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The Internet’s Thin Veil

June 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Setting aside the net neutrality policy debate, the internet’s level publishing platform does not seem to have allowed for a multitude of dislocated voices so much as a partial reorganization of collective publishing entities in a way that is not so different from the newspapers and magazines that controlled periodical publication during the wholly print era. For those writers coming of age today, the internet’s vastness actually may make it even more difficult to catch the eye of those in control of the most well-attended publishing outlets.

What may be different today, though, is the relative ease with which readers may examine an individual’s writings, musings, exercises, and even drafts posted online before the individual accepted an invitation to join a popular publishing platform. Sometimes, as in the case of Clay Travis, who posted multiple unfavorable comments of Fox Sports not long before accepting an offer to join the network, it is quite easy to find this content. Other times, a small mistake can unlock a trove of old material.    Read more…

Blogging about Blogging (at ALDLAND)

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I launched ALDLAND, a new blog about sports and culture, this morning. My hope is that it will develop into a multi-author site that’s both more frequently current and less frequently serious than the material that usually appears here. I fully intend to continue writing here as usual, and, as this site surges past 8,000 overall page views today, I am grateful for your continued readership.

An introduction to the new site, and the first day’s posts are available at http://aldland.wordpress.com.

Repost: Memories, Borne on the Fourth of July [7/4/2010]

July 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Year in Review

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

One year ago today, I started this site with the following statement: “An attorney should always put a statement of the questions presented at the very beginning of any brief unless the rules forbid it.” In that opening post, I tried to map an approach that would guide content then unwritten:

… Setting aside the notion of persuasion, the judicial posture is a useful one for approaching the world.

On the national level of the American governmental apparatus, judges usually are considered passive entities. A court cannot reach out and take or create a case that is not properly before it, nor can it concoct a set of hypothetical facts and issue a decision based on those facts. Most of the time, courts cannot even rule on arguments or contentions the parties do not raise. This detached position encourages patience and allows one to receive an orderly presentation of considerations before making a decision. And judges must make some kind of decision. Judges are passive in posture, though not in nature. At the very least, they must issue a judgment– a verdict, decision, or ruling. By convention or rule, they need to be prepared to defend their decisions verbally or in writing. This requirement of eventual and substantial action reinforces and enhances the passive phase and its attendant values. Knowledge that one must later decide focuses the passive mind and encourages patience to allow for a full understanding of the matters at hand. There is mutually reinforcing energy between listening and deciding such that nothing is mere talk, and chatter has little purpose. As usual, time is a foundational consideration: listen, then decide, then defend, and then listen again.

Resource limitations are a part of our condition. When we choose to utilize our limited resources, we want to do so effectively. This applies to mental resources as much as it does to fuel and finances. Regardless of a resource’s renewability, other limitations will constrain its expenditure or utilization. Efficacy and efficiency are the best responses to this fact of limitation, here represented by the phrase “in the real world.” Many scholars are feeding their families today because of their ability to operate (in varying degrees) detached from the real world. Ideas are important. Theory is important. That’s the point of what you are reading and will read here. The seemingly unavoidable limitations on resources demand that we root ourselves in reality, while allowing ourselves to discuss, critique, and reevaluate that reality. This is a chance to find out what happens when keeping it real goes right.

What about the questions presented? Wasn’t that where this was supposed to begin? It was, and it is. Justice Scalia and Brian Garner emphasize the primacy of questions presented because those questions shape everything that follows. I’m not exactly sure what will follow, but I have some ideas and I know you do too. It’s time to start asking questions that matter.

My goal has been to try to ask real questions, not leading or rhetorical ones, in an attempt to reveal something about what underlies our assumptions, ideas, and viewpoints. I’ve tried to at least imply a question in every post, and where I did not, my approach was to put forth a position that invited responsive comments, of which the site received many. With nearly 3,500 views in the first year, I think we’re off to a good start.

Thank you for your readership and feedback.

Blogging About Blogging (at Law School Transparency), Vol. II

October 26, 2010 1 comment

As mentioned, I am doing some blogging for Law School Transparency (LST), and my latest post there now is available. It discusses recent comments by Steven Zack, president of the American Bar Association:

Mr. Zack’s statements were exciting because they signaled to me the spread of the sort of discussion LST has been working to develop regarding the nature of the employment data reporting problem and the steps necessary to resolve it. While LST is working towards a solution on multiple fronts, including encouraging schools to comply with our Standard, the furtherance of a discourse of transparency serves to advance our cause.

I found Mr. Zack’s comments heartening because they showed his recognition of the more nuanced aspects of this conversation. When it comes to prospective students, he said that “there’s a total lack of awareness” about earning potential and career options. He suggested that law schools have an incentive to present their employment data in the best possible light to attract applicants.

You can read the full post at: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/2010/10/new-player-same-goal-more-progress.

Blogging About Blogging (at Law School Transparency)

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

As mentioned, I became a member of the Law School Transparency Advisory Board earlier this fall. My latest post, which explains that all law schools have an interest in complying with the LST Standard, is now available on LST’s site:

LST recognizes that there is much more to the placement discussion than employment in the nation’s largest law firms and federal Article III clerkships. In fact, only 15-18% of 2009 graduates were employed by these firms or as Article III clerks. While many prospective law students want these jobs, other students want to attend law school because they want to work in a particular community or region, or because they want to pursue a particular career in a district attorney’s office or an environmental advocacy position for example….Prospective students are interested in comparing these employment opportunities. It should be surprising, then, that the current reporting standards do not emphasize placement with the government, regional and local law firms, and state and local clerkships….

You can read the full post at: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/2010/10/a-big-tent-with-lst-compliance-everyone-wins.

Supreme Oktoberfest

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

The Supreme Court’s 2010 term began today, the first Monday in October. The justices reconvened this morning to issue orders and hear oral arguments. To follow along, click over to SCOTUSblog, where their team is live-blogging this morning’s events.

While looking forward to this term, which marks the first time the Court has three female justices, below are links to Supreme Court-related posts from the 2009 term:

John P. Elwood’s What Were They Thinking: The Supreme Court in Revue, October Term 2009

Silent Justice,” about Justice Clarence Thomas’ ongoing silence during oral arguments

Elections United?,” about the Court’s Citizens United decision. Related, see this preview of FCC v. AT&T, a case in the 2010 term that follows up on the idea of corporate personhood.

A Typical Case of American Blind Justice?,” about judicial diversity

Secret Ballots and Certain Named and Unnamed Citizen-Legislators,” about the Court’s Doe v. Reed decision

Judicially Speaking, Cut the #$*@%!,” about the Court’s FCC v. Fox decision

No Justice is an Island,’ about Justice Elena Kagan’s nomination

Like last year, I aim to write about decisions that raise interesting issues relevant to the sorts of questions and topics usually covered here.

 

The Value of Citation, Vol. II: Recognition and Transparency

September 15, 2010 3 comments

I wrote about the value of citation before and suggested that it has a few different purposes (e.g., allowing readers to locate the materials upon which an author relied; strengthening an author’s credibility; and showing respect or signaling quality). The substance of that post was tied to the release of the ABA Journal’s top one hundred law blogs of 2009. Continuing the tradition, the publication now is seeking nominations for its 2010 list. While I (somewhat famously) supported the nomination of The Volokh Conspiracy for the 2009 list, I think there are some newer sites that also deserve attention in 2010.

Because of the title, the first is recent Georgetown Law graduate Mike Sacks’ First One @ One First, a Supreme Court blog. Frequent readers of this site will recall that I’ve linked to F1@1F many times, and Sacks’ on-the-ground reporting style is a needed compliment to more traditional outlets like SCOTUSblog (which itself has a redesigned site). He also provides specific and general analysis of cases and Court trends in a way that is both informative and easily understood. From Sacks’ first post:

My name is Mike Sacks. I am a third-year law student at Georgetown interested in legal journalism and the intersection of law and politics. This semester, I have no morning classes. As such, I will be taking advantage of living only minutes from the Supreme Court to pursue a rather unorthodox extracurricular activity: reporting from the Court as the first one in line at One First Street.

For every politically salient case from January through April, I will attempt to be at the head of the general admission line….

Camping out at the Court in winter’s nadir will not be easy. Tents are forbidden. The concrete sidewalk makes for an unforgiving bed. Sprinklers spring up in the still of the night. Challenging climate be damned, however; when the next person arrives, excited to be first, he or she will find me, with my cracked lips and frozen fingers, sardonically asking how it feels to be second and seriously inquiring why he or she is crazy enough to get in line so early.

And that question–”why are you here?”–is what I set out to explore. Every Supreme Court reporter tells us what goes on inside the Court at argument and in its opinions. Every Supreme Court reporter gets insight and analysis from expert academics and practitioners. Sometimes Supreme Court reporters even interview a party in the case to expose the human element often lost in the rarefied air of high court’s legal abstraction. But no Supreme Court reporters ever ask the Courtroom’s spectators why they have congregated inside the Temple of our Civil Religion.

Our citizenry who have come to witness the Court first-hand surely have something to say, whether when waiting in line before the Court opens or spilling out onto the steps after the Chief Justice’s gavel bangs closed the day’s session….

While Sacks has been coy about plans for year two of his blog, he recently promised to share more about “big things” yet to come, so stay tuned.

The second is the News blog at Law School Transparency‘s site.* LST is a nonprofit organization working to improve the quality and transparency of law school employment data. As with F1@1F, I have linked to LST information here before. See, e.g., here. From the recent post entitled, “Support Our Mission? Nominate LST as a Top Law Blog“:

The ABA Journal is soliciting nominations for its annual list of the one hundred best legal blogs. If you think Law School Transparency belongs on that list, please nominate us by clicking here.

Visibility is an important component of our drive to further our transparency mission. In addition to the growing amount of information available in our Data Clearinghouse, this blog allows us to communicate openly and directly with all of our stakeholders, including law schools, current, past, and future law students, and the general public. We have and will continue to use this space to create an open conversation about transparency in law school employment data reporting.

Your support will make LST an even more visible part of the legal community online.

I have written about substantive aspects of law school and the legal profession. See here and here. LST’s work, which is in line with my emphasis on the importance of access to information, provides a complimentary, quantitative perspective based around statistical data. See also here.

The legal profession isn’t the only important thing in the world, nor has it been the sole focus of this site. With the recent appointment of two new Supreme Court justices, the impending start of a new Court Term, and the ongoing media attention to LST’s efforts, however, this is a fitting time to highlight these two sites and recognize their continuing contributions.

Topsy Washington – “Recognition,” The Waterline EP (2004)

* Full disclosure: I recently became a member of LST’s Advisory Board, and I have begun to assist with blog posts, including the one quoted above.