Thursday, April 1, 2010
Mayors across the country have been performing outrageous stunts, each seeking to outdo each other in an attempt to demonstrate to the ContractsProf Blog their commitment to getting their residents access to the Blog's content.
The Mayor of Duluth recently threw himself into Lake Superior. The Mayor of Sarasota took a dip in a shark tank. Wilmington's mayor has offered to jump out of a plane. He is still in negotiation with Blog staff over whether or not he will be permitted to use a parachute. Chicago's Mayor Daley is not willing to go quite so far, but he has started throwing random residents out of airplanes if they complain about not being able to land at MIggs Field anymore.
They are performing these stunts because the search-engine company Google, recently renamed "Topeka," has offered to build a high-speed broadband network in one or more American cities. Such a network would permit residents to access the Blog with speed that will be literally blinding. Don Ness, Duluth's mayor, said that the city is taking precautions.
We've warned our residents that if we get the high-speed internet access that we're seeking, they will have to wear sunglasses year-round. This is something of a hardship in Duluth, given that we only have 17 days of sunshine in an average year, but we think it is well worth it. Sometimes, when I try to access the ContractsProf Blog from City Hall, the page just takes forever to load and the embedded videos don't stream properly. No resident of Duluth should have to wait more than a second or two to get the Weekly Top Ten.
The details of the stunts and their aim, as reported in The New York Times can be found here.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Many who attended the Spring Contracts Conference at UNLV saw a presentation of the "Langdellian Limericks," in which the author explains to his dubious readers the educational purposes to which legal Limericks can be deployed. A few asked, if only to be polite, if the complete collection of contracts Limericks was available in one convenient place. The answer at the time was "no." But I have now revised the draft to include an appendix with my complete contracts oeuvre. The paper can be downloaded from SSRN here. Here is the abstract:
Theirs is no lone cri de coeur.
Now bashing Langdell’s de rigueur.
Knowing case law alone,
A young lawyer is prone
To resemble a high-priced poseur.
A few weeks ago, Professors Douglas Kysar (below right) and Jon Hanson (below left) delivered the Monsanto Lecture at the Valparaiso University School of Law, "Abnormally Dangerous: Inequality Dissonance and the Making of Tort Law." As the subject was torts, I didn't really follow much of it. However, they did have a PowerPoint presentation with an embedded movie about two monkeys, Vulcan and Virgil. You can watch the movie:
SPOILER ALERT: the movie is about monkeys that have to cooperate to get at some nuts. One monkey shares a tool with another monkey in a separate enclosure. The question was whether the monkey that used the tool to get the nuts would share them with his companion. Professors Kysar and Hanson cleverly stopped the movie halfway through, and we all groaned. We wanted to know if the monkeys would share. They did share!! Three nuts each; a perfect 50/50 split. We were all so happy and relieved. Tears flowed, professors and students gave each other high fives and then we all joined in a chorus of kumbaya, with four-part harmony.
Why do we want the monkeys to share and why do we humans so often find reasons not to do so? Professors Kysar and Hanson know the answers, but you will have to read their paper when it appears in the Valparaiso Law Review to find out. In the meantime, here's a case in point. As reported here on Boston.com, two sisters are fighting over whether or not one sister must share her $500,000 in lottery winnings with the other.
Theresa Sokaitis, who is 84, and Rose Bakaysa, who is 87, seem to have developed a habit of small-stakes gambling. The two sisters always split their winnings 50-50. Fifteen years ago, after they won $165,000 at a casino, they formalized their arrangement in a notarized, executed written agreement to that effect. The crucial language is as follows:
We are partners in any winning we shall receive. (Such as slot machines, cards, at Foxwoods Casino, and tickets, etc.).’
One year later, the sisters feuded. Ms. Sokaitis renounced the partnership and Ms. Bakaysa said that was fine with her. Ms. Bakaysa, the lottery winner, tore up the contract and informed her sister that she wouldn't get a dime. The two are now squaring off in the New Britain Superior Court in Connecticut. One lawyer involved in the case commented, "It's a real sad story on every level."
Indeed. Why can't we be more like monkeys?
Monday, March 29, 2010
Mindy Chen-Wishart, Consideration and Serious Intention,  Singapore J. Legal Stud. 434.
David Collins, Reliance Based Remedies at ICSID [International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes], 29 Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus. 101 (2009).
Karen E. Francis, Note, Rollover, Rollover: A Behavioral Law and Economics Analysis of the Payday-Loan Industry, 88 Tex. L. Rev. 611 (2010).
Stephen E. Friedman, Giving Unconscionability More Muscle: Attorney's Fees as a Remedy for Contractual Overreaching, 44 Ga. L. Rev. 317 (2010).
Daniel Lano, Comment, Navigating the Minefield: Copyright, the Right of Publicity, and Contracts, 19 DePaul J. Art, Tech. & Intell. Prop. L. 119 (2008).
Mark Leeming, The Scope of Fiduciary Obligations: How Contract Informs, But Does Not Determine, the Scope of Fiduciary Obligations, 3 J. Equity 181 (2009).
Alex B. Long, Attorney-Client Fee Agreements that Offend Public Policy, 61 S.C. L. Rev. 287 (2009).
Kate O'Neill, "Should I Stay or Should I Go?": Covenants Not to Compete in a Down Economy: A Proposal for Better Advocacy and Better Judicial Opinions, 6 Hastings Bus. L.J. 83 (2010).
Prince Saprai, Against Equality of Exchange, 21 King's L.J. 71 (2010).
Yock Lin Tan, Construction of Commercial Contracts and Parol Evidence,  Singapore J. Legal Stud. 301.
[Keith A. Rowley]
Unbeknownst to most Contracts Professors, a cultural phenomenon has arisen on YouTube known as "Hitler Rants." The method is simple. Most exemplars of the genre take a scene from the recent film about the last days of Hitler, "Downfall," and insert sub-titles to make it seem like Hitler is angry about something other than the defeat of Germany's armed forces. The funniest one that I have seen is the one where Hitler plays a law professor who learns that he has to teach on Fridays.
Here's one about Hitler's frustration with contracts doctrine. Unfortunately, it seems to have been done by an English law student. As a result, many of the references may be obscure to our U.S. readers.