March 04, 2012
New Legal Thriller: Six SCOTUS justices killed while court is in session... .
Well, my first question was "who is still alive?" But this is a work of fiction.
The Last Justice (Sterling & Ross Publishers, 2012)[Amazon] is Anthony J. Franze's frist novel. In "real life", he is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice at a large Washington, D.C. law firm and an adjunct professor of law, teaching courses in Federal Courts and Appellate Practice. Here's the blurb for his legal thriller:
Chaos erupts at the U.S. Supreme Court when an assassin guns down six justices as they are hearing a case.
Solicitor General Jefferson McKenna, the government's top lawyer in the Supreme Court, is appointed to the multiagency commission investigating the murders. As Congress draws battle lines over who will replace the slain justices, the commission follows clue after clue, each one pointing to an unlikely suspect: McKenna himself.
In a desperate bid to prove his innocence, McKenna, on the run with his deputy, Kate Porter, must track down a disgraced law clerk with ties to hidden Saudi assets. But their search leads to unexpected alliances, unearthing dark secrets and corruption at the highest levels -- and the people with clues to the riddle keep turning up dead. From the marble halls of the high court to the inner corridors of the West Wing, from the D.C. housing projects to the desolate back roads of a New York Indian reservation, McKenna and Porter are on a collision course with a shadowy enemy who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
From its explosive first page to its haunting conclusion, The Last Justice explores the politics of law, the bounds of friendship and love, and the frightening price of unbridled ambition.
March 01, 2012
The Open Knowledge Foundation's The Open Data Handbook
The Open Data Handbook is a valuable resource for everyone interested in open data. It covers many types of data, but its particular focus is open government data.
The Open Data Handbook is targeted towards a broad audience. It contains useful information for civil servants, journalists, activists, developers, researchers – basically, for anyone with an interest in open data!
From a basic introduction of the ‘what and why’ of open data, the Handbook goes on to discuss the practicalities of making data open – the ‘how’. It gives advice on everything from choosing a file format and applying a license, to motivating the community and telling the world. Clear explanations, illustrative examples and technical recommendations make the Handbook suitable for people with all levels of experience, from the absolute beginner to the seasoned open data professional.
This handbook is the most recent addition to Open Knowledge's series of handbooks and guides:
- DataPatterns focuses on the technical aspects of data wrangling, and
- Guide to Finding Public Domain Works Online is intended to assist people who are interested in exploring works which have entered the public domain.
The first comprehensive practical guide for the data journalist, The Data Journalism Handbook, is forthcoming.
Hat tip to DigitalKoans. [JH]
February 24, 2012
Tulane Law Students Author Hot Topics in the Legal Profession - 2012
The authors of Hot Topics in the Legal Profession - 2012 (Quid Pro Books) are Tulane Law students who participated in an Advanced Professional Responsibility seminar conducted by Steven Alan Childress, publisher of Quid Pro Books. From the blurb:
The timely topics include: false guilty pleas and candor to the court, ethical considerations in keeping the client's files as a digital record, legal outsourcing and competition, the dilemma of student debt in a slowed legal economy, the practice of law by legal websites like LegalZoom, the capital defense of Jared Lee Loughner, Justice Scalia's constitutional seminar for conservative congressmembers, sensitivity to "cultural competence," prosecutorial relationships with key witnesses, bar discipline for behavior outside the practice of law, negotiation ethics, hybridized MDL settlements, and the advocate-witness rule.
Purchase of this book benefits Tulane's Public Interest Law Foundation, a nonprofit student group that funds public interest placements and indigent client representations throughout the country. [JH]
February 02, 2012
Constitutional Chiffhangers: Learning the "hard way" or fixing some ahead of time
Last month, Brian C. Kalt, Harold Norris Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at Michigan State Univ., published a series of The Volokh Conspiracy posts devoted to topics addressed in his new work Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies (Yale UP, Jan. 24, 2012)[Amazon] including one responding to the comment trails of his posts.
In his final post, Kalt writes
There are two kinds of cliffhangers: those in which the main problem is a bad result, and those in which the main problem is uncertainty. An example of the former is Chapter 1, where a sitting president might get prosecuted (with the attendant disruption) or might not (with the attendant injustice). The fact that, in the meantime, presidents and prosecutors go about their days unsure of the answer is much less of a problem. The chapters on self-pardons and late impeachment fit in this category as well. Legislation requires energized consensus, and there wouldn’t be one. Best, then, to just wait for an actual case to deliver a final resolution: either an acceptable result or an unacceptable one that motivates Congress to act.
When the problem is uncertainty, by contrast, the case for proactivity is stronger. In Chapters 3 and 4, constitutional uncertainty could rip the country in half, with two people claiming presidential power, issuing contradictory orders to the military, and purporting to fire cabinet members. The cost of resolving such cliffhangers “the hard way” is so high that it should soften opposition and make it easier — albeit still not easy — to reach a consensus and fix things ahead of time.
All in all, not a bad way to promote interest in the work. Hopefully, Robert William Bennett's blurb review is right because I bought a copy to reading on the plane.
"Brian Kalt's Constitutional Cliffhangers is full of insights into constitutional interpretation, a lively topic of concern among both scholars and the public more generally. Without in the least diminishing its scholarly contribution, the book is also playfully written, so that it is a delight to read." — Robert William Bennett, Northwestern University
January 27, 2012
For the Love of It: On why law profs write fiction
Actually, on why one law prof writes fiction. See Ohio Northern Univ. law prof Scott Douglas Gerber's article, Why a law profressor writes fiction in the January 2012 issue of The National Jurist at 14. Gerber admits the reason is "for the money assuming you can get the publishing industry's attention" but considering the ups and downs of trying to publish works of fiction, it all boils down to "if you write fiction because you enjoy it _ nothing more, nothing less _ you will never regret that you do."
Gerber has first-hand experience. His most recent legal thriller is Mr. Justice (Sunbury Press, 2011). This is his third novel. All three have been published by different publishers. His earlier novels are The Law Clerk: A Novel (published by Ohio Northern University Press, as distributed by Kent State University Press, 2007) and The Ivory Tower: A Novel (University Press of the South, 2001).
Kind readers, do note that Gerber [web profile] does not only write legal thrillers. His most recent work of legal scholarship was published by Oxford University Press last year. See A Distinct Judicial Power: The Origins of an Independent Judiciary, 1606-1787. [JH]
January 13, 2012
New Legal Skills Textbooks from Carolina Academic Press
Federal Legal Research
by Mary Garvey Algero, Spencer L. Simons, Suzanne E. Rowe, Scott Childs, Sarah E. Ricks
Forthcoming January 2012
Federal Legal Research explains how to conduct research in the U.S. Constitution and in federal cases, statutes, and administrative regulations. The book begins with an overview of the sources of law and the research process. That chapter is followed with an in-depth discussion of American legal research strategies and techniques for both print and online sources. The book covers secondary sources and practice guides, updating with Shepard’s and KeyCite, and legislative research. A separate chapter focuses on legal ethics and court rules.
Federal Legal Research is effective for teaching legal research in first-year classes that integrate research, writing, and analysis as well as in upper-level courses with a more bibliographic approach. Moreover, the book will provide accessible information about federal legal research for practitioners, paralegals, librarians, college students, and even laypeople.
Effective Lawyering: A Checklist Approach to Legal Writing and Oral Argument, 2d ed.
by Austen L. Parrish, Dennis T. Yokoyama
Forthcoming January 2012
Effective Lawyering takes a unique approach to legal writing and oral advocacy. Many excellent legal writing books exhaustively detail how to write effectively. Those books — which are written primarily for first-year law students and are often several hundred pages long — meticulously explain the dos and don’ts of effective advocacy and provide numerous exercises for students to complete. Effective Lawyering, which can serve as a useful supplement to these lengthy introductory texts, takes a different approach. The book assumes the reader has learned the basics of legal writing, and at most needs only to be reminded about them. The book also assumes that most practitioners (and, for that matter, law students) lack the time to read lengthy discussions of all the subtleties of legal method.
Advocacy to Zealousness: Learning Lawyering Skills from Classic Films
by Kelly Lynn Anders
Forthcoming January 2012
Advocacy to Zealousness: Learning Lawyering Skills from Classic Films includes 26 skills, listed in alphabetical order and appearing in separate chapters, which should ideally be in every lawyer’s toolbox. Each is an example of professionalism, and all are possible for every current or future lawyer to attain or sharpen. They also speak to our needs in the legal profession in the new millennium. Interspersed throughout the text are subtle references to diversity, both in the practice of law, as well as in various film references and storylines.
Each chapter includes a discussion of the skill and its use for lawyers, a synopsis of the film associated with the skill, film discussion questions, and brief exercises for improvement. The format encourages readers to either methodically review each chapter in alphabetical order, or skip around as needs and interests dictate. The book concludes with a comprehensive index.
Images, be they positive or negative, are powerful and long lasting. Those found in popular films are often our only points of reference until we meet the real thing — or assume the role ourselves. Many professors already use film clips in their classes, but, until Advocacy to Zealousness, there was no singular point of reference for films selected solely for the purpose of fostering and sharpening lawyering skills. Legal skills training needn’t be dry or cumbersome. With creativity and planning, it can instead be educational, memorable, and enjoyable — while also remaining comprehensive and relevant — thereby enhancing the practice of law and the legal profession as a whole.
Wouldn't some of the above legal skills titles make excellent AALL p- and enhanced e-book imprints? See Dear Santa, Please Give AALL a Clue on How to Make Money. [JH]
January 12, 2012
Top Ten Evidence Issues for 2012 and 2011 (Could provide issues for ALR assignments)
For litigators at the federal trial level, is there anything more important that evidence issues? Federal Evidence Blog has published two posts covering Top Ten Evidence Issues for 2012 and 2011, retrospective and prospective. After assigning the 2011 recap analysis, the 2012 issues could make for good advanced legal research assignments. [JH]
December 15, 2011
Adapting Constitutional Values to Plausible Technological Developments Circa 2025
NPR's Interpreting The Constitution In The Digital Era featured Jeffery Rosen on Nov. 30th to discuss Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change (Brookings Institution Press, Nov. 29, 2011)[Amazon] he co-edited with Benjamin Wittes. From the blurb for the book:
Technological changes are posing stark challenges to America's core values. Basic constitutional principles find themselves under stress from stunning advances that were unimaginable even a few decades ago, much less during the Founders' era. Policymakers and scholars must begin thinking about how constitutional principles are being tested by technological change and how to ensure that those principles can be preserved without hindering technological progress.
Constitution 3.0, a product of the Brookings Institution's landmark Future of the Constitution program, presents an invaluable roadmap for responding to the challenge of adapting our constitutional values to future technological developments. Renowned legal analysts Jeffrey Rosen and Benjamin Wittes asked a diverse group of leading scholars to imagine plausible technological developments in or near the year 2025 that would stress current constitutional law and to propose possible solutions. Some tackled issues certain to arise in the very near future, while others addressed more speculative or hypothetical questions. Some favor judicial responses to the scenarios they pose; others prefer legislative or regulatory responses.
Here is a sampling of the questions raised and answered in Constitution 3.0:
• How do we ensure our security in the face of the biotechnology revolution and our overwhelming dependence on internationally networked computers?
• How do we protect free speech and privacy in a world in which Google and Facebook have more control than any government or judge?
• How will advances in brain scan technologies affect the constitutional right against self-incrimination?
• Are Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure obsolete in an age of ubiquitous video and unlimited data storage and processing?
• How vigorously should society and the law respect the autonomy of individuals to manipulate their genes and design their own babies?
Individually and collectively, the deeply thoughtful analyses in Constitution 3.0 present an innovative roadmap for adapting our core legal values, in the interest of keeping the Constitution relevant through the 21st century.
Contributors include Jamie Boyle, Erich Cohen, Robert George, Jack Goldsmith, Orin Kerr, Lawrence Lessig, Stephen Morse, John Robertson, Jeffrey Rosen, Christopher Slobogin, O. Carter Snead, Benjamin Wittes, Tim Wu, and Jonathan Zittrain.
November 22, 2011
TR/Westlaw China Gobbles Up iSinolaw
Sadly, I must report about the latest so-called merger of online publishers. I just received a letter from Stephan Yao, CEO or Thomas Reuters Legal, China and Gordon Wong, Business Director of iSinolaw. According to this letter, the two companies signed an agreement on November 18th, 2011 (Beijing time) where "future iSinolaw will be replaced by Westlaw China service."
The current iSinolaw service will cease functioning on, ahem, Valentine's Day a/k/a February 14th, 2012 (Beijing calendar day).
The letter states that TR will assume iSinolaw's contracts and provide necessary customer support. It does not provide any information about refunds to those of us who subscribe to both Westlaw China and iSinolaw. Typical.
So folks, another one bites the dust. (VS)
Hello Catalogers of Graham's Federal Rules of Evidence in a Nutshell (2011)
Hat tip to NKU Law's Carol Bredemeyer for calling attention to the fact that "evidence" was omitted from the title page for the latest edition of TR Legal's Federal Rules of Evidence in a Nutshell. Quoting from her recent lawlib list message, "Big opps there, TR Legal!"
Don't think cataloging rules have changed so much since I did a wee bit some 30-plus years ago that title pages aren't still used as the primary source for cataloging with a note field for cover page title. Might be time for a uniform title entry to substitute for "Federal Rules of" title entry? More uniform title entries to follow?
Just how much sloppier can the production editorial staff get before pushing the "send to" manufacturing buttom. My bad, that assumes TR Legal still employs production editors. "Never assume" is just a good rule for lawyering. Clearly it now applies to libraries' automatic shipments and cataloging (and advertising and acquisition decisions) these days.
Since this goof was not to the best of my knowledge officially communicated by CRIV-Lite to TR Legal, we may never see a "Dear Colleagues" response from TR Legal. If we ever do, which of the follow three possibilities do you think would most likely be representative of TR Legal's communication in terms of tenor:
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for calling attention to another one of our screw-ups. You will receive a corrected title page and a bottle of Elmer's glue to tip it into your copy or copies of "Federal Rules of" at no charge other than your staff time.
Like OMG, thanks for the heads-up. We had no idea but we will ship out new copies with a corrected title page as soon as manufacturing spits out all the year-end crap we are sending to you. While we will kill more trees to do this, the new copies will be sent free of charge. As you know, we never "charge for shipping" anyway.
Based on customer input, we no longer find it necessary to provide accurate title page information for cataloging purposes. Just as our customers have indicated that our print format switcheroos don't require much work to change bib records from former loose-leaf services to some sort of generic serial record for annual and semi-annual pamphet editions, we believe the most efficient way to address this change is to switch over to a generic series title, namely "Nutshells," and cutter all topical Nutshells solely by year of publication, at least until we stop indicating their year of publication.
November 02, 2011
Are Law Schools Facing a Crisis? NLJ launches new blog on legal education
|Quoting the "About the Blog" Statement|
|Rising tuition. Misleading employment statistics. Inadequate skills training. Law schools have faced plenty of criticism for their role in the struggles of young lawyers today. The National Law Journal has assembled a panel of legal educators and law graduates to discuss whether law schools are facing a crisis, and how they should respond to their mounting problems.|
In the Oct. 27th "Hello World" post for Law School Review: A Forum on Legal Education, NLJ's Karen Sloan wrote:
Welcome to The National Law Journal's Law School Review, which is an online forum examining the current state and future of legal education. We want to address the question, "Are law schools in crisis?" If the answer is yes, what are the most pressing problems and how should educators and regulators address them? If the answer is no, what is it that law schools are doing right? Is this enough to ensure their future viability? We have assembled a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the subject..., and we hope to create a robust dialogue and exchange of ideas.
It's not an overstatement to characterize Law School Review's contributors as a panel of experts. Most are very well known for writing about the current state of the legal academy:
A professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law who writes about law schools on the blog Balkinization
Founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law
John F. O’Brien
Dean of the New England Law, Boston and chairman of the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
A 2011 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and the executive director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit group advocating for legal education reform
Professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School who has written about the problems faced by recent law school graduates
Michael A. Olivas
A professor at the University of Houston Law Center and the current president of the Association of American Law Schools
Professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law—Bloomington who studies the legal profession
Recently published posts include the following:
- The Hard Business Problems Facing U.S. Law Faculty by William Henderson
- Law Schools are not in Crisis by Brian Tamanaha
- Reimagining Legal Education by Kyle McEntee
Should make for interesting reading. [JH]
October 13, 2011
2012 Men of the Stacks Calendar
The Blog Widow loves the gallery on the calendar's website. (Hum... .) Proceeds are going to a good cause, the It Gets Better Project. See the New Yorker's The New Sexy Librarian for details. Hat tip to LISNews. [JH]
October 11, 2011
ALA Launches E-Content Blog: Taking a criticial look at the ongoing discussion about electronic content
ALA has launched E-Content, a blog to provide "information on e-books, e-readers, e-journals, databases, digital libraries, digital repositories, and other e-content issues. The blog complements the new section on e-content that appears in the weekly e-newsletter American Libraries Direct (free subscription) and focuses on similar issues." See the press release.
In the launch post, E-Content: Informing the Transformation of Libraries, the blog's editor, Christopher Harris, writes
Things are a bit murky right now, but as we continue to work with ALA, publishers, and each other, the outlook will hopefully begin to clear. In times of uncertainty, however, it is easy to focus on the unknown or on the known negatives, but things are moving forward. The American Library Association is forming a new Working Group on Digital Content and Libraries and has opened up new channels of communication with the Association of American Publishers as well as individual publishers. This blog will take a critical look at all aspects of the ongoing discussion around electronic content.
ALA knows that working with publishers does not mean being members of some sort of mythical "partnership" with vendors. Unlike AALL, ALA also knows that the best way to discuss these matters is by critical assessments open for all to read by way of web communications instead of by way of walled gardens. [JH]
October 05, 2011
Two Great Names. Reuters and Westlaw ... and One New Site
Thomson Reuters News and Insight "provides legal news from Reuters with supporting documentation and analysis from Westlaw." Yes, of course, you must have a user account to access the Westlaw material.
Free Reuters news to push Westlaw usage, oddly interesting marketing concept that if not masquerading as at least is tying law and business journalism to very expensive online legal search. I doubt anyone is going to rush off to acquire a Westlaw license to offset TR's web production costs but, what the heck, it will just take a couple of mouse clicks to out-of-plan transactional or hourly charges to do that. [JH]
September 30, 2011
A Little Weekend Reading for the Vinyl Gen: The Jurisprudence of Bob Dylan
Perhaps also of interest to the Post-Vinyl Gen, New York Law School prof Michael L. Perlin's Tangled Up in Law: The Jurisprudence of Bob Dylan [SSRN]. From the abstract:
A careful examination of Bob Dylan’s lyrics reveals a writer - a scholar - with a well-developed jurisprudence, ranging over a broad array of topics that relate to civil and criminal law, public and private law. His lyrics reflect the work of a thinker who takes “the law” seriously in multiple iterations - the role of lawyers, the role of judges, the disparities between the ways the law treats the rich and the poor, the inequality of the criminal and civil justice systems, the corruption of government, the police, and the judiciary, and more.
Hat tip to CrimProf Blog. [JH]
August 20, 2011
Checking Out Exotic Scraps and Marvellous Rarities on The Public Domain Review
A project of the Open Knowledge Foundation made possible by funding from the Shuttleworth Foundation, The Public Domain Reivew "aspires to become a bounteous gateway into the whopping plenitude that is the public domain, helping our readers to explore this rich terrain by surfacing unusual and obscure works, and offering fresh reflections and unfamiliar angles on material which is more well known," writes Timothy Vollomer on Creative Commons, quoting from the Review's Mission Statement, in Launch of The Public Domain Review website.
The Review is a website with weekly updates in which scholars, writers, artists, librarians and others present an interesting or curious work (including films, photographs, texts and audio) from the public domain and write short accompanying articles about it that provide background, context, history, or other commentary or criticism.
From the Mission Statement:
The public domain is a vast commons of material that everyone is free to enjoy, share and build upon without restriction. All works eventually enter the public domain – from classic works of art, music and literature, to abandoned drafts, tentative plans, and overlooked fragments.
By providing a curated collection of exotic scraps and marvellous rarities and linking to freely distributable copies of works in online archives and from far flung corners of the web, we hope to encourage readers to further utilise and explore public domain works by themselves.
We believe the public domain is an invaluable and indispensable good, which – like our natural environment and our physical heritage – deserves to be explicitly recognised, protected and appreciated.
Like the image, above right, from the Review's website!
Hat tip to Gary Price's INFOdocket post. [JH]
August 19, 2011
Time to Scramble for Ways and Means to Get Published in Law Journals
While it is fairly obvious that the bench (and bar) don't read legal scholarship published in law journals, that is not going to stop law profs from churning them out, particularly junior profs scrambling to add publication credits to their CVs in advance of tenue review time. Summer is over ... draft law journal articles have been written ... time to submit them for publication. UMKC's Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit come to the aid by updating their Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals [SSRN]:
This document contains information about submitting articles to law reviews and journals, including the methods for submitting an article, any special formatting requirements, how to contact them to request an expedited review, and how to contact them to withdraw an article from consideration. It covers 202 law reviews. The document was fully updated in July 2011.
Very useful. Even a self-contained community of unworldly dreamers sometimes needs professional guidance counseling. [JH]
August 15, 2011
Providing Legal Services to the "Masses" in the 21st Century, Part Three: A View from the Legal Academy
Marsha Mansfield and Louise G. Trube (both U of Wisconsin Law School) open their recent article, New Roles to Solve Old Problems: Lawyering for Ordinary People in Today's Context [SSRN] (New York Law School Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 2, 2011) with the following introduction:
The lawyering landscape is unsettled. Changes such as the extreme American economic downturn, the ever-widening justice gap, and the reshaping of legal work by technology contribute to a sense of unease. The economic downturn contributes to a severe reduction in law jobs due to a reduced client base and diminished law firm profits. The justice gap is increasing due to reduction in government funding for legal services resulting in less representation available for low-income litigants. The ability to access legal information and forms through the internet allows litigants to access information that previously was provided by lawyers who could charge for these services. While some aspects of law practice seem cyclical (such as funding of legal services, and the legal marketplace) in other ways the current legal landscape could not be have been imagined even five years ago. Some see the changes as modest but others see a paradigm shift that challenges how legal services will be provided in the long term.
This unsettled landscape provides an opportunity to rethink the delivery of legal services to ordinary people. How can affordable legal resources be provided to people dealing with family disintegration or those having difficulty accessing health care services or facing a housing foreclosure? The paradox is that the very changes that are roiling the legal profession may offer opportunities for new forms of practice that use different tools and roles. On one hand, the justice gap exists for both poor people and the middle class. Reduction in legal services to the poor is paralleled by inability of the middle class to afford traditional legal services. On the other hand, available technology and new collaborations create opportunities for new roles and tools. Legal information can be provided over the internet and easy to use forms can be utilized to access the court system. Professionals can share expertise through new forms of collaboration. The complexity of this new landscape can encourage innovation by those who can figure out how to develop affordable systems using new information and technologies. Law schools can serve as incubators for experimentation with these new roles and tools while providing students with the training, skills, and knowledge to assume new roles in the legal world.
The challenge then is creating practices that can utilize these long term substantive changes to benefit people needing legal services. These include sharing expertise with other professionals and middle class. Reduction in legal services to the poor is paralleled by inability of the middle class to afford traditional legal services. On the other hand, available technology and new collaborations create opportunities for new roles and tools. Legal information can be provided over the internet and easy to use forms can be utilized to access the court system. Professionals can share expertise through new forms of collaboration. The complexity of this new landscape can encourage innovation by those who can figure out how to develop affordable systems using new information and technologies. Law schools can serve as incubators for experimentation with these new roles and tools while providing students with the training, skills, and knowledge to assume new roles in the legal world.
This article first discusses what types of legal services can best assist ordinary people in the current context using as examples experiences of Wisconsin law clinics, centers for legal assistance, and from related national programs. The article then explores the new roles created by the new context. Finally the article addresses how law schools, through expanded clinics and innovative curricula, can train students to envision productive careers.
The authors' analysis takes as its context the "current 'great recession' [which] is highlighting the job crisis for lawyers." The current recession is something I personally believe is more structural that just temporary. As for the article's conclusion in the context of providing legal services to the "masses", you decide.
There is an urgent need for effective and efficient assistance for people dealing with legal problems in a world of shrinking resources. Innovative practices that utilize technologies, relationships, and collaborations to provide assistance demonstrate that lawyers are relevant and effective. These practices can inspire students as they begin legal careers that are very different from the traditional legal practice. Our law school courses and clinics can encourage experimentation based on these innovations and these experiments can flow into practice and vice versa. Building programs and expanding opportunities that engage students in nontraditional endeavors can better prepare our students, address legal needs that arise in our communities, and expand productive practice.
Recommended. Hat tip to Legal Skills Prof Blog. [JH]
For previous installments in LLB's Providing Legal Services to the "Masses" in the 21st Century series, see:
- Internet-Based Legal Document Prep Services (August 9, 2011)
- A Prescription for Allowing Main Street-Based Services Provided by Licensed Legal Assistance Practitioners (August 10, 2011)
Positioning "One's Self as an Insightful Chameleon Rather Than as an Isolated Purveyor of Facts and Figures"
I guess that's the gist of Ari Kaplan's Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace (Wiley, June 8, 2011) [Amazon]. I haven't read it yet but perhaps I should.
"This book expertly showcases the multitude of opportunities the digital age has brought to the professional services market. What's more, it sharpens the focus on the need to combine advanced technologies with a stronger, individualized approach to customers...." -- Mike Walsh, CEO, LexisNexis Legal & Professional.
From the Inside Flap:
Everyone's talking about how digital tools are leveling the business playing field, making information and skills available to all, but few are looking at what this really means for professionals in today's economy. The commoditization of most white-collar careers has left lawyers competing with do-it-yourself websites, and accountants persuading clients to hire them while simultaneously asking for the software files that provide the basis for their guidance.
August 11, 2011
As Satisfied and Well Paid Tenured Profs Lounge, Adjuncts Carry the Teaching Load
The reason that academic politics are so bitter, as the quip goes, is that the stakes are so low. True enough, but at times the stakes can be very high. They can include, for instance, guaranteed lifetime employment, an asset that few workers in the modern economy dare even dream of. After a probationary period of several years, during which essential research and writing is to be done—the infamous period of publish or perish—a professor either wins lifetime job security or becomes, as one victim described it, academic roadkill.
But there is the underclass of toiling adjunct profs who prop up this academic employment infrastructure for both tenued and potential roadkill profs. Gannon's WSJ Bookshelf article is actually a review of Naomi Schaefer Riley's new book, The Faculty Lounges: and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For (Ivan R Dee, June 16, 2011)[Amazon] and the issue it addresses -- "the question of academic tenure—what it was intended to be, what abuses it now invites and whether it is a good idea at all." About the book, Gannon writes
It is not a pretty picture, present or future. Although Ms. Riley never quite manages to make up her mind whether she wants to be a polemicist, an advocate or a reporter—she is a bit of all three—"The Faculty Lounges" ends up being a provocative and even profound book, one that recommends itself to anyone who cares about higher education, especially anyone who is about to make a personal investment in it by signing a tuition check.
See also Does Vocationalism Justify Academic Freedom and Tenure? for Stanley Fish's NYT think piece about Riley's The Faculty Lounges.
Hat tip to Mitchell Rubinstein's Adjunct Law Prof Blog post, More On Abuse of Adjuncts ("The review summarizes what we have been highlighting for some time. Adjuncts are grossly underpaid to the point of being abused at many universities.")
Adjuncts in the Legal Academy. In the context of the legal academy which is still struggling with granting some sort of job security recognition for legal skills profs, I doubt many law schools can afford to do what HLS has historically done, namely hire tenure-track profs to carry the the bulk of teaching load while also hiring big name law profs, who do teach, but are primarily hired to publish and be players on the national stage. Harvard makes no distinction between those two unoffical "classes" of law profs institutionally (well, I don't know which class gets the larger offices) but it does mean that HLS doesn't have to rely on adjunct law profs to the degree many other law schools do.
Unfortunately most non-HLS-schools don't have deep pockets to offer a stable workforce so they rely on adjuncts to teach substantive doctrinal law courses, not just practice-oriented courses, to fill in the facutly expertise gap. This can be in areas of law that students may eventually find themselves practicing in but are no longer all that interesting for scholarly proposes. Labor and employment law comes immediately to mind (Mitchell Rubinstein's speciality, by the way). But there are also other doctrinal courses, too.
As law schools scrambled to hire tenure and tenure-track profs for the latest hot areas like IP and intellectual fodder for scholarly analysis in such evolving areas of law this past decade, they have also discovered that their independent contractors who are tenured, even tenure-track, law profs really didn't want to teach UCC, bankruptcy, products liability, estates and gift tax, corporation law, evidence, etc. While law schools are not adverse to increasing law faculty hiring because (1) it reducing the teach load of regular faculty and (2) increases the all important student:faculty ratio for US News rankings, they can't find or afford to hire regular faculty to teach these 'boring-to-faculty" courses. My personal experience is that some profs interested in scholarly analysis such as critical legal theory, etc., accept such teaching loads while on tenure-track but have neither the expertise or interest in teaching these course. An intellectually unengaged law prof isn't likely to produce "teachable moments" for law school students.
Many law schools have had to turn to the unstable workforce that is adjuncts to fill out the course offerings. Of course, some adjunct-taught courses, are needed to pass the bar exam. But you never know which adjunct is going to stay for the long haul over multiple academic years. It might start out as an intellectual stimulating adventure for adjuncts but once they realize the amount of work involved and the ROI in terms of time spent, it is not an uncommon occurance to hear them say, "sorry, got to much billable work to do so I can't teach this year."
Over the years, I read more than just a few student evaluations of adjunct-taught courses. While some do complain that adjuncts spent too much time recounting "war stories," most student evaluations praised adjunct prof courses higher than the tenured and tenure-track faculty for being "more relevant."
Time for the ABA to Regulate the Value-Added Contributions Made by Adjunct Law Profs. Under existing ABA Accredition Standards, the ABA does monitor the use of adjunct law profs. Can't remember if it is a ratio of courses or credit hours but I'm thinking the ABA must dig deeper. In view of my very unscientific review of adjunct prof courses being evaluated as being "more relevant," even in doctrinal courses, I'm not suggesting that the ABA should mandate a reduction in the use of adjuncts but perhaps the ABA should require long-term employment contracts so that there is some measure of stability that students can rely on. Perhaps the ABA also should require compensation that is pro rata based for tenure and tenure-track faculties. Offering CLE credit hours earnings and a small stipend (when the latter is even offers) does not reflect the value added by law school adjuncts to the law school educational experience.
It's Good to be a Tenured Law Prof. Tenured law profs earn a decent living. Considering the oversupply of law school grads in the current labor market, I'm reminded of the once routine whining heard in faculty lounges by tenured law profs about how they earned substantially less than their students who get hired by BigLaw as first year associates, I'm thinking tenured law profs now are, or damn well should be, delighted to be earning more that temps working in document review factories -- that's the new earnings comparison. Tenured law profs also are pretty damn statisfied with their jobs according to TaxProf Blog's American Bar Foundation: Tenured Law Faculty Salaries, Job Satisfaction. The post refers to the ABA Foundation's recently published survey results. See After Tenure: Post-Tenure Law Professors in the U.S. (2011) [JH]