ABA Journal

The Modern Law Library

Users Keepers: Pirates, zombies and adverse possession

"Trespassing plus time equals adverse possession," Paul Golden writes in his new book, Litigating Adverse Possession Cases: Pirates v. Zombies. When someone has occupied or used a piece of property as though they own it for long enough, a court could determine that they are the rightful owner—regardless of what the paperwork says. It's a concept more popularly discussed as squatter's rights.

James Patterson dishes on his new legal thriller, ‘The #1 Lawyer’

James Patterson has written bestsellers in many genres. But as he tells the ABA Journal's Lee Rawles in this episode of The Modern Law Library podcast, he has always been fascinated by legal thrillers, courtroom dramas and crime novels. He even considered becoming a lawyer—before his literary career took off.

‘When Rape Goes Viral’ looks at why cases like Steubenville happen

Three high-profile cases of sexual assault in 2012 followed a basic pattern: A teenage girl was sexually assaulted at a house party by one or more teenage boys while she was incapacitated by alcohol. The attacks were recorded, and the photos, videos and stories were shared on social media or via texts. The photos and videos were used to ridicule the victims among their peers. Those texts and posts later became evidence in criminal cases.

NY law prof is calling on ‘Lawyer Nation’ to reform

Ray Brescia, a law professor at Albany Law School in New York, has taken a hard look at the country's legal system in his new book, Lawyer Nation: The Past, Present, and Future of the American Legal Profession.

‘Police & the Empire City’ explores race and the origins of the NYPD

In Police & the Empire City: Race & the Origins of Modern Policing in New York, Matthew Guariglia looks at the New York City police from their founding in 1845 through the 1930s as "police transitioned from a more informal collection of pugilists clad in wool coats to what we can recognize today as a modern professionalized police department."

Yale Law’s Owen Fiss talks about threats to democracy and ‘Why We Vote’

After 50 years as a professor at Yale Law School, Owen Fiss says his students are still idealistic and passionate about the rights won in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Access to justice can be achieved, says ‘Law Democratized’ author—but not without change

In 2013, the ABA Journal named Renee Knake Jefferson a Legal Rebel for her work co-founding the Michigan State University's ReInvent Law Laboratory and rethinking how legal services could be delivered to consumers. In 2024, she's looking back at more than a decade of research and experimental programs aimed at improving access to justice—the successes and the failures.

How to plan your post-law life

There are lawyers who love the practice of law so much that they'll only leave it feet first—and in a box. But for those who'd prefer to exit the bar before closing time, Kevin McGoff has advice on planning that next chapter.

Our favorite pop culture picks in 2023

It's the time of year when The Modern Law Library hosts like to look back on the media that we've enjoyed: our annual pop culture picks episode. This year, host Lee Rawles is joined by three ABA Journal reporters: Julianne Hill, Amanda Robert and the Journal's newest employee, Anna Stolley Persky.

How is the true-crime genre impacting the way people think about innocence?

Human beings have told stories about violence and victims from our earliest records. In the 19th and 20th centuries, newspapers and magazines flourished on crime coverage. Hollywood has churned out crime movies and TV shows, based in fiction and nonfiction.

Law grad turns culinary passion into TikTok fame and a brand-new cookbook

Like many others, Jon Kung figured that law school would be a safe harbor to weather the storms of the Great Recession. But after emerging from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2011, Kung changed course.

How reckoning with trauma can help you, your clients and the legal profession

"You can't think yourself out of trauma," the introduction to Trauma-Informed Law: A Primer for Lawyer Resilience and Healing warns. "An analytical response is insufficient. As lawyers and law students, we have been trained to learn only with our minds. But there are other epistemologies—other ways of knowing and interacting with the world."

Transform your negotiations with a ‘win-win-win’ mindset, says author

Moving from a "win-lose" mentality to a "win-win" mentality has been a central focus of the field of negotiation and conflict resolution since the 1980s, says Sarah Federman. Working to walk away with a deal that pleases both sides was a huge departure from the idea that one side of a transaction will necessarily lose.

Tales of 3 generations of Black women intertwine to form ‘Memphis’

Admittedly, Tara M. Stringfellow became an attorney simply because her first book of poetry didn’t sell and she needed an income. But after a few years at Crown Castle in Chicago doing family and real estate law, she left, heading straight to the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Northwestern University to get back into the writing game—this time with a lawyer’s sharpened pencil.

Complex litigation judge has 50 ideas to simplify the courts

As both an attorney and a judge, Thomas Moukawsher has spent the majority of his career dealing in complex litigation. And the Connecticut Superior Court judge would like to make the legal system, well, less complex.

Summer reading and back-to-law-school tips

It's time for The Modern Law Library's summer recommendations episode, in which host Lee Rawles shares her pop culture picks with you, plus a re-airing of one of our older episodes with current relevance.

Trial lawyer’s tales include wins, losses and international intrigue

The year was 1961. Freshly minted attorney James J. Brosnahan had been on the job as a federal prosecutor in Phoenix for two days when he was handed his first trial: a capital murder case. Twelve days into the job, he'd won his first jury trial and caught the trial bug. (Though to his relief, the two young defendants escaped the death penalty.) For the next six decades, Brosnahan chased every opportunity to present to a jury, in civil and criminal court.

Is family court too flawed to be fixed?

Jane M. Spinak did not set out to write a book arguing for the abolition of family court. She thought that she would be making the case for a set of sensible reforms. But the more she dug into the history of the family court system, the previous attempts at reform, and the examples of real world harms that the system had caused, the more she began to believe there was no saving it.

Didn’t get it in writing? There may still be a way, says author of ‘Litigating Constructive Trusts’

“If you don’t have it in writing, you’re out of luck.” That’s the common wisdom you’ll hear from TV judges, helpful uncles, well-meaning friends and even lawyers in your life.…

‘My Mom, the Lawyer’ explores women’s work and personal lives through the eyes of their children

As Michelle Browning Coughlin, of counsel at ND Galli Law in Louisville, Kentucky, was raising her two daughters, she wanted her kids to understand what lawyers do. She worried that children only knew the type of lawyers who commonly appeared in courtrooms on television shows.

Read more ...