Friday, March 28, 2014

What Makes Lawyers Happy?

What makes lawyers happy? Apparently people want to know, because an article on that topic was the most downloaded paper on SSRN last week. You can read it yourself:

Lawrence S. Krieger & Kennon M. Sheldon, What Makes Lawyers Happy? Transcending the Anecdotes with Data from 6200 Lawyers, 83 Geo. Wash. U. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015), available at
Attorney well-being and depression are topics of great concern, but there has been no theory-driven empirical research to guide lawyers and law students seeking well-being. This article reports a unique study establishing a hierarchy of five tiers of factors for lawyer well-being, including choices in law school, legal career, and personal life, and psychological needs and motivations established by Self-Determination Theory.
Data from several thousand lawyers in four states show striking patterns, repeatedly indicating that common priorities on law school campuses and among lawyers are confused or misplaced. Factors typically afforded most attention and concern, those relating to prestige and money (income, law school debt, class rank, law review, and USNWR law school ranking) showed zero to small correlations with lawyer well-being. Conversely, factors marginalized in law school and seen in previous research to erode in law students (psychological needs and motivation) were the very strongest predictors of lawyer happiness and satisfaction.
Lawyers were grouped by practice type and setting to further test these findings. The group with the lowest incomes and grades in law school, public service lawyers, had stronger autonomy and purpose and were happier than those in the most prestigious positions and with the highest grades and incomes. Additional measures raised concerns: subjects did not broadly agree that judge and lawyer behavior is professional, nor that the legal process reaches fair outcomes. Specific explanations and recommendations for lawyers, law teachers, and legal employers are drawn from the data, and direct implications for attorney productivity and professionalism are explained.
(emphasis added)

Graphic: original drawing by Mary Whisner, photograph by Grace Feldman, Civil Procedure Hornbook by Friedenthal, Kane, and Miller

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Law of Comics - this weekend near you!

Logo for Emerald City Comicon 2014

Calling all geeks! Emerald City Comicon is here this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and they're not only bringing the best in entertainment – they're bringing the law. 

On Friday, amidst your celebrity sightings and signings, stop by these sessions:

Copyright Infringement and the Fair Use Defense     
Room: 2B
Time: 1:00PM - 1:50PM

What does copyright protect? What is infringement? When does "fair use" protect me? What happens if I infringe? Join attorney Caitlin DiMotta for a primer on copyright infringement, the fair use defense, & how to understand the difference.

Comics and Healthcare     
Room: HALL C (610)
Time: 3:20PM - 4:10PM

This panel will present works from an online exhibit of comics devoted to the Affordable Care Act and discuss the use of comics to raise consciousness of health insurance, disability, aging and related public health issues.

Ethics in Comics     
Room: 2B
Time: 4:00PM - 4:50PM
Last year we packed out the hall and delivered the goods, and this year our team of ethics experts are back to bring you their latest breakdown on the state of ethics in comics today! Join us as we hit the books on spandex, blood, and reboots...

On Saturday, you can get your fill of contracts: 
How To Read and Understand Your Next Publishing Contract     
Room: 2B
Time: 11:00AM - 11:50AM

Caitlin DiMotta, an attorney dedicated to helping creators protect their rights and get paid fairly for their work, will show you how to read through (and understand!) your next contract with a publisher, client or collaborator.

And on the last day, make time for a talk on terminology:

Creator-Owned vs Work-For-Hire: What Does That Mean, Really?
Room: 2B

Time: 3:00PM - 3:50PM

Join attorney Caitlin DiMotta as she provides a comprehensive look at ownership structures in comics: creator-owned, work-for-hire, and all the variations in between - the good, the bad, and the outrageous.

Have fun, and don’t forget your cape!

Monday, March 24, 2014

King Lear in Law School

Have you heard about the King Lear productions in Prof. Karen Boxx's Transmission of Wealth class?

They're fun, but they also teach some important lessons about estate planning and help students develop some valuable lawyering skills. See Karen E. Boxx, Shakespeare in the Classroom: How an Annual Student Production of King Lear Adds Dimension to Teaching Trusts and Estates, 58 St. Louis U. L.J. 751 (2014).

Prof. Karen E. Boxx William Shakespeare.
Image taken from: Abraham Wivell,
An Inquiry into the History, Authenticity,
and Characteristics of the Shakespeare
Portraits, etc. (A supplement.)
" (1827).
Available via the British Library's Flickr
.See this post.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Video Games in Legal Education

Recently, a class of mine engaged in a debate regarding whether video games have a place in libraries, and in education generally.  While most law students would agree that law school is no game, that needn't be the case.  In fact, Gregory Silverman, the writer of a chapter for Legal Education in the Digital Age, argues that Law Games might be just the way to save an endangered legal education system.  Games are already used to train "doctors, engineers, military commanders, troops, firefighters, first responders, police, policy analysts, airline pilots, fighter pilots, restaurant and wait staff, and business managers."  Professor Silverman argues that games can help to solve the following four criticisms of legal education in its current form:

(Edward L. Rubin ed., Cambridge University Press 2012).
  Classified Stacks, Call Number K100.L45 2012.

Sunshine from the Public Disclosure Commission

The person who asked me about campaign contributions to judges this morning didn't know that it was Sunshine Week, but I do, so I'll share what I learned about what's on the Public Disclosure Commission website.

PDC logo from website

The Public Disclosure Commission enforces the state's campaign finance laws. Candidates for state and local offices have to report who gives them money, how much, and where the donors live and work. Lobbyists also have to file reports.

The PDC Press Kit is a good place to start. It gives statistics for the 2012 campaigns and summarizes the key laws.

The Public Resources page includes "Money Maps," where you can contributions by county. For example, here's the map for Referendum 74 (marriage equality) in 2012:

"Money Map" showing more donations in R-74 more populous counties (King, Snohomish, Spokane)

How Female Lawyers Dress

Slate's Amanda Hess observes Female Lawyers Who Dress Too "Sexy" Are Apparently a "Huge Problem" in the Courtroom (March 21, 2014).

Maureen HowardFor a deeper look at this issue, see Prof.
Maureen Howard's article, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: One Size Does Not Fit All When It Comes to Courtroom Attire for Women, 45 Gonz. L. Rev. 209 (2010).

Medicaid in the ER

$34 Million Saved in Effort to Cut Needless ER Visits. That's the headline from this morning's Seattle Times article describing the state's program that enables hospital emergency departments to coordinate care for frequent ER patients. "Having information about a patient’s prior ER visits, [Dr. Nathan] Schlicher said, helped emergency doctors give better care, including avoiding duplicate scans and tests that could expose patients to unnecessary radiation or other risks."

Sallie SanfordTo go deeper into the policy and legal issues, see Prof. Sallie Sanford's new article,  Emergency Response: A Systemic Approach to Diaper Rash, Chest Pain and Medicaid in the ED, 102 Ky L.J. 441 (2013-2014). This article was part of a symposium called "Medicaid Matters."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FOIA in the Sunshine

Sunshine Week is an annual celebration of open government and freedom of information. Librarians, journalists, educators, advocates, and others spend this week promoting the public's right to know about what our government is doing and why.

In honor of the right to know, here are a few resources to help you understand and use FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. §552).

In the Law Library, check these out:

P. Stephen Gidiere III, The Federal Information Manual: How the Government Collects, Manages, and Discloses Information under FOIA and Other Statutes (2d ed. 2013), Classified Stacks KF 5753 .G53 2013. Published by the ABA, this practitioner-oriented includes a chapter on the successful elements of a FOIA request

James T. O'Reilly, Federal Information Disclosure (2013), Classified Stacks KF 5753 .O74 Winter 2013. This 2 volume work covers FOIA, the Privacy Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the Government in the Sunshine Act.

Cornish F. Hitchcock, The Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts (2013), Reference Area KF 5753 .G85 2013. Half of the 3 volume-set is appendices, including the text of all state freedom of information or open records act.

On the web:

United States Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act. Comprehensive legal treatise (the last edition in print, from 2009, was over 900 pages). Chapters are updated as needed (and available as PDFs).

The DOJ Office of Information Policy website includes

  • annual reports from federal agencies to the Attorney General
  • annual reports to Congress from the Attorney General on FOIA litigation and compliance 

You can create your own reports using the data from these annual reports at, an initiative launched 3 years ago to coincide with Sunshine Week. also offers

  • videos on how and where to make a FOIA request

  • a tool that allows you to search across federal agency websites to see what has already been made available

  • a list of agency FOIA contacts

See also our previous blog post, FOIAonline: A Multi-AgencyFOIA Repository

Tip: before making a FOIA request to a particular agency, look at the agency’s "FOIA Library" (formerly called an "electronic reading room") to see if what you want has already been made available. You can use the search tool on, but if you are focusing on one agency it might be easier to start at that agency's FOIA Library.