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Letters to the Editor

Animal Law and Animal Rights: Pride and Dismay


In reading the November issue of the ABA Journal, I was happy and proud to see the article “Beast Practices,” on one of the newest emerging areas of practice, animal law. This topic is of particular interest to me as the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section is the only entity in the association with an Animal Law Com­mittee.

In fact, most of the people interviewed for the article are leaders in this com­mittee and some were panelists for the TIPS 2007 ABA animal law program “How to Repre­sent Petey: Animals in Entertainment,” which was the 2007 ABA Annual Meeting program referred to in the article.

While this very active group only has been a TIPS committee for just over three years, it has grown substantially, with an international mem­bership. This highly energized entity has been instrumental in pre­­senting CLE programs (with prominent speakers such as animal scientist and author Temple Grandin), delivering teleconferences, conducting committee meetings and presenting an Ex­cel­­lence in the Ad­vance­ment of Animal Law Award at the ABA An­nual Meeting.

In addition, this entity has partnered with many other related organizations and has engaged in animal res­cue work during the natural disasters we have recently experienced on both coasts. I invite you to visit the TIPS Animal Law Com­mit­tee website at abanet.org/tips/animal/ home. For information on joining the TIPS Animal Law Committee, please contact Linda Wiley at lmwiley@staff.abanet.org.

Peter Bennett
Portland, Maine
2007-2008 Chair
Tort Trial and Insurance
Practice Section


My eyes were also brimming with tears of sadness that available written quality material on issues of import to our profession, our society, our workplace (or leftovers from the major law reviews) were in such mediocre supply—or the decision-selection pro­cess at the ABA Journal so defective—that a piece like “Beast Prac­tices,” the subject of which belongs on Oprah, could find six pages to fill.

I read it twice to confirm what I thought was just geriatric vision difficulty but confirmed, through those tears of the author and legal veterinarian ambulance chasers, that not one reference (or footnote) was made to the tens of thousands of attacks on humans, which often leave physical and mental scars. No evaluation was made of the millions of pounds of feces left on municipal streets and sidewalks, which must resemble litter boxes to the needy owners, who according to the author, should have tort claims comparable to the loss of spousal sex. In fact, the old practice of presenting both sides seems to have disappeared. Is the Journal now the writ­ten face of the courtroom win­ning-is-everything modus?

Was there no hint of absurdity when William Kunstler and his notorious but less infamous partner were needed to support a thesis calculated to add even more ammunition to the accusations of disgraceful contempt in which today’s tort bar holds the heritage of our precious common law?

Stanley B. Scheinman
Westport, Conn.


TWO TAKES ON LAPTOPS IN THE CLASSROOM

Thank you for Jill Schachner Chanen’s article on the problems presented in the classroom by the use of student laptops Profs Kibosh Students’ Laptops, Novem­ber. I am a 1L who bought a laptop specifically for use at school, but I have decided not to have my laptop in use during class time. I find the surrounding laptops to be extremely distracting with screens filled with online shopping, the latest celebrity gossip or popular networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. I feel it has brought down the level of engagement in class, and I am disappointed that professors and law schools have allowed the learning environment to be subdued by the attraction of having a “wired” campus.

Wendy Fawcett
Chicago


I read “Profs Kibosh Students’ Laptops” with amazement and surprise. Being a recent law school graduate, I recall using my laptop in the vast majority of my class meetings strictly for note taking, with an occasional fast trip to Westlaw or to Lexis to look up a case. By the time I graduated, nearly all of my professors not only had caught on to using computers in class, but they encouraged it, especially for final exams. Most of us can type faster than we can write long-hand, and the typed word is so much more easily read.

Yes, there was the occasional stu­dent who played video poker, check­ed out playoff scores, and a few e-mailers and same-timers. This distracted me for a few minutes, and then I went to work on my own studies.

When I graduated, I applied to the Supreme Court of Ohio for bar exam and admission online with my laptop. Virtually all of my legal research is done on my laptop. Every letter, opinion and brief is typed out on my laptop. Many courts now accept filings online, which again is done on a laptop. Many court stenographers have switched over to laptops. Most lawyers I know spend their working life between their laptop and their BlackBerry, which is the micro-version of their laptop. It’s a laptop world out there—we need to get used to it.

The world is full of distractions. A good lawyer needs to know how to sort out facts from those distractions. A good lawyer needs to make a judge, jury and opposing counsel understand his point through a thicket of distractions. Hopefully, learning how to do this begins somewhere in law school. I learned the most in law school from those professors who had something important to say and said it in a way that made me want to listen, even over the day-to-day din of distractions, laptops included.

Robert Arquette
Sylvania, Ohio

ONCE WAS COMMON

I read with amazement your recent article “Charging by the Slice,” November, page 28, in which the author discussed “value billing.” I have been in active practice for more than 65 years, and I was amazed to read that value billing is a recent and relatively new idea. It was the common practice in Connecticut until most lawyers adopted the method of billing of the tradesmen, carpenters, plumbers, etc.

I, as well as many others who I know, have never adopted the hourly rate as the determinant of the value of our fees. It is and has been my practice for all of these years, with few exceptions, to request a retainer where possible and discuss the fees at the conclusion of the matter, with the assurance to the client that it has to be agreed by both of us. I have never once had to proceed against a client for fees, nor have I been engaged in any dispute with a client for my services.

In my opinion, hourly billing has been a disaster for the clients. The longer a lawyer can take to complete a project, the larger are the fees. I believe that the value of the services rendered should be the guiding principle in arriving at a proper compensation, and I am shocked that an article appeared in the Journal that did not recognize thatt had been the method of billing for many, many years.

Leo Nevas
Westport, Conn.

A NOD TO McELHANEY

After 30 years of practice and subscription to the ABA Journal, I am realizing that my collection of torn-out pages of McElhaney on Litigation is becoming substantial. I have found the articles to be consistently entertaining and informative. It occurs to me that James McElhaney deserves five-star recognition for his tireless devotion of time, energy, insight and personality.

Richard J. Lyding
Walnut Creek, Calif.


CORRECTION

In “Friends of the Court Are Friends of Mine,” November, the counsel of record for Granholm v. Heald was incorrectly identified. James Alexander Tanford and Robert D. Epstein brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kathleen Sullivan argued it. The Journal regrets the error.

CLARIFICATION

Some readers of the “ABA Journal Blawg 100,” December, page 30, incorrectly inferred that David Lat, author of Above the Law, was fired or asked to resign from the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office because of his blogging. As the story said, “he left willingly.”

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Newsmakers of the Year 2007 and 2008

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Time to Reflect, Then Back to Work


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