Blawg Review #228

If you’re just starting law school, law blawgs can be your best friend. In addition to this site, here are 99 other blog posts that you should read to help prepare for your adventure.  It won’t help you though if you’re a judge about to be tested.

Most law students want to be in the top 10-15% of their class, and there are career opportunities that depend on that. Ken DeLeon of Top-law-schools.com provides some tips for success in law school, including a handy flowchart on how to prepare for your law school exams. But keep in mind that the end of the billable hour might result in some changes to your legal education, and law students have different learning styles than the rest of the population.

Still applying to law school? An undergraduate degree in physics or math might be your best option to get a solid LSAT score. Remember that these days a law career is considered a risky option, and there are lawyers in Jersey actually working for free. Where else is success defined by more work (even for less pay), and not more recreational or family time?  Larry Ribstein still thinks law school is the cool choice.  But is it really worth it?

On the other hand  you could elect to skip your classes, get intoxicated regularly, sleep with all the members of the opposite sex, gain a reputation as being a total douche bag, and then score a book and movie deal.

Introducing Tucker Max – asshole extraordinaire – a graduate of Duke Law that claims assholes finish first.

An inspiring personality, certainly, and an approach that John Infante of Fearfully Optimistic would definitely disagree with.  It does make you wonder how many Dukes are faking the Daisy to hazard “celebrity bias.”  The Bitter Lawyer has an exclusive interview with Tucker that is, at the very least, amusing.

Then again, “skipping classes, playing basketball, doing cocaine and getting drunk” might help you become President of the United States – but eventually someone might start asking for your law school transcripts.  None of this is likely to come up during the President’s special advice to students tomorrow (Sept. 8).  An open and transparent government, perhaps, but not that open. Reality check: the last refuge of the persecuted crack smoker may not be in law school.

Hey, “Some people snort cocaine, others snort religion,” and the latter is not necessarily better.  The Exit at My Legal Fiction suggests wearing lipstick as a law school study aid, for some very compelling reasons.  If you’re a missionary in Kenya, please don’t vow to go to law school out of religious convictions, unless you’re going to a low-ranking religious-affiliated law school.  Happy Belated Todd, but I won’t be paying $25,000 for dinner any time soon.

Still, your biggest youthful indiscretion might be going to law school itself (and graduating at the bottom of your class hardly precludes success).  If your indiscretions precede law school and include a criminal record, there are some disclosure issues you should considerUsing stolen Social Security Numbers to steal student loans for partying, with  Tucker, Todd, or otherwise, probably isn’t a great idea.  Assistant Deans at law schools?  Not a good idea either.

Robert J. Ambrogi also tells us about Branigan Robertson of Chapman University School of Law, who won $10,000 for this video in the My Inspiration video contest:

These law students are doing better than a lot of lawyers these days. When life gives you lemons (or a recession), you should just make lemonadeDan Markel is asking, what kind of juice are you making?

On the other hand, if you’re looking to avoid personalities like Tucker Max at all costs,  you might be interested in Above the Law’s Douchiest Law School Contest.douchiest law school harvard duke.jpg

No surprise that Harvard and Duke are currently heading the pack as finalists.  Also check out Paul Caron’s review of U.S. News Law School Rankings for Judicial Clerkships, which includes data from Brian Leiter’s rankings. If douchiness turns you off of Yale and clerkships are really important to you, the University of North Dakota might be a good alternative.  However, great credentials don’t always make more satisfied lawyers, because these guys tend to be plagued by that green-eyed monster.

Charon QC’s musings might be useful in determining if a “douchy law school” is worse than a “McDonalds of law schools,” while Dan Slater of the NYTimes suggests just locking the doors to all law schools because there are too few hiring positions. Still having a hard time picking a law school? The iPhone app Law School 100 is free until midnight tonight (Sept. 7). Study aids are becoming more interactive, with West’s new Interactive Case Series now linking to directly to law review articles cited in the case series.

Keep in mind that law school is different than undergrad, and you should probably clean up those social networks you’re on. After all, you wouldn’t want your mom witnessing you pulling a Tucker Max, and some employers might require you to submit your social media for a background check. Social media is also being increasingly being used in the courtroom, and no, the judge doesn’t really want to be your “friend.”  Don’t get rid of that social media entirely though, because “People don’t find lawyers in the phone book… They find them through TV ads or friends or by searching the Internet, including blogs and social networking tools.”

Apparently what clients really want from their lawyer is to “feel the love,” so if someone comes to your office complaining they hurt their “tushy bone,” try not to laugh too hard. Be forewarned though – that volenti non fit injuria doctrine you learn in Torts class also applies to contracting Herpes Simplex I from wrestling, also known as Herpes Gladiatorium.

That’s probably not what Lauren in Law School had in mind when she suggested gladiator games as an alternative to On Campus Interviews (OCIs).  You can get a list of the guys in your university with herpes from the new Campus Gossip site just to be on the safe side.

Although the number of followers you have on Twitter is no sign of of expertise or influence, it might land you a job (or lose it) with a firm or get you published, even if Perz Hilton decides to sue you for defamation. No “love” (or wrestling) for him, sorry.  Some people do take Twitter seriously, perhaps too seriously.

Eric Goldman’s interview with David Lat highlights the importance of students networking during a crisis.  Dennis Jansen also thinks that networking with your peers might be useful, but consists of more than “beaming your peers with business cards or mass-adding people on Facebook and LinkedIn.” As popular as WordPress may be for blogs, it just might not be for your law firm, and you even might be held liable for content on your site to a tune of $32.4 million.

The Law Society or State Bar is probably not going to like it if you steal other people’s Twitter content and pass it off as your own, like Melina Beninghoff did . Stealing content doesn’t take brilliance, and it barely takes effort.  What is clever is coming up with this CraigsList listing from Los Angeles.  But is stolen content any worse than fake content?

Today is also Labour (sic) Day in Canada and the U.S.  That’s the Canadian spelling, because Labour Day did originate in Canada in 1872 with the Trade Unions Act, which legalized unions.  The United States followed in 1882 with informal observance in New York City, and by 1894 it was observed by 23 states through legislation. Still, it was the American President Lincoln, not a Canadian, who said in December 1881,

It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor…

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not existed.

Although most Canadian law schools start the day after Labour Day, many Americans start a week or two earlier. According to Blawg Review 122 it seems that in Dublin they start as late as October, but it might just be that everyone (students and profs) are recovering from prolonged hang-overs.

Labour relations are highly relevant for this edition of Blawg Review, since law professors at the University of California are considering a walk-out despite having the “best public education in the world.” Perhaps they could use this list of 24 alternative mediation dispute resolution sites to read.

Maybe they should just settle this all over a beer. Then again, those Canadian brewers are at it again with their trade-mark litigation! Next time someone tells you “I Am Canadian,” you might want to do your due diligence.

The big thing up here in Canada right now is Copyright Consultation Reform. Although over-reaching legislation is great for the lawyers, it does little for end-users of copyright material.  If you’re one of those folks with a keen attention for cyberspace cases, this new blog following the 10 most important U.S. cases will probably be of interest.

But the big thing about Canada in the U.S. right now seems to be our healthcare system, which we’re rather partial to, despite what they mights say (Ignore those pesky suits).  Send us your gladiators with herpes, and your perdurable impetus. All that talk over at Volokh about a “lottery system” can only be described as nonsense.

(At 1:53 Glenn Beck repeats lottery libel, and at 3:21 yells at a caller to get off his phone, “you little pinhead,” for not listening to the “facts.”  The remix is even funnier.)

Although she acknowledges that healthcare reform is needed, Althouse has 10 things she hates about it.  Change is always hard due to “status quo bias.” Madeleine Begun Kane has a limerick she wrote just for the spats over healthcare in the U.S. (watch your pinkies!):

“Majority rule is just great,”
Said Gregg in the drilling debate.
“You’ve got 51 votes,
Then you win.” Check his quotes.
Yet 51 Dem votes don’t rate.

Seeking medical treatment is probably the first thing you should do after a car accident, irrespective of whether it occurs in Canada or the U.S.  Passen Law provides 9 other things you should do, including, of course, getting an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Another thing we have in Canada absent in the U.S. is a prohibition against the death penalty.  Perhaps the fact that 45% of wrongful convictions in capital cases are based on jailhouse snitches has something to do with it.  Mark Bennett of Defending People points out the interesting observation that a Texan executioner appears to be committing murder by that state’s law,

…would you participate in a death penalty trial, knowing that, for the rest of your life, with the turn of a tide of public opinion you could be prosecuted for making what you believed to be the right decision? You may be betting your life.

Do you think that employment contract with the State would protect you?  Don’t count on it, as Jeffery I. Gordon mentions that most contracts are too brittle to withstand scrutiny, even if those FirstDrafter clauses look like they can do the job.

On the other hand, if your employment contract follows an affirmative action plan that is not remedial and narrowly tailored for past discrimination, it may constitute unlawful discrimination.  We’re still not sure if a stripper constitutes an employee or an independent contractor in Employment Law class.

More guys in that class would probably express their anticipation for seeing Jessica Alba as the stripper-law student Nancy Callahan in the upcoming Sin City 2 if they weren’t concerned about objectifying women.

Don’t lose any sleep over it, unless you’ve sexually assaulted employees and are settling for $1.72 million.  Be careful though – the risk of contracting gladiator herpes (and sins) rises exponentially when wrestling with strippers.  You could also get robbed or raped.

Personally, I would be okay with any affirmative action that sought to get everyone but Tucker Max and any potential douches into my law school.  Nancy Callahan might get a pass, as long as she doesn’t hook up with Tucker while she’s there.


Special thanks to David Shulman for editing on this piece.


That’s it for this week’s edition! Remember: Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

A Google Search For “Mistrial” Yields Too Many Results

By: David Shulman · March 20, 2009 · Filed Under Evidence, Pop Culture, Technology · 1 Comment 

cellphoneAs the prevalence of internet-capable smartphones increases, so too does the rate of mistrials.

According to The New York Times,

The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.

Last week a juror in a large federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing online research on the case. The judge then discovered that eight other jurors had been Googling as well, which forced a mistrial and laid eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defence lawyers to waste.

In the same week, an Arkansas  court was asked to overturn $12.6 million (USD)  judgment, claiming that a juror used Twitter to send updates during the civil trial.

And defence lawyers in the federal corruption trial of a former Pennsylvania state senator demanded that the judge declare a mistrial because a juror had Tweeted that a “big announcement” (the verdict) was coming on Monday.

In the United States and Canada, jurors are not supposed to seek information relevant to the case outside of the courtroom. They must reach their verdict based only on the admissible evidence.

The principle behind this rule is that information presented in the courtroom must pass through a number of filters before reaching the “triers of fact.” These filters are the adversarial system, the law of evidence, and the discretion of a judge. They are intended to enhance the veracity, relevancy, and legality of information presented to jurors.

For instance, the adversarial system creates the opportunity for information presented to jurors to be responded to and challenged by both parties. The reliability of a witness’ testimony can be challenged in the crucible of cross-examination.

But neither party has the opportunity to challenge information gleaned from a juror’s Blackerry, which may be prejudicial and/or just plain false.

Now, using their cellphones, jurors can read the accused’s blog, or examine an intersection using Google Maps, thereby violating the legal system’s rules of evidence. They can also trumpet the contents of the jury’s secret deliberations to the public by Tweeting, blogging, and texting.

According to Douglas L. Keene, president of the American Society of Trial Consultants, “It’s really impossible to control it.”

Mr. Keene said jurors might think they were pursuing justice and the truth by conducting additional research and detective work:

There are people who feel they can’t serve justice if they don’t find the answers to certain questions.

But according to Professor Wellborn, co-author of a handbook on evidence law,

The beauty of the adversarial system [is lost] when the jurors go out on their own.

According to the New York Times,

In the Arkansas case, Stoam Holdings, the company trying to overturn the $12.6 million judgment, said a juror, Johnathan Powell, had sent Twitter messages during the trial. Mr. Powell’s messages included “oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its bad mojo and they’ll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter” and “So Johnathan, what did you do today? Oh nothing really, I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money.”

See relevant Canadian law by clicking “Read more.”

Read more

Which Lawyers Should Get an iPhone?

By: Law is Cool · September 30, 2008 · Filed Under Technology · Add Comment 

Jeff Richardson of Adams and Reese, LLP writes on the ABA Techshow,

I don’t recommend an iPhone to all lawyers. Many don’t need a smart phone — just a simple flip phone will do. Others never use anything but e-mail and want a physical keyboard, and for them I say just get a Blackberry. But for any lawyer that wants an advanced smartphone, the iPhone is now simply the best in class.

He describes some of the features of the new iPhone, and how it can be useful for some lawyers.