ABA Journal: Law schools would have to publish on their websites the percentage of students whose scholarships are renewed under a proposal being considered by the ABA section overseeing accreditation.
The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar disclosed it is considering the idea in a second response to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who has posed two sets of questions to the ABA about its oversight of law schools, according to an ABA press release.
ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III introduces the response with a letter assuring Grassley that the association remains committed to helping law grads find rewarding legal careers.
The Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar operates independently of the ABA in accrediting law schools for the U.S. Department of Education. Its response says the section does not have any requirements for the renewal of law school scholarships, but it is moving to collect additional data through changes in annual law school questionnaires. The section is also considering a proposal to require schools to publish on their websites specific data about scholarship retention rates.
Estate of Denial: What do the New York Times, the Brookings Institution, and the Cato Institute have in common? Turns out we agree on deregulating the legal profession.
From a Times editorial: “Another step is to allow nonlawyers into the mix. The American Bar Association has insisted that only lawyers can provide legal services, but there are many things nonlawyers should be able to handle, like processing uncontested divorces. ”
From a Brookings op-ed: “It would be better to deregulate the provision of legal services. This would lower prices for clients and lead to more jobs.”
From a Cato paper: “Every state except Arizona prohibits the unauthorized practice of law (UPL); a person must possess an attorney’s license to hold himself out as a lawyer. UPL prohibitions restrict the right to pursue a legitimate occupation and the right to contract with others. By imposing a costly barrier to entry, they distort the market for legal services. Consequently, consumers face higher prices and fewer choices.”
ABA Journal: A new initiative called Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers is encouraging law schools to experiment with interactive classes with the goal of producing more “practice-ready lawyers.”
Launched last week, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers promotes innovative teaching with a new website to help educators learn from each other. The project is also planning conferences where law professors can share ideas.
Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers is managed by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at Denver University, a national independent research center dedicated to improving the civil justice system, according to a press release and a brochure. Sixteen law schools are partners in the initiative, including the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and Stanford Law School.
Dan Drayer is director of marketing and communications for the IAALS. He worked with the group’s executive director, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis, to respond to our questions about the program by email. Here is the Q&A, edited for length.
ABA Journal: What is Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers? An initiative, a website, or both? What are the goals?
ABA Journal: A Manhattan lawyer says he has lost clients because of online posts claiming he is a cheating “scum” who dumped his girlfriends.
Matthew Couloute Jr. is fighting back with a federal lawsuit filed against two ex-girlfriends, including former roller derby queen Stacey Blitsch, the New York Post reports. Couloute, who is now a married man, claims the posts at liarscheatersrus.com have interfered with prospective business relations.
ABA Journal: An economics professor is making the case for legal protections against looks-challenged people.
Writing an op-ed for the New York Times, University of Texas professor Daniel Hamermesh cites findings that good-looking people make more money, find higher-earning spouses, and get better mortgage deals. One study shows American workers assessed as being in the bottom seventh in terms of looks earn about $230,000 less in a lifetime than similar workers in the top third of looks.
Hamermesh offers a solution: Protect ugliness with small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Ugly people could get help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “We could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly,” he suggests.
Estate of Denial:New York businessman James Lieto was an innocent bystander in a fraud investigation last year. Federal agents seized $392,000 of his cash anyway.
An armored-car firm hired by Mr. Lieto to carry money for his check-cashing company got ensnared in the FBI probe. Agents seized about $19 million—including Mr. Lieto’s money—from vaults belonging to the armored-car firm’s parent company.
He is one among thousands of Americans in recent decades who have had a jarring introduction to the federal system of asset seizure. Some 400 federal statutes—a near-doubling, by one count, since the 1990s—empower the government to take assets from convicted criminals as well as people never charged with a crime.
Last year, forfeiture programs confiscated homes, cars, boats and cash in more than 15,000 cases. The total take topped $2.5 billion, more than doubling in five years, Justice Department statistics show.
The expansion of forfeiture powers is part of a broader growth in recent decades of the federal justice system that has seen hundreds of new criminal laws passed. Some critics have dubbed the pattern as the overcriminalization of American life. The forfeiture system has opponents across the political
spectrum, including representatives of groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union on the left and the Heritage Foundation on the right. They argue it represents a widening threat to innocent people.
Estate of Denial: Here’s a tip for you: Listening to really, really loud sounds over long periods of time can damage your hearing.
Perhaps you already knew that. But a few years back, a group of clever trial lawyers decided they could make some serious money by arguing in court that you are too stupid to know it yourself.
They filed 26 consumer fraud lawsuits in multiple states against Motorola and other manufacturers of Bluetooth headsets. They alleged that consumers were not warned sufficiently about the dangers, and that they “would not have purchased their Bluetooth headsets but for defendants’ false advertising.”
That led to a single class-action case in federal court, in which the plaintiffs sought refunds, restitution and punitive damages. And attorneys’ fees, of course.
The case was pretty light on the merits — in fact, Apple recently got a similar nuisance case thrown out of court over its iPod product line. But millions of people had purchased Bluetooth headsets, and so the potential for liability was high.
And these kinds of nuisance cases often cost a lot of money to defend. Most deep-pocketed defendants would rather spend a million dollars making a case like this one go away than spend millions more in litigation.
For the lawyers, this case was simple: File a lawsuit, then get a settlement agreement — which they did. Under its terms, a hearing loss charity was to get $100,000. The lawyers were to get $800,000. And those who cranked up the volume full blast until they lost their hearing? They would basically get nothing.
ABA Journal: Evidence is the most useful elective law school course, according to an email survey of George Washington University law school alumni.
The school asked about 13,500 alumni to list their most useful elective courses and the courses they wish they had taken, report the Volokh Conspiracy and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. There were 576 responses to the January survey (PDF), according to a summary (PDF).
The top five most useful electives identified by alumni were:
1) Evidence (156 votes)
2) Administrative law (120 votes)
3) Corporations (105 votes)
4) Trial advocacy (71 votes)
5) Federal income tax (47 votes)
The top courses alumni wish they had taken were…
Law.com: The alarming decline in recent law school graduate placement has received much attention lately, including an instructive July 11 article in The Wall Street Journal, “Law Schools Get Practical,” noting that more than twice as many people passed the bar exam in 2010 (54,000) as there were legal job openings in the United States. Perversely, at the same time, law schools are prospering financially on the backs of their students by substantially increasing both tuition and enrollment, as The New York Times found in a July 17 article, “Law School Economics: Ka-Ching!“
The current recession is, of course, a prime reason for the diminution in available jobs. But The Wall Street Journal article also correctly focuses on another major issue — the disconnect betweencontemporary law school education and the skills needed to be an effective, and therefore employable, lawyer. Unlike other professional schools, such as medicine and business, law schools continue to teach primarily based on a 19th century theoretical model that is good at developing critical legal thinking but severely lacking in teaching practical skills. That void is particularly acute in the business and corporate area.
ABA Journal: As the housing market continues to slide, the U.S. government is considering a mortgage refinancing plan and other options to help struggling homeowners.
Many homeowners have been unable to refinance because they are underwater on their mortgages or their credit rating is tainted. Specifics of the plan are unclear, but it would allow some homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance at today’s lower rates, the New York Times reports. The hope is that the money saved will be spent elsewhere, helping to shore up the economy.
ABA Journal: The law professor who accused his colleagues throughout legal education of scamming law students has revealed his identity: He’s Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School.
When Campos began blogging this month at Inside the Law School Scam, he identified himself as an anonymous tenured law professor “located within a good regional university with some nationally recognized departments.” Since then, he has ruffled some feathers with his assertions that many professors have only superficial knowledge of their subjects and spend little time preparing for class. “When people say ‘law school is a scam,’ what that really means, at the level of actual moralresponsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students,” Campos wrote as the anonymous author.
Campos confirmed he is the author in an email to the ABA Journal. His corroboration comes after TaxProf Blog noted Campos had identified himself in a roundabout way—through a reference to his work on a post at a different blog. A link goes to the post, which lists Campos as the author.
ABA Journal: A 2011 survey of “best value” law schools, as determined by preLaw magazine, has changed significantly from last year:
Almost all the schools on the list’s top 60 slotsare state institutions, the National Jurist reports.
“In 2004 and 2007, there were a decent number of private schools on the honor roll,” said Jack Crittenden, who serves as editor of both preLaw and National Jurist.
ABA Journal: Trucking and telephones have been deregulated, so why not law practice?
The authors of a Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) op-ed are endorsing the idea. The problem isn’t too many lawyers, according to Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall of the Brookings Institution. The problem is the regulatory scheme that restricts legal education and the entities that can offer legal services.
“The reality is that many more people could offer various forms of legal services today at far lower prices if the American Bar Association (ABA) did not artificially restrict the number of lawyers through its accreditation of law schools—most states require individuals to graduate from such a school to take
their bar exam—and by inducing states to bar legal services by nonlawyer-owned entities,” the authors say. “It would be better to deregulate the provision of legal services. This would lower prices for clients and lead to more jobs.”
Tax Prof Blog:
- The Economy is Terrible: “This one seems obvious, but the contretemps of the other day has convinced me that we would be better off starting with the bad news so that law students can make some smart and tough decisions at the outset.”
- You Are Enrolled in “Job-Hunting and the Law”: “It’s easy to put the job hunt last after a long list of other duties and to work at it lackadaisically. I recommend instead that you treat the job hunt as one of your principal enrolled courses.”
- It’s Your Money and Your Degree: “[I]f you’re going to spend three years and a good deal of money in law school, it’s up to you to make the most of it.”
- Nobody Gets Hurt, Nobody Gets Arrested: “Talking in class, and other ways of throwing yourself into the mix, is a terrific, bad-consequence-free way of actually starting to practice at being a lawyer. Take advantage.
Read more here…
Law.com: Law schools have been pummeled with criticism for not producing practice-ready attorneys, so two law professors have come up with a novel fix: Law schools should operate their own law firms.
The school-owned firms would provide a training ground for recent graduates, but would function much like a normal firm, Brooklyn Law School Professor Bradley Borden and University of Maryland School of Law Professor Robert Rhee wrote in an article entitled, “The Law School Firm.” The piece will appear in a forthcoming issue of the South Carolina Law Review.
ABA Journal: The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t agreed to review the Obama administration’s health care law, but that hasn’t stopped the pundits from making some predictions.
The swing voters may be Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Reuters reports. At issue is whether Congress had the constitutional authority to include a provision requiring Americans to buy insurance or to pay a penalty.
The court’s four liberal justices are likely to vote to uphold the law, constitutional experts told Reuters. But they disagree on likely votes by some of the others.
ABA Journal: The Village People had one word of advice for a young man in need of some dough and somewhere to go: Y.M.C.A.
Now the man who wrote the song is a little older and seeking to cash in through a little-known copyright provision that allows musicians and songwriters to regain control of their work after 35 years, the New York Times reports.
Victor Willis, the Village People’s original lead singer, has filed papers to regain control of the rights to “Y.M.C.A.” and 32 other songs, the story says. The termination-rights provision applies to work registered with the U.S. Copyright Office after Jan. 1, 1978, too late for the group’s other big hit, “Macho Man.”
Yahoo! Finance: The first wave of Baby Boomers turned 65 earlier this year. Once, that was the official retirement age, the birthday after which you could spend entire Tuesdays on the golf course with no judgment. It was also the age at which people would start to look askance at the office.
Indeed, a broad swath of older workers once faced mandatory retirement age policies, and until this spring, Great Britain had a “Default Retirement Age” (DRA) of 65. Past that, an employer could dismiss an employee simply because she was getting on in years.
But Britain’s DRA has now been largely phased out, and social norms are changing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the U.S., the labor force participation rate among people aged 65 to 74 rose from 16.1% in 1988 to 25.1% in 2008. To be sure, the increased participation among older workers is at least partly due to financial necessity — though the increase began during good times, rather than simply spiking during the recent recession. But even if you are financially comfortable, or if you can be flexible with living expenses, this increase in working seniors raises different questions: in the absence of social norms or laws, when is the right time to retire? What are the signs that you should stay, and what are the signs it’s time to move on?
CBS Boston: As an adult child you may have begun to worry about the physical decline in your parents.
They can’t maintain their garden without some help. Dad needs you to help him put in the air conditioners. Mom is having trouble balancing her checkbook.
All signs of normal aging. Nothing to be concerned with. But what if they need more than a Saturday afternoon of your time?
What if they need financial help to stay in their home? Are you prepared? Are they?
CNN: A federal appeals court has tossed out key provisions of the sweeping health care reform bill championed by President Obama, setting up a likely election-year showdown at the Supreme Court over the landmark legislation.
A 2-1 panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Friday found that the law’s “individual mandate” section — requiring nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties — was an improper exercise of federal authority.
“The individual mandate exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional,” Chief Judge Joel Dubina wrote. “This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives.”
The National Law Journal: U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley is not satisfied with the American Bar Association’s response last month to a series of questions he posed about the organization’s oversight of law schools.
Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to the organization on Aug. 8 posing additional questions about what the ABA is doing to ensure that law graduates can pay back their student loans; about the makeup of its accreditation committee; and about how the organization is responding to the declining number of job opportunities for young lawyers.
Yahoo! Finance: Simply saving in a 401(k) plan isn’t enough to ensure your retirement security. You also have to withdraw the money from your retirement account in a way that maintains as much of your spending power as possible. This typically involves taking steps to minimize taxes and avoid fees and penalties. Making these 401(k) withdrawal mistakes could cost you in retirement.
ABA Journal: Graduates of New York Law School and Cooley Law School, respectively, filed lawsuits against their alma maters claiming that the schools were deceitful in the reporting of their graduate employment statistics.
Plaintiffs in both the suit against Cooley (PDF) and the suit against New York Law School (PDF) are represented by the New York City-based Kurzon Strauss law firm.
Cooley filed a lawsuit (PDF) against Kurzon Strauss last month in response to solicitations the firms posted on Craigslist and JD Underground that included a draft of a purported class action complaint contending that Cooley incorrectly reported its graduates’ job placements. David Anziska told the ABA Journal at the time that the firm intended to countersue Cooley as well as the school’s lawyers at Miller Canfield.
AZCentral: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer filed an appeal Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that put on hold key parts of the state’s immigration enforcement law.
The appeal comes as Brewer faced a deadline for contesting a district court’s decision that, among other things, barred police from enforcing a requirement that police while enforcing other laws to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
Brewer lost her first appeal in April when a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her request to overturn the decision. The nation’s highest court has discretion on whether to hear her appeal.
Daily Breeze: Changing jobs after a long stint with a single employer can be challenging in itself. But for those who’ve paid scant attention to their 401(k) plans over many years, deciding what to do with the funds can be downright daunting.
Allen, a Long Beach computer programmer, writes:
“After 18 years at my job, I am changing employers, and I’m getting mixed opinions about what I should do with my 401(k) funds – $287,000. Some say move it to the new plan but it’s a much smaller company. Others say an IRA is the only way to go. I’m 46 with two kids, so I’ve got many earning years ahead. What’s my best move?”
ABA Journal: In the face of mounting debt among the nation’s students, the ABA House of Delegates voted today to urge the U.S. government to provide for more flexible and competitive terms for federal student loans. The House also passed a resolution that calls for increased transparency in the reporting of employment data, graduate salaries and the “actual” cost of law school.
Resolution 111-A (PDF), which comes at a time when student loan debt outpaces credit card debt, “urges Congress to enact legislation to assist individuals experiencing financial hardship due to excess levels of student loan debt.”
The disconnect between the prospective law students’ perception of their employment prospects at graduation and the reality of the market they will face prompted the proposal of Resolution 111-B (PDF), which “urges all ABA-approved law schools to report employment data that identifies whether graduates have obtained full-time or part-time employment within the legal profession, whether in the private or public sector, or whether in alternative profession, whether in private or public sector, or whether in alternative professions and whether such employment is permanent or temporary.”
ABA Journal: The ABA House of Delegates voted Tuesday to adopt a resolution to urge law schools to more adequately prepare law students for the real-life experience of practicing law and bolster CLE training to better bridge the gap between law school and actual practice.
Submitted to the House in a late report from the New York State Bar Association at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Resolution 10B (PDF-Revised) resolves that the ABA recommends “that law schools, law firms, CLE providers and others concerned with professional development provide the knowledge, skills and values that are required of the successful modern lawyer.”
Phoenix Business Blog: Death and taxes may be two certainties in life, as Benjamin Franklin once pointed out. But for business owners, there’s another sure thing: the time will come to exit the business.
Yet, in working with business owners in peer advisory boards, I’ve found that most business owners don’t plan for that exit. They think about creating an exit strategy, but in most cases, they don’t do anything about it.
Each day, business owners work hard to enhance the value of their business, which, aside from a home, is typically the majority of an owner’s total wealth. But too few of their activities are directed toward increasing the value of the business when it’s time to leave it.
Wealth Strategies Journal: Trademarks have always been an important corporate asset, but these days they can be much more so when they are also internet domain names that attract and direct customers to websites where products are sold. Thus, it follows that a business in distress or in a dispute will naturally try to protect this intellectual property from potential creditors and adverse claimants.
Such were the events in the instant cybersquatting case that primarily involved the trademark “igrip” and related webnames. This and similar trademarks were owned by a German company that was well known under this name for making cell phone holders and like accessories.
The primary debtor, Global Intellectual Brands LLC, sold the German company’s cell phone holders but later defaulted on its financial obligations to the German company, whereupon the German company sued Global Intellectual Brands LLC. So far, so bland.
ABA Journal: A federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif., today nearly trebled the $88 million that Mattel Inc. was earlier ordered to pay a competitor in a hard-fought case over the rights to the popular Bratz doll line.
Mattel must pay MGA Entertainment Inc. $85 million in punitive damages and $2.5 million in attorney’s fees and costs in addition to the earlier $88 million verdict in the trade-secrets case the Bratz maker filed against the renowned toymaker, ruled U.S. District Judge David Carter. Plus, Mattel owes MGA another $137 million in attorney’s fees and costs for forcing it to defend an unreasonable copyright case, Bloomberg reports.