May 10, 2008
From the 1860s to the 1920s, dozens of towns and counties across America violently expelled entire African American communities, forcing thousands of black families to flee their homes. A century later, these towns remain mostly white. Banished [documentary's website] tells the story of three of these communities and their black descendents, who return to learn shocking histories. [JH]
The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online
"This site contains Darwin's complete publications, thousands of handwritten manuscripts and the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue ever published; also hundreds of supplementary works: biographies, obituaries, reviews, reference works and more."
May 9, 2008
Reflections: Does it Take a Librarian to Lead a Library
Harvard Law School recently hired John Palfrey as the new Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources (LLB post). Over at Madisonian.net, Mike Madison considers Palfrey's creds and their potential implications for the future:
Does it take a librarian to lead a library?
Harvard thinks not. I’m guessing that John Palfrey persuaded Elena Kagan, the HLS Dean, that the substantive and methodological challenges that librarians confront these days are not significantly different than the substantive and methodological challenges that any manager of a complex information environment confronts. Not anyone can manage the Harvard Law Library, but there may no longer be anything distinctively “library-ish” about the position.
Is Harvard right? And if it is, will other schools and universities agree?
Weighty questions providing much food for thought. At first glance, it seems simplistic to so easily dismiss the "library-ish"-ness of a position charged with managing the largest law library in the US. [JJ]
Is HLS Really the First School?
As LLB posted previously, HLS recently announced:
In a move that will disseminate faculty research and scholarship as broadly as possible, the Harvard Law School faculty unanimously voted last week to make each faculty member's scholarly articles available online for free, making HLS the first law school to commit to open access [emphasis added].
A number of people have recently noted, including John Palfrey, that Duke Law School has made its journals available on the web since 1997 and has hosted an open access repository of its faculty's school since December 2005. Dick Danner has an excellent paper on the issue, Applying the Access Principle in Law: The Responsibilities of the Legal Scholar, at http://eprints.law.duke.edu/1698/.
Duke is not alone. Other numerous other law schools are offering open access to their scholarhip, often with the help of their libraries, although this author is unaware whether these schools have an official open access policy. Check out via BePress:
Who else has an official law school policy to make all their scholarly articles freely available online?
Hat tip to Melanie Dunshee.
Congratulation to Simon Canick
Simon Canick, Associate Director for Library Services at the University of Connecticut School of Law Library, has been appointed Associate Dean for Information Resources and Assistant Professor of Law at William Mitchell College of Law. He will be joining the College this summer to direct knowledge management and information technology development. Read more about it: press release. [JH]
Friday Fun: Digitus Impudicus
Oh, the subtleties of road rage communication. In this video clip a lawyer tackles the complexities of "sign language" in court. [JH]
Meanwhile, check out Ira P. Robbins' (American University, Washington College of Law) Digitus Impudicus: The Middle Finger and the Law [SSRN] for an examination of the long arm of the law going way too far. Here's the abstract:
The middle finger is one of the most commonly used insulting gestures in the United States. The finger, which is used to convey a wide range of emotions, is visible on streets and highways, in schools, shopping malls, and sporting events, in courts and execution chambers, in advertisements and on magazine covers, and even on the hallowed floor of the United States Senate. Despite its ubiquity, however, as a number of recent cases demonstrate, those who use the middle finger in public run the risk of being stopped, arrested, prosecuted, fined, and even incarcerated under disorderly conduct or breach of peace statutes and ordinances.
This Article argues that, although most convictions are ultimately overturned on appeal, the pursuit of criminal sanctions for use of the middle finger infringes on First Amendment rights, violates fundamental principles of criminal justice, wastes valuable judicial resources, and defies good sense. Indeed, the Supreme Court has consistently held that speech may not be prohibited simply because some may find it offensive. Criminal law generally aims to protect persons, property, or the state from serious harm, but use of the middle finger simply does not raise these concerns.
1L Attrition Rates Range from 51 to 0 Percent
LawSchoolNumbers.com reports some shockingly high 1L attrition rates for individual law schools. Shocking to me because my gut-check says anything above 10% is way too high and 78 of the 195 listed law schools have attrition rates above 10%. Of course admissions professionals may view this threshold as being too low, but even if it is doubled to 20%, 24 law schools have a reported attrition rate of 20% or more. Click on the pie chart image (below) to view a distribution of law schools in 5 percentage point increments.
From the data provided, 5,005 out of 49,013 first-year students nationwide left law school. That's 10.2% so I don't think my gut-check threshold is unrealistic. Whittier ranked first on a percentage basis with a whooping 51.5% attrition rate (95 drop outs in an entering class of 184) while Thomas M Cooley Law School ranked first in number of students: 531 out of a 1L class 2,042 (26%).
Both schools are exceptional cases, not representative of the legal academy as a whole. Whitter Law School's very strict (dare one say "old school") grading scale and mandatory distribution curve are probably responsible for the law school's high 1L attrition rate. Whitter has been on probation since 2005 for failing to comply ABA Standard 301, the bar passage rule (Interpretation 301-6). It now looks like the Whitter will be removed from its probationary status. [Dean Cogan's Letter to the Whittier Law School Community]. Will Whitter's grading scale and distribution curve survive?
Cooley Law School's admissions policy is very liberal and can be characterized (fairly, I believe) as "give law school a shot here." Some might criticize Cooley (some have for grabbing tuition monies from students who might not be prepared for law school) but I think at least one law school in this country ought to give aspiring lawyers the opportunity they might not get anywhere else. I've met several Cooley students who have nothing but praise for the school's admission policy.
13 schools reported no 1Ls leaving law school:
- Case Western Reserve
- Charleston School of Law
- Charlotte School of Law
- Loyola University Chicago
- New Mexico
- Ohio State
- South Dakota
- Stanford University
One problem with the report is that it is difficult to make much sense out of the data because the reasons why students left are not quantified. As noted by Michael Froomkin (Miami):
If I were trying to make sense of this number, I’d not only want to know why people left (especially flunking vs. transfers), and where they left to, but also how many transfers IN the school had. Although there too, the number would need to be treated with care. A school that loses large numbers to transfers out and gains few is a place people want not to be (or a great feeder school). A place that is more or less in balance seems to make the transfers figure something of a non-issue. A place that is a huge net gainer is probably a place people want to be — but it’s also a place that likely is gaming its US News stats, which a student might think reflects poorly on its general ethical climate, or at least suggests the number has even less meaning than usual.
LLB Poll: First Things First This Summer
The AAUP Reports on Faculty Salaries
From the press release: "After a short-lived recovery in 2006–07, faculty salaries are lagging behind inflation again this year. Yet the salaries paid to head football coaches, presidents, and other top administrators do not seem to reflect an economic downturn. Over the past three decades, the ranks of contingent faculty, nonfaculty professionals, and administrators have swelled while the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty stagnated. These are the central findings of Where Are the Priorities? The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2007–08." [RJ]
CALI Conference Reminder
To take advantage of the CALI Conference group rate, you have to book your room at Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards by May 21st. To make reservations online go to www.innerharbormarriott.com
Professional Reading: Teaching in Practice: Legal Writing Faculty as Expert Writing Consultants to Law Firms
"As experts in the pedagogy and substance of legal writing, full-time legal writing faculty who serve as writing consultants to law firms help fill an increasing need for training and support of lawyers. In addition to providing a direct benefit to lawyers and their firms, this practice benefits the legal academy by providing fresh ideas for teaching and scholarship. This article discusses generally the practice of legal writing consulting in law firms by full-time legal writing faculty. The article provides background in theory and practice, addressing why law firms seek outside consultants for this type of training and support and why full time legal writing faculty are appropriate writing consultants. For this, the Article draws on, among other sources, the recently published Carnegie Study and Best Practices in Legal Education. The Article then describes the nuts and bolts of a consulting practice, including various ways services might be configured, and asks whether realis! tic goals can be set and met. Finally, the article addresses ethical and other challenging issues that may arise in this type of consulting practice." [RJ]
Opening: Associate Director for Public Services, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
Southern Methodist University’s Underwood Law Library is seeking candidates for its Associate Director for Public Services position.
Responsibilities: The Associate Director for Public Services will coordinate the Underwood Law Library’s public services operations, including reference and circulation services; provide research assistance to the law library’s patrons, including staffing the reference office 8-10 hours per week; serve as library liaison to approximately 8 members of the law school’s faculty; deliver lectures on legal research, possibly teach law school courses for credit; develop research guides and other instructional materials; and serve on university and professional organization committees.
Required qualifications: Candidates must possess a graduate library degree and a J.D. (law) degree; a minimum of three years of professional experience as a law librarian, including at least one year in a leadership role; a strong commitment to supporting faculty and student research; strong legal research skills; substantial knowledge of an academic law library’s reference and circulation operations; a strong service orientation; an ability to develop and manage innovative services to library patrons; an understanding of technological trends affecting libraries and research; and publication-quality writing skills and excellent oral communication skills.
Environment: The Underwood Law Library houses more than 620,000 volumes and is the largest private law library in the Southwest. Its collections rank in the top 18% of U.S. academic law libraries in volumes held and the top 16% in titles held. U.S. News & World Report ranks the SMU Dedman School of Law in the top 25%. SMU is located in the heart of Dallas, Texas, which offers a dynamic economy and reasonable cost of living. Texas has no state income tax.
Compensation: Compensation will be competitive, based upon qualifications and experience, and will include a comprehensive benefits package.
Application: Apply online at http://www.smu.edu/hr/recruit/. Submit a resume, cover letter, and names and contact information of at least two references. The application deadline is May 23, 2008. This position is available on or after June 1, 2008.
May 8, 2008
Harvard Law School Votes for Open Access
The Harvard Law School faculty has unanimously voted to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available online for free, making HLS the first law school to commit to open access. From the press release:
Under the new policy, HLS will make articles authored by faculty members available in an online repository, whose contents would be searchable and available to other services such as Google Scholar. Authors can also legally distribute the articles on their own websites, and educators here and elsewhere can freely provide the articles to students, so long as the materials are not used for profit.
See also the Law School Innovation Blog post.
Hat tip Michelle Pearse, Bibliographer for Anglo-American Law, Harvard Law School Library, who is joining LLB as a contributing editor. [JH]
UN Convention on Disabilities Ratified
From the UN Pulse: "The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities entered into force on 3 May 2008. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006 (A/RES/61/106), and was opened for signature and ratification on 30 March 2007. The Convention had to be ratified by 20 states before it came into force – a process that can sometimes take several years. In this case, it took only a little over one year." [RJ]
Professional Reading: Bridging the Disabilities Accomodations Gap Between Classroom and Practice
Alexis Anderson and Norah Wylie (both Boston College Law School) have posted Beyond the ADA: How Clinics Can Assist Law Students with "Non-Visible" Disabilities to Bridge the Accommodations Gap Between Classroom and Practice (forthcoming in Clinical Law Review (Fall 2008)) in NELLCO. Here's the abstract:
This article examines how best to educate law students with disabilities so that they can successfully transition from classroom to practice. At the very time that the importance of experiential learning is being trumpeted as critical to the preparation of all law students for practice, all too little attention has been given to the role of clinical education in helping students with non-visible disabilities succeed in their chosen careers. Increasingly, law students are seeking accommodations for a range of mental health, cognitive, and learning disabilities. Law schools have become more adept at providing accommodations in academic classes to qualified students with documented disabilities. Note-takers, special testing and attendance rules, and access to academic support programs are common features of most law schools' disability law protocols. But, how best can we help prepare these students for the demands of practice?
Until now, law faculty have lacked guidance on this important topic. This article seeks to fill that gap by studying how law school clinics and accommodations officers can assist students as they begin practice. First we explore the limits of protections afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), after acknowledging that its employment provisions apply to clinics. We then review two case studies built on our clinical experience in an effort to develop best practices for law faculty and administration in helping these students overcome the accommodations gap between classroom and practice.
LII Launches RSS Feeds for US Code Updates
Check it out. [JH]
New and Forthcoming Law Titles from Elsevier
Details below the fold. [JH]
- The IT-Digital Legal Companion: A Comprehensive Business Guide to Software, IT, Internet, Media and IP Law, by Gene Landy with assistance from Amy Mastrobattista (forthcoming June 2008)
- A Litigator's Guide to DNA: From the Laboratory to the Courtroom, by Ron Michaelis, Robert Flanders and Paula Wulff
- E-Discovery: Creating and Managing an Enterprise-wide IT Program: A Technical Guide to Digital Investigation and Litigation Support, by Karen Schuler (forthcoming October 2008)
- Background Screening and Investigations: Managing Hiring Risk from the HR and Security Perspectives, by Kim M. Kerr and W. Barry Nixon
- Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis, (3d ed.), by Brent Turvey
The IT-Digital Legal Companion
A Comprehensive Business Guide to Software, IT, Internet, Media and IP Law
By Gene Landy with assistance from Amy Mastrobattista
Paperback, ISBN-13: 978-1-59749-256-0, 639 pages
Publication date: June 2008
Description: To compete effectively in digital business markets, you need to understand how the law affects your digital technology business. The contents include detailed plain English business and legal guidance on:
- Intellectual Property for Digital Business
- Digital Contract Fundamentals
- Open Source
- Development and Consulting
- Software as a Service
- Software Licensing and Distribution
- Web and Internet Agreements
- Digital Multimedia Content and Distribution
- IT Standards
- Web and Mobile Technology and Content Deals
- Video Game Deals
- International Distribution
- Legal Affairs Management
- Forms Appendix in the book and downloadable online 38 sample forms for deals and transactions and for the Web.
The content goes from the basics to advanced topics such as off-shoring, anti-circumvention, open source business models, user-created content, reverse engineering, mobile media distribution, web and game development, mash-ups, web widgets, and massively multiplayer games.
A Litigator's Guide to DNA
From the Laboratory to the Courtroom
By Ron Michaelis, Robert Flanders and Paula Wulff
Hardbound, 448 pages
Publication date: January 2008
Imprint: ACADEMIC PRESS
Description: A Litigator's Guide to DNA educates litigators, judges, criminalists, students, and others about all aspects of the use of DNA evidence in criminal and civil trials. It includes discussions of the molecular biological basis for the tests, essential laboratory practices, probability theory and mathematical calculations. It presents issues relevant to all parties involved in trying a case, from the prosecution and the defense, and to the judge and jury. The book is also extremely useful as a text for students aspiring to careers in forensic science and criminal law. The authors provide a full background on both the molecular biology and the mathematical theory behind forensic tests written specifically for people with little or no science background. No other book relates the foundational information on molecular biology and statistics to legal practice issues as extensively as this book does.
Paperback, ISBN-13: 978-1-59749-296-6, 300 pages
Publication date: October 2008
Description: One of the hottest topics in computer forensics today, electronic discovery (e-discovery) is the process by which parties involved in litigation respond to requests to produce electronically stored information (ESI). According to the 2007 Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey, it is now a $2 billion industry, a 60% increase from 2004, projected to double by 2009. The core reason for the explosion of e-discovery is sheer volume; evidence is digital and 75% of modern day lawsuits entail e-discovery. A recent survey reports that U.S. companies face an average of 305 pending lawsuits internationally. For large U.S. companies ($1 billion or more in revenue)that number has soared to 556 on average, with an average of 50 new disputes emerging each year for nearly half of them. To properly manage the role of digital information in an investigative or legal setting, an enterprise--whether it is a Fortune 500 company, a small accounting firm or a vast government agency--must develop an effective electronic discovery program. Since the amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which took effect in December 2006, it is even more vital that the lifecycle of electronically stored information be understood and properly managed to avoid risks and costly mistakes. This books holds the keys to success for systems administrators, information security and other IT department personnel who are charged with aiding the e-discovery process.
Background Screening and Investigations
Managing Hiring Risk from the HR and Security Perspectives
By Kim M. Kerr and W. Barry Nixon
List Price: $49.95
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann (March 18, 2008)
Description: While all employers must accept risk when forming business relationships, the degree of risk, whether it be high, low, or somewhere in the middle, is determined by the efficiency and effectiveness of the hiring model. Employment background screening, both pre- and post-hire, gives hiring personnel a glimpse into a person’s past behavior patterns, propensities, and likely future behavior.
Background Screening and Investigations provides risk-mitigation strategies that can significantly lower the likelihood of a negative outcome. The book draws upon the experience of Kerr and Nixon to provide readers with a blueprint for combining the skills of both security and human resources professionals in order to negotiate legal hurdles and implement best practices in background screening. The book also describes all aspects of the background screening process – its history and evolution, the imperative for implementing a screening process, and how to create a comprehensive policy.
An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis
By Brent Turvey
Hardbound, 816 pages
Publication date: April 2008
Imprint: ACADEMIC PRESS
Description: Now in its third edition, Criminal Profiling is established as an industry standard text. It moves evidence-based criminal profiling into a full embrace of the scientific method with respect to examining and interpreting behavioral evidence. If focuses on criminal profiling as an investigatve and forensic process, helping to solve crime through an honest understanding of the nature and behavior of the most violent criminals. Throughout the text, the author outlines specific principles and practice standards for Behavioral Evidence Analysis, focusing on the application of theory and method to real cases. Criminal Profiling, Third Edition, is an ideal companion for students and professionals alike, including investigators, forensic scientists, criminologists, mental health professionals, and attorneys. With contributing authors representing law enforcement, academic, mental health, and forensic science communities, it offers a balanced perspective not found in other books on this subject. Readers will use it as a comprehensive reference text, a handbook for evaluating physical evidence, a tool to bring new perspectives to cold cases, and as an aid in preparing for criminal trials.
Bankruptcy Filings Rebound in Calendar Year 2007
Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts rose 38 percent in calendar year 2007, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The number of bankruptcies filed in the twelve-month period ending December 31, 2007, totaled 850,912, up from 617,660 bankruptcies filed in calendar year 2006. Filings rebounded from a 70 percent drop in calendar year 2006, which was the first full 12-month period after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) took effect.
An historic high in the number of bankruptcies filings was seen in calendar year 2005, when over 2 million bankruptcies were filed, mainly because, in October of 2005, many of the provisions of BAPCPA were enacted. Filings fell through 2006, but started their gradual climb back up in 2007."
Opening: Legal Information Analyst, Law Library of Congress
Librarian (Law) (Vacancy #: 080060)
GS-1410-11 — Law Library — $58,206.00 - $75,669.00
Opening Date: Apr 28, 2008; Closing Date: May 29, 2008
The Law Library of Congress is recruiting for a Legal Information Analyst who has appropriate education and/or experience providing legal and legislative reference services to diverse and demanding clients in a law library or similar legal information organization AND preparing written legal analysis of court decisions, proposed legislation, regulatory schemes and/or government programs. The successful incumbent will demonstrate through progressively responsible work experience or a combination of education and work experience a proficiency in (1) providing concise and thorough oral and written guidance and/or substantive responses to requests for legal and legislative information; (2) applying creative legal and legislative research methodologies to respond to complex inquiries demonstrating a broad knowledge of the latest print materials and electronic databases including web-based resources; (3) applying a strong public service demeanor when providing legal and legislative information services to diverse and demanding clientele; (4) preparing reports, memos, correspondence and other documents analyzing legal issues and requiring interpretation and/or summaries of bills, committee reports, statutes, regulations, court decisions, background studies and policy reports; and (5) completing on time multiple time-sensitive assignments and projects requiring exceptionally developed time management skills.
Qualified candidates with both Juris Doctor and Masters in Library/Information Science degrees from accredited universities and law library reference and legal research/analysis training and/or experience are strongly encouraged to apply.
To view the entire announcement and for additional information, visit USAJOBS at: http://www.usajobs.gov/ and conduct a search using the vacancy number, 080060. Or, visit the Library of Congress's employment page, at:
http://www.loc.gov/hr/employment/index.php , click on "View Current Jobs,"
and scroll to "Librarian (Law) (Vacancy #: 080060)."
Questions should be addressed to the Library of Congress Employment Office
Librarian (Law) (Vacancy #: 080060)
GS-1410-11 — Law Library — $58,206.00 - $75,669.00 Opening Date: Apr 28, 2008 Closing Date: May 29, 2008
May 7, 2008
Roy M. Mersky, Dead at 82
Professor Roy M. Mersky died yesterday from complications of a recent fall. A member of the University of Texas-Austin School of Law faculty and the director of its law library since 1965, Mersky held the Harry M. Reasoner Regents Chair in Law. He was also a professor in the University's graduate School of Information.
Professor Mersky received his B.S. in 1948, J.D. in 1952, and Master's degree in Library Science in 1953 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He was a member of the Bars of New York, Texas and Wisconsin. He served in the US Army during World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star.
Mersky's first law library position was at the University of Wisconsin Law Library, working as U.S. Government Documents Cataloger from May 1951 to June 1952. He served as Director of the Washington State Law Library, 1959–1963, and Professor of Law and Law Librarian at University of Colorado, 1963–1965, before his Texas appointment.
Mersky's many accreditation visits and law library consultancies are the stuff of legends as was his mentoring of Texas's professional library staff, many of whom became law library directors around the country. He was named a “Mover and Shaker 2003,” by the Library Journal, as one among the more than 50 of the most innovative librarians working today in libraries across the U.S. and Canada. Other honors include being inducted as a Life Member of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation in 2002, receiving AALL's 2005 Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award in 2005, AALL's Presidential Certificate of Merit in 2006, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies Alumni Association’s Centennial Celebration Alumnus of the Year Award in 2006.
2008 marks the 50th anniversary of his first professional publication: Bibliographic Organization in Law Libraries: A Panel, 51 Law Library Journal 338 (1958). Of course, everyone knows his Fundamentals of Legal Research, first published in 1975 (with J. Myron Jacobstein), Spirit of Librarianship (with Richard Leiter), and his many works on Supreme Court history. He was working on Unknown Justices with William Bader at the time of his death.
During his 40-plus years, Professor Mersky developed the University of Texas law library into one of the preeminent research facilities in the nation, a legacy few achieve.
Like many others, I thought Roy would outlast all of us. Our deepest sympathy and thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Roy M. Mersky today. [JH]
See also Brian Leiter's (Texas) post.
Updates: In Memoriam: Roy M. Mersky (University of Texas-Austin School of Law). A funeral service for Professor Mersky’s family and close friends will be held at 2:30 pm on Sunday, May 11, at the Weed-Corley Fish Funeral Home, followed by a reception at the Law School.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in Roy’s memory may be sent to:
The Roy M. Mersky Memorial Fund
University of Texas Law School Foundation
727 East Dean Keeton St.
Austin, TX 78705
Online Comments Page hosted by the School of Law: Roy Mersky Remembered: Friends and Colleagues Reflect
Memorial Service. The Law School would host a memorial service early in September, after classes have resumed.