Law Reviews

[A]mong the world’s democracies … constitutional similarity to the United States has clearly gone into free fall. Over the 1960s and 1970s, democratic constitutions as a whole became more similar to the U.S. constitution, only to reverse course in the 1980s and 1990s. The turn of the twenty-first century, however, saw the beginning of a steep plunge that continues through the most recent years for which we have data, to the point that the constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the U.S. Constitution now than they were at the end of World War II.

– Professors David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia, in a forthcoming article that will be published in the New York University Law Review. They conducted a study that was discussed in a very interesting article by Adam Liptak, ‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World.

And perhaps with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Which constitutions does she prefer over our own founding document?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Why Do You Hate America, Justice Ginsburg?”

Complete honesty is such a dangerous thing.

I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m posing three questions to myself today. First, why might a lawyer at a law firm choose to write articles? Second, what topics should lawyers write about, and where should they publish the articles? Finally, why might an in-house lawyer choose to write?

The honest truth is that outside lawyers choose to write for many, varied reasons. In-house lawyers might also choose to write for many reasons, but those reasons are different and fewer. Across the board, authors’ motivations for writing will be mixed.

Do I have a right to speak on the subject of publications? My credentials, in a nutshell, are these: Three books; twelve law review articles; two book chapters; about 70 other, shorter articles (in places ranging from The Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune to Pharmaceutical Executive and Litigation); and maybe 600 blog posts (roughly 500 at Drug and Device Law and north of 100 here). Call me nuts (and I may well be), but I’ve spent a professional lifetime doing a ton of “recreational” legal writing.

Why did I do it? Should you?

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* The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Obamacare over three days in March. Let’s fast forward to June so we can see how Election 2012 is going to turn out. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The Grinch definitely stole AT&T’s Christmas this year, and even a team of Biglaw superstars couldn’t save the day. The company’s merger deal with T-Mobile is now officially dead. [Am Law Daily]

* A bed and breakfast owner told this lesbian couple aloha before they could even say aloha, and now they’re suing. And here I thought that Hawaii specialized in tiny, gay bubbles. [Washington Post]

* James Franco doesn’t just get bad grades on Rotten Tomatoes. José Angel Santana, one of his former professors, has filed a lawsuit saying NYU fired him for giving the actor a “D.” [Reuters]

* Snooki, Jersey Shore’s drunken munchkin, is being sued for $7M over a licensing deal gone bad. The worst part is that even if she paid up, she’d still have oodles of money in the bank. [Daily Mail]

* Sick of law school? Get all of your bitching down on paper, and turn your rage-filled manifesto into a short story for submission to the JLE Legal Fiction Contest. [National Law Journal]


Welcome to the latest edition of Above the Law’s Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of legal writing and English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we found out that only 29% of our readers lie back and think of England when dealing with punctuation and quotation marks. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

This week, we turn to a hotly-debated issue among legal professionals: the use of the Bluebook. At least one federal judge hates it, joining hundreds upon thousands of law students to date.

Should we consider putting the Bluebook on the backburner in our legal writing?

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Judge William Adams

* Remember Judge William Adams, the Texas state court judge who was reportedly videotaped in the act of beating his daughter, Hillary Adams? He has now commented on the situation (and so has his ex-wife, Hallie Adams). [KZTV.com]

* And here is Kashmir Hill’s take on the whole sad situation. [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]

* Members of the law review at GW Law School have issued a comment on the recent email controversy — which is impressive! (Aside: lighten up, guys; it’s all in good fun.) [Nota Bene]

* FYI, if you have problems with anonymous comments here at Above the Law, you should know that we’re having an internal discussion about possibly changing our system. [What About Clients?]

* Beating a dead horse isn’t illegal. Doing what this woman did to a dead horse isn’t illegal. Sucks to be a dead horse. [Daily Mail]

* Our friend Joseph Rakofsky makes it into the Urban Dictionary. [The Trial Warrior; Legal Skills Prof Blog]

* Says Elie: “Some say WVU’s lawsuit against the Big East reflects ‘arrogance.’ The real arrogance is how Notre Dame refuses to come in and save the conference.” [Legal Blitz]

* Swordplay: it’s all fun and games until someone’s intestines spill out of his abdomen. [CBS 3 - Springfield]

I feel like we have this story every fall. Every year, new 1Ls get to law school campuses and invariably, some of them quickly look around to see which boots are most in need of licking. The first few weeks they kiss so much faculty ass they look like they’re applying for tenure. And right around now, they start looking for fellow students to suck up to.

Well, there’s a way to suck up to fellow students, and usually kissing butt requires you to be in the same room as your betters. Cold, unsolicited emailing — while fine for general networking — is almost always the wrong way to approach your peers. We’ve explained this to you before.

If you find yourself sending out cold, unsolicited, mass emails, well, welcome to Above the Law, little 1Ls….

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For editorial use only.

When I signed on to write full-time for Above the Law, I thought that I might be able to make some of our readers and commenters see the sunnier side of things at lower-ranked law schools. I had a very positive experience, and I don’t have very many regrets about the school I chose to attend.

But sometimes lower-ranked law schools do things that make even me cringe.

News came to us that the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law has created what the school is calling an Illustrated Law Journal. UDC Law’s new journal aspires to provide visual illustrations of laws and legal concepts so that laypeople and jurists can get a handle on the law in the world around them.

In other words: “Hey John Q. Public, you’re pretty dumb, here’s a comic book about law.”

When about 95% of the legal profession is centered around the written word, why do we need a coloring book law journal?

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I don’t think it’s going to come as a galloping shock to anybody that law review was not my kind of thing. My conversational style, inattention to detail, and aversion to boredom really didn’t mesh with anything law review was selling.

And after my 1L year, my grades were strong enough that I knew I’d get a Biglaw job somewhere during OCI; I didn’t need the résumé bump. Why in the world would I want to compete with individuals who really wanted it and would cut me to get on, when at the end the “prize” was being on boring-ass law review? No thanks.

When I received my law review application, I quickly ushered it into the trash.

A current Harvard Law student had a more expressive way of saying no to law review — a more combustible rejection…

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Choosing the next editor of the law review.

It so happens that we are right in the middle of election season for law review boards. At top law schools around the country, 2Ls who want to be Supreme Court clerks — or Supreme Court justices, or even presidents — are finding out if they’ll be able to include “Editor in Chief: Law Review” on their résumés for the rest of their lives. At less prestigious schools, 2Ls are hoping that a place on the editorial board of their school’s law review will help them get a job upon graduation.

(And people who are not on law review have another week or two to get hammered and enjoy the fledgling spring before they need to hunker down and cram for finals.)

The people involved in law review elections take the popularity contest selection process very seriously. At many places, the debates over whom to pick last well into the night, and the election takes many ballots before a winner is declared. The process at many places is so ritualistic, it’s a wonder that newly minted editors-in-chief don’t adopt new names when they win, just like the Popes. Can’t you see it now: Homosextius I of the Harvard Law Review?

Of course, if there are winners, there have to be losers. And some losers don’t take their losing lying down. Thanks to the magic of forwarded emails, we are able to bring you one such story of law-review-losing bitterness…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “2L Bitter Over Law Review Snub Illustrates Why He Wasn’t EIC Material”

[N]eedless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness — ‘The horror! The horror!’ — and am tempted to end there.

— Judge Richard Posner, in a scathing Yale Law Journal review of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed.).

(For additional discussion and funny excerpts, see Paul Horwitz, Ilya Somin, and Eugene Volokh.)

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