Thursday, January 31, 2013

Symposium on Financial Firms Compliance

Brooklyn Law School’s Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation and the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial and Commercial Law are sponsoring a symposium on Friday, February 8 on The Growth and Importance of Compliance in Financial Firms: Meaning and Implications.  Attendees must RSVP by Wedesday, February 6. The agenda, available here, includes Opening Remarks by BLS Professor James Fanto who will also be a Panelist along with BLS Professors James Park, Roberta Karmel and Miriam Baer serving as Moderators. They will participate with other academics, practitioners and regulators in securities law. The description of the symposium, which will take place 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Subotnick Center, Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY, reads:

Over the past decade, the compliance function in financial firms, in particular broker-dealers and investment advisers, has grown in size and importance. While this phenomenon is an integral part of life for compliance officers and legal practitioners who advise these firms, compliance has received relatively little attention from legal scholars. This symposium will provide the opportunity for financial and securities law scholars to evaluate and criticize, from their respective theoretical perspectives, the growing importance of compliance in financial firms, as well as comment upon particular compliance duties and issues. The conference includes noted legal practitioners, compliance specialists and regulators, who can assist the scholars in their reflection and offer their own perspectives and insights on the compliance phenomenon.

The BLS Library recently added to its collection For Whom the Whistle Blows: Advancing Corporate Compliance and Integrity Efforts in the Era of Dodd-Frank (Call # KF1422.A75 F67 2011) by Michael D. Greenberg. The 62 page item is a conference report on a May 2011 RAND a symposium on he implications of the proposed rules, the role of internal compliance and reporting processes, and steps to strengthen these processes in the era of Dodd-Frank.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Second Amendment and Gun Violence

The national debate about gun control comes to the US Senate in today’s scheduled hearing What Should America Do About Gun Violence. Gun control advocates argue that Second Amendment is a collective or societal right while gun rights advocates argue that the right to bear arms is an individual right. The Brooklyn Law School Library has in it collection Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment (Call # KF3941 .W4425 2012) by former New York Times correspondent and editor Craig Whitney.

This carefully written 285 page book offers a history of firearms in American society and proposes a way for the country to make peace with the Second Amendment and the presence of hundreds of millions of guns. It argues that gun ownership is a basic individual right, not dependent on militia service, coming with a social responsibility for how weapons are bought, sold, and handled. The author looks at the origins of the text of the Second Amendment and discusses the US Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the landmark case holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes. He questions how the Court came to the conclusion that "the right to bear arms" is an individual right.

Whitney suggest tighter background checks, nationwide standards to teach responsible gun handling, better data bases to trace missing or stolen guns, harsher penalties for illegal gun use, and easier methods to trace bullets and handguns discharged in a criminal way. He offers interesting statistics showing that more Americans die on the road than in shootouts, with both tallies adding up to 70,000 deaths annually and that there is little correlation between murder rates and gun control. He also offers arguments from gun advocates that more guns might deter criminals from using them.

See also the Chronicle of Higher Education article All Guns Are Not Created Equal by Kevin M. Sweeney and Saul Cornell. The article returns to early America to shed light on the meaning of the Second Amendment. The comments section includes some interesting observations about the connection between the Second Amendment and the institution of slavery, particularly its role in allowing state militias to suppress slave insurrections protecting a slave system on which the economics of the South depended.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Securities Class Actions and Bankruptcy

Brooklyn law School Professor James Park has posted his latest scholarly article Securities Class Actions and Bankrupt Companies on SSRN. The article is scheduled for publication in the February 2013 edition of the Michigan Law Review. The abstract reads:

This is the first extensive empirical study of securities class actions involving bankrupt companies. It examines 1466 securities class actions filed from 1996 to 2004, of which 234 (16%) involved companies that were in bankruptcy proceedings while the securities class action was pending. The study tests the hypothesis that securities class actions involving bankrupt companies (“bankruptcy cases”) are more likely to have merit than securities class actions involving companies that are not in bankruptcy (“non-bankruptcy cases”). It finds that bankruptcy cases were more likely to involve restatements than non-bankruptcy cases, but not more likely to have other indicia of merit. Bankruptcy cases were more likely to be successful in terms of dismissal rates, significant settlements, and third party settlements than non-bankruptcy cases. This bankruptcy effect fades with respect to settlements of $20 million or more, likely reflecting the influence of D&O insurance policy limits. The bankruptcy effect is evidence that courts and parties assess the merits of securities class actions differently based on the context of the suit.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Restatement Symposium

On Friday, January 25, 2013, the American Law Institute (ALI), the Brooklyn Law Review, and Brooklyn Law School are co-sponsoring a Symposium entitled “Restatement Of…” to begin a discussion about how to continue the "venerable brand" of ALI's Restatements of the Law titles. The event will be held from 9:00 5:00 pm at Brooklyn Law School’s Subotnick Center, 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY and will be free of charge. Online Registration is required by Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at this linkRestatements of the Law have been clarifying, summarizing, describing, and improving the law and exerting influence on United States courts for nearly a century. Since 2001, the American Law Institute (ALI) has broadened its work and has rewritten many of its original Restatements, added new ones, and moved beyond restatements of the common law in its "Principles of the Law" series.

Continuing this modernization of a venerable brand, the "Restatement Of ..." symposium asks: What other areas of the law might be restated? Leading scholars from diverse fields will come together at this symposium to delve deeper into the restatement frontier in their respective areas of expertise. Discussion topics will include new projects that the ALI could undertake, concerns about restating specific areas of the law, restatements currently in progress, doctrines that will resist restatement, and old restatements that have disappeared.

The day will be divided into four discussion groups, each led by a professor who has served as a Reporter on an ALI project. Presenters will address a wide range of issues, including "Should There Be a Restatement of Statutory Interpretation?" and "Religion and the Restatements." It is expected that the 20 panelists will discuss gay rights, administrative law, safety, child sex abuse, federal tax law, and health-care law to name just a few topics. The full agenda, which includes welcoming remarks by BLS Dean Nick Allard, Introductory Remarks by the event's organizer BLS Professor Anita Bernstein, Discussants BLS Professors Aaron Twerski and Neil B. Cohen, and Panelist BLS Professor Lawrence Solan, can be viewed here. Professors from 17 law schools will discuss articles they are writing for Volume 79 of the Brooklyn Law Review which will be devoted to the Restatements. It is scheduled for publication in early 2014.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Diversity Open House

On Wednesday January 23rd, Brooklyn Law School students can join NYCs Diversity Committee at Legal Services NYC’s Annual Open House. The event offers students an opportunity to learn about the important work done at Legal Services NYC and to meet the attorneys in that office. The program consists of brief staff presentations about our vital work and innovative projects. Each Legal Services NYC program will have a table staffed by an attorney who is available to meet with law students. Leadership from the various offices will attend the event. A reception with light refreshments will follow the program and allow for students to meet and network with staff attorneys and senior leaders.

The program starts with a session from 4:30pm to 5:30pm on Networking and Tabling, followed by a session from 5:30pm to 6:15 pm with a welcome by Raun Rasmussen, Executive Director of Legal Services NYC. To attend, RSVP by January 17th to The event takes place at Brooklyn Law School's Forchelli Conference Center, 205 State Street, 22nd floor, Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crime, Surveillance, and Communities

Brooklyn Law School Professor of Law I. Bennett Capers has posted his latest article Crime, Surveillance, and Communities on SSRN. It is scheduled for publication in the Fordham Urban Law Journal later this year. The abstract reads:
Quite simply, we have become a surveillance state. Cameras — both those controlled by the state, and those installed by private entities — watch our every move, at least in public. For the most part, this public surveillance is unregulated, beyond the purview of the Fourth Amendment, and to many civil libertarians, should signal alarm. This Article challenges these assumptions, and suggests that in thinking about surveillance cameras and other technologies, we must listen to communities. For many communities, public surveillance not only has the benefit for deterring crime and aiding in the apprehension of criminals. In these communities, public surveillance can also function to monitor the police, reduce racial profiling, curb police brutality, and ultimately increase perceptions of legitimacy. The question thus becomes, not how we can use the Fourth Amendment to limit public surveillance, but rather how can we use the Fourth Amendment to harness public surveillance’s full potential.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bloomberg Law's Tax Practice Center

In a press release issued today, Bloomberg Law announced the launch of its Tax Practice Center which integrates in-depth analysis, commentary, practice tools, news, case law and other primary sources, to give attorneys a comprehensive understanding of the critical issues in tax law. The Tax Practice Center features unlimited access to primary law and trusted secondary sources, such as Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Tax Report and an extensive library of transaction and topic-specific Portfolios, which contain practical guidance written by leading practitioners and academics. Brooklyn Law School Library has offered Bloomberg Law to its users who will now have access to the Tax Practice Center as part of their subscription.

The press release states: “Key functional features of the Tax Practice Center include the ability to research related primary and secondary sources with ease to save practitioners research time. Secondary sources from BNA, including Portfolios and other analysis, are clearly linked to primary resources including Internal Revenue Code, Public Laws and Treasury Regulations. Moreover, practitioners can find important documents using citation and Portfolio numbers with easy 'Go To' search functionality. DealMaker Document Search offers model tax agreements and clauses, and practitioners have access to tax forms from the IRS.”

Bloomberg Law's Tax Practice Center is pictured below:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gideon 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago, on January 15, 1963, the US Supreme Court heard oral argument in Gideon v. Wainwright and unanimously ruled later that year on March 18 at 372 U.S. 335 that states had the obligation to provide counsel for defendants who are unable to afford an attorney, extending the Constitutional right to counsel in criminal cases to poor and low-income people. By highlighting the responsibility of the government to provide legal counsel to low-income Americans, Gideon was a landmark case in the equal justice movement in the United States, paving the way for the creation and expansion of the public defender system in the country. Audio files and transcripts of the case are available online at the Oyez Project

The landmark case is included in Illustrated Great Decisions of the Supreme Court by Tony Mauro (KF4549 .M334 2000) located in the Brooklyn Law School Library Main Collection. The BLS Library also has in its collection the print and video versions of Gideon’s Trumpet which tells the story behind the case which began in a Florida state court when the defendant Clarence Gideon was charged with a felony for breaking and entering. 

Marking the 50th Anniversary of the decision in March of this year, BLS Law Professor Susan Herman will be the keynote speaker at a two day seminar sponsored by the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The session, called Gideon v. Wainwright, March 18, 1963: A Day Worth Celebrating, will feature several other speakers including Assistant Federal Public Defender Paul Rashkind, Public Defender, Sixth Judicial Circuit Bob Dillinger, Stetson University College of Law Prof. Bruce Jacob, and others.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Asset Forfeiture

Included in the 49 titles in the Brooklyn Law School Library’s most recent New Books List is Asset Forfeiture Law in the United States (Call #KF9747 .C37 2013) by Stefan D. Cassella, one of the federal government's leading experts on asset forfeiture law. A former Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, the author has a J.D. from Georgetown University. The second edition of this book which has 1204 pages is divided into four Parts: Part I - Overview and History; Part II - Administrative and Civil Forfeiture; Part III - Criminal Forfeiture Procedure; and Part IV - What Is Forfeitable? The 28 Chapters provide an Overview and Development of Asset Forfeiture Law in the United States; Administrative Forfeiture under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 and Judicial Review of Administrative Forfeiture and other topics on the innocent owner defense.

The US federal government has used the tactic extensively in its forty year old “war on drugs.” The possibility for abuse is great. Many local government agencies increasingly rely on “civil forfeiture” to bolster their strained budgets. Use of asset forfeiture is part of a “policing for profit” trend. See the March 2010 Institute for Justice Report Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture. Based on a legal fiction that enables law enforcement to take legal action against inanimate objects for participation in alleged criminal activity, regardless of whether the property owner is guilty or innocent—or even whether the owner is charged with a crime, asset forfeiture has generated much criticism. Nonetheless, it has become one of the most effective legal tools in the prosecutor’s arsenal allowing the government to seize and gain title to property obtained through criminal activity or used to further a criminal conspiracy. Criminal asset forfeiture can be used against drug producers and traffickers to cripple their operations and claim their profits. It can also be wielded in civil proceedings. In states implementing medical cannabis programs, personal property gained from or used for the sale of cannabis is subject to seizure due to the supremacy of federal laws prohibiting narcotics sales.

Last November, members of the Brooklyn Law School Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, participated in an Interview with Brooklyn Law School Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Part 3. Addressing recent marijuana legalization efforts in Colorado, Adam Scavone, BLS Class of 2013, noted that “Colorado seems to have worked out a system that can survive an attempt of repression by the Federal government . . . . to insulate people who want to enter that market from the tools that the federal government has on hand to shut down that market – the banking laws, asset forfeiture, and the old-fashioned handcuffs and federal prison. There are about 5,000 DEA agents in the country and 750,000 state and local law enforcement officers. More than 95% of the arrests made for drugs are made by state and local police officers. “

Friday, January 11, 2013

Business Boot Camp

This month, Brooklyn Law School conducted a Business Boot Camp to teach law students valuable skills for succeeding in the business world. The course which Professor Michael Gerber teaches is the first of its kind and involved over 200 students. Developed and taught by top business professionals and the School’s corporate and business law faculty, the program provided students with the skills and basic business literacy they will need to serve their clients. The classic law school experience is designed to teach law students to think like lawyers. However, practicing lawyers often need to think like business persons. Issues that confront business professionals include how to develop a business plan, how to keep track of money, how to value assets, how to raise the capital necessary to run their companies, and how to meet their business goals while also complying with the law.

The goal of the BLS Business Boot Camp is to introduce students to these issues from the business person’s perspective, and provide students with the vocabulary and framework they will need to communicate effectively with clients and evaluate their needs. The Business Boot Camp is being taught by a team of business and finance professionals from Deloitte Financial Advisory Services in collaboration with BLS faculty and alumni. The syllabus is based in part on an intensive course that Deloitte developed for first-year law firm associates, and includes topics such as the development of business plans; types and sources of financing; capital budgeting; valuation; how to read a financial statement; and the purchase and sale of businesses. Students participating in the Boot Camp do not need a background in finance or business law, as the Boot Camp is designed to help provide that background.

“As every seasoned lawyer knows, there are times when lawyers need to reach beyond their legal training to effectively advise and represent their clients,” said Professor Michael Gerber, who chairs the faculty group that helped to develop the course. “The ability to think like a business person as well as a lawyer is extremely useful, and we designed this course to enable students — even those who have never studied business, finance or economics — to do just that.”

The BLS Library has a number of items in its collection to assist law students in gaining basic business literacy including The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms by financial expert David L. Scott who defines more than 6,000 terms from all aspects of business in clear, understandable language. It covers the entire spectrum of business terminology. In clear language it defines over 6,000 terms drawn from the areas of investing, finance, marketing, law, real estate, management, economics, accounting, insurance, and international business. The dictionary is an indispensable reference for business professionals and investors at all levels of expertise.