Well, that’s not exactly news but Dean Allard also talks about Brooklyn Law’s two-year program in this interview with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

From the Bloomberg Law description:

Law schools need to find ways to cut the expense of merit scholarships, which they “use to buy students . . . with high LSATs” to improve the schools’ US News rankings, Brooklyn Law School Dean and Patton Boggs Partner Nicholas Allard tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia. The money would be better spent on scholarships for students with financial need, he says.

Joe

I assume everyone is sitting on pins and needles over whether the government will be pushed into default by Congress’ seeming inability to fund the government and/or raise the debt limit.  I admit that I’ve probably spent more than a few minutes over the past few days wandering the chattering class web sites while nervously thumbing my latest TIAA/CREF quarterly statement.  I’m not going to take a stand on how this is going to (or ought to) turn out.  The latest news is that the Senate leadership has reached a funding agreement with House Speaker John Boehner going along with allowing a House vote.  Perhaps my and more than a few others’ retirement balances are safe for a few more months.  I’ll be happy when the legislation is signed into law.

One of the casualties of the shutdown has been government web sites.  Sites have either been down or available with messages saying they are not being updated due to the shutdown.  The Federal Trade Commission site still features a stark page stating the site is not available.  Sites that are available but with messages stating they are not being updated at present include the White House, the Department of Justice, and other major cabinet departments.  I’m happy to report that the Library of Congress web site appears to be functioning though it has a message saying it is not being updated.  Earlier reports indicated that the LOC was one of the first sites to become totally unavailable.  Thomas and FDSys are working as well, though the latter says it is processing congressional material in any event, even if it’s not posted immediately. The Federal Register is kept current to some extent.  Thomas, by the way, is not going to be with us much longer.  A message on that site says the Thomas web address will redirect to FDSys starting in November.

The Supreme Court is still going despite the shutdown.  The latest message on the Court’s web site says everything will continue, including public access to its building at least until the 17th of October.  We’ll see how normal everything becomes once the appropriations are made.

 

Mark

On Tom Glocer’s blog, former TRI CEO Tom Glocer returned to the day, some 30 years ago, when he and fellow Yale LS classmate, Ron Wright, launched a computer game at YLS that was designed to be a teaching aid for pre-trial discovery. The program apparently was well received at Yale. It even made the New York Times. Glocer republished the article in his 30th Anniversary Post – Can Computers Teach the Law? post. [Glitchy direct link warning; hence the above link to the blog’s front page.] From Computer Gives Yale Law Students a Taste of Court Process (NYT, Dec. 25, 1983):

Professor Fiss, one of Yale’s three professors teaching civil procedure this semester, is replacing what was a written exercise with a computer game created by Mr. Glocer and Mr. Wright. Process of Discovery.

OK, so the NYT article was Christmas Day newspaper fodder. Still, it’s too bad Glocer didn’t bring that sort of innovation to the table at Thomson Reuters. Then again, WEXIS is the cemetery for innovative thinkers. Perhaps he tried.

Dear Tom,

Don’t know about your non-compete clause but … why not start up an Etsy eCommerce site for one-off  e-“legal solutions” like altSEs, apps, etc., handmade by legal technologists? My hunch is many of those creative folks wouldn’t mind giving you a 4% sales commission for the exposure they might get from a legal Etsy site.

Your pal, Joe

Help Us Improve The Bluebook !

The editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are about to embark on the exciting task of making revisions for the forthcoming Twentieth Edition, and we need your help.  We rely on user input to guide our revisions to The Bluebook. This survey is an opportunity for you to share your ideas with us as we update The Bluebook so that we can target our revisions to best serve your needs.

Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey at  www.legalbluebook.com/survey.  Surveys must be received by November 8, 2013, in order to be considered for the Twentieth Edition. Comments and suggestions are also welcome through e-mail to editor@legalbluebook.com.

Bonus Prize:

As an added incentive for the completion of our survey, we will select five participants at random to receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. An additional twenty participants will be randomly selected to receive a free copy of the Twentieth Edition as well as a two-year subscription to The Bluebook Online (www.legalbluebook.com). Winners will be notified by December 8, 2013.

Source: law-lib announcement (republished with permission). — Joe

Hat tip to Jean O’Grady for calling attention to yesterday’s re-launch of the product now known as “Business Law Center on WestlawNext.” After giving a brief history of Thomson Reuters’ many bungled attempts since acquiring Global Securities Information (GSI) in 2005, Jean provides an overview of Business Law Center and comments on this development.

This relaunch is surely about regaining lost “good will” and reinforcing credibility in the corporate practice space. But I suspect that the Business Center is a beachhead from which a greater initiative will be launched. It is becoming increasingly clear that as content has become commoditized, the large legal publishers will maintain their growth and advantage by providing more integrated content, enhancing context and folding content into tools for process improvement.

In this case, the battleground is for control of the transactional desktop. See Thomson Reuters Re-Launches Westlaw Business (Again): The Business Law Center and the Next Great Battle for the Corporate Lawyer’s Desktop on Dewey B Strategic. Highly recommended.

If interested, see also TR’s press release, Thomson Reuters Introduces Business Law Center on WestlawNext: Next generation of business law research supported by Experts On-Call dedicated research assistance, and its companion podcast discussing Experts On-Call.

Joe

“Now I’m ready to close my eyes. Now I’m ready to close my mind. … Now I wanna be your dog.

Come on!” — The Stooges

After yadda-yadda-ing about AALL’s prodigious generation of a lot of words that have no real world consequences, the e-Board’s hired help writes

Throughout the year I met with legal publishers in person or by phone to discuss our policies and resource guides and to reiterate the importance of compliance with the fair business practices principles.

And yet no news that even one vendor has committed in whole or in part to Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers, 3d ed. Securing commitments was a stated goal, remember? None so far posted. Commitments in whole or in part and outright rejections in the written word authored by AALL’s “vendor partners” is one of those proof-of-concept things.

I continued to expand the list of publishers with whom I am in regular communication, providing them with news about our activities as well as feedback about a wide range of issues of concern to our membership.

Does the list really need to be more extensive than TR Legal Solutions, LexisNexis, BLaw-BNA and Wolters Kluwer. Granted it might be difficult to engage WK in regular communications but … just keeping a feedback loop open with AALL’s so-called major “vendor partners” about a narrow range of issues is hard enough. CRIV Unleashed can handle the rest.

But what really struck me as odd in this year-end review was the following statement from the September 2013 Vendor Liasion Update:

I believe we are in a long period of transition for law libraries and legal publishing as we all struggle to meet the changing demands of legal information users. Law librarians and legal publishers must keep the lines of communication open to ensure affordable and effective delivery of information services. I pledge my support for continuing this dialogue and look forward to working with both groups in the process.

Wait a minute — “working with both groups”! Who the hell pays for this program?! So much for consumer advocacy, the vendor liaison program way. — Joe

Karen Sloan at the National Law Journal is highlighting a new public blog written by law school deans.  The idea is to regularly offer a dean’s perspective about the current state of law schools into the public discourse.  I think it’s about time.  As the article notes, law school deans have occasionally published pieces on blogs and major news outlets, often to sharp criticism.  Many deans may have been surprised by the reaction to their pieces.  This outlet, on the other hand, gives them a chance to respond to critics and continue the conversation about law school trends.

It’s one thing to express views to ABA regulators in private.  It’s certainly another to take a public stand on the nature of the curriculum, law school debt, and the job market. Frank Wu is quoted as supporting the idea:  “We’re playing defense, and I don’t want to keep playing defense. My message to my decanal colleagues is, ‘You’ve got to do this.'” I agree, provided that the contributors are candid enough.  Posts that say things aren’t that bad should be backed by realistic arguments and evidence to that effect.  And when things are bad, well, there should be responses that address the problems.

The article is unclear as to whether the blog has begun publishing.  The blog, however, is located here.  Posts started to appear on October 4th.  Let the discussion begin

Mark

From the WSJ’s Jess Bravin interview with Justice Kennedy:

Of the 9,000 [petitions] we mark about 500 for discussion. From the 500 we discuss, we should take about 100, 120. Lately we’ve been taking only 80. There’s not a lot of emotional or intellectual capital expended arguing over whether we should take the case.  If it’s a really important case and we feel badly that it wasn’t taken, there will be another one [sooner or later] on the same issue.

For more, see Justice Kennedy On Choosing Cases, ‘Empathy,’ And Diversity (WSJ Law Blog). Hat tip to Cynthia Fountaine’s Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog post.

And with a hat tip to Eugene Volokh’s post, note this exchange about checking out what blogging law profs have to say after cert has been granted. From Jess Bravin’s Justice Kennedy On Law School, Blogging, And Popular Culture (WSJ Law Blog):

Q: Chief Justice John Roberts, among others, has criticized law reviews for publishing articles on obscure subjects that offer little assistance to the bar and bench. I understand you agree — but have found a substitute.

A: Professors are back in the act with the blogs. Orin Kerr, one of my former clerks, with criminal procedure [and] the internet area, Mike Dorf, Jack Goldsmith. So the professors within 72 hours have a comment on the court opinion, which is helpful, and they are beginning to comment on when the certs are granted. And I like that.

Q: So you’re reading blog posts after cert grants?

A: I have my clerks do it, especially with the ones when we’ve granted cert, to see how they think about what the issues are.

Joe

Google and Facebook are getting to be more and more like each other when it comes to taking advantage of user information.  Google announced today that it will show a +1 and picture of the friend who gave the recommendation in ads and searches.  These are called “shared endorsements.”  Google does offer a mechanism to opt out.  There is a check box in Google Account settings that reads “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.”  The box is checked by default.  Unchecking it prevents sharing.  Press reports on the new setting are in PC Magazine and ZDNet.  The new setting goes into effect on November 11.

Facebook is making a change to privacy settings on the social network as well.  It is removing the ability for an individual to hide their timeline from search by name.  Facebook had eliminated the setting a while back for those who had not selected it.  This action now removes the opt-out for the less than 1% of accounts that selected it, calling it “and old search setting.”  The site suggests using other privacy settings to limit information that can be seen by others.  I can image there are indignant individuals who use Facebook but resent the lack of control over privacy.  Then there are individuals who have genuine privacy concerns, such as hiding from stalkers or abusive ex-’s.   The report in Ars Technica has the details.

Mark

Judge Posner made Thomson Reuters’ “Nobel-class” Citation Laureates list this year. From the press release:

The annual Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates study is based on analysis of proprietary data from the research and citation database, Web of Science™, which identifies the most influential researchers in the categories of chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, and economics. Based on a thorough review of citations to each person’s research, the company names these high-impact researchers as Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates and predicts they will be Nobel Prize winners, either this year or in the future.

(Emphasis added.)

Due note that TR’s annual ritual spits out enough names to get it “right” often enough eventually. See TR’s ScienceWatch list of successful predictions.

The Noble Prize in Economics will be announced on Oct. 14, 2013. I’m hoping Posner gets the nod. Then the only way his former faculty colleague at the University of Chicago Law School can one-up Posner is if Scalia is canonized by the Catholic Church. Wait ‘n see.

Hat tip to Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports. — Joe

Launched in 1992, the line-mode browser “was the first web browser with a cross-platform codebase so it could be installed on many different kinds of computers. It was a relatively simple piece of software with a very basic interface, but in the early days of the web, it was instrumental in demonstrating the power of this new medium.” You can revisit the very first universally accessible web browser by clicking on the “Launch Line Mode Brower” button here.

Hat tip to Nat Torkington’s Four short links: 7 October 2013 (O’Reilly Radar) for this gem.  — Joe

Raymond Blijd, Project Manager, Online Innovation, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory, admits that designing a legal research interface for the small screen remains a challenge but he predicts the era of desktop-based legal research is coming to a close. His prediction is based on desktop usage studies and consumer purchasing trends for IT equipment. Once document creation moves to the small screen, so will legal research according to Blijd in his Intelligent Solutions Blog post The Death of Legal Research on Desktop.

Joe

From the blurb for Alan Dershowitz’s Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law (Crown, Oct, 2013):

In Taking the Stand, Dershowitz reveals the evolution of his own thinking on such fundamental issues as censorship and the First Amendment, Civil Rights, Abortion, homocide and the increasing role that science plays in a legal defense. Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, and the author of such acclaimed bestsellers as Chutzpah, The Best Defense, and Reversal of Fortune, for the first time recounts his legal biography, describing his struggles academically at Yeshiva High School growning up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, his successes at Yale, clerking for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, his appointment to full professor at the Harvard at age 28, the youngest in the school’s history. Dershowitz went on to work on many of the most celebrated cases in the land, from appealing (successfully) Claus Von Bulow’s conviction for the murder of his wife Happy, to the O.J. Simpson trial, to defending Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley, Patty Hearst, and countless others.  He is currently part of the legal team advising Julian Assange.

Joe

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

If anyone is wondering about the mechanisms available to raise the debt ceiling, the Congressional Research Service has the details.  See the report The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (September 25, 2013, RL31967) by D. Andrew Austin and Mindy R. Levit.  A companion report is Votes on Measures to Adjust the Statutory Debt Limit, 1978 to Present by Justin Murray (February 15, 2013, RL41814).  And while we’re on the subject of turmoil in the government, here’s Shutdown of the Federal Government:  Causes, Processes, and Effects by Clinton T. Brass (September 25, 2013, RL34680).  Note that two of these reports were conveniently issued five days before the government closed.

Mark