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.

Why You Should Apply to Law School

By: Omar Ha-Redeye · September 25, 2008 · Filed Under Diversity in Law, Law Career, Law School, Pro Bono · 1 Comment 

What I love best about the law is the ability to challenge and break down stereotypes.

For example, Canadians generally overestimate the number of minorities that have committed a crime, which is usually lower than the general population.

However, the 1995 Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System stated, it is no secret that “black accused, for example, are more often held without bail”.

The need for advocates to fight this subtle yet pervasive form of discrimination is pressing indeed.

Maybe Criminal law isn’t your thing.

A recent survey indicated that the average salary in Canada was just over $36,000.

The jobs that required a high school education a generation ago now require a bachelor’s degree. The opportunities simply are just not there for recent university graduates without professional and advanced degrees.

Lawyers and legal professionals ranked the highest out of all careers in Canada, with an average of $123,000 for lawyers and $178,053 for judges. Only specialist physicians made slightly more.

But medical schools in Canada are swarmed with applications. There are only 2,400 positions a year across Canada, but there has been a 20% increase in applications recently. Only 0.5% of applicants to McMaster University and 6% at UWO are accepted.

If you have a science background and thought that your only alternative to med school was graduate research, you’re wrong. One of the booming areas of law is intellectual property, and lawyers in this field almost always have a science or engineering background before law school.

That doesn’t mean getting into law school is easy though. You do need a strong undergraduate GPA, and have to worry about this pesky test called the LSAT.

But it’s worth it.  A legal career allows you to pursue professional goals while maintaining an advocacy role within society.

And because the law affects nearly everything we do, there are areas of law that are of interest to everyone.

Fred Rodell, a former professor at Yale, wrote back in 1939, in a book entitled “Woe unto you lawyers,”

It is the lawyers who run our civilization for us – our governments, our business, our private lives. Most legislators are lawyers; they make our laws. Most presidents, governors, commissioners, along with their advisers and brain-trusters are lawyers; they administer our laws. All the judges are lawyers; they interpret and enforce our laws. There is no separation of powers where the lawyers are concerned. There is only a concentration of all government power – in the lawyers. As the schoolboy put it, ours is “a government of lawyers, not of men.”

It is not the businessmen, no matter how big, who run our economic world. Again it is the lawyers, the lawyers who “advise” and direct every time a company is formed, every time a bond or a share of stock is issued, almost every time material is to be bought or goods to be sold, every time a deal is made. The whole elaborate structure of industry and finance is a lawyer-made house. We all live in it, but the lawyers run it.

And in our private lives, we cannot buy a home or rent an apartment, we cannot get married or try to get divorced, we cannot die and leave our property to our children without calling on the lawyers to guide us. To guide us, incidentally, through a maze of confusing gestures and formalities that lawyers have created.

A legal career is not only the smart move in tomorrow’s volatile markets, it’s the right one.

The deadline for law school applications in Ontario is Nov. 3, just over a month from now. You still have time to prepare your application and get it in.

Based on a speech given at the University of Western Ontario.  Acknowledgment is provided to Craig Cameron of the Black Law Students Association, Ugbad Farah of the African Students Association, and Carly McLarty of the Caribbean Students Organization for hosting the talks.

LSAT Thumbprinting a Privacy Violation

By: Omar Ha-Redeye · July 11, 2008 · Filed Under Law School, Privacy Law · 1 Comment 

I always felt like I was a criminal when LSAC, the organization that offers the LSAT exam, required mandatory thumbprints on entry.

Weren’t we the ones defending the criminals (or prosecuting them)? Why are we being treated like them?

This commenter says,

When I was a psychology student I used to administer the LSAT. One thing I always found amusing is that you have to leave your thumbprint to take the test. What does that mean? Other professional or graduate tests do not require this.

Then there is the fact that it’s an American company, meaning the American government would have access to my prints if they so chose.

Should Canadian law students be forced to provide prints to a foreign country as a requirement to entry into a Canadian law school?

And I’m not the only one with these concerns.

Canadians Aren’t so Patriotic about the U.S.

In 2006, Daniel Gervais, acting dean of the common-law section at the University of Ottawa expressed to the CBC his apprehension over the U.S. Patriot Act,

The act gives the power to agencies such as the FBI to get access to information that is sent to the U.S.

Michael Geist, also of UofO, elaborates further,

Test takers in B.C. and Alberta have raised objections to the mandatory thumb-printing, expressing concern sensitive personal information could find its way into the hands of U.S. law enforcement. Empowered by provisions in the U.S. Patriot Act, authorities could compel the LSAC to surrender the data.

Patriot Act fears stem from the secretive nature of the law since authorities can compel disclosures with minimal oversight and without opportunity for the affected person to challenge the disclosure.

Critics also point to the statute’s potential misuse. Those fears were exacerbated last week with reports U.S. counter-terrorism databases contain an astonishing 325,000 names.

There has been swift reaction to the thumb-printing story, with the federal, B.C., and Alberta privacy commissioners joining forces in a combined privacy investigation. The Canadian Council of Law Deans, which represents law schools across the country, has expressed concern over the practice, acknowledging that the data could be subject to a Patriot Act request. The Council raised questions about whether the practice might violate federal and provincial privacy statutes.

Phillipa Lawson, Executive Director – Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic at UofO added,

In the LSAT case, the stated purpose of collecting thumbprints (to deter fraud) is clearly reasonable. But is the collection of thumbprints necessary to achieve this purpose? Do other, less intrusive but equally effective methods of deterring fraud exist? And is the fraud-deterrent value of thumbprinting proportional to its privacy invasiveness? The privacy commissioners now investigating this matter will have to answer these questions.

And Mark Lewis weighed in, quipped,

Personally, I think it is time for a cage match pitting the Patriot Act vs. PIPEDA.

Recent developments indicate that round 1 may have just begun.

Non-Profit Status of LSUC Will not Provide Immunity

David Canton of eLegal wrote in the London Free Press recently that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has found the thumbprinting to be a violation of privacy.

The recommendation came following a complaint by University of Victoria philosophy Professor Eike-Henner Kluge.

The Commissioner used a 4-part test:

  1. Is the measure demonstrably necessary to meet a specific need?
  2. Is it likely to be effective in meeting that need?
  3. Is the loss of privacy proportional to the benefit gained?
  4. Is there a less privacy-invasive way of achieving the same end?

Their conclusion is that thumbprinting were never intended for their expressed purpose, let alone meeting their purpose.

Canton said,

LSAC took the position that since it was a Delaware corporation headquartered in the United States, the privacy commissioner had no jurisdiction over its activities.

The privacy commissioner found, however, that there were sufficient Canadian connections to make LSAC subject to the provisions of PIPEDA, at least to the extent it operates in Canada.

The Commissioner also stated,

LSAC’s status as a non-profit, non-stock, membership-based organization is not determinative. The Act applies to organizations, defined in section 2 as including “an association, a partnership, a person and a trade union.” There is no exemption for non-profit or member-oriented organizations. To the contrary, the definition of “commercial activity,” namely, “any particular transaction, act or conduct or any regular course of conduct that is of a commercial character, including the selling, bartering or leasing of donor, membership or other fundraising lists,” makes clear Parliament’s intention that the Act apply to commercial transactions that non-profit, membership-based organizations might engage in.

Ding, Ding, Ding

So it seems law students, who are in training to defend the rights of others, might finally realize these privacy rights that many have been complaining about for years.

Let the fight begin.