Welcome to the seventy-second edition of the Blawg Review. Apropos of the Katrina anniversary this week’s Blawg Review is brought to you from New Orleans, a city that care will rebuild. If you aren’t familiar with what Blawg Review is click here. Now, as Jackie Gleason used to say, ‘and away we go…’
Fundamentals: Writing, Learning & Teaching Law
- Legal writing has a reputation for being dense and hard to understand. A well-deserved reputation, to be sure, but one that many lawyers are trying to shed. The blog Writing, Clear and Simple recently offered some thoughtful observations on how to improve legal writing.
- New law students are the most vulnerable to the tendency to adopt ‘legalese’ because they are exposed to it in toxic doses as they read old cases filled with stuffy jargon. My advice to law students? Don’t succumb. And speaking of giving advice to new law students, Paul Caron has a cornucopia of links that 1Ls will find helpful. Peter Lattman, who writes the Wall St. Journal’s Law Blog has a short list of helpful links too. Divine Angst has a good blurb on back to law school stuff. And, of course, Jeremy Blachman, of Anonymous Lawyer fame, just graduated from Harvard and has great empathy for the plight of law students. Last piece of advice from me on how to read the cases in your textbooks. Read the dissenting opinion first (if there is one), and then read the majority opinion. Trust me: it’s a more efficient way of working through the case and law professors love the dissenting opinions (there’s a reason why the textbook editors included them).
- The demographics of new law students is something that the professors always find interesting, and Paul Caron has a roundup of the entering law school class of 2009 at Cincinnati. Obviously this is a small sample, not a macro view. Frankly, I’m more interested in the use of eInstruction handhelds that he briefly mentions. Why not explore new ways of getting students to participate in class and to discuss the material?
- The Socratic method is great if it’s done well, but it’s not a tool that works well in every situation and, of course, not every professor is adept at using the Socratic method. I remember one time in a Constitutional law class the professor wanted the class to identify a key point of discussion in an important case. Finally, out of frustration she called on someone she knew was very bright (but who, unbeknownst to her, was also very stoned). The professor assumed an air of complete confidence as she addressed the foggy mind in the back row: "three little words, Mr. xxxxxx. The Supreme Court’s opinion offered three words that were very important. What were they?" Mr. xxxxx roused slowly from his stupor and, realizing that he had been called on, replied "I love you?"
Practice, Practice, Practice
- In the beginning there was ‘the agreement,’ that pact by which two people decided to formalize a future relationship. Today we lawyers call these ‘contracts’ and we think of the fictional Professor Kingsfield when we do. If you want to know how to draft better contracts then click on over to AdamsDrafting and read the post Issues in Drafting Commercial Agreements—The “Box”.
- Robert Ambrogi reports on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against the company that administers the copyrights of Barney the Dinosaur. Some Dino-aficionados may recall that Barney once (unsuccessfully) sued the San Diego Chicken. In another Copyright vs. First Amendment case Ron Coleman comments on Jewish comedian Jackie Mason’s lawsuit against Jews for Jesus, based on their misappropriation of his likeness in some of their advertising materials.
- Recording Industry vs. The People has a post with a state-by-state directory of attorneys defending against RIAA lawsuits.
- Steve Minor has a seven part post on Net Neutrality: Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and a Conclusion. I’d like to think that maybe Ted Stevens might read it but I’m not that optimistic.
- Thanks to Overlawyered for letting us know about the "strict new guidelines intended to protect soldiers who play the Scottish bagpipes from suffering hearing loss. ..the guidelines insist that pipers should only play for a maximum of 24 minutes a day outside, and only 15 in practice rooms." No word on if the pipers are also refrained from playing heavy metal music.
- We the People informs us that IBM, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard are collaborating in program that seeks to use a wiki-like tool in the patent approval process. The idea apparently came from New York Law School professor Beth Noveck’s blog. Another feather in the cap of the Blawgosphere.
- Denise Howell of Bag & Baggage fame is now writing a regular column for ZDnet called Lawgarithms, and she has a good post on trademark lawyer Marty Schwimmer’s advice for companies that provide RSS feeds. Over at her regular blog Denise reports that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals) is podcasting its oral arguments. BTW, the the ABA Section of Litigation now has a podcast of Tips & Tactics for the Practicing Lawyer.
- Ray Ward has word that the Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of legislative extensions on the limitations period for filing claims based on damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
- Evan Schaeffer notes that some states are adopting the new federal rules on e-discovery, which will become effective in December of this year (and also offers advice on avoiding e-discovery problems). Rob Robinson also writes about states’ adoption of e-discovery rules.
Theory & Miscellaneous ephemera
- The big news this week in the Cosmos was the summary demotion of the Pluto from full planetary status. Mark Graber seizes upon this development to compare the developments related to Pluto with Constitutional theory. Speaking of Constitutional theory, Peter Lattman wonders if Pluto might be able to mount a legal challenge arguing that it was deprived of plenary planetary status unlawfully (and if it does –and plans to hire an expert witness– then it should consult this post by Daubert on the Web). There have been some rumblings (not yet emerging as blog posts) that Pluto will adopt the Lieberman strategy and run as an independent.
- Wall St. Journal Blog brings word that the Patent & Trademark Office has instructed its examiners not to rely on Wikipedia in assessing the validity of patents.
- Cyberguru and esteemed law professor Larry Lessig asked readers of his blog to help him figure out how to remove duplicate entries in his address book (he uses a Mac computer), and his readers responded with some useful tips (many of which would apply to Windows computers too).
- Jim Calloway has a good tip on creating a digital reading file for articles that you come across and want to read later (because who has time now?)
- Kevin Heller tells us about a federal judge who excoriated the F.B.I. for not using Google as an investigative tool.
- Tom Collins has a blurb about what technology law firms are planning on implementing in the next year. High on the list: disaster recovery tools. Not on the list: wireless technology (why? because it is pervasive if you aren’t using it then you have a lot in common with
Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues. Here are the next 4 episodes of Blawg Review for those of you who want to keep your calendar updated: