Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

Swearing-In Ceremony

Justice R. Fred Lewis, a very loyal alumnus, swore in students from the class of 2014 this evening — recent graduates who learned only yesterday that the passed the bar. They looked pretty happy about it.

The Justice told the graduates that they were starting a new life, “24/7 you’re going to be a lawyer.” He extolled the value of civility in personal and professional life. He reminded the graduates that they had achieved their law license with the help of many others, friends and family. That license he told them, permits many things, but “not to be an ass.”

There was more good advice: keep some perspective, don’t let anyone suck the joy out of your life, do good works, think of life balance.

Then he administered Florida’s highly aspirational oath:

I do solemnly swear:

“I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida;

“I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers;

“I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land;

“I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law;

“I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my clients, and will accept no compensation in connection with their business except from them or with their knowledge and approval;

“To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications;

“I will abstain from all offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged;

“I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice. So help me God.”1

It was a very happy event, but I couldn’t help but think about the almost 18.8% of our Florida test-takers who didn’t pass the bar. Florida overall had an almost 30% failure rate, which is substantially higher than in recent years; FSU’s pass rate was about half a percent higher than ours this year, U.Florida had a 10% better rate. Other law schools in the state did worse, or much worse, than we did. Our results were not by that measure embarrassing, indeed the pass percentage was higher than last year, but I still wish it was better. The administration will crunch the numbers, but we’ve not in the past been able to spot many predictors other than being right near the bottom of the class, and that itself is very imperfect. Oh yes, and some small part of the 18.8% will be long-ago graduates who retired to Florida and decided to take the bar. The Florida Bar counts them as our graduates for this purpose.


  1. I didn’t hear anything about a chance to affirm the oath. I hope this option was made clear to the graduates before the event. []
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FL Bar Results Tomorrow

Wasting no time, we’re having a swearing-in ceremony in Gussman Hall Tuesday evening for members of the Class of 2014 who passed the Florida Bar. Justice R. Fred Lewis of the Florida Supreme Court will be presiding, which is pretty nice.

One of the odd things about teaching law is that unless they turn up at alumni events you don’t necessarily ever learn for sure whether your former students passed the bar; since people don’t advertise their troubles it’s even rarer to learn who among them failed. (Presumably all *my* students passed, right, since they’re the sort of hard workers who self-selected hard courses, right?) We do get a cumulative score for in-state exam takers, but we also have a lot of students who take other states’ bar exams. Indeed, arguably, the ones who go farther away are disproportionately our more motivated students, so it’s always hard to know exactly what to make of the in-state success number. This and other reasons is why I’ve argued time and again that Bar Pass Rates are Over-Rated As A Measure of Law School Quality.

In any event, here’s wishing you good fortune if you’re waiting for your results. In the unlikely event any of my former students from the class of 2014 read this blog, you are invited to email me your results, or better yet, brag in the comments below that you passed.

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Patrick Gudridge ALS Ice Bucket

Patrick Gudridge is our Vice Dean and a really smart legal academic.

Several years ago I suggested we dress up the faculty in Halloween costumes, take a group photo, and publish it online with the caption “A Serious Faculty that Doesn’t Take Itself Too Seriously”. This met with no approval at all.

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Business as Usual During Alterations

In order to debug some very odd behavior under the hood, I’ll be doing odd things to the site theme in the next day or two. While it may temporarily change the looks, it shouldn’t change the content.

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The Rumors Were True

Donna Shalala will ‘step down’ as U.Miami President at the end of the school year.

It is with gratitude and affection for the University that I share with you my decision to step down at the end of the 2014-2015 university year. A long time ago a friend advised me to always leave a job when you still love it. That is certainly the case here.

Despite her reaction to the strike, on balance President Shalala has been an excellent leader for the University of Miami. She will be a very tough act to follow.

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Gripe (Small)

WordPress released a new version of its TwentyTen theme.  Would it kill them to include a changelog?

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Dan is Blogging Again

Froomkin-Hi-Res-Original_350

Dan Froomkin

In most folks’ opinion, including mine, my brother Dan’s most successful media work was when he blogged about the White House at White House Watch from 2004-2009. Now Dan’s back with an expanded brief at The Intercept.

See the inaugural post, Froomkin Blogs Again: Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal. Lots of good stuff about how Obama doubling down on Bush-era policies that destroy privacy, and sweeping torture under the carpet, will make it harder than ever to eradicate either. Plus, there’s a summary of Dan’s new orientation (which, happily, intersects with some of my scholarly interests):

Even in a flawed press climate, a pretty compelling picture emerges when you connect the dots. I’ll be doing that relentlessly, and with a particular focus on the areas that concern me the most. Among them: National security issues and whistleblowing; the collapse of oversight; media failure; political exploitation of fear; torture; the corrupting influence of money; and the moral bankruptcy of the major political parties.

I also want to spend a lot of time exploring issues related to privacy policy in an era of ubiquitous data. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s primary and most admirable goal was to spark a national conversation about surveillance and privacy. But the conversations that have ensued have been relatively narrow and muted.

I’ll be doing original reporting — from the Snowden archive, and elsewhere. I’ll be asking lots of questions. And I intend to serve as a megaphone for sometimes insufficiently heard people who have great ideas — and who have a track record of being proven correct over time, rather than, say, consistently wrong. (Nominees welcome!)

And I’ll be depending on readers to do it all. There’s so much more to keep track of than there was even five years ago — heck, keeping abreast of Twitter lately has been nearly a full-time job — so I’ll need help finding the newest, the most intriguing, the best and the worst. There will be new ways for informed readers to make important contributions to the discussion.

Most significantly, this is a work in progress. The principal goal that seems to be emerging at First Look Media — the umbrella organization financed by Pierre Omidyar that publishes The Intercept — is experimentation in the pursuit of accountability.

It’s great to see Dan back in this harness. Just one cavil: the title of his first post is “Froomkin Blogs Again”? What have I been doing here for the last decade plus?

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