ABA Journal

Latest Features

How one lawyer is trying to solve a John Wayne Gacy murder mystery

Steven Becker wasn’t sure what he’d see at his first exhumation. But here he was, on Sept. 5, 2012, at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois, on behalf of his client, who insisted that the body in the coffin was not—despite what police said—her son.



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As lawyer stress escalates during pandemic, LAP agencies see significant increase in calls

Mental health workers say lawyers are more anxious, stressed, depressed and burned out than ever, which was already a lot. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, may have lessened the stigma around attorneys seeking mental health services.



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Brice Ngameni helps support prospective law students of African descent

“We think that one of the biggest challenges that people from our background face when applying to law school is access and information, and these are things that can be addressed,” says Brice Ngameni, president and co-founder of Pembe, a mentoring group for people of African descent. “If you just have the right people matched up with the right folks, you can easily make up for that disparity.”



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SCOTUS abortion case complicates Breyer retirement speculation

Speculation about whether U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer might retire at the end of this term had been running rampant among legal observers this spring when the court itself threw in a wrinkle.



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What comes next for law schools with two-year bar pass rates below 75%?

Of the 10 law schools that in 2020 received noncompliance notices for having two-year bar passage rates below 75%, half appear to again have pass rates that do not meet that threshold, according to ABA data released in April.



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Despite the COVID-19 crisis, some law schools see increases in jobs for new graduates

When the pandemic started, law schools feared 2020 would be a year like 2009—which was during the Great Recession and saw significantly fewer job opportunities for new graduates, along with many attorney layoffs. But those fears don’t seem to have come to fruition for ABA-accredited law schools, based on employment data for the classes of 2019 and 2020.



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Legal historian John Fabian Witt discusses new book on epidemics and law



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Americans are divided by age and race on the fairness of the justice system, ABA civics survey finds

The ABA’s third annual survey of civic literacy, which assesses the public’s knowledge about the basics of U.S. democracy, also included questions about issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its results were released as part of Law Day.



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Unbundled law firms find success offering virtual legal services

The Law Shop by Skogerson McGinn in Van Meter, Iowa, provides unbundled legal services, which means it helps clients with specific legal tasks rather than assisting them with their entire cases or matters.



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How should the legal profession navigate a post-COVID-19 world? ABA group has recommendations

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABA initiated one of the largest national surveys of its members, seeking to understand both how they had been affected and how they expected their practice to evolve in the future.



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ABA calls on volunteers to help with ProBAR video project

Do you want to assist the ABA with its efforts on the border without leaving your home or traveling across the country? The ABA Section of Litigation’s Pro Bono Task Force is offering members a new opportunity to record short videos to help attorneys at the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project improve their litigation skills.



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SCOTUS case on disclosure of nonprofit donor names raises First Amendment questions

To some observers, the case may affect campaign-disclosure laws and the court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which authorized unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations (including nonprofit ones) and unions.



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If Biden approves loan forgiveness, what could it mean for law school debt?

People with law school loans could benefit if President Joe Biden authorizes a plan to forgive all or a portion of student debt, but it could exclude those who owe private lenders and impose limits based on income, experts say.



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Legal vendors have had mixed experiences with virtual conferences amid COVID-19

Vendors say they look forward to the return of conferences with in-person elements, but they advise organizers not to simply revert back to the way they have always done things.



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A conversation with attorney George Critchlow on his new book, 'The Lifer and the Lawyer'

In his new book, The Lifer and the Lawyer, co-authored by Michael Anderson, an African American man who was charged with committing 22 offenses—including kidnapping, assault and robbery—during a violent crime spree, lawyer George Critchlow recounts his defense of Anderson and how their relationship evolved from attorney-client to a lasting friendship.



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What negotiating trauma looks like from both sides of the bench

Mallika Kaur, a lawyer and writer, recently spoke with Judge Edward M. Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, who draws on decades of practice from both sides of the bench. Their discussion about systemic discriminations is particularly timely in light of recent violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.



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Police are often first responders to mental health crises, but tragedies are prompting change

Cases such as Quintonio LeGrier’s have prompted demands around the country to reform how police respond to people in mental health crises, a movement that advocates believe can help avert such deadly confrontations.



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Lawyers find their skill sets make them ideal candidates for college presidencies

A rapidly growing number of lawyers have been chosen to lead higher education institutions during an era when experts say the job has become much more difficult because of the ever-increasing regulatory demands and crises presidents must confront.



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Attorneys lend skills to help current and former service members

When attorney Timothy L. McHugh, a retired Army paratrooper, meets with a veteran to discuss a frustrating medical benefits issue or a confounding GI Bill problem, he can relate. His own experience as an enlisted soldier gives him insight into the tribulations veterans and service members can face.



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Costly municipal fines and fees spark a movement for reform

Across the country, Americans are being hit with hefty fines and fees for petty violations, advocates for reform say, igniting a movement pressing for change. “Code enforcement exists to promote public health and safety, but the way we’re seeing it happen across the country right now is to make money,” Institute for Justice attorney Kirby Thomas West says.



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50 startup tips to get your practice off the ground

For many, being your own boss is the ultimate dream. But the idea of hanging up your own shingle can be scary and confusing, while others might not know where to start. The ABA Journal asked lawyers, legal professionals, marketers, consultants and other experts what to keep in mind when starting your own practice.



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Amy Breihan has dedicated her career to helping juvenile lifers seek parole

It’s been nearly nine years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life without parole for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment. It’s been five years since it held in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its 2012 decision was retroactive. In that time, Amy Breihan has helped seek second chances for prisoners in Missouri who were younger than age 18 when they were sentenced to life behind bars.



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Compared with 2016, there are now half as many for-profit law schools

In 2010, there were six for-profit law schools; as of March 2021, however, only three with that tax status remain—and two of the three hope to eventually convert to nonprofit status.



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How quickly can Biden deliver on policing reform?

President Joe Biden promised criminal justice reforms but has had to balance competing interests between progressives and moderates as he finalizes his Cabinet.



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