Archive for October, 2012

Oct 31 2012

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From the Bookshelf: The Happy Lawyer

Filed under Law Library

On Monday, I resolved to stop procrastinating and finish this book.  It’s not that this book is boring, but not all chapters are relevant to every reader.  Therefore, I recommend you make use of the table of contents and read those chapters that interest you most.  This book first explains why some lawyers are unhappy, and then suggests individual and institutional changes that would increase lawyer happiness.  It is a very valuable resource because it leads the reader through exercises designed to get you thinking about your life and values in the big picture, as opposed to focusing on just your career and what that should look like.  I encourage you to check out this title at the Annex, KF 300.L48 2010.  Spoiler alert: I am going to mention some of the most interesting and/or useful portions of the book after the jump in case you don’t want to read the whole thing, but are interested in the topic. Continue Reading »

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Oct 28 2012

Profile Image of Steven

New whitehouse.gov page is a great starting place for Executive Branch research

Filed under Federal Legal

The official site for the Executive Branch and the Office of the President is found at whitehouse.gov and offers the researcher a great new interface and “one-stop shopping” for all types of research, legal or just curious.  Where else are you going to find histories of every First Lady alongside fun trivia facts about Air Force One and brief biographies of every President in chronological order? There is also of course the requisite policy briefing statements and links to the various Cabinet sites as well.  It is a well-done upgrade and provides plenty of useful and entertaining information as well.

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Oct 25 2012

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2012 Massachusetts Ballot Questions

It’s almost election day.  Although it’s been impossible to avoid Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren ads, you may be less familiar with the ballot questions that will be posed to Massachusetts voters in November.  There was a mailing sent out by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, but in case you missed it, your roommate threw it out, etc., you can find the text of the questions, summaries of the laws, and arguments for and against the enactment of these laws here.  The questions this year are about availability of motor vehicle information, prescribing medication to end life (physician assisted suicide), and medical use of marijuana.  Don’t forget that you may be required to provide identification with your name and address at which you’re registered to vote.  Acceptable forms of identification are listed here.

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Oct 19 2012

Profile Image of Steven

DOMA is struck down AGAIN.

For the second time in the last few months, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Circuit Court. In yesterday’s decision, the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling  that DOMA violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, thus joining the First Circuit in invalidating key provisions of the discriminatory Federal legislation.

 

To read the ruling, click HERE.

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Oct 19 2012

Profile Image of Jennifer

And Duties As Assigned

Filed under Current Awareness

When you think about the day-to-day duties of a lawyer, what comes to mind?  You expect to meet with clients, research, write, negotiate with opposing counsel, and maybe go to court, but there may be some additional tasks you haven’t thought of.  How do clients know about you so that they can come meet with you?  Of course, some firms have in-your-face TV ads, but one way to attract sophisticated clients is demonstrating your expertise in a law firm blog.  Many firms have blogs, either one for the entire firm, or a blog for each practice area.  Attorneys are often expected to write a post each week, discussing a new development in their field or commenting on a major legal news story.  Here’s an example from my friend, Colin, on the politicization of judicial retention votes in Indiana.

You might have noticed that this kind of blog post is more formal than those associated with hobbies.  It cites sources in addition to linking to other commentators.  However, you want potential clients to understand your message, so you want to adopt a personal, readable style.  For more tips on writing a legal blog, check out Stop Writing Boring Legal Blog Posts and Tips for Writing a Successful Legal Blog.  Want to see some of the best legal blogs?  Check out the ABA Blawg 100.

The final thing you might be wondering is how you’re going to come up with topics to write about on a weekly basis.  Current awareness resources, like BNA and Law 360, can come in handy here.  The Finding News & Keeping Current as a Lawyer research guide includes additional links to resources useful for topic inspiration.  You probably will not take a class where you learn to write these kinds of marketing materials, but resources you’ve learned about in other contexts will help you write impressive posts!

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Oct 18 2012

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Boston Book Festival (October 27)

Filed under Free!,Fun!,Law Library

If you love books and reading, you may be interested in the Boston Book Festival on Saturday, October 27. A few highlights of the festival:

  • Political Culture: NPR’s Tom Ashbrook moderates a conversation with Randall Kennedy, Lawrence Lessig, Michael Sandel and others on the state of political culture in the U.S.
  • Future of Reading: a discussion of technologists, publishers and writers about books and publishing in a digital age
  • Books Behind Bars: a discussion with former inmates and repesentatives of literary organizations that serve prison populations on the impact of books and reading in and out of prison

Check out the full schedule of events, times and locations here. Other than a few ticketed events, the sessions are free and open to the public.

Making time to read for pleasure can be a challenge for busy law students. This is one opportunity to explore books and ideas before the approach of exams tightens the time squeeze.

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Oct 16 2012

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“No Jerks allowed!” Or, why it pays to be NICE.

Filed under 1L

Now that I have your attention…

The American Bar Association recently (well, quai-recently, hey, even the best blog watcher can get behind a bit!)  published an article in its journal about the law firm phenomena of terminating a “bad apple” from the firm’s employ.

As for getting a job if you’re perceived as negative, pessimistic or  aloof?

“A serious no-jerks policy also means carefully screening potential hires—even if that means passing up superstars who don’t fit the firm’s culture.”

Lesson to learn?

Be respectful, considerate and yes NICE to your law school colleagues, faculty and staff.

It may well pay off for you in the future!

For the whole article, see, http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/no_jerks_some_firms_argue_that_collegiality_pays/

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Oct 15 2012

Profile Image of Steven

Congress.gov…..OR, THOMAS new and improved. (Everything you need to know about Congress but were afraid to ask!)

Filed under Federal Legal,New

Just a few days ago the Library of Congress unveiled its new and greatly improved replacement site for THOMAS, its first-generation site for all things Congressional (read: legislative history).  The new site is being called congress.gov First inspection reveals a much more modern design and enhancements including Member of Congress profiles and improved searching functions.  While still in its beta stage, ultimately all of the information on THOMAS will be migrated over and the older site will  taken down.

Here’s a preview of the improved design:

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Oct 15 2012

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EU Research

Filed under EU

Looking for material regarding the EU?  Check out Europa, the EU’s official website.  It’s got legal and legislative information, publications, statistics, guides for teachers, and more!

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Oct 14 2012

Profile Image of Steven

Anyone else believe that access to primary law should be free and available electronically? CALI agrees.

Well, if you answered YES, you will be happy to know that you are not alone.  CALI (the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction www.cali.org) has just released a powerful argument for the increased availability of free access to primary legal materials. Among the most disturbing facts cited are the following:

“A 2009 report by the LSC  { the Legal Services Corporation, established by Congress in 1974 to assist the Nation’s poor in securing “equal access to legal representation”} found that:

  1. Legal aid organizations turned away half of all eligible clients because they couldn’t afford to represent them.
  2. On average, the poor only received legal representation or advice from an attorney (pro bono or otherwise) for one-fifth of their legal issues.
  3. There are over 6,000 poor individuals for every legal aid attorney.  In contrast, compared to the population as whole, there are 400 people for every private attorney. (2)

Public defenders have been facing similar funding problems and caseload issues.  According to a 2010 survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only about a quarter of public defender offices have enough attorneys to meet caseload standards. (3) Some public defender offices have attempted to be allowed to refuse cases. (4)

Unable to get help, or unaware that it might be available for free, more and more people have been representing themselves.  Courts have seen an increase in Pro se litigation. (5)  These litigants, too, have been hurt by the recession and its budget implications as the traditional place to access free legal resources is the nearest law library.  Some public law libraries have been forced to close, especially in rural areas, and almost all have had to cut back on resources that would assist the general public. (6)”  The full article, by Sarah Glassmeyer, can be found HERE.

CALI is a great FREE legal resource that all students should investigate often. Stop by the Reference Desk to receive your credentials for logging in.

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