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)