ABA Journal

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Jurisdictions hope safety plans curb COVID-19 fears for in-person bar exam

In addition to JD certificates and character and fitness responses, many February bar exam candidates preparing for the in-person test are also submitting proof of COVID-19 vaccines or a negative test—and in some cases both.



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Afghan evacuee crisis adds pressure to already-stressed immigration attorneys

The crisis around the influx of Afghan evacuees has added to recent pressures felt by U.S. immigration attorneys, many whose jobs have expanded beyond direct representation of their clients. As of Dec. 31, more than 75,000 Afghans have been allowed into the United States, while more than 35,000 have applied for humanitarian parole.



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Darryl Wilson shares love of cooking with others during COVID-19 pandemic

Darryl Wilson, an in-house attorney at Tyson Foods in Springdale, Arkansas, has used cooking as a form of therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. He launched his own Instagram account, where he regularly posts photos of his dishes, and taught two virtual cooking classes to members of the ABA Young Lawyers Division. “We always have to find things that make us happy and that are fulfilling or rewarding to us,” he says. “Mine just happens to be cooking.”



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As the pandemic drags on, law professors are making changes

Law professors say the pandemic changed how they interact with students, and many find themselves sharing personal information they may not have previously shared. That’s partially due to the chaos of COVID-19, but it’s also a way for faculty to convince students they are there to help.



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Supreme Court will consider Christian group’s request to temporarily fly flag at Boston City Hall

The case of Shurtleff v. City of Boston, to be argued on Jan. 18, has become a bit of a big thing. It’s the latest test of religious expression to be heard by a U.S. Supreme Court that has been increasingly deferential in recent years to legal claims by religious conservatives.



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As law schools admit more students, will there be enough jobs?

Following a reported 13% increase in law school applications, five of 196 ABA-accredited law schools expanded their first-year classes by more than 50% for the 2021 admissions cycle, and 36 saw growth between 20% and 41%.



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Lawyer pens book about multiple personality disorder murder case that haunts him

“Just in the Nick of Time” is part memoir, part courtroom drama and part medical mystery that examines whether David Savitz’s handsome, charming client had a real psychiatric disorder or was a crafty manipulator trying to fake his way out of a murder conviction.



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Roberts’ reference to memos of Blackmun on Roe v. Wade raises questions about SCOTUS justices’ private papers

The collected papers of late U.S. Supreme Court justices are typically of interest primarily to judicial biographers, legal researchers and a few journalists. On Dec. 1, during oral arguments in one of the most consequential cases of the term, a new aficionado of the genre revealed himself: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.



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Why this personal injury firm set up shop in the metaverse

Dating back to his time watching The Jetsons as a child, New Jersey lawyer Richard Grungo Jr. has been fascinated by depictions of the role that new technologies may play in the way that we live our future lives. In more recent years, his imagination has been captured by the possibilities offered by virtual reality.



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With GRE restrictions lifted for law schools, some urge caution

As of November, ABA-accredited law schools can accept the Graduate Record Examination from applicants in lieu of the Law School Admission Test, and some wonder if those with the financial resources will purchase test prep classes for both and submit their best score.



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August Hieber helps create access to legal services for older LGBT adults

August Hieber created Proud to Thrive, the first program in Chicago specifically designed to provide culturally responsive legal advocacy to LGBT older adults. Hieber recognized this population is less likely to access resources because of past experiences with discrimination and worked with the Center for Disability & Elder Law to host legal clinics and train other legal professionals on how to offer services.



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New database tracks gender-based violence sentencing decisions in the Pacific

“The training not only showed us information about the trends in sentencing decisions, but it definitely got us thinking about a lot of things,” said Loukinikini Vili, a lawyer and the director of human rights at Samoa’s Office of the Ombudsman/National Human Rights Institution.



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A few years after graduating from high school and college concurrently, 19-year-old preps for February bar

Braxton Moral isn’t sure what he wants to do after he passes the bar, and that’s OK. He’s only 19 years old. In addition to being years younger than the vast majority of candidates sitting for the February 2022 bar, Moral is set to graduate from Kansas’ Washburn University School of Law in 2.5 years rather than the traditional three. He claims he didn’t do well during his first semester but started to get the hang of it by the second.



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Legal tech company featured on ‘Shark Tank’ experiences big bump in business

The digital platform HelloPrenup helps couples create prenuptial agreements by filling out in-depth questionnaires and comprehensive financial disclosures instead of having to go to a lawyer.



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Exam question wasn’t only offensive behavior of UIC law professor, according to internal investigation

Over the past year, various academics have expressed support for a University of Illinois Chicago School of Law professor who faced student criticism after he used abbreviated racial and gender slurs as part of a hypothetical fact pattern for a civil procedure final exam.



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Conference addresses racial equity and social justice issues for second year

The ABA Social Justice Policy Summit will be held on Dec. 8 and 9. Hosted by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice’s Rights of Immigrants Committee and the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, the free conference will explore interpersonal, structural and institutionalized discrimination and how to achieve necessary reforms in the new administration.



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SCOTUS considers whether public tuition program for private schools can exclude religious ones

The U.S. Supreme Court’s latest case about the Constitution’s religion clauses hails from Maine, where the state has paid tuition to send some students to private schools for more than a century but for the last 40 years has limited the choices to “nonsectarian” schools.



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Can C-suite diversity officers really make a difference?

“It’s a growing trend that’s going to stick,” says Sylvia F. James, chief diversity and inclusion officer for the international firm Winston & Strawn. “I think it sends a message both internally and externally about the importance that the firm places on the position.”



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Guardianship battles in the spotlight spark new calls for reform

Guardianship, also called conservatorship, is a term used when state law grants an individual decision-making power over an adult deemed incompetent or a minor child. A court-appointed guardian’s control is often limitless and can include power over their person and/or property.



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For some civil rights lawyers, police body camera video can be hard to come by

Many civil rights attorneys seeking body camera video find police departments, officials and judges can stand in their way. Sometimes, according to lawyers and legal experts, the video is selectively released or edited. That can leave lawyers with little choice but to file a lawsuit and use discovery and subpoena power to obtain recordings, delaying justice for families wanting a more complete picture of what happened to their loved ones. Even so, police say there are good reasons to withhold, edit or redact footage to protect the privacy rights of people who appear on camera and prevent interference in ongoing investigations.



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Is the right to assemble and demonstrate under threat?

Legislators who are now seeking to restrict protesters say the measures are necessary to establish law and order; provide security; protect businesses; ensure the free flow of highways; and distinguish between peaceful protesters and rioters. But free speech experts warn that the legislative trend against protesting is harmful to fundamental First Amendment freedoms.



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State of the Profession 2021: BigLaw proved to be most resilient to COVID-19

Fears that COVID-19 would cause a prolonged financial blow to the legal industry did not come to fruition. Instead, many firms were able to quickly and effectively transition to remote working, which left them in position to assist with an array of COVID-19-related legal issues. But the industry’s successful transition to widespread remote working has not come without drawbacks.



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ABA observers will share their takeaways from the UN climate change conference in Glasgow

Next week, ABA members who attended and observed COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, will share their takeaways from the annual summit and ideas for how others can get involved.



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Advokat

This short story was the winner of the 2021 Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction



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