Orin Kerr

The Socratic method is the marathon racing of law school: Greek, very few people like it, those that do are way too into it to be healthy, and the best thing you can say about it is that the first guy who did it died. But law professors continue to sing its virtues thousands of years down the road, even after evidence begins to mount that it puts some students at a distinct disadvantage.

That’s why it’s an event to see law professors argue on an Internet board about the merits of the Socratic method as an instructional strategy….

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‘Congratulations. You’re still in the running towards becoming America’s next top law review.’

Replace the gorgeous, leggy models with bespectacled, Bluebook-wielding law students. Replace the photo shoots with cite checks. Replace Tyra Banks with a law librarian.

Voilà! You’ve replaced America’s Next Top Model with something far more fabulous: America’s Next Top Law Review.

And yes, there is a new top law review. Harvard Law Review, which has dominated the leading set of rankings for the past seven years, has been dethroned. To quote Dani from Cycle 6 of ANTM, “Shut yo mouth and say it ain’t true!”

Oh, but it is true. They’re all beautiful — or at least impeccably Bluebooked — but only one girl has what it takes. Who is the nation’s new #1 law journal?

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This past Wednesday, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit delivered the Madison Lecture on Judicial Engagement at Columbia Law School. The lecture series, sponsored by the CLS chapter of the Federalist Society, brings distinguished jurists to Columbia to discuss topics relevant to the federal judiciary and the administration of justice.

(Perhaps we should put “at” Columbia Law in quotation marks; Judge Posner actually appeared via video conference. That shouldn’t surprise, coming from a judge who lists The Matrix as one of his favorite films.)

In his talk, entitled “How I Interpret Statutes and the Constitution,” Judge Posner was his usual candid self. He offered commentary on two recent books about statutory and constitutional interpretation — books that he’s not a fan of.

Yes, readers. There will be benchslaps….

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This week, Legal Eagle Wedding Watch salutes… a divorce lawyer. This one dutifully dissolved her client’s marriage, seeing him through a contentious custody battle. But then she went the extra mile and set him up with his next wife. Attention, divorce bar: We smell a new business model.

But let’s not let talk of divorce spoil our ooh-ing and ahh-ing over some tender new lawyer marriages. Here are this week’s finalists:

Ainsley Fuhr and Orin Kerr

Alison Silber and Eric Lesser

Elizabeth Marshall and Jeffrey Leeds

Read on for all the juicy details on these newlyweds, plus a recap of all the recent legal-eagle nuptials….

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[T]he dislike [for legal academics] is a result of law professors being too much in the world. You see, law professors — and I should disclose here that I am one — very nearly run the world, or at least certain parts of the U.S. government. When you include Justice Anthony Kennedy, who taught nights, they make up the majority of the Supreme Court.

– Professor Noah Feldman, in an interesting and provocative Bloomberg opinion piece (via Overlawyered), responding in part to David Segal’s latest New York Times piece criticizing legal education.

(Additional excerpts and discussion, after the jump.)

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That’s very impressive support. Off the top of my head, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. Washington is a small place, and informal channels will generally get word back to the relevant folks in the Senate without a public letter…. But the fact that so many conservative former clerks publicly support [Alison] Nathan’s nomination [to the S.D.N.Y.] is quite impressive.

– Professor Orin Kerr, commenting on a letter signed by 27 former Supreme Court clerks in support of the nomination of Alison J. Nathan, a former law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens who has been nominated to a judgeship on the Southern District of New York.

First of all, Happy Chanukah. May your candles burn bright.

It is certainly possible that some lowly internet hacker was trying to take advantage of some holiday compassion when he or she hacked the email of Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson. Nesson is a well-known figure in “internet and the law” circles — as well as to readers of A Civil Action, who know him as “Billion Dollar Charlie” — but today he’s just another victim of a phishing attack. An email went out to the HLS community this morning claiming that Nesson was stuck in the U.K. and in desperate need of money.

We can’t be sure if Nesson will be able to find and bring charges against the hacker, but let’s hope that if he does he isn’t forced to rely on HLS students for legal advice…

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Anna Nicole Smith: her candle burned out long before her legend ever did. And the great beauty’s legend continues to grow, over three years after her untimely death in February 2007, as litigation involving her estate contributes to the development of a rich body of law regarding bankruptcy and probate law — in a tribunal no less distinguished than the Supreme Court of the United States.

Over at USA Today, Joan Biskupic has this report:

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear an appeal from the estate of Anna Nicole Smith, the late Playboy model and TV reality-show star, in the decades-old dispute over an inheritance from her tycoon husband.

The action, involving a sensational set of characters in an otherwise dry case at the intersection of probate and bankruptcy law, came on a day of varied court business that included acceptance of 14 new cases for the 2010-2011 term that officially begins Monday.

Sounds scintillating. Let’s get all up in Anna Nicole’s business, shall we?

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* If your sandwich is a “footlong,” come up with something else to call it. [WSJ Law Journal]

* Orin Kerr’s heading to the Hill to help Senator John Cornyn come up with some questions for Elena Kagan. [Volokh Conspiracy; Politico]

* BLT has posted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire for Kagan, while Slate has the version of the questionnaire they’d really like her to fill out. [Slate]

* Poor 3Ls are not the only ones who get confused by companies with names that make them sound like law firms. Judges get tripped up sometimes too. [Going Concern]

* Cute bags lead to ugly lawsuit. [Fashionista]

* A round-up of last week’s legal news, including fights over the Internet and our genes. [A Clatter of the Law via Blawg Review]

* The generation that wants to own what they do has issues with Biglaw. [Bar and Bench]

Justice John Paul Stevens.jpgA few weeks ago, we were emailing with one of our sources about an interesting fact we noticed, based on Above the Law’s real-time coverage of Supreme Court clerk hiring. The fact: thus far, Justice John Paul Stevens has hired just one law clerk for October Term 2010 (Sam Erman (Michigan 2007 / Garland)).
We didn’t write about it at the time, because OT 2010 is still a year away, and it seemed a bit speculative to make much of it so far in advance. But others noticed this fact too — and were faster on the trigger about it. Like the AP:

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual, generating speculation that the leader of the court’s liberals will retire next year.

If Stevens does step down, he would give President Barack Obama his second high court opening in two years. Obama chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the court when Justice David Souter announced his retirement in May.

Souter’s failure to hire clerks was the first signal that he was contemplating leaving the court….

Indeed. We started the speculation about Justice Souter’s retirement back in April 2009, over at Underneath Their Robes, based in part on his lack of law clerk hiring (and based in part on a sighting of him with Senator Pat Leahy).
But back to Justice Stevens:

In response to a question from The Associated Press, Stevens confirmed through a court spokeswoman Tuesday that he has hired only one clerk for the term that begins in October 2010. He is among several justices who typically have hired all four clerks for the following year by now. Information about this advance hiring is not released by the court but is regularly published by some legal blogs.

Cough cough — like Above the Law?
Commentary from expert observers, plus a reader poll, after the jump.

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