August 16, 2008
A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families
New report from the Urban Institute: "During the 1990s, the federal government promised low-income families that work would pay. Parents moved into jobs in response to new welfare rules requiring work, tax credits and other work supports that boosted take-home pay. Unfortunately, the record shows that low-income families have not progressed much. Many don’t bring home enough to cover the everyday costs of living. This paper synthesizes the current status of low-income families along with the findings from a set of essays that address key shortcomings in the safety net. The paper summarizes ideas for policies that would make work pay in today’s economy." [RJ]
World Drug Report 2008
"The World Drug Report presents comprehensive information on the illicit drug situation. It provides detailed estimates and trends on production, trafficking and consumption in the opium/heroin, coca/cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants markets. The drug problem is being contained but there are warning signs that the stabilisation which has occurred over the last few years could be in danger. Notable amongst these is the increase in both opium poppy and coca cultivation in 2007,some growth in consumption in developing countries and some development of new trafficking patterns. There have also been encouraging contractions in some of the main consumer markets. This year, almost one hundred years since the Shanghai Opium Commission in 1909, the Report presents an historical review of the development of the international drug control system." [RJ]
August 15, 2008
Want to Advertise Your Law Library on a Jail or Prison Website?
Jail Media is a media company specializing in providing information about jails and prisons. For each hosted jail website (which is not the facility's official website), there is a Q & A page, plus information about life in jail provided by inmates, or so the site operator claims: 'We choose inmates who spent significant time in jail and have been out as little time as possible. This means we can get you the best and most up-to-date insight into jail life possible." See, for example, the Company's Cook County Jail (Illinois) page.
The company's business model is selling ad space to criminal defense attorneys, bail bonds companies, etc. The Cook County Jail ad info page even includes information about site traffic. I didn't see any ads for law libraries open to the public... [JH]
NALSWD's Annual Conference Starts Today
The National Association of Law Students with Disabilities (NALSWD) is a coalition of law students dedicated to disability advocacy and the achievement of equal access, inclusion, diversity and non-discrimination in legal education and in the legal profession. The Association's second annual conference begins today with a career fair and reception and runs through Sunday, August 17th at the Crystal City Sheraton in Arlington, VA.
The Conference shifts into high gear Saturday with sessions on disability law and advocacy, plus panels featuring (1) recent law school grads with disabilities discussing their experiences with job searching, the bar exam, and transitions to professional life, and (2) lawyers with disabilities employed by the federal government and law firms discussing their career paths and experiences. The Honorable Chief Judge Richard S. Brown, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, will be the Conference's keynote speaker Saturday evening. [Conference Agenda]
Stop by, if you can. The Conference is open to all. Hopefully some law librarians are going to attend. Local representatives from legal publishers should attend. Why? To hear about what their employers are not doing to accomodate law students and lawyers with disabilities. The state of affairs is shameful. I will not be attending this year's conference but at the Association's 2006 organizing meeting in DC and its first annual conference in San Francisco in 2007 I did not hear one criticism of legal publishing practices that could not be resolved by a small dose of 20th century technology. [JH]
College Rankings Now a Duopoly, Forbes Publishes Its First Best 569 Colleges
The college rankings game is now a duopoly. Forbes has published its first annual ranking of America's best colleges because "for too many years, information about the quality of American higher education has been monopolized by one publication, U.S. News & World Report," meaning, I think, the editors of Forbes wished they thought of ranking colleges first. Top prize goes to Princeton University and the ultimate also-ran is 569th ranked Milwaukee School of Engineering.
The methodology "attempts to put itself in a student's shoes" by using some questionable metrics, like Who's Who in America listings and student evaluations from Ratemyprofessors.com. Here's the formula:
- Listing of Alumni in the 2008 Who's Who in America (25%)
- Student Evaluations of Professors from Ratemyprofessors.com (25%)
- Four- Year Graduation Rates (16 2/3%)
- Enrollment-adjusted numbers of students and faculty receiving nationally competitive awards (16 2/3%)
- Average four year accumulated student debt of those borrowing money (16 2/3%)
Forbes beat US News to the punch this year. The 2009 edition of its America's Best Colleges rankings will go live on its website on August 22th. Professional school rankings from Forbes next?
Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act Signed Into Law
With very little fanfare, President Bush signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, H.R. 4040, into law yesterday. [Thomas Resources | Open Congress Resources]. The legislation was Congress' response to massive consumer product recalls. A record-breaking 448 products were recalled last year - about half of them for children's products. [SPSC Product Recalls | Search Product Recalls by County of Manufacture]. Provisions include the following:
- Provides authority for State Attorneys General to uniformly enforce consumer product safety laws and act expeditiously to remove dangerous products from shelves.
- Decreases waiting periods for disclosure of consumer product information by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when disclosure would permit the public to ascertain readily the identity of the manufacturer or private labeler. Provides for expedited court actions to release information on products to the public.
- Requires the CPSC to maintain on its website a publicly available, searchable database that includes any reports received by the CPSC of injuries, illness, death, or risk of such injury, illness, or death related to the use of consumer products other than information provided to the Commission by manufacturers, private labelers, or retailers. Allows inclusion in the database of comments by manufacturers, labelers, or retailers.
Next on the Legislative Agenda: FDA Food Safety Modernization. Three of the top four Republicans on the Senate committee that oversees the FDA — Judd Gregg (New Hampshire), Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) and Richard Burr (North Carolina) — are cosponsoring a bill that aims to do for the FDA what Congress did this year for the CPSC. The bill, S. 3385, FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, was tossed into the bill hopper on July 31, 2008 by Senator Richard Durbin (D - Illinois)[Thomas] It authorizes the FDA to set commodity-specific safety standards for produce and require importers to verify that the foods they’re bringing in were produced according to U.S. rules. The FDA also would be authorized to certify third-party inspections of both domestic and foreign food facilities and would be empowered for the first time to require recalls of tainted products. [JH]
Friday Fun: Professor Weasel Tries to Learn Boolean Logic and Database Searching
It's time to start a new academic year and that means teaching database searching to profs and students. Professor Weasel has a bit of a problem with Boolean logic in this clip. [JH]
A Primer on Law PR 2.0
The legal public-relations firm Jaffe Associates has released a white paper on Law PR and the use of Web 2.0 technologies, and has launched the Jaffee Blog to provide attorneys and legal marketers with information about using Web 2.0 in their marketing efforts. Hat tip to Bob Ambrogi.
E + IRAC = IREAC
Mark Wojcik's (John Marshall Law School, Chicago) explains why adding an E for "explanation" of the rule of law to IRAC will help legal writers get their point across to professors and judges in his brief Student Lawyer article, Add an E to Your IRAC [SSRN]. Readers are more likely to accept one's argument when a writer can demonstrate that it is consistent with the rule's purpose. In his article, Wojcik identifies three ways to explain rules of law. The article is an excellent handout for 1L legal research and writing classes. [JH]
Vault's 2009 Law Firms Rankings: Prestige, Quality of Life and Diversity
Vault surveyed more than 18,800 associates at more than 167 major law firms across the country and asked them to rank firms in terms of how prestigious it would be to work for them. For Vault's quality of life rankings, Vault asked associates to rate their own firms on issues such as treatment by partners, formal training, informal training and mentoring, hours and compensation and then scored the firms against each other. Vault has devoted a special section to associates' rankings on diversity issues and also surveyed law firm partners from the nation's most prestigious firms for its Partner Prestige Rankings.
Top 100 Law Prestige Rankings. Which firms are considered the crème de la crème when it comes to law firm prestige? How do associates across the nation rank the firms they work with or against?
Regional Rankings: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Midwest, New York, Northern California, Pacific Northwest, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Texas, and Washington DC
Practice Area Rankings: Antitrust, Bankruptcy/Creditors' Rights, Corporate, Intellectual Property, International, Labor and Employment, Litigation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Real Estate, and Securities
The Best 20 Law Firms to Work For. Associate/ Partner Relations, Compensation, Formal Training, Hours, Informal Training, Offices, Overall Satisfaction, Pro Bono, Selectivity
The Best 20 Law Firms for Diversity. Categories: Diversity for Women, Minorities and Gays and Lesbians
Partner Prestige Rankings: Practice areas: Antitrust, Bankruptcy, Corporate, Intellectual Property, International, Labor Employment, Litigation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Real Estate, and Securities.
See also: Best Law Firms for Women by Working Mother magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers. [JH]
Rising Energy Prices: Supply, Demand and Controlling "Excessive Speculation"
While most observers recognize that the fundamentals of supply and demand have contributed to record energy prices in 2008, many also believe that the price of oil and other commodities includes a "speculative premium." The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, however, has not found evidence that anyone is manipulating prices. Speculation and Energy Prices: Legislative Responses by the Congressional Research Service examines the issue and summarizes the various legislative initiatives for controlling excessive speculation. [RJ]
August 14, 2008
Librarians' Role in Moving Articles from File Cabinets and Computers Into Harvard's Open-Access Repository
In an interview published in Harvard Library Notes, Stuart Shieber, the newly appointed Director of Harvard's Office for Scholarly Communication, discusses what’s next for Harvard's open-access repository and how librarians will play a significant role in the process. “[Librarians] can play a key role in getting individual faculty members to understand the importance of placing articles in the repository," says Shieber, because "they tend to be much more knowledgeable about these issues of the repositories and open access and the importance not only for mass distribution but for the faculty member him- or herself of making articles available with open access. So that connection with faculty provides a perfect venue to facilitate the process of moving articles from filing cabinets and computers in the faculty member’s office into the repository." [RJ]
Open Library Environment Project Intends to Design Next-Generation Library System for Academic Library Community
The goal of the Open Library Environment Project is to define requirements for an Open Library Management System built on Service Oriented Architecture based on a thoroughly re-examined model of library operations. The end product will be a design document to inform open source library system development efforts, to guide future library system implementations, and to influence current Integrated Library System vendor products.
Planned project activities include training workshops on Service Oriented Architecture and Business Process Modeling, in-person and virtual meetings of the project partners, webcasts and online discussions to get input and feedback from the broad library community and development of a design document. The workshops will be led by representatives from the academic library community and by consultants with expertise in Service Oriented Architecture and Business Process Modeling.
Worst 2008 Writing Awards Announced
San Jose State University's 26th annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has announced the winners for worst writing in 2008. Garrison Spik, a 41-year-old communications director, took top honors and $250 for this:
Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."
Can (Should) White House Legal Memoranda Be Classified as State Secrets?
In Secret Documents: Why Classify Legal Memos? Louis Fisher want to know why the notorious "Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the United States" legal memo by John Yoo was a state secret. He writes "Although declassified [five years after being written] there is no explanation of when it was classified, why it was classified, and who classified it, all of which is required by Executive Order 12958. The memo consists purely of legal analysis without indicating any matter clearly sensitive and deserving of some level of classification. How can the rule of law be protected when policy is governed by secret legal memos?"
Why Try to Keep the Yoo Memo Secret? Because the memo “takes an extremely broad view of the president's power as Commander-in-Chief” according to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "If you believe this memo, there is no limit at all to the kinds of interrogation methods the President can authorize." (emphasis added) The memo argued that:
- Fifth and Eighth Amendments, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, do not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad
- Federal criminal laws generally don’t apply to military interrogations of enemy combatants. If they were misconstrued to apply to the interrogation of enemy combatants, such statute would conflict with the Constitution’s grant of the Commander in Chief power solely to the President.
Yoo is now a law prof at Berkeley. His web profile has this to say about his DOJ years:
He served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security and the separation of powers.
(Emphasis added) [RJ & JH]
How Far is the Science of Law Open to Insights from Other Disciplines?
In A Dynamic Model of Interdisciplinarity: Limits and Possibilities of Interdisciplinary Research into Law [SSRN] Bart Van Klink and Sanne Taekema (both at Tilburg) ask how far is the science of law open to insights from other disciplines? From the abstract:
We will approach this question by confronting two contrary positions: pragmatism (Dewey) that argues for the fundamental comparability and compatibility of theories on the one hand and positivism (Kelsen and Luhmann) that points to the limits thereof on the other. Following on this debate, we will present a dynamic model of interdisciplinarity in which different types of interdisciplinary legal research will be presented, moving from the monodisciplinary towards a fully integrated interdisciplinary perspective. Finally, the advantages and disadvantages of each type of interdisciplinary research into law will be discussed.
Highest Employment Rate in 20 Years: NALP's Placement Data for Class of 2007 Now Available
91.9% of the Class of 2007 for whom employment status was known were employed as of February 15, 2008 according to NALP. This rate increased for the third year in a row and was at its highest in 20 years. 16% of reported salaries were $160,000, 38% were $55,000 or less. Many more 2007 graduates started work in small firms of 50 or fewer lawyers or in non-firm settings (72% of those employed) than at firms of more than 100 lawyers (just 22% of those employed).
- Of the graduates for whom employment status was known, 76.9% obtained a job for which bar passage is required. An additional 7.7% obtained jobs for which a JD degree is preferred, or may even be required, but for which bar passage is not required.
- Public service employment, including government jobs, judicial clerkships, and public interest positions, accounted for 27.3% of jobs taken by employed graduates, and compares with 26.9% for the prior year. Jobs with public interest organizations specifically, which includes public defenders, accounted for 5.8% of jobs.
- Compared to the overall median starting salary of $65,750, the law firm private practice median was higher — $108,500, a jump of more than $13,000 over that for the Class of 2006. Medians for jobs in government, public interest organizations, and as judicial clerks, increased modestly, but remained considerably lower, at $50,000, $42,000, and $48,000, respectively. The higher median in private practice notwithstanding, for all full-time salaries reported, salaries of $55,000 were almost as common as salaries of more than $75,000.
- Employment patterns also differ between men and women, with women more frequently taking government, judicial clerkship, and public interest positions. About 31% of employed women took these types of positions, compared to about one-quarter of employed men.
- Older graduates were less likely to go into private practice and more likely to enter academic or business settings. About 43% of employed graduates age 41-45 and 33% of those age 46 or older entered private practice, compared with 60% of employed graduates age 20-25. About 26% of employed graduates age 41-45 and 33% of those 46 or older took jobs in business/industry, rates more than double that of employed graduates age 20-30.
About the Data. 186 ABA-accredited law schools participating in the study provided employment information on 93% of all graduates of the Class of 2007. Of course, this means the data was not audited by an outside firm to weed out the not uncommon law school practice of fudging the data to make their placement report look better than it actually is. For those recent grads who were employed by their schools to game the data and now need to find a real job, check out Ari Kaplan's The Opportunity Maker, Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development (West, 2008)[Book's website]. [JH]
A Quick Look at WestBlog
|Faces of West Video|
|Anne Ellis, West Librarian Relations senior director, narrates a behind-the-scenes video titled “Faces of West” about Thomson West's publishing activities covering new product development, manufacturing, marketing, plus a clip featuring the library West maintains at its Eagan, Minn. headquarters. The video was shown to AALL attendees in Portland and can be viewed online at WestBlog. [JH]|
From Kevin Hunt, communications specialist at West.
I’m pleased to take Joe Hodnicki up on his offer to me, to tell readers of the Law Librarian Blog about WestBlog.net, launched by West back in January.
The primary reason to get West into the blogosphere was to create a new channel for the company to get out messages about the services and people of West and provide a forum for our product leaders to share their expertise.
Many of our posts so far are related to events and trade shows we’ve attended, beginning with LegalTech New York, the Thomson Elite User Conference and last month at AALL in Portland. In each of those cases, we get content not only from our employees at the shows but also from the attendees and any legal media/bloggers we run into.
We use text, video and photos to highlight West and the other legal businesses within Thomson Reuters. We also link to some of the media/blog coverage West gets on the Web.
WestBlog also has become the first place that we post our latest Westcast audio and video podcasts, which typically feature book authors, product leaders and outside experts on a variety of legal topics. We’re now up to 52 podcasts since 2005. You also can find those on iTunes by searching for "Westcast." Our video podcasts and clips also can be found on our YouTube channel.
I hope you check out WestBlog, especially our coverage from AALL in Portland.
And, let me know if you have ideas for a podcast or blog post that you would like to see us focus on at email@example.com.
Editor's Note: Bob Azman, vice president of West's Customer Experience Operations has joined WestBlog as a regular contributor to discuss West’s customer service and the feedback he gets from you. Check out Bob's first post. [JH]
August 13, 2008
Voting Underway for One Less Worry Scholarship Contest
Access Group's One Less Worry scholarship contest will award a $10,000 scholarship for the 2008-09 academic year to the law student whose video receives the most votes. [LLB's earlier post] Voting closes on August 22, 2008. View the videos on the contest's YouTube channel. Vote on AccessGroup.org. [JH]
Fastcase Executives Interview on Fox Business News
Ed Walters, Fastcase CEO, and Phillip Rosenthal, Fastcase president, discuss the business of legal research and competing against Lexis Nexis in this video interview on Fox Business News. Hat tip to Christine Hall’s post to law-lib. [JH]