A post at Legal Theory Blog alerted me to Amy E. Sloan‘s new article, If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: A Pragmatic Approach to Nonprecedential Opinions in the Federal Appellate Courts, 86 Neb. L. Rev. 895 (2008), available on SSRN. Amy Sloan is an Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Legal Skills program at University of Baltimore School of Law. She is well known to legal writing professors, and to many law students, as the author of a popular legal research textbook, Basic Legal Research: Tools and Strategies.
Sloan makes an interesting argument, advocating that Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 be amended to assign non-precedential opinions a sort of “mixed” precedential value, specifically, that “non-precedential opinions [would be] binding unless overruled by a later panel’s precedential opinion.” She contends that giving non-precedential cases this “‘overrulable’ status” would ensure that the opinions’ precedential weight would “correspond to their position within the traditional hierarchy of federal decisional law.” Continue reading “Should Non-Precedential Opinions Be “Precedential But Overrulable” Opinions?”
I am enjoying reading the current issue of the Journal of Legal Education. In particular, the second article, From Snail Mail to E-mail: the Traditional Legal Memorandum in the Twenty-First Century, authored by Kristin K. Robbins-Tiscione, has gotten me thinking about the documents we use to teach students in the first-year writing courses. Continue reading “What Types of Documents Should Law Students Write in Legal Writing Classes?”
Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I’ll be the first to admit I do not “get” tattoos. If you really want to show off that rebellious streak (or solidarity with the underclass, or unrestrained individualism, or whatever), there are many other ways to do so that are much less painful and permanent. When I see young people with prominent tattoos, I can’t help but think about the professional job opportunities they have foreclosed by making a permanent record of their youthful passions. But, according to an article in today’s New York TImes, my concerns may be misplaced:
In a mysterious and inexorable process that seems to transform all that is low culture into something high, permanent ink markings began creeping toward the traditional no-go zones for all kinds of people, past collar and cuffs, those twin lines of clothed demarcation that even now some tattoo artists are reluctant to cross.
Not entirely surprisingly, facial piercing followed suit.
Suddenly it is not just retro punks and hard-core rappers who look as if they’ve tossed over any intention of ever working a straight job.
Artists with prominent Chelsea galleries and thriving careers, practicing physicians, funeral directors, fashion models and stylists are turning up with more holes in their faces than nature provided, and all manner of marks on their throats and hands.
Continue reading “What Happens When the Tattoo Generation Goes to Law School?”
At today’s faculty workshop, Robin Slocum, the Boden Visiting Professor Law, gave a fascinating presentation of her latest paper, entitled “The Dilemma of the Vengeful Client: A Prescriptive Framework for Cooling the Flames of Anger” (forthcoming in the Marquette Law Review). Noting that lawyers and the legal system can sometimes become weapons for vengeance in the hands of an angry client, Robin suggested that client counseling can help both the client and the lawyer achieve better outcomes in litigation and avoid the psychological and physiological costs of such vengeance-seeking activity. Effective client counseling, she argued, should focus on uncovering the thoughts and beliefs that underlie anger in order to identify the more rational aims of litigation. In addition, Robin suggested that law schools may consider adopting courses that build lawyers’ emotional competency to engage in this type of counseling.
Now that classes have started and the interview season is upon us, it’s always interesting to examine what law firms will do to be attractive to law students. As a creative method to demonstrate to law students that it truly is different, Halleland Lewis in Minneapolis developed an interactive website to demonstrate the questions and answers in a typical law firm interview. First, this website is hilarious, and bravo to Halleland for breaking the mold. Second, this is a great example of ostensibly understanding the difference between what people say and what they mean. Finally, if Halleland actually has the work environment that it describes, it sounds as if problem-solving, teamwork, and collaboration are all valued. I think I know some students who should be calling you shortly!
Cross posted at Indisputably.
I am linking here to an interesting article from the ABA Journal last week pointing out that a lawyer’s reputation is much like your savings account-add a little to it each year and it can make you rich over time. I like this framework of reputation for two reasons: One, it suggests that a good reputation is worth money in the bank. We know anecdotally and from laboratory studies that this is true. Second, the idea of savings in a bank account is a great analogy in terms of reminding lawyers that every little thing they do can help or hurt that reputation. It’s not just the end of year bonuses that add to your savings, it’s the monthly deposits as well. Similarly, it’s not just the grand gestures in large negotiations that make your reputation, it’s how you act on a daily basis with your counterparts Although the book referred to in the ABA Journal is for young lawyers, I think this provides good advice all around!
Cross posted on Indisputably.
The techie blogosphere is abuzz with the news that Michigan amended its private investigator licensing laws in May to add “computer forensics” to the list of activities that require a P.I. license in Michigan. This may not sound like big news, but it raises the possibility that MediaSentry, a company that gathers information on peer-to-peer filesharers for use in the RIAA’s lawsuits against online infringers, may be violating the law in several states. Given the general antipathy to the RIAA among the technorati, suddenly a large number of bloggers are interested in the arcane details of P.I. licensing requirements.
But the issues raised by the law go well beyond the RIAA lawsuits, and potentially affect any investigation of online misbehavior. Any lawsuit against an anonymous online individual begins with an attempt to identify that person. Furthermore, the definition of “computer forensics” in the Act is so broad that it includes printing out a web page for use in a lawsuit. Attorneys need to pay attention here too: the Michigan law exempts attorneys, but only if they are “admitted to practice in this state.” And other states have similar laws. So do you need a P.I. license or a bar admission in all 50 states before you can sue that defamatory blog poster?
Continue reading “Do People Who Investigate Websites Need P.I. Licenses in All 50 States?”
Law deans, faculty, and of course students obsess a great deal over the rankings put out annually by the US News and World Report. Some like the rankings, and some hate them. Some find them important, while others dismiss them. Some propose improvements, while others suggest alternatives. Some join anti-US News letter-writing campaigns or even try to organize anti-US News boycotts (nothwithstanding that a concerted boycott of US News would seem to be an antitrust violation, given that horizontal group boycotts are per se violations of section 1 of the Sherman Act under the Supreme Court’s decisions in NYNEX and Klor’s).
But whatever one might think about the US News’s rankings, there can be no doubt that they evoke strong feelings, as attested to most recently by the many reactions in the legal blogosphere to this story on the rankings in last week’s Wall Street Journal. Because of the high level of interest in them, the rankings are a favorite (and possibly the overall most frequently written on) theme of law faculty blogging. Indeed, it almost seems as though a blogger who has yet to opine on the rankings subject cannot be taken seriously. So, lest I be thought an unserious blogger, here is a suggestion for how the US News’s law school rankings might be improved or replaced that has largely, though not entirely, been overlooked. (After drafting this blog entry I did a Google “preemption check” and noticed that a recent comment on the Moneylaw blog makes a suggestion that is similar to mine, and a somewhat more extended treatment is offered by Andrew Morris and Bill Henderson in a recent paper.)
The basic idea is this: why not use bar exam scores as a way to rank law schools? Continue reading “Bar Exam Scores as a Law School Ranking Metric”
Dalton Conley, a sociologist at NYU, has an op-ed in today’s New York Times arguing that something novel has happened to the life of leisure: it isn’t very leisurely anymore. “[I]t is now the rich who are the most stressed out and the most likely to be working the most. Perhaps for the first time since we’ve kept track of such things, higher-income folks work more hours than lower-wage earners do.”
Conley hypothesizes that this intriguing development is the result of greater disparity in incomes at the top end of the scale — what he calls an “economic red shift.” That is, the richer you are, the faster people at the wealth level just above you seem to be pulling away. Combine that with the fact that people usually define their socioeconomic status in relative terms — i.e., how they compare to the Joneses — and you have an explanation for why hours increase with income. Or, as Conley puts it, at higher income levels, “the opportunity cost of not working is all the greater ( … since the higher we go, the more relatively deprived we feel).” Continue reading “Lawyers and the Economic Red Shift”