The Modern Law Library


Lawyer recounts the life and legacy of the mysterious man behind Pilates

In 1963, John Howard Steel was a 28-year-old attorney with a challenging litigation practice, an unhappy marriage and a stiff neck. At the urging of his mother, Steel decided to try physical therapy at a gym owned by an elderly German immigrant named Joseph Pilates. It was a decision that would change Steel's life.

Having a hard time connecting with your witness? Try these tips

You're a plaintiffs attorney with a promising tort case, but getting the narrative evidence you need from a particular witness is like squeezing blood from a stone. How can you get through to them and help ensure that your client gets the damages needed for long-term care? The real problem might be that your communication styles are fundamentally different, says author and trial consultant Katherine James.

Knowing when to tell your client no and other ethical dilemmas

One of the most important ethical obligations a lawyer has is knowing when to tell their client no. But how do you know when that moment has come, and how do you deal with it?

Voting rights attorney writes a tale of dark money chicanery in ‘The Coyotes of Carthage’

Steven Wright spent several years at the Department of Justice's Voting Section witnessing all manners of election chicanery, voter suppression and dark money campaigns. So when he turned his efforts toward fiction, he decided to write what he knew.

Constitutional scholars sound warning on SCOTUS and the separation of church and state

The separation of church and state is a concept that is often talked about, but there's hardly a national consensus on what that should look like—or whether it should exist at all. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has been shifting towards an "accomodationist" interpretation, say the authors of The Religion Clauses: The Case for Separating Church and State. To Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman, this is a dangerous approach.

‘Demagogue’ tells the story of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s rise and fall

What made 1950s America vulnerable to a man like Joseph McCarthy, a junior senator from Wisconsin? In Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, author Larry Tye takes an in-depth look at McCarthy's life.

6 key numbers that can diagnose the financial health of your law practice

Do you know how many billable hours you can devote to a new case? Or whether you need to add another attorney to your firm? Can you afford to take time off from your practice, and if so, how much? If you're one of the lawyers who is kept up at night with worries about your firm's finances, you are not alone.

Convicted of a crime that never occurred? It happens all too often, law prof says

We are used to hearing about wrongful convictions in which a murderer walked free because an innocent person was misidentified. But when Jessica S. Henry, a professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, was researching material for her course on wrongful convictions, she discovered that in one-third of all known exonerations, the conviction was wrongful because there had not even been a crime.

Well-meaning social reforms created ‘Prison by Any Other Name,’ authors say

At a time when the country is discussing how the justice system and policing can be reformed, it's critical that we avoid adopting reforms that have damaging consequences.

We need to reckon with feminism’s contributions to mass incarceration, says law professor

As a law professor at the University of Colorado Law School, Aya Gruber has seen her Millennial students wrestle with a contradiction that she has long struggled with herself.

What does police abolition look like?

Recent protests over police brutality have raised the volume on calls to defund the police. But while police abolition may be new to some, it’s a concept that has been…

What’s lost when jury trials vanish?

Thirty years ago, between 9% to 10% of federal criminal cases actually went to trial before a jury. That may not seem like a large percentage, but by 2018, only 2% of defendants received a jury trial.

Meet 9 American women shortlisted for the Supreme Court before Sandra Day O’Connor

As early as the 1930s, presidents were considering putting the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. So, who were these other candidates on the short list, and why did it take until 1981 for Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female justice?

An insider’s guide to succeeding in law school⁠—even during the COVID-19 pandemic

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson says that near the end of every school year, he has law students come into his office "usually in tears." They tell the professor that if they'd only known at the start of the year what they'd figured out by the end of the year, they'd be so much further ahead.

Journalist investigating wrongful convictions turns lens on white-collar criminal case in Chicago

When Michael Segal first approached longtime Chicago journalist Maurice Possley about writing about his case, Possley was not interested. Segal’s 2002 arrest and subsequent federal trial had been big news…

How to develop your horse sense with equine law

Julie Fershtman has developed a niche practice helping people who love horses deal with the particular joys and challenges that come with equine businesses. She is one of the nation's best-known lawyers serving many facets of the horse industry.

What should you read about COVID-19? We asked an epidemiologist

With a barrage of information and misinformation about COVID-19 coming our way, it can be hard to evaluate what sources are trustworthy and where to go for reliable medical news. So for this new episode of the Modern Law Library, the ABA Journal's Lee Rawles called her friend Mary Lancaster, an epidemiologist for the federal government.

How to achieve vocal power in and out of the courtroom

Public speaking is a crucial part of working as a lawyer. It is especially important for female lawyers who are claiming their vocal authority in speaking roles in courts.

2 families connected by LA riots collide in ‘Your House Will Pay’

The riots in South Los Angeles in 1992 may be nearly three decades old, but in the present day, two families in the novel Your House Will Pay will find that the events from that time are far from over.

How safe is your right to vote?

The Constitution of the United States has been amended multiple times since it was written to expand the franchise of voting from the original beneficiaries, white male landowners. But the story of voting rights in the United States is not just one of expansion; there have been periods (such as after Reconstruction) where voting rights that had once been exercised were blocked off, extinguished and suppressed.

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