Monday, June 22, 2009

Plot Thickens In Iran

Yesterday, the Iranian government issued its staunchest threat yet toward the people’s rebellion in response to the election results and has concurrently threatened to arrest Mir Hussein Moussavi, the reformist opposition candidate. The “Revolutionary Guards warned protesters Monday that they would face a ‘revolutionary confrontation’ if they returned to the streets to challenge the presidential election results in defiance of the country’s leadership.” Unsurprisingly, as the New York Times reports, the threat has diluted protest turnouts.

Within hours of the warning, several hundred protesters—far fewer than in mass rallies last week—gathered in central Tehran, and police used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse them, news agencies reported.

Curiously however, for the first time in days, the Iranian election-monitoring agency has formerly acknowledged that more than 3 million of the 40 million ballots cast may have been plagued with irregularities. With the world watching, the onus is on the Iranian government to ensure that every vote is counted correctly. But the world is growing steadily impatient.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Food for Thought...

I wonder if the ABA would help push a type of debt-reduction similar to this one... after all, it is its fault that (A) we have degree inflation and (B) we have a completely useless third-year of law school we must attend (among other (C) through (ZZZZZZZ)s)...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to Restart Your Career in a Down Economy

From time to time, we receive e-mails notifying us of upcoming events. We always appreciate the information and are more than happy to pass along information that may be useful to our readers.

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York has informed of us of one event that sounds particularly intriguing. It, along with, will host a day long program called “Getting Back in the Game: How to Restart Your Career in a Down Economy.” The Association explains that this program is “designed to assist job-seeking attorneys in learning how best to market themselves whether they are looking to go to a firm, start their own practice or are considering an alternative legal career.” We understand things aren't pretty our there in the legal world and commend the New York City Bar and for putting together what looks to be a stellar event.

Speakers will include Patricia Hynes (President of the New York City Bar), Brian Dalton (Senior Law Editor of, David Lat (founding editor of Above The Law), T.J. Duane (Principal of Lateral Link), a hiring partner and recruiting director from major international law firms, and many other notable members of the legal community.

When: Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where: New York City Bar Association, 42 West 44th Street

Check out the Association's website for further information as registration (along with a registration fee) is required.

Is it "Wrong" for Judges to Follow Precedent? (Revisited)

About a month ago, I shared Goutam Jois' interesting article, Stare Decisis is Cognitive Error, with our readers. Some of our commenters took issue with the practical significance of Goutam's piece, and--given the interesting nature of the discussion--I wanted to share his response with our readers:
Sorry for the delay in responding. The article -- which is still in draft and will be published this fall -- could perhaps be clearer about what judges should do "instead" of following precedent. But the answer is not as elusive as it seems. Circuit courts, for example, routinely see cases of first impression, over 100 a year by my quick estimate (Westlaw: ("first impression" /s "this court" "this circuit" & da(2008)) yields 127 results) The standard tools of judicial decision-making that come up there would apply.

More broadly, as I write in the article, the point is not that judges should never follow prior decisions. It is, however, that we should be critical when they do. I outline three ways this might be done in Part IV.C. Whichever option one finds most persuasive, the point is that (if you buy my basic point about cognitive bias) there should be some degree of shift in the presumption that prior decisions must in all cases control subsequent cases.

Generally, we test whether a case is sound by examining its legal reasoning. But if, as I argue, the process of reasoning is itself skewed, then we need to be sure that we are following those prior cases for the right reasons, and not just because doing so saves "the intolerable labor of thought."
I have to say, Goutam's defense of his piece is quite persuasive. First, academic articles are not--nor need they be--purely pragmatic. And the skeptical "solution" he prescribes makes a lot of sense in light of his findings. I'm curious to hear what others think.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Prop. 8 Rehearing Petition Filed

Per the docket sheet. It will almost certainly be denied, but anything's possible. Especially with an issue that has already created (somewhat) strange bedfellows in David Boies and Ted Olson.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Open Thread: Researching for Dummies

Okay, I admit it. I didn't go to any of the "here's how you save money when researching on the client's dime" sessions last Spring. I simply didn't have the time. And, if not for the free Westlaw/Lexis access the representatives periodically dole out to working law students, I'd probably be regretting that decision a lot.

Put simply, researching on the online databases is expensive. As a law student with free access, I've often lost sight of this and not worked to develop efficient research habits. While I'm trying my very best now (and hopefully succeeding!), I think we can all use a thread to discuss helpful research habits.

I'll start by sharing a few of my own:

1) Google first! Obviously, Google's not the ideal repository for in-depth legal research, but you can find an awful lot of good information on Google that saves you the time you need to gain a threshold understanding of an issue (i.e. figure out what it is you're researching).

2) Library second! Last summer, a partner called me into his office and gave me a lengthy research assignment that didn't seem Westlaw/Lexis-friendly. I asked him how he'd suggest I get started, and he advised me to consult the headnotes in the case reporters. At that point, I'd never actually seen one which seems crazy in retrospect. I think the accessibility of internet documents makes us averse to non-online avenues of tracking down information, but it's helpful to make full use of these resources. For one, they're free (assuming they're in the library already). More importantly, they often lead to an array of other research ideas.

3) Think first, research later! Try to figure out what you want to find before you actually sign on to find it. Whether you're using a transactional or hourly service, it can only help to have a plan so you can cut down on time thinking while "on the clock" or "in searches."

4) Relax. A friend of mine recently got a fifty-state survey assignment (those who've done these know how time-intensive they can be). When my friend explained to the assigning partner that the "research would be costly" the partner told him to "not worry about it and just get the job done." This is good advice. Ultimately, it's good to save money where possible but clients understand that good research--like anything us law students/lawyers can provide--comes at a cost. And, within bounds of reasonableness, they'll be willing (maybe even happy) to pay.

With that, I turn the floor over to our (hopefully still present) faithful.

In Ben & Tim We Trust? Nightmare #2

Never have I read a wire-report that has more inadvertently used a proper verb to describe the (ongoing and soon to worsen) economic mess that is Federal Economic Policy. Here, the word of choice is "divine." The entire paragraph that caught my fancy reads:
"With officials still grappling to divine the factors steepening the yield curve, a speedy decision on whether to ramp up the Treasury debt purchase program or the related plan to snap up mortgage-related debt seems unlikely."

Here's a dictionary definition (from Webster's):

div·i·na·tion            Listen to the pronunciation of divination
Middle English divinacioun, from Latin divination-, divinatio, from divinare
14th century
1: the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers
2: unusual insight : intuitive perception

Things are so economically bad in this country that our Ivy-trained economists are no more useful at telling us what is going on than the Horoscopes.

Sweet dreams are made of these...