Seton Hall Law has rescinded last summer’s termination notices to all its untenured law faculty. On ATL, David Lat reports

Word on the street is that [Seton Hall Law] did so by finding enough senior faculty to either retire or move into a quasi-retirement, in which they keep their offices, continue to teach (at a reduced level), and continued to draw a paycheck (at a reduced level). Much remains unchanged when a professor enters this state, but the savings that can be realized from transitioning a senior tenured professor to a more flexible arrangement are substantial. We understand that the school will have reached deals with about a dozen or so faculty members when all is said and done.

Lat also reports Seton Hall hopes to be “rightsized” by the 2017 academic year. For details see his Law School Rightsizing: This Is How You Do It on ATL.

Joe

Remember when Litchfield Law School was considered “the best” law school to attend and Harvard Law School was floundering, almost to the point of closing before Story was hired?

In 1827, the struggling young law school was down to only one faculty member and one student. In this year, an enterprising alumnus stepped in to save the school by establishing the Dane Professorship of Law, and insisting that the chair be given to Joseph Story, the nation’s youngest Supreme Court justice. Story believed in the concept of an elite American law school, based on merit and dedicated to public service: a tradition that continues today.

Quoting from Harvard Law School’s Our History.

One can make the case that the turning point in the creation of the today’s hierarchical structure of the legal academy was the hiring of Story to teach at HLS. Of course it took the Story-Langdell-Ames trifecta to establish the “Harvard Model” as the standard by which all law schools were evaluated.  By the 1920s, the norm was becoming “schools with a ‘scholarly law school dean’ who would make them into a ‘nursery for judges’ that will make American law what American law ought to be through law reform and legal research activities.”

The progeny of the “Harvard Model” is the enduring pecking order of law school status inside and outside the legal academy. In Enduring Hierarchies in American Legal Education [SSRN](Indiana Law Journal, Forthcoming), Arewa, Morriss & Henderson make the case for the importance of understanding today’s law school hierarchies.

Understanding enduring law school hierarchies is important for four key reasons.

1. Defining of Educational Goals. The legal academy places considerable––and, we believe, overly great––weight on institutional prestige in everything from article placement decisions (by both editors and authors) to hiring, promotion, and tenure Yet, as Russell Korobkin argues, prestige competition can channel behavior in productive directions. A clearer understanding of the hierarchy’s nature can play a role in shifting competition toward more productive avenues.

2. Effective Reform Efforts. Understanding the enduring nature of the positional competition among law schools is essential to the ongoing law school reform efforts. Current debates over the role of U.S. News’s rankings largely ignore the pre-existing competition and divisions among law schools. As a result, measures such as calls for schools to decline to participate in U.S. News’s annual surveys are based on the false premise that doing away with or changing a particular ranking will end the “arms race” of competition among schools for status. For better or worse, the quest for status is endemic to lawyers and law professors.

3. Labor Market Outcomes. The law school hierarchy maps onto a parallel hierarchy on employment opportunities for law school graduates. As the U.S. legal academy wrestles with changes in the legal job market in the aftermath of the credit crisis and as the legal job market goes through structural changes, understanding this hierarchy provides an essential realism on the job prospects of law school graduates.

4. Better Understanding of Long-Term Trends. If an enduring hierarchy is shaping the careers of lawyers and law professors, an accurate system of categorization is essential for tracking long-term trends in legal academia and the legal profession. Our analysis provides the basis for variables that capture law school status across time, facilitating future research.

(Citations omitted.)

This article is highly recommended. Law librarians will be very familiar with some of the categories the authors identify as relevant for defining the hierarchical structure of the legal academy (e.g., size of library collections, citation metrics for scholarly and judicial impact). Here’s the abstract for Arewa, Morriss & Henderson’s Enduring Hierarchies in American Legal Education:

Although much attention has been paid to U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of U.S. law schools, the hierarchy it describes is a long-standing one rather than a recent innovation. In this Article, we show the presence of a consistent hierarchy of U.S. law schools from the 1930s to the present, provide a categorization of law schools for use in research on trends in legal education, and examine the impact of U.S. News’s introduction of a national, ordinal ranking on this established hierarchy. The Article examines the impact of such hierarchies for a range of decision-making in law school contexts, including the role of hierarchies in promotion, tenure, publication, and admissions, for employers in hiring, and for prospective law students in choosing a law school. This Article concludes with suggestions for ways the legal academy can move beyond existing hierarchies and at the same time address issues of pressing concern in the legal education sector. Finally, the Article provides a categorization of law schools across time that can serve as a basis for future empirical work on trends in legal education and scholarship.

Joe

Trial by Google: Judicial Notice in the Information Age [SSRN] “explores the emerging phenomenon of courts taking judicial notice of facts gleaned from Internet web sites, like Google Maps.  It highlights the inviting and terrifying intersection of venerable judicial notice doctrine and the Internet, and ultimately suggests guidelines for courts applying Federal Rule of Evidence 201 (Judicial Notice) and state analogues to Internet sources,” according to the article’s co-author, Jeffrey Bellin, on EvidenceProf Blog. Here’s the abstract for Bellin and Andrew Guthrie Ferguson’s forthcoming Northwestern University Law Review article:

This Article presents a theory of judicial notice for the information age. It argues that the ease of accessing factual data on the Internet allows judges and litigants to expand the use of judicial notice in ways that raise significant concerns about admissibility, reliability, and fair process. State and federal courts are already applying the surprisingly pliant judicial notice rules to bring websites ranging from Google Maps to Wikipedia into the courtroom, and these decisions will only increase in frequency in coming years. This rapidly emerging judicial phenomenon is notable for its ad hoc and conclusory nature – attributes that have the potential to undermine the integrity of the factfinding process. The theory proposed here, which is the first attempt to conceptualize judicial notice in the information age, remedies these potential failings by setting forth both an analytical framework for decision, as well as a process for how courts should memorialize rulings on the propriety of taking judicial notice of Internet sources to allow meaningful review.

Very interesting and highly recommended for legal research and writing instruction.  Joe

It’s pretty hard to publish a Scalia post on LLB without also publishing one about Posner. So here we go. A couple of days ago NPR’s Scott Simon conducted a brief interview with Posner about his latest book, Reflections on Judging (Harvard UP, Sept. 16, 2013). [Podcast with transcript] Wait a minute, Posner might have published another book by now.

From the blurb for Reflections on Judging:

In Reflections on Judging, Richard Posner distills the experience of his thirty-one years as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Surveying how the judiciary has changed since his 1981 appointment, he engages the issues at stake today, suggesting how lawyers should argue cases and judges decide them, how trials can be improved, and, most urgently, how to cope with the dizzying pace of technological advance that makes litigation ever more challenging to judges and lawyers.

For Posner, legal formalism presents one of the main obstacles to tackling these problems. Formalist judges–most notably Justice Antonin Scalia–needlessly complicate the legal process by advocating “canons of constructions” (principles for interpreting statutes and the Constitution) that are confusing and self-contradictory. Posner calls instead for a renewed commitment to legal realism, whereby a good judge gathers facts, carefully considers context, and comes to a sensible conclusion that avoids inflicting collateral damage on other areas of the law. This, Posner believes, was the approach of the jurists he most admires and seeks to emulate: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Learned Hand, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly, and it is an approach that can best resolve our twenty-first-century legal disputes.

The very first thing I spotted when glancing at my copy of Posner’s Reflections on Judging was a footnote to Scalia (& Gardner), Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (West, 2012).

Joe

The title of this post is taken from the sign-up page of LexisNexis’s promotional offer for its Firm Manager practice management platform. The link to the promo was provided in one of Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites posts (Oct. 3, 2013; updated twice on Oct. 4, 2013). Why the updates? I think because someone at the ABA needs to get a life.

If a vendor offers a promo to members of an ABA section in conjunction with the section’s national conference does that imply the ABA endorses the vendor’s product? Of course not. Certainly Bob didn’t think so until he received a take down notice from the ABA’s general counsel’s office. For details, see Bob’s twice updated LexisNexis is Giving $250,000 in Free ‘Firm Manager’ Subscriptions to Small Firms.

Joe

Casey Berman (University of California, Hastings ’99) is the founder of the Leave Law Behind blog. Recently he contributed a post to ATL. See From the Career Files: How You Can Manage Your Time Well Enough In Order To Leave The Law.

Also on ATL, David Lat, Elie Mystal, and Joe Patrice discuss whether going to business school is a better financial decision than going to law school. Here’s the link to the post and their podcast.

Joe

It’s not too late 1Ls.  – Joe

Produced by Bloomberg Law:

Large tuition bills, huge debt loads and lousy job prospects — with all that facing today’s law students, who could blame them for considering dropping out of school? For some students, that’s the first step on a path to finding their true calling, as it was for the famous law school dropouts featured in this video.

Kudos to ABAJ for finally recognizing CALI’s John Mayer as a member of ABA Journal’s class of 2013 Legal Rebels. It’s about time IMHO. This is the fifth annual Legal Rebels installment and John has been doing his CALI thing since 1994. No doubt John was happy to accept the recognition on behalf of CALI’s staff, past and present, and the Center’s institutional supporters. In the below ABAJ video he promotes one of CALI’s most important projects, A2J.

John’s CALI gig almost lasted no longer than a concert performance by the other John Mayer.  According to the ABAJ’s profile (located under the heading “Freeing the Law” here), “Shortly after starting, center leaders told him the organization might shut down.” I wonder what bar on the west side of the Loop John went to after hearing that!

Oh, BTW, John is a member of the inaugural class of the Fastcase 50. The 2011 Fastcase 50 profile does a far better job at capturing the essence of this rebel with a damn good cause. For example, “John Mayer is a visionary and a connector (as well as a leading purveyor of flying stuffed animals at conferences).”

Joe

Serving as editors, Sue Polanka and Mirela Roncevic have issued a call for article proposals for ALA’s new eContent Quarterly. From the No Shelf Required post:

eContent Quarterly is now accepting proposals for contributions to its Spring 2014 issue. Librarians, publishers, vendors, and other information science professionals interested in writing an article about how their institution is braving an e-content challenge, or if they are in the midst of developing or releasing a product librarians and information professionals should know about, may send their proposal to the editors (sue.polanka@wright.edu; mirela@mirelaroncevic.com), including a detailed description of the topic and information about affiliation and credentials.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Effect of digital content on learning and literacy
  • Discoverability and marketing of digital content
  • Business model experimentation
  • Ebook platform technologies
  • Locally-hosted digital content
  • Library as Publisher
  • Self-publishing and libraries
  • Budgeting for digital content
  • Impact of one-to-one device adoption
  • Open access ebooks
  • Digital textbook adoption

For the latest information, see eContent Quarterly ready for launch; contributors for future issues wanted. To subscribe to eContent Quarterly visit this page.

Joe

Due to the temporary shutdown of the federal government,  the Library of Congress is closed to the public and researchers beginning October 1, 2013 until further notice.

All public events are cancelled and web sites are inaccessible  except the legislative information sites THOMAS.gov and beta.congress.gov

Source: Library of Congress Shutdown Message

See beSpacific’s Government Websites that are offline – the list will be expanded.  Joe

Since DLA Piper and Jones Day, we haven’t seen any announcements about BLaw signing up entire BigLaw firm staffs in the news. Perhaps I missed them. However, I’m sure there are plenty of BigLaw firms licensing BLaw under limited seat agreements. No doubt BLaw is putting the squeeze on WEXIS. So is Fastcase.

The New York State Bar Association, the largest voluntary state bar association in the country, is now offering Fastcase to its 76,000 members. Quoting from the Sept. 25, 2013 press release:

This is the new normal, when New York firms are absorbing their legal research costs as overhead, and firms of all sizes are looking to add a nonbillable ‘house account’ for legal research,” said Fastcase President Phil Rosenthal. “This partnership makes the NYSBA and Fastcase a better value than ever for New York firms, because they can reduce the costs of legal research and they can do so with the world’s smartest legal research tools.”

The Fastcase-NYSBA agreement pushes Fastcase’s user population over the 600,000 mark. Unlike Casemaker, Fastcase’s adoption rate extends well beyond the state bar association market.

Joe

A seven-month investigation by KrebsOnSecurity revealed that more than 1,300 customers of SSNDOB, an ID theft service, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking up SSNs, birthdates, and driver license records and unauthorized credit and background reports obtained by hacking into LexisNexis, D&B and other major data brokers. The finding is based on a copy of the SSNDOB database that became available after the ID theft service was itself hacked.

According to the SSNDOB’s online dashboard, the hackers had access to LN’s internal networks as far back as April 10, 2013 and D&B’s at least as far back as March 27, 2013. For details, see KrebsOnSecurity’s Data Broker Giants Hacked by ID Theft Service. See also Dan Goodin’s How LexisNexis and others may have unwittingly aided identity thieves (Ars Technica).

Joe

OASIS members are discussing the feasibility of designing an open standard data model and markup model for legal citations that can be used in electronic texts.The importance of addressing this issue should be obvious to legal information professionals. See Draft Proposal for a New OASIS Technical Committee (Legalcite) which is accompanied by a backgrounder.

Quoting from an email by Chet Ensign, Director of Standards Development and TC Administration, OASIS Open:

A standard model for tagging citations could simplify software development and become the foundation for new innovations in legal authoring, linking, annotating, searching, and citation analysis, all without requiring that the display text on the page be changed in any way.

If this is of interest to you, your organization, or any of your colleagues, we would be pleased to hear from you. Feedback — supportive, skeptical or critical — is key to launching an effort with the right scope to deliver an open standard that the legal field can use. If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate in the effort, we would like to hear from you as well.

See Chet’s web profile to contact him directly. Thanks for the heads-up.

Joe

In Link Rot within SCOTUS Opinions and Law Reviews [SSRN], Jonathan Zittrain and Kendra Albert found that 49% of URLs in surveyed SCOTUS opinions no long send the reader to the cited web source. Raizel Liebler and June Liebert’s recently published article, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010), 15 YALE J.L. & TECH. 273 (2013), reports a SCOTUS link rot rate of 29%. Obviously there’s a problem. But it is not with the difference in survey findings. Clearly SCOTUS must get its act together by linking to a self-hosted openly accessible archive of the web content that was cited and currently only stored in the Court’s files. How about naming the archive “Last Visited On”?

Zittrain and Albert’s article is recommended but I found Liebler and Lieber’s much more informative. Here’s the abstract for Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010):

Citations are the cornerstone upon which judicial opinions and law review articles stand. Within this context, citations provide for both authorial verification of the original source material at the moment they are used and the needed information for later readers to find the cited source. The ability to check citations and verify that citations to the original sources are accurate is integral to ensuring accurate characterizations of sources and determining where a researcher received information. However, accurate citations do not always mean that a future researcher will be able to find the exact same information as the original researcher. Citations to disappearing websites cause serious problems for future legal researchers. Our present mode of citing websites in judicial cases, including within U.S. Supreme Court cases, allows such citations to disappear, becoming inaccessible to future scholars. Without significant change, the information in citations within judicial opinions will be known solely from those citations. Citations to the U.S. Supreme Court are especially important of the Court’s position at the top of federal court hierarchy, determining the law of the land, and even influencing the law in international jurisdictions. Unfortunately and disturbingly, the Supreme Court appears to have a vast problem with link rot, the condition of internet links no longer working. We found that number of websites that are no longer working cited to by Supreme Court opinions is alarmingly high, almost one-third (29%). Our research in Supreme Court cases also found that the rate of disappearance is not affected by the type of online document (pdf, html, etc) or the sources of links (government or non-government) in terms of what links are now dead. We cannot predict what links will rot, even within Supreme Court cases.

Hat tip to Adam Liptak’s In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere (NYT, Sept. 23, 2013).

Joe

Welcome to Law Librarians (thinking out loud in the Blogosphere) or LLB for short. If that sounds familiar it’s because Mark Giangrande and I have moved our blogging activities from old LLB to here. We will be writing on the same topics we did since old LLB was launched in 2005. Nothing has changed except the URL.

To all our friends who emailed us after noticing that we hadn’t been publishing, the answer to your question — “is everything OK?” — is yes. Thanks for your concern. We’re alive and kicking. Hope you stop by to read our posts here. LLB’s syndication widgets are located in the right sidebar.

Joe