Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tip of the day: Scan business cards to better organize your contacts

This is a good, practical tip for students collecting business cards during networking forays as well as anyone else interested in a Rolodex makeover.  From the Lawyerist blog:

[Most people still use] business cards—there is no electronic substitute. If you find yourself with a stack of business cards, use your scanner to keep track of them.

. . . .

One of the easiest ways to track and remember references is to write on the back of cards—when you met them, how you know them, etc.

If you scan them, you can even organize your contacts into different folders. For example, if you practice family law, create a folder for family law attorneys.

Maybe you want to create a folder for people you want to have lunch with in the near future. Or even create a folder for people you would prefer to not have lunch with.

Either way, create a system that works for you. Business cards are an integral part of networking, be sure to do more than stick them in a drawer.

Some commenters on the Lawyerist blog mention an app called Bump that apparently lets you exchange e-cards via Smartphone, thus eliminating the need for those pesky p-cards (as long as the guy you're exchanging with has the app too).  I'm not familiar with Bump but other commenters say it's a pain. FWIW.

You can read more of the Lawyerist's recommendations for electronically organizing your business cards by clicking here.


February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Techniques for encouraging students to take (better) notes during class

Most of us assume that students know the importance of taking good class notes.  But perhaps some don't.  This column from the ProfHacker over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed asks teachers in the reader-comment section to suggest ways we can get students to take better notes.  An obvious one is simply to explain to students the importance of taking good notes and then drop occasional reminders by saying:  "You should write this down!"   Another popular suggestion is to give "open note quizzes" that require students to rely on notes from previous classes to answer the questions.  Yet another suggestion is to implement a class-related wiki that models for students what good notes look like.

You can read more, as well as contribute your own ideas, here.


February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The steps to making partner at any law firm: Give up your personal life; indulging one's creative side is for losers

This is an excerpt from a book called "The Partner Track: How to Go From Associate to Partner in Any Law Firm" by Cliff Ennico, published in 2009 during the midst of the legal job market meltdown.  If only this grim bit of advice were as easy to comply with as it is to understand:

• “Make no mistakes” – Law firms work on “a demerit system.” Each mistake you make earns demerits. Accumulate too many and you never will make partner.

• “Live the law” – Junior associates have no personal life.

• “Cultivate your professional image” – Dress smartly and conservatively.

• “Start thinking like a partner” – That’s the only way to become one.

• “Position yourself for success” – Often, this means work in a profitable practice area.

• “Get your financial house in order” – You will earn good money as a young associate at a corporate law firm. Be frugal and save.

• “Manage your personal life for maximum advantage” – Make sure your non-work activities help you. Good: Become a member of a trade group relevant to the firm’s practice. Bad: Don’t join a “local theater company.” Lawyers do not have creative sides. And avoid pro bono work. Partners want you to work on the firm’s affairs.

• “Make no enemies” – They quickly can sabotage your efforts to make partner.

• “Get clients of your own” – Rainmaking is the one surefire way to become a partner.

• “Never let them see you sweat” – No one hires a lawyer who looks or acts scared.

After a few years of hard work, you will have a better idea of whether you want to stay at your firm and if you could make partner. Good signs: You work for crucial clients on prestigious, high-profile matters. You have constant access to clients. Bad signs: You work only for senior associates, not partners; you have no client contact. The associates give you only low-level assignments. If you are stuck, you may want to leave. By now, you have marketable experience. If your career is going nowhere after five or six years, make a move; job hunting from a position of strength will become increasingly difficult. Most associates do not become partners. Some become “permanent associates,” which brings increased job security and a respectable salary. In this role, you do not have to generate new business, yet you won’t become rich and your colleagues may “view you as a failure.” Accept this slot only as a “temporary expedient” until you find a better job. “Contract partners” also hold a between-jobs status. In this “salaried partner” role, you earn good money and you do not have to work the same number of billable hours as equity partners. Yet you quickly must meet certain goals to become an equity partner. If not, the firm may let you go at the end of your contract.

Synopsis courtesy of

Hat tip to Eric Young.


February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Google Transforms the Jury Selection Process

Is “voir dire” becoming “voir Google?” It should come as no surprise that trial lawyers use social network sites to learn more about potential jurors.  Yet, court usually place restrictions on what questions a lawyer can ask of a potential juror. An important consideration is protecting the juror’s privacy.  But a lawyer or jury consultant can tap into the vast information base provided by the internet. Does trolling the internet open a permissible way to circumvent restrictions imposed by the court?

 In most jurisdictions, the court rules are murky or nonexistent, reports the New York Times. My guess is that once the internet opens the  door to further inquiries, the door cannot realistically be closed. Here are links to coverage in the New  York Times (article from Reuters Legal) and the ABA Journal online.


February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another example of how defendant's Facebook status can be key evidence

Back in 2009, the case of Rodney Bradford made headlines because an update he made to his Facebook page turned out to be the perfect alibi when he was later charged with robbery.  But one's Facebook status can also help establish a defendant's culpability as this recent story out of Chicago makes clear.

The family of a pedestrian fatally struck by a vehicle on the South Side in December filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the motorist, claiming she was updating her Facebook page on a cell phone when the crash happened.

Motorist Araceli Beas was updating her Facebook page on her mobile phone while driving when she fatally struck pedestrian Raymond Veloz at 7:54 a.m. Dec. 7, 2010, at 9220 S. Ewing Ave., according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

. . . .

The suit claims Veloz had exited his vehicle after getting into an accident with Allen Barbour. He was standing near Barbour’s vehicle exchanging information when struck by Beas’ vehicle, the suit said. Police said two eastbound vehicles were involved in a minor accident and both drivers were exchanging information when a third eastbound vehicle fatally struck one of the motorists.

You can read more here courtesy of

Hat tip to the E-Commerce Law blog.


February 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law professor to the (reality) TV stars?

Here at NSU, I teach legal writing as well as a seminar in art law, both of which are small enrollment classes.  Through an odd twist of fate, I've now had three students (that I know of) become "reality TV" stars in the last couple of years.  A fourth was interviewed last Friday for a small part in another reality TV show. 

First it was Kristin Campbell, wife of 2 Live Crew leader Luther Campbell, who was featured in her husband's VH-1 show Parental Advisory.

Last spring, my former student Hillel Presser was featured on Millionaire Matchmaker.  (In case you're wondering, Hillel told me that although there was some on-screen chemistry with his date, he ultimately found love closer to home in Florida rather than L.A. where the episode was filmed). 

Last Sunday, another student, Cara Rosenthal, began starring in CBS's The Amazing Race series.  This is actually Cara's second appearance on the show.  The former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, along with her teammate and Playboy Playmate Jaime Edmondson, had previously competed on The Amazing Race during the 2009 television season where they finished in second place behind the brother and sister team from Harvard Law who won the million dollar first prize.  That stands as the best result ever for an all female team since the show began. 

This season's The Amazing Race is dubbed "Unfinished Business" since all the contestants are returning competitors who fell short of the million dollar prize the first time around.

Cara has signed a confidentiality agreement with CBS as thick as a phone book so we won't know whether she and Jaime win the big prize until the series is over.  In the meantime, though, we're wishing them the best of luck.

The Amazing Race is shown on CBS, Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. EST.


February 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

U. Colorado launches new family law clinic where students travel to India

Speaking of externships (below), the University of Colorado has a new family law clinic where students will travel to India during spring break in order to study first hand that country's approach to legal issues involving women's rights, child abuse, sex trafficking and domestic violence.  According to the Colorado Daily:

'This class is about immersion and collaborative learning,' [Professor Colene] Robinson said. 'We want to bring together all their past experiences into a different context and compare them with a different country's approach.'

The class requires each student to complete a research paper on one of the four topics, which will be filled with research completed during the trip to Bangalore, India.

The students will be collaborating with students from the National Law School in Bangalore, which has a similar curriculum to CU-Boulder. The group will also visit several non-governmental agencies like the Human Rights Law Network and the Alternative Law Forum.

The school has contributed $11,000 toward the cost of sending 15 students to India in March and fundraisers are planned to help cover the rest.

You can read more here.

Hat tip to the online ABA Journal.


February 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scholarship alert: "Under pressure: rethinking externships in a bleak economy"

This one is by Professor Cynthia Baker of Indiana and Professor Robert Lancaster of Louisiana State. It can be found at 17 Clinical L. Rev. 71 (2010).  From the synopsis:

This article examines how the economic downturn that began in the fall of 2008 has impacted externship pedagogy and practices through the lenses of the key participants in any legal externship experience: students, placements, and law schools. Using findings and empirical data from a survey conducted in February of 2010, the article explores how the economy's impact on externships is creating curricular, pedagogical, and logistical changes. The article also places identified pressures into context by surveying the other, continuing, and non-economic pressures on externships, such as those encouraged by Best Practices, imposed by the American Bar Association, and created by existing curricular structures within law schools. All of these pressures, if not managed, could lead to a diminution of a high quality externship program or a stanching of the growth of more externship opportunities within a legal community. The article suggests that changes to externship programs and placements must be a function of pedagogical purpose and the new economic realities facing our law students, our law schools, and the legal profession. It suggests ways in which to approach the rapidly changing legal externship landscape in these economic times and proposes that a considered understanding of these very real changes impacting externship programs could also open doors to a more dynamic, satisfying externship experience for all involved.


February 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Not to Be Missed: A CLE on Al Capone

Here’s part of the announcement from the University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minneapolis)

Hear the untold story of Al Capone’s life as Chicago's lead gangster and his run-ins with the legal system from the perspective of his niece, Deirdre Marie Capone. Ms. Capone will share her personal experiences as a member of the Capone family.

She will be joined by attorneys Joseph Friedberg and Thomas Bauer who will dissect the legal and ethical lessons for lawyers using testimony, court transcripts and trial excerpts from Al Capone’s 1931 and 1991 trials.

Following the program, Ms. Capone will be available to answer questions and autograph copies of her book, Uncle Al Capone.

Here’s   the full announcement.


February 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Do you think differently when you compose longhand versus on the screen?

There's a growing body of research that says we read text on a computer screen more superficially than hardcopy text.  Is the same true when it comes to writing?  Does writing longhand allow for more contemplative thinking than typing on a keyboard?  This column from the Chronicle of Higher Ed suggests the answer could be "yes."

Some neuroscientists suggest that the physical act of writing activates the brain differently than pushing keys on a keyboard, perhaps because of the shapes of the letters. Writing also helps bring key information to the forefront of the brain’s filters. One study that compared people composing longhand and by keyboard revealed significant differences in the timing of the revision process. They also found that participants changed their writing style when moving from one mode to the other — but not necessarily in the same ways. These studies and other recent work about how our brains adapt to the demands of the new media environment raise interesting avenues for research with future generations more familiar with keyboards from the very beginnings of their literacy.

It was relatively recently that law schools began requiring students to buy laptops, in part, to acclimate them to legal practice norms. Now the devices are so ubiquitous that it seems silly to think law schools still need to do that.  Will legal educators now instead show students "offline" reading and writing so they'll have those additional skills in their repertoire to use when the time is right?  

Be sure to check out the reader comments to the CHE story where, as if this writing, most said that writing longhand led to better thinking.


February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Bar asks USNWR to include "diversity" in law school rankings

From the National Law Journal:

Should diversity be a factor in the U.S. News & World Report rankings?

The State Bar of California thinks so. Its Council on Access & Fairness — essentially a think tank on diversity — is finalizing a proposal that calls on U.S. News to adjust its formula so that diversity accounts for 15% of the overall law school rankings.

U.S. News publishes a law school diversity index each year that measures the relative diversity of student bodies, but diversity is not a factor in the overall rankings.

'The deans care dearly about where they rank,' said Craig Holden, a partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and the chairman of the council, which is spearheading the proposal. 'The rankings are a real driver for change — everybody recognizes that — and when you make diversity a sidebar rather than a component of the rankings, you're sidelining the issue.'

You can read more here.


February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law firm uses videogame to evaluate job candidates

From the online ABA Journal:

Dutch law firm Houthoff Buruma teamed up with Ranj Serious Games to create “The Game” to help the firm "find the talented students since grades often have nothing to do with it," Legal Current reported.

Players of "The Game"—graduating law students in the Netherlands—are given a complex legal scenario wherein they must represent a Chinese state-owned company as it plans to take over a Dutch family company. The players are split into teams of up to five people, given 90 minutes to confront problems as they arise and persuade enough shareholders to sell their shares. The fast-paced legal challenge ascertains how lawyers cope with stressful situations, bombarding them with CNN news flashes, video and text chats, film clips, e-mails and more than 100 fictional documents. Once the game ends, the results are displayed, and each team is given the opportunity to justify their solutions.

Click here to read more and watch a video from "The Game."


February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Don't Get on the Bad Side of the Media

Good media relations are particularly important for today’s lawyer. How can you get on the good side of journalists? More importantly, how can you avoid getting on their bad side? At the Legal Intelligencer blog, public relations specialist Gina Rubel offers advice in her posting, “Tips from Journalists: How to Avoid Being Blacklisted  by the Media.”

 Here are the most common offenses that you can commit:· Sending a press release or media pitch that has nothing to do with the reporter’s beat;
· Misspelling the reporter’s name;
· Not returning a call or having a secretary call to say, “We have no comment;”
· Contacting the journalist or producer at the time of their deadlines;
· Thinking your story is newsworthy when indeed, no one really cares;
· Sending gifts with the expectation of media coverage in return;
· Not reading, listening or viewing the media outlet being pitched;
· Being CC’d on an e-mail that goes to every other reporter as opposed to tailoring the story to the individual outlet; and
· Sending faxes (they’re a thing of the past).



February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The internet is making us more distracted. Is it also making us more callous?

We've blogged before about researchers who claim that the internet is rewiring our brains to make us more distracted and thus less able to engage in deep thought.  Among the more popular books on the subject is The Shallows by Nicholas Carr.  If you've ever read the online comment section of many newspapers and blogs, you probably won't be surprised to learn that Mr. Carr and others think the internet is also making us more callous.  From a New York Times Op-Ed called "Stars and Sewers" about online reader comments related to the Lara Logan story:

Online anonymity has created what the computer scientist Jaron Lanier calls a 'culture of sadism.'

. . . .

Nicholas Carr, author of 'The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,' says technology amplifies everything, good instincts and base. While technology is amoral, he said, our brains may be rewired in disturbing ways.

'Researchers say that we need to be quiet and attentive if we want to tap into our deeper emotions,' he said. 'If we’re constantly interrupted and distracted, we kind of short-circuit our empathy. If you dampen empathy and you encourage the immediate expression of whatever is in your mind, you get a lot of nastiness that wouldn’t have occurred before.'

You can read more of "Stars and Sewers" here.


February 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article of interest: "The law review is dead; long live the law review: a closer look at the declining judicial citation of legal scholarship"

Practitioners and judges for years have been complaining that law review articles are too disconnected from the practice of law to be much use.  Prior studies have sought to prove the declining influence of law review articles on judicial decision-making by showing a decline in citations to such articles.  Now two Wake Forest students have published the above-titled article at45 Wake Forest L. Rev. 1185 (2010) in which they argue that the decline in citations can be explained by reasons other than diminishing influence.  From the introduction:

'I haven't opened up a law review in years ... . No one speaks of them. No one relies on them.' This, according to Chief Judge Dennis G. Jacobs of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Jacobs is not alone in his opinion of the current state of law reviews. Judge Harry Edwards famously disparaged the usefulness of law reviews in his article The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and the Legal Profession. In that article, Judge Edwards explained that 'our law reviews are now full of mediocre interdisciplinary articles. Too many law professors are ivory tower dilettantes, pursuing whatever subject piques their interest, whether or not the subject merits scholarship, and whether or not they have the scholarly skills to master it.' And it is not just judges who warn of declining judicial interest in law reviews. In 1998, attorney Michael McClintock published an empirical study in the Oklahoma Law Review that backed up the general sense of decline with hard numbers ('Oklahoma Study'). The Oklahoma Study found that there was a 47.35% decline in the use of legal scholarship by courts from 1975 to 1996.  A more recent study by the Cardozo Law Review found that, in the 1970s, federal courts cited to the Harvard Law Review 4,410 times; that, in the 1990s, the number of citations dropped by more than half to 1,956; and that the precipitous decline continued well into the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Continue reading

February 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kindle fixes the pagination problem with e-books

We blogged last week about the problem scholars are having citing to e-books because such texts don't have page numbers, or if they do, the pagination differs depending on the device and format.

According to the Law Librarian Blog, Amazon's Kindle addresses the problem:

Betanews reports that on Feb. 7, 2011 Amazon pre-released a software update for Kindle e-readers running the 3.0 software which adds page numbers that match Kindle books with their print counterparts. See Kindle gets real page numbers; better note, highlight & review sharing.

You can read the rest here.


February 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Advice on how to give a great presentation

The secret is to stop worrying about one's own performance and instead focus on being a helpful resource for the audience.  That's the message in this really great column from the Harvard Business Review that I think nearly everyone can relate to - students, lawyers and profs.

The author, a successful securities analyst, talks about an important lesson he learned as a musical entertainer:

I've come to realize that my mental stumbling started when the performances stopped being about providing a musical foundation for [a singer] and creating a good experience for the audience — and became about me. As soon as my focus shifted to "How am I doing?" "Do I sound good?" "Do they like me?" nerves inevitably took over.

. . . .

[W]alking into a meeting knowing I won't field every question as well as I'd like can be intimidating. Yet when I present myself not as a soliloquizing authority, but rather as a resource to help clients get their job done, they seem to trust me more.
As we ready ourselves for a "performance," we envision the ideal: today I will deliver the perfect speech, and the client or audience will be so wowed, they will be sold. But for me, whenever playing the piano or giving a presentation becomes about performing — about proving something, rather than communicating — I rarely do well. Like Sisyphus, I can never roll the stone up the hill of my expectations.

You can read the rest of the column here - it's well worth the time.


February 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Much Does It Cost to Sit for the Bar?

It depends on the state, of course. The National Jurist online has published a summary of information on the bars in all 50 states. What surprises me is how much states vary in what they charge. For example, Maryland charges $275; Virginia, $275; Montana $150. At the high end, some states charge over $1000—for example, Missouri charges $1,215; Oklahoma, $1,050. North Carolina comes close at $950. I discern no rhyme or reason for the disparities. All states engage in essentially the same tasks, and the cost of labor can’t vary that much from state to state. The only explanation seems to be that some states want a hefty profit margin on their bar exam activities.


February 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another iPad app for lawyers - this one gives you access to statutes and court rules

From Law Technology News:

Litigator app, from Linsay Associates, was recently released to provide quick and easy access to statutes, rules, and court information on an iPad.

When you first open the app, a lower navigation bar features tabs for Federal Rules, Local Rules,and Courts. The Federal Rules tab contains links to Appellate, Civil and Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Supreme Court, and the U.S. Code Title 18 and 28. See Figure 1, below.

Clicking the Local Rules tab for the first time opens a window with no rules, only options to purchase state and local rules at $4.99 per court. There is also a link to request new rules you would like added to the app via iTunes, which opens an e-mail message to Linsay Associates. The developers will add the rules (at $4.99 per set) to the app, then notify you via e-mail once they become available in the iTunes store. If someone has already requested a set, that set will appear in the list of currently available rules available for purchase.

Sound pretty cool.  You can read more here.


February 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Seminar on Judicial Selection

This is a contentious time for the judicial selection process. Some states elect judges, some appoint them, and others employ a mix of the two methods. The advent of open election campaigning raises ethical issues.

 The Indiana Law Blog, the blog of the state’s bar association reports that the University of Indiana-Indianapolis Law School is offering a seminar on judicial selection conducted by Professor Joel Schumm and Superior Court Judge Timothy Oakes and including several prominent judges as guests. One session of the course includes an open CLE seminar. Here is the blog’s report on the course. It includes a link to the course outline.


February 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)