Category Archives: Law: Practice

I Look Forward to Reading This Paper

Robert Condlin, ‘Practice Ready Graduates’: A Millennialist Fantasy”. Abstract:

The sky is falling on legal education say the pundits, and preparing “practice ready” graduates is the best strategy for surviving the fallout. This is a millennialist version of the argument for clinical legal education that dominated discussion in the law schools in the 1960s and 1970s. The circumstances are different now, as are the people calling for reform, but the two movements are alike in one respect: both view skills instruction as legal education’s primary purpose. Everything else is a frolic and detour, and a fatal frolic and detour in hard times such as the present.

No one would dispute that the United States legal system has a labor market problem, but law schools cannot revive the labor market, or improve the employment prospects of their graduates, by providing a different type of instruction. Placing students in jobs is a function of a school’s academic reputation, not its curriculum, and the legal labor market will rebound only after the market as a whole has rebounded (and perhaps not then). The cause of the present troubles is a lack of jobs, not a lack of graduates (of any kind), and producing more “practice ready” graduates will have no effect on the supply of jobs. The proposal is a spectacular non sequitur to the present troubles.

The concept of “practice ready” also is unintelligible and would be impossible to implement if it were not. There are as many different types of practice, for example, as there are levels of readiness for it and proponents of the proposal do not say which of these various possibilities (and combinations of possibilities), they have in mind. If the expression had a clear meaning, law schools still could not implement it because proficiency at practice depends upon dispositions (i.e., habits informed by reflection), and dispositions take longer than a law school course to develop. Like a lot of blog commentary, the “practice ready” proposal is more slogan than idea. Perhaps that is why it is so popular.

Not pulling any punches here, are we? Lest you think Prof. Condlin (whom I don’t know) is an Ivory tower guy or anti-clinic, here’s his official bio:

From 1969 to 1972, Professor Condlin was an assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He represented the Commonwealth in several major lawsuits in state and federal court, including Massachusetts v. Laird, an original action in the United States Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Vietnam War, Sturgis v. Quinn, the state court precursor to the Supreme Court decision in Baird v. Bellotti, upholding a woman’s right to birth control, and Board of Appeals of Concord v. Housing Appeals Committee of the Department of Community Affairs, the first defense of an anti-snob zoning statute in the United States. He left the Attorney General’s office in 1972 to establish the Urban Legal Laboratory, a full-semester clinical program for students of Boston College Law School, run jointly with the Boston Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. In 1974 he became a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School, where he taught and did graduate study in the field of clinical law. He left Harvard in 1976 to become associate professor of law at the University of Virginia, where he created that school’s clinical law program. He moved to Maryland in 1980. He has served as a consultant to the AALS Law Teachers Clinic and Clinical Teachers Training Conferences and to the Canadian Law Teachers Clinic and has taught at Indiana University Law School at Bloomington as a visiting professor

OK, a little ivory tower, maybe. But the paper sounds like it might be a useful corrective to certain over-enthusiasms.

Posted in Law School, Law: Practice | 3 Comments

Britt Blaser Wins ‘Law Day’

The attempted rebranding of May Day as ‘Law Day‘ by anti-communist Cold War legislators never took off. I think the idea of a ‘Law Day’ isn’t bad (although isn’t every day law day?), but as a piece of counter-programming it has always been both too half-hearted and rather tone-deaf.

But in the true spirit of the occasion here’s a vaguely law-related May 1st post from Britt Blaser: Hooray, Hooray, The First of May!.

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How to Make Your Point in a Five-Page Amicus Brief

Bob Kohn opposes the DOJ’s proposed ebook pricing settlement with three book publishers. District Judge Denise Cote granted him leave to intervene as an amicus — but wouldn’t take his a 55-page brief. She gave him leave to file only five pages.

Kohn responded with the most unusual amicus brief I’ve ever seen: a comic strip. And it makes his point.

Here, if the embedding works, is the full text.

Kohn Amicus

(Spotted via EFF’s James S. Tyre’s posting to a mailing list.)

Posted in Law: Practice | 3 Comments

Congratulations Law Graduates

On the occasion of your graduation, I offer you these Ten Tips for a Successful Transition from Law School to Law Practice, from Business Law Today.

(But first, pass the bar.)

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Breaking: Lawyers Only SECOND Most Sleep-Deprived Profession

Home health aides are #1 by a full three minutes.

NYT, America’s 10 Most Sleep-Deprived Jobs.

Spotted via Slashdot, which totally missed the story: Computer Programmers Only the 5th Most Sleep Deprived Profession.

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Could This Be the Best Argument for Taking Drugs?

I don’t know exactly what the Great Grimmelmann’s “inner stoner” has been smoking, but I think we could all do with a hit of it.

Here are two cute ideas for law reform:

Stoner Law Reform: Fee-Shifting. I think it’s interesting. Because the marginal utility of money is not linear, I’m still not sure about it, but it’s still interesting.

Stoner Law Reform: Trial by DVD. I really like this one.

He promises more to come. (I hope he has a prescription for that stuff. It does seem to be what the doctor ordered.)

Posted in Law: Practice | 1 Comment

Do People Really Do This Stuff?

Two items from today’s news raise similar questions about whether people — even lawyers — really are ready to exercise their legal rights in socially awkward situations. (And if even lawyers are not, do those rights mean anything?)

First, this from the NYT “Haggler” column, the New York Times’s consumer meta-advocate. The column, Restaurant Bill Shock? Some Readers Say ‘Au Contraire’, is a followup to an earlier one about someone going to a very fancy restaurant, ordering the daily special — pasta with truffles, price not mentioned by waiter — and being shocked by the dish’s $275 price tag.

Readers wrote in with suggestions, including this one from Franklin Synder, a law professor at Texas Wesleyan:

“You might be interested in letting your readers know that a restaurant meal is a ‘sale of goods’ under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code,” he wrote. “The code provides that where the buyer and seller have agreed to a contract but have not agreed on the price, the price is not what the seller subsequently demands. It’s a reasonable price for the goods at issue. Thus a customer has no obligation to pay for anything more than the reasonable price of a pasta meal at a trendy restaurant.”

He continued: “In this circumstance, a customer should make a reasonable offer for the value of the meal, then walk out and wait to be sued for breach of contract. Be sure to leave the restaurant full contact information so they can’t claim that you’re trying to steal something.”

I confess I may know one or two people who might actually try this if sufficiently provoked, but I do not think I am part of that tiny minority.

Similarly, there is this piece of advice in today’s Miami Herald about what to do when boarding a cruise, offered by one Gabrielle D’Alemberte, who is identified a senior trial attorney at the Law Offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L., a Coral Gables-based plaintiff’s litigation firm:

For those of us in South Florida who travel outside the United States, it’s important to understand that many other countries in Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America have similar laws that make it difficult to file lawsuits in negligence-related cases. If the unthinkable occurs — a child’s drowning in a hotel pool, a crippling watercraft accident at a Caribbean resort or an outbreak of a dangerous virus on a cruise ship — the choice of forum makes a huge difference in the legal outcome.

Therefore, you have to be sure to read the fine print before signing your passenger ticket for a cruise. If you purchase your ticket through a travel agent, be sure you see the actual documents prior to departure — and send an email to the agent to document that request.

When you come to the choice of forum clause in your ticket, take out your pen and cross out a few words, such as “I agree to…” and hand the documents back to the boarding agent. While the agent has the right to deny you from boarding, most likely you will still be ushered aboard.

Likely? Likely? Let me tell you that if I were to persuade my wife to go on a cruise and then attempted to pull this stunt, I would probably be disowned. And if it resulted in our being denied boarding, I don’t even want to think of the consequences. Has Ms. D’Alemberte, or anyone in Parks firm actually tried this stunt? I’m dubious, even if she is Sandy D’Alemberte’s daughter. Admittedly it would be easier to recover from this stunt if you are sailing from a port where you live, since you can turn around and get home easily, but I think it might put a serious damper on your vacation, not to mention your relationship.

I’m not even certain whether the cruise line would be obligated to refund your money in these circumstances. I suppose it depends on at what point you are said to have accepted the language in the ticket – when they send it to you or when you hand it over to board. Is there a contracts lawyer in the house?

More generally, and more importantly, who lives like this? (And why should we have to?) No one I know does this, and I hang around lawyers all the time.

Posted in Law: Everything Else, Law: Practice | 5 Comments