Monday, January 22, 2007

If a non-lawyer lies in a forest of clients....

Posted by Nancy Rapoport.

In this morning's New York Times, Nathan Koppel wrote about an associate who wasn't a graduate of a law school or a member of the bar.  Case of the Paralegal Who Played a Lawyer Raises Many Questions.  Apparently, the associate was a decent actor, at least for a while.  In the article's "if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it" moment, Koppel points out:

Connecticut authorities debated what Mr. Dubois [the Connecticut head of disciplinary proceedings] called the “metaphysical question” of whether they could even disbar someone who was never a lawyer and had only temporary privileges to practice in the state. They decided they could, and should, to keep other states from issuing privileges based on the faulty Connecticut credentials.

Good call.

January 22, 2007 in Associates, Bar Discipline & Process, Ethics, Law Firms, Professional Responsibility, Rapoport, The Practice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Prisoner's Dilemma and the Curve

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

I watched this play out in front of me last Wednesday. 

We all know the Prisoner's Dilemma of game theory.  Two prisoners are being interrogated separatelyPrisoners and cannot communicate with each other.  Each must make the decision whether to confess or stay quiet, not knowing what the other will do.  There are three possible payoffs:  if both prisoners confess each gets a moderate sentence; if both stay quiet they walk; but if one confesses and the other stays quiet, the confessing prisoner gets a light sentence, and the hold-out gets the full term.  The irony of the game is that the dominating strategy for each prisoner is to confess, but the best result for each of them individually is if each of them holds out, which means that there needs to be cooperation.

At the end of Secured Transactions class, one of the students in the back row asked "how many students do you have in this class?"  The reason is that Tulane has a mandatory curve if there are twenty-one or more students in the class, and we seemed to be hovering around that number.  Assume the desired payoff is that the class not have the mandatory curve, but each student wants to take the course (no snide remarks, please).  If there are exactly twenty-one students, and one of them drops, all the remaining students have the benefit (?) of there being no mandatory curve.

Actually, I think the game model only works if the students see a significant payoff in staying in the course.  Which probably explains why I expected to walk in the next day and find that I had a four-person class.

January 22, 2007 in Teaching & Curriculum | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Elefant Replies to Blom on Cause Lawyering and Solos. Thunderdome Ensues.

Posted by Alan Childress

Here find MyShingle's Carolyn Elefant in pointed reply to my previous post on Brenda Bratton Blom's recent article on "cause lawyering" and the mobilization of solos and small firm lawyers.  A taste of Elefant's reply:

I have to admit that when I read pieces like Blom's, it's clear why I have no future in academia:  it's simply too divorced from reality.  For example, where does Blom get the idea that solos are scraping by on the edge, living at the mercy of markets by selling our services?

And:

We solos and small firms survive and thrive by focusing on what our clients want and educating them about other possibilities; not by subordinating their issues to the big picture or a matter that we personally find more compelling.

I am like the puppetmaster on this one:  I sent the link to Carolyn Elefant with unstated hopes she would read it and reply in the very manner she did.  I then emailed her a clarification ... I told her that if she formally entered academia and wrote [more] articles, her future would be fine:  there is no formal requirement that they be divorced from reality.  It's just that we get paid a hefty bonus whenever they are.

Because it appears that both Bratton and Elefant live in Maryland, there's real potential for a debate at Blom's University of Maryland or at the University of Baltimore on this and related issues. I call it "The Role of the Small Lawyer in the Big Picture." It could be moderated by Jonathan Stein, or he'd be a panelist too (he recently won blogging awards in 8 different categories [by naming himself]).  I'd buy a ticket, though fortunately we don't ever have to buy such tickets in academia -- likely as part of the divorce settlement, after Reality left us for those floozies and gigolos in B-School.  I'd even moderate it myself if I get to trade punches too; I certainly look the part of the small lawyer. 

The debate could even be promoted like a WWF Smackdown, with nicknames like BBB or Triple-B and Elefant so readily available, and the word "brawl" so alliterative to Blom [in Baltimore, no less] and rhyming with "smallball."  Long academic papers will be referred to only as "pieces."  Seriously, thank you MyShingle, for reading the linked paper and for your considered analysis (I just excerpted the more flame-throwing parts). 

January 21, 2007 in Blogging, Pro Bono, The Practice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)