March 29, 2008
NAFTA -- Myth vs. Facts
Conducting Counterinsurgency Operations: Lessons from Iraq (2003-2006)
New report from the RAND Corporation: "This research brief examines U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Iraq from 2003 to 2006, including U.S. failure to protect Iraqi civilians; discusses implications for future conflicts; and recommends steps to improve U.S. COIN capabilities." [RJ]
March 28, 2008
US News 2009 Law School Rankings Now Online
|Background Information by US News|
The 2009 US News Law School Rankings is now online in a substantially redesigned web format. The rankings cover 195 law schools: Top 100 ranked (104 schools because of ties) with (a) 37 schools listed in Tier 3, (b) 43 in Tier 4 and (c) 11 unranked schools. To focus in on specific schools, check out the A-Z Directory of Law Schools.
Prospective Law School Students. If prospective law school students get past the overall numerical ranking they may find some helpful information in the "School Trends" series of articles. Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings, the leading source of alternative law school ranking information, provides substantially better (read empirical instead of hearsay) information than US News when it comes to law school reputations and the only reliable placement data.
Law School Trend Articles
- What are the priciest and cheapest private law schools? (Yale - BYU)
- What are the priciest and cheapest public law schools? (Michigan - North Carolina Central)
- Whose graduates have the most debt? The least? (Northwestern - Southern Univ. Baton Rouge)
- Which public schools award the most and the least financial aid? (Virginia - South Dakota)
- Which private schools award the most and the least financial aid? (Loyola Marymount - Atlanta's John Marshall)
Two law school trend articles are only available on the fee-based "premium" online version. For the reasons noted below, neither are worth the money:
- What schools have the best first-time bar passage rate? Listed by state of jurisdiction, this information is readily available.
- Whose graduates are the most and least likely to land a job? Unreliable because law schools have been known to fudge this unaudited self-reported data.
A Class of 2010 Columbia Law School student has posted a video that prospective law school students may find interesting. See also her blog, Law School: USA. [JH]
Choosing a Law School: Money over Rankings
Friday Fun: Help Prevent Legal Research Stress Toy Abuse
We'll end Spring Break month with this reminder from Westlaw. This is last chance for academic law librarians to drum some legal research principles and techniques into the heads of 3Ls before they are dumped into the laps of our long-suffering colleagues who serve members of the bench and bar. [JH]
Jarmon's List of Resources for Visual Learners
Many students have higher scores for visual learning than verbal learning when they take learning style assessments. Amy Jarmon (Texas Tech) provides a list of resources for visual learners on Law School Academic Support Blog. [JH]
OSU's Douglas Whaley Reflects on the Professional Side of a Teacher's Life
An interesting thought piece from retired OSU law prof Douglas J. Whaley: Teaching Law: Thoughts on Retirement, 68 Ohio St. L.J. 1387 (2007) [Westlaw]. From the introduction:
In 1982, I published an article entitled Teaching Law: Advice for the New Professor, which gained some currency in legal education circles. Alas, it has become dated by time, though I stand by many of its basic precepts. I will not repeat here my original advice on many topics, such as how to choose a casebook and how to get ready for your first class or your first exam, but I would like to elaborate on some of the advice I gave twenty-five years ago and then add a new thought or two.
In 2004, after more than three decades in law teaching, I retired from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law (though I have returned as an adjunct professor to teach the odd course here and there). Retirement is an interesting experience, and very pleasurable (there have to be some advantages to growing old), but inevitably leads to introspection and summation on that which has gone before. What follows are my conclusions about the professional side of a teacher's life, addressed to the teacher-reader in the second person.
The Religion Clauses in the 21st Century: Symposium Papers
"ACS and the West Virginia Law Review are pleased to announce that papers written for “The Religion Clauses in the 21st Century” symposium held at the West Virginia University College of Law are now available. Video excerpts of the panelists discussing symposium topics are also available.
Written by scholars in the law of church and state, the symposium papers reflect perspectives on issues organized according to these themes: The Religion Clauses in Institutional Contexts, Government Religious Expression, Accommodation of Religion, and Religion and Politics.” [RJ]
The Charms and Challenges of Wikipedia
Check out Nicholson Baker's review of Wikipedia: The Missing Manual by John Broughton [our post] in the March 20, 2008 issue of The New York Review of Books. Here's a snip from The Charms of Wikipedia:
In his introduction, Broughton, who has himself made more than 15,000 Wikipedia edits, putting him in the elite top 1,200 of all editors—promises "the information you absolutely need to avoid running afoul of the rules." And it's true: this manual is enlightening, well organized, and full of good sense. Its arrival may mark a new, middle-aged phase in Wikipedia's history; some who read it will probably have wistful longings for the crazy do-it-yourself days when the whole project was just getting going.
Very Creepy Widget From Huffington Post
The Huffington Post's FundRace2008 widget is creepy. Plug in a person's name, a zip code, a profession, or an employer, and you can retrieve all the individual federal political donations that cross the $200 threshold by each person's name with address info and a map, the amount donated and to whom. Include 2004 contributions or exclude them to limit your search to only 2008 contributions.
You can spend a lot of time digging around to see who among your neighbors, friends and co-workers have given to which candidates. Sample results from seaches executed on March 26, 2008:
- Search results for librarians, but not self-identified law librarians, medical librarians, etc:
- $20,175 from 33 people to Republicans
$154,874 from 245 people to Democrats
- $20,175 from 33 people to Republicans
- ... for law librarians:
- $0 to Republicans
$7,923 from 18 people to Democrats
- $0 to Republicans
- Search results for Library of Congress employees:
- $2,781 from 6 people to Republicans
$27,936 from 31 people to Democrats
- $2,781 from 6 people to Republicans
- Search results for my zip code:
- $14,011 from 18 people to Republicans
$8,760 from 10 people to Democrats
- $14,011 from 18 people to Republicans
I think the map displaying contributor locations is the element that freaks me out. [JH]
Opening: Librarian (Business/Legal), Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
This job posting closes April 8, 2008
Position Level: GS 11/12
Position Reports To: Judith M. Weiss, Library Manager
Partial listing of job duties:
- Provides comprehensive reference, research and instructional services to individuals and groups within PBGC. Responds accurately and thoroughly to requests for complex and time sensitive research in subject areas ranging from statutory and case law research, business background investigations, locating individuals as mandated by PBGC statutory requirements, and performing literature searches. Delivers customized results to requesting individuals, assessing reliability and accuracy of acquired information.
- Performs legal and business research using products such as Westlaw, Lexis, EbscoHost, HeinOnline, GSI LivEdgar, CCH Accounting Research Manger, Checkpoint's Pension and Benefits Expert, PACER, Choicepoint AutoTrack, CyberFeds, and Accurint. Provides instruction to users on these products and keeps up with enhancements made by vendors so that changes can be communicated to users. Establishes new user passwords for databases listed above and maintains current user lists, deleting user passwords upon departure from PBGC.
Please note that there are two (2) postings for the same job ("LIBRARIAN") - one is for "All US Citizens" and one is for "Current Permanent Federal Government Employees".
For a complete statement of major duties, qualification and evaluations, compensation, and to apply, go to the Job URL on USJOBS.GOV: http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=70102669
March 27, 2008
Photoshop for Free
Attorneys Tire of Second Life?
A little more than a year ago, I blogged about lawyers venturing into the virtual world, Second Life, either for personal enjoyment or marketing opportunities. Today, however, you'll find that many lawyers' infatuation with Second Life has already died, with few lawyers giving Second Life a first, let alone second chance to play a role in marketing initiatives.
I found it difficult to use, very difficult to navigate, difficult to find property, and difficult to build in. Since it was so labor intensive, it stands to reason that serious hobbyists were the only denizens. In addition, the bandwidth and computer power necessary to support 3D online virtual worlds just doesn't fit with attorney client interaction. When the technology becomes easy to use, and virtual worlds are as easy to navigate in as the real world; then, virtual lawyering in 3D might become a reality. However, don't hold your breath.
Kevin O'Keefe of Lexblog also adds that with stagnating user numbers and rampant service interruptions, Second Life should not rank high on a law firm marketer's list of "innovative marketing or networking."
Readers, have any of you ventured out into Second Life for marketing purposes? And what kinds of results have you experienced? Let us know in the comment section below.
Thomson West's Law Librarians in the New Millennium Goes Digital
Thomson West's Law Librarians in the New Millennium is now being offered as an electronic newsletter. It will be no longer be published in print. To subscribe to the e-newsletter go here. [JH]
Gun Ownership and the Protection of Individual Rights Under the Bill of Rights
Hat tip to Douglas Berman (OSU), Sentencing Law & Policy Blog, for calling attention to Charles Lane's To Keep and Bear Arms (Washington Post, March 22, 2008). Lane's article presents an interesting historical perspective on mid-19th century gun control laws and practices. In future blog posts, Berman plans to showcase articles and commentaries that "provide a distinct perspective on the issues surrounding individual gun rights" while we await the Supreme Court's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. Visit Sentencing Law & Policy often.
Growing up in suburban Chicago, I held the typical knee-jerk liberal opinion that private ownership of guns was a "bad thing," that gun owners were not playing with a full deck, that regulation of gun ownership should be very restrictive, that instead of locking and loading, one should call the police for protection ... or to put it in legal terms that the Second Amendment was protecting a now antiquated collective right to bear arms in the service of state militias and, as Lane noted, to participate in sheriffs' posses.
I've changed my mind. For the past eight years I've lived in a community were hunting, marksmanship and gun ownership is a family tradition. In other words, I've been blissfully ignorant; prejudice is not understanding the so-called "Other." Now, I'm hoping that Tribe's argument prevails. The Second Amendment protects more than a collective right but the right to bear arms should not be confused with a right to own and brandish the firearms of one's choosing. See Sanity and the Second Amendment (Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2008 )("Some liberal scholars like me, having studied the text and history closely, have concluded, against our political instincts, that the Second Amendment protects more than a collective right to own and use guns.")(emphasis added).
History. For a comprehensive history of this controversy, see Saul Cornell, A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (Oxford UP, 2006).
A Sampling of Past LLB Posts:
- Gun-Control Case Divides State AGs
- Gun-related Violence from a Global Public Health Perspective
- National Research Council Publishes "Firearms and Violence"
Research Tips for Monitoring Litigation
Carol Bannen (Director of Information Resources, Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, Milwaukee) identifies some free and fee-based services for monitoring litigation in the March 2008 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer. See also Bev Butula's (Rreference Librarian, Davis & Kuelthau, Milwaukee) Online Access to Circuit Court Dockets, Wisconsin Lawyer (October 2007). [JH]
Unconscious Bias and the 2008 Presidential Election
Cornell Law School profs Gregory Scott Parks and Jeffrey J. Rachlinski deposited Unconscious Bias and the 2008 Presidential Election in SSRN. Here's the abstract for their very interesting article:
The 2008 presidential campaign and election will be historic. It marks the first time a Black person (Barack Obama) and a woman (Hillary Clinton) have a real chance at winning the Presidency. Their viability as candidates symbolizes significant progress in overcoming racial and gender stereotypes in America. But closer analysis of the campaigns reveals that race and gender have placed enormous constraints on how these two Senators can run their candidacy. This is not surprising in light of the history of race and gender in voting and politics in America. But what is perhaps more surprising is how the campaigns have had to struggle not only with overt sexism and racism, but with unconscious, or implicit, biases in their campaigns. Recent research from social psychologists indicates that unconscious race and gender biases are widespread and influence judgment. Because existing anti-discrimination law is designed to combat overt, or explicit, biases, it does not address unconscious biases well. If even Senators Clinton and Obama, with an array of consultants and advisors behind them, find unconscious racism and sexism to be a stumbling block in what is nothing more than the most elaborate, grandest job interview of them all, then what must it be to the average Black person or woman seeking a job or promotion?
The Professor as Open Book
Stephanie Rosenbloom's The Professor as Open Book (New York TImes, March 20, 2008) observes that professors of all ranks and disciplines are revealing much more personal information than olde tyme profs because they are publishing on blogs, webpages, and social networking sites. Hat tip to Mark Wojcik (John Marshall, Chicago), Legal Writing Prof Blog. [JH]
Opening: Reference Librarian, Utah State Law Library
POSITION: Reference Librarian
HIRING RANGE: 48-57 / $18.50 - $23.61
LOCATION: State Law Library, Matheson Courthouse, SLC
TYPE OF POSITION: Full-time with Benefits
CLOSING DATE: April 7, 2008 at 5:00 PM
APPLICATIONS SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO: Human Resources 450 S. State St. PO Box 140241 Salt Lake City, UT 84114 801-578-3890 (phone) 801-238-7814 (fax)
DUTIES: Under general guidance of the Director, performs professional-level assistance to library users with an emphasis in the areas of collection management, public service and reference. Typical duties include but are not limited to:
- Accounting: Accepts payment and accounts for monies in accordance with court policies. Reconciles monthly expenditures and revenue against financial management system.
- Circulation: Uses library’s automated circulation system to check out materials to eligible borrowers within the guidelines of the circulation policy.
- Collection Management: Manages relationships with library vendors including ordering new and replacement materials, canceling subscriptions, and resolving billing and subscription problems. Works with state entities and library vendors to manage acquisition and distribution of primary Utah legal materials to judges and court staff statewide.
- Document Delivery: Fills requests for library materials following established policies.
- Equipment Maintenance: Performs minor computer, photocopy and microform equipment maintenance and repair by cleaning, troubleshooting, changing toner, clearing paper jams, filling paper trays.
- Professional Development: Participates in state, regional and national professional library associations and activities. Attends professional meetings and workshops. Limited institutional funding for travel is available. Monitors professional literature and electronic discussion groups related to library, access to justice, self-represented litigant and legal fields. Serves as law library representative on court committees as requested.
- Public Service: Provides library tours. Creates and updates library brochures and research guides. Develops and teaches classes for judges, law clerks, court staff and the public on a variety of topics including legal research and court procedure. Writes occasional articles for the court newsletter, state bar journal and other publications. Promotes library services to all user groups, including judges, court staff, state government employees, attorneys, the public and public libraries.
- Reference: Provides professional-level reference assistance to a wide range of library users using appropriate print and electronic resources.
- Other Duties as Assigned
REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS: Master’s degree in library science from an ALA-accredited institution and some law library experience, or JD from an ABA-accredited institution and one year law library experience, or equivalent combination of education and work experience. Must have a working knowledge of library systems and procedures, library reference and technical services functions, and considerable knowledge of legal reference materials and terminology. Requires a working knowledge of Lexis and/or Westlaw and automated library systems. Needs excellent customer service skills, the ability to apply principles and techniques of the work described, and have initiative, resourcefulness, judgment and tact. Must also have basic accounting experience, ability to speak and write clearly and effectively, and have strong customer service skills. Must have the ability to multi-task effectively and be detail-oriented, have excellent problem-solving ability, ability to follow policies and procedures, and maintain a positive attitude. Strong computer skills and experience with word processing and spreadsheet software.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Applications must be accompanied by a resume. Applications may be obtained from the Department of Workforce Service, from our website at www.utcourts.gov or from the Administrative of the Courts, 450 S State, 3rd floor North, SLC. The Utah State Courts is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The courts comply with all state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination, and provide reasonable accommodation to disabled individuals as required by the ADA.
The Utah State Courts is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The courts comply with all state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination, and provide reasonable accommodation to disabled individuals as required by the ADA.
March 26, 2008
Using a banned book gets teacher suspended
This video article discusses how Connie Heerman was suspended for having students read The Freedom Writers Diary by the Perry Township (Indiana) School Board. The list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books for the 90's decade according to the ALA includes such classics as: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies and the Harry Potter series. [BB]
US News Law School Rankings: Why March Madness Started Early This Year in the Legal Academy
|Corrections & Clarifications for the ABA Journal Article|
When I worked for the Chicago Tribune, the paper published a follow-up "Corrections & Clarifications" column whenever the paper goofed in one of its articles. Here's a howler for the ABA Journal article.
Noting that his TaxProf Blog "often becomes a forum for venting about law school rankings," the article reports that Cincinnati Law's Paul Caron "says his own university does not publicize its place in the U.S. News rankings or whether it rises or falls." Unless misquoted twice in the article, that simply isn't accurate, half true at best.
I used to work with the University's PR machine which regularly publicized the College's ranking, annually that is until the College's academic peer assessment score took a hit a few years ago that drove the College's ranking into the embarrassing mid-50s range and eventually dragged the College's ranking down to the third best in Ohio. Rest assured that would change. Betting money is on the University's well-oiled PR machine; it probably would overheat if UC made it above 50 and reclaimed its "rightful place" as the second best law school in Ohio, after OSU of course.
But not yet. If lawschooldiscussion.org has posted an authentic copy of the 2009 rankings, it looks like Cincinnati can reclaim its second place standing in Ohio but it hasn't broken through the Top 50 barrier (tied at 52, up from last year's 57). Why? The much-dreaded Reputation category. Weighted at an enormous 40 percent of a school’s total rating, the hearsay category is, as the ABA Journal article claims, "the one category that can make or break a law school’s ranking." In Cincinnati Law's case, it looks like the College has tied for second lowest academic peer score and tied for worst assessment score by members of the bench and bar among the top 55 law schools this year.
When the College's hearsay rankings took its hit, the College's dean told me, half in jest I think, that the College doesn't talk about assessment scores. Unfortunately the College talks up the quality of Cincinnati Law students all too infrequently. Bottom line, the College's law students, measured by GPA and LSAT by US News, has kept it from plummeting further down the rankings these last several years.
Rankings improvement is a University-wide objective at UC. Ranking performance is factored into the budgeting calculus every year. Unfortunately, I think this is a fairly common practice.
Two events have the legal academy buzzing before the release of the dreaded US News Law School Rankings on March 28th.
First, the ABA Journal article, The Rankings Czar: Law deans hate Bob Morse's rankings. He'd like their help to make them better is out. The article reiterates well-known complaints, law school reporting practices, and consequences of playing the cut-throat rankings game. It features, for example, interviews with Nancy Rapoport (UNLV) (read her "poster child" post) and Brian Leiter (Texas), author of Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings, the leading source of alternative law school ranking information.
Unfortunately the article failed to interview one law prof whose comprehensive critique of the US News ranking's methodology would have publicized his well-recieved research to the Journal's non-academic audience, namely, Ted Seto (Loyola Law School Los Angeles). See his Understanding the U.S. News Law School Rankings (SSRN). Check out Daniel J. Solove's (George Washington University Law School) Improving the US News Rankings: A Wish List (Concurring Opinions), one of many posts that have launched the earlier than usual March Madness buzz in the legal blogosphere.
Robert Morse is director of data research for U.S. News & World Report. He developed the methodologies and surveys for the magazine's America's Best Colleges and America's Best Graduate Schools annual rankings. Check out his blog, Morse Code: Inside the College Rankings. The folks at the ABA Journal email bombed law bloggers to call attention to the article and to announce that Morse will be taking questions from the public on ABAJournal.com on Friday, April 11, from 3 to 4 p.m. ET. Wow, one hour! Why wait; post comments on Morse's blog instead.
Second, lawschooldiscussion.org has posted what the site claims to be pages from an advance copy of USN&WR's 2009 Law School Rankings (pdf). Instead of listing the Top X schools, which will be blogged soon enough, I'll close with a cautionary note from Judge Posner's Law School Rankings (SSRN):
Ranking is a method of evaluation. It has the advantage of extreme simplicity and the disadvantage of revealing very little, because the ranking doesn’t disclose the distance between the ranks. In fact, rank ordering exaggerates quality differences because of its association with winning; normally what matters in a contest is who came in first, not how much better the winner was than the losers. Ranking is thus a low-cost, low-benefit method of evaluation—cheap, but crude.This makes it suitable primarily for unimportant decisions—decisions where the cost of a mistake is slight, so that there is little benefit to increasing the information content. [Emphasis added]
As previously mentioned at A Jury of One's Peers: Ranking Law School Reputations, the online edition of the 2009 US News Law School Rankings will be launched on March 28, 2008; pre-order it now for the rankings-obsessed. [JH]