July 9, 2011
US Librarians, 1880-2009: Historical Census Data Post from OUP Blog
Brian Herzog calls attention to a recent OUP blog post that provides occupational census data about US librarians from 1880-2009 on Swiss Army Librarian. He writes "Even if you just skim the graphs, I think you’ll be hooked." I was.
Here's the opening paragraph of the OUP survey:
The U.S. Census first collected data on librarians in 1880, a year after the founding of the American Library Association. They only counted 636 librarians nationwide. Indeed, one respondent reported on his census form that he was the “Librarian of Congress.” The U.S. Census, which became organized as a permanent Bureau in 1902, can be used to track the growth of the library profession. The number of librarians grew over the next hundred years, peaking at 307,273 in 1990. Then, the profession began to shrink, and as of 2009, it had dropped by nearly a third to 212,742. The data enable us to measure the growth, the gender split in this profession known to be mostly female, and to explore other divides in income and education, as they changed over time.
Hat tip to LISNews. [JH]
July 8, 2011
The Stats Aren't Pretty: NALP Reports on Class of 2010 Law Grads Average Starting Salaries
From NALP's July 7, 2011 press release:
As NALP reported in June, the employment profile for this class contrasts markedly from that of the previous class, with fewer employed graduates obtaining jobs in law firms — 50.9% compared with 55.9% for the Class of 2009 (see "Class of 2010 Graduates Faced Worst Job Market Since Mid-1990s: Longstanding Employment Patterns Interrupted," available on the NALP website). Moreover, the distribution of those jobs by size of firm shifted, with relatively fewer jobs in the largest firms and relatively more jobs in firms of 50 or fewer attorneys. Over half of the law firm jobs — 53% — taken by the Class of 2010 were in firms of 50 or fewer attorneys, compared with 46% for the class of 2009. The proportion of jobs in firms of more than 250 attorneys decreased from 33% for the Class of 2009 to 26% for the Class of 2010. This shift is reflected in the salary figures for the Class of 2010.
The national median salary for the Class of 2010, based on those working full-time and reporting a salary, was $63,000, compared with $72,000 for the Class of 2009 (falling nearly 13%), and the national mean was $84,111, compared with $93,454 for the Class of 2009 (falling nearly 10%). However, because many large law firm salaries cluster around $145,000 and $160,000, while many other salaries are in the $40,000 to $65,000 range, relatively few salaries were actually near the overall median or mean.
The national median salary at law firms based on reported salaries was $104,000, compared with $130,000 the prior year (falling 20%), again reflecting the shift in the distribution of these jobs, and also salary adjustments on the part of some firms. Although salaries of $160,000 still prevail at the largest firms, their share has dropped in firms of 101-500 attorneys, creating further downward pressure on the median.
For more details, see NALP's Class of 2010 Graduates Saddled with Falling Average Starting Salaries as Private Practice Jobs Erode.
Time for a music video: Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys Lawyers. [JH]
Friday Fun: Library Public Service Desk
By Pearls Before Swine with a hat tip to LLB co-editor Mark Giangrande for this gem.
And since it is brief, let's add this Pearls Before Swine one about the free atlas giveaway.
Plus this Pearls Before Swine one from "Joe's Roastery" because I need a cup of coffee.
What the heck. They are all library-book references related! [JH]
On the Peasant-Landload Relationship in the Ancien Regime: Ignoring Tradition-Bound "Professional" Rhetorical Norms of Restraint and Civility to Promote Reforms
The "scam blogger" movement refers to those in the law-related blogoshere who criticize the legal academy for continuing to spin the story of "Come to law school. Sure, you'll take out loans, but it will all be worth it in the end when you enter this noble profession." Quoting Atlanta's John Marshall law prof Lucille Jewell in her NLJ interview with Karen Sloan at Unruly 'scam bloggers' are changing legal education, researcher argues. From the NLJ article:
Scam bloggers are law school graduates who take to the Internet to trash law schools for what they see as a scam of exacting high tuition for the privilege of competing for too few available legal jobs. Jewel surveyed the phenomenon in "You're Doing It Wrong: How the Anti-Law School Scam Blogging Movement Can Shape the Legal Profession," published by the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology.
In the interview, Jewel states "I think they make a compelling argument," and explains that she decided to research the scam blog movement because it represents a new way to view the law school system — one that has resonated well beyond the relatively small world of legal education. Newspapers including USA Today and The New York Times covered scam blogs during 2010.
My complaint with Jewel's article is its narrow focus which characterizes "scam bloggers" as just being law school grads who ignore the legal profession's traditional rhetorical norms of restraint and civility. Jewel writes in her article, You’re Doing It Wrong: How the Anti-Law School Scam Blogging Movement Can Shape the Legal Profession:
With the Scam Blogging movement, a small set of underemployed or unemployed attorneys—not the type of lawyers who would normally be listened to with respect to ideas for reforming an aspect of the profession—harness the power of the Internet to argue for changes in the way that law schools market themselves.
Wrong. There are plenty of law profs doing the same. While some law prof bloggers may reinforce their opinions with some empircial analysis, others with perspectives based on years of being in the legal academy; many simple follow the same conversational style as "scam bloggers," perhaps out of frustration of being associated with the legal academy's irresponsibility.
The ideas articulated by the Scam Bloggers have certainly been expressed before in more traditional formats, such as law review articles and papers, but because law professors are speaking to each other primarily in logo-centric and formal fashion, an academic idea often fails to resonate with many members of the profession or public.
Wrong Again. Law profs have been using the blogosphere for several years now because it presents an avenue outside the small world of the legal academic literature to call attention to an issue of importance. How do you think the mainstream legal and general media find members of the legal academy to interview for this issue? Their posts are not always confined to "polite" norms. Jewel's article "ultimately concludes that the legal profession will be strengthened by the new arguments and ideas entering online from the profession’s sidelines. Thus, we should, to a certain extent, relax our professional norms and allow these arguments to take shape." Already done and not just ideas from the "profession's sidelines.
Beyond the Old Guard. There may be a lesson to learn here for law librarians who aren't afraid of retribution from AALL or our vendors. To instigate reform, ignore traditional rhetorical, professional norms that were established during the Ancien Régime's peasant-landload relationship by using modern e-communication mediums. We're not just sheepherders anymore. [JH]
A Little Light Reading on Best Practices for Government Libraries from Lexis
LexisNexis has released its 2011 Best Practices for Government Libraries. This year's theme is expressed in the document's subtitle: "e-Initiatives and e-Efforts: Expanding our Horizons." I would list the TOC but it is way too long. Granted the document is 280-plus pages but, like past annual editions, the articles tend to be very short, too brief to be all that informative. Many articles are written by practitioners but, of course, some of the articles are written by LexisNexis folks. This is light reading material that could be improved by asking practitioners to provide more detailed, longer contributions. If space is an issue, omit the LexisNexis generated content next year.
I had the same issue with last year's Best Practices for Government Libraries 2010: The New Face of Value ("Unfortunately the articles are so damn brief they leave me with little to think about except for wondering who hires the best looking models or buys the best stock photos of them: Lexis, TR Legal or AALL Spectrum?") At least the stock photos of models have been omitted by Lexis from this year's edition.
A very quick scroll through the PDF may be a good way to find something of interest to read. Lexis also has used Adobe properly to bookmark articles for easy navigation of this 280-plus page PDF. [JH]
July 7, 2011
ISPs To Get Involved in Copyright Enforcement
Various news outlets are reporting that major content providers have reached a voluntary agreement with major ISPs to police copyrights on their networks. The system takes the form of a six strikes rule where ISPs will send subscribers escalating email communication that alerts them to infringing activity on their accounts. Reports over the years indicate that ISPs were loathe to do this for fear of offending their subscribers, but got on board with a little push from the Obama administration. Still, past ISP reluctance is tempered by some of the details that makes their participation palatable.
It would still be up to content providers to police the sharing of their content. ISPs would not be in the traffic scanning business as part of this. Content holders would pass IP addresses to the ISP who would then contact the customer. The next steps range from educating the consumer about activity on their account all the way to "mitigation." That would take the form of throttling online speeds or sending subscribers to a landing page where the consumer would be further educated. Cutting off Internet and related services would not be an option. GigaOm has a copy of the official fact sheet on alerts document that gives the context and details for the escalating alerts.
The focus seems to be on educating the consumer to the evils of intellectual property theft with a bit of guilt thrown in by identifying the account as a source of questionable activity. I suppose this is a better approach than some crazed lawyer sending off a summons on the least possible verified facts. It has to be a bit less expensive for the content producers as lawyers usually cost more money than a losing defendant can pay, not to mention the public relations hit when someone's grandmother is hauled into court for allegedly downloading gay porn. Past practice by copyright holders and their representatives reeked more of extortion than enforcement. But now we are past that unless someone decides to sue anyway. The document that specifically says this is still an option.
The more nebulous part of the program is the section on independent review. A consumer has the ability to request an independent review before a mitigation measure is imposed. Review is based on circumstances that the activity is lawful or that the account was identified in error. That will cost $35 to avoid spurious claims which would tax the system, though the independent reviewer can waive the fee. These claims and defenses have been subject to rules of procedure and evidence when made in court. What standards will be used to review these claims outside of court? Will the outcomes be subject to binding precedent or will they even be precedent on their own. Will claimants be allowed to publicize the results from their cases? I guess I'm asking how open the process will be. One point in the document is that subscribers retain the right to challenge any action in a court of law. I question that statement after the recent Concepcion case where consumer contract arbitration clauses were found to be binding. I'm sure any Internet subscription contract issued from this point on will force these claims out of court entirely.
The fact that content providers are willing to try something that is less than their usual sledgehammer tactic is promising. The education spin on the tactic is nice even if it is a bit ingenuous. The program should stop some of the more casual forms of IP piracy. I do not believe it will stop the committed sharer in the least. The enforcement efforts in the past have focused on peer-to-peer sharing as these are the best way to yield trackable information. Streaming and one-click download sites are trending and these are less susceptible to easy identification of users, unless ISPs get involved. Then there is that Internet before there was an Internet: Usenet. Transactions there are even harder to track.
Good luck on that education effort, and when you get a chance, fill me in on the due process safeguards for the independent review. Oh, and what's the back up plan when it turns out the program doesn't produce a bump in CD, DVD and movie ticket sales? [MG]
Use Gmail? Get Ready for New UI Updates and Features
Quoting two snips from the Official Google Blog post:
[W]e’re embarking on a series of interface updates to help strip out unnecessary clutter and make Gmail as beautiful as it is powerful.
Look out for these and other new features over the next few months. In the meantime, try out the new themes as a preview of the future of Gmail and let us know what you think.
For more, see A preview of Gmail’s new look. [JH]
Welcome to the Blogosphere: On Firmer Ground: Promoting the Value of Law Firm Librarians
The On Firmer Ground blog has been launched as a collaborative effort of SLA's Legal Division, AALL's Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section, CALL/ACBD and BIALL. From the blog's about page:
Welcome to On Firmer Ground, a site by and for law firm librarians. We are not your typical blog. OFG is an ongoing discussion about the challenges law firm librarians face and strategies for surmounting them. We are not here to merely talk about the state of our industry. We are here to discuss proactive solutions and innovative ideas that will not only sustain this noble profession, but help it thrive in a changing world
The mission of On Firmer Ground is to promote the value that law firm librarians bring to the business and practice of law by providing an online forum for law librarians to share how they are providing innovative practice support, leveraging technology to provide process efficiencies that allow lawyers and support staff to work smarter and contributing to the bottom line by being effective business managers of the firm’s information resources and know-how.
Congratulations to the folks who came up with this great idea of creating a single blog for SLA, AALL, CALL/ABD and BIALL to contribute insights and information. While the site is by law firm librarians, I think it will offer many posts of interest to all law librarians.
Blog submissions are welcome and should be sent to a member of the OFG editorial team:
- John J. DiGilio, National Manager of Research Services, Reed Smith LLP, Chair, Legal Division of SLA
- Steven Lastres, Director of Library & Knowledge Management, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Chair-Elect, PLL-SIS of AALL
- Susannah Tredwell, Library Manager, Lawson Lundell LLP, Co-Chair, Private Law Libraries Special Interest Group of CALL/ACBD
- James Mullan, KM Systems Manager, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, President Elect, BIALL
Hat tip to 3 Geeks. The post republishes PLL/SIS Chair-Elect Steve Lastres' announcement to PLL/SIS members. Quoting for the announcement:
This initiative directly fosters several of the goals in the new PLL Strategic Directions Plan 2011-2013 to have the voice and value of the law firm librarians heard and communicated throughout the greater legal community. On Firmer Ground is an important step in that direction.
On 3 Geeks, Emily Rushing adds This initiative ... "sounds like a great complement to the SLA Future Ready conversation about the relevance of special libraries and librarians." [JH]
“If you asked me when was the last time I read a law review article, I’d have to think long and hard": Paraphrasing Chief Justice Roberts' Remarks on the Relevance of the Legal Academy's Scholarly Output
In his recent Legal Skills Prof Blog post titled Chief Justice Roberts Criticizes Law Profs, Louis J. Sirico, Jr., Professor of Law and Director of Legal Writing at Villanova wrote
"[the Chief Justice] politely criticized legal academics for scholarship that he intimated was relevant only to academics [during his presentation at Annual Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Conference in June]. I paraphrase: “If you asked me when was the last time I read a law review article, I’d have to think long and hard.”
OMG, that is shocking news! To view CJ Robert's speech at this year's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Conference, go to this C-SPAN link. [JH]
July 6, 2011
Minnesota Opens Bar Exam Somewhat To Unaccredited Law School Graduates
There is a short article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune ("Your Guide To The Twin Cities") about a Minnesota Supreme Court Rule change allowing graduates from unaccredited law schools to take the Minnesota bar. The new text in Rule 4 A (3)(b) requires the traditional graduation and degree from an ABA accredited law school, and adds alternative requirements. Bar applicants can have a bachelor's degree from a school recognized by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, a J.D. from a law school located in the United States, and a license to practice law in any state or territory of the United States. The new rule is effective June 27, allowing bar takers with alternative credentials to take the bar starting with the 2012 sitting.
The rule change came about as the result of a petition by two Minnesota residents who took correspondence classes from the Oak Brook College of Law in California. Oak Brook is a self-described Christian law school that "trains its students by using distance-learning techniques, seminars, workshops and on-line instruction." Both passed the California bar and should benefit from the rule change.
What struck me most about the article was less in it than the comments to it. Several of them dismissed the idea that law could be taught via distance learning. Online courses are no substitute for the rigors of law school, said one. Another suggested that graduates of such a program would be ignorant and unqualified. Yet another suggested that the bar exam tests only a small portion of legal expertise, implying that graduates from unaccredited schools would still not know how to be lawyers. I was surprised at the hostility expressed in these comments. California's bar exam is not easy. The statistics from the July 2010 exam show that 68.3% of first time takers passed, with repeaters at a rate of 21.6%. The overall pass rate came to 54.8%. The Oak Brook passage rate for the same exam was 50% for first time takers and 25% for all takers.
I can't comment about the quality of the Oak Brook program. I don't think that I would hold legal education via distance learning as equaling that of a brick and mortar facility. But I'm intrigued by the concept, especially if graduates of a distance learning program can pass the California bar. Do students benefit from having immediate contact with faculty and research materials? Certainly they do. Is that the only possible way to capture the legal education experience? I'm beginning to think not.
Schools use electronic course pages to coordinate classes, provide reading materials, and submit assignments. They offer class forums and access to the instructor outside of the classroom and office hours. Lectures are taped at some schools in one form or another for repeat viewing by students. Some are even placed online for the entire world to see for free. I wonder what the costs would be to incorporate online instruction (live video Webcasts, real time interactive questions and answers, etc.) into a traditional law program? It's not as if other professional programs at schools with multiple campuses haven't tried it. I am wondering if something like this might actually reduce the debt load of attending law school by reducing some of the overhead costs for schools and students. That would be a good thing. [MG]
Mendeley, World’s Largest Open Access Crowdsourced Research Database, Approaching 100 Million Document Uploads
In April of 2011, Mendeley was listed by the Telegraph as one of Europe’s Top 100 startups. Why? Because Mendeley has built the largest crowdsourced research database available under a Creative Commons license. It now has over 1 million members, 88,0000-plus groups, and is approaching its 100 millionth document upload. See the June 23, 2011 Mendeley Blog post, We’re approaching 100 Million document uploads! Tweet your favorite paper to win. By the time this post is published, it may have already reached this milestone. Check out the counter on Mendeley's front page. Last time I check only about 5,000 more uploads were needed.
In Mendeley: Your Friend in Research, Fastcase Blog wrote:
Mendeley has an impressive community. It takes advantage of this by creating a “crowdsourced research database with a unique layer of social information” allowing its users to leverage all the information generated such as trends in research so that they can discover not only where their field is heading, but also how each individual’s interests have changed over time. When users share papers or load their bibliographies, Mendeley will show them papers they may have missed as well as those who have written, read, or collected them. The team at Mendeley isn’t stopping here though. They are continuing to innovate- just last week their team introduced tags onto their platform, allowing users to find related material even faster than before.
It is an interdisciplinary platform with works from physicists to those in the humanities. If you are interested in legal theory you will also find interesting papers to read and/or hopefully a place to contribute your own collection of .pdfs. If you happen to be a law librarian it may be worth your while to take a look and see... .
Got Content for Uploading to Mendeley? For a look-see, law librarians can browse by disciplines, including law. See also Mendeley's features page for a complete description of the current services provided.
But not just for a look-see. Got papers on US legal research, product and services reviews, and the state of US legal publishing developments, (such as open law, open access, open collections, and law librarian perspectives on for-profit publishing developments) to share? I'm thinking Mendeley is a better e-distribution vehicle than SSRN or bePress. [JH]
Freeing Digitally Conceived Text, Part 1: The Federal Government as Documentation Authenticator, FDsys as a Trusted Repository, and the GPO as a Bulk Distributor of XML Files
For nearly 150 years, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has been the official disseminator of Government documents and has assured users of their authenticity. The adoption of digital technology has changed the ways products are created, managed, and delivered to users. Electronic documents pose a special challenge to the verification of their authenticity because they can be altered, which could lead to unauthorized versions of government content. GPO must assure users that publications available from GPO websites are as official and authentic as publications that have been printed and disseminated by GPO for 150 years and that trust relationships exist between all parties in electronic transactions.
The GPO defines authentic content as "the complete and unaltered representation approved or published by the content originator or an authorized derivative with a trusted chain of custody to that representation. This definition creates a model for assuring the authenticity of electronic government information, regardless of changes in technology." A case in point on the challenges faced, illustrated by the GPO in its recently released white paper, Authenticity of Electronic Federal Government Publications (June 13, 2011) (summary at Overview of GPO’s Authentication Program (June 13, 2011)), is what happens when a word processing application that generated a file is little or no longer used, an issue that will have an impact on usability.
As software evolves, some file formats will fall out of use and be difficult to render intelligibly. One strategy GPO uses to ensure the continued usability of content is to move the data to a more current file format. For example, The Economic Report of the President has an appendix that provides additional information in the form of spreadsheets, some of which were given to GPO in Word Perfect, a format most users are no longer able to open. As that content was migrated from GPO Access to FDsys, the Word Perfect files were kept in the archive, and GPO created more user-friendly derivatives through a preservation process.
The GPO's white paper presents an overview and progress report of its FDsys authentication initiative. In reviewing the status of FDsys becoming a certified trusted repository, the GPO states
Through an external auditor, GPO is working towards certification of FDsys as a Trusted Repository with the assistance of Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist (TRAC). TRAC is a report published by the Digital Repository Certification Project and created by the Research Libraries Group and the National Archives and Records Administration to help repositories objectively probe trustworthiness.
The GPO also reports that it is evaluating future authentication capabilities including "technologies to enable bulk content integrity assurance of XML files; authentication of smaller, discrete units of information; and enabling digital signature and certification mechanisms for mobile devices." About bulk distribution of XML files the report states
GPO stakeholders have expressed a strong interest for the agency to provide Federal government publications in XML for bulk download so it can be reused and repurposed by other information professionals. GPO is working hard to meet this need. In GPO’s bulk repository and through the Data.gov portal, users can download large data sets of content in XML for reuse and data analysis; the most recent example of which is the use of GPO-supplied XML in the Federal Register 2.0 website.
The tools that GPO provides for individual users to confirm the authenticity of content (cryptographic hash values and chain of custody in metadata) are available for XML, but there may be a need for methods that are more easily scalable to the automated authentication of large sets of data. GPO is investigating the use of new technologies to enable bulk content integrity assurance of XML files. GPO does not intend for this technology to supplant or replace the other tools it uses for content authentication, but rather as an enhancement to the GPO content authentication program with a supplemental channel for high-volume, automated bulk data interfaces that prefer and require XML data feeds.
The publication of the cryptographic hash values in the PREMIS metadata file, and the way FDsys structures its public URLs, makes it possible for machines to crawl and use this information to determine content integrity in bulk. GPO is currently searching for users who are interested in bulk content integrity so the agency can better understand whether this method would meet their requirements. GPO recognizes the importance of ensuring that any content integrity verification method for XML content, such as digital signatures, should be structured so as not to interfere with data re-use or re-purposing. GPO is also committed to the principle of employing open, internationally recognized standards whenever possible.
The GPO's FDsys Authentication webpage provides a fair amount of information. See, for example, the Authentication FAQ. Also note that Appendix 2 of Authenticity of Electronic Federal Government Publications identifies events captured in metadata that are triggered by software or authorized users. [JH]
Oops, Thou Shalt Not Know How to Use One's Electronic Calendar without Risking Missing Court Filing Deadlines
The transition to a new year always wreaks havoc for a month or two for me. I date checks, letters, etc., with the former year until my memory catch up with the fact that it is 201y, not 201x. I don't rely on electronic calendars much (except for my phone which "beeps" to remind me of a meeting) because I just have too many of them (i.e. Google, Groupwise, MS Windows). Instead its just a good old-fashioned paper calender for me (plus sticky notes covering my monitor and phone.)
In a recently publicized Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the court rather gently characterized as a "technical error," "a glitch," the reason for counsel's failure to timely file a notice of appeal. The court's statement of the circumstances:
Counsel used the Microsoft Windows Calendar, a standard application of the Microsoft Windows operating system, to compute the date on which the thirty-day period to appeal would end. The alleged glitch occurred when, after counting twenty-seven days through December 31, 2009, counsel changed the month on the calendar display to January in order to continue the computation. Counsel failed to notice that the calendar did not automatically advance to January 2010 but instead reverted to January 2009. Consequently, counsel mistakenly referenced the January 2009 calendar when he completed the calculation of the thirty-day window to appeal, which resulted in counsel’s erroneous determination that the deadline was January 5.
Oops. The Fourth Circuit court held in its May 23, 2011 unpublished opinion in Symbionics Inc. v. Ortlieb:
We find nothing extraordinary or unusual about counsel’s calendaring error that should relieve Symbionics of its duty to comply with the time limit of Rule 4(a)(1). Counsel’s total dependence on a computer application—the operation of which counsel did not completely comprehend—to determine the filing deadline for a notice of appeal is neither “extraneous” to nor “independent” of counsel’s negligence. See J.A. 997. Rather, the failure to discover that the calendar display had reverted to January 2009, and the reliance on the resulting incorrect deadline computation, are the very essence of counsel’s negligence here. Furthermore, this neglect is precisely the sort of “run-of-the-mill inattentiveness by counsel” that we have consistently declined to excuse in the past.
Moral of the Story. Nothing beats a good example for a "teachable moment." Perhaps, this ruling is a good vehicle legal skills profs can use to hammer into the memories of their students. Counting days for deadlines is one the banes of professional practice. Now, there's a homework assignment!
Do not depend on an e-calendar, or for that matter, any computer application (think failing to delete metadata from work product) if you do not completely understand how to use it. In ATL's How to Lose a Case With Simple Computer Cluelessness, Christopher Danzig wrote:
For attorneys, missing deadlines is a big no-no. BIG no-no. A Goodyear blimp-sized no-no. People have literally died because of blown deadlines. Cases worth millions of dollars get tossed out because of missed deadlines, even if someone has a decent excuse. ... That being so, I do not envy the lawyer who had to tell his client that the 4th Circuit shut down their lawsuit because he didn’t know how to use his Microsoft calendar.
On Legal Technology News, Francis J. Lawall and James C. Carnigan add in Circuit Rules Computer Oversight Not 'Excusable Neglect' "'Symbionics ... serves as a warning to counsel that reliance upon technology that he or she does not fully understand is unlikely to serve as an excuse if a deadline is missed." [JH]
July 5, 2011
The Value of Production Editors for Fact-Checking: Weissenberger and McFarland's New Edition of The Law of Premises Liability
I admit, here's an instance where I like a publisher's format switcheroo. Lexis has converted the latest edition of The Law of Premises Liability from annual pocket-part supplementation to the loose-leaf format. OK, I'm very old school when it comes to print-based research and think the loose-leaf format is better than the pocket-part format for users. I've got high hopes that this work will be a real honest-to-god loose-leaf updated with interfiled pages, something West has problems doing when it three-hole punches pocket-parts for insertion into some of its pseudo (oops, almost typed "psycho") loose-leaf titles.
However, I do have a bit of a problem with the new edition's title page. Both named authors, Glen Weissenberger and Barbara McFarland, are identified as working at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Ah, no. Weissenberger left Cincinnati to join DePaul Law in 2002 and McFarland left Cincinnati to join NKU Chase Law in 2006. The 2010 pocket part title page had Weissenberger's affiliation correct but not McFarland's. Now, neither are properly identified. Oops. Does Lexis employ production editors whose job it is to check stuff like this? It doesn't even take a phone call to the authors to fact-check authors' affiliations. [JH]
Are Law School Applications Dropping?
I'll add just a little bit to Joe's post, Paradigm Shift Ignored: On Reasons Why Law Schools Admit So Many Students When Their Employment Prospects are So Dismal. Law School applicants may be finally getting it, at least in some parts of the country. The AP reports (via the Daily Journal) that applications to law schools in Missouri dropped significantly. The number of students applying to the law school at the University of Missouri-Columbia is down 17%. Applications are down at Washington University by 13.3% and nearly 20% at St. Louis University. Applications to the neighboring University of Illinois law school are down 8%.
The latest LSAC application data tends to lag these trends. The latest information from the organization shows that the number of Fall 2010 applicants to ABA schools was up 2.2% over Fall 2009. That's an increase in raw numbers from 85,600 to 87,500. However, the number of LSAT exams administered in 2010-2011 dropped 9.6%, decreasing from 171,500 in 2009-2010 to 155,050. The 2009-2010 reporting period had an increase of 13.3% over the one before that. This is a pretty big bumps compared to years going back to 2001 where changes up and down between years are much smaller. It will be an interesting statistic comparatively when the final application numbers for Fall 2011 are reported. [MG]
American Lawyer's 2011 Ranking of "Elite" Law Firms
Am Law's 2011 A-List has been released. Of course the complete rankings of law firms American Lawyer has deemed to achieve elite status over the last 12 months are behind a paywall. However, you can get a glimpse at the Top 11 ranked firms (normally when there is a tie for ninth place "top 10s" end there but Am Law went one better to produce and awkward "Top 11"). Readers can also catch a glimpse of "up-and-comers" firms ranked lower that 20th place. For an overview of this year's rankings, see Drew Combs' article, Upheaval in the Ranks. [JH]
Paradigm Shift Ignored: On Reasons Why Law Schools Admit So Many Students When Their Employment Prospects are So Dismal
Commenting on the EMSI estimate of the surplus of law school grads on a state-by-state basis which was reported on LLB at Cut the Glut: State-by-State Empirical Labor Market Model for Law School Grads, in The Coming Crunch for Law Schools (Balkinization), Brian Tamanaha writes
Why are law schools enrolling so many students when employment prospects for graduates are so poor? Because they must. In the past two decades law faculties have gotten bigger. AALS tallied 7,421 full time faculty in 1990, and 10,965 in 2008. Some of this overall increase comes from newly accredited schools, but most of it is faculty expansion: student-faculty ratios have been cut almost by half during this period.
Law schools will soon suffer the consequences of this expansion. The chart below [see Balkinization post] tracks the number of applicants against the number of first year students from 1990 to the present. As it shows, law schools exhibit a one-way ratchet: when applications drop, enrollment remains steady; when applications rise, enrollment goes up.
Hat tip to Brian Leiter's Law School Reports ("The numbers are not pretty.").
Stephen Bainbridge, UCLA's William D. Warren Distinguished Professor of Law chimes in:
You have a mature industry with about 175 or so producers collectively having massively excessive production capacity relative to demand. The industry nevertheless continues to produce at full capacity. What happens next?
The price the industry members receive for their product should fall. In response, industry members should cut their prices until demand and supply equilibrate. But then what happens to the excess productive capacity?
Obviously, some of the weaker players should close up shop through bankruptcy or liquidation. But many managers are reluctant to pull that trigger. So in many industries we observe a wave of mergers intended to consolidate the industry into a smaller number of players, each of whom then downsizes while staying in business.
In an ordinary industry, such a fall in demand would trigger the wave of consolidation described above. But legal education is no ordinary industry. First, law schools get paid by their inputs rather than being paid for their outputs. A fall in demand for our outputs thus does not put direct price pressure on law schools. Instead, we only feel supply-demand pressure if the number of inputs falls. In other words, law schools suffer financially not because their graduates can't find jobs but because they have too few applicants to fill their spaces.
Obviously the EMSI estimate is producing a lot of commentary and analysis in the legal academy blogosphere, the above being only a sample of the near real-time law prof blogosphere reaction. But this doesn't mean change in the legal academy will come anything soon despite clear evidence of a paradigm shift in legal services.
In Law Job Stagnation May Have Started Before the Recession—And It May Be a Sign of Lasting Change (ABAJ), William D. Henderson and Rachel M. Zahorsky write
According to payroll data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, the multidecade surge in law firm employment hit a plateau in 2004. Between 1998 and 2004, total law firm employment grew by more than 16 percent, or 169,000. Yet between March 2004 and March 2008, several months before the Wall Street meltdown that initiated an unprecedented wave of law firm layoffs, the nation’s law firm sector had already shed nearly 20,000 jobs.
This is a drop in the bucket for an industry that employed more than 1.1 million workers in 2004. But the flattened number of law firm jobs occurred at the same time major law firms in large urban areas were in a bidding war, taking entry-level salaries from $125,000 to $145,000 to $160,000. The public dialogue in the legal press and blogosphere was so fixated on the rising profits per partner at the nation’s top 100 law firms that the broader, systemic patterns went largely unnoticed—at least until the financial fallout descended in the fall of 2008.
By overgeneralizing how well the big firms were doing, we failed to notice a slow but fundamental economic shift affecting the majority of lawyers, who are solo practitioners or in small-to-medium-size law firms.
July 4, 2011
Documenting the Drafting Process for the Declaration of Independence
Many but probably not most folks know that the Declaration of Independence was not written by Thomas Jefferson. The drafting process may have started at Jefferson's portable writing desk in Philadelphia but it quickly moved to becoming a product of committee work. There's even a fair amount of evidence that before Jefferson's rough draft was presented to his fellow drafting committee members, Benjamin Franklin advised Jefferson to substitute "happiness" for "property." The drafting committee's official "rough" draft can be read here. The Continental Congress's draft, qualified as being approximately the text, here, and a transcript comparison of the Committee's draft, the reported draft to the Continental Congress, and the Dunlap Broadside (image below) can be read here.
Many rarely take the time to study how the Declaration of Independence went from draft to publication expect for political scientists, historians, law librarians, and members of the the bench and bar. Perhaps some non-specialists (read citizens whose family members immigrated to this country decades, centuries ago, native Americans and undocumented aliens) will take the time to do so. If they do, they might want to consider this Fourth of July how language changes in drafts evolved by way of not necessarily like-minded collaborative efforts striving to reach a majority vote as evidenced by how drafted text changes, how intent is modified. Perhaps that wil lead to asking why to searching for answers. One does not need to be a specialist to form an opinion about this foundational documentary history. Everyone has a right to form and express their opinion.
Certainly the final version of the Declaration of Independence was top-down, meaning not a bottom-up work product, by modern standards. However, Franklin was smart enough to realize that volunteer members of the Continential Congress' armed services would recognize the poor choice of wording if the War of Independence was only being waged for the colonies Old Guard. Franklin's text edit, "happiness" instead of "property," may very well be the most important clause in the Declaration of Independence. [JH}
|The Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence|
Understanding the US Constitution
OK, so today is not the anniversary of the US Constiution but after reading and understanding the drafting process that produced the Declaration of Independence (see above post), it seem logical that all interested non-specialists make an attempt to under the US Constitution. Being informed is not a easy task (except, perhaps, for Fox News fans). The Congressional Reference Service published Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (2002). Granted the PDF is over 2,600 pages long and the link does take a far amount of time to download but the devil is in the details. However, one must not stop there. Be sure you also download the 2004 Supplement, the 2006 Supplement, and the 2008 Supplement.
Hat tip to Constitutional Law Prof Blog. [JH]
July 3, 2011
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
Investment Fraud Lawyer Blog
Provides insight on investment fraud opinions, reports and news in Illinois. Published by Block & Landsman.
Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney Blog
Reports on criminal law news, cases and opinions in Florida. Published by Wood, Atter & Wolf, PA.
Birth Defect Lawyer Blog
Reviews birth injury cases, reports and opinions in New York. Published by Oshman & Mirisola, LLP.
New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer Blog
Covers dog bite news, legislation, and cases in New Jersey. Published by Villani & DeLuca.
Doctor Employment Lawyer Blog
Reviews employment law news, cases, and reports in Illinois. Published by The Prinz Law Firm.