Saturday, July 11, 2015

Podcast: Episode 12: Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers

Welcome to our twelfth episode of The Legal Watchdog podcast.

Today we discuss legal education reform and, more specifically, my recently published essay Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.  These rules are so simple that even law professors could implement them!  First, professors should teach a real body of law, instead of the useless mishmash of cases found in the typical casebook.  Second, professors should teach all of the topics within a given subject area, rather than just the topics they find interesting.  And third, professors should publish law review articles that are useful to lawyers and judges.  Matt, of course, disagrees with many of my ideas; surprisingly, though, so does Amy.  (Knightly would have agreed with me, but he was off on a wine tasting tour of northern Wisconsin.)  

Here are additional links to some of the things we referenced in the podcast:

My other law review articles are available here.

The law review article (not mine) simply titled Fuck can be found here.  (Hat tip to my favorite law blog, the Irreverent Lawyer, for alerting me to that one.)

A discussion of the Texas law profs raking in huge salaries, bonuses, and even “forgivable loans” can be found here.

We also mentioned the scam blog movement — a group of blogs that exposed, well, the law school scam.  This movement is probably chiefly responsible for the huge decline in law school enrollment.  (The practicing lawyers of the country thank you, scam bloggers!)  Some of my favorite scam blogs include OTLSS, LSTCITLSS, 3TR, JDD, LSTB, and ATL.

To meet your podcast hosts, click here

Our funky, jazzy theme song ("Cold Hurt") and our cool intermission song ("Murgatroyd") were generously provided by David Pizarro.  To hear more of David's music you can listen to his philosophy-psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards, or go directly to his SoundCloud page.

Finally, here is the podcast:


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Would-be lawyers, beware!

About forty percent of all lawyers are solo practitioners.  Another large percentage of all lawyers find themselves in very small partnerships, e.g., two or three lawyers, which is essentially the same thing as being a solo practitioner.  So if you go to law school, the odds are great that this is where you’ll end up.  Therefore, before you take the plunge and spend all that money on tuition, and yet another three years sitting in a classroom, you should take a look at what kind of money you can expect to earn.  Now, I’ve written several times about the incredibly embarrassingly low pay for solo lawyers, including here and here.  But, as the law professors like to say, that was just “anecdotal.”  So here’s some better salary data. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fixing Law Schools

Any reader of The Legal Watchdog -- or of ATL, LGM, OTLSS, LSTC, or 3TR, among others -- knows that law schools are desperately in need of reform.  But the problem is that most ideas for reform are pie-in-the-sky.  Why?  Because law schools are typically run by deans and professors and even clinical instructors who have never (or barely) practiced law, thus making serious reform a practical impossibility.  But reform, to some extent, can still happen.  And that's what I've written about in my latest essay, Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers.  Stay tuned for an upcoming podcast episode on the same topic; in the meantime, enjoy the essay!  And for those short on time, read the abstract after the jump:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Swim with the Sharks

I don’t mind admitting that Shark Tank is flat-out addictive.  Essentially, five “sharks” — billionaires or multimillionaires looking to invest money — listen to pitches from entrepreneurs seeking capital for their businesses.  Sometimes the entrepreneurs’ ideas are so bad that the sharks will ridicule these people to the point of making them cry.  Other times, the business ideas have such profit potential that the sharks will fight each other for an ownership stake in the entrepreneur’s company.  Yes, I love Shark Tank, but probably not for the reason I’m supposed to. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Podcast: Episode 11: The Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel

Welcome to episode eleven of The Legal Watchdog Podcast.

In this episode we discuss the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the case of State v. Delebreau.  Essentially, this constitutional right has been wiped from Wisconsin's history and has been merged with the Fifth Amendment right to counsel.  We discuss this unfortunate development, as well as how difficult it is to actually invoke your right to silence or your right to counsel under the Fifth Amendment.  (For more on that see pp. 922 - 925 of this article.)

Amy and Matt also do intense battle over an innocent Game of Thrones disclosure.  Don't worry, there are no actual spoilers involved, so fans of that show -- I actually thought it was a video game -- can still listen freely.  

To meet your podcast hosts, click here.

Our funky, jazzy theme song ("Cold Hurt") and our cool intermission song ("Rational") were generously provided by David Pizarro.  To hear more of David's music you can listen to his philosophy-psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards, or go directly to his SoundCloud page.

Finally, here is the podcast:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Podcast: Episode 10: The Preliminary Hearing: To Waive or Not to Waive?

Welcome to our tenth episode of The Legal Watchdog podcast.

In today's podcast we discuss the preliminary hearing in criminal cases in Wisconsin.  While the decision whether to waive or have the preliminary hearing rests with the defendant, we discuss the thought process that goes into the defense lawyer's recommendations on this point.  We also consider the limited benefits of having the hearing, as well as two serious but often overlooked risks of having the hearing.  The case that gave us the idea for this episode is State v. Hull, where the state was allowed to use hearsay at the defendant's prelim, and the defendant was prevented from calling a witness in his own defense.  During the podcast we also discuss the problematic case of State v. Stuart.

Toward the end of the episode when Matt gets out of line, as is his custom, Amy is forced once again to threaten both the stun belt and the restraint chair.

To meet your podcast hosts, click here

Our funky, jazzy theme song ("Cold Hurt") and our cool intermission song ("Murgatroyd") were generously provided by David Pizarro.  To hear more of David's music you can listen to his philosophy-psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards, or go directly to his SoundCloud page.

Finally, here is the podcast:


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

“I spent $134,918 and I don’t even get a lousy law degree?”

I hate it when lawyers mindlessly jabber about "public service" or "giving back" or our alleged duty to "serve the community," as if we have some moral obligation above that of medical doctors, corporate managers, accountants, or truck drivers.  As I’ve written here, this nonsensical blather often comes from highly paid bureaucrats at state bar associations who are trying to put a good face on the legal profession.  And as I’ve written here, other times it comes from judicial candidates who are vying for incredibly high paying judgeships, but need to offer up a more palatable reason for why they want the gig.  But now it’s graduation time, and the law school industrial complex is minting thousands of new JDs.  And along with the graduation ceremonies comes commencement speakers who spew out creative new twists on this worn out public service mantra.  The most creative twist this year goes to the Northeastern University commencement speaker who told the graduates that their degree doesn’t really belong to them; instead, it “belongs to our whole community.”

Friday, May 15, 2015

Podcast: Episode 9: "I didn't do it, but I know who did"

Welcome to episode nine of The Legal Watchdog Podcast.

So you're charged with a crime and you didn't do it, but you know who did -- and you can't wait to tell the jury about it.  Not so fast.  In this podcast, we discuss State v. General Grant Wilson, where the court shut down the defendant's "wrong person defense," a/k/a "third party defense."  We discuss how difficult it is for a defendant to introduce evidence that another party committed the crime -- after all, police and prosecutors always get the right guy -- and in the second half of the podcast we discuss my article, An Alternative to the Wrong-Person Defense.  

To meet your podcast hosts, click here.

Our funky, jazzy theme song ("Cold Hurt") and our cool intermission song ("Rational") were generously provided by David Pizarro.  To hear more of David's music you can listen to his philosophy-psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards, or go directly to his SoundCloud page.

Finally, here is the podcast:

Friday, May 8, 2015

ABA and Wisconsin Bar combine efforts to solve lawyers’ problems (but not really)

Many new law grads are saddled with staggering debt loads and have limited job prospects.  While six-figure debt is now commonplace, just over half of new law grads have been able to land full-time, long-term employment as lawyers.  And, thanks to the bimodal salary distribution, most of those “lucky” new lawyers aren’t even paid enough to make a dent in their student loans.  On the other hand, for established, practicing lawyers, things aren’t much better: fees have been stagnant or even falling — not only in real dollars, but often in nominal dollars as well.  But don’t worry.  A grinning bureaucrat from the ABA teamed up with the Wisconsin Bar to discuss the “great opportunities facing lawyers today.”  That’s funny; I thought we “faced” obstacles but were “presented with” opportunities.  But I’m not writing this to nitpick word choice, so let’s get to the real question: what exactly are these “great opportunities”?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Podcast: Episode 8: Reversed and Remanded?

In today's podcast we discuss two cases, State v. Harrison, Jr., and State v. Coleman.  In both cases, a child accused the defendant of sexual assault.  In both cases, there was no physical evidence.  In both cases, there were no eyewitnesses.  In both cases, the child couldn't keep the story straight.  In both cases, the defense lawyer didn't thoroughly cross-examine the child-accuser.  And in both cases, the jury convicted the defendant.

But that's where the similarities end.  In Harrison, the District III Court of Appeals simply dispensed with the defendant's appeal via a conclusory, four-page decision that barely discussed any of the facts or cited any law.  It's probably the thinnest appellate court decision in the history of appellate court decisions.  But in Coleman, the District I Court of Appeals issued a detailed and thorough twenty-page majority decision that reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.  We try to figure out why these two defendants got such dramatically different treatment from the courts.

Also, there's some new stuff in the podcast.  First, we have new intermission music, again courtesy of David Pizarro (see below).  And second, in her ongoing effort to keep Matt in line, Amy abandons the traditional "stun belt" and instead implements the use of a "restraint chair."  Listen to the podcast to see if it works.

To meet your podcast hosts, click here

Our funky, jazzy theme song ("Cold Hurt") and our cool intermission song ("Redd") were generously provided by David Pizarro.  To hear more of David's music you can listen to his philosophy-psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards, or go directly to his SoundCloud page.

Finally, here is the podcast:


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies: Community and the Law (Part 2)

I realize that law school deans need to “sell” their product and industry to a variety of groups, including would-be students.  But sometimes, dean-speak is so bizarre you have to wonder if the dean gave even minimal thought before spinning a particular yarn.  To continue with my new field of interdisciplinary study, Community and the Law, let’s begin with our baseline dean: Community’s Craig Pelton, Dean of the fictional Greendale Community College.  Dean Pelton recently bragged that his school is “now ranked fifth . . . on Colorado’s alphabetical listing of community colleges.”  That claim pretty much speaks for itself.  And unfortunately, some real-life law school deans appear to be using Dean Pelton as their role model.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies: Community and the Law (Part 1)

Despite its comic intentions, the television show Community — season 6 now available on Yahoo! Screen — has been surprisingly accurate in its portrayal of higher education and, more specifically, of law school.  For example, the show, set on the campus of Greendale Community College, did a great job of explaining the importance of law school: “Anyone can be a lawyer; you can even represent yourself.”  And through its character Jeff Winger, the show essentially proved that the J.D. degree is really nothing more than a dressed-up associate’s degree.  But in season 6, Community is becoming eerily prescient, and it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate the fictional Greendale Community College from real-life law schools. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Podcast: Episode 7: Trial potpourri, flipping the bird, and Dick Cheney

Welcome to episode seven of The Legal Watchdog Podcast.

In today's podcast we discuss a number of trial related issues, ranging from the composition of the jury to your right to have your attorney in the court room during trial. (Spoiler alert: your attorney doesn't always have to be awake, or even present in court, during trial.)  The main cases for our discussion are State v. Robinson and Woods v. Donald.

Our apologies to the southern judiciary.  One of our topics in this podcast was the Batson challenge during jury selection.  And we went off on a tangent to discuss the case of Walker v. Girdich, where the trial judge held that the prosecutor's striking a juror because he was "a black man" was a race-neutral, and therefore acceptable, reason. And our first guess was that this was a case from the southern judiciary, but it was not.  It was a case from the allegedly politically liberal New York judiciary.  (As I've written before, there is no relationship between political affiliation and the respect for individual rights, and this is yet another example.)  In any case, kudos to the Second Circuit -- which covers Connecticut, New York, and Vermont -- for the reversal. 

Our apologies also go out to Dick Cheney.  You were a vice president -- and an especially influential one at that -- so I should have known that your first name was Dick, not Don.  (Though I did accurately peg you as an avid, but not necessarily an accurate, hunter.)  And this leads to my final apology: the former Temple basketball coach was John Chaney, not Don Chaney.  I have no knowledge of whether John Chaney liked to hunt and, if he did, whether he was a more accurate shot than Dick Cheney.

To meet your podcast hosts, click here

Our funky, jazzy theme song ("Cold Hurt") and our cool intermission song ("Murgatroyd") were generously provided by David Pizarro.  To hear more of David's music you can listen to his philosophy-psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards, or go directly to his SoundCloud page.

Finally, here is the podcast:


Friday, March 27, 2015

Podcast: Episode 6: The Alibi Defense

Welcome to episode six of The Legal Watchdog Podcast.

In the first part of the podcast we briefly discuss State v. Hackel, a case about jury selection gone wrong.  In the second part, we dive into State v. Copeland, a case about the alibi defense.  What exactly is an alibi defense?  Who decides whether to use it, the defendant or the defense lawyer?  And can the defense lawyer withdraw the defense when he has reason to believe the entire thing will blow up in the defendant's face?

To meet your podcast hosts, click here.

Our funky, jazzy theme song ("Cold Hurt") and our cool intermission song ("Rational") were generously provided by David Pizarro.  To hear more of David's music you can listen to his philosophy-psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards, or go directly to his SoundCloud page.

Finally, here is the podcast:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015