ContractsProf Blog

Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Moving at the Speed of Facebook to Improve Experimentation on Consumers

As we learned from reading Michelle Meyer on The Faculty Lounge today, Facebook has issued a Press Release on Research at Facebook.  As we discussed previously here, Internet-based companies have decided that they will self-regulate their own research programs.  Here are the highlights:

  • The_Anatomy_LessonGuidelines: we’ve given researchers clearer guidelines. If proposed work is focused on studying particular groups or populations (such as people of a certain age) or if it relates to content that may be considered deeply personal (such as emotions) it will go through an enhanced review process before research can begin. The guidelines also require further review if the work involves a collaboration with someone in the academic community.
  • Review: we’ve created a panel including our most senior subject-area researchers, along with people from our engineering, research, legal, privacy and policy teams, that will review projects falling within these guidelines. This is in addition to our existing privacy cross-functional review for products and research.
  • Training: we’ve incorporated education on our research practices into Facebook’s six-week training program, called bootcamp, that new engineers go through, as well as training for others doing research. We’ll also include a section on research in the annual privacy and security training that is required of everyone at Facebook.
  • Research website: our published academic research is now available at a single location and will be updated regularly.

Based on the New York Times article we cited in our last post on this subject, we hoped that Internet companies would at least subject research designs to outside review.  It looks like Facebook's review process is going to be entirely in-house.  

October 2, 2014 in Commentary, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cross Post from Legally Speaking Ohio on Specific Performance of an Employment Agreement

BettmanThis is a edited version of a longer post from the Legally Speaking Ohio blog, written by Marianna Brown Bettman (pictured), a law professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she teaches torts, legal ethics, and a seminar on the Supreme Court of Ohio.  She is also a former Ohio state court of appeals judge.  

Professor Bettman's full blog post can be found here.

Cedar Fair, L.P. v. Falfas

Case Background

Jacob Falfas worked continuously for Cedar Fair for nearly thirty five years. In 2005 he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, pursuant to a written employment agreement. Falfas reported directly to Richard Kinzel, Cedar Fair’s Board Chair, President, and CEO.

In June of 2010 Falfas became aware of Kinzel’s dissatisfaction with certain aspects of his work. The two men had a 94 second telephone call on June 10, 2010. It is undisputed that after this phone call, Falfas’ employment with the company ended, but Kinzel believed that Falfas had quit, and Falfas believed he had been fired.

Arbitration

The employment agreement between the parties contained a binding arbitration provision. The parties arbitrated their dispute, resulting in a finding that Falfas had not resigned, but was terminated for reasons other than cause. The arbitrators found that equitable relief was needed to restore the parties to the positions they held prior to the breach of the employment agreement, and ordered Cedar Fair to reinstate Falfas to his former position.

Judicial Review of Arbitration Award

On appeal to the Erie County Common Pleas Court, the trial judge found that the arbitration panel’s order of reinstatement exceeded its authority under the employment agreement.  The Sixth District Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the trial court erred in refusing to order reinstatement.

Executive Summary

Specific performance is not a remedy in this breach of an employment agreement case.

Arbitration Fundamentals

An arbitrator’s authority to interpret a contract is drawn from the contract itself. The statutory authority of courts to vacate an arbitrator’s award is very limited. Arbitrators act within their authority to craft a remedy as long as the award “draws its essence” from the contract, but an award departs from the essence of a contract when the award conflicts with the express terms of the agreement or cannot rationally be supported by the terms of the agreement.

In this case the court found that the arbitration panel exceeded its powers in ordering Cedar Fair to reinstate Falfas.

Case Syllabus

Specific performance is not an available remedy for breach of an employment contract unless it is explicitly provided for in the contract or by an applicable statute. (Masetta v. Natl. Bronze & Aluminum Foundry Co., 159 Ohio St. 306, 112 N.E.2d 15 (1953), applied.)

September 25, 2014 in Recent Cases, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Planet Money Episode 570: The Fine Print

38108_logo
The folks over at NPR's PlanetMoney have a new episode titled "The Fine Print." And it delivers!  By their description:

On today's show, we read our homeowners insurance policy.

The details are amazing. Lava! Vermin! Falling objects! And, hiding in all the fine print, the story of how insurance works — and what makes it break.

The episode happens to have relevance to our ongoing symposium and even features a conversation with Daniel Schwarcz, one of the symposium contributors.  If you listen, you'll hear Prof. Schwarcz admit that, to be sexy, insurance law might just need a little airbrushing.

Definitely worth listening - Enjoy!

September 23, 2014 in In the News, Miscellaneous, Teaching, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Contracts and the Case of Steven Salaita

A lot of ink has been spilled over this subject, and I don't have much to add, except to note that I have not seen a very many good discussions of the contract issues.  

The very short version of the story, as best I can cobble it together from blog posts, is that the University of Illinois offered a position in its American Indian Studies program to Steven Salaita, who had previously been teaching at Virginia Tech.  According to this article in the Chicago Tribune, the U of I sent Professor Salaita an offer letter, which he signed and returned in October 2013.  Professor Salaita was informed that his appointment was subject to approval by the U of I's Board of Trustees, but everyone understood that to be pro forma.  In August 2014, Salaita the U of I Chancellor notified Professor Salaita that his appointment would not be presented to the Board and that he was no longer a candidate for a position.  According to the Tribune, the Board next meets in September, after Professor Salaita's employment would have begun.  The Chancellor apparently decided not to present Professor Salaita's contract for approval because of his extensive tweets on the Isreali-Palestinian conflict, which may or may not be anti-Semitic, depending on how one reads them.  

The main argument in the blogosphere is over whether or not the U of I's conduct is a violation of academic freedom. But there is also a secondary argument over whether Professor Salaita has a breach of  contract of promissory estoppel claim against the U of I.  The list of impressive posts and letters on the whole Salaita incident include:

Michael Dorf on Verdict: Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia

Katherine Franke, et al. in a letter to the U of I Chancellor

Brian Leiter commenting on the Franke letter on Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Michael Rothberg, in a letter to the U of I Chancellor

Steven Lubet at The Faculty Lounge here and here

Jonathan Adler on the Volokh Conspiracy here, here and here

Finally, Dave Hoffman stepped in on Concurring Opinions to address the promissory estoppel issues  and then answers Michael Dorf's response 

Hoffman makes strong arguments that there was no breach of contract here, because the offer was clearly conditional on Board approval.  There are arguments that the promise breached was a failure to present Salaita's employment to the Board, but the remedy for that breach would simply be presentment, at which point both the claim and the appointment would go away (unless U of I has a change of heart on the matter).  

We would have to know more about the process to make a more educated guess about whether or not a breach of contract claim here could succeed.  I think it is relevant that, at the point Salaita was informed that the offer was rescinded, the Board could not meet before his employment would have begun.  I suspect that his courses were already scheduled and that students had, at least provisionally, registered for them.  I wonder if there were any announcements on the U of I website crowing about their recent hires.  All of this would be relevant, it seems to me, to the state of mind of the parties regarding whether or not a contract had been made.  It would be very sad for all of us in academia if it turned out to be the case that our offer letters mean nothing until the Board has spoken, as acceptance of a position usually involves major life changes, including giving notice at current jobs, moving to a new city, selling and buying a residence, etc.

I have no doubt that Dave Hoffman is right that promissory estoppel claims rarely succeed.  I do think that some versions of the facts presented here suggest that this one might be a winner nonetheless or, as Hoffman suggests, is the kind of claim that is worth bringing at least in order to make the threat of discovery on the subject a strong inducement to the U of I to settle the case.  But the remedy for promissory estoppel is probably not really the remedy Salaita seeks.  

Professor Salaita's claims -- his academic freedom and constitutional claims -- go beyond the issues of contract and promissory estoppel.  A lot has been written on this situation, and I haven't had a chance to read everything carefully, but I have yet to see a clear discussion of whether those claims hinge on Professor Salaita's contractual claims.  It seems likely to me that if he had no contract, then he had no free speech or academic freedom rights vis a vis the U of I.  And I don't think a promissory estoppel claim would get him such protections either.  Or do people think that universities have a generalizable erga omnes duty to protect academic freedom?

ADDENDUM

Dave Hoffman has an additional post up on Concurring Opinions here.  

August 21, 2014 in Conferences, Contract Profs, In the News, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Presidential Executive Order Refuses Government Contracts to Companies that Mandate Employee Arbitration

This informative post from Jean Sternlight (via Art Hinshaw) over at ADR Prof Blog:

President Obama today signed a new Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order refusing to grant government contracts of over a million dollars to companies who mandate their employees arbitrate disputes involving discrimination, accusations of sexual assault, or harassment.  This new order mirrors protections Congress already provided to employees of Defense Department contractors in 2011 in the so-called “Franken amendment.” The order also requires prospective federal contractors to disclose prior labor law violations and will instruct agencies not to do business with egregious violators.

While the executive order is limited in its scope (only protects employees who work for companies with large government contracts and only applies to arbitration of certain kid of claims), it is a step toward the Arbitration Fairness Act, which would prohibit mandatory arbitration more braodly.  More here.  

August 11, 2014 in In the News, Legislation, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The ContractsProf Blog Welcomes Mirror of Justice to the LPBN Family

LPBNAs Blog Emperor Paul Caron announced here on the Mother of All Blawgs, the TaxProf Blog, Mirror of Justice, a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory edited by Rick Garnett (Notre Dame) and 19 other prominent law professors of faith, has joined the Law Professor Blogs Network.  

Rick Garnett announced the move on MoJ here.

We are delighted to welcome this well-established and tremendously interesting blog to the LPBN family, and we marvel at Paul's remarkably expanding empire.

July 24, 2014 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Supreme Court of Ohio Rules in Condition Precedent Case

BettmanThis is a edited version of a longer post from the Legally Speaking Ohio blog, written by Marianna Brown Bettman (pictured), a law professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she teaches torts, legal ethics, and a seminar on the Supreme Court of Ohio.  She is also a former Ohio state court of appeals judge.  

Professor Bettman's full blog post can be found here.

On July 17, 2014, the Supreme Court of Ohio handed down a merit decision in Transtar Elec., Inc. v. A.E.M. Elec. Servs. Corp.Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-3095. In a 5-2 opinion authored by Justice Kennedy, the Court held that a contract for work performed by a subcontractor for a general contractor which contains a provision that payment by the project owner to the general contractor is a condition precedent to payment by the general contractor to the sub is a pay-if-paid provision. Such a provision clearly and unequivocally shows the intent of the parties to transfer the risk of the owner’s nonpayment from the general contractor to the subcontractor.  Justice O’Neill dissented, for himself and Justice Pfeifer.  The case was argued November 5, 2013.

Case Background

A.E.M was the general contractor on the construction of a swimming pool at a Holiday Inn. A.E.M. entered into a subcontract with Transtar to perform electrical work on the project. Transtar fully performed the work under the contract, and was paid $142,620. A.E.M. did not pay Transtar the remaining balance of $44,088 because A.E.M. contended the owner failed to pay it for Transtar’s work.

Section 4 of the subcontracting agreement included this provision, which was in bold and in capital letters: “Receipt of payment by contractor from the owner for work performed by subcontractor is a condition precedent to payment by contractor to subcontractor for that work.”

. . .

Analysis of Merit Decision

Definitions: Pay-when-Paid versus Pay-if-Paid

The Court explains there are two types of contract provisions between general and subcontractors.  A pay-when-paid provision is one in which a general contractor makes an unconditional promise to pay the subcontractor, within a reasonable period of time to allow the general contractor to be paid.  A pay-when-paid provision is not affected by the owner’s nonpayment.

By contrast, a pay-if-paid provision is a conditional promise to pay that is enforceable only if a condition precedent has occurred.  Under this type of contract, the general contractor is only required to pay the subcontractor if the owner pays the general contractor.  Under a pay-if-paid contract, the risk of the owner’s nonpayment is shifted to the subcontractor.

The issue in the case is which kind of contract provision was this one? Short answer: pay-if-paid.

. . .

Application of the Rule to the Contract in this Case

The Court held that Section 4 of the contract between A.E.M. and Transfer is a pay-if-paid provision, and clearly and unequivocally shows that the parties intended to transfer the risk of the owner’s nonpayment from A.E.M. to Transtar.

Conclusion

The court of appeals is reversed and the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment to A.E.M. is reinstated.

Dissent

Justice O’Neill, joined by Justice Pfeifer in dissent, would find the language in this particular contract inadequate as a matter of law to transfer the risk of nonpayment by the owner from A.E.M. to Transtar.  He would find the ambiguities in the wording create genuine issues of material fact that make summary judgment inappropriate.

 . . .

July 21, 2014 in Recent Cases, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 7, 2014

23andMe's Wrap Contracts

H/T to Eric Goldman for sharing with the list a new case from Judge Lucy Koh of the federal district court of Northern California.  Tompkins v. 23andMe provides a detailed analysis of 23andMe's wrap contracts.  The case involves the same Terms of Service presented as a hyperlink at the bottom of the website's pages, and then later, post-purchase and at the time of account creation, as a hyperlink that requires a "click" in order to proceed (which I refer to as a "multi-wrap" as it's neither browsewrap nor clickwrap but a little of both).  The court says the former presentation lacks notice, but the latter constitutes adequate formation.  Eric Goldman provides a detailed analysis of the case here.  

Not surprisingly, the Terms contained a unilateral modification clause which was briefly discussed in the context of substantive  unconscionability.  It was not, however, raised as a defense to formation, i.e. to argue that the promises made by 23andme were illusory.  

July 7, 2014 in Commentary, E-commerce, Famous Cases, Miscellaneous, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Follow-up on Nancy Kim's Post about Facebook's Creepy Experiment

Michelle-meyerMichelle Meyer (pictured) has a very detailed post on this subject over at The Faculty Lounge.  Her approach is different from Nancy's, focusing narrowly (but thoroughly) on the question of whether an Institutional Review Board (IRB) could have approved the FB experiment. There Meyer arrives at a different conclusion than I think Nancy would arrive at.  Meyer thinks an IRB could have and should have approved the FB experiment based on informed consent (although she recognizes that one could dispute whether such consent was actually present), and Nancy, I think correctly, questions whether there are very strong arguments that FB users knowingly agreed to this kind of experiment when they agreed to FB's terms.  

July 4, 2014 in About this Blog, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Move over Uber; Make Room for BlaBlaCar

CarpoolToday's New York Times features a story about a new ride-sharing service called BlaBlaCar.  The idea is simple -- it's just an internet ride board.  Riders share with drivers the cost of travel between two cities.  Drivers are forbidden from profiting from the ride share; BlaBlaCar takes a 12% cut.  Cost savings over common carriers are significant, ranging according to the NY Times from 33% to 67%

The gimmick is the BlaBla part.  Riders can indicate how much they want to talk en route.  If you mark Bla, you want to ride in silence (or perhaps you want everyone to know that they can talk all they want but you will be hooked in to your iPod).  If you mark BlaBlaBla, other riders (and the driver) are on notice that you will not shut up for six straight hours.  

I don't think this would work for me.  It's a question of etiquette and signaling.  This might be useful if one could be more specific: e.g., BlaBla#WorldCup or BlaBlaBla#Kardashians or BlaBlaBla#MyElderlyMother'sHealthProblemsandMyRecentBreak-up would be useful to know in advance.  If I were being honest, I would proclaim BlaBlaBla#HansKelsen, but that would guarantee me a train ticket.  I might strategize and put Bla, because it seems more likely than not that I would not find all that much in common with my fellow passengers.  But what if they turn out to be interesting?  Can I BlaBlaBla, if I promised only Bla?  Then, the next time I use BlaBlaCar, I might regret my misanthropy and commit to BlaBlaBla.  Would I be a jerk if, after half an hour of conversations about pop stars or the best gear for rock climbing, I pulled out my iPod?  

Of course, the odds are that most users of BlaBlaCar are young and interesting (to me), but I am old and boring (to them).  So I should put BlaBlaBla because I am interested in hearing what 20- or 30-somethings are doing these days as they commute between European cities, but I would advise them to Bla me, because they likely do not want to hear about Hans Kelsen.  This is based on my recent visit with my niece and three nephews whose BlaBlaBla fascinated me (when I could follow it) but who found my Bla, well, blah, or even bleh, but certainly nothing above meh.

HitchhikersBut the question of legal liabilities does nag.  BlaBlaCar seems rather blithe about the issues.  The driver's insurance covers the possibility of injuries to passengers, and women who are wary of sharing cars with strange men can opt to ride only with other women.  As for the rest, riders can rely on reviews of drivers and steer away from those who seem sketchy.   This is all certainly an improvement over the level of risks assumed by, say, hitchhikers. 

BlaBlaCar's terms of service put passengers on notice that the site cannot guarantee that they will be insured:

However BlaBlaCar gives no warranty or assurance in this regard and it is the Driver’s responsibility to verify that their insurance provides adequate cover. 

As for other concerns, BlaBlaCar attempts to cover them under its Good Conduct Charter.

July 2, 2014 in Commentary, Travel, True Contracts, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Posner Sides with Donald Trump Upholding Dismissal of Suit by 87-Year-Old Woman

Trump Int'lIn 2006, Jacqueline Goldberg signed an agreement* to purchase two hotel condominium units in Trump Tower Chicago, a 92-story building in downtown Chicago that comprises residential condo units, hotel condo units and all of the amenities one expects to find in a hotel (pictured at left).  Some of these amenities are called "common elements" in which each individual purchaser of the condo units has rights.  But the agreement into which Ms. Goldberg entered included a "change clause" that permitted the Trump Organizations to modify those rights with either the notice to or approval by the purchasers.  Ms. Goldberg attempted to negotiate for a return of her deposit if she disapproved of the changes, but the Trump Organizations refused.  Three such changes took place before Ms. Goldberg signed the agreement.  

But then came the fourth change, to which Ms. Goldberg strenuously objected.  She refused to close on the deal and demanded a return of her $516,000 deposit.  The Trump Organizations placed her deposit in escrow, and she sued, alleging breach of contract and other causes of action.  Some of her claims were dismissed, some were tried before a jury, and some were tried before a judge.  Both the jury and the judge found for the Defendants.  Ms. Goldberg appealed to the Seventh Circuit, resulting in Judge Posner's opinion upholding the District Court in Goldberg v. 401 North Wabash Venture LLC.

Ms. Goldberg's common law allegations basically came down to a claim that the Trump Organizations had engaged in a bait and switch -- she had bought the condos as an investment and had been led to believe that they would have a certain value.  After the changes, that value was diminished.  Judge Posner rejected this characterization of the agreement, since Ms. Goldberg, "a wealthy and financially sophisticated Chicago businesswoman," was aware of the change clause and had even attempted to have it removed.  On the facts, there was no deception.  She took a risk when she entered into the agreement with the change clause included.

Of more interest to us, Judge Posner concluded that Ms. Goldberg's breach of contract claim collapsed once her "bait-and-switch" theory was eliminated.  While there is a duty of good faith, Judge Posner reminded Ms. Goldberg that it applies only in the performance of a contract, not in its formation.  There follows an interesting discussion of law and equity.  Ms. Goldberg challenged the trial judge's decision to decide on her breach of contract claim rather than submit the question to the jury.  Judge Posner noted that rescission is an equitable, not a legal, remedy, and under both Illinois and Federal law, there is no right to a jury trial on an equitable claim.

One could imagine that Ms. Goldberg might have argued that the Trump Organizations breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing in the performance of the contract.  After all, the bait might have occurred in the formation of the contract, but the switch occurred during performance.  Ms. Goldberg would then have to show that while some changes were to be expected under the change clause, the actual changes that the Trump Organizations engaged in were not in the contemplation of the parties at the time they entered into the contract and undermined the original agreement (or something like that).  It's not clear that Ms. Goldberg could have made such a showing.  It seems that the Trump Organizations had good reasons for the changes that were made.  In any case, if she were making that sort of argument, I think Ms. Goldberg would not have sought rescission of the agreement but enforcement of the original agreement without the changes.  

Finally, one might see this as another example of corporations getting to impose unreasonable terms on a consumer.  Here, Judge Posner has very little sympathy for the plaintiff, despite her advanced age, because of her sophistication.  But the facts make clear that even she, who bought two condos as an investment, had no bargaining power as to the terms at issue.  Posner undoubtedly applied the law correctly, but just think, if a person with Ms. Goldberg's means has no bargaining power as to one-sided and potentially unreasonable terms, what chance do the rest of us have?

For a different take on the same case, check out my law school's student law blog, the VALPOLAWBLOG, where you can find this post by student Faith Alvarez.

*Following Judge Posner's example, we simplify things by making it one agreement and ignore the complexities of the various Trump entities by referring to those entities collectively as the Trump Organizations.

June 25, 2014 in Commentary, Recent Cases, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

REFinBlog Joins the Law Professor Blogs Network

LPBNAs announced here on the TaxProf Blog, the Law Professor Blogs Network has added another member to its roster.  The REFinBlog began in November 2012 and it is edited by Brad Borden (Brooklyn) and David Reiss (Brooklyn).  The blog tracks developments in the real estate finance industry.  

We welcome REFinBlog to the LPBN family and as always wish the contributors to our new sibling happy blogging. 

May 28, 2014 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two New Additions to the Law Professor Blogs Network

LPBNFirst, as announced on the TaxProf Blog hereThe Right Coast, edited by Thomas A. Smith (San Diego), has joined the Law Professor Blogs Network.  

Second, as announced on the TaxProf Blog here, the Law Professor Blogs Network is thrilled to announce the launch of Clinical Law Prof Blog, edited by Jeff Baker (Pepperdine) with these contributing editors:

  • Bryan Adamson (Seattle)
  • Kim Bart (Duke)
  • Kelly Behre (UC-Davis)
  • Warren Binford (Willamette)
  • Kristina Campbell (UDC)
  • Tanya Cooper (Alabama)
  • Meta Copeland (Mississippi College)
  • Jill Engle (Penn State)
  • Carrie Hagan (Indiana)
  • D’lorah Hughes (Arkansas (Fayetteville))
  • Robert Lancaster (LSU)
  • Inga Laurent (Gonzaga)
  • Kelly McTear (Faulkner)
  • Kelly Olson (Arkansas (Little Rock))
  • Brittany Stringfellow Otey (Pepperdine)
  • Danny Schaffzin (Memphis)
  • Kelly Terry (Arkansas (Little Rock))
  • Virgil Wiebe (St. Thomas)

From Jeff's inaugural post:

We hope to amplify and magnify the work of clinical law professors, to share resources and ideas and to collaborate with our colleagues online and in social media who are serving our community.  We write to advance the twin causes of good teaching and justice.   

Welcome, and happy blogging.

April 24, 2014 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 14, 2014

We're #35! Readership up 80%

Upward chartSix months ago, we reported that our blog is ranked #41 in the top 50 law blogs (or blawgs) and that we had experienced a healthy 9% growth in our readership over the previous 12-month period.

Today, Paul Caron announced on the TaxProf Blog that we have climbed to #35, with a 79.9% increase in our readership.  

Thanks to all of our contributors and to our readers.  We hope the upward trend continues.

April 14, 2014 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Law Professors Blog Network Welcomes Four New Blogs to the Roster

LPBNAs announced here on the TaxProf Blog, the Mother Ship of the Law Professor Blogs Network, the latter is thrilled to announce the launch of four new blogs:

  • Comparative Law Prof Blog, edited by Shawn Marie Boyne (Indiana), Monica Eppinger (Saint Louis), Lissa Griffin (Pace) & Shitong Qiao (NYU)
  • Human Rights At Home Blog, edited by Martha F. Davis (Northeastern) & Margaret Drew (Northeastern)
  • Law and Economics Prof Blog, edited by Gerrit De Geest (Washington U.), Ben Depoorter (UC-Hastings), Brian Galle (Boston College), David Gamage (UC-Berkeley), Shi-Ling Hsu (Florida State), Murat C. Mungan (Florida State), Eric Rasmusen (Indiana) & Manuel A. Utset, Jr. (Florida State)
  • Legislation Law Prof Blog, edited by Kevin Barry (Quinnipiac), Emily Benfer (Loyola-Chicago), Sara K. Rankin (Seattle) & Joel Rogers (Wisconsin)

To all the new start-ups, we say: Welcome and we look forward to your posts.

March 24, 2014 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Law Professor Blogs Network Is Going Gangbusters

LPBNAs noted here on the TaxProf Blog, the mother of all LPBN Blogs, the Law Professor Blogs Network enjoyed a record-setting 2013, with traffic up 87.5% over 2012 as total network page views topped 18 million.  Eighteen of the network's blogs are among the 50 most popular blogs edited by law professors.  Four network blogs were named to the ABA Blawg 100 ("the 100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers, as chosen by the editors of the ABA Journal"), and one network blog was named to the ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame.

 Brian Leiter's Law School Reports and Law School Rankings joined the network in October.  The network launched nine new blogs in 2013:

[JT]

January 8, 2014 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We Welcome the Appellate Advocacy Blog to the Law Professor Blog Network

ClevelandAs announced here on the TaxProf Blog, the Mother Ship of the Law Professor Blogs Network, the latter welcomes to its family the Appellate Advocacy Blog edited by David R. Cleveland (Valparaiso), Kendall D. Isaac(Appalachian), Tonya Kowalski (Washburn), and Todd Bruno (Charleston).

It brings us especial pleasure to welcome this blog to the Network because my colleague, David Cleveland (pictured), is a founding editor.  Soon the Valpo Blog Network will rival Paul Caron's Blog Empire. 

From the inaugural post:

Welcome to the Appellate Advocacy Blog on the Law Professor Blogs Network. On this blog, we plan to address a wide variety of issues related to appellate justice. This includes appellate court advocacy and practice, principles of appellate justice, appellate court jurisprudence on current issues, and legislative developments affecting the courts. We hope to keep our readers informed about cases and issues on appeal as well as scholarship, research, conferences, and news related to appellate courts. Our interest is in appellate advocacy and justice, broadly conceived, including state, federal, tribal, and international appellate courts. We hope that this blog will provide useful information, interesting perspectives, and fodder for engaging discussions.

We look forward to your posts.

[JT]

November 21, 2013 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Law School and Work

I am very interested to see what the Law School Deans have to say on their new blog on legal education.  This is a subject that interests us over at the ContractsProfs Blog as well.  The Deans have already posted in praise of the ABA recommendation that the 20-hour/week limit on employment for full-time students be eliminated.   I agree with the logic of the argument -- the ABA does not prohibit students from doing anything else (moot court competition, law review, student government, video games) more than twenty hours a week, so why should it prohibit employment?  

WaiterStill, I think there is an answer.  There may be students who can work more than 20 hours a week and still excel in law school, but I think they would be exceptional.  For most students, law school is hard in ways that college is not.  And they do not realize that coming in.  They worked through college, so they think they can work their way through law school.  But by the time they learn that law school presents new challenges, they have already done permanent damage to their transcripts.  The 20-hour rule is profilactic, so it is bound to be overinclusive, but this is probably a situation where a bright-line rule makes sense.  

It is true that students can spend time in non-remunerative activities to their heart's content but I think there is a difference.  Students can tell both themselves and their professors, "I'm sorry; I don't have time to prepare for your class because I have a job."  That excuse will not work as well with any other activity.  And to the extent that students are putting in extra hours in activities like moot court competitions, law review, clinical work or pro-bono legal activities, those are all part of their legal educations.  

The argument that students need to work to support themselves doesn't necessarily fly, since many of them are working in jobs that pay very little compared  to the debt they are incurring.  They are far better off getting the most out of their investment in legal education than they are earning pocket money.  These sentiments open me up to the accusation of paternalism, and I cannot deny that the accusations score a palpable hit.  But in an educational context in which much of the curriculum is required, and a good deal more of it is very strongly recommended, I think we crossed that line long ago in far more substantial ways.  

One of the main things that I try to get across, especially to first-year students, is that this, meaning law school, is their job now.  There may be personal crises and family emergencies that call out for our students' attention, but students have to negotiate those demands and the demands of law school just as they would those demands and the demands of the working world.  The law school curriclum is not going to wait for them.  If students are distracted when we go over the statute of frauds and the parol evidence rule, they should not expect to be able to catch up when we are covering remedies.  There just won't be time. 

It is fine with me if the ABA gets rid of the 20-hour rule, but if it did so, I would recommend that my own law school adopt its own 20-hour rule for our students, with the possibility of exemptions (perhaps issued by the Dean of Students) in special cases when we know the student can handle the demands of both work and school.  If we are going to have paternalist rules, they should come from within the house rather than from our ABA Big Brother's house.

[JT]

October 9, 2013 in Commentary, Teaching, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Another New Blog Joins the Law Professor Blog Network

LPBNAs announced here on the TaxProf Blog, the Mother Ship of the Law Professor Blog Network, of which this blog is a proud member, a new Law Deans on Legal Education Blog has just been launched: 

From the inaugural post:

We are pleased to introduce our new blog devoted to legal education from the perspective of law deans. We hope this blog will provide a place where you will find information, opinions, and thoughts about a range of topics and issues related to legal education. The editors of this blog are Dean Richard Gershon of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Dean Paul McGreal of the University of Dayton School of Law, and Dean Cynthia Fountaine of the Southern Illinois University School of Law. We look forward to sharing our thoughts about legal education with you and hope you enjoy our blog.

[JT]

October 8, 2013 in About this Blog, Law Schools, Teaching, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We Welcome Four New Blogs to the LPBN Family

LPBNAs announced here on the TaxProf Blog, the Mother Ship of the Law Professor Blog Network, of which this blog is a proud member,  has added four new blogs.  They are:

  • Business Law Prof Blog, by C. Steven Bradford (Nebraska), Eric C. Chaffee (Toledo), Joshua P. Fershee (West Virginia), Marcia L. Narine (St. Thomas), Stefan J. Padfield (Akron) & Anne Tucker (Georgia State)
  • Education Law Prof Blog, by Derek Black (South Carolina) LaJuana Davis (Cumberland) & Areto Imoukhuede (Nova)
  • Elder Law Prof Blog, by Kim Dayton (William Mitchell), Rebecca C. Morgan (Stetson) & Katherine C. Pearson (Penn State)
  • Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform, by Douglas A. Berman (Ohio State)

We welcome our colleagues to the wonderful world of blogging and wish them all great success.

[JT]

September 10, 2013 in About this Blog, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)