Blawg Review #314: LawLawpalooza 2011
We at ABAJournal.com are honored to be asked to host Blawg Review—“a blog carnival for everyone interested in law”— in conjunction with the 2011 ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto. We are not actually blawgging from Canada—as usual, we are in Chicago taking the el train into the office over the weekend to work on stories our reporters have filed from the meeting. And, as it has been for three of the last six years, it’s impossible not to notice that a good chunk of riders coming in and out of the Loop with us have fauxhawks, tats and muddy feet. These hipsters are usually among the 250,000 people going to and from the Lollapalooza music festival, which has had a fixed location in Chicago since 2005 and marks its 20th year this year.
We’re sure many lawyers attended Lolla, and for those who chose to rock, we salute you. But we naturally also want to salute the keeners who crossed the border into Canada—or stayed on their side of it, as the case may be—for the annual meeting. (Four Canadian acts crossed the border to play at Lolla this year: Crystal Castles, Death from Above 1979, City and Colour and deadmau5.)
Lolla ticketholders eagerly await the release of the lineup of 140+ bands so they can study it and plot out a schedule—knowing they might have to make a Sophie’s Choice between two great bands playing simultaneously—allowing them to max out their experience and know when they have to be at which of the festival’s seven stages. Lawyers at annual, with some 1,400 legal programs, including business meetings for association entities, do the same and work their way around five or 10 venues for their own LawLawpalooza. We’ll do our best to re-create their experience remotely by way of the blawgosphere.
Main Stage: Metro Toronto Convention Centre
10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4
One of the centre (that’s right, we’re in Canada) showcase programs at the annual meeting discussed so-called birthright citizenship in the United States. Panelists noted proposed legislation that would deny citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. without at least one parent who is a citizen, lawful permanent resident or immigrant in active military service. Simon Fodden, a Canadian and former longtime professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, attended and blogged about the panel at slaw with an outsider’s perspective.
Birthright citizenship law rests on the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” He can see the possible ambiguity in “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” which could imply that more than presence on U.S. soil at birth could be required for citizenship.
The way those in the U.S. try to settle upon the intentions of our founding fathers is a curious thing, to Fodden. In Canada, “we, too, engage in legal debates about the meaning of aspects of our constitution and our laws; but rarely if ever do we see the line drawn in the way it is in the U.S. between ‘originalists’ and others. It’s hard to imagine who would be admitted to the group of framers for our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for example, even if we were tempted to reconstruct their mental processes. (Can you imagine consulting the ghost of Pierre Trudeau, for example?)”
10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 5
Stephen Handelman from The Crime Report blogged about a showcase program about lawyers’ attitudes toward national security 10 years after 9/11. Handleman says panelists thought the “polarized political climate” in Washington could end up adversely affecting national security. Department of Homeland Security legal adviser Ivan Fong said there are currently 108 committees and subcommittees on the Hill that deal with national security; 10 years ago, there were 88. “While we believe in congressional oversight, it is difficult to respond to multiple priorities and directives from Congress,” he said.
Noon, Friday, Aug. 5
This venue was also the site of the ABA Expo, where blogger Carolyn Elefant was Friday with Social Media for Lawyers co-author Nicole Black, signing copies of their book. Later, at My Shingle, Elefant wrote about an older family law lawyer who picked up their book and set it down again, explaining she that only takes clients who agree to delete their Facebook pages, and as far as marketing did not “do any of this stuff” personally, delegating it to younger staffers.
Elefant couldn’t understand why this lawyer wouldn’t be curious about social media platforms. Elefant also said that Black pointed out to her that the advice to remove a Facebook page “(and any potential evidence it contains) prior to a lawsuit raises issues regarding spoliation of evidence and could put any verdict or settlement in jeopardy.” Plus, ignorance of social media surely must limit this older lawyer’s ability to identify and evaluate social media evidence in her cases, Elefant wrote.
8:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8
Last week, University of San Diego School of Law professor Lesley McAllister sounded the alarm at Environmental Law Prof Blog: The ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates had a resolution on the table to eliminate the Standing Committee on Environmental Law, which was first established in 1975. The Section on Environment, Energy and Resources was to cover for the standing committee after its abolition.
“The ABA states that the Resolution is being put forth for financial and budgeting reasons, but it hasn’t produced any findings or conclusions on the financial impact of SCEL,” McAllister wrote last week. “From the information I have, SCEL is actually revenue-positive. Its programming produces profits to support its operations, and its staff supports other ABA functions such that no financial savings would be achieved by the Resolution.”
McAllister urged readers to contact the House of Delegates to stop this from happening. But to no avail. Resolution 11-6 (PDF) passed on Monday morning.
InterContinental Toronto Centre
3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5
Ms.JD executive director Amanda Gonzalez was at the annual meeting and blogged about a panel discussing the ABA’s new book, The Road to Independence: 101 Women’s Journeys to Starting Their Own Law Firms. The book is made up of 101 letters from women who have started their own law firms in the last several decades. Law firm consultant Karen Lockwood, who was the book’s editor, addressed two myths about women in law.
Myth No. 1: Women start their own firms because they can’t hack it at large firms. Lockwood said that the book’s contributors for the most part went solo so they could have more control about what types of cases they took on.
Myth No. 2: Women are not risk-takers and therefore not suited to start their own firms. Lockwood said that many women balance competing obligations—to wit, both work and home responsibilities—in a way that men aren’t expected to do. And this experience may make them uniquely qualified to start firms.
Historic Royal Conservatory of Music
5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
Everyone faced the music at the meeting’s Opening Assembly, which, with a bit of hipster irony, actually always takes place on the third day of the meeting. Outgoing ABA President Stephen A. Zack was perhaps thinking of public debates between “originalists” and others when he decried the uncivil attitudes some take to political discussion and debate that goes beyond disagreement. It’s “I disagree with you, and not only that, but you’re a bum, and I’m going to yell so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
Ken from Popehat also noted this week that you don’t have to be a lawyer to make civility gaffes: You can be a journalist, even a journalist affiliated with the National Conference of Editorial Writers’ Restoring Civility project. The Wall Street Journal‘s Best of the Web thought it was ironic that syndicated columnist Froma Harrop resorted to angry hyperbole, saying Tea Party Republicans engaged in “economic terrorism” while being a part of that NCEW project. Popehat noted how Harrop retorted in a post on her own blog that what she considered incivility was “not letting other people speak their piece.” After many readers disagreed with her in the comments of her post, Ken writes, she deleted all of the comments and closed commenting.
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
North Carolina Central University School of Law student T. Greg Doucette blawgged on the Young Lawyers Division’s rumblings at the Law Student Division’s assembly about the ABA’s announcement that it was revising its law school placement data reporting requirements.
“The YLD has taken a two-part equation and expended untold hours and vast sums of energy focusing on only one side of it: the Big Bad Law Schools and the games we all know those schools play with their employment statistics,” Doucette wrote at law:/dev/null: Musings of a Computer Scientist turned Law Student. “But a key contributor that enables law schools to play those games with statistics are the less-than-100% response rates from their newly minted (and likely newly licensed) law school graduates, who are often too busy to waste time with filling out a form they have -0- incentive to complete. When someone doesn’t return a survey, do they count as employed? Unemployed? Excluded from the dataset entirely? The methodologies relating to those questions are among the core issues underlying the skewed stats.”
Well, more like preshows. On Friday, after a last-minute time and venue change, NALP’s executive director appeared before the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar council meeting and backed off its threats to sue the ABA on intellectual property grounds after the section announced it would start collecting its own data on law graduates. Among other things, the ABA is now asking law schools to report how many, if any, of its grads are working abroad. “I’m wondering if the overseas metric is an attempt to measure how many law school grads are working for offshore legal processing operations,” Joe Hodnicki wrote at Law Librarian Blog last week.
The council also approved full accreditation for Drexel University Law School at its council meeting Friday, The Legal Intelligencer Blog noted.