Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Student Loans: Public Service Loan Forgiveness

With the skyrocketing cost of tuition and the frustrations of an economy trying to turn-around, there should still be a glimmer of hope for many students going into public service jobs.

In 2007 the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) was created by Congress to encourage full-time employment in public service jobs. New income based payment plans were introduced and, under certain conditions, a borrower may qualify for forgiveness of their loans after 10 years of payments.

Today, the Department of Education further clarified the requirements by releasing the Employment Certification Package to help borrowers track their progress toward PSLF. Materials in the package include;
  • Letter to Borrower
  • Instructions for the form, and
  • Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form
For more information about federal financial aid visit: www.studentaid.ed.gov

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Tour of Eight Famous Cases

Canadian law professor Allan C. Hutchinson tells the stories of eight cases in Is Eating People Wrong? Great Legal Cases and How they Shaped the World (K370.H88 2011 at Classified Stacks). His big theme is the development of the common law through particular cases. Along the way, he offers more complete stories about some famous cases than you will ever find in a casebook or appellate opinion.

He opens with a case from Britain that actually begins in a lifeboat on the Atlantic ocean: The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens, 14 Q.B.D 273 (1884) (link). (The book draws its title from this chapter, if you want a hint about what the case is about.)

Hutchinson's selection is eclectic, spanning criminal law, torts, contract law, property law, and constitutional law  – most of a typical first-year course line-up. He draws from four common-law jurisdictions: U.S., Canada, Australia, and U.K. The cases are:
  • Roncarelli v. Duplessis,  [1959] S.C.R. 121, link  (S.C.C.) (abuse of power by the premier of Quebec)
  • Pierson v. Post, 3 Cai. 175, link (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1805) (ownership of a hunted fox)
  • Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, link (1954) (Brown I) and 349 U.S. 294, link (1955) (Brown II)(segregated schools)
  • Donoghue v. Stevenson, [1932] A.C. 562 (H.L.) 562, link (bottler's liability for snail in ginger beer)
  • Mabo v. Queensland, (1988) 166 C.L.R. 186, link (Mabo I) and  (1992) 175 C.L.R. 1, link (Mabo II) (aboriginal title in Australia)
  • Hadley v. Baxendale,  9 Exch. 341, link (1854) (damages for contract breach)
  • Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, link (1966) (accused's rights during interrogation)
You can read the book for Hutchinson's observations about the common law as "a messy, episodic, and experimental effort to respond and adapt to the contingent demands that the society brings forward." (p. 11) Or you can dabble in it to read the colorful stories about the unfortunate cabin boy, the contested fox, the mill's broken shaft, and more.

The publisher's page about the book is here. The WorldCat record (with links to other libraries) is here.

Academic Westlaw and Lexis Subscriptions Really Are Just for School

Here's a great reminder, reprinted (with permission) from a post by our colleagues at Seattle U's law library :

It is well known that most law students in the U.S. have free [seemingly unlimited] use of major online subscription research databases. But use of these databases is an educational privilege and restricted to educational and nonprofit purposes (research and studies).

The Utah State Bar Ethics Advisory Committee found that an attorney’s misuse of a student’s educational Lexis or Westlaw access is not only an ethical violation but also amounts to theft of services, a criminal act (a potential felony).  According to the Committee’s November 15, 2011, ethics opinion, “numerous” students have reported that their “initial or continued employment” has been conditioned upon a willingness to violate their agreements with respect to research services.

You can read the whole opinion here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Do You Have a Short Story in You?

The Journal of Legal Education (a publication of the Association of American Law Schools) graphic of page from legal pad with start of storyand Southwestern Law School have announced the first JLE Legal Fiction Contest. Submissions must be original short works of fiction related to law school or the practice of law, and winning entries will be published in a future issue of the Journal of Legal Education. The submission deadline is March 15, 2012.

The panel of distinguished judges will include Michael Connelly, author of bestselling legal-themed novels such as The Lincoln Lawyer, The Brass Verdict, The Reversal and the newly released The Drop. His recent book, The Fifth Witness, featured a character called "Bullocks" who is a recent Southwestern graduate. In agreeing to participate as a judge, Connelly said, "I'm excited to be involved because it's been fun for me to include Southwestern in my novels. But I am also a reader and always looking for good storytellers. I think this should be interesting. I'm looking forward to what comes in."
Connelly will be joined on the panel by author Denise Hamilton (Damage Control, The Last Embrace), writer Marshall Goldberg ("L.A. Law," "Paper Chase," "Newhart," "It's Gary Shandling's Show") and Charles Rosenberg (legal consultant to "Paper Chase," "L.A. Law," "The Practice" and "Boston Legal," and author of the recently released legal thriller Death on a High Floor).

The contest is open to lawyers and non-lawyers, academics and non-academics - anyone setting a fictitious story in a legal setting (law school, law firm, courtroom, legislature, judge's chambers, etc.) or focusing on a law-related character (lawyer, law professor, judicial clerk, etc.). According to Marshall Goldberg, "The long hours, the ethical conflicts and the differing notions of justice all force hard choices upon law students, practitioners, judges and academics - and these struggles can make powerful fiction."

Submissions must be in prose form (no screenplays or scripts), previously unpublished, under 5,000 words (approximately 20 typewritten pages) and submitted by March 15, 2012 (click here for full requirements). Entries will be reviewed anonymously and judged on originality, quality of writing and depth of character. The ten winners will be announced in June 2012, and their stories will be published in the Journal of Legal Education: The Fiction Issue in early 2013. Additionally, the ten winners and ten runner-up entries will be posted online. Authors will retain copyright ownership.
In applauding the creativity of the Journal of Legal Education editors at Southwestern in designing the competition and recruiting such an impressive panel of judges, Susan Prager, Executive Director of the Association of American Law Schools, said that she is "eager to see the first published pieces in the competition" and predicts that "these will prove of enduring interest and value." She added: "I only wonder if we will need to deliver more copies of the Journal to our member law schools!"

Assistant Dean Molly Selvin, the managing editor of the JLE and coordinator of the contest said, "In some quarters the legal world is considered stiff and colorless. The Journal of Legal Education and Southwestern Law School believe this contest will help dispel that misimpression, and happily welcome all submissions."
Graphic: mw, using Notes Plus app.

Friday, January 6, 2012


If you'd like to see short comments about what's going on at the AALS meeting, you can skim the tweets at www.twitter.com/aals12. You will see a variety of notes, from petty gripes to interesting insights.

Balance in Law School

Balance in law school: isn't that an oxymoron? Not according to the members of AALS's Section on Balance in Legal Education who think it's rare but definitely worth striving for. This morning a panel of speakers shared information about classes, workshops, and student projects at their law schools: the City University of New York (CUNY), Vanderbilt, Miami, Phoenix, and UW. The speakers included faculty and staff, current students, and a recent grad. Prof. Kim Ambrose and Dean Michele Storms spoke about some of the programs at the UW. To get an idea of student-run programs, see the websites of the Insightful Mind Initiative (Miami) and the Vanderbilt Student Health and Wellness Association.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Law School Conference

This week thousands of law professors and law school staff converge on Washington, DC, for the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). There will be committee meetings, meetings of representatives from all the law schools, and lots of presentations. Here are what some UW speakers will be talking about:

Most of the schedule is worked out well in advance of the meeting, but the organizers save some slots for "hot topics." Prof. Mary Fan is speaking on one of those hot topics, Alternatives to Mass Incarceration: Taking Advantage of the Budget Crisis. See Prof. Fan's article, Beyond Budget-Cut Criminal Justice: The Future of Penal Law, 90 N. Car. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2012), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1804539

Several of our speakers were chosen for their panels based on calls for papers:

Our faculty are also active as chairs of sections and members of committees:
  • Prof. Alan Kirtley is chair of the Section of Clinical Legal Education
  • Prof. Rafael Pardo is chair of the Section of Creditors' and Debtors' Rights and he is on the Committee on Research
  • Dean Kellye Testy is co-chair of the section for law school deans. She is nominated for (and will probably be elected to) the AALS Executive Board, for a three-year term./li>
  • Prof. Clark Lombardi is chair-elect of the Section of Islamic Law
  • Associate Dean Penny Hazelton is on the Committee on Libraries and Technology

One last UW connection: the Section on Disability Law is presenting a day-long program, Disaster, Disability and Law, whose papers will be published in the Washington Law Review. (This post was updated Jan. 5.)

Keeping Track of Stuff

Did you get a new device over the break? Perhaps you are long past looking for a bicycle under the Christmas tree – maybe you have to buy your own toys and tools. But no matter how you got your bike, iPad, Android phone, or laptop, it's a good idea to keep track of it.
Did you know that you can register bicycles and electronics with the UW Police? They keep track of the serial number and other identifying information and if, heaven forbid, something is lost or stolen, that registration can help get it back to you when it's found. You can get a sticker from the UW Police to show that you've registered your bike or device, and that might deter some thieves.
The best deterrence is keeping an eye on your things. If you need to take a bathroom break or a coffee break, take your things with you or have a friend watch them. It doesn't take long for a thief to pick up a laptop!
You can buy a security cable to lock your laptop. All of the Law Library's tables and carrels have brackets underneath to anchor the cables. The University Book Store Tech Center carries at least one kind. Or to see a lot, visit Amazon.com and search for laptop security cable.
And of course, thieves who take you whole device are not the only threat. You also don't want your computing life messed up by viruses, crashes, or identity thieves. See UW IT Connect's page on Safe and Secure Computing. See also Six Tips to Safeguard Your Mobile Devices, Law Technology News, Jan. 2, 2011.

Graphic: cartoon of iPad under the tree, drawn on my iPad, which I just registered with UWPD.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Inside the Interrogation of a Scared Teen

After a trial court judge suppressed a teenager's confession in her trial for smothering her infant, David Boeri, a reporter for WBUR, a public radio station in Boston, petitioned to get the DVDs or the interrogation. It took several months, but the judge issued an order in September, and in December, WBUR aired a two-part report, "Anatomy of a Bad Confession." Today, NPR aired a lengthy story (though not as lengthy as what WBUR aired). Why did it take so long for the judge to grant the motion? She was sensitive to the risks to the defendant: since the judge determined that the statements were involuntary, the confession wouldn't be admitted at trial and the defendant would not have the opportunity to challenge the statements publicly, and yet WBUR could post the on the web and anyone searching for the young woman's name for the rest of her life would be able to see and hear the confession. It was only after the prosecutor dropped the case that the judge decided that the balance tipped in favor of releasing the recordings. And now people can find online not only the confession but an interview with Nga Truong, reflecting on the interrogation three years later. She does have the opportunity to tell her story. Here are links: Hearing (or viewing) the questioning is much more vivid the reading a discussion of a coercive interrogation in an appellate opinion. This is very valuable reporting.