Monday, September 26, 2011

Call for papers: "Technology and the Law"

This might be of interest to some of our readers.

The University of Massachusetts Roundtable Symposium Law Journal is pleased to announce the topic for our upcoming journal ­― Trends and Issues in Technology and the Law (2012). The Editorial Board is seeking and encouraging manuscript submissions from distinguished scholars, who wish to publish articles that explore these exciting themes. Prospective authors interested in contributing to our journal should submit manuscripts according to our standard review process no later than February 1, 2012. Please visit our website for further details at http://www.umassd.edu/law/students/studentorganizations/roundtablesymposiumlawjournal/.

--
Philip E. Cleary Professor of Law & Dean Emeritus University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth 333 Faunce Corner Road North Dartmouth, MA 02747 philip.cleary@umassd.edu Tel.: (508) 985-1116 Fax : (508) 985-1115

(jbl).

September 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Critical reading as key lawyering skill and the effect of link hopping

I'm a firm believer that we need to train digital natives to develop a hybrid reading style; screen-reading for skimming lots of material quickly and good old hardcopy when tackling more challenging material. Here's an essay by Mark Blauerlein (author of The Dumbest Generation and frequent contributor the Chronicle of Higher Ed) called "Too Dumb for Complex Texts" which, if you can get past the provocative title, makes some important points about the ways in which electronic screens are incompatible with the focus and concentration needed for deep, immersive reading practices. An excerpt:

"A high school diploma is supposed to signify college readiness. To earn a diploma and then find out a few months later that you need more high school–level training is dispiriting and probably contributes to the high dropout rate—around 30 percent—in the first year of college (ACT, 2010). It also burdens colleges with providing preparation that should have taken place earlier.

Will more technology in high school classrooms help? Not in the crucial area of reading. When teachers fill the syllabus with digital texts, having students read and write blogs, wikis, Facebook pages, multimedia assemblages, and the like, they do little to address the primary reason that so many students end up not ready for college-level reading. When they assign traditional texts—novels, speeches, science articles, and so on—in digital format with embedded links, hypertext, word-search capability, and other aids, they likewise avoid the primary cause of unreadiness.

That cause is, precisely, the inability to grasp complex texts. The most prominent monitor of college readiness, ACT, draws that conclusion after years of collecting data on high school students heading to college. In a 2006 report titled Reading Between the Lines: What the ACT Reveals About College Readiness in Reading, ACT identifies this inability as the decisive gap between college-ready and college-unready students. When measured by their understanding of various "textual elements" (such as main idea, word meanings, and supporting evidence), college-ready and college-unready students score about the same. The difference shows up on another measure: "The clearest differentiator in reading between students who are college ready and students who are not is the ability to comprehend complex texts" (p. 2).

When faced with a U.S. Supreme Court decision, an epic poem, or an ethical treatise—works characterized by dense meanings, elaborate structure, sophisticated vocabulary, and subtle authorial intentions—college-ready students plod through them. Unready students falter.

. . . .

Complex texts require a slower labor. Readers can't proceed to the next paragraph without grasping the previous one, they can't glide over unfamiliar words and phrases, and they can't forget what they read four pages earlier. They must double back, discern ambiguities, follow tricky transitions, and keep a dictionary close at hand. Complex texts force readers to acquire the knack of slow linear reading. If they rarely encounter complex texts, young students won't even realize that such a reading tack is a necessary means of learning. Unready students might be just as intelligent and motivated as the ready ones are, but they don't possess the habits and strategies needed to carry on.

The Demands of Complex Texts

Unfortunately, digital texts and tools don't help much. Complex texts pull young minds in one direction, digital diversions in another. Complex texts demand three dispositions of readers.

A Willingness to Probe

Complex texts can be lengthy and opaque, the product of careful thought and studied composition. To address them, readers may need to sit down with them for several hours of concentration. Readers need to be patient enough to ponder a single sentence for a few minutes, because many complex texts aren't just purveyors of information, but expressions of value and perspective.

One can't rush by phrases from Henry David Thoreau's Walden—such as, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately"—and still follow the meaning of the work. Readers must stop for a moment, even if only to shake their heads and mumble, "Huh?" They insert a hesitant question before moving on. What does he mean, "deliberately"? Maybe Thoreau thinks you have to ponder each experience before you file it into your memory. The full import of deliberation emerges only as the chapters unfold.

Such works as Walden are opaque precisely because they pose Why? questions without always providing answers, making readers turn them over, peek around and under them, and draw a tentative inference or two. Often readers can't find a ready fact, moral, or definition to resolve these questions; and they are stuck with their own meandering suppositions.

That willingness to pause and probe is essential, but the dispositions of digital reading run otherwise. Fast skimming is the way of the screen. Blogs, chats, and comments are usually hastily produced and consumed. The more students become habituated to them, they more they will eschew a slow and deliberate pace; or, rather, the more they will read quickly and fail to comprehend. If they have grooved for many years a reading habit that races through texts, as is the case with texting, e-mail, Twitter, and other exchanges, 18-year-olds will have difficulty suddenly downshifting when faced with a long modernist poem.

Even when they realize that they need to slow down, the fast-skimming habit presses forward, for an individual's ways and means of reading are not a matter of choice. They are deep and semiconscious behaviors that are difficult to change except through the diligent exercise of other reading behaviors. Consider the metaphor—you don't change a habit, you break a habit. For teenagers who send up to 3,000 text messages per month on their cell phones and who spend their entire school day surrounded by the tools of acceleration, decelerating their reading when complex texts come up in class becomes nearly impossible.

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

September 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Schools "poised to become irrelevant"?

Jordan Furlong concludes his thought-provoking and well-documented post, "The decline and fall of law school," with this statement: "[Law] schools are poised to become something far worse than simply an irritant to the profession. They’re poised to become irrelevant."

There's no doubt that Furlong's post will get the attention of law firm managing partners. It's also a great summary of the view many practicing lawyers have of legal education these days.

The money quote:

Law schools that value their continued involvement in the legal education industry need to understand just how dangerous their position has become. The lawyers and legal regulators to whom I speak sound close to giving up on law schools, writing them off as partners or even stakeholders in the bar admission reform process. These people are the schools’ customers — the annual buyers of their inventory — and they’re despairing of any movement by the schools towards a different approach or even a real conversation with the profession about its needs. There just doesn’t appear to be anyone home.

Furlong's post looks to be a good place to get the conversation started. Highly recommended.

(dmk)

 

September 26, 2011 in Practice Management | Permalink | Comments (0)

Speed Dating, Speed Conferencing

I was married long before the advent of speed dating, so I have no personal experience. However, the concept gave me a new pedagogical idea: Speed conferencing. 

This week, I am holding individual 10 minute conferences with my Advanced Legal Writing students. They set the agenda by deciding what they want to talk about. The conferences give us a chance to get to know one another and to deal with any pressing questions they have about the course or about writing. 

At the end of the semester, I will hold individual exit interviews that will have essentially the same format, but will run 30 minutes or so. Those conferences are an opportunity for reflection on the substance of the course. In contrast, the speed conferences are designed to get us off to a good start.

(ljs)

September 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Banned Books Week

This week (Sept. 24 – Oct. 1) is Banned Books Week.  Libraries are hosting events and discussing the importance of open access to information. 

The American Library Association theme for the week is “Celebrating the Freedom to Read”.

"Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them."

You can find list books challenged, restricted, removed, or banned as reported in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom here.

Happy reading! 

(dkh)

September 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Are the Supreme Court Justices Worth ($$$)?

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, most U.S Supreme Court Justices are are doing quite well financially.

 The median net worth of the nine current Supreme Court justices was between $1 million and $2.6 million in 2009, according to the Center's research. The median of the average net worths of the nine justices is $1.8 million. And the net worth of five of the court's nine justices is at least seven figures, the Center's research indicates.

Here is a table outlining the minimum net worth of the nine current justices of the Supreme Court, maximum net worth and mean net worth.

Justice

Min. Net Worth

Average Net Worth

Max. Net Worth

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

$10,700,013

$28,090,007

$45,480,000

Stephen G. Breyer

$4,590,061

$10,410,031

$16,230,000

John G. Roberts

$2,145,037

$3,680,019

$5,215,000

Antonin Scalia

$1,250,020

$2,130,010

$3,010,000

Elena Kagan

$1,080,020

$1,835,010

$2,590,000

Samuel A. Alito

$295,007

$580,004

$865,000

Anthony M. Kennedy

$165,003

$290,002

$415,000

Clarence Thomas

$150,002

$280,001

$410,000

Sonia Sotomayor

-$94,999

-$22,500

$49,999

To my mind, the calculations of the medians are a bit iffy. This article offers more information.

(ljs)

September 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New legal skills scholarship: "Improving clinical judgment in lawyering with multidisciplinary knowledge about brain function and human behavior: what should law students learn about human behavior for effective lawyering? "

This is by Professor Beryl Blaustone (CUNY) and is available at 40 U. Balt. L. Rev. 607 (2011). From the introduction:

This article explores the significance of emerging multidisciplinary theories about brain function that dictate profound reassessment of basic lawyering assumptions about human behavior. These emerging theories indicate that, as human beings, our perceptions and memories are flawed, and as a result, lawyers work with distorted information that influences our thinking. This article describes how the brain functions to create these distortions, how this affects law practice, and how we can teach students to compensate for these deficiencies in thinking. I argue that these premises should be integrated into the teaching of law and lawyering to law students.

Several universal and unconscious dimensions to human behavior or brain function significantly affect the lawyer's conscious decisions and actions. New substantial knowledge about how the brain works as well as significant scientific attention to the biological basis of the human capacity for perception and decision-making exists that  explains biological bases underlying human behavior. This article explores how this knowledge about brain functioning enables law students to perform more effectively as they acquire the range of lawyering skills including the fundamentals of fact investigation, fact analysis, and problem solving in their law school curricula.
In section II, I explore the following specific premises of brain function that affect law practice: (1) we automatically think we know more than we do; (2) what we believe to be objectively true is not necessarily so; (3) the objects we perceive are not necessarily as they appear to be; (4) accurate memory recall is a falsehood; and (5) we have a structure for creating and storing memory that narrows what we are able to remember through a process using categorization and metaphor. I also illustrate how these premises interfere with the clear thinking lawyers need.

Continue reading

September 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New California law school will focus on trial advocacy.

This isn't the first time the idea has been floated that a law school devoted exclusively to preparing students to litigate cases would fill an important gap in legal education. Check out this blog post by South Florida superstar litigator Roy Black suggesting that U. Miami do the same thing.

But The California Desert Trial Academy College of Law scheduled to open next September will be the first school to ever do it. From the National Law Journal:

A group of attorneys in Indio, Calif. are moving forward with plans to open a new law school next September.

The California Desert Trial Academy College of Law will focus on preparing students for trial advocacy and fill a need for a local law school, said criminal defense attorney John Patrick Dolan, president and chief executive officer of the venture.

"I've been thinking about this for years," he said. "How come there's not a school where people can go if they want to become trial lawyers? This is a great opportunity."

Indio, a desert community of about 76,000 people, is located 125 miles east of Los Angeles and 26 miles east of Palm Springs. The closest law school is California Southern Law School in Riverside, Calif., 70 miles away.

Dolan said the school is intended primarily to serve local residents. The school hopes to enroll 25 to 40 students next year, and organizers were encouraged by an open house on Sept. 21 that drew about 50 prospective students.

The school will cater primarily to students who work. It will offer night classes during the week and Saturday sessions focused on practical skills, such as negotiation, writing and presenting audio and visual materials to a jury.

Dolan plans to secure accreditation from the California State Bar — and possibly from the American Bar Association down the line. Because the school is not yet accredited, students will be required to sit for the California's First-Year Law Student Exam, also known as the Baby Bar.

Initially, all classes will be taught by Dolan; Sue Steding, a former Riverside County prosecutor; and Julie Bornstein, an attorney who has served in the California Assembly and held numerous positions in state government.

Annual tuition for the four-year program will be $12,000, including books for the first class, Dolan said.

"We're able to keep the tuition low because myself and the other faculty are getting paid little or nothing," Dolan said. "We don't have huge overhead expenses."

Initially, the school will operate out of a local courthouse, but administrators hope to expand into a downtown Indio building and construct a trial, appellate and federal courtroom where students can practice their advocacy skills. The school initially will operate as a for-profit venture in order to take advantage of certain state and federal incentives, but will probably switch to non-profit status in the future, Dolan said.

He doesn't expect the difficult job market for young attorneys to affect the new school's graduates.

"We don't anticipate that our graduates will be getting jobs at the big law firms," he said. "We see them becoming DAs, public defenders or starting their own practice. It's my understanding that the biggest problems in the marketplace right now is that the big firms aren't hiring as much and they're laying people off."

Starting a law school in this economic climate may still be an uphill climb. One new law school opened this fall — the Belmont University College of Law in Nashville — but two other law schools that were slated to have opened this year have been delayed. Critics have questioned the need for new law schools when job placement nationwide has lagged and applications to ABA-accredited law schools fell by 10% last year.

(jbl).

September 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jack the Ripper: The Original Cold Case

In 1888, an unknown murderer took the lives of five women in the Whitechapel District of London. The murders were bloody and ugly. Will we ever find out who the criminal was? Scotland Yard has evidence that has never been revealed to the public. The Yard has blackened out names in its files. Despite protests against this expurgation, Scotland Yard refuses to divulge the information. Its argument:


In a surreal tribunal hearing in May, which saw a senior officer give evidence from behind an opaque screen and cite Judas Iscariot to support his point, the agency argued that laying everything bare would violate its confidentiality pledge to informants, even those long dead, and undermine recruitment of collaborators in the present-day fight against terrorism and organized crime.

Some critics view the policy as an unjustified concern over privacy. Others wonder if the Yard is protecting prominent individuals of the era. Here’s the story from the LA Times.

(ljs)

September 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Born Democrat; Born Republican?

A couple of days ago, my co-blogger, Jim Levy, mentioned the old realist saying that a judge's decision depends on what he ate for breakfast.  Johathan Haidt, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, disagrees, declaring that our political dispositions are at least partially innate (a partially inheritable personality trait).  He writes,

"People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world."

Haidt is one of the most important scientists working in moral psychology today.  The most accessible version of his ideas can be found here.  He also has a website here.

As I have said in the past, it is very important to have the proper behavioral model to fully understand law.  Haidt and others have made significant advances in understanding human behavior, and we in law need to be familiar with their writings.

(esf)

September 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tips for good cross-examination

From the Lawyerist blog:

To Lead Is Not Enough

Cross examination—when you ask questions of the opposing counsel’s witness—allows leading questions. A leading question suggests a particular answer, such as, “You work at Acme Dynamite, right?” The only possible responses are “yes” or “no” (and you already know the truthful answer is “yes”).

But asking a perfect leading question is more than just making a statement and adding, “right?”, “correct?”, or, “isn’t that true?”  The perfect question is built not only to get the answer you anticipate, and one that helps you persuade the jury. It also denies the witness time to think of any response other than exactly the response you are looking for. And it elicits only one or two facts, making the question and the answer easy to understand.

The perfect question also saves the powerful fact for the end. The imperfect question is diluted by prematurely revealing the powerful fact too soon.

This is a leading question:

Q1: You saw your roommate face-down on the floor when you walked in the room, right?

Same question (in essence) but closer to perfect:

Q2: You walked in the room…and saw your roommate face down on the floor. Right?

Q2 gives the witness no time to think. If he does not immediately answer in the positive, his credibility is damaged. The jury will wonder why he needs to think about the question before answering. But Q1 doesn’t create that need to immediately answer in the positive. The witness might well pause to ask himself, “well, did I see him immediately after entering the room, or a bit later…” without losing much credibility. Q1 also reduces the dramatic impact of the fact itself. Strive to present the dramatic facts in a dramatic fashion.

Questions Without Beginnings

The simplest and at times most effective way to save the powerful fact for the end of the question is to ask questions with no beginnings. For example:

You left work at eleven?
Got home at eleven-twenty?
Parked in the garage?
Walked up the sidewalk?
Opened the door?
Saw your roommate face-down on the floor.

There is an inevitability to this series of questions. They allow the witness no time to think, evade, or argue. You get exactly the facts you need, in order, with no chance for even the least-sophisticated fact-finder to miss anything.

Compare this to:

So you saw your roommate face-down on the floor when you walked in the room after driving home from work, which took twenty minutes, and you got home at eleven-twenty. Correct?

Don’t laugh. Lawyers ask questions like that, every day. You are not one of those lawyers. Are you?

No further questions.

Again, tip of the hat to David Ball’s great book, Theater Tips and Strategies for Jury Trials.

(jbl).

 

September 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Does the Judge’s Ruling Depend on What the Judge had for Breakfast..or for a Snack?

Last April, the Economist reported on a study of Israeli judges on parole boards making decisions on which defendants would get parole or have their conditions of incarceration changed. Here is what they found:

The team found that, at the start of the day, the judges granted around two-thirds of the applications before them. As the hours passed, that number fell sharply (see chart), eventually reaching zero. But clemency returned after each of two daily breaks, during which the judges retired for food. The approval rate shot back up to near its original value, before falling again as the day wore on.

To explain the findings, the researchers offered two theories:

The researchers offer two hypotheses for this rise in grumpiness. One is that blood-sugar level is the crucial variable. This, though, predicts that the precise amount of time since the judge last ate will be what matters. In fact, it is the number of cases he has heard since his last break, not the number of hours he has been sitting, which best matches the data. That is consistent with a second theory, familiar from other studies, that decision making is mentally taxing and that, if forced to keep deciding things, people get tired and start looking for easy answers. In this case, the easy answer is to maintain the status quo by denying the prisoner’s request.

We recall the old saying of the Legal Realists that a judge’s decision depends on what the judge had for breakfast.

(ljs)

September 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maurice Ravel and Writing

Concerning his approach to composition, Maurice Ravel wrote, "But one must spend much time in eliminating all that could be regarded as superfluous in order to realize as completely as possible the definitive clarity so much desired."  A critic similarly wrote, "His works might be said to have been completed beforehand, while he meticulously unpicks them, note by note."

Ravel's approach also applies to legal writing.  When we have finished a memo or a brief, we must carefully edit it (unpick it word by word) to realize the definitive clarity that helps us communicate to our readers.  Nobody writes a perfect brief, but we can make that brief communicate to our readers through the editing process.

I have written some editing exercises that helps legal writers unpick their writings.  You can find them here.

(esf)

 

 

September 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice as a Sign of the Law – Yale Law Library Exhibit

Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection has a fascinating new exhibit – “The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law.”  From the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog:

"Using images from books printed between 1497 and 1788, the exhibit traces the roots of the iconography of Justice, a remnant of the Renaissance that remains legible today. The exhibit features eleven volumes from the Law Library's Rare Book Collection, along with four emblem books on loan from Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library."

The exhibit is on display through December 16, 2011 and will also be online at the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.  More information here.

(dkh)

September 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can you share too much personal information with your students?

In my opinion, yes. Me teacher, you students and the twain should not meet on certain issues. Students don't want to see behind the veil and the teacher shouldn't put students in that uncomfortable position. Some personal disclosures may be ok depending on their nature (mentioning personal struggles related to the coursework - yes; talking about personal struggles concerning relationships, medical issues or other private matters - a big "no") but a teacher can definitely go too far to the detriment of maintaining a productive learning environment. But hey, that's just, like, my opinion. If you want to read what other teachers think about the issue, check out this column from the Chronicle of Higher Ed and scroll through the comments. Or, leave your thoughts below in our comment section.

Here's a comment from the CHE article that sums up my feelings about this pretty well:

I think there's a real difference between "sharing a bit of yourself" and sharing  profound emotional experiences/reactions.  I frequently tell stories "on" myself to prove that students who make errors join a big club, and sometimes stories about my son that illustrate a point I am trying to make.  This practice does establish a sense of connection.  But I would certainly NOT tell stories about hugely important, hugely affective issues.  Students are a captive audience, we're there to teach them, not to have a built-in confessional.

Cheers.

(jbl).

 

September 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Friday Fun: A real life "Weekend at Bernie's" with strippers ends with arrests

Oh, those wacky Denverites. Here's a real life (no pun intended) Weekend at Bernie's scenario wherein two guys discover their friend has died and then load him into an SUV for a night on the town including stops for drinks, some Mexican food and ending with a visit to a local strip club. Since the guy was dead, I guess he didn't mind that his buddies ran up his bar tab or used his ATM card to pay for the strippers.

Both of the dead guy's "friends" have been charged with criminal abuse to a corpse. Gee, it sounds like an alright time to me though maybe the dead guy doesn't like Mexican.  But "abuse?" Nah.

From the Denver Post:

Jeffrey Jarrett bought his roommate and a friend a round of drinks, Mexican food and a trip to strip club Shotgun Willie 's the night of August 27, authorities say.

But while Jarrett was present for some of the night's fun, he wasn't alive to enjoy any of it.

After a shorter, but boozier and less amusing real-life version of the film Weekend at Bernie's, Denver prosecutors have charged two men with abusing a corpse, identity theft and criminal impersonation. Court papers say they loaded Jarrett's body into a car and drove him to various stops around Denver for a night — including a bar and a restaurant — while they used his ATM card.

Both Robert Jeffrey Young, 43, and Mark Rubinson, 25, are free on bond. Neither could be reached for comment.

Neither is charged with Jarrett's death. The cause has not yet been determined as toxicology tests are still underway.

A relative of Jarrett's, who asked not to be identified while the case is pending, said it began after Jarrett invited a struggling Young, a buddy from their days together at Colorado State University, to stay with him for a few months until Young could get on his feet, she said.

Then, on Aug. 27, Young arrived around 11 p.m. at Jarrett's southeast Denver home in the 1800 block of South Forest Street and found him unresponsive. Rather than calling 911, he went to the restaurant where Rubinson works, according to court documents.

A search warrant affidavit filed in the case outlines the rest of the night:

The pair returned to Jarrett's home, loaded him into Rubinson's Lincoln Navigator and took him to Teddy T's bar and grill. Jarrett's body remained in the backseat while the pair drank on his tab.

"Young stated ... that it was obvious Jarrett was dead while all three are at Teddy T's," Denver Det. Ranjan Ford wrote in the affidavit.

They next stopped at Sam's No. 3 before dropping off Jarrett's body back at his home. But Mark Rubinson, age 25. But they kept the ATM card.

Next stop was a meal at Viva Burrito, and then they somehow withdrew $400 at Shotgun Willie's, remaining at the Glendale strip club until closing time, Ford writes. It's not clear from the documents if the pair had Jarrett's ATM code.

Around 4 a.m. authorities say the pair flagged down a Glendale police officer and told him that Jarrett might be dead back at his house.

Young next appears in court Sept. 27. Rubinson next appears Oct. 4.

"This is a bizarre and unfortunate crime," said Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson. "This isn't anything you want to have happen to a loved one. You want them treated with respect in death."

The relative said Jarrett was a father and a professional who sold real estate and owned his home in southeast Denver. His family now wants to find out how he died, and whether he could have been saved if Young had called for help rather than going to meet a friend.

"We just want to make sure they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," the relative said.

Hat tip to Ryan Gill.

(jbl).

September 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Create Your Own Law School Rankings

Talk to any professor, president, or dean at any institution of higher education about the U.S. News and World Report rankings and they will tell you they hate it. However, most feel as though not playing the game will only be harmful to their university. That being said, wouldn't it be nice if you could create your own rankings system. A system in which you decided what criteria should count and how much.

The below link does exactly that for law schools.  It's a rankings system created by Jeffery E. Stake, a law professor at Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington.  Stake believes the current paradigm of rankings systems produces truly disastrous results for all involved. He goes so far as to conclude that,  "Rankings of schools can harm society." Stake created a system that allows you to rank law schools yourself because he believes, "society cannot protect itself the way you can protect yourself."

So have fun finding out where your law school should actually be ranked. If the results don't turn out the way you wanted, at least you did something good for society.

http://monoborg.law.indiana.edu/lawrank/play.shtml

(TAB)

September 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elder Abuse Lawyer Wins MacArthur Genius Grant

Of the 22 “Genius Grants” that the MacArthur Foundation awarded this year, only one went to a lawyer. The foundation awards the grants of $500,000 over five years with no strings attached.

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.

Congratulations to Marie-Therese Connolly who has worked tirelessly to deal with the problem of elder abuse and mistreatment. She previously directed the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice and Nursing Home Initiative and now heads the Life Long Justice initiative of Appleseed, a nonprofit network of 17 public interest justice centers in the United States and Mexico. You can read more about her here.

(ljs)

September 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Betcha can’t read just one sentence.

A close encounter of the rare kind: a sentence that compels the reader to keep reading. I triple-dog dare you — I’ll just skip the mere dare and double-dog dare — to stop reading when you finish this opening sentence in today’s New York Times: “Now added to the list of banned performance-enhancing substances for female distance runners: men.”

Oh, to write a brief that opens so well.

Jeré Longman and Juliet Macur, For Women’s Road Records, No Men Allowed, N.Y. Times, September 22, 2011, p. B12 (national edition).

(cgw)

September 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can’t we all just get along?

When it comes to the issue of civility in the legal system, who will guard the guardians?

Above The Law (blog), Judicial Diva Gone Wild? Chief Judge Jones Tells Judge Dennis to “Shut Up” (September 21, 2011).

(cgw)

September 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)