August 1, 2009
Practitioner Law Blogs Roundup
South Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog
Provides opinion on injury law news, cases and reports in South Carolina. Published by Howell and Christmas, LLC.
Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney Blog
Discusses criminal law cases, news and opinions in Florida. Published by Richard Ansara, PA.
Las Vegas Criminal Defense Blog
Examines criminal law cases, reports and news in Nevada. Published by Neil Shouse & Associates.
Sacramento Bankruptcy Lawyer Blog
Reviews bankruptcy law opinions, reports and legislation in California. Published by Rinne Legal.
July 31, 2009
What did you think about AALL 2009?
I am always supportive of our national organization. In the last 14 years, I have been a speaker on at least one program for 10 of those years. I am telling you this to demonstrate that I have been an involved supporter of AALL my entire career. However, year by year I become a lesser fan of AALL and it upsets me. I am upset because I feel that the conference lost its focus, its edge, and the people who run it seem to forget that we are the members that make it all possible to begin with.
The people we hire to run our program are not keeping pace with modern conferencing trends. For example, the announcement for the JISC E-learning Conference from conference organizer Sarah Knight includes language like this:
"Delegates can interact in real-time sessions, watch presenters on video, meet other delegates in the virtual coffee shop, and comment on the conference using Twitter."
At the AALL annual convention that concluded in DC earlier this week, members had trouble getting a phone signal in some hallways. Nor did our conference organizers think it important to include wireless internet access for programs scheduled in the conference hotel as opposed to the conference center. A plea to stream educational program with volunteers from the Computing Services Special Interest Section to include members unable to attend this year was met with resistence. "Officials" feared that it would cut into their revenue stream. For other information centered conferences, this is a standard servicee (See CALI for example which do a fantastic job of getting their programs out to their members at no additional charge.)
Even nontechnical issues seemed too difficult for convention planners to implement. I watched with dismay when members of the Social Responsibility Special Interest Section had to make their own sign for the CONELL Marketplace with a piece of paper and marker because HQ did not bother to inventory the signs for the SIS's when they packed them up (even thought the SIS foots the bill for these signs). Their idea of help was to provide SR SIS members with a marker to make the sign.
I showed up at an educational program in the conference center to find a broken projector and no table clothes on the plain wooden tables. These are just a few examples of what was not right in DC. I heard many, many people express their dismay at the unprofessional touch felt throughout the events.
I don't know how much longer I can justify attending our annual conference when I am served so much better by other organizations who care about my profession and my money. Groups like SLA seem to "get it." I hope the executive board this year can change things around. I know a committee was formed to make changes, but I do not see them communicating yet with the membership at large. Unfortunately, I have to read this tactic as business as usual.
The Educause 2009 survey of critical IT issues in higher education was released on the Educause Review web site. Topping the list among the top ten issues was IT Funding. Let's face it, funding is the number one issue on everybody's critical list. The full list is as follows:
1. Funding IT
2. Administrative/ERP Information Systems
5. Teaching and Learning with Technology
6. Identity/Access Management
7. Governance, Organization, and Leadership
8. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity
9. Agility, Adaptability, and Responsiveness
10. Learning Management Systems
Number 5 concerns me. In the notes to the top ten list, they explain that "the role of the CIO and other IT leaders is expanding to encompass many teaching and learning domains." In fact, this concern jumped from number 9 last year to number 5 this year. Teaching and learning with technology has been a significant part of many librarian's jobs. Historically, librarians were the first professionals to embrace new forms of technology and show others how to use it effectively in order to learn. In our case, to find, research, and learn about the law.
I reviewed the AALL core competencies to see how this ideal is represented by our national standards. I am somewhat disappointed to see that the standards for technology and for teaching are not joined in any meaningful way. Standard 4 is about Information Technology. We use terms like "practical use of" and "policy formation." Standard 6 centers on teaching. Here we come closer to the role CIOs hope to adopt (teaching and learning with technology), but we are still shy about identifying technology as a siginicant teaching vehicle for research and information literacy in the legal profession. Nor do we take responsiblity for embracing our role in this process. The subpoints in standard 6 revert back to "training" and "retrieval of information" instead of incorporating the elements of standard 4 into standard 6.
This is a problem.
Personally, I have trouble of thinking as our IT folks as educators. I do not mean to sterotype, but these professionals are not known for their people skills, or their end user savvy. Their ability to evaluate methods to teach effectively is hampered by the fact that they do not teach classes at their institution. They have other super power skills for which I am eternally grateful.
This role may not be the sole province of any particular professional, but I see it as a role filled more appropriately by an educational technologist, librarian, or any other educator that can envision changing their students' lives by teaching their "thing" with technology. Not by a technologist who uses technology to teach. There is a subtle difference.
Nevertheless, when it comes time to change our core competencies, I hope we can connect a line between teaching and technology. We need to embrace the leadership role that these two important facets of our profession place on us. We should not relenquish this role or our leadership in this are to those who do not teach. (vs)
Windows 7 Family Pack Pricing Announced
Those apparently looking for a bargain in a family pack to upgrade multiple PCs to Windows 7 may be disappointed with today's announcement. The cost for three licenses as a package will be $150, "while supplies last." In other words, if someone wants to take advantage of the offer, do it some time shortly after the product comes out on October 22nd. The Anytime Upgrade to a higher version is a bit steep. You can see the chart in this articlefrom ZDNET. That last quarter financial report just didn't cut it for investors and analysts. [MG]
USPS May Close 677 Post Office Locations
The House is holding hearings on mail delivery, taking into account the significant drop in volume the U.S. Postal Service carries due to Internet communications. The Postal Service has identified 677 post office locations for closure or consolidation and presented the list to Congress. The Washington Post has published the list which covers locations throughout the nation. You can find it here to see if one of your facilities is on the endangered list. A story on the situation is here. [MG]
iPhone Virus Alert: Beware the Square Character Text Message
Security experts Charlie Miller and Collin Mulliner have exposed an iPhone virus that could allow others to control your phone just by sending a a single square character in a text message. If you get the square character, turn off your phone immediately. You only have to receive the message to get hacked. Now that the security flaw has been exposed, hackers could build software that mounts this SMS attack within the next two weeks. Mashable's Ben Parr has the details in iPhone Hack Exposed: The Key Facts. [JH]
Friday Fun: William Shatner Does Sarah Palin Twice
William Shatner recited Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's farewell speech and some Palin tweets in the form of poetry on Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show. Hat tip to Mashable. [JH]
Palin's Farewell Speech
Did Blogs Save the Web?
Cofounder of Salon.com, Scott Rosenberg chronicles blogging’s unplanned rise and improbable triumph, tracing its impact on politics, business, the media, and our lives in Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters (Crown, July 7, 2009). Snips from the product description:
Blogs are everywhere. They have exposed truths and spread rumors. Made and lost fortunes. Brought couples together and torn them apart. Toppled cabinet members and sparked grassroots movements. Immediate, intimate, and influential, they have put the power of personal publishing into everyone’s hands. Regularly dismissed as trivial and ephemeral, they have proved that they are here to stay.
Before blogs, it was easy to believe that the Web would grow up to be a clickable TV–slick, passive, mass-market. Instead, blogging brought the Web’s native character into focus–convivial, expressive, democratic. Far from being pajama-clad loners, bloggers have become the curators of our collective experience, testing out their ideas in front of a crowd and linking people in ways that broadcasts can’t match. Blogs have created a new kind of public sphere–one in which we can think out loud together. And now that we have begun, Rosenberg writes, it is impossible to imagine us stopping.
Advice for Drafting Multiple-Choice Questions in Law School Exams
ALR instructors who use multiple-choice testing may find Janet Fisher's (Suffolk) article Multiple-Choice: Choosing the Best Options for More Effective and Less Frustrating Law School Testing, 37 Capital University Law Review 119 (2008) [SSRN] helpful. From the abstract:
After a brief overview of the history of multiple-choice testing, the article describes problems that arise in connection with multiple-choice testing and the possible effects of flawed multiple-choice questions. The article then reviews basic multiple-choice item-writing guidelines and some general principles of test validity. For this, the article draws upon the work of law professor Michael Josephson and testing authority Thomas Haladyna. Finally, the article evaluates appeal and answer-justification procedures that could be used to enhance multiple-choice testing.
Hat tip to Law School Innovation. [JH]
A Quick Look at Freelance Law
Freelance Law is a national database of freelance attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals, offering their services to law firms on an independent contractor basis. The site, still in beta, is offering a free webinar about its services on July 29, 2009. Hat tip to Robert Ambrogi's LawSites. [JH]
July 30, 2009
Another Shoe Drops at DePaul: How Many More to Come?
(4) The Committee further concludes that, based on the information before it, the Law School is in compliance with Standard 201 and that no additional issue affecting compliance with Standard 201 has been raised at this time by the correspondence dated June 16, 2009. [See Findings of Fact (17)-(19).]
There are several points worth making here:
First, it is heavy handed, perhaps even desperate, to silence an opposing viewpoint by firing the representative of that position.
Second, it is the antithesis of fair play to communicate unilaterally with an accrediting body and then to refuse to disclose contents of the communication to interested parties.
Third, my correspondence to the ABA that resulted in my termination was not inflammatory in any way. I did not accuse the University of anything improper. I merely pointed out that if the ABA was relying on a bilateral agreement in determining our compliance with the standard on financial support, information about that agreement that had been previously reported to the ABA, appeared to be inaccurate. I was told by the ABA that I had a duty to report this information.
Fourth, the standard applicable to finances, Standard 201, makes reference to "adequate" resources, i.e. the minimal resources necessary to sustain a program. This issue was never addressed by a representative of the faculty because of my termination, Nevertheless, it has never been my position that we lacked this minimal level of support for accreditation purposes. My position was and remains that we have needed a higher level of support, reflected in the original Margin Agreement, to achieve our greater goals.
Finally, the ABA in its July 23rd Report has required a report back on Standard 203. This Standard applies to strategic planning and the "means" to achieve the goals identified by the planning. It is here that the matter of financial resources moves to the forefront. Unlike Standard 201, which addresses the issues of adequacy, Standard 203 addresses how a law school plans to achieve a level of support to achieve its goals. While I was dean, it was never my aspiration to be dean of an adequate law school, but rather I always sought to lead a superior law school of which we all could be proud. It is for that reason that the Margin Agreement is critically important to our law school's ability to achieve the greatness we have shared in creating.
Professor of Law
FTC Proposes New Constraints on Debt Relief Marketers
- Prohibit companies from charging fees until they have provided the debt relief services;
- Require disclosures about the debt relief services being offered, including how long it will take to obtain promised debt relief and how much it will cost;
- Prohibit specific misrepresentations about material aspects of debt relief services, including success rates and whether a debt relief company is nonprofit;
- Extend the TSR to cover calls consumers make to debt relief services in response to their advertisements; and
- Define the term “debt relief service” to cover any service to renegotiate, settle, or in any way alter the payment terms or other terms of the debt between a consumer and one or more unsecured creditors or debt collectors, including a reduction in the balance, interest rate, or fees owed.
CRS Reports Collected at State
One of the least likely places I expected to find an extensive collection of CRS Reports is the State Department web site. The site hosts reports as late as July 2nd, 2009, and begins the archive with reports dated 2000. They focus mostly on foreign relations issues but are far from limited to that subject. Check out the collection here. [MG]
Twitter Launches New Homepage
Twitter comes of age -- gone are explanations of what Twitter is and how to use it. The new Twitter homepage centers around search. A big search box is the first thing that grabs one's attention. [JH]
New Google Book Settlement Resource: The Public Index
The Public-Interest Book Search Initiative and the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School have launched The Public Index, a website to study and discuss the Google Book Search Settlement. The site features a a collection of tools and resources including an an interactive version of the proposed settlement and bulletin-board forums. From the site:
We are a group of professors, students, and volunteers who believe that the Google Book Search lawsuit and settlement deserve a full, careful, and thoughtful public discussion. The Public Index is a site for people from all points of view to learn from each other about the settlement and join together to make their voices heard in the public debate.
The lawsuit and its proposed settlement have generated their share of controversy. This is a site for everyone, dedicated to no particular point of view other than the advancement of dialogue and understanding. We hope that the site will help the settlement’s fans and foes dispel misunderstandings and find common ground, and that those who have not made up their minds will find the facts and explanations they need to reach informed decisions for themselves. All we ask of participants is that they be respectful of each other and work in good faith to advance the dialogue.
Excellent resource. [JH]
Katz & O'Neill's Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching
Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching: A Primer for New (and Not So New) Professors
Howard E. Katz & Kevin Francis O'Neill
Aspen Publishers (2009)
From the product description: Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching is intended to help you, as a new law teacher, prepare for your first semesters in the classroom. It begins at the preliminary stages of planning a new course and takes you all the way to writing and grading your final exam. Authors Katz and O’Neill offer experience and insight to the tasks of coming up with teaching objectives, choosing your book, crafting your syllabus, and creating a classroom atmosphere that is conducive to learning. The day-to-day teaching techniques in this primer for new (and not so new) professors will prepare you to successfully field students’ questions, teach legal analysis to first-year students, and make the most of today’s pedagogy and technology to support your teaching.
New and Updated Research Guides on GlobaLex
New Research Guide
- A Guide to Qatar’s Legal System by Ahmed Aly Khedr
Religious Legal Systems in Comparative Law: A Guide to Introductory Research by Marylin Johnson Raisch
Guide to Legal Research in the Dominican Republic by Marisol Florén-Romero
Transnational and Comparative Family Law: Harmonization and Implementation by Marylin Johnson Raisch
July 29, 2009
Pants Judge Loses Again in Suit Over Job
Remember the pants lawsuit where an administrative law judge sued a dry cleaners for some $50+ million for losing a pair of pants? Remember how he pursued the suit and refused to settle for way more money than the pants were worth with his suit ultimately getting thrown out of court? Well, he's been in litigation again contesting his failure to be reappointed as an administrative law judge in the District of Columbia. The opinion is a hoot, with the federal judge shooting down his three federal issues and refusing to take jurisdiction of the two state claims. The opinion is here and a Washington Post article on this latest case is here. Look to the bottom of the story for the words "This Story: Read." It is a pop-up menu with links to the opinion and other information about the former judge and his adventures in lost pants land. [MG]
Tattooed Librarians of Texas Calendar
Texas librarians reveal their ink for a calendar to help raise funds for the Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund. It's for a good cause. Details (yes, images) with ordering information here. [JH]
Microsoft and Yahoo Finally Tie the Search Knot
Microsoft and Yahoo finally came to a deal over search, announced today. This started some time ago when Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo for some $47 billion or so in early 2008. That led to financial turmoil for both companies. Yahoo's stock was sinking and the premium that Microsoft offered to stockholders at the time was higher than anything they have seen since. A number of people questioned the deal, no less than Jerry Yang who had taken the CEO role in the company he founded and resisted the sale. That, in turn, caused a bit of a stockholder revolt. They felt the company was in trouble and had no turnaround plan. Most all wanted to recover their investment intact. Carl Icahn, noted corporate raider, bought stock and got involved, leading to the ouster of Yang as a leader, relegating him to "Chief Yahoo," an amorphous title that kept him around for what people call "the vision thing." Yang has maintained a low profile since. Then the Yahoo board brought in Carol Bartz as CEO and the two companies quietly danced their corporate dance.
Today's announcement joins the two companies in a complementary deal whereby Microsoft will supply search to Yahoo properties while Yahoo supplies advertising for Microsoft and Yahoo sites in return for shared fees. Yahoo saves the capital investment essentially of having to build and maintain an independent search engine in return for a significant amount of ad revenue the would share with Microsoft. Microsoft's obvious goal is to reap the web advertising market that provides Google with billions of dollars. It must really frost Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that for Microsoft's technical expertise and capital investment, the company consistently comes in a distant third in the search/advertising market, with a single digit share compared to Yahoo and Google.
Most analysts saw Microsoft's move to buy Yahoo as a way to buy market share. Microsoft began to build their Bing search engine in earnest once that failed. Microsoft's history for success, here, is spotty. Their web properties were rebranded several times, as if creating a buzz around a new name would do the trick. There was MSN, Live Search, and now Bing. Microsoft promoted Live Search with shopping rebates and other customer giveaways to no avail. Bing has had some success, though only taking market share away from Yahoo. Reviews suggest it is solid for search, but a large advertising budget and media presence did not translate into a mass migration away from the leader. Growth appeared to be incremental, and not necessarily enough for Ballmer and Microsoft stockholders over time. Microsoft would have to gain market share the old fashioned way, by competing and earning it.
The deal will be subject to regulatory approval. The Obama administration is more attuned to these type of transactions than the Bush administration. The European Union has to weigh in on the deal as well. Microsoft has faced a more hostile reaction from European regulators in the past because of the company's size and attitudes towards competing in various tech areas. One good thing for Microsoft is that both US and European regulators are starting to become wary of Google. That company still has more than double the search and advertising share of a combined Yahoo and Microsoft. The deal will face tough scrutiny no matter what. Having an underdog status will help in the regulatory review.
What does this mean for searching? The best that will happen initially is that more people will become familiar with Microsoft technology. These, again, are not necessarily people who will abandon Google. As for Google, it means more unified competition. Google will not be standing still. That company constantly refines its algorithm and features, mostly in subtle ways. The company does have the expertise to compete and react to developments. Microsoft and Yahoo will become a comfortable number 2 in the search market but will have to do a lot more work than a deal such as this to unseat Google as number 1. Note that while both Microsoft and Yahoo have advertised their services on television and other media over the years, Google has not.
The Microsoft press release is here(with the key terms of the deal listed), and the combined web site for the deal, choicevalueinnovation.com, is here. Better have Silverlight installed if you want to watch the videos of Ballmer and Bartz falling all over themselves. [MG]