Around the Blawgosphere

'Inside the Law School Scam' blogger signs off; Should appellate briefs have corporate sponsors?

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‘I’ve said what I have to say, at least in this format.’

University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos says he has filed his last post at Inside the Law School Scam. Campos started his blog (anoymously, but revealed his identity within a couple of weeks) in August of 2011, and Campos thinks that since then “the core message of this blog—that legal academia is operating on the basis of an unsustainable economic model, which requires most law students to borrow more money to get law degrees than it makes sense for them to borrow, given their career prospects, and that for many years law schools worked hard, wittingly or unwittingly, to hide this increasingly inconvenient truth from both themselves and their potential matriculants—has evolved from a horrible heresy to something close to conventional wisdom.”

After around 500 posts, Campos says he’s “said what I have to say, at least in this format.” While some wonder how he can stay a law professor while feeling the way he does, he says he thinks he can be more effective working for reform as a law professor than as an ex-law professor.

“I’ve never written anything about the professional and personal price I ended up paying for starting to investigate, more than a year before I began this blog, the structure of contemporary American legal education,” Campos wrote. “Perhaps I’ll tell that story someday. For now I’ll merely note that if people enjoying the extraordinary protections afforded by tenure aren’t willing to confront institutional corruption, then academic tenure is an indefensible privilege.”

This brief brought to you by …

Filing an appeal can be expensive—on the basis of court costs if not on the basis of complicated legal work—Washington D.C. solo Carolyn Elefant writes at My Shingle.

“As a lawyer who frequently handles appeals before federal circuit courts, it’s discouraging for me to tell clients that they may have to shell out anywhere from two to four thousand dollars simply to cover the cost of preparing eight bound copies of an initial and reply brief, along with eight copies of joint appendix that depending on the size of the record, could amount to 1,500 to 2,000 pages,” Elefant wrote. “These out-of-pocket costs alone are often scary enough to deter clients from even thinking about appeals—which is unfortunate.”

So Elefant suggests, even though it “sounds crazy,” that corporations or individual citizens be permitted to “sponsor” a brief they believe in by way of paying the often-steep filing fees. And the process could be mutually beneficial, she writes: “While many times companies do weigh in on these issues by filing amicus briefs, it’s far less expensive to sponsor a brief than to go through the trouble of preparing one.”

When not to litigate

“The most important thing I can tell a client is when they don’t need me,” California lawyer Heather Bussing writes at Small Firm Innovation. She lists five things she tries to remember to help her make sure she doesn’t go down the wrong road with potential clients. Two of her tips:

No. 3. Principles are too expensive. “When someone tells me, ‘It’s not for me, it’s a matter of principle,’ I tell them very gently and kindly that I can’t help them,” Bussing wrote. “Very few lawsuits ever end up changing the world or even changing a defendant’s behavior. Lawsuits are economic leverage to get an economic result.”

No. 5. Get help for substance abuse first. “A majority of criminal matters and a significant number of civil matters—especially family and employment law issues—involve substance abuse.” Bussing wrote. “Bad stuff happens when you’re completely wasted a lot of the time. When it’s clear that one of the people involved in the problem has substance abuse issues, it’s almost impossible to resolve the matter without addressing the alcohol or drug addiction.”

SVU takes a position

This week’s episode of Law & Order SVU got a little extra buzz for being a “barely-fictionalized rendition of the tumultuous Rihanna/Chris Brown saga,” novelist and former sex crimes prosecutor Allison Leotta writes.

Brown was convicted of assaulting Rihanna in 2009 (whether he has completed all of the community service required of his sentence is being questioned) while they were dating. They have since gotten back together.

Spolier alert: In the SVU, the chanteuse character is eventually killed by her abusive lover.

Leotta, who grades every episode of the show on her blog, gave this one an A-minus. She says the show aptly dramatized the “domestic violence cycle of violence” and victims’ frequent unwillingness to testify.

The abuser’s “ ‘I love you, baby, please forgive me’ speech on the talk show was absolutely pitch-perfect,” Leotta wrote. “I’ve heard this call (often captured on jail calls, rather than Oprah’s couch) so many times. This is exactly what it sounds like.”

But one thing the show got wrong: “No way—no way!—does [the abuser character’s] lawyer let him talk to the police after the shooting,” Leotta wrote. “No defense attorney with an ounce of self-preservation would allow his obviously guilty and unpredictable client anywhere near an interrogation room. A lobster is just as likely to throw itself into a boiling pot.”

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