January 9, 2010
New Year's DeansGail Agrawal has be appointed Dean at Iowa [Press Release] and Mark Niles Dean at Seattle [Press Release]. Hat tip to Brian Leiter's Law School Report for both. [JH]
Round-Up of State Practitioner Blogs
Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog
Analyzes immigration law opinions, matters and reports in California. Published by The Gee Law Firm.
Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyer Blog
Covers injury law news, reports and opinions in Florida. Published by The Ben Law Firm.
New Mexico Injury Attorney Blog
Discusses injury law news, cases and reports in New Mexico. Published by Collins & Collins, PC.
Oregon DUI Lawyer Blog
Provides opinion on DUI law cases, opinions and legislation in Oregon. Published by the Law Office of Andrew Elliott.
Illinois Workers' Compensation Attorneys Blog
Provides insight on workers' compensation law news, opinions and reports in Illinois. Published by Dworkin & Maciariello.
January 8, 2010
Staff Holiday Parties!
So, I don't know about your library or school, but our holiday parties usually involve some nice treats that we wash down with soft drinks (I will not confess otherwise!). Sometimes there is holiday music or just peppy music playing on the library boom box to keep things festive. We share some conversations about our holidays or some funny things at work. There might be a group who continues the party out of the office. BUT, if you worked in Australia, there would be no need to leave!
The holiday staff party at the National Library of Australia is always entertaining. I thought last year's rendition of thriller was hilarious, but this year, the Can Can't Dancers really outdid themselves! Cross dressers, dancing book carts, bare legs... What more do you want from a holiday party? I'll have to talk to the staff for next year. :)
HT to Librarians Matter
Job Search Advice for Terminated West Library Relations Staffers: Send Resumes to Legal Publishers Who Are Interested in Maintaining Goodwill with Their Law Library Clients
Greg Lambert is breaking the news that five of West's Thomson Reuter's Library Relations Program 15 staffers will be laid off by the end of January, reporting that the layoffs affect staff in the small to mid-size regions of the country as part of Thomson Reuters' December 2009 round of announced 240 layoffs including 120 in Eagan. Anne Ellis confirmed the layoffs in an email to Greg, stating in part
Going forward, our librarian relations program will evolve as librarianship evolves with a renewed focus on online training, more emphasis on the technology aspects of the librarian’s role, and a continuing commitment to fostering and supporting the library community.
"Continuing commitment?" How about a new commitment.
Maintaining a "Partnership" by Staff Cutbacks. Greg writes "we law librarians should start preparing for the day where sales representatives are our only line of communication between us and the vendors." While I don't like hearing news about anyone losing their job, I personally have found the West Library Relations Program to be utterly useless for years, serving mainly as nothing much more than a corporate mouthpiece for West propaganda. It's mission has been dictated by marketing objectives while serving as the talking head for damage control in reaction to bonehead marketing actions and objectionable company policies.
These layoffs signal the real priority West gives to maintaining a "partnership" with the law library community. Considering the current state of affairs, West should be hiring more staffers for the program to mend fences instead of executing staff cutbacks. Although it would be a PR blunder, I wouldn't be surprised if the entire library relations program was eventually eliminated by Thomson Reuters.
Like sales reps and middle managers, the Company has placed its West Library Relations Program employees in a corporate straight-jacket that restrains them from really being responsive to the needs of the law library community. As I've said before, the object of our frustrations should be the corporate policy, not West staffers.
Send Your Resumes to Legal Publishers Who Give a Damn. In Another Boner from West, I suggested that West Librarian Relations Program staffers who were actually interested in maintaining good relations with the law librarians who pay their invoices should send their resumes to like-minded legal publishers. "Try BNA and Hein & Company for starters." Hopefully the terminated West Library Relations staffers will find employment soon.
Hello AALL. Think our professional association is going to publicly rebuke West for cutting its Library Relations Program staff by one-third? I, for one, will not be holding my breath waiting for that to happen. [JH]
Friday Fun: The Really Big Picture
Welcome to the first Friday Fun post of the new year, clearly LLB's most popular regular feature. Yes, we skipped last Friday because, well, it was a holiday, and I was cogitating on other matters. Seems fitting that we start 2010 off with some really big issues. Who better to turn to than Monty Python! [JH]
LexisNexis (But Apparently Not Westlaw) Resources Indexed by BingIn Using Bing Search Engine for Foreign Legal Research, Sergio Stone notes that Bing appears to be indexing some LexisNexis resources, free material and resources behind the LexisNexis pay wall. You will find both from his search for "russia lexis laws." Stone reports not finding any similar Westlaw sources on Bing. [JH]
How Do Authors and Publishers Create the Best Possible eBook?
Mike Shatzkin writes "the day when ebook sales are financially significant has apparently arrived and the point when those revenues could be more important than print revenues is in sight. So it may be time to change the objective of the author and editor from 'how do we create the best possible print book” to “how do we create the best possible ebook?'" In What it will mean when the ebook comes first, Shatzkin offers his thoughts on the topic.
See also John Alexander's three-part series on Pandia Search Engine News:
- An Introduction to the Mechanics of Writing a World Famous E-book
- Easy and Inexpensive Mechanics of Creating Your First E-book
- How to Write an Influential Sales Letter to Launch Your E-book
When and Why State Legislative Ratifications of Constitution Amendments Became Incredibly Difficult
While modern lawyers assume that state ratification of a constitutional amendment is incredibly difficult, IUPUI law prof Gerard N. Magliocca's recently SSRN-posted article, The Child Labor Amendment and the Court-Packing Plan, documents that this interpretation only emerged in 1937 as the deliberate product of Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign to discredit Article Five in favor of judicial "reform." This very interesting article presents new material on Franklin D. Roosevelt's Supreme Court-packing plan and its relationship to the Child Labor Amendment. From the abstract:
"[When the Child Labor Amendment was passed by Congress in 1924], there was a consensus that state legislatures were little more than a rubber stamp for amendments. Indeed, foes of the CLA sought to block the proposal in Congress by seeking to require ratification by state conventions. Even after the CLA was blocked in the States during the 1920s and 1930s, that did not alter the basic premise that state legislative ratification was generally easy.
President Roosevelt changed all of this in 1937 by making the CLA into the paradigmatic case for Article Five instead of the exception that it actually was. He did this in two steps. First, he gave a high-profile endorsement to the proposal even though he knew that it was not going to be ratified anytime soon. Then he used that failure as a leading argument for Court-packing in his public statements about that proposal. This provoked a unorthodox response in Congress and a deep inquiry into Article Five that ended abruptly when the Supreme Court executed its switch-in-time on March 29, 1937.
By demonstrating that the view of state legislatures as a massive obstacle to constitutional change is largely a self-fulfilling construction, this Article hopes to provoke a new discussion about the merits of using the amendment process.
January 7, 2010
10 Wacky Laws That Apparently Are Still on the Books (Is it really against the law for a woman to strip off her clothing while standing in front of a man's picture in Oxford, OH?)
Apparently because no citations provided in the CNN iReport:
- In Billings, Mont., it is illegal for anyone to sell, harbor or give away rats as pets or toys for any purpose other than to feed snakes or birds of prey. Scientists, however, can keep lab rats.
- Using profanity is against the law on playgrounds and in public parks in Columbia, Md.
- The last Sunday in June each year is Log Cabin Day in Michigan.
- In Michigan, it is legal to kill a dog for attacking chickens, livestock or people, but you can't snuff the pooch in a high altitude decompression chamber or by electrocution.
- In West Virginia, anyone who taunts someone who decides not to participate in a duel or who declines to accept a challenge is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be sent to jail for up to six months and fined up to $100.
- In Kentucky it is illegal to sell, exchange, offer to sell or exchange, display, or possess living baby chicks, ducklings, or other fowl or rabbits that have been dyed or colored. It is also illegal to dye or color baby chicks, ducklings, fowl or rabbits. And unless they are at least two months old, the aforementioned animals must be sold in batches of six.
- At shooting ranges in Massachusetts, it is illegal to shoot at targets depicting a human -- whether as a figure, effigy or a silhouette -- unless you're a public safety officer performing official duties.
- In Alabama it is against the law to alter the natural appearance of the teeth of a horse or mule to make the animal appear younger than it actually is.
- In Alabama anyone performing a marriage rite is entitled to a fee of $2 per marriage.
- In Alabama it is against the law to exploit a bear by promoting, engaging in or being employed at a bear wrestling match, or by subjecting a bear to surgical alteration of any kind, including, but not limited to, declawing, tooth removal and severing tendons.
For more, check out the Wacky Laws Site, which looks old as in circa 1995 so may be out-dated but lists the following current or at least once existing odd legal prohibitions for my adopted state of Ohio:
- It is illegal for women to wear patent leather shoes in public.
- Bexley - Ordinance #223 prohibits the installation and usage of slot machines in outhouses.
- Cleveland - it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while sitting in someone's lap.
- Clinton County - it is against the law to lean on a public building at risk of a fine.
- Paulding – the law states that a policeperson may bite a dog to quiet it.
- Oxford - it is against the law for a woman to strip off her clothing while standing in front of a man's picture.
Hum, my wife's uncle works for the Oxford Police Department. I probably should find out when a woman was last cited for stripping out her clothing ... .Why only women? Why only in front of a man's picture? [JH]
Twitter, social media and the bottom line among BigLaw firms.
A survey conducted by myCorporateResource.com of the Top 100 Am Law firms found that 29 have Twitter accounts although some, like Skadden, haven't posted a single Tweet since signing up for the service. Indeed, only 9 of those 29 BigLaw firms that signed up for Twitter regularly use it according to the survey.
The survey also compiled information about other social media use by BigLaw and then tried to correlate that use with firm profitability. According to the Legal Blog Watch:
A chart that accompanies the survey also depicts use of other forms of social media by these firms, showing whether they have Facebook pages, blogs, RSS feeds and electronic newsletters.
Most interesting is that the survey attempts to slice and dice the numbers in search of a correlation between social media use and a firm's bottom line. Comparing the firms' Am Law 100 rankings in the two most recent years, it found that of the 29 firms using Twitter, 13 gained in rank, 11 fell and five were unchanged. In aggregate they picked up 35 places and averaged a 4.54 percent increase in revenues. Not surprisingly, firms using Twitter were also more likely to have blogs and Facebook pages, the survey said, indicative of a firm's overall approach to client communications and marketing.
Definitive conclusions about Twitter use are hard to draw, the survey concedes, but analysis of a firm's overall social media use was at least "suggestive," it said. "The 38 law firms that have embraced two or more forms of social/new media (with or without Twitter) did in fact beat the 4.36% average for the AmLaw 100, averaging a 6.46% increase in revenue, with the 17 firms using three forms averaging a 5.93% increase and the 7 firms using four or more, averaging a 6.5% increase."
Law Librarians Can Help USA.gov: Call for Submitting Suggestions by January 15
The GSA's USA.gov is seeking user comments about how to improve the website. Some already submitted include:
- De-cluttering the pages (both content and design).
- Improving the Search visibility and functionality.
- Widgetize content so it can be re-used on other websites.
- Answering government questions directly on USA.gov, or on whichever USA.gov forum visitors happen to be on (e.g., Facebook, Twitter).
- Expanding lauguage options to include other languages besides English and Spanish.
To submit your suggestions, go to the USA.gov's Your Voice Matters blog. The submission deadline is January 15, 2010. "USA.gov staff will regularly respond to comments and post new questions" on the blog. [JH]
2009 Year-End Report on the Federal JudiciaryIt's a 5-page report, "short and sweet from C.J. John Roberts" as characterized by Jonathan Hayes on Bankruptcy Prof Blog. "The report ... does not contain the plea for salary increases that characterized the 2008 year-end report" writes Robin Effron on Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog. Perhaps that's because Congress increased judicial salaries or because "Roberts apparently concluded that an election year in which belt-tightening is the new mantra was not the time to revive the debate." Quoting Robert Barnes, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts opts not to ask Congress to raise judicial salaries, Washington Post (Jan. 1, 2010). See also New York Times and WSJ Law Blog coverage. [JH]
Worst Year Ever for Law Firm Layoffs; New NALP Recruiting Recommendations Expected This Month
"2009 will go down as the worst year ever for law-firm layoffs. More people were laid off by more firms than had been reported for all previous years combined," according to Law Shucks. 12,196 people were laid off by major firms in 2009, of which 4,633 were lawyers and 7,563 were staff. "We’re aware that layoffs are severely underreported." Law Shucks tracked 218 reports of layoffs at 138 law firms in 2009. Clifford Chance led the way, with an astonishing 10 different events reported. DLA Piper had seven, Baker & McKenzie six, and Cadwalader, Dechert and Faegre & Benson each had four. "We expect a particularly aggressive round of performance-related (a/k/a “stealth”) layoffs in the coming months as annual-review season heats up." However the Reporter observes that after jockeying to make sure they were paid what they deserved in 2009, partners are now busy behind the scenes checking out their options for 2010. See Recruiters Predict Busy Year in Lateral Market.
New NALP Recruiting Recommendations. Meanwhile The Am Law Daily is reporting that the NALP Commission on Recruiting in the Legal Profession is expected to release this month its preliminary recommendations for overhauling how law firms and law schools organize the summer associate recruiting process. One recommendation according to the story: "Setting a date, likely sometime in late fall, before which firms would be prohibited from making offers to prospective summers. That proposed structure would replace the current system, under which firms can make offers to prospective summer associates at any time after interviewing them and then must leave those offers open for 45 days." [JH]
If a JD isn't going to lead one to the promised land of high income, will an MBA?
Nope. So says Lucy Kellaway in The End of the Affair, published in The Economist:
[I]n 2010, for the second year running, tens of thousands of overqualified MBAs will emerge with nowhere exciting to go. A very few will land jobs in investment banking, but those who want grand jobs in big companies or consultancies will be disappointed. Increasingly they will go crawling back to their old employers to do pretty much whatever they were doing before for pretty much the same money. As the efficacy of a business school is measured according to the salary one gets when one finishes, both students and employers will question whether it is really worth the $160,000 that a top MBA costs.
This is not going to be a little recessionary dip. It will be a more fundamental reappraisal. The magical myth of the MBA has for some time left the facts behind. In future, those who stump up will do so because they want to learn the skills, not because they think they are buying entry into a cool and exclusive club.
The article's call-out quote reads: "The decline of the MBA will cut off the supply of bullshit at source."
No high income promises in acquiring a LIS degree but if you want to learn theory and skills, the labor market for information professionals will eventually rebound. It ain't just about working in a library, not that library gigs aren't worth having. [JH]
Opening: Assistant Director for Public Services, LSU Law Center Library
Definition. Responsible for planning, directing and coordinating the overall Public Services operations of the LSU Law Library, including reference, research and instructional support, research guide production, interlibrary loan, circulation, reserves, and exhibits. Organizes, coordinates, and administers comprehensive instructional, and outreach services, including the faculty liaison program, training for faculty research assistants, bibliographic instruction, and library orientation. Teaches in the Advanced Legal Research course, as well as introductory legal research. Serves on the Collection Development Committee and responsible for selecting materials in assigned topic areas. Works closely with the Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Services on administration, budget planning, provision of services, personnel management, facilities management, and long-range planning.
Reporting Relationship: Reports to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Services.
Typical Tasks. Supervises 5-6 librarians, support staff, and student assistants. Develops and enforces policies and procedures for all aspects of Public Services. Provides reference assistance which includes nights and weekends to faculty, students, staff, the bar and the public at large. Teaches legal research in formal and informal settings. Works closely with the Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Services to optimize the use of Library space and technology; and participates in advising the Associate Vice Chancellor on management of the Law Library.
Minimum Qualifications. JD or equivalent degree from an ABA-accredited law school; MLS or equivalent degree from an ALA-accredited program and 3 to 5 years of prior supervisory experience in recruiting, training, and evaluating performance for staff in public services, preferably in an academic law library. Proficiency in searching online databases, and experience teaching legal research. Excellent research, reference and organizational skills.
Perferred Additional Qualifications.
- Demonstrated ability to work with faculty, students, and staff in a diverse research community; ability to research and analyze civil and common law; substantial experience assisting faculty, ability to integrate electronic technologies in the classroom.
- Thorough knowledge of the legal reference, principles of library and personnel management, legal bibliography, and research; strong written and oral communications skills.
- Ability to formulate and administer Law Library policies and procedures related to Public Services; handle management responsibilities and make appropriate decisions, communicate effectively, and maintain a stable and productive work environment; work cooperatively in a collaborative environment.
Compensation. Competitive; commensurate with experience. Full range of attractive benefits.
Rank. General Librarian with annual appointment.
Work Week. Forty hours (40). Evening and weekend reference shifts may be assigned on a regular rotating basis to accommodate Library scheduling needs.
Inquiries. Inquiries may be directed to Dragomir Cosanici, Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Services, at 225-578-5770 or email@example.com. Information regarding the LSU Law Library can be found at http://www.law.lsu.edu/index.cfm?geaux=library.default .
Please submit your cover letter, resume, and the names with the contact information of at least three references to
The position is open until filled.
The LSU Law Center is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Employer.
January 6, 2010
"15 Gadgets That Changed Everything This Decade Past"
Following up on our post about the teaching technologies that became obsolete this past decade, here's Silicon Alley Insider's list of the 15 revolutionary gadgets from the last decade.
1. The iPod
9. Nintendo Wii
10. The Nikon D1
12. Sony Playstation
13. Motorola Razr
14. Guitar Hero
15. Apple iPhone
You can view the slideshow here.
Yes, It's Out and It's Called "Google Nexus One"
And its running Google Android version 2.1. World-changing, probably not, but a step in the right direction. The 2.1 OS update will filter down to the other Android phones, but the long anticipated entry into the smartphone market by Google has happened. It's a Google-branded phone made by HTC. From the Google Offical Blog post:
Manufactured by HTC, the Nexus One features dynamic noise suppression from Audience, Inc., a large 3.7" OLED display for deep contrast and brilliant colors and a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ chipset for blazing speeds. Running on Android 2.1, the newest version of Eclair, the software includes innovations like a voice-enabled keyboard so you can speak into any text field, fun Live Wallpapers, a 3D photo gallery for richer media experiences and lots more. Of course, it also comes with a host of popular Google applications, including Gmail, Google Voice and Google Maps Navigation.
Today, the web store allows you to purchase the Nexus One without operator service or with service from T-Mobile USA. We expect to add more operators, more devices and more countries in the future, including Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and Vodafone in Europe. To learn more about the Nexus One, and our new web store, we recommend checking it out for yourself by visiting www.google.com/phone.
Holiday Letter from the Law Librarian of CongressRoberta I. Shaffer, the Law Librarian of Congress, has written a holiday letter that provides updates on the Law Library of Congress as it heads into the New Year. [BA]
South Carolina joins Florida in deciding efficacy of friending judges on Facebook
This blog reported the story a few weeks ago about a Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee that issued a non-binding opinion concluding that it might be an ethical violation for lawyers and judges to "friend" each other on Facebook.
Now comes this story from the Legal Blog Watch about a South Carolina Judicial Ethics Advisory Commission which issued a decision back in October addressing whether judges could be Facebook "friends" with law enforcement officials and judicial office workers. The Advisory Committee concluded that "a judge may be a member of Facebook and be friends with law enforcement officers and employees of the Magistrate as long as they do not discuss anything related to the judge’s position as magistrate."
Does the FTC Need to Regulate Search Neutrality?
By way of follow-up to Nova Southeastern law prof Jim Levy's LLB post Google's search engine dominance threatens web neutrality, I read the cited Adam Raff NYT op-ed piece entitled Search, but You May Not Find. In it Raff writes
Today, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s new Bing have become the Internet’s gatekeepers, and the crucial role they play in directing users to Web sites means they are now as essential a component of its infrastructure as the physical network itself. The F.C.C. needs to look beyond network neutrality and include “search neutrality”: the principle that search engines should have no editorial policies other than that their results be comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance.
I doubt the FCC should get involved in search neutrality rule-making if the criterion is "relevancy" and I wonder how it would develop and enforce any such rules. "Solely on relevance? Whose opinion of relevance, exactly?" asks Greg Lastowka in response to Raff's op-ed piece. This, of course, smacks of LIS Online Searching 101's classic first (or second) course lecture on high recall/low precision vs. high precision/low recall in search construction logic and the user's dependency of the tools he or she chooses to use. I doubt any SE provider can provide "results [that are] comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance" because prioritization of search result output is based on a specific and unique set of instructions the SE algorithm carries out.
Raff has an axe to grind. He claims his company, Foundem, a UK-based technology company specializing in vertical search, was purposefully injured by Google’s search and Adword prioritization practices. See Foundem’s Google Story "Foundem is being penalised simply because it is a vertical search engine." A serious claim against another search engine provider if it can be proved (good luck with that). Alternatively, the Company's SE simply might not be worth a damn. "I’ll come out and say it: Foundem is a near-worthless site, and the quality of its search results is poor," writes James Grimmelmann in a comment to Frank Pasquale's Concurring Opinions post on Raff's op-ed piece and the issue of search neutrality entitled Recognizing Bottlenecks on the Net. A far better statement on search neutrality from Raff can be found at Search Neutrality.
Nondiscrimination in Search. The issue in search engine neutrality isn't relevancy. It's nondiscrimination. Is a search engine provider abusing its market power in search? In testimony before the Task Force on Competition Policy and Antitrust Laws of the House Committee on the Judiciary (July 15, 2008) Seton Hall law prof Frank Pasquale stated "I believe [market concentration] concerns will ultimately warrant creation of a Federal Search Commission to parallel the Federal Communications Commission." [Prepared Statement]. He offers a fairly precise regulatory specification of what search neutrality might look like in his highly recommended article, Internet Nondiscrimination Principles: Commercial Ethics for Carriers and Search Engines, 2008 University of Chicago Law Forum 1. See table below, click to enlarge, from page 27 of the article.
Underestimating Technology. Might work. Might not be needed. People always underestimate the impact of technology.
IT developments tend to produce a small number of "winners," firms that "enjoy" a competitive advantage in a very concentrated market until innovation offers new options that garner a user base. Think Microsoft's domination of the desktop in the 1990s, now threatened by cloud computing and Google Apps. Time marches on and even "winners" make mistakes. Microsoft has been playing catch-up in most web-related segments simply because Gates failed to appreciate the web's importance in the early 1990s. Then came Microsoft's browser tactics, followed by a legal slap-down. Netscape didn't survive but Foxfire is thriving.
Many search engine providers have come and gone, long gone. Internet searchers still have some general purpose SE options, albeit they do boil down to Google and Bing right now. But Bing may be a worthy competitor to Google. Of late, I've been including Bing in my searching and am beginning to appreciate its search results. You? I wonder whether nondiscrimination rules would promote or hinder the launch of additional general purpose search engines by confining prioritization of search results.
What if the federal government didn't police stealth marketing in search but instead imposed a federal excise tax on commercial SE providers to fund something akin to a national endownment for search that could finance server farms and the development of general purpose open source search engines? Until then, if that even happens, I'll take search engines as given and learn their unique characteristics and limitations as long as they do not outright censor the content of the web. That's what librarians do; that's also what all sophisticated web searchers do.
This whole "Internet gatekeepers" complaint in this context reminds me of the early 1990s when America Online users confused America Online with being "on the web." Eventually they learned to distinguish the difference, thanks in no small part to discovering Yahoo!. The same will happen in the selection and use of search engines. If not, instruction in online literacy can address the matter in grade school, high school, college or even law school. The "why can't I just use Google?" question opens the door to the discussion about how Google works and that Google is not the only search filter to the web.
In his op-ed piece, Raff argues that "without search neutrality rules to constrain Google’s competitive advantage, we may be heading toward a bleakly uniform world of Google Everything." I doubt it. Just like the once bleakly uniform world of Microsoft Everything, this, too, will pass, with or without government intervention. Technological innovation marches on even in very concentrated markets. [JH]