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legal profession

June 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 12, 2014

  • John McGinnis: As information technology disrupts the legal profession, will lawyers’ clout decline? [City Journal]
  • Law schools, especially of the more leftward persuasion, collecting millions of dollars in cy pres lawsuit diversions [Derek Muller]
  • Who’s still defending embattled medical examiner Steven Hayne? Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood, for one [Radley Balko, earlier here, here, here]
  • Life in America will become more drab if Campaign for Safe Cosmetics gets its way [Jeffrey Tucker via @cathyreisenwitz, earlier on "CPSIA for soap"]
  • LSAT settled with DoJ demands re: disabled accommodation back in 2002 and again just now, and the differences between the two settlements tell a story [Daniel Fisher, earlier] Some prospective students will be losers [Derek Muller]
  • “‘Swoop and Squat': Staged car accidents, insurance fraud rise in L.A.” [Los Angeles Times]
  • Toughen duty for California psychiatrists to inform on dangerous patients? Awaiting backfire in three, two, one… [Scott Greenfield]

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Scott Johnson at Power Line has a lookback-with-updates on the controversy over Minnesota CLE (continuing legal education) requirements precariously balanced between indoctrination and vacuity. “What bias does the Court seek to eliminate? If the elimination-of-bias requirement can be satisfied by courses such as ‘Understanding Problem Gambling,’ as it can, the requirement has become just one more way of making a statement while making the practice of law slightly more unpleasant than it already was or is.” We covered the issue back in 2003 (“compulsory chapel”).

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Following the filing of a defamation action in the Indian courts, Bollywood* producers agreed to apologize and remove scenes from a Tamil-language movie that the lawyer-plaintiffs had decried as “opprobrious visual artistic work designed against lawyers and the legal profession” [Times of India and IndiaGlitz via Stephanie West Allen, Idealawg and Robert Ambrogi, LegalBlog Watch; "Sivakasi"]

* Or in this case more accurately “Kollywood” — see comments.

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The “light at the end of the tunnel for law firms”! Tons more regulation, no more attempts to limit lawsuits, a “boom” in financial disputes, new union contracts to negotiate all over the place! Let’s hope Larry Bodine is proved wrong (Legal Marketing Blog, Nov. 5)

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Judge Diane Sykes, on behalf of a three-judge Seventh Circuit panel, disposing of a suit that arose over whether the plaintiffs’ Halloween display of “wooden tombstones with epitaphs describing, in unflattering terms, the demise of their neighbors” was or was not Constitutionally protected, and if so what the consequences were for their suit against police:

In closing, a few words in defense of a saner use of judicial resources. It is unfortunate that this petty neighborhood dispute found its way into federal court, invoking the machinery of a justice system that is admired around the world. The suit was not so wholly without basis in fact or law as to be frivolous, but neither was it worth the inordinate effort it has taken to adjudicate it–on the part of judges, jurors, court staff, and attorneys (all, of course, at public expense). We take this opportunity to remind the bar that sound and responsible legal representation includes counseling as well as advocacy. The wiser course would have been to counsel the plaintiffs against filing such a trivial lawsuit. . . . Not every constitutional grievance deserves an airing in court. Lawsuits like this one cast the legal profession in a bad light and contribute to the impression that Americans are an overlawyered and excessively litigious people.

No live link to this site, though, apparently. (opinion link fixed now, sorry)(via Bashman). More: WSJ law blog, SkepticLawyer (Australia).

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Your editor was recently quoted in Reason (Brandon Turner, “Citings: Snow Job”, Jan., not online), where he predicted (in an interview conducted this fall) that the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Hernandez v. Hughes Missile Systems, the ADA right-to-return-after-drug-misconduct case. (How accurate was this prediction? See Dec. 13). I also contributed a quote this fall when the New York Times took a look at New Jersey’s office charged with cracking down on unethical attorneys, which it’s fair to say has its hands full (John Sullivan, “In New Jersey, Rogue Lawyers Are on the Rise”, New York Times, New Jersey edition, Oct. 19, not online). And the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, covering local attorney Elliot Rothenberg’s challenge to a rule requiring all Minnesota attorneys to enroll in “elimination of bias” classes, mentions this website and our description of the program as “compulsory chapel” (see Nov. 21) (“Attorney challenging state requirement of anti-bias classes for lawyers” Jan. 2).

Back in October, we were quoted by Legal Times’s Jonathan Groner in an interesting piece on a little-publicized crusade by “public interest” lawyers to extend the constitutional right to taxpayer-provided counsel, ushered in with Gideon v. Wainwright for persons facing criminal prosecution, to civil matters such as child custody fights (“On a Crusade for a ‘Civil Gideon'”, Legal Times, Oct. 20). The idea, quietly promoted by the Soros-backed Public Justice Center and by NYU Law’s Brennan Center, is far-reaching and actually quite scary in its implications. See George Liebmann, “‘Civil Gideon': An idea whose time has passed”, Daily Record, Jul. 18, reprinted at Calvert Institute site. Advocates were hoping to convince the Maryland high court to embrace civil Gideon, in what would have been the first such ruling in the nation, but this month the court dodged the issue in ruling on the case, Frase v. Barnhart. (Ann W. Parks, “Top court sidesteps ‘Civil Gideon’ issue, strikes down custody conditions”, Daily Record, Dec. 12; Jonathan Groner, “Inadmissible — No ‘Civil Gideon’ — for Now”, Legal Times, Dec. 15).