American Bar Association / ABA

* Congress could throttle tech innovation with two words. Thankfully, I don’t think Congress knows any two words beyond “defund Obamacare.” [Slate]

* The University of Washington was slapped with a $720,000 fine for withholding documents from a professor suing the school for gender discrimination. Every time something bad happens to the University of Washington, an angel gets its wings. Go Ducks! [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* The ABA has issued its draft report on the future of legal education. Highlights include recommending a 50% tuition cut. Ha! Just kidding. [Associate's Mind]

* Congress is targeting the people who are really making off like bandits: poor people on food stamps. But there’s another link in the federal agriculture spending chain that might make more sense to target if you really wanted to save the government money. Silly me, budgetary discipline has nothing to do with budget cuts. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Here are 15 things wrong with the criminal justice system. Only 15? [Boston Review]

* Lessons on the defense of others from Back to the Future. I’m still waiting for a legal analysis of buying plutonium from Libyans. Is that legal? I’m kind of fuzzy on that one. [The Legal Geeks]

The American Bar Association is out there, fighting for the rights of law students to labor without pay. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Maybe that sentence should go, “The American Bar Association is out there, fighting for the rights of legal employers to not pay their laborers.” Yes, that makes much more sense.

The Department of Labor sent a letter to the ABA, assuring the organization that hiring unpaid law students to do pro bono work is totally fine. This news makes the ABA happy for some reason. The ABA applauds the Labor Department declaration because of something about “service” and “experience” and other things that sound really nice when you can already pay your bills…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Good News Law Students, You Are Still Allowed To Work For Free! Happy?”

Were you part of that email catastrophe this past Friday? It seems that the American Bar Association added the world to one of its email listservs, and the crowd went wild.

No? You weren’t? Here’s what happened.

An email arrived from a 2007 John Marshall Law School graduate (that’s how we’re supposed to refer to lawyers here because when and from where they graduated means everything in the world, right?), via an ABA listserv:

Just as a reminder, the YLD Antitrust Law Committee, the Section’s Joint Conduct Committee and Distribution and Franchising Committee will host a live webinar entitled “Antitrust Fundamentals for Distribution and Franchise Practitioners” this coming Monday, September 9th.

It had one of those typical endings about how to get off the list — email or call the ABA. Or, of course, email the whole list…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Last Friday’s Lesson In Unwanted Email”

The third year of law school?

* Biglaw’s billing bonanza: at least 12 firms are advising on the multi-billion dollar deals going on between Microsoft / Nokia and Verizon / Vodafone, and Simpson Thacher landed a seat on both. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Standard & Poor’s is now accusing the Department of Justice of filing its $5 billion fraud lawsuit in retaliation for downgrading the country’s credit rating. Aww, we liked the “mere puffery” defense much better. [Reuters]

* The new ABA prez doesn’t think Obama meant what he said about two-year law degrees. He thinks it’s about cost. Gee, the ABA should probably do something about that. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Meanwhile, New York Law School wants to condense its offerings into a two-year honors program that comes complete with a $50,000 scholarship. Sweet deal if you can get it, but it sounds like most people won’t. [Crain's New York Business]

* Stewart Schwab, the dean of Cornell Law School, will be stepping down at the end of the academic year. The search for someone new to oversee the filming of amateur porn in the library is on. [Cornell Daily Sun]

* Crisis? What crisis? Nothing is f**ked here, dude. Amid plummeting applications, GW Law increased the size of its entering class by about 22 percent. The more lawyers, the better, right? /sarcasm [GW Hatchet]

* Jacked up! Attorneys for NFL player Aaron Hernandez got a stay in the civil suit accusing the athlete of shooting a man in the face until after the athlete’s murder charges have been worked out. [USA Today]

Did you know that the ABA maintains a listerv for all of the law deans at ABA accredited and provisionally accredited schools? I did. And I’ve always thought that it would be great to hack into that listserv. As far as I can recall, we’ve had just one story (although a great story) come from that listserv. I assumed it was because law deans were just really disciplined about not forwarding me threads from their private discussions.

Now I realize that their listserv is just boring as all hell.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the WSJ Law Blog obtained a copy of the “rules” for the listserv that the ABA circulated to all the law deans recently. I’ve seen law review notes that inspire more interest and discussion….

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* Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan gets the death penalty. Looks like that gradual end of the death penalty won’t be fast enough for him. [CNN]

* Man gets 30 days in jail for raping a 14-year-old who later killed herself. The judge explained that he’d already been punished with “the scarlet letter of the internet.” The new sentencing guidelines are really web-literate. [Jezebel]

* Infilaw is taking over Charleston School of Law eliminating all the pretense. [Post and Courier]

* On that note, Steven J. Harper discusses President Obama’s call to eliminate the third year of law school. Simpler Harper: Law schools and the ABA are too vested in ripping off students to listen to reason. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* The “most intimidating man in hip-hop” is a Columbia Law grad. Hip-hop has come a long way from allegedly dangling rappers off hotel balconies. [GQ]

* The Internet Strikes Back: A new crowdsourcing tool tracks IP trolls. [Technology Law Source]

* A call for former law clerks to fight for an end to sequestration. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* The state-legal yet federal-illegal status of medical marijuana leads to some very complex tax returns. You should smoke up to take the edge off. [TaxProf Blog]

* For those beginning law school, here’s some advice from the National Women Law Students’ Organization. [Ms. JD]

3L year everywhere.

David Lat and I were on CNBC’s Power Lunch with Dan Rodriguez, Dean of Northwestern Law School, discussing whether law school should be two years. As I mentioned earlier today, this debate got started again when President Obama said that he thought law school should last only two years, at least in terms of classroom instruction. Please see my earlier post if you’d like to talk about why Obama’s thought bubble was literally the least useful thing he could have done to effectuate the change he desires.

Here, we’re going to talk about whether Obama’s idea is good in the first place. Should law school be two years long? Let me rephrase that question: is there any possible justification for forcing people to sit through a third year of law school if they don’t want to?

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Former constitutional law professor and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, has decided to wade into the great law school debate by offering his “thoughts” on the length of law programs. On Friday, Obama said that he thought law school should just be two years instead of three.

Great. It’s nice to know what the President thinks. Too bad those thoughts aren’t backed up with the very simple actions necessary to make his dreams come true.

Obama’s thoughts touched off a weekend debate about the value of the third year of law school. I think I’m clearly on record saying the third year of law school is completely useless. There is no educational value to the thing, but law schools certainly make a lot of money off of it. David Lat and I will be discussing this in more depth on CNBC’s Power Lunch this afternoon around 1:00 p.m. EDT. Check it out.

Regardless of what you think about the value of the 3L year, the timing of Obama’s announcement is certainly curious. In June, Obama’s own Department of Education rubber-stamped ABA oversight over law school regulation and accreditation for another three years. Since the ABA is the organization most responsible for keeping law school at three years and preventing schools from experimenting with shorter programs, I can only assume that Obama’s statement was timed to be as useless as humanly possible…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dear Obama, Instead Of Talking About Law Schools, You Could Actually Do Something”

* Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is definitely one of our favorite judicial divas. When asked if she thought the Supreme Court’s work was art or theater, she mused, “It’s both, with a healthy dose of real life mixed in.” [New York Times]

* According to the Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group report on the first half of the year, the legal industry should count itself lucky if it manages to meet last year’s single-digit profit growth. This “new normal” thing sucks. [Am Law Daily]

* Howrey going to celebrate these “monumental” settlements with Baker & Hostetler and Citibank? The failed firm’s trustee might throw a party when he’s finally able to file a liquidation plan. [Am Law Daily]

* Uncommon law marriage? A man stuck in an inheritance battle who lived with his late partner since 1995 now asks the District of Columbia to declare him common-law husband. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar proposed a major overhaul to its accreditation standards. Action, of course, likely won’t be taken until next year. [National Law Journal]

* Despite the fact that these measures could help struggling graduates, law deans are at odds over the ABA’s proposed changes to tenure requirements for professors. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “Sooner or later you’ve got to make a choice, because you need enough revenue to cover what your expenses are.” Cooley will weather the storm by introducing a massive tuition hike. [Lansing State Journal]

* “How would you feel if you spent well over $100,000 on law school, only to have to spend an extra couple of thousand dollars on a course to get you to pass the bar?” You’d probably feel like everyone else. [CNBC]

* Requiring porn stars to wear condoms might not be sexy, but a federal judge says it’s constitutional. Don’t worry, unlike its actresses, the adult film industry won’t go down without a fight. [Los Angeles Times]

I support radical reform of our nation’s drug laws not despite my conservative political views, but because of them. Decriminalization efforts support at least three values that mean much to me as a conservative. Decriminalization falls in line with the conservative (or at least libertarian-leaning conservative) emphasis on personal liberty and the rights of individuals to make choices about how they govern themselves, so long as their actions don’t directly harm others. Decriminalization makes good moral sense too, by not vilifying addicts and by not needlessly breaking up families through incarcerating non-violent offenders. Perhaps most significantly, radically reforming current drug laws avoids the economic irresponsibility of America’s failed war on drugs.

This week, of course, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new Justice Department policies for drug prosecutions, while addressing the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In his speech, Holder proposed tinkering with the application of mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes; modifying the Justice Department’s charging policies “so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences”; and “taking steps to identify and share best practices for enhancing the use of diversion programs – such as drug treatment and community service initiatives – that can serve as effective alternatives to incarceration.”

I commend Holder’s effort. But as a conservative considering the economics of the drug war, I’m concerned that this new policy neglects one of the most significant reasons why we need much more radical reform than this . . . .

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