May 5, 2009
LexisNexis: free access to firm-deferred 09 grads in public service
LexisNexis has announced that it will provide free database access to qualifying 2009 graduates whose employers have deferred their employment start dates. LexisNexis access will include federal and state cases, codes, regulations, and law reviews.
The ASPIRE (Associates Serving Public Interests REsearch) Program has stringent criteria for qualification. Applicants must demonstrate that they are 2009 graduates whose firm start dates have been delayed, and that they are pursuing verifiable public interest work. LexisNexis requires documentation confirming applicants' eligibility for the program, i.e., letters from the firm or the public interest organization. Upon receipt of the necessary paperwork, LexisNexis will reactivate the applicant's former LEXIS student ID.
configuring Facebook for greater privacy
So you have a Facebook account, and your list of friends is growing. As much as you enjoy reading the news feed with their updates, do you ever worry that when you post what you're doing, you may be revealing too much to "friends" you would prefer to keep more distant?
You may have a story (or a joke) you would like to share with old college buddies, but hesitate to post it because it would mean that all your friends (including people like your former students, your mother, your boss) would read it in the next news feed.
You can compartmentalize your friends and your posts, and this post will show you how to do it. Takes just a few minutes.
hat tips: LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group and The Lawyerist
More on Amazon's plans to introduce larger format Kindle
Professor Barger reported on this yesterday but if she will indulge me, I think the story is so big, it deserves a second post. The New York Times reported on Monday that Amazon's new Kindle may be released later this week. In addition to its potential to revolutionize textbook sales, it's being described as a veritable "electronic life preserver" for a bunch of comatose media interests:
An Amazon spokesman would not comment, but some news organizations, including The New York Times, are expected to be involved in the introduction of the device, according to people briefed on the plans. A spokeswoman for The Times, Catherine J. Mathis, said she could not comment on the company’s relationship with Amazon.
These devices from Amazon and other manufacturers offer an almost irresistible proposition to newspaper and magazine industries. They would allow publishers to save millions on the cost of printing and distributing their publications, at precisely a time when their businesses are under historic levels of pressure.
'We are looking at this with a great deal of interest,' said John Ridding, the chief executive of the 121-year-old, salmon-colored British newspaper The Financial Times. "The severe double whammy of the recession and the structural shift to the Internet has created an urgency that has rightly focused attention on these devices.'
Unlike some of the cockamamie e-trends that cross our transom now and again, this one is for real, baby!
I am the scholarship dude.
AALS solicitation for information about ways teachers are enriching their classrooms
The Best Practices for Legal Ed. blog is reporting that last Friday, deans received an email from the AALS Standing Committee on Curriculum asking about ways “ways in which law teachers are enriching their classroom teaching by bringing in background materials that go beyond the judicial opinion.”
As the BPLE blog notes:
The e-mails need not be elaborate . . .just a paragraph or two would suffice. The Committee provides examples of the kinds of information desired: “the use of transcripts, documents, briefs, published narratives about a case being studied, video materials, interviews with parties and/or lawyers, among other materials.”
The Committee will use the e-mails to collect “aggregate information” and to identify “some teachers for follow up conversations.” E-mails should be sent by May 15, 2009 to: email@example.com.
I am the scholarship dude.
Professionalism alert: Unethical for lawyer to use third party to "friend" witness on Facebook
This is an interesting "advisory opinion" from the Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee concluding that it is unethical for a lawyer to hire a third party in order to "friend" the Facebook and/or MySpace profile(s) of a litigation witness for purposes of obtaining relevant information contained therein. The lawyer in question apparently thought the witness's profile contained information he might be able to use to impeach her during a deposition in the case. According to the opinion, after the attorney realized the witness would not likely "friend" him if he used his real name, he came up with the idea of hiring a third party to do it. As the opinion states:
The inquirer proposes to ask a third person, someone whose name the witness will not recognize, to go to the Facebook and MySpace websites, contact the witness and seek to “friend” her, to obtain access to the information on the pages. The third person would state only truthful information, for example, his or her true name, but would not reveal that he or she is affiliated with the lawyer or the true purpose for which he or she is seeking access, namely, to provide the information posted on the pages to a lawyer for possible use antagonistic to the witness. If the witness allows access, the third person would then provide the information posted on the pages to the inquirer who would evaluate it for possible use in the litigation. While ethical rules prevent attorneys from engaging in deceptive conduct, the attorney in question analogized his request to videotaping a potential witness in public given the non-private nature of Facebook and MySpace profiles. However, the advisory opinion concluded: The inquirer has suggested that his proposed conduct is similar to the common — and ethical — practice of videotaping the public conduct of a plaintiff in a personal injury case to show that he or she is capable of performing physical acts he claims his injury prevents. The Committee disagrees. In the video situation, the videographer simply follows the subject and films him as he presents himself to the public. The videographer does not have to ask to enter a private area to make the video. If he did, then similar issues would be confronted, as for example, if the videographer took a hidden camera and gained access to the inside of a house to make a video by presenting himself as a utility worker. Hat tips to the Social Media Blog and The Legal Blog Watch. I am the scholarship dude. (jbl)
The inquirer proposes to ask a third person, someone whose name the witness will not recognize, to go to the Facebook and MySpace websites, contact the witness and seek to “friend” her, to obtain access to the information on the pages. The third person would state only truthful information, for example, his or her true name, but would not reveal that he or she is affiliated with the lawyer or the true purpose for which he or she is seeking access, namely, to provide the information posted on the pages to a lawyer for possible use antagonistic to the witness. If the witness allows access, the third person would then provide the information posted on the pages to the inquirer who would evaluate it for possible use in the litigation.
While ethical rules prevent attorneys from engaging in deceptive conduct, the attorney in question analogized his request to videotaping a potential witness in public given the non-private nature of Facebook and MySpace profiles. However, the advisory opinion concluded:
The inquirer has suggested that his proposed conduct is similar to the common — and ethical — practice of videotaping the public conduct of a plaintiff in a personal injury case to show that he or she is capable of performing physical acts he claims his injury prevents. The Committee disagrees. In the video situation, the videographer simply follows the subject and films him as he presents himself to the public. The videographer does not have to ask to enter a private area to make the video. If he did, then similar issues would be confronted, as for example, if the videographer took a hidden camera and gained access to the inside of a house to make a video by presenting himself as a utility worker.
Hat tips to the Social Media Blog and The Legal Blog Watch.
I am the scholarship dude.
CALI workshop on "best practices" for social media
This summer's CALI conference at the University of Colorado (Boulder, CO) has added a new program of interest to law school administrators and professors: Social Media Best Practices Workshop for Law Schools. The workshop is set to take place the first full day of the conference (Thursday, June 18). Its goal is to to help law schools develop a better understanding of these technologies, as well as suggested guidelines for law schools regarding the use of social media.
Presently on the panel are keynote speaker John Palfrey, Professor of Law and Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School, as well as a Faculty Co-Director at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and Iowa law student Laura Bergus, one of the contributors to the Social Media Law Student blog.
May 4, 2009
The pros and cons of social media for lawyers
The Legal Blog Watch raises the question whether social media tools are good marketing devices for lawyers or not:
After seeing this recent post at Larry Bodine's Lawyer Marketing Blog, I wonder whether we're wasting our time. Bodine points to MarketingSherpa's just-released 2009 Ecommerce Benchmark Report, which explains that most companies are relying on search engine optimization and e-mail to drive marketing efforts.
Does that mean lawyers shouldn't waste their time with social media? Bodine says they'll be left behind if they do. As the MarketingSherpa report concludes:
Social media is essentially a set of technologies and practices that enable the oldest and most powerful marketing there is -- word of mouth. In the long term, social media may have a positive effect on margins by rewarding sellers for qualities beyond price, such as customer service, on-time delivery, social awareness and the like. In the short term, it makes sense for companies to build an expertise and social presence while consumers and business people are still in the process of building their networks. Like the early days of email, it's probably a lot easier to make a name on Twitter or Facebook today than it will be in five years.
I agree. From my own experience with blogging -- and now social media like Twitter -- I've reaped enormous rewards from early mover advantage (I've been blogging since 2002, using various social media apps shortly after their launch and tweeting for over a year now). Once a social media tool takes off, lawyers will need enormous resources to gain the same market share that they could have captured had they gotten an early start using it. So next time you see a post here at Legal Blog Watch about a new social media tool, give it a try instead of passing it by.
There you have it - straight from the horse's mouth.
I am the scholarship dude.
LexisNexis reports security breach resulting in possible loss of personal data for 32,000 users
SiliconValley.com is reporting that LexisNexis notified 32,000 customers on Friday that their personal data - including names, birth dates, and social security numbers - may have been improperly accessed by scammers intent on setting up phony credit card accounts. If you haven't yet been contact by LexisNexis, you are presumably in the clear.
Hat tip to the BNA Internet Law News.
I am the scholarship dude.
the demise of the apostrophe?
After reading a handful of appellate briefs, my answer would be . . . maybe. For some writers, definitely!!
Twitter quitters tried it, didn't like it
The Associated Press is reporting that more people are quitting Twitter than are posting messages on the microblogging service. A study shows that more than 60% of Twitter's users in the U.S. have left the service a month later. Why are they leaving the nest? Some speculations:
- The 140-character limit per "tweet" is too abbreviated to post anything worthwhile (but note that tools are available to assist users with mastering Tweetspeak. Can u dig it?).
- Twitter clutter: too many tweets come in to keep up with.
- TMI tweets: followers really don't want to know what you had for breakfast, and they really don't want to know where you are at this moment.
- Too many tweets: tweets contain no content of interest or value.
- Numbing effect of too much info, not enough time to process it
- Fear they may be seen by employers as wasting time.
- Too distracting to users themselves
- Duplicative of or disruptive to other social media, such as Facebook.
- And other problems, as seen here and here.
On the other hand, if you're a Twitter fan (or fan of other social/sharing media), you might have noticed that we're now making it easier for you to share via the button at the bottom of the post.
a Kindle-r, gentler way to carry law books?
So we hear that Amazon has scheduled a press event for Wednesday, April 6, and some say it's to announce the release of a new--and of course, improved--but more importantly, BIGGER Kindle. It's said the bigger format is ideal for newspapers, magazines, and textbooks.
Some law texts are already available in electronic versions. It remains to be seen whether their publishers will strike a deal with Amazon to reach the Kindle market. They may have too much existing commitment to proprietary software, such as AspenLaw StudyDesk.
hat tip on Kindle announcement: Tracy McGaugh (via Twitter)
May 3, 2009
Brewing controversy - how will law schools report to USNWR the employment status of deferred grads?
Thanks to Above the Law for bringing to our attention this story, which is sure to grow larger and more inflammed than, well . . . you can fill in your own metaphor. While this issue just happens to be coming to a head at Wake Forest University School of Law (although there's some doubt about the authenticity of the original email that provoked it), it's something most law schools will face when filling out next year's USNWR's data forms. The question is - how will law schools report those deferred grads it puts to work as research assistants, or in other positions, while they wait for their supposed "permanent" jobs to start? Moreover, how will, or should, schools report the employment status of new grads whose start dates have been deferred (when there's a chance those jobs may evaporate after all)? These employment stats, as you may recall, are an important factor in the ranking formula used by USNWR and there's concern that some deans may feel pressure to overstate the figures or, alternatively, that some schools will take a dive in the rankings as a result of it.
Read the full story here.
I am the scholarship dude.
Professional ethics alert: Lawyers - be careful who you send those emails to.
This is an interesting and important post from the Lawyerist blog reminding lawyers of the pitfalls of communicating with clients through their private email accounts if clients access those accounts from their work computers.
There has been a growing awareness—and a line of cases—about the risks of sending privileged emails back and forth with clients who are using their employer-provided email accounts. Depending on how diligent the employer is about announcing and reminding its employees of its policies, an employer can successfully decree that anything done on the employer’s computer (including laptops) is subject to review by the employer and carries no expectation of privacy. As noted in a previous post, that can apply to otherwise confidential and privileged emails between an employee and his or her lawyer.
A recent New Jersey state district court decision, Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc. (PDF link), took this principal [sic] one nasty step further. The court said that not only can the privilege be waived for emails sent using the employer’s email program and computers, but it can also be waived for emails sent through a web-based email program while using the employer’s computer. The employee had been emailing her lawyer using a Yahoo! account, which she accessed when using her company laptop. After the employee quit, the company imaged the laptop’s hard drive, and later found temporary internet files reflecting her emails. The court followed the reasoning of a very similar federal district court decision.
If this ruling remains intact and is followed by other courts, attorneys could be significantly curtailed in their ability to communicate with clients during the work day—or at all. Some clients use their work desktop or laptop as their only computer. And if the rule applies to employer computers, I cannot see why it would not apply to Blackberrys and other email-enabled mobile devices provided by the employer. Essentially, to communicate with a lawyer during the work day, an employee would need to either bring his or her own computer to work or have a separate mobile device for their own email account.
I am the scholarship dude.