December 31, 2011
Getting in the New Year's Eve Spirit, Lady Gaga-Style
From France: allegedly the largest flash mob ever of Lady Gaga. Oh boy, now I'm really ready to celebrate New Year's Eve! [JH]
December 30, 2011
Reminder: Voting in the 5th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100 is About to Close
You still have time to vote for your favorite ABA Journal Blawg 100 nominees. But not much more time.
You can vote online "through Dec. 30" by way of the link provided on this page (free registration required). As mentioned earlier this month, there are some damn good blogs deserving recognition in the Legal Technology category. Good luck to all.
Popular vote totals for the 12 category winners will be published by the ABA Journal in early January. [JH]
Gawker's 2011 Year in Review: The Year of Lies
Friday Fun: Chirp n' Chirp
Listen to the sound of Twitter! [JH]
Last LLB Legal App Post of 2011
Come to think of it, I don't believe I post very often about apps, at least not in a positive light. But I kind of like this one. Its WolframAlpha's Lawyers Professional Assistant App for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. At $4.99, I might even buy it for quick answers to reference questions. (Note to self: does the app's output cite to official sources for some of the law-related and government information used for generating calculations?)
Here's the app's features list:
- A dictionary of legal terms; statutes of limitations for each US state; and information about visa types, including requirements, common issues, and extensions and limits
- Calendar computations to quickly determine the end date of a specific term
- Financial computations, including fee calculations, settlement calculations, current interest rates, historical value of money, and federal US tax rates
- Crime rates and histories for specific crimes, as well as state and national average comparisons
- Demographics of population and economy for specific cities and international information about currency, country economies, and languages spoken, as well as time zone conversions
- Investigative information, including weather, company information, IP lookup, and blood alcohol calculator
- Damages and estate-planning computations for occupational salaries, costs of living, life expectancies, and present or future values
- Real estate law, including mortgage calculations, closing cost estimation, information on square footage, home sales price, and utility prices
Hat tip to Bob Ambrogi's LawSites post by way of Greg Lambert's retweet of Patric DiDomenico tweek. [JH]
December 29, 2011
LLB's 2011 Awards for Creative Alternative Uses for No Longer Needed Print Books
And the winners are:
Damn it all to hell, I wish I had been creative enough to use some of the 113,000 pounds of legal p-Books I sent to the recycling center during my first major Shed West pBooks in the summer of 2010 to construct a new public services desk and to cover our little county law library's walls that haven't received a fresh coat of paint in over 10 years!
Do remember Bender Bound is looking for free law books for its product line. So if you have any left and are locating in the NYC vicinity, give this start-up company a call. Sure as hell beats tossing them in a dumpster, even if you think you have a chance to be a winner of one of ATL's photo caption contests, Image of a recent ATL award winning photo, above right.. See And the Winner in ATL's Shed West Print Era in Academic Law Libraries Photo Caption Contest Is for the award winning caption.
Heads-Up TR Legal. Bender Bound, by the way, will be featured on NBC's TODAY show with Kathie Lee and Hoda on January 2. If TR Legal wants to go green with all their law pBooks and updates returned to Eagan, they can "do the right thing" by sending them to Bender Bound. Remember, "shipping is free." [JH]
ABA gives Law School Coal for Christmas, Law School uses Coal for Fuel to Sue
On December 20, 2011, the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education denied provisional accreditation to Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law. On December 22, 2011, the law school filed suit against the ABA in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee alleging antitrust and due process violations.
You can find the complaint here. Below are links to shed some light on the subject.
A Very Vintage Happy New Year to All
From two very vintage LLB bloggers, Mark Giangrande and yours truly. [JH]
Sarah Glassmeyer, Recipient of Two Very Prestigious LLB 2011 Awards
In the spirit of "Best 2011 'Something' Awards," LLB is delighted to announce that Sarah Glassmeyer's has been awarded LLB's 2011 Best Recap of the Year Blog Post again. Actually we didn't have an official LLB award last year, so "again" means she has been retroactively awarded LLB's 2010 Best Annual Recap of the Year Blog Post. You can read Sarah's awarding winning 2011 post at Man Plans. God Laughs. 2011 in Review. It starts off with the following:
Hey, remember last year at this time when I said that I wanted to have a really boring 2011 and not do anything too “interesting.” ... Um. Yeah. That didn’t quite happen." The past year hasn’t been a bad one by any stretch of the imagination. Actually, it’s been quite good and huge improvement over 2010. 2011 ain’t been boring, that’s for darn sure. ... I tried to be boring. I really did.
[Sarah's] goal for 2011 is to have "a more boring year." I doubt she will achieve that goal. In fact, who would want that for Sarah! Continue to stretch and stay true to yourself is a far better goal for 2011.
Well, Sarah certainly stayed true to herself in 2011. As for the coming year, she writes
So, 2012? Who knows. I think it’s clear that I suck at making predictions or plans. And another thing I’ve learned this year is that sometimes the big things don’t really appear to be big at the time – and good things happen completely randomly and without any expectation of it at all. So I guess my only plan for 2012 is to be open to possibility.
Once again, I believe that means Sarah will continue to stretch and stay true to herself in 2012. That's a good thing.
LLB's Best 2011 Twitter Stream. In the ad hoc created LLB category for Twitter, Sarah is hereby awarded LLB's Best 2011 Twitter Stream. While Twitter has become an avenue for providing a heads-up current awareness function by law librarians who use Twitter for this purpose, in addition to her current awareness tweets, Sarah's "day-in-the-life of a newbie Chicagoan" tweets deserve this "very prestigious" LLB recognition.
Granted this is a very idiosyncratic award because the co-editors of LLB are two born and breed and vintage Chicagoans; Mark Giangrande works in Chicago at DePaul Law, and yours truly is a "Chicagoland" ex-pat. In my case, Sarah's "I live in Chicago now" tweets have been a delight to read. Hence the award. I don't think Sarah would object to my characterization of them as "farm grrrrrl, meets big city."
Just like all contributors to LLB are not censored and are free to post whatever they want (e.g., "Joe (or Mark), you recent ignorant SOB post...," (ditto for comments posts) LLB "awards" do not go through a screening process. That means Mark and any of our LLB contributing editors are free to honor anyone for anything by way of an "official LLB award" for 2011. Hell, I didn't even contact Mark to see if he was OK with with the above awards!
In this case, the only "swag" that comes with the above-announced LLB awards is a personal promise to buy Sarah an Al's Italian Beef sandwich the next time I am in my hometown or the next time Sarah and Mark hook up. Sarah works on the west end of downtown Chicago aka the Loop. Mark on the east end of the Loop (read Al's is nearby DePaul Law, Sarah). I have not checked with Mark but I believe he would be willing to do his "duty" as LLB co-editor to pick up the tab for an Al's Italian Beef.
If I ever get back up to Sweet Home, Chicago, the first Al's Italian Beef is on me, Sarah. Alas that may not be until 2016 when AALL conducts its always interesting annual convention in Chicago. Pause .... I'm doing the math... . OK, I will be on the verge of retirement age, assuming the Blog Widow ever allows me to retire. You better remind me, Sarah. [JH]
Editor's Note: Well, perhaps you can't read Sarah's posts. They were online. Now they are not. "Something isn't quite right here ... This site has been suspended." According to a Dec. 27th tweet, Sarah is probably in Canada now and is going to be offline most of the week.
December 28, 2011
Dennis Kennedy's 2011 Blawggie Awards
Dennis Kennedy's annual Blawggie Awards have been around since December 2004. Ah, the good old days when blogging was "hot" as those of us who have been toiling in the law-related blogosphere for so damn long remember. About the 2011 awards, Dennis writes
I’m very pleased that this eighth edition of the awards makes them the longest running annual awards list for law-related blogs selected by a lawyer named Dennis Kennedy living in St. Louis, Missouri – just a crazy idea that has turned into a bit of an institution in the world of law-related blogging.
Got to love someone who doesn't take any of this too seriously. The Blawggie Awards are not a popularity-driven contest. The awards are based on blogs Dennis actually reads. Here they are:
2011 Blawggie Award Categories and Winners
Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Adam Smith, Esq.
The “Marty Schwimmer” Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog – Ken Adams’s The Koncise Drafter
Best Law Practice Management Blog – Law21.ca
Best Legal Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs
The “Kennedy-Mighell Report” Best Legal Podcast – The Unbillable Hour Podcast
The “Sherry Fowler” Best Writing on a Blawg Award – Tie, Tom Mighell and Allison Shields
Best Law Professor Blog – Tie: Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog and Jim Maul’s Mauled Again
The “DennisKennedy.Blog” Best Legal Technology Blog – Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology
Once again the best legal blog category was awarded to law librarian blogs. Dennis explains:
I use this category to highlight the blogs written by law librarians, a category that I don’t think gets enough attention. These blogs are places to find great information, help for finding information, links to great resources and just plain interesting insights into topics like knowledge management and our changing world of information.
Thanks for that. Dennis links to this list of law librarian-law library blogs. Well, OK, he also writes
If you want to try just one, Sabrina Pacifici’s BeSpacific Blog provides a steady stream of links to great US government information. The Law Librarian Blog is a great starting place [link omitted because you happen to be reading that blog right now].
And then he links to the law librarian-law library blogs list that was initiated by Bonnie Shucha way back in the dark ages.
About the once traditional "Best New Blog" award category, Dennis writes
I simply do not have a winner of the best new blawg category. This probably reflects the great movement away from blogging to social media by distinct individual voices, as well as the continuing emphasis on niche, practice-oriented group blogs by law firms. If you aren’t in the audience for the topic area, you likely won’t follow the blog. I’m sad that I don’t have a winner, but invite you to mention your favorite blawg started in 2011 in the comments. And I’ll make a special effort to track down some new blawgs in 2012.
For much more on Kennedy's trend spotting analysis of the movement away from blogs to other social media platforms, check out his 2010 Blawggies and 2009 Blawggies award posts; see also LLB's Dennis Kennedy's 2010 Blawggies.
But first, check out his 2011 Blawggie Awards post. Highly recommended for the insights provided by a senior member of the law blogosphere. See also today's post about law blogs followed by a junior member of the law blogosphere, Legal Blog Watch blogger Bruce Carton's 10 "go-to" law blogs in 2011. [JH]
Bruce Carton's 10 "Go-To" Law Blogs in 2011
This is the second year Legal Blog Watch's Bruce Carton has identified his 10 "Most-Watched" legal blogs. Carton writes "not all legal blogs are created (and maintained) equal, and some always grow to be favorites of mine during the year." Here's last year and this year's list. His blog posts, linked below, include video presentations about each annual list and provide links to each blog. [JH]
Bruce Carton's '10 Most-Watched' Legal Blogs
|Legal Blog Watch Source||Legal Blog Watch Source|
|Sources include links to listed blogs and video presentations.|
Indeed "not all legal blogs are created (and maintained) equal," as Carton writes. I won't go into my personal list of blogs that dropped off my favorite RSS feeds list this year because this has become a fairly common occurrence since 2008. They come, they go. It takes one hellva lot of work to maintain a blog that regularly publishes interesting posts and Dennis Kennedy has hit the nail on the head about the now established trend away from blogs to other social media platforms, some good, some not so good. [JH]
December 27, 2011
What Factors in 2012 Will Be Examined That Can be Viewed as a Federal Public Policy Failure to Provide Affordable Civil Legal Services to the Electorate?
2011 may go down in history as the year the ABA-Legal Academy cartel controversy moved beyond the law prof blogging reformers to receive major legal media and, more importantly, major general media attention by some opinion leaders that has caught the attention of Congress. For a recap, see Karen Sloan's The year the chickens came home to roost: During 2011, it became impossible for law schools to deny that they had real problems on NLJ ("Lots of news broke out about legal education during the past year. Unfortunately for law schools, much of it was bad. Here are the top 10 law school stories of 2011.")
While recent congressional interest has focused it inquires to the ABA on important but ultimately sideline issues like gamed stats, congressional interest just may focus on the broader picture in 2012, the entire cartel behavior -- who should be an accreditation body, assuming one is even needed, and federal financing of student loans. Providing means to bring legal services to the masses in the context of civil justice will "sell" well to voters at home. The factors involved are sufficient to produce a bi-partisian effort. More about that later.
AM Law Daily's Matt Leichter critiques David Segal argument in For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.'s Way (NYT) that escalating tuition increases are caused by the ABA's accreditation regime. See Leichter's ABA Regulations Don't Cause Tuition Increases, Law Schools Do. Leichter also argues that the "war for talent" by way of offering high law prof compensation packages to obtain or retain law faculty may be a factor but is insufficent in and of itself. Well, it would be interesting to compare compensation packages if disclosed like what has just happened at the University of Texas. "Overloads" paid for all sort of non-teaching related "administrative" duties are fairly commonplace; long ago, law profs contributed to running the law school motivated by being "true to their school" and doing so without any additional compensation. "Research stipends" were once provided by law schools to profs where had to travel to far away locations to conduct research and were evaluated on a case-by-case basis. That was well before the days of Internet archives access. Today there is substantially less accountability and project-justification for paid "research stipends;" hell, I know first hand that "research stipends" have been used by law profs to buy laptops!
The case can and indeed has been oftentimes made that needless, reckless and indeed irresponsible law school tuition increases can be attributed to (1) the virtually endless supply of guaranteed student loan revenues that (2) have been financing the legal academy long-term hiring binge (3) to reduce the student-to-faculty ratio from the ABA's 30:1 requirement (4) in the pursuit of improving a law school's almighty US News Rankings -- when possible below 10:1 helps temporarily at the moment. Of course as more and more schools play this game -- note how 15:1 or half the ABA's requirement has been the competitive objective just to remain in the game since about 2006 (image, right) --, one can imagine the next moving target could be 7:1. After that, what 5:1? More law prof hiring does not increase teaching loads per faculty member. It does just the opposite. It lowers teaching loads so profs can spend more time engaging in "legal scholarship." It's a big selling point for acquiring senior and junior law profs in the annual law prof meat market.
Here's a case where the ABA accredition requirements present an uncompetitive ceiling which cannot be blamed for rising tuition unless the ABA also mandated a student-to-faculty ratio floor. For the move to lower the student-faculty ratio, clink on the image, right, published in Leichter's article.
Law prof compensation competitiveness for "talent" does not come into as much play here as the legal academy's historical practice of increasing its faculty labor force and its associated escalating labor cots by highing more faculty. One may say law schools increase tuition costs because they can finance this higher binge by way of tuition loans. Once can also say that budget cutbacks by law school's university parent entities, public or private motive many law schools to incremental yearly increases for admitted and enrolled students in successive 1L enrollments to offset the budget loss. And then there is the whole is of the amount of revenue each law school must kick back to their universities. The ABA has been less than aggressive in monitoring this factor over the years
Clearly the matter of tuition increases is the result of a matrix of factors in the legal academy-ABA-parent university relationship, but if one factor stands out law schools indeed are the prime mover for causing rising tuitions. What clearly stands out as a major factor is the objective to reduce student-faculty ratios by hiring more law profs instead of reducing their student enrollments. I don't see that changing unless someone pulls the plug on the loan programs which virtually guarantee a revenue stream for the legal academy.
Universities are outright rentiers. They have easy access to debt-revenue, so they take it. ... The only thing left to surprise us is on a moral level: How can university administrators sincerely believe their own justifications for economic rents?
A moral justification! You have got to be kidding. There are not even ethical standards for law school administrators. Some law profs like to opine about "social justice." Certainly there is a vocal minority of law prof bloggers calling for reform alone these lines. However, only Congress can turn "social justice" arguments into enforceable requirements.
If members of Congress are interested in raising the level of examination above the issue of gaming reported law school stats, they will need to do so in the context of preparing to pull the rug out from under easy access to debt-revenue financing. That IMHO would be the way for Congress to address the entire ABA-Legal Academy cartel and how it is financed and sanctioned by the federal government to maintain the status quo. If fingers need to be pointed in one direction, that direction is the federal government which has been maintaining a system that fails to provide the basis for affordable legal services to the masses in the context of civil justice. [JH]
The Green Bag's 2011 Exemplary Legal Writing Awards
Congratulations to Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Kagan. Both were among the winners of The Green Bag's 2011 Honorees for Exemplary Legal Writing.
CJ Justice was honored in the category of Opinions for the Court for his opinion in FCC v. AT&T Inc., 131 S.Ct. 1177 (2011) wherein he declined to hold that corporations had protection for “personal privacy” under the Freedom of Information Act. "Clearly having fun, Roberts could not resist ending the opinion with: 'We trust that AT&T will not take it personally'" writes BLT's Tony Mauro.
In the category of Concurrences, Dissents, Etc., Associate Justice Elena Kagan was honored for her forceful dissent in Arizona Arizona Christian School Tuition Org. v. Winn, 131 S.Ct. 1436 (2011), an Establishment Clause case.
In addition to the Opinions for the Court and Concurrences, Dissents, Etc., The Green Bag's legal writing awards categories include Books, Short Articles, Long Articles, News & Analysis and Miscellany. Typicially two and sometimes three honorees are identitied in each catagory. For example CJ Roberts shared the distinction for exemplary legal writing in the Opinions of the Court category with Judge Terence Evans for G-P Consumer Prod. v. Kimberly-Clark, 647 F.3d 723 (7th Cir. 2011) and Senior Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner for Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co., 643 F.3d 1013 (7th Cir. 2011). [JH]
December 26, 2011
Thank God the World is Going to End on December 21, 2012: The Coming Deluge of Law Firm Blogs
Reporting in Watch Out: A Deluge of Legal Blogs is Approaching, Bob Ambrogi reviews some of the findings of a recently released survey of social media in the legal sector that was conducted by LexisNexis and Vizibility. Bob writes:
Better start building that ark, because a deluge of new blogs will soon flood the legal profession. At least, that seems to be the conclusion of a just-released survey of social media in the legal sector conducted by LexisNexis and Vizibility.
Of AmLaw 100 firms, 93.8% have or plan to have blogs. Of AmLaw 200 firms, 94.7%. Move on down the list and the percentage for every size firm is greater than 75%. Among 1-5 lawyer firms — which make up the majority of firms in the U.S., 87.8% have or plan to have blogs.
In short, roughly nine out of every 10 law firms will be blogging — some might have multiple blogs.
December 25, 2011
Where is the Legislation That Banned Christmas?
First published in LLB on Dec. 25, 2007.
There is no sign that Cromwell personally played a particularly large or prominent role in formulating or advancing the various pieces of legislation and other documents which restricted the celebration of Christmas, though from what we know of his faith and beliefs it is likely that he was sympathetic towards and supported such measures, and as Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658 he supported the enforcement of the existing measures.
I see. He was just a fellow-traveler. The Cromwell Association explains that it was "the broader Godly or parliamentary party, working through and within the elected parliament, which in the 1640s clamped down on the celebration of Christmas and other saints’ and holy days."
OK but where is this legislation? Nigel Jamieson, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Otago, New Zealand, has found it and his delightful tale of the research that went into locating the Ordinance 360 years after the fact is published in Oliver Cromwell—The Grinch That Stole Christmas, 26 Statute L. Rev. 189 (2005).
Although without royal assent, The Ordinance, bearing the date of 4 January 1645 and resolved upon before both Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, provides in its 'Appendix touching Dayes and Places for Publique Worship':
There is no Day commanded in Scripture to be kept holy under the Gospel, but the Lord's Day, which is the Christian Sabbath.
Festival dayes, vulgarly called Holy dayes, having no Warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.
Jamieson explains that the application of this general prohibition against feast-days to the specific celebration of Christmas is clear from an earlier Ordinance, dated 19 December 1644,"'for the better observation of the monethly Fast; and more especially the next Wednesday, commonly called The Feast of the Nativity of Christ, Thorowout the Kingdome (sic) of England and Wales." This Ordinance provided:
Whereas some doubts have been raised whether the next Fast shall be celebrated, because it falleth on the day which heretofore was usually called the feast of the Nativity of our Saviour. The Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled doe order and ordaine that publique notice be given that the Fast appointed to be kept on the last Wednesday in every moneth, ought to be observed until it be otherwise ordered by both Houses of Parliament: And that this day in particular is to be kept with the more solemne humiliation, because it may call to remembrance our sinnes, and the sinnes of our forefathers, who have turned this Feast, pretending the memory of Christ into an extreme forgetfulnessse of him, by giving liberty to carnall and sensuall delights, being contrary to the life which Christ himselfe led here upon earth, and to the spirituall life of Christ in our soules for the sanctifying and saving whereof Christ was pleased both to take a humane life, and to lay it down againe.
Probably only English legal historians and law librarians will appreciate Jamieson's research narrative. To them, I say, enjoy the pleasure of reading Jamieson's article about the process of legislative research and legal authentication. Merry Christmas. [JH]