Saturday, September 30, 2006

I know what you did...

... this weekend. Actually, I don't. But I saw DJ Jazzy Jeff. Yes, of the "Fresh Prince". And he was AWESOME. What did you do?

A Sports Interlude


I can't believe those tactless Giants fans were booing as the Dodgers clinched a playoff spot. Well they have a loooooooong time to practice their boos in the off season.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I Can Drive Fifty-Five

Update: I've taken out the long math part at the bottom that explained the credit system at Boalt, and how the new schedule would function. I will post the important parts in the Comments section, if you'd like to take a look. I made a few other changes as well, and these are in italics.

Continuing the nerd parade...

A funny thing about Boalt: much like a hopped-up red-hot, Boalt is the first into the classroom, but the last to leave. What do I mean? Our start date is as early as any other law school that I’m aware of, yet our end date is as late as any school. True, many schools have the same schedule as us. And others may start a week later, but don’t have flyback. But having looked at the schedules of some other law schools, I think we can have our cake and eat it too. In other words, we can have an extra week of vacation without sacrificing flyback.

Put simply, we can make classes a few minutes longer. Right now the standard unit for a Boalt credit is 50 minutes per week. If we up that to 55 minutes per week, we can cut a week off school while still easily meeting all of the ABA’s requirements.

This would have major effects on scheduling, and I realize there are many reasons not to change the schedule. This will be a huge hassle for the Registrar. The booking system for rooms will be totally different. Professors will have to change their schedules. There could be financial implications from cutting a week of class time. With fewer classes, more would need to be accomplished per class (though this increase would be extremely marginal). And of course, it may be true that such a change simply isn’t possible, because of either Boalt or University rules.

But all of these problems likely have solutions. And on the whole, the benefits of an extra vacation week outweigh the costs. There would be an extra week to relax before the school year starts. We can work a week longer if we like and thus earn an extra week’s pay. We would be less likely to burn-out during the semester. Alternatively, instead of a full week of vacation, it could be only a few days, with a couple of days added onto the reading period at the end of the semester, something that all the procrastinators would greatly appreciate.

Other schools have already implemented this system. I checked the schedules of about 5 “peer” schools, and at least two, Stanford and Michigan, use a form of the 55 minute class. In both cases, their Fall semester starts about 15 days after ours (Sept. 5th), but ends only a day or two later, despite both schools having flyback weeks (UM’s is only Sat-Tues).

I realize this isn't necessarily a huge issue. But many students end work on a Friday and start school the following Monday. Still others actually want to work longer, so as to save a few more dollars. Either way the extra week would really help, and it seems like the school could make it happen simply by extending classes by a few minutes.

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2006 OCIP Callbacks

Much like the 2005 OCIP Post, during 2006 OCIP I will post (as up-to-date as I can) information regarding call back offers, rejections, etc. as I can. I will move this up with more info once OCIP nears, but I just want it to be available for now.

UPDATE: Ok moving up. Please look at the 2005 OCIP callbacks for format. [Firm name, Office if applicable, Callback Offer or Rejection]. Bonne chance!!!

UPDATE 2: I've noticed that this page doesn't update very well. So if you visit it repeatedly, just hit refresh on your browser.

UPDATE 3: Ok people, I have Allen Matkins, SF. It's there. Please see update 2. This is why that is there. It just creates a lot more unnecessary work for me to go through & keep deleting comments about firms that are already up here.

UPDATE 4: Moving up for the last time...from here on out you can click on the permanent thread link on the sidebar.

Akin Gump, LA -, SF +/-
Allen Matkins, OC +, SD +/-, SF +/-
Alston & Bird, DC, +
Arnold Porter, Den -, LA +/-
Baker Botts, DC +/-, NY -
Baker & Hostetler, LA +/-
Baker & McKenzie, SF +
Bartko, SF +
Bingham, Bos +, LA +, SF +/-, SV +, WC +
Boise Schiller, Oak +/-
Bryan Cave, LA -, OC +/-
Bullivant Houser, Sac +, SF +
Cadwalader, +
Chadbourne & Park, NY +/-
Chapman, SF -
Cleary, DC +/-, NY +/-
Cooley, SD +, SF +/-, SV +/-
Cox Castle, LA +
Covington & Burling, DC +/-, SF +/-
Cravath, NY +/-
Crowell & Moring, DC +/-, OC +/-
Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, NY+
Davis Polk, NY +/-, SV -
Davis Wright, Port +, Sea -
Day Casebeer, SV +
Debevoise, NY +/-
Dechert, Bos +, DC -, NY +/-, OC -, SF -, SV +
Dewey Ballantine, LA -, SV -
DLA Piper, Bos +, SD +, SF -, SV -
Dow Lohnes, DC +
Drinker Biddle, SF +/-
Farella, SF +/-
Fed PD, ND Cal +
Fenwick, SV (Mtn View) +/-
Finnegan, +/-
Fish & Richardson, NY -, SD -, SV +
Fitzgerald Abbott, OAK -
Folger Levin & Kahn SF+/-
Foley & Lardner, SF, +
Freshfields, NY/London, +/-
Fried Frank, DC +, NY -
Fulbright & Jaworski, Aus +, LA -
Gibson Dunn, LA +/-, OC +, NY -, SF -, SV +
Gibson Robb, NY -, SF +
Goodwin Proctor, Bos +/-, NY -
Gordon Rees, SF +
Greenberg Glusker, LA +/-
Greenberg Traurig, Bos -, Mia +, LA -, NY -
Gunderson, SD +
Hanson Bridgett, SF +/-
Heller, LA +, NY +, SD +/-, SF +/-, SV+
Hogan & Hartson, CC, DC, LA +
Holguin Garfield, LA +
Holland Knight, Bos -
Holmes, Robert & Owen, SF +/-
Hooper Lundy, SF+/-
Howard Rice, SF +/-
Howrey, LA, SF, SV +
Hughes Hubbard, NY +
Hunton & Williams, DC, Virg +
Irell, LA +/-, OC +/-
Jenner Block, Chi +
Jones Day, LA +, NY +/-, OC +, SF +/-, SV +
Kaye Scholer, LA +
Kecker & Van Nest, SF +/-
Kelley Drye, NY +/-
King & Spalding, DC +
Kirkland, DC +/-, LA +/-, NY +, SF +/-
Kirkpatrick, LA -
Knobe, SF, SV +
Kramer Levin, NY +
Latham, Chi -, LA +/-, NY +, OC +/-, SD +/-, SF +/-, SV +/-
LeBoeuf, NY +, SF +/-
Linklaters, NY +/-
Littler, SF -
Loeb & Loeb, LA +/-
Luce Forward, SD +
Mannat, LA +
Mayer Brown, SV +
McDermott, LA -,OC +/-, SV +/-
Meyers Nave, Oak +
Milbank, LA +, NY +/-
Miller Nash, Port +/-
Mitchell Silberberg, LA +/-
Morgan Lewis, DC +, LA -, NY +/-, Phi +, SF -, SV +
MoFo, LA -, NY +/-, OC -, SD +, SF +/-, SV +, WC +/-
Munger LA +/-
Nixon Peabody, SF +/-
Norton Rose, Lon +
Nossaman, SF +
O'Melveny, CC +, LA +/-, NY +/-, OC -, SF +/-, Tok +
Oppenheimer Minneap -
Orrick, LA +, SF +/-, SV+/ -
Paul Hastings, LA +, NY +, OC -, SD +, SF +/-
Payne & Fears, OC +
Perkins Coie, Sea +/-, LA +
Pillsbury, DC +, LA -, NY +/-, SF +/-
Pircher, Nichols & Meeks, LA +
Proskauer, LA +/-, NY +
Quinn Emanuel, LA +, SF +/-
Reed Smith, Oak +/-, SF +/-
Richards Watson, LA +/-
Ropes & Gray, Bos -, SF +/-
Ross, Dixon & Bell, OC, SD +
Rutan & Tucker, OC +
Schulte, Roth & Zabel, NY +
Sedgwick, SF +/-
Seltzer Caplan, SD+/-
Severson & Werson, SF -
Shartsis -
Shearman & Sterling, SF +/-
Sheppard Mullin, LA +, OC +, SD -, SF +
Shook, Hardy & Bacon, SF +
Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP +
Sidley Austin Chi +, DC +, LA +, SF +/-, NY +/-
Simpson, LA +/-, Lon +, NY +, SF -, SV +
Skadden, Bos +/-, LA +/-, Lon +, NY +/-, SF +/-, SV +
Sonnenchein, SF+/-
Squire Sanders, LA -, SF +/-
Steefel +
Steptoe & Johnson, DC +/-
Stoel Rives, SF+
Stoll Stoll, Port -
Stradling, OC+
Stroock, LA +
Sullivan Cromwell, NY +/-
Thelen Reid, DC +, LA -, NY -, SF +/-
Townsend, SV -
Watt Tieder, SF -
Weil Gotshal, NY +, SV +/-
White & Case, LA +/-, SV -
Williams & Connolly, +/-
Willkie Farr, NY +/-
Wilmer Cuttler, DC, NY +
Wilmer Hale, Bos -, DC +/-, NY -, SV?? +
Wilson Sonsini, NY -, SD -, SV +/-
Winston Chi +, DC +/-, LA +/-, NY -, SF -

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Liveblogging Charlie Rose

As if things weren't dorky enough post-PACER, I'll sacrifice my Corporations reading to now live-blog Charlie Rose, with Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Stephen Breyer, for the hour.

12:02. Charlie Rose's adorable concealed twang does an amazing job making "Breyer" into one syllable.

12:03. This evening's theme is the independence of the judiciary, at both the federal and state levels. Recording of a conversation done at Georgetown.

12:04 "Every American should be interested in [an independent judiciary]." SDO. She analogizes to other countries, not blessed with such impartial judiciaries (which Charlie also makes into hardly more than one syllable).

12:07 Breyer is talking about complex polling... of Americans... of how they feel about judges... 2/3 say judges are fair, 1/3 say judges are "politicians in robes". That data is old... now the number is 1/2 and 1/2... this growing lack of faith in the judiciary troubles Breyer. "The people made the Constitituion, and they can unmake it." SDO adds that an independent and fair judiciary is critical to protecting our precious, precious constitutional rights.

12:11 Discussion of the controversy of how to pick judges, from state elections to "advice and consent" nominations before the Senate. Breyer is untroubled by presidents who enshrine their legacy in their judicial picks. Esp. since judges tend to betray their appointers. A funndy story about Teddy R. and OWH is told involving backbones and bananas. Breyer picks out state court elections for judges with the need to raise campaign funds as the crisis. SDO agrees - the money comes from the lawyers who appear before the judges. SDO praises Missouri, which makes appointments from a bipartisan commission list with limited terms and periodic retention elections.

12:15 SDO is also "very concerned" at the federal level about the portrayals of judges as "activists". "There's a lot of that rhetoric at the federal level these days... it's coming from members of Congress and others who agree with them... That's the accusation... it troubles me... It troubles me when it is followed by threats of retribution." SDO gives examples of resolutions calling for inspectors general to report to Congress on judicial activities. SDO points out efforts to impeach judges who cite foreign case law. SDO also cites jurisdiction stripping for pledge, marriage, abortion, etc. (so maybe last week's Fed Cts. class was useful...).

12:18 SDO, grandmotherly, strong, wise. Breyer... booooring. Seriously, SDO just yawned. Yawned. Again! Breyer, pass the gavel!

12:20: Breyer says we should push this at all levels. Why don't kids read the Constitituion in civics? At age 14? (14? Breyer, have you been to a CA public school?). Wow, CR: "I don't see what that has to do with the present argument..." Breyer returns to discussing the Court, and its civility. No one has ever yelled in conference, not even over Bush v. Gore. Breyer explains that if people understood how the courts worked, people would not get so worked up about judges because they'd know how judges really work to solve problems using the law.

12:25 SDO outraged by "jail for judges" in South Dakota. CR: do you blame the media? SDO: I don't necessarily blame the media. ... SDO wants to raise the profile of the threat to a fair and impartial judiciary. She wants people to understand how fundamentally we need neutral courts.

12:27 CR: judges are red meat in politics now. SDO links this to violence against judges. Huh? I guess she can't be right everytime.

12:30 Breyer discusses Cooper v. Aaron, and the need for paratroopers to integrate the schools. Breyer is so happy now that despite all the hard controversial cases, there "are no longer troops on the streets of America." People in America now realize "a rule of law is superior to a rule of force." Breyer worries that if we come into a world where people think judges are poltiicans in robes, "bad things can flow from that" and respect for the rule of law will deteriorate. SDO: "We're on that track if we don't engage in that debate. You see proposals in Congress to strip jurisdiction from the federal courts based on subject matter... this seems to me a strange step... threats to curtail the budget... threats to impeach a judge... these are amazing propositions."

12:34 SDO weighs in on Schiavo. Breyer recuses, since it may come up again. SDO discusses the litigation history, the special law in Congress requiring federal review. "That was most unusual, a law for a specific case." (not so unusual, see Woodbridge v. United States, an old patent case).

12:36: CR brings up Bush v. Gore, claiming it was a political decision. SDO answers much quicker than she has earlier. She says the court made two legal decisions, "you could characterize it that way. I don't." Breyer is staring at his hands, forming a triangle under his nose. SDO points to later recounts which support that Bush won. CR moves on, no comment from Breyer.

12:42 CR: Are you both pragmatists? SDO: I'm just a cowgirl, so I had to be practical. Pragmatist. Problem solver. Breyer: he speaks of Madison, and dialogues with him, and BREYER RAISES HIS VOICE! THe ghost of Madison wants him to be PRACTICAL! Wow, I'm awake again. Breyer: "Am I always right? No. Do I think I'm right? Yes!" SDO: "I just tried to address the cases as they came... I did the best I could with the cases that came my way."

12:45 CR: "What's the best thing a Supreme Court justice can learn to do? Count to five."

12:47 The parties discuss the number of women clerks on the Court. A lot of hemming, and hopes for a return to more women clerks.

12:47 CR: Original intent? Is it a living document, Breyer? "Yes, it's true." "Look to the values or purposes of the clause or statute, and the consequences. ... I spend more time on purposes, values, and consequences [than precedent, text]." The Framers of the Commerce Clause did not know the internet, nor did the Framers of the First Amendment.

12:50 SDO "The genius of the Constitution was that it was couched in such general terms that it could survive for 200 years.... [new things] must be adapted into 'reasonableness' in the 4th, "cruel and unusual" in the 8th." Both Breyer and SDO agree we need to look to the intent of the Framers. "What were they basically intending... they didn't know about the internet... but they wanted to protect free speech!" says Breyer.

12:52 Criticisms of the court? SDO, Breyer: too expensive, too slow. Inaccessible to laymen. It's not "consumer-friendly" says Breyer. SDO: Litigation is too expensive. We've got a real problem.

12:54 SDO and Breyer go gaga for Roscoe Pound and some discussion he had with the Court. Burger had one too. Wow, wasn't expecting to hear Roscoe Pound's name.

The conference this talk is part of starts shortly.

"Thank you for joining us, we'll see you next time."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Work hard this summer...

There is some indication that the economy is leveling off and may start to cool soon. From what I gather, the last few summers have gotten better and better for summer associates, and I think this summer may be the best yet (what I hear is that people are doing well?). The danger is: the firms may only get the downturn memo after extending a ton of offers for summer employment. That's fine - they just make fewer permanent offers. Based on this line of thinking, it may be wise to work somewhat hard this summer to stand out. It's not that the firms won't make offers, it's just that they won't make an offer to everyone. So don't be the worst. To be safe, be in the top half. Just call it a hunch...

(it may also be wise to ask how these firms weather downturns - do they layoff? do they have recession-proof practice groups? it may also be smart to take some classes in those areas - bankruptcy, etc. - and not be wedded to m&a)


Allow me to clarify. Law firms, like all businesses, come and go. As Armen pointed out, see room 105, then follow this link. For other historic examples, check out Donovan Leisure (ethics scandal), Finley Humble (name right? anyway, total implosion). More specific to the Bay Area, see the Venture Law Group, and most recently, Coudert Bros. It helps to have some idea of a law firm's overall financial health, and how it's done before. My favorite resource for all things related to this matter is Adam Smith, Esq..

Within a firm, practice areas ebb and flow. This seems particularly true in corporate. When things go bad, M&A disappears. You can diversify your practice portfolio with bankruptcy. Real estate would seem (to me) to also be a volatile practice area, though I'm just guessing on this one. Actually, I suppose people always transact in real estate, they just only develop when times are good, so perhaps it's land use that may suffer. My point is, it may make sense to be a well-rounded practitioner (I say may, because it's not like I even practice yet).

I think litigation is pretty solid day-in, day-out, but I've made an effort to delve into multiple subject areas (patents, securities, & white collar so far) just in case the amount of work changes in one or the other. There are some practice areas I've consciously avoided. Anything too heavy into due diligence sounds incredibly vulnerable to outsourcing one day. Patent prosecution could go that way too, or just be eliminated in some areas if the Court/Congress reinterprets section 101 (i.e., I would not specialize in prosecuting software patents. It sounds much too risky). Simply put, unemployment sucks, so I'll use all the foresight I can to avoid it.

With re: to the first Anonymouse commenter, I agree it's tacky to be a red hot for the sake of showing off or putting others down. But not all competition is "red hot". Working hard and preparing for the world's different possible outcomes makes good sense in my opinion. Besides, don't steamroll the other Boalties you work with - why not put to shame the kids from that other school?

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Too Late For The Bail, Bondsmen

The reporters who broke the Barry Bonds steroids story (allegations) have been sentenced to 18(!) months in prison for contempt of court for failing to name the person who leaked grand jury testimony to them.

I'm not an expert in this (I'm not much of an expert in anything, really), but this strikes me as an absurd result. I mean, people can out a CIA agent and do less time. And these journalists aren't accused of leaking the information themselves -- they just published parts of the testimony after it was leaked to them, and then refused to cooperate with the investigation to find the leaker.

I don't know, I don't really have time to make a really cogent case -- I'll leave it to the commenters to do that -- but something about the whole situation seems a bit outrageous. Maybe it's because the contempt charge is being used so overtly as a coercive measure:
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White rejected the reporters' request for simply a monetary fine, or even house arrest, saying that prison time would best compel them to testify before the grand jury investigating the leak.

"The court is hopeful that perhaps they'll reconsider their position when faced with the reality of incarceration," White said.

Because that's what government and the judiciary should do. Threaten to imprison a person for a year and a half if they don't inform on their neighors (Hey, why not five? Damn sentencing maximums! getting in the way of dispensing justice, just like the Geneva Conventions!). Sounds like we've got our priorities in line, right Your Honor?

OK, rant over.
Update: Sports reporter Mike Lupica makes some similar points.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

You don't have to be from Indiana to be a PACER fan

PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is an amazing resource. When litigating, it allows parties to easily file and access documents. But more importantly, PACER lifts the veil on the American court system and actually allows the public to monitor the justice system. While the people have always had this right, the costs of going to court and finding the records, pleadings, and orders must have been prohibitive.

(FN: For example, while working on a case this summer, I had to request copies of some briefs filed in a case a decade ago by opposing counsel. It was amazingly slow and definitely not cost-less. In comparison, the instant access at $0.08/page on PACER is miraculous)

Once the summer ended, I found I couldn't satisfy my curiosity about the news and the law without my own PACER account, so I signed up for one. And so far, it's paying off. I saw a story this morning on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly about a bankruptcy judge who disallowed the bankrupt's claimed expense for tithing. I'll be honest, my jaw dropped. So I dug around a little more, found the judge and case number, and found a copy of the order. I have posted a copy here.

(FN: There is no copyright on works of the federal government)

The television program barely scratched the surface of what the order contains. The judge appears to have done a very careful statutory analysis, and indeed, the result appears to be compelled by the statutory text, as modified by last year's massive bankruptcy overhaul. More interesting, the change in the statute can be traced to a specific senator, Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). I've historically been a big fan of Senator Feingold, but I cannot imagine why he introduced the amendment that prevents above-median-income debtors from taking an expense for charitable giving. As Judge Littlefield wrote,

"The court does not agree with this awkward, bifurcated Congressional framework which makes charitable giving easier for some debtors and not others. Whether tithing is or is not reasonable for a debtor in bankruptcy is for Washington to decide. However, consistency and logic would demand the same treatment of all debtors under Title 11. Until Congress amends
§1325(b)(3), the court’s hands are tied and the tithing principles that this court once applied pre BAPCPA have been effectively mooted."

Unfortunately, the order does not mention any first amendment argument that disallowing a bankrupt petitioner from tithing would prevent them from freely exercising their religion. I have not had the opportunity to take First Amendment con law (maybe it could be offered more often Boalt??), so I do not know the structure of the applicable analysis. No one forced these petitioners in bankruptcy (though how would the analysis change if they had been forced into bankruptcy?), so I could imagine a rule saying they have no basis to complain because they opted in. Nonetheless, I find the whole situation enormously troubling, and Senator Feingold's involvement greatly concerns me. Did his office really introduce legislation to change the law at the behest of credit card companies and at the expense of everyday Mormons, Catholics, etc.?

Putting these questions aside for now (since I don't know the answers yet), this illustrates the power of PACER for legal research and commentary. There has not been any notice of appeal filed in this case yet, so presumably interested students, clinics, or law professors could get involved and help provide representation in cases as they are ongoing, instead of reacting to changes in the law after the fact. PACER also opens up amazing new opportunities for legal research. Access to ongoing litigation allows students and law professors to comment on and analyze cases as they are happening, and not after the fact. What good is a note criticizing a judge's opinion once the case is closed? PACER allows interested lawyers to follow cases and get involved *before* they become final orders and then volunteer their assistance.

So, the executive conclusion: 1. the new bankruptcy statute is a mess. 2. "Sen. Feingold, you have some 'splainin' to do!" 3. PACER is an outstanding tool for legal research and clinic involvement, and I am excited to see how lawyers, professors, and students use it in the future.


UPDATE: Re: point 2, Sen. Feingold. Here are his remarks about his amendments to the bankruptcy bill. He says he is strongly opposed to the bill, but that his amendments will make it better. In my opinion, it looks like Sen. Feingold tried to sink the bill by introducing unappetizing amendments (note the Utah Senator's complaint discussed at the beginning of the statement). The attempt obviously failed (for the most interesting example of this, read about the inclusion of "sex" in the Civil Rights Act in Eskridge & Frickey's Legislation casebook), and now we're stuck with Sen. Feingold's "poison pill".

(FN: I'm assuming the amendment was intended as a poison pill. Sen. Feingold's statement does not mention it the amendment. I just would like to believe that this amendment stems from Sen. Feingold's opposition to the bill, and not a political contribution)

I need to go back to reading for classes I'm actually in, but I leave this mystery to the rest of the internet to poinder.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Crazed media jackal Nancy Grace has reached a new low. Long accustomed to feeding on the carrion of personal tragedy in front of a national cable audience, the despicable Grace has now crossed definitively the line between observer/reporter/commentator and vigilante. Last Friday, CNN aired a taped interview with 21-year-old Melinda Duckett, a woman who, in all fairness to Grace I guess, was a suspect in her two-year-old son’s disappearance. Grace, never one to let the formalities of decency hinder her style, stood up on her hind legs and put the screws to Duckett with a typical fist-pounding inquisition about her possible involvement in the disappearance, proclaiming at one point “You’re not telling us where you were for a reason! What is the reason?” This kind of thing is nothing new. Grace, a former Georgia prosecutor, could badger a witness in her sleep. The twist is that after taping the interview, Melinda Duckett went home and shot herself.

In classic cable-news fashion, CNN not only aired the interview anyway, it RAN A TICKER DURING THE INTERVIEW informing fans of the “development” of the suicide. Classy move. The suicide actually seems to have heightened police suspicion about Duckett’s involvement, so through one twisted perspective, Grace was right to nail Duckett to the wall. After all, Grace’s only objective is to “find that little boy,” and whatever casualties happen along the way are just collateral damage. In denying any culpability for the suicide, Grace shrugged off the blame on her show by saying “sometimes the truth hurts.”

Huh? What truth is she talking about? The one at which she unilaterally arrived?

If you take a step back, this is all pretty disturbing. Nancy Grace is a TALK SHOW HOST. She is not acting as part of the judiciary or executive. Yet CNN defends its decision to air the show by citing its primary goal of “bringing attention to the case in hopes of helping find Trenton Duckett.” Again I say: never mind procedure! Never mind the constitutional protections we afford defendants! Actually, Melinda Duckett was not even a defendant yet! But never mind! CNN is on the case! Totally disinterested, I might add. I’m sure their own ratings never entered their consideration.

I could go on about all the things I find wrong with this chain of events, but I’m trying to keep this relatively short (and failing as usual). Many commentators are focusing on the ethics of CNN’s decision to air an interview with a young woman whose suicide may or may not have occurred in part BECAUSE of that interview (but I certainly can’t say it did for sure, and hey, why let tact stand in the way of CNN’s relentless pursuit of justice anyway?) However, I don’t find the news channel’s move particularly surprising.

What concerns me most as a student of the law is that Grace, both a former lawyer and ostensibly a journalist, effectively played the role of prosecutor, judge, and jury (if not executioner) on national television without anything like due process. No procedural checks are in place to ensure a fair trial in the court of public opinion, and I imagine Melinda Duckett walked onto the set that day without fully appreciating that fact. Grace describes her show as a justice-themed interview show, but this kind of justice reeks of lynch-mob mentality. I really have no idea if Duckett was guilty or not, or whether Grace’s inquisition really factored in her suicide, but that doesn’t really matter to me. There are any number of possibilities, and they all turn my stomach. Take for instance, the “best” case scenario: that Duckett was guilty in some way, that she was trying to escape prosecution, but that Nancy Grace pinned her down on live television and force-fed her the guilt she had been dodging, leading to the inevitable crushing weight of conscience that forced her hand to suicide. Should we as a society be comfortable with this? Is this a suitable way for “guilty” parties to be exposed and dispatched?

Or maybe Melinda Duckett was guilty and was going to kill herself anyway, but decided to stop off for a TV appearance beforehand. Are we any more comfortable with that? Never mind the chilling possibility that Duckett, totally blameless and fragile, was pushed over the psychological edge by a frothing-at-the-mouth Grace. In any case, this all rings of both a dystopic, Orwellian future, and a barbaric vein of human history that includes public executions and gladiatorial entertainment. Personally, I find both worth avoiding to any extent we can manage.

You may find that I have overstated things here, but even accepting the news media’s ever-expanding role in our lives and actions, I find this kind of social development alarming. You may believe that events like these are anomalous and exist in a sphere separate from real justice, but I find it difficult to have learned what I have about the painstaking evolution of our system, and then see events like this unfold on national television.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


UPDATE: I'm moving it up in light of apps going out. Also if people want to post interview offers, I'll be more than happy to add them to the main post here.

Questions and answers regarding clerkships.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In the Peanut Gallery

I have an externship this semester in the San Francisco federal courthouse. My three co-externs are all from Hastings. When I got in this morning, the guy who sits across from me said that there was an interesting-looking case being argued at the state Supreme Court across the street. The reason he knew this brings me to my first point: Hastings maintains a terrific informal listing of interesting stuff going on in San Francisco and Oakland courts.

One reason they do this, and one reason they are able to, brings me to my second observation: Hastings students spend a lot of time at the local courts. Civil procedure and advocacy courses seemingly all require them to go and observe, and a great many of them do externships both in the summer and (especially, I think) during the school term. The list is compiled at least in part based on the suggestions provided by students working for various judges. David and I did walk across the street to see oral argument in Barrett v. Rosenthal, and the place was packed with Hastings kids. In fact, we had to watch on closed-circuit TV in the "overflow room" down on the first floor.

What we saw in the argument brings me to my third point. The case concerned the scope of immunity against defamation claims provided by the Communications Decency Act (that part of it which is still constitutional, that is). Appellants (defendants below) maintained an Internet message board upon which some allegedly defamatory statements were posted, and they were claiming that the Act protected them since they had not actually authored (or meaningfully edited) any of the content in question. Appellees contended that once defendants had notice of the content in question they were liable for its content along with the author(s). Boalt's own Samuelson Clinic wrote an amicus brief which was referred to repeatedly by several of the justices, so my third point is this: Congratulations, guys! I don't know who worked on this project, but you evidently got the Court's attention.

Watching the argument was a lot of fun. I was disappointed at first not to be able to sit in the courtroom itself, but watching in a big room with a whole bunch of other law students (as well as interested lawyers and members of the public) turned out to be great: we could kibbitz and opine about the advocates as they did their thing. Only one person stood up when the clerk said "all rise."

Here's my last point: 1Ls should consider going to spectate at a courtroom. It's totally fun. Even with just a couple of weeks of civil procedure under your belt you'll have some insight into what's going on, and watching lawyers in action is a huge kick--at least if you're anything like me. But get some information before you go. Most courtrooms are boring most of the time--they're either empty or engaged in something like checking off a list of unserved warrants or something. Go to the Hastings site listed above or to the online calendar of the individual courts or look in the daily legal journals (ask at the reference desk in the library). The Alameda County courts in Oakland are probably the easiest to get to, and lots of great stuff goes on there. Lots of felony trials at the Rene Davidson courthouse, and good civil stuff at the Administration Building across the street. A lot of more high-profile stuff happens at the federal courthouse in SF. Don't be shy. Find something that looks like it might be good and go. You can always ask court staff if you want to know whether something else interesting is going on. In state courts the bailiffs often are good people to ask, as are "court-watchers," citizens who just watch the proceedings for the sake of entertainment. A lot of them are old, and some are crazy, but they often have the best information.


Monday, September 04, 2006

A Local Business Worth Supporting

Perhaps you saw this article on the power of internet reviews to affect new businesses.

In that vein, please consider The Happy Cafe and Petal Pushers, between Woolsey and Alcatraz on Telegraph. The coffee is strong and delicious. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, very amenable to reading. I intend to return to read, and grab coffee on the way to school.


Good Luck, We're All Counting on You

A commenter asked the rhetorical question:
Am I an asshole for being annoyed by all the people emailing me to switch interviews with them? Some people don't even give me a good reason for wanting to switch. Maybe I'm just a jerk, but I don't even like the fact that everybody doing OCIP knows what interviews I have, much less that anybody who wants to can clog my email with requests to do them a favor.
In a word, yes. I'm not a fan of the hyper-frenzy that surrounds OCIP. And I do remember the tons of e-mails about switching places. But after each one, I checked my own schedule to see if I could accomodate. I don't remember if I ever did or not, but there was no reason for me NOT to make the effort. We all have classes, and we all have firms that we want to interview with (another commenter thinks that crashing interviews is not dignified...really, who are you guys?) so there's no better time to live by the Golden Rule.

But I think the most important lesson comes from my original OCIP call back post.
I want to add my own personal thought that this is much ado about nothing. I don't understand the frenzy surrounding this whole process. You WILL get a job. It's unfortunate that you only get one chance to interview as a summer associate (assuming you weren't a summer associate last year) but at the same time barring a criminal history or a loud fart during every single interview, I think we'll all do fine. I also want to add that if any firm ever asks me why they should not hire me, the one answer that I will ever give is that because my classmates are incredibly brilliant and far more qualified than me. Best of luck to every one.
As a sort of an addendum, I want to add that during one on-campus interview, the associate interviewing me said, "Yeah it's a bit unfortuante that you only get one chance to pick the career track that you want" [referring to choice of firms and practice groups]. To which I replied, "Well, unless you Hindu." It didn't go over well, but I got the callback.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

How Honorific!!!

You know you've made it in the Blogosphere when Howard Bashman links to your post. He summarizes things very well. My post is here.

Media Law

There have been a spate of media articles about legal career issues in the last few weeks, all probably more worthy of discussion at Boalt and on this blog than unlikely predictions of finals topics (it's the second week of classes people! -- sorry Tom, don't mean to single you out). Here's a few:

Justice Scalia seems to have trouble finding qualified female clerks. Right. Here's Linda Greenhouse in the NY Times. And here's Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. And Tony Mauro from the Legal Times, who also notes the lack of ethnic diversity among the clerks.

Boalt alum Stacita shares some thoughts on some recent sociological research (publicized in Forbes) on the successful marriage prospects of "career women". Of course, since about 60% of women over 16 work -- 75% of those full-time -- perhaps the issue discussed should be "successful marriage prospects in the US" more generally.

Over at the WSJ, the Law Blog points out this interesting tidbit:
The Census Bureau’s annual data trove on Americans has revealed that within “legal occupations,” men had a median income of $102,272, but women earned slightly less than half that amount. As a result, according to the findings, law is the field with the widest income disparity between men and women. Here’s the WSJ story.

Karen Mathis, the president of the American Bar Association, offered this explanation: “As with so many other fields, support staff in law tend to be more populated by women than by men, and those numbers bring down the statistical information on women’s earnings.”

She added: “That said, the ABA is aware that there are discrepancies between the earnings of women and men functioning at the same level in the legal profession.” She pointed out that full-time male lawyers were paid a median weekly salary of $1,748 last year, according to the Labor Department. Their female counterparts made $1,354.

And finally, in what is easily the least newsworthy of the articles I've chosen to feature, the NY Times weighs in on the start of a new associate class. Can you believe those kids make so much money? Me neither! Great photo though. Looks like a Fox 20-something law drama promo, a la Aaron Sorkin.

Talk amongst yourselves. Play nice.