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Showing posts from June, 2014

Penn State Will Operate Two Law Schools - One Theoretical, One Practical

The ABA Journal reported on recent developments for Penn State law schools. 

"The school announced that Penn State has gotten approval from the American Bar Association to operate two separately accredited law schools, starting with students admitted in the fall of 2015."

"Although they will still function under the Dickinson School of Law umbrella, one institution will be called Penn State Law at University Park and the other will be known as Dickinson Law in Carlisle. Each will have a separate dean, its own faculty and an individualized focus."

It sounds as if one will be a traditional law school education while the other will focus on practical training.

The University Park law school will be a traditional legal education that takes advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunities provided by being on Penn State's main campus. "Meanwhile the Carlisle law school will focus on specialized government and health care programs that benefit from its proximity…

eBook Price Gouging & The Preference For Print

Many academic libraries are transitioning from traditional print to eBooks because we assume that our patrons prefer to access material electronically. We are dealing with the Google generation after all.

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article that showcased the perils of relying on eBooks. "In mid-May, the Boston Library Consortium, which represents 17 academic libraries in New England, received an abrupt and unsettling phone call from ebrary, an e-book library owned by the aggregator ProQuest. A company representative said 11 academic publishers, including major players like Taylor & Francis and Oxford University Press, would be raising the cost of short-term e-book loans effective June 1. In some cases the increase would be as much as 300 percent."

The publishers said that the pricing model was in beta, and it was deemed to be unsustainable. "At issue is a short-term loan model for e-book purchasing that has been tested over the past two years. It allows…

Slate Says Now Is The Time to Go To Law School

It's no secret that there has been a lot of negative commentary in recent years about attending law school. Commenters says it costs too much , and there are too many attorneys and not enough jobs
Slate ran an article yesterday that argues the opposite - now may be the perfect time to go to law school. 
"Thanks to the historic enrollment crash that has shrunk law school classes during the past few years, it means that graduates might soon be looking at a shockingly strong job market."
In addition, grads "found more jobs overall than in 2012. And as the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this week, big law firms—the kinds offering those fat, six-figure salaries that law schools like to advertise—continued to pick up their recruiting." 
Slate broke down the numbers: "In the fall of 2013, 39,700 students enrolled in law school. Given that about 10 percent of each law school class generally drops out, we should expect no more than 36,000 to reach commencement.…

FBI's Glossary Of Internet Slang

The ABA Journal reported on the FBI's creation of a glossary of Internet slang. The glossary is composed of 83 pages and was released to the public after a FOIA request.

MuckRock posted the guide under the heading 'Twitter shorthand,' but the Washington Post says many of the terms are rarely used. ALOTBSOL (always look on the bright side of life) has been tweeted fewer than 500 times in eight years of Twitter’s existence, for example. The story lists 18 others, including these:

• BOGSAT (bunch of guys sitting around talking), 144 tweets

• DILLIGAD (does it look like I give a damn?), 289 tweets

• ITYWIMWYBMAD (if I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink?), 250 tweets

• BTDTGTTSAWIO (been there, done that, got the T-shirt and wore it out), 47 tweets

Although the copy of the glossary that was released in nearly illegible, this may be a more reputable source of Internet slang than Urban Dictionary, which courts have used to define Internet slang.

CataLaw For Legal Research On The Internet

Scribes had another great legal research tip this morning:

CataLaw describes itself as "the catalog of catalogs of worldwide law on the Internet. It aids legal research by arranging all indexes of law and government into a uniform, universal, and unique metaindex."

"The user can select a topic (e.g., banking law, immigration law), a region (e.g., Africa, Pacific, U.S. Courts, U.S. State, and Local), or an extra (e.g., Legal Periodicals), and then run Google searches."

Additional information from Cornell Law Library notes that "Catalaw is an index of 80 of the 'major catalogs' of law and government available on the Internet based in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The sites are canvassed and the information from each is included in Catalaw."

"Using Catalaw is not intuitive, especially for the first-time user. The site strongly urges the first- time user to visit an overview page. Be sure to fol…

Law Students Beware: Make All Proper Disclosures

InsideHigherEd and the ABA Journal recently reported that a Northwestern Law School student was expelled for not disclosing his felon status to the law school prior to admittance.

From InsideHigherEd:
Northwestern University's law school this spring expelled a student -- months from graduation -- who is a felon who has been convicted for falsely impersonating a lawyer, The Chicago Tribune reported. The student who was kicked out then sued the university, although a settlement appears to have been reached. Northwestern faulted the student for failing to disclose his past, and said that he was an "undesirable" candidate to become a lawyer. The would-be lawyer disputes the charges from his past, but he also argues that Northwestern never asked him about his criminal history.

From the ABA Journal:
The student was convicted of of operating a law firm without a license. In 2012, he applied to and was accepted at Northwestern Law School’s master of laws program geared toward in…

Law Prof Argues Law School Kills Brain Cells

The ABA Journal recently reported on a law review article where a law professor argues that the stress of law school and law practice takes a tremendous toll on cognitive capacity.

According to University of Denver law professor Debra Austin, "stress can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, depression, substance abuse and suicide. What’s more, neuroscience now shows that this level of stress also diminishes cognitive capacity."

Austin argues that "law schools should look to perks offered by innovative companies such as Google, Whole Foods Market and Cisco systems. Research shows that perks such as onsite gyms, work/life balance programs, stress management classes, mindfulness training, and nutrition coaching promote cognitive health and produce vibrant workplaces and thriving employees."

But most law schools are working under tight budgets these days, and perks cost money. The best thing that law students can do is to take matters into their own hands. Law students shou…

State Bar of Michigan Seeking Comments

The Task Force on the Role of the State Bar of Michigan's Report to the Michigan Supreme Court is currently being reviewed by the State Bar's Board of Commissioners. The Report was initiated by SB 74, which would change the membership of the State Bar of Michigan from mandatory to voluntary.

The work group wants input from the State Bar of Michigan membership and wants the membership to know:

1) That the Court also wants membership input and will accept comments until August 4;

2) That the workgroup will be reviewing the report to decide what our comments, thoughts, and recommendations to the Court may be;

3) That the workgroup wants to obtain member comments about the report as soon as possible, but no later than July 15 so they and the Board of Commissioners can consider the comments in their decision making. Specifically please comment upon:

The limits placed on advocacy by a more rigorous Keller process that is intended to "go beyond the safeguards imposed on any of t…

Long Live The Print Book!

Slate ran an article about the transition to a book-less library and what it means for the heart of the academic institution. Colby College in Maine moved "170,000 of its books to storage, to make room for sumptuous new administrative offices." This prompted the author of the article to ask if this still counts as a library?

In response to the move, concerned faculty wrote an impassioned open letter stating that the library is "no longer 'a place for reflection and deep thought, research and scholarship,' but rather merely 'a waiting room' sans books and a reference librarian, and surrounded by temples to the new gods of the American university?"

"The Colby case is but one example of a widespread move to re-appropriate library space in the age of digitization. From the University of Nebraska to the University of Edinburgh, from the University of Nevada–Las Vegas to Kent State, knowledge repositories the world over may soon have to change their …

Law Schools Pay Judges A Pretty Penny To Teach

The National Law Journal recently reported that "[l]aw schools paid federal appeals judges anywhere from several thousand dollars for a lecture to nearly $278,000 for full-semester teaching in 2012 — at once buying prestige and giving students a direct line to some of the judiciary's top legal minds."

In total, law schools paid judges nearly $2M dollars to teach in 2012. "The NLJ reviewed 257 financial reports released in late 2013 and this year. Together, the judges earned nearly $2 million for teaching and lecturing as they navigated a thicket of ethics rules that restrict activity off the bench."

"Under federal law, active judges were barred from earning more than $26,955 off the bench during 2012, with exceptions for outside income such as retirement pay and publishing royalties. Senior judges, on the other hand, who usually carry lighter dockets, no longer face the earnings cap in most instances. Federal appellate judges earned $184,500 in salary in 2…

New Repayment Caps On Student Loans

The ABA Journal recently reported that "President Barack Obama has signed an executive order expanding a 2010 law that capped student-loan repayments for newer government-backed loans at 10 percent of the borrower’s monthly income."

Obama cited "his own experience with law school loans paid off just 10 years ago. The goal is to implement the expansion in December 2015, after new rules are drafted."

Under the current rule "the 10 percent cap, part of the Pay as You Earn program, is not available to those with older loans. Monthly payments are based on a sliding scale, and any remaining balance is forgiven after 20 years of payments, or 10 years for those in public service jobs. Pay as You Earn is more generous in its loan caps than a different Income Based Repayment program that currently applies to all borrowers with federal student loans. IBR caps payments at 15 percent of discretionary income."

As Obama said, the problem is that "higher education h…

ABA Will Not Allow Paid Externships

The ABA Journal recently reported on the outcome of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar council's comprehensive review of law school accreditation standards.

"The council approved five of the six remaining proposed changes in the standards. The only proposed change in the standards the council didn’t approve was one that would have eliminated the current prohibition against granting academic credit to a student for participating in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation."

Why would the council continue with the prohibition? "[A] majority of the council sided with critics of the proposed change, who fear that allowing students to be paid for a field placement program for which they receive academic credit would undermine the academic focus of the experience."

"All of the proposed changes in the standards—along with a host of others approved by the council in March—will be reviewed by the ABA House of D…

Appeals Court Rules HathiTrust Fair Use

Law Librarians posted about the recent HathiTrust decision from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which "upheld the ruling in Authors Guild v.HathiTrust, deciding that providing a full text search database and providing access to works for people with print disabilities is fair use."

The Second Circuit's summary states, in part, "[w]e ... hold that the doctrine of 'fair use' allows [HathiTrust] to create a full‐text searchable database of copyrighted works and to  provide those works in formats accessible to those with disabilities, and that the claims predicated upon the Orphan Works Project are not ripe for adjudication."

As Law Librarians noted, The American Library Association issued a statement on the case:

"Today, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in Authors Guild v.HathiTrust, deciding that providing a full text search database and providing access to works for people with print disabilities is fair use. The …

DOJ Mandates Changes To Mental Health Care Questions For Attorney Licensing

The ABA Journal reported that "[t]he U.S. Department of Justice said that states may examine applicants' prior behavior, but not their mental health status, when determining whether to admit them as practicing lawyers."

According to the article, "[t]he Justice Department has given 'a pretty clear statement that it violates federal law to inquire into mental health diagnosis and treatment, rather than conduct, during the attorney licensing process."

"As part of the application process, prospective attorneys fill out forms provided by the NCBE, including an application with 28 questions intended to help discern character and fitness to practice law. The conference estimates that about half of the country's states use NCBE forms, either for all their applicants or for a class of candidates, such as those from out of state."

There were three questions at issue "in the NCBE forms that asked about the status of an applicant's mental health,…

The Art Of The Law Review Article Title

There is a subtle art to the law review article title. An author needs the title to capture the essence of the article, as well as the student-editor's attention.

As a researcher, I often run title searches in a law reviews database to search for articles on a particular topic, so it might be a good idea for authors to use their main keywords in the title of their articles if they want their articles to be more accessible.

The ABA Journal recently posted an article about Katz puns used in law review article titles:

• Is The Court Allergic To Katz? Problems Posed By New Methods Of Electronic Surveillance To The 'Reasonable-Expectation-Of-Privacy' Test

United States v. Jones: Does Katz Still Have Nine Lives?

• Herding Katz: GPS Tracking And Society’s Expectations Of Privacy In The 21st Century

And I recently ran across another Katz pun doing Fourth Amendment research:

Katz On A Hot Tin Roof: The Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy Doctrine Is Rudderless In The Digital Age,…

Estate Planning In The Digital Age

What happens to all of our downloaded music, books, and other media when we die? JDSupra weighed in, and the answer currently seems to be that the information dies with us.

"Estate-planning is surely far from the minds of the majority of us when we log into iTunes to buy a copy of the latest catchy song from the radio. While we accumulate ever-larger collections of digital media (books, movies, TV shows and music), most of us have never bothered to consider what happens to our electronic treasures once we’re gone. The answer, sadly, is that most of it will expire with us."

It comes down to the rights that you agree to when you download the digital content. "[T]he rights you have over digital content are not the same as the rights you have over physical copies of the same material. Each time you click 'Buy' you’re actually only purchasing a license to use the digital file. The problem is that two of the electronic giants, Apple and Amazon, only grant 'nontran…

Law School Financing & For-Profit Institutions

Early last month, the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog posted about a new task force created by the American Bar Association - The Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education.

As reported, "[t]he creation of this task force comes four months after another ABA task force completed its work. The earlier one, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, examined more broadly the ailments of the American legal education system, including the rising costs of tuition and student debt levels. That task force said the system of financing legal education must be 're-engineered,' faulting law schools for raising tuition and then offering substantial discounts to students with higher grades and test scores, whose academic credentials can help boost law schools in annual rankings. The practice, it said, ends up loading the students with the weakest credentials with the most debt."

The ABA has directed members of the new Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education…

Starting A Solo Practice - Then And Now

Barry Seidel, a solo practitioner, recently posted about how starting a solo practice has changed in the last thirty years on Solo Practice University.

Some of the Seidel's observations were:

Then (30 years ago): It was feasible to be in general practice.

Now: Almost nobody would recommend setting out to be a general practitioner. These days, clients expect and demand a certain level of expertise for their particular type of case.

Then: You built your practice by "word of mouth" and networking, and maybe some small level of advertising.

Now: Any lawyer can have a "presence" and be found by new clients, just by having a decent website, moderately participating in social media, and by blogging.

Then: There no cell phones (we carried change to call from Court), no emails, and no faxes, very few lawyers even had word processing.

Now: Lawyers, especially the older more “established” ones, are often behind the times on technology, and marketing, and use of the internet and…

Do You Really Know How To Use Google?

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Most of us would probably consider ourselves sufficient Google users. We can type in a few keywords and usually find a result we intended.
But the expert researcher in me likes to refine and control my searches for optimal results. There are many Google tricks that aid in this, and HuffingtonPost recently posted a few: 
1. To get a quick definition, type "define:" followed by the word you want and Google will take you straight to the definition
2. For exact phrases, put your search phrase inside quotation marks.
3. To find alternative results, put the worm-like tilde (~) in front of the search term for which you would like related results.
4. To exclude certain words, after you enter your desired search terms, add a minus sign (-) followed by the words you want excluded.
5. For ranges, type in your term. Then separate the lowest and highest prices you're willing to pay with two periods (..). This trick also works for dates, if you're, say, looking for a news article …