March 21, 2011
A Pound of Flesh: Free Speech in the Context of the Desperate Bargains Made between AALL and the Legal Publishing Industry and Individual Institutional Buyers and Their Vendors
One of AALL's rationalizations for not webcasting, live or archived, or for providing an official transcript of AALL's Vendor Colloquium, was that doing so would not allow participants to speak freely. This provides the opportunity, allegedly, for participants to express views that may not be those of the organizations they represent. I, for one, am betting some vendor reps still self-censored some of their own opinions but we will never know.
Now, in one-on-one communications via phone or email with vendors and law librarians, I do keep discussions strictly confidential, meaning they do not end up in LLB blog posts, for example. Sometimes, I ask, "can I write about that after you review my draft post." If the answer is "no," I'm fine with that. If the answer is yes but subject to my or my company's editing, I accept the edits. No mention about either the negative answer or the edits made are ever published. And sometimes during exchanges with vendors and others, I specifically do not ask a question because I don't want the answer to be held confidential.
But those are private one-on-one conversations. AALL's rationalization for neither webcasting nor creating and publishing a complete transcript of the Vendor Colloquium proceedings is an entirely different matter. It borders on It is insulting to one's intelligence that any law librarian would not understand the difference between any participant stating something is qualified by "this is my institution's policy" and another statement qualified by "this is my opinion which does not represent my institution." And then taking such statements out of context.
Mark Estes' sanctioned blog posts during the AALL's Vendor Colloquium and some later posts after the AALL's Vendor Colloquium essentially followed the Chatham House Rule. See, for example, Mary Jenkins' AALL Spectrum Blog post, An SCCLL Librarian’s Notes from the Vendor Colloquium ("I have 26 handwritten pages of notes; surely, some of that would be of interest to my colleagues. Since my perspective is primarily that of a librarian at a public and subscription law library, I will start by offering my own notes from Ann Fessenden’s presentation (a statement of the challenges facing state, court, and county law libraries (SCCLL) and questions for the publishers) and from the discussion that followed"). Then I will identify the attendees’ shared principles that seem to speak to these concerns.)"
Since I'm unsure whether AALL officialdom knows what the Chatham House Rule is, here it is:
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
The reason for the rule is the rationalization used by AALL for not webcasting or publishing an official transcript -- freedom to speak without concern for personal reputations or a participant's official duties and affiliations. My problem is threefold: (1) we paid for this meeting; (2) we have no basis to make any informed judgement about what is forthcoming from it, namely a Shared Principles document and an Action Plan even if drafts are available for member comment; and (3) we are smart enough to know the difference between participants statements that represent their institutions and statements that are personal opinions if the complete record includes those qualifications. If attendees did not make such qualifications during their participation in the meetings, then even they don't know which is which and that means their reliance on what was said is muddled at best.
Fear of Reprisals. Over the years, I have talked with a fair number of law librarians who are afraid to speak openingly in public about systemic issues in the vendor-buyer relationship (unfortunately that also includes AALL members serving on AALL committees worried about consequences from AALL officialdom). The response, in a nutshell, goes something like this:
I have to put my employer's needs first and, even if I qualify my statement with a disclaimer that "the opinion I express is my professional opinion and does not necessary represent my employer" I am worried about the consequences.
Frankly, many professional law librarians are afraid that one or more of our very expensive vendors will find a way to make the execution of their employment-related responsibilities "difficult."
The vast, very vast,majority of such concerns are expressed by private sector law librarians -- the market sector that drives what our vendors do. While I personally know of no such "retribution," (feel free to comment anonymously or email me privately, if you like), the fear is real in the private sector -- less so in the public sector and much less so in the academic sector. but neither sector, individually or combined, matter as much as the private sector to our major vendors and their revenue generation objectives.
If our association doesn't think we know the difference between official and unofficial statements made by participants in an official meeting, just how dumb do they think we are? Here's a desperate bargain that must be eliminated if AALL is serious about consumer advocacy.
If individual librarians are afraid of vendors extracting their "pound of flesh," then it is time to address the desperate bargain between institutional buyers and vendors by way of meaningful publicity and sanctions by AALL.
Both are unacceptable. [JH]
New Guide to Privacy Law Published: Privacy Law Fundamentals by Solove and Schwartz
Both authors of Privacy Law Fundamentals (International Association of Privacy Professionals, March 2011) [available on Amazon and IAPP sites] should be well known to everyone who follows the privacy law literature. Daniel J. Solove is John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School and Paul M. Schwartz is Professor of Law, U.C. Berkeley School of Law and Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. Their new work provides essential information privacy professionals in the field need to have readily available in their offices. In the legal academy, I think law profs and students will find it a very useful text. For law librarians, do note the list price is only $39.95.
From the product description:
The guide will quickly inform readers of the key provisions of various privacy statutes such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the HIPAA regulations, the Privacy Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and more. Included are leading cases and FTC enforcement actions, as well as answers to the types of questions practicing professionals need on a daily basis: ·
What are the top 10 things you need to know about the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act?
Which federal laws preempt state laws and which don't?
Which laws have a private right of action and which don't?
Based on the authors' reputation Privacy Law Fundamentals is highly recommended. (Note to FTC: no review copy provided but I have ordered a copy for my library).
Privacy Law Compliance. As the legal landscape of privacy requirements keeps evolving, institutional compliance becomes increasing more complex. Educating private and public sector institutions about their legal obligations and performing internal privacy audits of procedures in place needs to performed on a regular basis. Privacy Law Fundamentals is be a valuable resource for these efforts.
Daniel Solove and Brian Felgoise recently started a company, TeachPrivacy, to help schools with privacy issues (from cyberbullying to sexting to handling personal data to searches and surveillance) by providing information, videos, guides, a legal primer, model policies and guidelines via the company's website for a modest fee. TeachPrivacy is currently working with all sorts of schools, from K-12 to higher education. Typically most schools lack a dedicated person responsible for privacy issues. However, schools oftentimes have more personal data than businesses and privacy in educational institutions extends well beyond Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requirements. TechPrivacy is attempting to fill this expertise gap by providing necessary compliance resources. [JH]
Opening: Director of the Law Library and Information Technology, Ave Maria School of Law
Position Title: Director of the Law Library and Information Technology
Department: Law Library
Reports To: Dean of the Law School
Location: Naples, Florida
Overview: The Director of the Law Library and Information Technology is responsible for overseeing all aspects of library and information systems operations, including budgetary creation and control, personnel management (3 professional librarians, 5 IT professionals, 3 library paraprofessionals and 1 part-time employee), hardcopy and digital resource collection development, promoting library services, and long-term strategic planning. The Director of the Law Library reports directly to the Dean of the Law School, and will be a tenured or tenure-track member of the faculty.
Applicants should have a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school and an M.L.S. degree from an ALA-accredited library school; substantial experience in an academic law library, with progressive responsibility in administration; ability to assume a leadership role, and to work effectively with all Law School constituencies. Candidates should have an excellent understanding of existing and emerging information technologies, and should present a record of active involvement in professional organizations, both law and library related. It is desirable that candidates have experience teaching in a law school environment, and have a record of or be interested in establishing a record in law/library related publishing.
Application Deadline: For consideration, interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume and contact information for three references by April 8, 2011 to the chair of the search committee, Nathan Collins, at necollins(at)avemarialaw.edu. The expected start date for this position is the fall of 2011.
Ave Maria School of Law is an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION employer that values diversity, including diversity in religious affiliation, and strongly encourages applications from persons of diverse backgrounds willing to support the institutional mission; it requires compliance with all state and federal laws governing employment discrimination.
March 20, 2011
Reminder: Loyola's Journalist Law School Fellowship Applications due Monday, March 21
The Civil Justice Program at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles is now accepting applications for its sixth-annual Journalist Law School fellowship (JLS), to be held June 15-18, 2011 on Loyola Law School’s Frank Gehry-designed downtown Los Angeles campus. Applications are due by Monday, March 21, 2011. Complete details, including application information and a downloadable brochure, are available at www.lls.edu/cjp/jls.
The fellowship condenses three years of law school into a long weekend filled with courses taught by Loyola Law faculty, practicing attorneys and jurists. The core faculty members – Professors John Nockleby, Laurie Levenson, Karl Manheim and Doug NeJaime – will lecture on civil, criminal and constitutional law and other primary topics. Additional faculty will lead breakout sessions, which accepted fellows will suggest and select in advance. Topics of focus this year will include an examination of the legal issues surrounding a series of headline-dominating subjects: Wikileaks, immigration legislation, healthcare reform, same-sex relationships and the emerging environmental fallout in Japan.
JLS lectures are supplemented by speaker events featuring a variety of lawyers, judges and veteran journalists. Previous speakers include Shirley Abrahamson, chief justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court; U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA); Harland Braun, who represented Robert Blake in his murder trial, Law Offices of Harland Braun; Linda Deutsch, Associated Press special correspondent; Mark Geragos ’82, who represented Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson, Law Offices of Geragos & Geragos; George W. Greer, judge in the Terri Schiavo case, Sixth Judicial Circuit; Nora Manella, California Court of Appeal; and Jim Newton, author and Los Angeles Times editor-at-large.
Journalists with at least three years of experience who cover the law in some fashion are encouraged to apply. There is no cost to journalists; instruction, lodging and most meals are included in the fellowship. And the Journalist Law School will cover half of travel expenses up to $300. Fellows will be housed at the nearby Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel. Fellows need to arrive in Los Angeles on the morning of Wednesday, June 15, 2011 and depart on Sunday, June 19. Fellows will have one free evening to explore Los Angeles on their own. Journalist fellows, who are competitively selected, receive a certificate of completion at the end of the four-day program. More than 175 reporters, editors and producers have completed the fellowship from a wide range of local, national and international news organizations.
Loyola’s Civil Justice Program started the JLS in 2006 as a way to help journalists navigate the complexities of the legal system and enhance their coverage of it. “Journalists provide the keys to understanding the most complex institutions in our society, including the courts,” said Professor Nockleby, director of the JLS and Loyola’s Civil Justice Program. “If journalists have a deeper understanding of law and the legal system, they can help the public better understand – and critique – that system.”
Past breakout sessions include: After the Crisis: Mortgages, Credit Cards & Payday Lending; Disability Rights Law; Legal Implications of Same-Sex Marriage; Immigration Law; Employment & Education Testing & Civil Rights Law; Dynamics of the Supreme Court; Election Law; Family Law & Children; Habeas Corpus & the Death Penalty; Intellectual Property; Juvenile Law, the Law of War; Laws of Demonstrations; Legal & Judicial Ethics; Racial Discrimination and News Coverage; the Rules Governing Admission of Evidence at Trial; and Terrorists & Noncombatants: Guantanamo & Due Process.
Questions about the program may be directed to Brian Costello, deputy director of communications, at brian.costello(at)lls.edu, 213-736-1444 or 310-902-9560.
What previous fellows have said about the JLS fellowship:
“This should probably be required of all journalists earlier in their careers.”
“It’s a program that delivers on its promise: teach journalists a better, more comprehensive understanding of the law.”
“I came to the program expecting a crash course in the law and, fortunately, I got that. I really felt I was being taught by the very best legal academic minds and it both humbled me and inspired me to re-dedicate myself to better journalistic endeavors down the road. The payoff: accurate reporting and thus a more well-informed society.”
“The professors at Loyola Law School know their stuff. I can’t think of any session where I questioned the level of knowledge held by the speaker – and, as a reporter, I am paid to be skeptical of people’s words.”
Supporters of the JLS include the American Board of Trial Advocates (a founding sponsor), the American Association for Justice and the Los Angeles Press Club.