Around the Blawgosphere: What's Wrong with CLE; Wedding at SCOTUS; Do You Dress Like a 'Real Man'?

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How Lawyers Ruin CLE

Have you been to a good CLE course lately? If not, why do you think that is? Ernie Svenson, a New Orleans-based lawyer who stopped practicing to start giving continuing legal education presentations full-time, says that, ultimately, lawyers’ risk-averse thinking has helped bring CLE to the low it’s currently at.

“Call me crazy, but the overriding objective of CLE programs should be to encourage lawyers to learn. CLE programs should be engaging, and—dare I say it—entertaining,” Svenson wrote at Ernie the Attorney. Instead, he says, CLE regulations focus on minimizing the risk that lawyers will leave the program before it ends rather than “how to make things convenient, interesting, or consistent with well-known principles about how our brains learn most effectively.”

Another issue is the relative lack of incentive for those who lead CLE courses to give their all. Svenson notes that few CLE presenters are people who give speeches for a living; most are lawyers doing it for “notoriety” and no money. So few actually do a good job. “I’ve seen well-respected leaders of the bar bore audiences by reading from old Powerpoint slide decks that they didn’t even prepare. If they went into court and bored a jury the way that they bore their CLE audience, they’d lose notoriety, not gain it.”

Their Big Fat SCOTUS Wedding

Above the Law’s David Lat heard the rumors and went to the source, interviewing Columbia Law School professor Philip Bobbitt and confirming—even obtaining photos—that he and Columbia 3L Maya Ondalikoglu were married by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in an intimate ceremony (fewer than a dozen guests) at the high court in December.

Bobbitt told Lat that his now-wife was his student for one week: After a drive together from Manhattan to Washington, D.C., for a conference, the two “just knew” they would marry, Bobbitt said. “The next week, she withdrew from my class. It just seemed improper for her to remain in the class, given what we knew about where we were heading.”

Bobbitt had already had plans to travel to Washington, D.C., and have lunch with Elena Kagan, who is a friend of his, on Saturday, Dec. 14—he asked her to officiate at their ceremony, and she agreed.

Lat notes that Bobbitt was profiled in 2008 by the New York Observer—the same year Ondalikoglu graduated as valedictorian from the University of Pennsylvania. She will graduate from Columbia Law School this year.

‘Real Men …’

Kansas military criminal defense attorney Eric Mayer had a “particularly frustrating week of seeing various individuals who clearly did not take pride in their professional appearance—from service members to lawyers.” He responded with a six-point post at the Unwashed Advocate about what real men wear. Two big sticking points are shirts and shoes.

• “Real men starch their shirts. No, I’m not talking about a light spritzing of starch. I’m talking about the kind of starch that allows the shirt to stand upright on the ground,” Mayer wrote. “Yes, I’m the guy who gets pissed off at the dry cleaners when my shirt can’t walk out the door on its own.”

• “Real men give a damn about their shoes, and they work hard to maintain them,” Mayer wrote. “These shoes will have laces—small, black laces. You will shine them. They will not have tassels. You will not wear suede. You will not wear loafers because real men do not loaf. … Well-maintained leather shoes will last you forever, barring a natural disaster. You only replace shoes if said natural disaster occurs.”

For years, “labors and managers, farmers and bankers, lawyers and physicians,” knew these rules, Mayer wrote. “It signified pride in appearance, and, most importantly, pride in being who and what they were.”

Crash and Burn

At Electronic Discovery Law, K&L Gates bloggers noted an order in a Southern District of Alabama case in which a reverse-discrimination plaintiff was sanctioned for setting her broken computer ablaze.

Sandra Evans filed her suit against the Mobile County Health Department in 2010. In June, the Health Department alerted Evans in a response that she preserve any relevant electronically stored information. Meanwhile, in June or July, Evans said her computer crashed. Best Buy’s Geek Squad told her they would have to charge her $60 just to look at it and advised her to replace her 13-year-old machine. Evans testified in November that because she was afraid that others would get to the confidential financial information she stored on her machine, she burned the computer in her back yard. The Health Department filed for sanctions, and they were granted in the January order.

“So why is burning your computer to destroy evidence not a good idea?” Sensei Enterprises’ Sharon Nelson wrote at Ride the Lightning about this case. “The court ordered the imposition of an adverse inference instruction, required the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s reasonable costs and fees associated with the motion, ordered production of the the new computer and a relevant notebook and also ordered the production of all emails from her personal Gmail account, which obviously would be unaffected by the burning of her computer, presuming she didn’t also delete them. Quite an expensive day for Ms. Evans.”

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