Books

When you’re in law school, you’ll have the option of buying new books, or slightly cheaper used books. If you choose to buy someone else’s used book, then God bless you, because you might be stuck with errant highlighting and incredibly moronic notes in the margins. Since law students can be crass, you might even find some offensive remarks scrawled throughout the pages of your book.

Why go through the trouble of buying used books when you’ll have to deal with so much annoyance? Because you’ll be able to take revenge upon the prior owner with your own clever margin notes…

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I recently had the good fortune to hear Ian McEwan (author of the wonderful Atonement, among other books) and Steven Pinker (a name I’d never heard before — yet more proof of my vast ignorance) discuss what makes good writing. McEwan is of course a gifted novelist; Pinker is a cognitive scientist who thinks about (among other things) how children acquire language skills. This made for an interesting discussion.

Both authors had recently published new books. If you don’t want to spring for the price of Pinker’s book, you can read the nutshell version of his thesis in his recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

I stole the title of this column from Pinker’s talk. Pinker says that many people blame the internet for the younger generation’s inability to write clearly. But if Twitter’s the culprit — “the kids these days can write only 140-character sentence fragments” — then the world should have been awash in pristine prose in the days before Twitter.

We were not, of course. Most writing sucked in the ’90s, too. And in the ’80s. And the ’70s. And, according to Pinker, people have been complaining about bad writing in literally every generation since the invention of the printing press.

So it would be nice — but wrong — to blame today’s bad writing on modern technology.

If technology isn’t the culprit, then what is? Pinker’s thesis is one that I suspect all good legal writers have known subconsciously all along. But it’s worth speaking the words out loud and thinking about how to use this concept to improve both your writing and the writing of those you edit. . . .

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Justice Antonin Scalia

* Justice Scalia spoke at CU-Boulder last night. For his sake, we certainly hope he didn’t speak about any issues that might someday appear before SCOTUS, lest he be asked to recuse. [Boulder Daily Camera via How Appealing]

* Another one bites the dust over at Main Justice: David O’Neil, the head of the criminal division, is stepping down in the wake of the BNP Paribas case, and will likely have many white-shoe law firm suitors. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Fox Rothschild picked up a 18-lawyer boutique firm in Texas, which will serve as the home of its first outpost in the Lone Star State. Energy law, surprisingly, wasn’t the driving factor. [Legal Intelligencer]

* “I have a heart and I have two kids.” That’s a pretty damn good reason for Biglaw attorneys to take a break from their corporate billable hours to represent undocumented children pro bono. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Scott Greenfield reviews Lat’s forthcoming novel, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). Of course, in SHG style, it contains a spoiler. Try to skip that clearly marked paragraph. [Simple Justice]


SCOTUS broke this Con Law nerd’s heart.

We should realize that this is an emperor that truly has no clothes. For too long, we have treated the Court [a]s if they are the high priests of the law, or at least as if they are the smartest and best lawyers in society.

Erwin Chemerinsky, preeminent constitutional law scholar and dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, writing in what Robert Barnes of the Washington Post refers to as the academic’s “break-up note” to the Supreme Court. In his new book, The Case Against the Supreme Court (affiliate link), Chemerinsky notes that “[t]he court has frequently failed, throughout American history, at its most important tasks, at its most important moments.”

* Well here’s a headline: My Solo Practice Ended My Marriage. [Law Firm Suites]

* Pennsylvania Attorney General claims officials sent and received porn via state email accounts for years, “including top state jurists and 30 current employees of the state Attorney General’s Office.” If the AG’s office is swapping porn at all hours, somehow the whole “systematic blind eye to Penn State” thing makes more sense. [Associated Press via Lehigh Valley Live]

* Interesting argument for law schools to adopt the Montessori method “in the mindset of professors, in classroom management, in physical building design, and in radical curricular reform.” Law school deans’ eyes glazed over until they heard “physical building design” and recognized the potential for more spending. [TaxProf Blog]

* Here come the litany of Supreme Court previews. Most of them will focus on stuff like gay marriage. But this one gets to the sexy stuff, like FLSA regulations. [Federal Regulations Advisor]

* Oh look, the government made a rule that will ultimately accomplish nothing! That’s so cute. [CNBC]

* Prominent lawyer marries actor. Well played. [Jezebel]

* Boalt 3L builds app to “add the features Westlaw forgot.” Westlaw didn’t forget, they were just crowdsourcing. [The Recorder]

* Another review of Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link), David Lat’s forthcoming novel. [Indiana Law Blog]

* A list of lawyers who followed their passions. Let’s be honest: I just like that Lat’s in the same listicle as Jerry Springer. [One 400]

* Another report on the Brian Leiter kerfuffle (by Professor Jonathan Adler). [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Postal carrier hoarded 40,000 pieces of mail. Newman! [The Smoking Gun]

* Another court allows service via Facebook. [Peter S. Vogel]

* Eric Holder is resigning. Time for the speculation that he must have done something awful to begin! [New York Observer]

* D.C. lawyer Ronald Goldfarb reviews John W. Dean’s new book (affiliate link) about the Nixon tapes. [Washington Independent Review of Books]

* New York court authorizes service over Facebook. Finally, a reason to use Google Plus. [Slate]

* Texas struck down the statute banning upskirt photos. The decision is more interesting than the sound-bite press it’s getting. [Popehat]

* Some PR advice may be privileged. Which is good because the law needs to incentivize companies trying to cover up possible legal liabilities. It might be more nuanced than that, but still. [Corporate Counsel]

* In the wake of the passing of Tommy Boggs, a profile on his power within Patton Boggs, including details of the final year leading up to its merger. [National Law Journal]

* A roundup of early reviews for David Lat’s forthcoming novel, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). [Supreme Ambitions]

* On choosing a criminal defense lawyer and why you might not want some reformed prosecutor. [Katz Justice]

* The Senate confirmed Gordon Tanner as general counsel to the Air Force. This is noteworthy because it reflects just how quickly the country has progressed from affirmative witch hunts, to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to confirming a gay man as the top lawyer for a branch of the Armed Forces. [Washington Blade]

* A 49er fan is suing the NFL for $50 million for a policy that limited ticket sales to customers in Seahawks territory. Based on the season so far, he luckily won’t have to worry about the 49ers in the playoffs this year. [ESPN]

* Speaking of football, South Park ran an ad limited to D.C. during the Washington-Eagles game. See Eric Cartman school Dan Snyder on trademark law, after the jump…. [SB Nation]

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Insider trading tastes delicious!

* Politics and Biglaw just don’t mix: House Republicans hired Quinn Emanuel to handle their suit against President Barack Obama after Baker Hostetler withdrew from the representation due to “political pressure” the firm was facing. [Politico]

* The paper and napkin-eating “Middleman” in the post-it note insider trading ring pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges. This might make it difficult for his cohorts to substantiate their not-guilty pleas. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “This is a tale with no shortage of knaves or villains.” If you’re interested in learning about Chevron’s legal wranglings in Ecuador and with plaintiffs attorney Steven Donziger, there are a bunch of interesting new readings for you to peruse. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Crisis in legal education be damned! They may have bad timing, but these law schools are focusing on building bigger and better facilities for students they’re unable to put in their seats. [National Law Journal]

* Ohio law schools have taken a bruising in terms of decreased enrollment, but the University of Toledo has faced the worst of it. With a 25.9% reduction in 1Ls, tuition cuts can only do so much. [Toledo Blade]

Trial by jury is the palladium of our liberties. I do not know what a palladium is, having never seen a palladium, but it is a good thing no doubt at any rate.

– Mark Twain, offering a stirring tribute to the American legal system. This quote, among many others, appears in a new compilation of Twain’s commentary on lawyers and the law entitled Mark Twain v. Lawyers, Lawmakers, and Lawbreakers. Palladium is a rare metallic element with atomic number 46, but we’re guessing Twain was going for another definition.

* Law student sends naked selfie to her father. Hilarity ensues. [Inside Edition]

* “Is insider trading bad?” Asking for a friend. [The Atlantic]

* Judge catches law firm cheating on the page limit. Apparently, Judge Carl Barbier was well-versed in the “slightly less than double-spaced” trick. [NPR]

* What’s the matter with (statutory interpretation in) Kansas? [KSN]

* You may have heard that technology is going to gut the market for low-level lawyering. If not, here’s a wakeup call. [Forbes]

* This year’s MacArthur genius grant recipients. Is your name on the list? SPOILER: No. But a William Mitchell Law professor is. [New York Times]

* Steve Klepper’s fair-minded and favorable review of Lat’s forthcoming book, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). [Maryland Appellate Blog]

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