Sunday, January 17, 2016
You know that cannabis is getting legitimate when the American Bar Association starts touting it as a great practice field for new lawyers. The new edition of the ABA's Law Practice Today has an introduction to the topic by Neil Juneja, a founder of GleamLaw, one of the nation's first cannabis-focused law firms. It's a pretty good place to start.
Cannabis is the new hot topic of conversation, moving from the smoky dorm to the board room. The green rush is on, and, and as any gold rush of the past, there is good business in selling the picks and shovels to those seeking their fortunes. Coupled with the most difficult legal market for aspiring and new attorneys in the nation’s history, marijuana law is also a hot topic in law schools and in CLEs.
Marijuana is now legal for consenting adults in four states and Washington DC. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states at the time this article was published. The international community is following suit, with an increasing number of nations decriminalizing or outright legalizing cannabis. Colorado now brings in more tax dollars from marijuana than from liquor. The momentum is clear; no matter which party conquers the 2016 presidential election, cannabis is here to stay.
While this nascent industry is growing at a pace unparalleled since the dot-com era, many large law firms refuse to service the clientele because the federal government considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 drug, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
I'm pleased to note that the Texas A&M Journal of Property Law (run this year by many of my students) has issued a call for papers for an academic conference to be held in October. Here's the info:
MARIJUANA AND PROPERTY
Call for Papers — Open until July 1, 2015.
The Journal of Property Law at the Texas A&M University School of Law is hosting a one-day symposium at the Law School in Fort Worth on October 16th, 2015, to consider the effects of marijuana legalization/decriminalization on a broad array of property-related interests, laws, and policies.
Purpose of the Symposium
Nearly half of all U.S. states have enacted -- or have pending -- legislation to legalize, decriminalize, or in some way permit the possession, use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana. As a result, marijuana has become a significant topic of conversation. A variety of legal as well as logistical issues have arisen that ordinarily have been outside the immediate attention of practitioners and policymakers. Specifically, the industry has brought forth new issues pertaining to energy, taxes, intellectual property, land use, banking, and the environment, just to name a few. It is critical that experts now begin to seek out and address the myriad of complications arising from these events.
The goal of the symposium is to create a forum for experts to exchange ideas and advance the collective understanding of these issues. It will also provide an opportunity for scholars and experts to engage directly with one another on those issues at a high level of detail so that they may advance their research and scholarly agendas as well as strengthen their networks.
Scholarly and Policy Papers
The symposium will consist of presentations and panels where participants will present papers and works-in-progress. All presenters will have an opportunity to publish their work in a special symposium issue of the Texas A&M Journal of Property Law.
The symposium will address topics relevant to property and marijuana, including:
• Agricultural Law and Policy
• Business Law and Policy
• Clean Energy Development
• Climate Change Impact, Mitigation, and/or Adaptation
• Ecosystem Management
• Energy Law and Policy
• Environmental Protection and Regulation
• Hazardous Materials/Waste Transportation
• Intellectual Property
• Land Use
• Landlord Tenant Law
• Natural Resource Law and Regulation
• Pesticide Use and Control
• Property Rights
• Recreational Use Management
• Regulatory Law
• Water Conservation
• Water Quality
• Water Rights (including Human Right to Water; Withdrawal – Transfer; Water Access Rights)
The symposium will be organized around the presentation of papers. These may be scholarly or policy oriented, and they may be written for a legal or interdisciplinary audience. Papers do not need to be in final form by the time of the symposium and authors are invited to present advanced drafts that might benefit from the insights and comments of other symposium participants. Final drafts will be due one month after the symposium.
A notice of interest with a proposed paper topic must be submitted by July 1, 2015. The notice of interest should be a brief (250-500 word) statement that includes the author’s research question and thesis and a short outline of what the author hopes to address in his or her paper. More advanced submissions, including detailed abstracts and draft papers are also welcomed, but only a notice of interest is required at this point. Submissions should be accompanied by a brief biography of the author and a curriculum vitae or resume. Submissions should be made to email@example.com. If selected, the author will be notified by July 15, 2015.
A final abstract of the proposed paper will be due by August 14, 2015, and should consist of 750-1000 words. An advanced draft of the paper that would be acceptable to present at the symposium is due no later than October 2, 2015. The facilitators will distribute the selected papers to invited participants in advance of the conference. All final papers will be due November 16, 2015, and will be eligible for publication in the Journal of Property Law subject to the editors’ final review and approval.
Proposals, abstracts, and completed papers must be typed in English. The authors may use whatever citation format is generally accepted in their respective disciplines. Address questions and abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put "symposium" in the subject line. We look forward to reviewing your submissions.
Notice of Interest Deadline: July 1, 2015
Notification to Authors: July 15, 2015
Abstract (Final) Submission Deadline: August 14, 2015
Advanced Draft Paper Deadline: October 2, 2015
Symposium Date: October 16, 2015
Final Paper Deadline: November 16, 2015
Travel funding may be available to cover reasonable airfare and lodging costs, based on need, for a limited number of individuals presenting at the conference and publishing with the Journal. Please include a request for travel funding support when sending your Notice of Interest.
Texas A&M University School of Law
Journal of Property Law
1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, Texas, 76102
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Congratulations to Sam Kamin of Denver's Sturm College of Law, who's just been named the school's first Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy.
Professor Kamin's pioneering course, Representing the Marijuana Client, was probably the first law school class in the country on that topic, and he's done terrific work in the area for many years. Given Sturm Law's setting in the Cannabis Capital of America, it's a great move for the school as well.
Brian Vicente, Christian Sederberg, and their firm, Vicente Sederberg LLC, have been building an enviable reputation in the cannabis law field, and it's great to see them looking to develop future lawyers for the field.
Friday, March 20, 2015
My friend and former Latham & Watkins partner Mark Pulliam -- who's now retired in Austin but keeps current on legal education issues -- forwarded me this piece from George Leef at the Pope Institute for Higher Education Policy: "Death Spiral or Not, Law Schools Won’t Change." Here's part of it:
The essential truth is that our current model of legal education – law school lasting three years – is entirely artificial.
Free-market competition did not decree that prospective lawyers cannot become good practitioners unless they accumulate about 90 credits in approved law classes. No, that was decreed by the American Bar Association, which used its lobbying clout (beginning in the 1920s) to get laws passed in nearly every state that keep people from attempting the bar exam unless they have first graduated from a law school accredited by the ABA.
Until that time, most lawyers learned their profession as apprentices, and few of the law schools in existence insisted that students take three full years of courses. Some crucial lawyering skills are taught in law school, and some of the courses are vital, such as contracts, torts, and property. There isn’t any reason, however, why students couldn’t learn that in other settings.
Students will never make the slightest use of most of the courses they take in quest of the necessary credits for their JDs. Moreover, law school catalogs are increasingly filled with politicized courses that are far more about the professor’s theories than black letter law. As law professor Charles Rounds argued in this Pope Center piece, students get “Bad Sociology, Not Law.”
Even if . . . a top law school closes within three years, that won’t trigger radical change. There cannot be radical change as long as the three-year law school structure is enshrined in law. Just because some law schools collapse, that won’t repeal the laws propping up the law school cartel.
Brown correctly maintains that the system “is unlikely to be changed from within,” but the only external force that will truly bring about change is competition. Presently, law schools compete for students and prestige, but they cannot compete by offering a shorter, more focused form of education that dispenses with much of the unnecessary bundle of courses.
Analytically, this is plainly correct. The shackles on creatively that regulations put on law schools are viewed in legal academia as a bug, but as a feature. Allowing competition, it is said, will encourage a race to the bottom in which the cherished values of legal academics (and the larger society of whom we are the self-appointed guardians) will be sacrificed on the altar of just creating competent lawyers who can help clients. In other words, we'll simply become trade schools.
The sad thing is that not only do law faculties cling to these regulations -- after all, we're at least as likely to focus on our own financial interests as the average auto worker -- but that the practicing bar has been complicit in the process from day one. Current lawyers themselves have very little reason to want to see an influx of new lawyers who are both really competent and relatively unsaddled with debt burdens.
Mr. Leef is, I believe, correct law school failures, even of long-standing, relatively prestigious schools, won't lead to change. As W.H. Auden wrote:
We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
Change, if it comes, will come from outside -- when some brute force more powerful than the American Bar Association and the state judiciaries (such as global competition) succeeds in lifting the regulations.
(BTW, Mark has a great review today of two new books on Chevron's Nostromo-type adventures in Ecuador. Check it out.)
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The Association of American Law Schools, the trade organization of American legal education, is seeking proposals for a program at its annual conference in January 2016. It's called the "Arc of Your Career" program, and it's designed to provide resources for faculty at each stage of their careers. Check out the list of suggested topics.Notice anything missing from the list of things faculty should be working on?
Pre-Tenure to Early Tenured Career
Finding your scholarly/professional community
Exploring alternative media (SSRN, blogs, social media) for projecting your intellectual voice
Modes of engagement as a public intellectual
Getting a first book contract
Reinvention at Mid-Career
Life stage theory and "editing" commitment
Alternatives to traditional scholarship
Law school and university administration
Consulting, expert witness work, board appointments
Retirement and other transitions
So you've been offered a buyout?
Transitioning from academia: part-time teaching? cold turkey? other pursuits
Financial planning and budgeting for retirement
The role of meditation and mindfulness in approaching transitions
Uh, teaching? Apparently the time to start thinking about it is when you're too old to do the important stuff and want to go "part-time."\
It's almost as if the AALS doesn't really think that educating lawyers is very important.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
. . . is TaxProf Paul Caron's take on a couple of recent stories about IBR programs. The bad news, IMO, is that taxpayers are going to be less and less willing to subsidize student loans for would-be lawyers, especially when they think they won't be repaid.
The good news is that the real rate of tuition is down markedly over the past few years. Students with average credentials, by shopping around, can find schools that will give them a steep discount off of the law school's MSRP tuition.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I also want to give a shout out to my colleague Tiffany Dowell, an assistant professor with TAMU's AgriLife Extension and an adjunct professor here at the Law School. Her Texas Agriculture Law Blog has been nominated as one of the ABA Journal's top 100 Blawgs for 2014. In fact, at the present moment it's the top vote-getter in the "niche" category.
The blog is interesting and useful to lawyers, but I particularly like it because Tiffany does a good job of explaining complex issues (e.g., the Endangered Species Act, fracking regulation, mineral rights, GMO rules) in a way that farmers and ranchers can understand. There's a good reason it's popular.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
A piece last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education calls out old tenured faculty for clinging to their cushy, lucrative jobs far past their original product expieration date. The author argues that "Academics who don’t retire are greedy, selfish, and bad for students."
Well, yes, of course they (we?) are! Every unproductive worker whose job is "protected" by some form of employment security is greedy and selfish and bad for his or her employer and customers if he or she keeps clinging to the job. What's remarkable is the idea that anyone would expect academics to be more noble and self-sacrificing than, say, automobile assembly line workers, who use seniority to keep younger, cheaper, and more productive workers unemployed.
Last year, for example, the American Bar Association floated a proposal to eliminate the requirement that all accredited law schools must provide tenure for their professors. (Not to eliminate tenure, mind you, but simply to say that schools are not required to provide tenure if they don't want to.) I wrote a comment, signed by five professors, supporting getting rid of the requirement. By my count more than 700 law professors opposed the change, demanding that their death-grip on their employment was critical to our entire legal system and the provision of justice to all Americans. Here's a typical example.
When you give people entitlements, they tend to keep taking them whether they really need them or not. Academics aren't any different.
Monday, November 3, 2014
My friend and former dean Richard Gershon, who now heads up the law school at Ole Miss, has a great idea:
The College Football Selection Committee is tasked with choosing which four college teams will play for the national championship in January. The committee creates small groups of teams, debates their merits and ranks the teams using as many votes as needed to come up with a consensus. Members are given reams of data on each FBS team and each member is allowed to judge those numbers however they determine is best.
Compare that with the way law schools are ranked. US News sends ballots to all of the law schools asking deans, associate deans, recruitment chairs, and recently tenured faculty to rank the other law schools from 1 to 5. A 1 ranking means that, in the opinion of the ranker, the school is marginal, a 5 ranking means that it is outstanding. Unlike the College Football Selection Committee, we typically have sparse information about the other schools we are ranking. While we do receive brochures and glossy magazines from many of the schools (essentially saying "vote for us"), those promotional materials provide very little objective information upon which to base our votes. Furthermore, the system seems to incentivize bad behavior by rankers, in that they can gain from giving lower rankings to schools they perceive to be competitors. The College Football Selection Committee, on the other hand, has various built-in protections, including recusal rules that are designed to protect the integrity of the process.
To the extent schools are ranked on objective factors, some law schools have found ways to "game the system" by fudging their numbers. In August of this year, the ABA decided that it would no longer require schools to provide student-faculty ratios. US News, however, has stated that it will continue to factor student-faculty ratios into their rankings. It is problematic that a magazine is requiring law schools to provide information no longer deemed relevant by our accrediting organization, especially since the numbers submitted by schools would no longer be subject to ABA scrutiny. The law school rankings process is seriously flawed.
It’s time we had a selection committee for legal education.
Seriously, is it likely to be worse than what we've got? Sadly, it's not likely to happen. The chief advantage of the current system is that schools can tout their ratings when they're good and denounce the ridiculous methodology when they're not. A system designed by law schools themselves would give lower rated schools no room to complain about how the system is rigged. And in any rating system, at least half the schools will be below average . . . .
Thursday, October 23, 2014
A SHOUT OUT TO THE TEXAS A&M REAL PROPERTY LAW JOURNAL which is holding a big conference tomorrow (Friday) at the law school in Fort Worth. The subject is the important new book, Property Law and Social Morality by Peter Gerhart of Case Western Law School. The editors have done a great job of putting together the program, which will feature Gerhart along with Kristen Barnes (Akron), Eric Claeys (Geo. Mason), Blake Hudson (LSU), Kali Murray (Marquette), Christopher Serkin (Vanderbilt), Laura Underkuffler (Cornell), and David Fagundes (Southwestern). The luncheon speaker is prominent Houston attorney Tony Buzbee.
The program runs 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the law school's Scheuerman Conference Center. The schedule is here.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
ONE OF THE LEADERS OF FLORIDA'S MEDICAL MARIJUANA CAMPAIGN is a former dean of the University of Florida School of Law (and former Democratic speaker of the Florida House) who currently runs the school's Center for Governmental Responsibility. A CBS Miami report puts Mills at the center of the battle swirling over alleged "loopholes" in the law. Here's an excerpt:
For former House Speaker Jon Mills, crafting a constitutional amendment that would allow doctors to order pot for extremely ill patients was an opportunity for the onetime University of Florida law-school dean to flex his legal know-how.
But the academic exercise became more personal a year after he started work on Amendment 2, one of three constitutional proposals going before voters this year.
Mills, diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013, is one of the amendment proponents debating the merits of allowing physicians to order marijuana for patients like him.
Opponents of the measure, led by the Florida Sheriffs Association, argue that the proposal is riddled with loopholes that will result in “a joint in every backpack” in Florida schools, legitimize drug dealers and enable doctors to order weed for a sore throat.
After his diagnosis, Mills underwent painful radiation treatment. His doctor ordered powerful narcotics, but, after taking just one, Mills said he decided he would rather suffer the pain than the discombobulation caused by oxycodone.
“I tried it and I hated it,” Mills, a Democrat who served as House speaker in the late 1980s and is now the director of the University of Florida Center for Governmental Responsibility.
The amendment would allow doctors to order marijuana for patients with debilitating conditions listed in the full text of the proposal — such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and hepatitis C — or “other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
That’s a major sticking point for opponents, who use Mills’ own words last year before the Florida Supreme Court to poke holes in the proposal.
Justices asked Mills to explain what patients might tell doctors trying to determine whether their “other conditions” qualify for the marijuana treatment.
“I have throat pain, I can’t sleep, I’m having a problem eating …” a patient might say, Mills told the justices in December.
A clip of Mills’s response is highlighted in one of the many videos released by Drug Free Florida, a political committee funded heavily by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s pumped $4 million into fighting the proposed amendment.
“Those aren’t debilitating diseases. This is how they created the pot-for-anyone-who-wants-it loophole,” an ad asserts.
Friday, October 10, 2014
OKAY, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MARIJUANA, but on a personal note I want to give some props to my friend and colleague Megan Carpenter. Megan is the founder and director of the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas A&M Law -- of which I'm a Fellow -- and is the founder of A&M's new law clinics in entrepreneurship, patent law, and trademark/copyright law.
This Saturday she'll be one of three faculty from across the University who'll be honored for their roles in the University's "Grand Challenge – Building Entrepreneurship, Improving Economic Development" by being introduced on one of college football's most iconic sites, Kyle Field, during the Ole Miss game.
It's fun having colleagues like Megan and being part of a university that's focused on helping make Texas's economy even greater.
Oh, and for a prediction on the game: The #14 Aggies will NOT lose to the #3 Rebels. It's well kn own in Aggieland that Texas A&M has never lost a football game and will never lose one. Sometimes the clock just runs out too soon.