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.
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


Hein Online



Code of Federal Regulations



Legal Trac

BNA Products

CCH Health and Human Resources

CCH Internet Tax Research Network

RIA Checkpoint


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

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

Please see an article from this week's Washington Post at

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)

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

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)

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
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Friday, September 7, 2007

Episode 003 Dorf on Law Blog

Introduction to Altlaw mp3
Altlaw (originally published in Dorf on Law at 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.