Me the Way. (Johnny Rawls and the Rays' music is available through PodShow.com.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Case of the Jena 6

Episode 006 - Interview with a Law School Student Activist.mp3

On Thursday, September 27, 2007 from 1pm to 2 pm in the Student Lounge, several student organizations are co-sponsoring an event to raise awareness of the case of the Jena 6. This week, activists converged on Jena to protest the unjust prosecutions of 6 Black high schools students, accused of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder after a school-yard fight.

Josie Beets, Brooklyn Law 3L who is working with the National office of the Student Hurricane Network, will speak about the Jena 6 and how BLS students can assist the defense team. Lunch will be provided by the grandest coalition of students groups ever assembled at BLS, as this event will be presented by the NLG, SHN, BLSA, BLSPI, LAW, ACLU, CLS and ILS! Come learn how you can support the Jena 6.

Theme Music: Tim Young Band, New Orleans. (Tim Young Band’s music is available through PodShow.com.)

Please see an article from this week's Washington Post at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/20/AR2007092000259.html?hpid=artslot.

History, Healing, and the 'Jena 6' Case

Sherrilyn Ifill, a law professor of the University of Maryland, in Baltimore, writes at BlackProf that she has been feeling grim this month since a noose was left hanging near the office of the Black Faculty and Staff Association at Maryland’s College Park campus. Ifill has also been concerned about the “Jena 6” case, in which six African-American teenagers have been severely prosecuted after a spiraling series of violent conflicts at a Louisiana high school. Critics have accused the local authorities of being much more lenient toward the white teenagers involved in the incidents. (The Jena case, which was the subject of large protests across the country yesterday, appears not to have been on the radar screens of most legal bloggers.) But Ifill writes that she has been comforted by attending this week’s “Maafa commemoration” at Brooklyn’s St. Paul Community Baptist Church. The annual event, which centers on the crimes of the Atlantic slave trade, is “a real community treasure — an incredible creative expression of ownership of our history and of our healing,” Ifill writes. (A similar event is being held this week at Georgia State University.)

Earlier this year, Ifill published a book about the history of lynching in the United States, and the prospects for healing its wounds by using tribunals modeled after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And yesterday she published a related essay in Baltimore’s Sun. In 2002, The Chronicle explored scholars’ attempts to make sense of lynching and other forms of ritualized racist violence.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education
Footnoted: from academic blogs (September 21, 2007)
http://chronicle.com/blogs/footnoted/index.php?id=635

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Episode 005 - Interview with a Law Firm Librarian

Episode 005 - Interview with a Law Firm Librarian.mp3

Jim Murphy was a Reference Librarian and Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at BLS for 12 years. In addition to supervising the library’s circulation operation at BLS, Jim taught Advanced Legal Research and was library liaison to the Moot Court Honor Society. Prior to that, he worked as a civil litigator in the metropolitan area specializing in dental and medical malpractice law, insurance defense, labor law and products liability. Jim is now a law firm librarian in the New York offices of Dewey Ballantine LLC, a major international law firm. In this podcast, Jim talks about training new attorneys to make the best use of legal research sources in a private law firm.

Theme Music: Caren Kennedy, Tomorrow Brings. (Caren Kennedy's music is available through PodShow.com.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rich Lawyers, Not-So-Rich Lawyers

If you complete law school in this day and age, your first job is likely to pay around $45,000 — or around $140,000. That’s the lesson of a remarkable chart that was flagged last week at the blog Empirical Legal Studies by William Henderson, of Indiana University’s law school.
The chart, which shows the annual salaries of more than 22,000 people who earned law degrees in 2006, was originally published this summer by NALP, formerly known as the National Association for Law Placement.
The salary distribution is a two-humped camel. A large cluster of people — many of them presumably prosecutors, public defenders, and other public-interest lawyers — earn salaries of $40,000 to $50,000. But in a second cluster, the salaries reach $135,000 to $145,000 — the first-year associates working 80-hour weeks at corporate-oriented firms.
Henderson suggests that the salaries in the lower cluster have stagnated during the past 20 years, while the salaries at law firms have been moving toward the stratosphere. It’s tough to pay off law-school debts on the lower salaries, he notes. He wonders if some less-prestigious law schools ought to go out of business: “Because different law schools supply graduates into different modes (roughly tracking U.S. News rank), it is indisputable that lower-ranked schools cannot continue to heap ever higher debt onto their students.” (In a follow-up post, Henderson links to a paper in which Richard Allan Matasar, dean of New York Law School, argues that many law schools’ days are indeed numbered.)
Gregory Bowman, of Mississippi College School of Law, agrees that law schools’ incentives are out of whack with both students’ needs and the public good. But reform will be difficult, he writes, “in a market in which so many of the actors are well-entrenched (read: tenured).”
At CALI’s Pre-Law Blog, Austin Groothius, a student at Chicago-Kent Law School, argues that students should weigh costs carefully when they choose a law school: “It’s extremely likely that you’re going to end up in that first hump if you don’t go to one of the law schools with brand-name recognition.”
Back in January, The Chronicle took note of a report on the financial barriers that discourage law-school graduates from taking public-interest jobs. And in 1996, Robert L. Potts argued in our pages for a “national moratorium on the creation of new law schools.”

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education
Footnoted: from academic blogs (September 12, 2007)
http://chronicle.com/blogs/footnoted/index.php?id=571

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Episode 004: Chinese Legal Instruction

Episode 004: Interview with a Chinese Instructor of Law.mp3

Theone Luong graduated Brooklyn Law School in 2004. Since then, she has taught as a Lecturer at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. In this interview, Theone tells how she successfully used legal instruction methods that she learned in the United States with law students in China. Theone also talks about her role in collecting and shipping English-language law books to her University Law School Library in Beijing.

Theme Music: Chinatown, ONESIDE. (ONESIDE's music is available through PodShow.com.)
Blog: http://blslibraryblog.blogspot.com/
Email: harold.ogrady@gmail.com; Comment line: (718) 780-7981

Friday, September 7, 2007

Episode 003 Dorf on Law Blog

Introduction to Altlaw mp3
Altlaw (originally published in Dorf on Law at http://michaeldorf.org/ posted by Michael C. Dorf Thursday, August 23, 2007)
My colleague Tim Wu and University of Colorado Prof Paul Ohm have launched a beta version of Altlaw, a free searchable database of recent (last 5-15 years) decisions by the US Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals. The site fills an important gap: No other free site permits you to do full-text searches of multiple circuit courts simultaneously. That's a huge improvement over other portals out there (including my masters at FindLaw.) As Tim acknowledges in this post, Altlaw still has limited coverage, but it's a start. When it's out of beta, Altlaw will be better still. I have two gripes I'll air, one directed at the site, the other at my government.First, as to the site, I wish that Tim and Paul had chosen a different name. As they are no doubt aware, on the net, the prefix "alt" often connotes something kinky, if not downright illegal. True, "alt" also connotes a commitment to open-source-anti-establishmentarianism, but the target audience for Altlaw is Jane and Joe Public, not your typical hipster tech geek.Second, my main gripe: Why on Earth isn't something like this---but with coverage going back to the landing of the Mayflower---being provided by the government? The Library of Congress provides us with Thomas, a brilliant resource for legislative materials, but for the judicial branch, we're stuck with incomplete and spotty decentralized websites on a circuit-by-circuit basis. Even the Supreme Court's website only goes back to 1991.Altlaw is useful and will become more so, but there is no excuse for the government's failure to provide these materials in a user-friendly format---or at least to contract out to some firm (West, Lexis, Ohm & Wu, whatever) to do so. Obviously, West and Lexis have a vested interest in preventing good free access, but that hardly counts as an argument. To the extent that prior government contracts prevent the government from making all judicial materials available freely searchable and downloadable, those contracts should be bought out.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Episode 002: Interview with Prof. Carrie Teitcher

Episode 002: Interview with Prof. Carrie Teitcher.mp3

Carrie W. Teitcher joined the Brooklyn Law School faculty in 1984 after practicing as an associate with the firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. She has been an early advocate of using technology in the classroom and has employed it in her own legal writing classes to facilitate learning. She has written and lectured on the importance of using computer technology in both doctrinal and skills courses. Her most recent article "Rebooting the Approach to Teaching Research: Embracing the Computer Age" was recently published in volume 99, number 3 of the Law Library Journal (Summer 2007).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Episode 001: Interview with Prof. Aliza Kaplan

Episode 001: Interview with Prof. Aliza Kaplan.mp3

Aliza Kaplan is a successful New York lawyer and Instructor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. In addition to her work on the Innocence Project, Professor Kaplan recently co-produced My Country, My Country, the 2006 documentary film by Laura Poitras which was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary Feature. This week Aliza and I talked about what First Year Law Students can expect during their Legal Writing course in the upcoming fall 2007 semester.

Theme Music: Acoustic Rosh, Travel Ditty Guitar . (Acoustic Rosh’s music is available through PodShow.com.) Blog: http://blslibraryblog.blogspot.com/ Email: harold.ogrady@gmail.com Comment line: (718) 780-7981