Around the Blawgosphere: Why Can't We Deduct Student Loan Interest from Taxes?; 10-Year Blawggers

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Home? Schooling?

Philadelphia lawyer Kelly Phillips Erb has already disclosed to her blawg’s readers that she has substantial student loan debt. This week at Taxgirl, she wonders why the government severely limits what student loan interest can be deducted from one’s personal income tax.

“There are practically no restrictions on the amount of deductions you can take for buying a home,” she writes. But “you may not claim student loan interest if your income level exceeds $150,000 for married couples filing jointly or $75,000 for individual taxpayers. Additionally, the amount of your student loan interest deduction is capped at $2,500.”

Erb notes that Congress is currently debating whether to allow an increase on existing student loan rates. “They’ve already made it harder to default or discharge student loans in a bankruptcy than other forms of personal debt, making it easier to be irresponsible at Macy’s than it is to pay off your student loan obligations. In short, they’re making it harder for the middle class to go to college. But we’re making it easier to buy a house.”

The 10-Year Club

This week, Legal Blog Watch saluted the handful of legal bloggers who started writing in 2002 or earlier and are still going. A handful started earlier, but there was a rush of solid newcomers in 2002.

Among the “early settlers” are perennial Blawg 100 favorites the Volokh Conspiracy, founded by Eugene Volokh, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law; Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites, written by Rockport, Mass., lawyer, writer and media consultant Robert Ambrogi; TheCorporateCounsel.net, written by by Broc Romanek, a former lawyer for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; SCOTUSblog, founded by U.S. Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein; My Shingle, written by Washington, D.C., solo Carolyn Elefant; and How Appealing, written by Willow Grove, Pa., appellate attorney Howard Bashman, which also launched in 2002.

LSAT’s Hidden Benefits

LSAT Blog: Ace the LSAT took note of a study (PDF) that looked at the cognitive performance and brain structure of two different groups: One group spent three months studying for the LSAT, and the other did not. And those in the group who studied for the LSAT improved their reasoning abilities in that time frame far more than the control group did.

The blog’s takeaway for its aspiring law student readers? “As if you didn’t already know, LSAT studying affects your brain aside from just giving you headaches. It actually makes you smarter. So, when you’re trying to motivate yourself to stop procrastinating, just remind yourself that it’ll undo the damage that you did to your brain during college.”

“What did you just say?”

Scott Graham writes at the Recorder’s Legal Pad about a lawyer’s misstep in arguments before the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, Verdugo v. Target, was over whether a family of a woman who died of a heart attack in a Target store could sue the retailer over its unavailability of a defibrillator to revive her.

During arguments, Judge Marsha Berzon asked Target lawyer Ryan Craig if she was correct in her understanding, because she had taken some resuscitation classes, that defibrillators are easy to use and wouldn’t require extensive training. “You open the thing up, and it tells you what to do.”

Craig answered that he had never used a defibrillator and couldn’t answer that question directly.

“We’ve got ‘em right out here” in the courthouse, 88-year-old Judge Harry Pregerson quipped.

“You want to be my first trial case, I’ll be glad to do it, your honor,” Craig responded.

“What did you say? What did you just say?” Pregerson reponded.

“I said I would be willing to try it if you want to be the first patient,” Craig said. Berzon quickly moved on.

Graham’s assessment? “A little humor can go a long way toward defusing tense situations in oral argument, with one important caveat: when it comes from the bench only. Attempts by counsel to loosen up the proceedings often fall flat, or worse, especially when they come at the judges’ expense.”

Updated May 14 to remove the assertion that Legal Blog Watch failed to note Howard Bashman’s status as a 10-year law blogger.


Updated May 14 to remove the assertion that Legal Blog Watch did not note Howard Bashman’s status as a 10-year law blogger.

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