Sunday, June 5, 2016

Legal Ethics and Medical Marijuana Laws

Legal Ethics and Medical Marijuana Laws

Although a number of states have authorized the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes, federal law still prohibits this conduct. Can a lawyer still assist clients who deal with this federally controlled substance? The answer may be partially yes if the state disciplinary rules give an accommodation. For example, here is how Pennsylvania authorities propose modifying ethics rules:

Marijuana laws across the United States have been changing rapidly. To date, over 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws relating to marijuana. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law on April 17, 2016. 

The proposed amendment would modify Subsection (d) of Rule 1.2, which prohibits a lawyer to counsel or assist a client in criminal conduct. An exception would be established in a new Subsection (e), stating: “A lawyer may counsel or assist a client regarding conduct expressly permitted by the law of the state where it takes place or has its predominant effect, provided that the lawyer counsels the client about the legal consequences, under other applicable law, of the client's proposed course of conduct.”  

The preface notes that the Federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 811 et. seq, still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, and thus its manufacture, distribution, dispensing, or possession are still illegal under Federal law.  Under the current language of Rule 1.2(d), a Pennsylvania lawyer arguably is prohibited from assisting a client in various activities such as drafting or negotiating contracts that may relate to the purchase, distribution or sale of marijuana,  even where such activities may be legal under state law.

Here, you can read more from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (May 2016).


June 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law grads optimistic about improving job market

The Connecticut Law Tribune reports that grads of the state's three law schools are optimistic about their job prospects due to an improving market. According to the article, 90% of last year's grads have found jobs by now.  

Improving Job Market Leads to Optimism Among Law School Graduates

Law school graduates plunge into improving job market


The latest class of Connecticut law school graduates donned their caps and gowns and marched to get their diplomas in May. After years of study and hard work, their new challenge is finding a job. The good news is the legal employment market continues to improve here in Connecticut, just as it has on the national level.


That improved market has worked out for 2016 graduates such as Lily Schurra of Milford, who attended Quinnipiac University School of Law and in August will start her career at Saxe Doernberger & Vita in Trumbull, where she will represent insurance policyholders. "Firms came to the university to do on-campus interviews," Schurra said. "I think the job search can be difficult because you are competing with everybody, but for the people I know, a lot have jobs lined up already."


Zachary Dunn of Middletown, also attended Quinnipiac. He will take the bar exam this summer and then clerk for state Appellate Court Judge Michael Sheldon. "A lot of my friends have jobs, and a lot are still looking," Dunn said. "It is pretty typical for people to still be looking at this point, … Some areas of law have more opportunities," he added, citing insurance law in Connecticut as opposed to criminal law.


While the statistics for 2016 graduates aren't in yet, university officials are optimistic based on improving trends in recent years. The National Association for Law Placement Inc., which measures law school employment rates 10 months after graduation, released an annual report in February. According to NALP, the data reveals this "recruiting cycle to be the most robust summer recruiting and new associate hiring cycle since the recession" of 2008-09. "In the last six years following the economic recession, law firms have slowly continued to increase their entry-level recruiting activity," while the size of the graduating class has gotten smaller.


. . . . 

Continue reading here.


June 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Looking for New Scenarios for Legal Writing Programs? Try Tree Law

One untapped area for new fact patterns is tree law. The tree falls on the neighbor’s house. Branches from the neighbor’s tree intrude on the property. These are the easy scenarios. For interesting tree news and some actual cases, please take a look at a blog entirely devoted to tree law: The Tree and Neighbor Law Blog. You can access it here.


June 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2016

29 Quotes to Encourage You to Delegate Authority

29 Quotes to Encourage You to Delegate Authority

Delegating responsibilities to others often comes hard. The Resourceful Manager offer 29 quotes from well-known leaders that may encourage us. Here are a few of the quotes:


“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” – Jessica Jackley, businesswoman


“You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.” – Former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan


“A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma.” – Marlene Dietrich, actress


“I’m going from doing all of the work to having to delegate the work – which is almost harder for me than doing the work myself. I’m a lousy delegator, but I’m learning.” – Alton Brown, celebrity chef


“When you delegate work to a member of the team, your job is to clearly frame success and describe the objectives.”  – Steven Sinofsky, former Microsoft executive


“Don’t be a bottleneck. If a matter is not a decision for the President or you, delegate it. Force responsibility down and out. Find problem areas, add structure and delegate. The pressure is to do the reverse. Resist it.” – Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense


“The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs.” – Sandra Day O’Connor, former Supreme Court Justice.


“When you delegate tasks, you create followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders.” – Craig Groeschel, founder of Life Church

You can access more quotes here.


June 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Washington U. Law School seeking staff attorney for low income taxpayer clinic

Here are the details:

Washington University School of Law seeks applications for the position of Staff Attorney for its Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, one of eighteen law clinic and externship courses offered by the Law School (see

The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, through its second- and third-year law students, provides free legal assistance to low income taxpayers on income tax disputes with the Internal Revenue Service. The Staff Attorney is expected to assist the clinic’s co-directors in supervising and monitoring the work of the students, handle matters relating to the day-to-day administration of the clinic law office and its cases, and assume primary responsibility for cases that begin outside of or are not concluded during the academic year.



Candidates must have a J.D. degree, be admitted or eligible to practice law in Missouri (i.e., must be a member of the Missouri bar or eligible for admission as a law teacher without examination pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 13.06), and be admitted or eligible for admission to the U.S. Tax Court.


Candidates should have experience practicing tax law, outstanding legal research and writing skills, and promise as a mentor for law students.


Applicant Special Instructions:

Applicants must submit an online application for Job Position #33707 at:

For fullest consideration, apply by June 15.


EEO Statement:

Washington University School of Law is committed to diversity and encourages applications from racial and ethnic groups, women, persons with disabilities, and other under-represented groups.


June 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Advice on Writing to Persuade the Court

In her article, Standing in the Judge’s Shoes: Exploring Techniques to

Help Legal Writers More Fully Address the Needs of TheirAudience, Sherri Lee Keene argues that lawyers writing as advocates need to place themselves in the shoes of the judges whom they seek to persuade. Of course, this is not new advice. What is helpful here is her advice on how to do it. She offers three pieces of advice:

  1. Critique Prior Decisions and the Briefs That Contributed to These Decisions
  2. Practice the Oral Argument While Writing the Brief
  3. Be the Judge and Decide the Case

She concludes:

It is important that legal writers not only consider who their legal audience is, but also work actively to gauge the audience’s needs in order to address them more accurately and completely in their writing. While many attorneys understand the importance of writing in anticipation of the legal audience’s response, even experienced attorneys may struggle to see their case from a different perspective and to identify the challenges of their case. Thus, strategies such as those discussed in this Essay, which help writers to step outside of the attorney role and stand in the shoes of the decision-maker, are important steps toward better legal writing.

You can read Professor Keene’s article here.


June 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Centennial Generation

For the past year or so, the commercial marketing world has been talking about Centennials (Generation Z)—those born since 1997 (soon to be our students).

According to one survey:

  • 68% say they worry about not being prepared for the future rather than saying they are too young to worry about it.
  • 60% would prefer to have guarantees that they never become poor over the possibility of becoming rich.
  • just 47% of 12-17 year olds care if their clothes are in style.
  • just 30% of 12-17 year olds say they like to do things others consider risky or dangerous.
  • just 26% of 12-17 year olds agree with the statement “we are about fun.”
  • just 52% have an account on Facebook and visit regularly.
  • You can read more here. Here is another set of characteristics:
  1. Most obviously, they are the first generation to never know life without the Internet and social media.
  2. At present, their sense of style is a lot more simplistic than that of Millennials. If Millennials are the generation of layering, Centennials are the generation of basics.
  3. They are a lot less judgmental. This is generally speaking, of course, but culturally, Centennials have not had years to internally debate morally liberalistic versus authoritarian views, such as gay marriage, the existence of transsexuals, and female bodily autonomy, so there is a lot less debate on these issues amongst this generation. These realities are simply accepted, just as Millennials accepted racial equality with greater ease than generations before.
  4. Furthermore, they are slightly more serious than Millennials.
  5. As we can all attest, they have very short attention spans. Another result of the Internet is that Generation Z gains and loses focus with great ease.

You can read more here.


June 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Effective contract drafting in 5 steps

New York City Supreme Court Judge and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of Law Gerald Lebovits is a prolific author of legal skills oriented publications to say the least. Don't take my word for it, check out his SSRN page here (and the download stats that go with it). Among Judge Lebovits most recent articles is a five part series on effective contract drafting. And without further ado, here they are for your reading (and drafting) pleasure:

Making Offers No One Can Refuse: Effective Contract Drafting - Part 1, 88 N.Y. St. B.J. 64 (Jan. 2016).

Making Offers No One Can Refuse: Effective Contract Drafting — Part II, 88 N.Y. St. B.J. 64 (Feb. 2016).

Making Offers No One Can Refuse: Effective Contact Drafting — Part 3, 88 N.Y. St. B.J. 64 (Mar./Apr. 2016).

The Legal Writer, Making Offers No One Can Refuse: Effective Contract Drafting — Part 4, Vol. 88, N.Y.St. B. J., No. 4  (May 2016).

The Legal Writer, Making Offers No One Can Refuse: Effective Contract Drafting — Part 5, Vol. 88, N.Y. St. B. J., No. 5 (June 2016).


June 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Golden Opportunity: Legal Research Simulation Courses by Leslie Ann Street & Shawn G. Nevers

The first thing I learned when I became a lawyer was the importance of research skills.  There were many times in my legal career when I won a case because I had done better research than my opponent.

Today, many law librarians teach advanced or specialized legal research courses.  Such courses can use the same experiential techniques as other law school courses.

A Golden Opportunity: Legal Research Simulation Courses by Leslie Ann Street & Shawn G. Nevers.


When the dust settled on the ABA’s most recent overhaul of its ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, librarians were met with a number of significant changes. While not as obviously relevant as the changes to the library standards, one change that intimately affects librarians teaching legal research is the addition of simulation courses to the standards. A subset of experiential courses, simulation courses seem like a ripe designation for advanced and specialized legal research courses. This article explores the experiential and simulation course standards and how two law libraries are applying these standards to legal research courses.


May 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Difference between Lawyers and Novelists

At the Wisconsin Lawyer (May 2016), lawyer and novelist Michael Bowen writes about the storyline of his legal career. Along the way, he delineates the different roles of lawyers and fiction writers:

For neither novelists nor lawyers are storylines something you just make up. Fiction is a search for truth liberated from the tyranny of fact; law is a search for truth constrained by fact (one hopes). Whether you’re a lawyer or a novelist, when you search for the truth, every once in a while you find it – and then you have to decide what you’re going to do about it.

Intriguing. You can read more here.


May 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Blobfest is Coming!

Off topic. For fans of low-budget 1950s sci fi movies, The Blob is a classic. The blob arrives from outer space and proceeds to grow in size as it consumes people. A young Steve McQueen discovers how to halt the blob’s rampage.

In one famous scene, the blob appears in a crowded movie theater, and the panicked patrons run out the doors screaming in terror. The scene was filmed at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, not far from where I live.

Each year, the theater holds Blobfest. On one night, during a showing of the movie, the audience screams and heads for the street. Too much fun.

If you are in the area, you may want to check Blobfest off on your bucket list. Here is the information. But don’t delay. All events sell out very quickly.


May 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Professional Formation and the Political Economy of the American Law School by Louis D. Bilionis

Another important article on teaching professional identity to law students: Professional Formation and the Political Economy of the American Law School by Louis D. Bilionis.


"This article proposes that a comprehensive model for doing professional formation in law school is now in sight. The model can work for formation – which is to say that it has the right vision of the fundamentals and the appropriate program features and pedagogies to effectively support students in the development of their professional identities. The model also can work for the political economy of the typical American law school – which is to say that its strategy and approach to roles and resources makes it congenial to postulates about power, resources, work, and governance that shape relations inside the law school. The model can work because it leverages and reinforces the existing efforts of the law school’s faculty, staff, and external stakeholders – uniting those efforts in an enterprise-wide program that students can appreciate and use to their benefit. What is more, the habits a law school would cultivate applying the model also could well improve the school's political economy in ways it will appreciate when tackling the sizable challenges ahead for legal education."


May 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

20th Annual Webby Awards

No, we weren’t invited to the party. But many serious and not-so-serious folks were. All award winners could give acceptance speeches, but only speeches with five or fewer words. If you noodle around here and have patience, you can hear Kim Kardashian West’s speech. As you might expect some of the content is a tad risqué.

On the serious side, you can find an award to Social Explorer for project Threat to Representation of Children and Non-Citizens, a report with interactive maps showing the potential impact of the Supreme Court case Evenwel v. Abbott on redistricting. The case, decided after this report was issued, held that the “one person, one vote” principle permits a state to design its legislative districts based on total population, not just on voting population.


May 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top online job sites for law students seeking traditional as well as alternative career opportunities.

Hilary Mantis, a career advice columnist for National Jurist Magazine, has complied a list of top job sites for law students still looking for employment. Ms. Mantis provides recommended websites to visit based on whether you're looking for a traditional legal job in either the private or public sector as well as those looking for alternative careers where they can put their JD to use. Check out the list of resources Ms. Mantis has compiled here.


May 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

George Mason is Free to Rename its Law School after Justice Scalia

From the AP

George Mason University is free to rename its law school for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after a state council decided Tuesday it had no oversight role in the matter.

The school announced plans to rename the school for Scalia back in March. The new name is connected to a $10 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation and a $20 million matching grant from an anonymous donor. The anonymous contribution is contingent on renaming the school.

You can read more here.


May 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Send Your Kids to College with Two Legal Documents

The Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease law firm advises parents to get their college-bound offspring to sign two documents: a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. If your kids object, you may have to explain the facts of life to them. You can access information here.


May 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What Predicts Law Success?: An Empirical Study

A new, extensive longitudinal study identifies strong predictors and points out weak and nonexistent predictors. Alexia Brunet Marks & Scott A. Moss, What Predicts Law School Success? A Longitudinal Study Correlating Law Student Applicant Data and Law School Outcomes. Here are the primary findings:

(1) LSAT predicts more weakly, and UGPA more powerfully, than commonly assumed - and a high‐LSAT/low‐UGPA profile may predict worse than the opposite;

(2) a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or EAF (economics, accounting, finance) major is a significant plus, akin to three and a half to four extra LSAT points;

(3) several years’ work experience is a significant plus, with teaching especially positive and military the weakest;

(4) a criminal or disciplinary record is a significant minus, akin to seven and a half fewer LSAT points; and

(5) long‐noted gender disparities seem to have abated, but racial disparities persist.

Some predictors were interestingly nonlinear: college quality has decreasing returns; UGPA has increasing returns; a rising UGPA is a plus only for law students right out of college; and four to nine years of work is a “sweet spot.” Certain groups - those with military or public‐sector work, or a criminal/disciplinary record - have high LGPA variance, indicating a mix of high and low performers requiring close scrutiny. Many traditionally valued traits had no predictive value: typical prelaw majors (political science, history, etc.); legal or public‐sector work; or college leadership.

You can access the study here.


May 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oyez Project finds a new home at Cornell

The Oyez Project is a free, online repository containing more than 10,000 audio tapes of U.S. Supreme Court arguments going back 60 years. According to this story in the National Law Journal, the Oyez Project is about to get a new home, moving from its present host the Chicago-Kent College of Law to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute in co-sponsorship with Justia, the online publisher of legal information. The National Law Journal hints that the continuing financial viability of the Oyez Project was in doubt until Cornell and Justia stepped in to ink a new deal to host the project. Oyez is a tremendously valuable resource for scholars, law students, legal skills instructors, practitioners and anyone else with an interest in appellate oral arguments.   Here's an excerpt from the NLJ story:

'Oyez Project' New Home Will Keep Supreme Court Audio Free to Public

. . . . 


The Supreme Court has taped oral arguments for the last 60 years and deposited them with the National Archives. Oyez makes the audio available on its website with additional information, including searchable transcripts that are synchronized to the audio.


That makes it easy to hear the moment during arguments in the 2003 affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger when then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist addressed advocate Maureen Mahoney—a former law clerk of his—by her first name. Or, more recently, the time on March 27, 2012, when the late Justice Antonin Scalia compared the coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act to an order that the public buy broccoli.

. . . .


 The project is now housed at Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago under an agreement that expires soon. By the time the new term of the Supreme Court begins in October, Goldman said, its home will be Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, though Chicago-Kent may stay involved.


“We’re delighted to be the recipient of what is a tremendous gift,” said Thomas Bruce, co-founder and director of the institute at Cornell. “Oyez is obviously of huge interest to the research community” and to lawyers, law students and the general public.


Tim Stanley, chief executive officer of Justia, described Oyez as the source of “a lot of stuff that you don’t find anywhere else” that is important “from a public-information standpoint.” He added, “people like to see how their institutions work.” Justia has given technical assistance to Oyez for years; when you click on an Oyez link to a Supreme Court decision, you are sent to Justia.


The Oyez site will look the same for now, though Bruce and Stanley both say that over time improvements and expansions will be made to make more information about the court even more accessible. “We’re still figuring it out,” Bruce said.


Stanley said he sees possible alliances with other law schools, law firms and legal publishing companies. For now, he said, “ is not going to change much at all.” Stanley said he is committed to keeping access to Oyez free to the public.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


May 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

A New Type of Socratic Questioning

The use of the Socratic method in first-year law classes has been frequently criticized.  Among these criticisms are that it is not as effective with female students and monorities as it is for white, male students.   However, questions remains an important teaching technique.  Maybe, the solution is to change the questioning method that law professors use.

This article concerns the Socratic method in medical schools:

Socrates Was Not a Pimp: Changing the Paradigm of Questioning in Medical Education by Amanda Kost, MD, and Frederick M. Chen, MD, MPH.

The slang term “pimping” is widely recognized by learners and educators in the clinical learning environment as the act of more senior members of the medical team publicly asking questions of more junior members. Although questioning as a pedagogical practice has many benefits, pimping, as described in the literature, evokes negative emotions in learners and leads to an environment that is not conducive to adult learning. Medical educators may employ pimping as a pedagogic technique because of beliefs that it is a Socratic teaching method. Although problems with pimping have previously been identified, no alternative techniques for questioning in the clinical environment were suggested. The authors posit that using the term “pimping” to describe questioning in medical education is harmful and unprofessional, and they propose clearly defining pimping as “questioning with the intent to shame or humiliate the learner to maintain the power hierarchy in medical education.” Explicitly separating pimping from the larger practice of questioning allows the authors to make three recommendations for improving questioning practices. First, educators should examine the purpose of each question they pose to learners. Second, they should apply historic and modern interpretations of Socratic teaching methods that promote critical thinking skills. Finally, they should consider adult learning theories to make concrete changes to their questioning practices. These changes can result in questioning that is more learner centered, aids in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, performs helpful formative and summative assessments of the learner, and improves community in the clinical learning environment.

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Prestigious Titles for Academic Administrators

This website, the University Title Generator (here) will generate high-sounding, vapid titles to which you may decide to aspire (plus suggested salaries). How about “Interim Deputy Manager of the Subcommittee for Athletic Outreach” or “Lead Associate Provost for the Subcommittee for Strategic Community Affairs?”


May 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)