Stanford law professor Larry Lessig had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition, “In defense of piracy.” Lessig starts off hating on the lawyers who went after the mother in the dancing baby/YouTube/Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” case. (Background here.)
How is it that sensible people, people no doubt educated at some of the best universities and law schools in the country, would come to think it a sane use of corporate resources to threaten the mother of a dancing 13-month-old? What is it that allows these lawyers and executives to take a case like this seriously, to believe there’s some important social or corporate reason to deploy the federal scheme of regulation called copyright to stop the spread of these images and music?
The answer: Crazy copyright law.
Lessig goes on to defend others whose creativity is derived from others’ creativity, like Danger Mouse and mash-up artist Girl Talk, whose latest album samples from 300 different songs. No rights acquired.
Midway through, the editorial goes into “Braveheart” mode. There’s a war going on, says Lessig– the “copyright wars.” Kids these days are sharing copyrighted material through peer-to-peer networks, while the art world is embracing a rampant remix culture.
This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can’t kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them “pirates.” And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as “criminals.” They begin to get used to the idea.
That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.
That’s heavy. Lessig’s suggestions for ending the war, saving our lawless kids, and encouraging creativity, after the jump.
A Stanford law school graduate suspected of paying off her costly student loans by running a high-priced escort service has now been hit with federal tax evasion charges.
In court papers filed Tuesday in San Jose federal court, prosecutors allege that Cristina Warthen failed to pay taxes on more than $133,000 she earned as a prostitute in 2003, jetting off as a call girl for clients in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York and other cities. The government has charged her with felony tax evasion for failing to pay about $25,000 in federal income taxes.
Warthen’s business as a reputed high-priced hooker was first revealed several years ago, when the federal government searched her then-home in Oakland and seized more than $61,000 in cash suspected to be linked to her escort business. Court papers allege that starting in 2001, Warthen, then Cristina Schultz, used the name “Brazil” and advertised her escort services on a Web site, TouchofBrazil.net.
Last week we told you that Harvard and Stanford law schools were enacting sweeping grade reform. Reactions came in from students and alumni from many top schools. One close friend emailed:
If Harvard had this when we were in school, I’d be emailing you from DPW right now.
Suffice it to say, the friend emailed from a little further down the Vault list.
But to be clear, HLS doesn’t have anything just yet. Dean Kagan announced, “the new classifications, much as at Yale and Stanford, will be Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail.” She did not speak on the crucial question of how honors would be determined.
On the other hand, Stanford did announce precisely how their honors would be determined (“book prizes”). Some commenters criticized the decision because it could not be mapped onto a traditional four-point system:
The important issue with any grading system is whether the grades can be aggregated into one number–the GPA–and the students ranked on that basis. The A-F system is mapped onto the 0-4.0 scale (or 0-8, at HLS, until now). The HP-F system is not mapped onto any numerical scale. This makes it impossible to precisely rank students (without developing your own formula).
HLS could still end up with a four-point system of some description. As one reader pointed out:
Honors = A
Pass = B
Low Pass = C
Fail = Elie
Unless you believe the deans’ quest for “pedagogical excellence,” there is an open question as to why two top institutions would radically change how law students are judged.
Update: Harvard Law School also just announced changes to its grading system that will make it more like the Yale and Stanford systems. See here.
In May, we reported that the faculty of Stanford Law School voted to change their grading system. The school went from the traditional “A, B, C, Die” system to a Yale-esque pass/fail hybrid. From the May message of Dean Larry Kramer:
[T]he faculty voted to adopt a grade reform proposal which will change our grading system to an honors, pass, restricted credit, no credit system for all semesters/quarters. The new system includes a shared norm for the proportion of honors to be awarded in both exam and paper courses. No grading system is perfect, but the consensus is that the reform will have significant pedagogical benefits, including that it encourages greater flexibility and innovation in the classroom and in designing metrics for evaluating student work.
We noted then that the school was still working on the exact meaning of “honors.”
“Honors” has now been defined. “Watch that first step … it’s a doozy.” From Dean Kramer:
[W]e will no longer use or award Order of the Coif or “Graduation with Distinction,” honors we have in the past recognized and given out at or after graduation. Instead, prizes will be awarded in individual courses to recognize outstanding student performance. Tentatively called “book prizes” (after the fashion of some other schools that use this system), one book prize may be awarded for every 15 students, and this will be true in all classes, whether the basis of evaluation is an exam or a paper. In first-year required classes, 2 prizes will be available in small sections, and 4 in large sections. In advanced classes, professors have discretion about whether and how many prizes to award, though within the same maximum guideline of one per every 15 students (faculty may round up at 8). Discretion is meant to signal that faculty are recognizing genuinely outstanding performance, not just the event of receiving a high grade. Prizes will be registered on student transcripts when grades come out at the end of each term and you will be free to list them on your resumes. The policy is effective beginning this term….
[T]he faculty also concluded that we should award book prizes to students in the class of 2010 for their 1L classes last year, following the standard set forth above. (It will take some time for these retroactive prizes to be calculated and incorporated onto student transcripts.)
The full message is reprinted, and students weigh in, after the jump.
For LEWW, one of the best things about spring is the return of a reliable stream of lawyer-lawyer couples to the NYT wedding pages. Soon we’ll even be seeing SCOTUS clerks! This week five out of our six newlyweds sports a JD. Here they are:
Relax, folks. We are aware that the 2009 law school rankings of U.S. News & World Report have leaked, in advance of their official Friday publication date. They’re all over the blogosphere and the message boards (links collected below).
We’ve been sitting on this item for a little while — coordinating with our other posts this morning, taking into account our traffic patterns, etc. There is a method to our madness.
Ideally we’d hold this item even longer (which would allow us to do a more detailed write-up). But it’s clear that you’re all dying to talk about the rankings RIGHT NOW. And we don’t want to get any more emails and comments of the “why aren’t you writing about U.S. News” variety.
So here you go. Rankings and discussion, after the jump (i.e., click on the “Continue reading” link below).
Most law students are well into the spring semester of law school. First- and second-year students will soon have to pick their courses for fall 2008.
Here’s a subject that may be on some of their minds: pass / fail grading. Check out this interesting article in the Stanford Daily (from last month; we came across it belatedly, while going through our 4,000-email backlog over the weekend):
In a departure from tradition, record numbers of first-year law students chose to take at least one of their first semester courses pass-fail this year.
Law students have traditionally found themselves in a bind when choosing to “3k,” the common term for pass-fail grading. Students interviewed independently described the situation repeatedly as a “prisoner’s dilemma,” referencing the archetypal problem of decisions made with imperfect information.
Choosing to be graded pass-fail, whatever one’s personal reasons, could cause problems if the student is one of only a handful of students to do so in the law school class. However, last semester somewhere between one-third and one-half of first-year students elected to take a class pass-fail, a fact which affects the way the action is perceived by others.
There was this whole issue before where employers might say it’s an oddity,” said first-year law student Chris Wells. “[From orientation onwards] a lot of us wanted to make it a real option at the law school.”
The SLS students were spurred to action by one of their peers:
First-year law student John Kimble drafted an open letter about the 3k decision and sent it to the first-year student email list on the last day students could choose their grading basis. Seeing the letter and the excitement it generated emboldened students to take the pass-fail option and also gave the student body an indication of the movement’s support.
So, ATL readers, what do you think? Is taking more courses on a pass-fail basis a smart move, or is it ill-advised? What types of courses lend themselves best to being taken pass-fail? For those of you involved in hiring — of law firm associates, law clerks, AUSAs, etc. — do you askance at transcripts with lots of pass-fail classes?
And will this trend spread to other law schools? Or is it a luxury available only to students at places like small and selective Stanford, where even academic underperformers can still land good jobs?
P.S. Stanford Law School students seem to be in the vanguard these days when it comes to taking a stand against some of the more stressful or unpleasant aspects of the legal profession. The school is also the home of Building A Better Legal Profession, a group of law students pushing to reform Biglaw. For their mission statement, click here. First-years go pass-fail [Stanford Daily] building a better legal profession [official website]
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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