Thursday, February 14, 2019

"Over My Dead Body"

We have intentionally avoided talking about Dan's murder, the investigations and prosecutions that have followed, and various stories and speculation about all of it.

Nevertheless, I want to flag the new Podcast Over My Dead Body (from the same company that did Dirty John, which I did not listen to, and Dr. Death, which was great), which will spend the first season talking about Dan, the marriage, and the case. The first three episodes dropped this week; I am about halfway through # 1. So far, the reporting is straight-forward and not salacious or tacky, if a bit tongue-in-cheek at points (as most podcasts are). Dan's parents are interviewed and are sources for the material, as is David Lat of Above the Law.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 14, 2019 at 11:25 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Blogging's Future

Rick Garnett writes at Mirror of Justice that this week marks 15 years of his blogging there (and slightly less time blogging here). He closes the post as follows:

The flow (as well as the speed and, perhaps, the snarkiness) of the public conversation has changed over the last 15 years.  Twitter wasn't around.  Facebook, believe it or not, was launched on the same day as Mirror of Justice.  (Arguably, we've done better at our mission than they have at theirs!)  Legal practice, legal scholarship, and legal education have changed significantly, reflecting the ongoing Digitization of Everything.  A lot that used to be said, in paragraphs, on blogs is now said, with a few words (or emojis or gifs) on Twitter.

It's not clear to me what the future holds for this blog-venture, or for blogging generally.  I'd welcome others' thoughts! 

Paul has thought and written about this question in the past, so he is the best and most thoughtful person to answer. We had a brief exchange here about the migration of some blog writing to Facebook and, as Rick notes, to  Twitter in fewer words and emojis; there is some debate about how heavy that migration has been. As someone who is not on Facebook or Twitter and believes both have made discourse worse, I hope blogs do not go the way of the 8-track.

It may be that fewer blogs remain, but those that do will keep going strong, whether as a replacement for or complement to Facebook and Twitter. The Volokh Conspiracy announced that Irina Manta, Stephen Sachs, and Keith Whittington have joined as permanent authors. I am thrilled that Gerard has joined us, a move I expect will add new life to this site. And MoJ serves a particular and special message that is not easily replaced and so should continue.

In any event, congrats to Rick on 15 years.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 5, 2019 at 11:34 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Fitzgerald was Wrong

Thanks to the generosity and at the invitation of this lively group of scholars, I now begin my second act as a blogger. To those of you who read my posts at Concurring Opinions, I think that my writing over here will be a little different in style, but I'm not sure. We'll see starting tomorrow. I can't wait.   

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on January 13, 2019 at 08:03 PM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (8)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sad law-prof blogging news

Concurring Opinions is shutting down at the end of the year. This is sad news. CoOp spun out of Prawfs in its earliest days and I experienced them (as reader and then as author/guest-author) as companion sites, covering similar issues of law and legal education with a similar sensibility. The posts containing the table of contents from new issues of law reviews will be missed. And this closing reflects the broader migration of this sort of legal writing to Twitter and Facebook.

Gerard indicated that there would be some farewell posts over the next two weeks.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 16, 2018 at 10:31 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, October 01, 2018

Rotations

Thanks to our September visitors. For October, we are joined by returners Eric Miller (Loyola-LA) and Emily Gold Waldman (Pace).

And a reminder that we are always looking for visitors, so please reach out to me if you are interested in joining us for a month.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 1, 2018 at 07:44 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 03, 2018

Note to PrawfsBlawg readers: Appearance of comments

A note to readers and commenters:

Comments to posts now appear newest to oldest. We did this to accommodate our annual faculty hiring post and our semi-annual submission post. Both posts generate hundreds of comments, requiring readers to scroll through multiple pages to read new comments. The old hack for this problem--a jump link--no longer works and Typepad recommended this as the solution. So this is the workable solution--new comments appear immediately below the post.

Unfortunately, we only could make the change globally, so comments must appear this way for all posts.

This format is necessary while the hiring and submission threads are alive and active, which should be another few months. After that, we will evaluate the appearance and decide whether to keep it or switch back. We already have heard from one reader who describes it as "crazy and moronic," so we will take that under advisement.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 3, 2018 at 09:27 AM in Blogging, Housekeeping, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Rotations

Thank you to our summer-long visitors, who joined us for July and August.

With September upon us, welcome back to Jennifer Bard (visiting at Georgetown's O'Neill Institute and Harvard's Petrie Flom Institute), Oren Perez (Dean at Bar Ilan), and Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indianpolis).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 1, 2018 at 10:31 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Further Reflections on the End of Ambition

6a00d8341c6a7953ef022ad3a3f7af200bAlmost exactly three years ago, on the last day of my guest-blogging month, I posted a piece entitled The End of Ambition.  Sometimes I go back to what I wrote long ago and cringe (I was tempted to link the piece that most makes me cringe, but nah) but this one I like.  It started as a contemplation of what it's like to face the end of your career and turned into a broader assessment of what it means to grow up, to be an adult (something we've recently explored in connection with law students).

Well, here we go again, except now I'm 1000000 (Aside #1: as my friend Raffael Cavallaro said, "there are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don't") and looking pretty good for 1000000. (Aside #2: if horses ruled the world, "digital" really would mean "binary".)  But when you hit 1000001, you hit the normal age for filing for Social Security, and at 10000110 you have maxed out on the value of deferring your benefits.  (For those of you who have many years yet before this becomes an issue, it involves the uncomfortable evaluation of how long past 10000110 you and/or your surviving partner think you will make it.  The longer the period, the more sense it makes to defer.)

What prompted the re-reflection is being on this blog extensively at the same time the "submission angsting" and "hiring committee" posts have gone up, and my recent pontifications (sparked by Kaci Bishop's article) on fear and failure.  What I want to do here, from the perspective of one who has achieve the ripe old age of 10 to the 110th power, is link fear and failure to ambition.  My thesis here is that there is a continuum of ambition from the macro to the micro, and our brains don't do a great job of making that clear, hence causing our nervous system to spit out fear of failure juice in many of the wrong places. 

Here are prototypes of macro ambition:  getting hired as a tenure-track law professor or being awarded tenure.  Placing law review articles have a lot to do with both (so it seems).  I do very much understand macro-ambition.  My school and professional lives were a continuous series of them - grades, class standing, university admissions, law school admissions, getting a law firm job, making partner, getting the in-house job, becoming the GC.  I've said this before - when you attempt to break into academia and then climb the tenure ladder as a superannuated newbie, the actual consequence of failure is, I think, less significant in one's life than if you start out young.  I think there is also a lower fear factor - and thus more willingness to swing for the fences. (By the way, it's been around for well over a decade now, but you can find that particular story in Memo to Lawyers: How Not to "Retire and Teach".)

Here is my prototype of the micro-est of micro ambitions. When you get to be 1000000 and you worry about the increasing number of senior moments, you do things to assure yourself that you aren't losing it.  One of mine is doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every day.  Monday and Tuesday are too easy, so I do them online and see how fast I can complete them.  Wednesday through Sunday merit printing them.  I do them in ink and my goal is not to make a mistake.  I can annoy my wife no end by finishing the Saturday or Sunday puzzle perfectly and then proudly displaying it as though it is actually some kind of meaningful accomplishment. 

Now some people never stop having and acting upon macro-ambitions. Joe Biden is thinking about running for President, I'm pretty sure.  I am in the process of coming to terms with the end of mine. (Trust me, I had them and could tell you stories.) What I'm thinking now is that there isn't really an end of ambition.  It's just that most of the macros get taken over by the micros. Not going to be a CEO. Not going to be a university president. Not even going to be a lateral hire. It's now a bucket list.  Yeah, it would be cool to place an article in the Yale Law Journal.  It won't make a helluva big difference to anything, but it would be another thing to check off, somewhere between doing the Saturday puzzle completely correct in ink and being President.

The thing is the fear. I've already admitted publicly that I have the typical type-A failure dreams.  I'm not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg - ambitious goals or fear of failure - or if maybe they are the same thing.  But it has made me think about Woody Allen's observation on this in Annie Hall:  "You know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, hey doc, my brother's crazy! He thinks he's a chicken.  Then the doc says, why don't you turn him in?  Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs."

Woody was talking about relationships, but I'm talking about fear of failure. I still get slightly (not pathologically) annoyed at myself for screwing up the crossword. If you lose the fear, do you also lose the ability to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve?

UPDATE:  I corrected my age from the original posting (h/t Dean Andy Perlman).  I am 1000000, not 100000.   When you get to 1000000, it's hard to see all those zeroes.  Another damn failure!  There goes the brain again, releasing those fear of failure juices.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on August 12, 2018 at 10:56 AM in Blogging, Deliberation and voices, Lipshaw | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 16, 2018

There Is Nothing New Under the Sun - Xenophobia Edition

PapaParisPart of this is recycled from something I posted (can it be?) on Christmas Day, 2007 over on Legal Profession Blog.  At the time it was a tribute to my wife Alene's grandfather, Nathan Milstein, one of the longest serving lawyers in the history of the Michigan bar.  (That is him on the left, Alene on the right, and our niece, Paris Franklin, in the middle.) The last couple paragraphs in that post prompt me to reprise much of it.

Nathan was born in 1907, graduated from Detroit Central High School in 1924, and attended the Detroit College of Law (then the Detroit City Law School and now the Michigan State University College of Law) and Wayne University Law School, receiving his LL.B. at age 21 in 1929.  Nathan passed away in 2003, having continued to practice until his late eighties.

Nathan's practice in the 1930s included, among other things, immigration.  That came up in a conversation Alene had with my colleague, Prof. Ragini Shah, who founded Suffolk's Immigration Clinic.

I am burying the lede here, so bear with me.

What prompted the post over ten years ago was the renewed interest in Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Our family takes a special interest in all things Rivera and Kahlo as a result of a particular historical interlude:  their four year stay in Detroit, beginning in 1929, when, at the behest of Edsel B. Ford, Rivera painted his monumental murals on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts.  We have hanging in our living room three prints signed by Rivera, part of a collection of ten he gave to Nathan, who represented and befriended Rivera and Kahlo during their stay in Detroit.  (Family legend has it that Kahlo made a pass at Nathan, but this is unconfirmed.)  

After Nathan passed away (at 96), Alene and I spent many hours going through his voluminous files.  One truly appreciates the historian's and the biographer's art of distilling the story from the data when looking at records like these.  The documents are tantalizing. 

For example, Nathan was a bachelor until 1946, when he married Alene's grandmother, who was a widow with two children.  Before that, he was supporting his mother and sisters.  When the war broke out, he tried for years to find a way to serve without being drafted as a private (which in 1941 paid $21 a month, not enough to support the family.)  Ultimately he found a job as a civilian flight instructor, but the file of letters and rejections to almost every branch of the military and government agency is about two inches thick.  I have framed in my office my personal favorite:  the letter signed by John Edgar Hoover advising Nathan he had failed the F.B.I entrance exam, which I had first interpreted as having been on account of Nathan's being Jewish while taking it.

Back in 2007, the interest in Rivera inspired me to go back through some of Nathan's files. What became clear was that it was likely Hoover objected to Nathan not only because of his ethnicity, but also because he consorted, in the course of his immigration practice, with all sorts of "undesirables," and espoused public positions to which the FBI director of long memory must have objected.  (I like to think that Hoover's two issues with Nathan were related to each other.)

For example, there was a file of correspondence relating to his representation in late 1932 of one Halvard Lange Bojer, the son of noted Norwegian author, Johan Bojer.  The younger Bojer, an engineer who had emigrated to the U.S. in 1928, was working for General Electric in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when he was arrested by the Immigration Service, and transported to the Wayne County Jail in Detroit, on the grounds that he was a member of the Communist Party.  Bojer himself described it to a reporter as follows:  "They tell me that I'm a Communist. . .It so happens that I'm a member of the Communist Party Opposition, whose headquarters is in New York.  Members of that Party, though glad to take Moscow's advice, refuse to take Moscow's dictation.  There are other differences, such as our belief that the worker's solution is in the organization of a Labor Party, comprised of Trade Unions, similar to that of England.  Also, we disbelieve in Moscow's theory that existing labor organizations, such as the A.F. of L., should be wrecked for the formation of Communist units."

The American Civil Liberties Union attempted to intervene on Bojer's behalf.  (I couldn't tell if Nathan was already representing Bojer or if the ACLU retained him on Bojer's behalf.)  On December 12, 1932, Roger Baldwin, the ACLU Director, wrote to Nathan, urging Bojer to fight deportation as a test case.  Baldwin stated:  "The issue is far more than personal to him.  This is the first case, so far as we are aware, when a member of his particular Communist group has been held for deportation on the ground of membership.  It is worth fighting through because it offers a test of the application of the law to other than members of the Communist Party."  Nathan met with Bojer in the Wayne County jail, where Bojer, "a very affable and highly cultured young man," advised that he had no desire to appeal the deportation, and was willing to return to Norway.  He was released pursuant to a bond posted by his friends in Fort Wayne, and joined an "East bound deportation party" on December 29, 1932.

There was an interesting postscript to that story.  Bojer's son or grandson (I don't remember which) in Norway somehow saw the blog post, got in touch with me, and I ended up sending him copies of all the papers.

So finally here is the lede, which was something of an afterthought in the 2007 post, but which in the past two years takes on relevance if not prescience.  The files contained an excerpt from Nathan's tribute to Judge Arthur C. Denison on the occasion of his retirement from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in January, 1932:

Humanizing the enforcement of existing laws relating to admission and deportation of aliens has become a serious problem confronting social leaders throughout the country.  In the present delirium of unemployment when a vague terror seizes the nation, this fear is translated into alien hatred.  Public discontent must be directed away from the cause of the unrest and to accomplish this, a counter irritant is administered.  The ever oppressed alien is again victimized.  The term alien becomes synonymous with undesirable.  Deportation "drives" and "spectacular raids" then become common occurrences.  Wholesale deportation follows as a panacea for what ails the nation.  This national hysteria influences the action of public officials and finds expression in more rigid and relentless enforcement of deportation laws.  Even the courts are sometimes swept into the whirling cyclone, marring the annals of juridical science with unprecedented decisions.  To espouse the cause of the under-privileged requires great courage.  Those who bear the courage of their convictions and refuse to be swayed, belong to the school of Holmes and Brandeis.  So few do they number that a loss in the ranks is keenly felt by liberty loving citizens.

And here's more.

The recent resignation of Judge Arthur C. Denison of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is such a loss.  As a student of social conditions, he has clearly recognized a festering condition to which the Congress of the United States has closed its eyes.  Dwelling above the sound of passing shibboleths, he has refused to harken to the murmur of the moment.  Recognizing that immigration statutes are very drastic and deal arbitrarily with human liberty, he has found it necessary to remind Immigration Authorities that aliens are human beings and as such have rights in any country in which they are domiciled, not under the principles of natural justice, but under the Constitution itself.  Aliens help to create the wealth of our nation; they are subject to its laws and must comply with all its demands of taxation.  Aliens, therefore, who have become part of our household and who have cast their lot permanently with ours, must be accorded the protection of law that is granted our citizens.

 Oh, and by the way, Nathan insisted to me many years ago that he was a Republican.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on July 16, 2018 at 07:59 AM in Blogging, Current Affairs, Immigration, Lipshaw | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 02, 2018

Compliance

Many thanks to Howard for arranging to have me contribute as a guest blogger this month!    

A few months before I began my tenure-track position in 2014, I was nervous that my seemingly diverse research interests were going to create problems for me down the line.  I had interests in professional responsibility, corporate governance, workplace law, and organizational misconduct, which meant I did not feel like I “fit” neatly within a field of legal research. I knew that my research was all connected, but I felt like conveying that connection to others was sometimes a bit difficult.  Thankfully, I had a wonderful conversation with a senior scholar who said something to the effect of:  “You just research compliance.  It is kind of new, so people may not realize it, but that is what you are doing.”  These words were instantly clarifying and gratifying.  I suppose I knew I was researching compliance issues, but not having met many scholars who defined themselves in that way at that time, I did not realize it was legitimate to actually use the compliance title to describe my work. 

Today, compliance has developed into its own, albeit some might still say new, field.  There are several law schools with centers, programs, or areas of study in compliance.  The ALI is working on a set of Principles of the Law in Compliance, Enforcement, and Risk Management.  And there are a variety of compliance-specific conferences that I can attend.  Compliance is, however, an interdisciplinary field.  Some people writing in the space describe themselves as corporate law scholars, some as criminal law scholars, and there is quite a bit of very good work being done by business school professors.  Personally, while I self-identify as a compliance scholar, I do so with the caveat that I draw on research from several areas within legal scholarship and organizational behavior.  More specifically, the underlying research question that motivates my scholarship asks how one might address dysfunctions within organizations in an effort to create more productive, healthy, and ethical environments within firms.     

This month I’ll be blogging a bit about my compliance research, but also about the experience of working within a field that is (i) still emerging and (ii) interdisciplinary in scope.  For me this has been a really exciting endeavor, but it does have its own set of challenges to work through.  But for now, I will just wish you all an early Happy July 4th. 

Posted by Veronica Root on July 2, 2018 at 07:55 AM in Blogging, Corporate, Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Rotations

Welcome to July. Thanks to the participants in our second annual End-of-Term symposium, which turned out to be a lot more eventful (and depressing, for some of us) than expected; they will be finishing up this weekend. We will see you all again next June.

And welcome to our July visitors--returning guests Hadar Aviram (Hastings) and Jeff Lipshaw Suffolk) and first-time guests Dorit Reiss (Hastings) and Veronica Root (Notre Dame). Thank you for joining us.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on July 1, 2018 at 08:31 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 01, 2018

Farewell! (Derek Muller)

Thanks to Howard and the crew here at Prawfs for indulging me for nearly two months. I deeply appreciate the conversation and hope I provided some content prawfs found valuable!

If you'd like to read more of my work, I blog at Excess of Democracy, which I launched five years ago and named after a phrase used by Elbridge Gerry during the constitutional convention. It has some election law content, but it includes a variety of topics, especially on legal education. You can also find me on Twitter.

Finally, I'll highlight a few of my articles in the event any piques your interest! (More drafts to be posted this summer....)

  • Hot off the press is Legal Quandaries in the Alabama Senate Election of 2017, 69 Ala. L. Rev. 983 (2018), examining the many complexities of the Seventeenth Amendment, special elections generally, and Alabama state law specifically that arose with the controversy surrounding Roy Moore.
  • The High Cost of Lowering the Bar is a work in progress with my colleague Rob Anderson. Through a study of bar discipline rates in California, we conclude that lower bar exam scores are correlated with higher discipline rates, and that lowering the passing score would result in higher discipline rates. We acknowledge we lack a causal relationship, and we offer different ways of thinking through the costs and benefits in a more holistic way when it comes to evaluating bar exam cut scores. (Feedback welcome as this remains a work in progress!)
  • 'Natural Born' Disputes in the 2016 Presidential Election, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 1097 (2016), notes the many problems, mostly jurisdictional, that arose during questions surrounding the eligibility of Ted Cruz and other candidates in the 2016 election. It calls for a constitutional amendment to quash future disputes. (For a much more robust treatment of the constitutional amendment question, check out Kevin Walsh's forthcoming piece in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy, The 'Irish Born' One American Citizenship Amendment.)
  • Ballot Speech, 58 Ariz. L. Rev. 693 (2016), identifies the ballot itself--the names of candidates, their party affiliation, descriptive terms--as an essential resource for candidates to speak to voters and offers a framework that would better protect that forum.
  • Finally, as the Connecticut legislature recently passed the National Popular Vote Compact, I thought I'd share a couple of older pieces on why I think such a compact requires congressional consent under the Compact Clause, and a piece on the practical difficulties of a national presidential election while administration of the Electoral College and the right to vote remains largely left to the states.

Posted by Derek Muller on June 1, 2018 at 10:24 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, May 11, 2018

On mixing academic and journalistic writing (Updated)

Olga Khazan at The Atlantic summarizes a new article by Austin Frakt, Aaron Carroll, Harold Pollack, and Keith Humphreys--all academics who write for newspapers, blogs, and other popular outlets--discussing the rewards and challenges of writing for popular journalistic outlets and audiences as an academic.

From my limited experience writing regularly here and at SCOTUSBlog and dabbling with op-eds in newspapers or magazines, it seems to me there are two issues--one is style/tone, the other is level of detail and support. The latter obviously decreases in these formats--writing 500-1000 words on a germinating idea that will get 20,000 in a full article means less detail and support. A blog post or opinion recap is not meant to be a full scholarly analysis. I find style/tone to be trickier--I assume readers here are law-trained, which I sometimes forget when writing for a different audience that is law-interested but not law-trained.

Update: I also agree with Frakt, et al. about speed, which is unnecessary for academic projects. I am a slow reader and processor, so the process of quickly turning around a report on an argument or opinion is painful for me. I also tend to rush when pressed for time and make bad grammatical mistakes or fail to provide the right links (as happened in this post--the link to Khazan's piece is fixed).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 11, 2018 at 02:20 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Rotations

May is upon us, and so is the start of visits from returning guest David Orentlicher (UNLV) and newcomer Justin Murray (Climenko Fellow). In addition, Adam Kolber and Derek Muller will continue their late-starting  April stint into May.

Posted by Administrators on May 1, 2018 at 08:31 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Rotations

A flurry of final posts for our Futures of Legal Education Symposium are going up this weekend. We will put up a single post with all the contributions next week.

Our late-starting April/May visitors will be Seth Davis (UC-Irvine), Andrew Ferguson (UDC), Adam Kolber (Brooklyn), and Derek Muller (Pepperdine). They will be here through April and into May.

And June will feature our second End-of-SCOTUS-Term Symposium; stay tuned.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 7, 2018 at 11:30 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Writing is Architecture First, Interior Design is Secondary: On Trains, Houses & Pyramids

That's a variation on Hemingway, again. I posted a few days ago a fun, though a bit random list of quotes about writing (oh the Internet, where curating quotes has become the soul-less pastime of too many who've never actually read those they quote. May we always quote soulfully is my wish to us prawfs and writers at large...). Hemingway said prose is architecture, not interior design and that the Baroque is over. I think he meant that the substantive of what you want to say needs to guide the writing and that you need to write in a punchy concise way, avoiding fluff for merely decorative purpose. Say what you mean and mean what you say and get rid of all the garnish. I like garnish and I think interior design is important too. I'd even argue for bringing a bit of Baroque back (Bach J), carefully . But I completely agree that the structure is first and foremost in writing a good article or book. The bare bones are the piece of the writing puzzle that needs to be done right.

Today I spoke with my seminar students about their research projects and I thought I'd offer here, as a second installation of posts about writing, the metaphors I use with my students to help us think about structure. One of my favorite teachers in law school, who later became one of my doctoral advisors, was Martha Minow. I remember her telling us in a seminar on law and social justice, similar to the one I teach today, that you can write a house or a train. I think she said houses are what books look like and trains are articles. I don't agree with that division, I think both articles and books can be houses or trains. But the visual I've always found useful in thinking about what I am doing and how to build my project. If you are building a house, you take the reader with you through a pathway into a place where you have a nice entrance, a main hall and some public spaces, and then doors, and windows into rooms, each holding an interesting set of ideas about a related topic. Together the house makes sense but each room also stands on its own. If you are building a train, you think linearly about your project. It could be chronological or it could be a problem in search of a solution and the solution unfolds as your present and analyze layers of evidence, perhaps empirical data, theoretical arguments, policy claims. To the houses and trains I added today in class the visuals of pyramids and reverse pyramids. In every discipline, a good portion of research involves the qualities of lumping or splitting. In legal scholarship, often insights come from taking a broad issue, a broad base of a pyramid, a classifying and regrouping the issues to show how we actually have separate questions emerging from different subcategories and these should be addressed distinctly. We also often have insights when we look sideways, from a reverse pyramid narrow tip into horizontal fields, related topics that offer new insights. Research is often an import-export business.

I don’t know if these visuals are useful only to me or beyond but I’ve found that sketching my next writing project, including actually drawing stuff, not just outlining gets me into better architectural shape and only then can I begin to think about the décor.  

Posted by Orly Lobel on March 19, 2018 at 05:22 PM in Blogging, Legal Theory, Life of Law Schools, Odd World, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Rotations

Thanks to our January visitors for a good start to the new year.

Welcome to our returning visitors--Jen Kreder (Northern Kentucky), Corinna Lain (Richmond), and Jordy Singer (New England).

As always, if you will be in the Los Angeles area and would like to be a guest at a live taping of PrawfsBlawg (especially if you have never visited), email me.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 1, 2018 at 11:41 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 01, 2018

Thanks for Having Me, and New Year's Resolutions

*Tap, Tap*   Is this thing on?  It's probably been... well, an eon (in cyberyears) since I was last blogging.  Thanks for having me back and for the warm Prawfsblawg welcome.  Here's my Jan. 1st resolution.  Do any of you have new year's resolutions about scholarship?Resolution

  

Posted by Miriam A. Cherry on January 1, 2018 at 02:55 PM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (21)

Rotations

Happy 2018 from everyone at Prawfs. And welcome to the new year with our January returning guests--Miriam Cherry (SLU), Megan LaBelle (Catholic), Ann Marie Marciarille (UMKC), and Mark Moller (DePaul). Our December visitors may stick around for a few weeks.

We look forward to another great year at Prawfs.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 1, 2018 at 09:31 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rotations

Welcome to December and returning guests Andra Robertson (Case Western) and Michael Mannheimer (Northern Kentucky). And thanks to our November visitors for a great month.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 30, 2017 at 10:25 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Rotations

A belated welcome to our October guests--Deborah Ahrens (Seattle), Elizabeth Dale (Florida), Tessa Davis (South Carolina), Josh Douglas (Kentucky), and Michael Morley (Barry). And thanks to our September guests, who may stick around for a few final posts.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 5, 2017 at 02:33 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Rotations

Happy September. Thanks to our August guests.

And welcome to a big slate of September returning guests: Jennifer Bard (Cincinnati), Ian Bartrum (UNLV), Elizabeth McCuskey (Toledo, visiting at SLU), Eric Miller (Loyola-LA), and Jack Preis (Richmond).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 5, 2017 at 11:15 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Opinions About Giving Legal Opinions

Nowadays, news reports resemble the sorts of crazy hypotheticals that law professors love (and law students loathe).  And since we love far-fetched hypotheticals, many law professors have taken to giving our legal opinions about the political news item of the day.

In addition to having our own opinions about the latest news, law professors are often confronted by the opinions of their colleagues.  Newspapers, blogs, and Twitter are full of divergent opinions on these topics, and many of us end up having strong opinions about our colleagues’ opinions. 

Given the ubiquity of legal opinions (and opinions about those legal opinions), I’d like to offer five opinions about how I think law professors ought to share their legal opinions with the public.

First, be careful when you offer opinions that are available to the general public.  It used to be that law professors had to wait for a media call or have an op ed accepted in order to share their views on the legal topic of the day.  Not so anymore.  Blogs and Twitter allow us to give our opinions easily – perhaps too easily at times.  And although these platforms might seem like social media, it is important to remember that the opinions you give in these fora are public statements.  Even if you have only 70 followers, and most of those are your family and college friends, something that you tweet could be shared and read by total strangers with no background in the law and no sense of who you are.

I say “be careful,” not only because you are stuck with whatever reputational fall out might occur from a publicly expressed opinion, but also because your public statements come with an implicit aura of authority.  When we identify ourselves as law professors, that signals that we are experts whose opinions ought to be taken seriously. We should remind ourselves about that explicit claim of expertise when offering a public opinion.  And if you aren’t actually claiming that expertise—say if you are offering an opinion outside of your field—make sure to offer that qualification, and seriously consider whether you ought to share the opinion publicly at all.

Second, certainty when expressing a legal opinion is rarely warranted.  Just as we often respond to student questions by saying “it depends,” we should also acknowledge the same uncertainty in our public statements.  I’ve found it useful, for example, to remind myself that a legal opinion is no more than a prediction about how a court will rule in a given situation.  I don’t mean to suggest that legal opinions should be nothing more than psychological predictions about how certain judges will rule.  (I personally find those sorts of opinions a little tedious and somewhat presumptuous.)  But most legal opinions are offered in circumstances that are not identical to prevailing Supreme Court case law, and so all that we are offering is a guess about how courts will decide a case using existing statutes and case law.

There is real temptation to project certainty.  It may make us feel more confident to sound certain. Or we may want to impress the journalist who has called us.  Sometimes reporters are just looking for a sound bite to drop into their article, and at least some of them want you to speak definitively in that sound bite.  But a journalist’s job is to inform the public; and if we make it seem as though the law is clear in areas where it isn’t, then we are misleading the reporter (and in turn, the public) rather than informing them.

Third, be willing to rethink your opinions and to admit your mistakes.  The law professors that I admire the most are those who have changed their minds.  For what it is worth, this is easier to do if you don’t initially express your opinions with too much certainty. If you couch your opinion in terms of “here is what I think at this point,” you leave your ego plenty of room to walk away from that opinion after further reflection or after new information comes to light.

Fourth, be measured and thoughtful when you disagree with the legal opinions expressed by others.  Law professors are human, and they are more likely to engage with you on the substance of an issue if you are respectful in your disagreement.   I don’t just mean avoid being a jerk. I mean you should go out of your way to frame your disagreement terms that couldn’t possibly be mistaken as hostile or aggressive.  It is easy to mistake tone online, so you are better off saying “I really enjoyed this interesting post.  Do you have any thoughts on X?” where X is a piece of information that contradicts a factual point the other professor made, or where X is an opinion by someone else that goes the other way.  A less conciliatory tone is likely to get the other professor’s hackles up, and if someone’s hackles are up, then he or she is less likely to engage your substantive concerns.

Fifth, don’t assume that people are acting in bad faith when they give legal opinions.  In particular, please stop accusing people of giving legal opinions only because those opinions happen to align with their political preferences.  This sort of finger pointing gives further ammunition to non-lawyers who insist that law and politics are indistinguishable.  That isn’t true, and it is extremely corrosive to the legal academy when those legal naysayers can point to law professors accusing each other of partisan hackery in their expert opinions. 

We should, of course, all be careful to push ourselves on our own opinions to ensure that those opinions are impartial predictions of legal outcomes rather than partisan preferences. (There is evidence suggesting that confronting our biases can lessen or eliminate their influence.)  But we should assume that our colleagues are smart enough and honest enough to have done this themselves.  And if you are genuinely worried that someone’s opinion can’t be supported as anything other than political wishful thinking, I recommend trying to have that exchange with him or her in a non-public forum.

There you have it – my five opinions about how to give legal opinions.  I’m interested to hear your opinions on legal opinions. And I am quite open to being convinced that my own opinions are wrong. (Except for number four --- I feel quite certain about that one.)

Posted by Carissa Byrne Hessick on July 20, 2017 at 09:12 AM in Blogging, Carissa Byrne Hessick, Current Affairs, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Rotations

Thanks to Ben and Andrew for visiting in May; they will be around for a couple final days.

For June, we are going to run a symposium on the end of the October 2016 SCOTUS Term. This will be a month-long exchange of posts,  in a conversational and interactive manner; we will be discussing final decisions of the Term as they are released, as well as other issues surrounding the Court, such as new cert grants, the influence of Justice Gorsuch on the Court's dynamics, and the rumors of Justice Kennedy's retirement. We will be talking with you and with one another.

Guest-bloggers are Will Baude (Chicago), Daniel Epps (Wash U), Leah Litman (Irvine), Andra Robertson (Case), Stephen Sachs (Duke), Ian Samuel (Harvard),  and Chris Walker (OSU) [ed: and late additions Joseph Miller (Georgia) and David Fontana (GW)]. In addition, the regular Prawfs who write on SCOTUS issues will be joining in the mix. This is something a little different for us. I think it will be fun and interesting.

Because there may be opinions released on Tuesday, we are going to start a couple days early.

 

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 29, 2017 at 07:13 PM in 2018 End of Term, Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Joining the Prawfs Community

I am extremely excited to join the Prawfs perma-blogger roster.

I started reading Prawfs in 2005, and I followed it kind of obsessively as I left my clerkship and started a teaching fellowship.  I did my first blogging here as a guest.  And it was the Prawfs community--Danny in particular--that introduced me not only to rigorous scholarship workshops, but also to a great number of people that I now consider to be close friends.

In short, PrawfsBlawg helped shape who I am today.  And I'm absolutely delighted to be a permanent part of the community.

Posted by Carissa Byrne Hessick on May 18, 2017 at 10:17 AM in Blogging, Carissa Byrne Hessick | Permalink | Comments (7)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Welcome Carissa Byrne Hessick as perma blogger

We are happy to announce that Carissa Byrne Hessick of UNC has joined PrawfsBlawg as a permanent blogger. Carissa, who has visited hear many times in the past, writes on criminal law, including Redefining Child Pornography Law: Crime, Language, and Social Consequences.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 17, 2017 at 12:30 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 01, 2017

Rotations

Welcome to our May guests--Ben Edwards (Barry, headed to UNLV) and Andy Ferguson (UDC) and thanks to our April guests, some of whom will be sticking around for a few more days.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 1, 2017 at 03:38 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Rotations

Welcome to April. April Fool's Day jokes have never been a Prawfs thing, but here is one from Mike Dorf.

Thanks to our March guests. David Fontana will continue from March, joining our returning April visitors of Mark Fenster (Florida), Corinna Lain (Richmond), and Mark Moller (DePaul).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 2, 2017 at 02:12 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Welcome to Max Stearns and "Blindspot"

Max Stearns (Maryland) has joined the law professor blogosphere with Blindspot, which he describes here. Posts so far have covered the Gorsuch hearings, coffee, the TV show "Rectify" (whose final season I need to watch), and ideological blindspots of both political parties.

Definitely worth adding to your regular blog stops.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 26, 2017 at 10:50 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Thanks, and More on Interdependent Courts

Thanks to Howard and the gang for letting me blog here this month.  For those who are interested, I’ll be continuing my discussion of court organization, structure, and strategy at a newly launched blog, The Interdependent Third Branch.  After you peruse Prawfsblawg, I hope you’ll take a moment to check it out!

Posted by Jordan Singer on March 1, 2017 at 02:16 PM in Blogging, Judicial Process | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rotations

Thanks to our February visitors, who may be sticking around for a few more days. Thanks especially to our symposium participants, who definitely will be around for a few more days. That seems to have worked well and we look forward to doing more things like this in the future.

Welcome to our March visitors: Seth Cavis (UC-Irvine), David Fontana (George Washington), Jack Harrison (Northern Kentucky-Chase), and Brad Snyder (Wisconsin).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 1, 2017 at 01:42 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

PrawfsFest! 2017

The following is posted on behalf of Jake Linford at FSU ([email protected]), who is hosting the first PrawfsFest! since Dan's death.

I am among the many beneficiaries of that most Markelian (Markelish?) of workshops, the Prawfsfest! It has been too long since the last Prawfsfest, and so I will be hosting a new session at Florida State University College of Law in Funky Tallahassee. The plan is to gather on April 27-28, during FSU’s exam period, but before the weather turns too hot.

The point of the gathering is to be an incubator for half-baked scholarship and early works-in-progress (pre-submission, pre-SSRN).  Each participant is expected to produce of a draft of no more than 10,000 words.  The author does not present the paper, but instead we spend an hour on constructive criticism of each paper, which everyone will have read.

I have 6 available slots, open to any former or current PrawfsBlawgger, which will be distributed first come, first served. Each participant must cover their own travel expenses and hotel accommodations, but FSU will pick up meals. Historically, the conversation and feedback have justified the cost. I'm hoping to finalize the list of attendees as soon as possible, so please let me know ([email protected]) if you plan to attend by March 15, 2017.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 1, 2017 at 09:31 AM in Blogging, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Rotations

Welcome to February.

Thanks to our January guests, who may stick around for a few extra days. For February, our month-long guests will be Ian Bartrum (UNLV), Megan LaBelle (Catholic), Robert Mikos (Vanderbilt), and Jordy Singer (New England).

In addition, February will include an on-line symposium, something we have done in the past and hope to do more of in the future. Organized by Dan Rodriguez, this month will be Law's New Frontiers, a discussion sparked by Richard and Daniel Suskind's The Future of the Professions and Gillian Hadfield's Rules for a Flat World. Participants will be: Daniel Rodriguez (Northwestern), Daniel Katz (Chicago-Kent), Daniel Sokol (Florida), Phil Weiser (Colorado), William Henderson (Indiana-Bloomington), Renee Knake (Houston), Andrew Perlman (Suffolk), Stephen Denver (Law Society of England & Wales), and Javier de la Cendra (IE-Madrid). Dan (Rodriguez) will have more when it is about to begin.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 1, 2017 at 09:31 AM in Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

MarkelFest! at AALS on Wednesday (Moved to Top)

We will continue a PrawfsBlawg tradition with another MarkelFest! Happy Hour at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. It will be at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4, at Romper Room, 25 Maiden Lane in Union Square; go to the private room upstairs, called the Leopard Lounge (buy drinks at the bar downstairs). The bar is about a 10-minute walk from the Hilton (walk up O'Farrell, left on Grant, right on Maiden Lane).

Please spread the word. And come join us for drinks and conversation. See you all there.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 3, 2017 at 03:01 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Rotations and 2017

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017 and a new slate of Prawfs visitors. This month, we welcome (back) Eric Chiappinelli (Texas Tech), Ann Marie Marciarille (UMKC), and Seema Mohapatra (Barry). And thanks to our December visitors.

We were pleased that Prawfs made the most recent ABA Blawg 100. For 2017, we are going to try some new things on the blog, including some month-long symposia on scholarship, real-world events, and whatever else strikes us. And we will continue with our slate of regular and guest bloggers. As always, we are looking for new and returning voices, so please email me if you would like to spend a month (or months) in the conversation here during the coming year.

Finally, reminder about the continuation of a Prawfs tradition with a MarkelFest! Happy Hour at AALS at 9 p.m. this Wednesday, January 4, at Romper Room; they were nice enough to give us the private Leopard Lounge (I report, I don't name), so please help us make it a good showing.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 1, 2017 at 12:21 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sponsored Post: Experiencing Trusts and Estates

The following guest post is by Deborah Gordon (Drexel) and Alfred Brophy (UNC), sponsored by West Academic.

We’re delighted to have the chance to talk about a casebook that we have forthcoming from West Academic in its Experiencing Series.  The key idea behind the books in the Experiencing Series is to incorporate more experiential lessons than the typical casebook.  While seemingly all casebooks are making that move these days, trusts and estates lends itself to this approach in particular.  We are building on the really terrific teaching materials that have been out for decades now in trusts and estates by keeping many of the well-known cases and building out more documents and some of the key issues that students who will be in small firms will likely face on a regular basis.

We start Experiencing Trusts and Estates with planning for the physical act of death -- that is, planning for durable powers for attorney for health care and for financial matters.  We introduce right up front those very basic documents, and the statutes that govern them, to give students a sense of what those documents look like, how they can prepare them using statutory precedents, and some of the problems that attend (particularly) durable powers of attorney for financial matters.  Then we introduce the basics of the estate and gift tax regime and the basics of the probate process.  All this material gives students a 360-degree view of the field and gets them ready for lessons in the drafting and execution of wills and trusts.  Our focus is to introduce students to planning documents and to see how those documents (like spendthrift trusts) are written and interpreted.  One of our hopes is that this approach prepares students with the vocabulary and the basic understanding of how documents relate to the more esoteric wills and trust doctrines that they’re learning about.  And to make things a little more entertaining, we draw a lot of examples from “wills of the stars” -- from George Washington to Elvis, Michael Jackson, Katherine Hepburn, and Whitney Houston. Experiencing Trusts and Estates will be published this spring and available for fall 2017 classes.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 30, 2016 at 09:31 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Streamlining Your Twitter Routine

Twitter can be an epic timesuck, but it doesn't need to be. Here are some tips to make the most of it, for both creating content and consuming it.

For creating content and tracking activity, consider these suggestions:

  • Use a scheduling tool. This is my single biggest trick for keeping active on Twitter: I use Buffer. Buffer, like Hootsuite and others, is a scheduling tool that lets you schedule tweets to post at a later date and time (and on multiple social media platforms and profiles). You can also use Buffer plugins that work directly in the apps or websites you are using. My routine includes reading relevant stories on Feedly (which aggregates multiple legal news sources and tech blogs), composing tweets with links to interesting content, and using Buffer to schedule tweets throughout the day rather than tweeting them all at once. 
  • Tweet a lot at once. If you have a lot to say on one topic, it's okay to occasionally do a series of tweets in short succession (called a tweetstorm, because why not). This article helps explain the mechanics of tweetstorming, and has links to apps that help. Using tweetstorms too often may be spammy, but it can be a good way to focus your energy on tweeting more detailed content in one big burst.
  • Set up alerts. You should pay attention to retweets and replies to your tweets, but it can be distracting to always have Twitter open. Instead, set up email notifications or push notifications on your phone. That way, you can respond to replies and monitor activity as needed without being lured to your always-open Twitter tab. Conversely, if you get a lot of activity on Twitter and it's a distraction, disable alerts and instead set aside specific time frames to check your account.
  • Don't obsess about follower counts. I don't have a ton of followers, but it's the quality not quantity that matters to me. It takes consistent tweeting and interacting with others to create a meaningful base of followers. You'll frequently gain and lose random followers who have nothing to do with your subject areas -- it may just be someone looking to get followed back (because they, unlike me, are focused on quantity). And occasionally a tweet will make your follower count dip a little immediately afterwards (leaving you to wonder if it was something you said?). For sanity's sake, tune out and pay less attention to the real-time ups and downs of your follower count.
  • Check Twitter analytics. It can be frustrating to feel like no one reads your stuff, which seems like a common lament for law professors generally. But Twitter gives you analytics to help gauge the impact of your tweets (such as total impressions, mentions, retweets, and changes to your follower count over time). You can get a lot of info from Twitter analytics from the web version and more limited tweet activity stats in the mobile app. Social media management tools like Buffer also give you analytics. Of course, focusing too much on these metrics can be a timesuck of its own, but it's fun and, if you notice some content always falls flat, you can readjust.
  • Accept that your activity will ebb and flow. Resolve to tweet more but certainly prioritize other work and scale back as needed. Consistency may be important but going silent for a stretch of time won't necessarily torpedo your efforts. Don't give up just because you took a hiatus.

For consuming content, Twitter moves fast and you will always miss some updates. Accepting this fact is the key to avoiding frustration, but there are ways to tailor what you see and decrease clutter. Twitter "lists" are the main tool, along with using special apps. 

Lists let you group updates from certain Twitter accounts in one view, so that you create a mini-newsfeed on a targeted topic. Once you create a list, you can then click on that list to see tweets from only the list's members. Here are additional tips for using lists:
  • Subscribe to other people's lists. Sometimes other users have already created helpful lists. Rather than reinventing the wheel with a new list, you can subscribe to theirs.
  • Use both public and private lists. Public lists are visible to all, and the list members get a notice when you add them. This is useful because you may want them to know you included them (as long as you picked a flattering list title), and other people may then subscribe to your list. Private lists function as organizational tools and are only visible by you. Members don't know you added them to private lists. 
  • View lists on the mobile app. The location for lists in the mobile app is not ideal, but if you go to the "Me" tab, click on the wheel with spokes, and select "lists," you can see tweets by list.
  • Add accounts to lists without following them. Lists let you add accounts even if you don't follow them. This means that you don't have to clutter up your main twitter feed with updates that go to a list.

In addition to using lists, here are other content management tips:

  • Avoid following binges. It's tempting to follow every account remotely related to your interests, but try not to clutter up your main feed with marginally relevant content. You can always add accounts to lists without also following them. 
  • Unfollow liberally. Declutter your news feed by removing accounts that don't interest you. Most people won't even notice. The only drawback is you'll see fewer replies between other people (which are only visible in your main feed if you follow both accounts), but this may be a good thing.
  • Remove duplicative content. If you read a news source regularly via mobile app or an RSS feed, perhaps unfollow them on Twitter. Decide what to prioritize in what platform.
  • Use a Twitter dashboard. I'll admit I haven't tried this yet myself, but apps like TweetDeck and TweetBot can be especially useful for curating what you see in Twitter. They help you manage multiple accounts, view multiple lists at a time, and otherwise streamline your Twitter usage (some are complete social media management tools that also let you schedule tweets across multiple accounts). Advanced features include muting content based on hashtags or keywords, which seem particularly useful for tailoring what content you see.

I welcome other suggestions in the comments, as I too am trying to implement new management tips in 2017.

Posted by Agnieszka McPeak on December 29, 2016 at 01:27 PM in Blogging, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tips for Tweeting (Including New 2016 Features)

I've put together some tips for tweeting, which may be useful for those who are new to Twitter or who don't tweet much. And for more experienced users, I've included info on some of the 2016 changes to Twitter.

Twitter's most distinctive trait is its 140-character limit for all tweets. This format cuts down on text and allows for a quick view of a lot of content. The 2016 improvements to Twitter largely altered what counts towards the character limit (Twitter toyed with the idea of allowing much longer posts but changed course following backlash). 

First, as to content, in 2015 Michael Risch at Faculty Lounge analyzed what law professors tweet, among other data. In general, law professors include a combination of links to new content, retweets of others' content, or statements without links that may be informational (or for purposes of self-promotion). Certainly various content options are possible, and it's best to strive to tweet about a combination of the following:

  • Substantive content. Pick a theme, such as your area of scholarly expertise, and focus on tweeting about things you find interesting on that theme.
  • Interactions with others. Retweet people, reply (always politely) to things others say on Twitter, and mention people. 
  • Law school promotion. Retweet official announcements from your law school, your colleagues' tweets, and positive press.
  • Self-promotion. Announce new publications, speaking engagements, and accolades. Retweet press about you or tweets that mention you. Live-tweet from events, as long as the event organizers or presenters allow it.
  • Other hobbies or interests. Sprinkle in the occasional personal detail or point of interest that goes beyond your academic pursuits. Don't overshare or adopt some fake online persona, but don't be afraid to show a little personality.

Second, understand some of the nuances of how Twitter works:

  • Share links. You can copy and paste URLs into the tweet you are composing. Links are worth 23 characters regardless of link length. This means that using link shorteners, like Bitly, is not necessary (even links shorter than 23 characters still count as 23 characters). You can also share on Twitter directly from other apps or websites with the Twitter plugin (just click on the website's Twitter button, though you can still modify the text before tweeting). Rumor has it that Twitter will do away with URLs counting towards the character count at all, but this has not happened yet.
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags allow folks interested in a topic to find your tweets more easily. Just add a pound sign (#) before a common term and it'll become a hashtag. If you want to find popular hashtags, check out what is trending on Twitter (usually your Twitter home screen will have a column with trending topics). Or, for those who want to get fancy, you can use various analytic tools and apps to find popular hashtags.
  • Add images. Thanks to Instagram and Snapchat, images are increasingly important on all social media platforms. Twitter just made a change so that images no longer count towards the character limit. And images now automatically display in Twitter feeds, making them even more visible. Consider incorporating more images as a way to expand on your ideas.
  • Retweet others.  Twitter lets you retweet someone else's entire tweet so that it appears on your profile with the original author's handle and profile image. If you learn something from someone else but don't want to retweet the content, it's nice to give credit anyway -- usually indicated with "via," "HT," or "H/T" followed by the originator's Twitter handle.
  • Quote tweets. One major 2016 update to Twitter is the revamped Quote Tweet function. It lets you retweet something with your own commentary added, and you now get a full 140 characters for your comment. Before the 2016 changes, people had to squeeze their comments into the remaining characters of the original tweet. Thus, tweet authors tried to save room for comments by using fewer than 140 characters in an original tweet. Now, you get a full 140 characters for your comments on a quoted tweet, plus you no longer have to add "RT" to indicate a retweet or "MT" for a modified tweet. You now can also quote your own tweet, if you must. 
  • Reply to tweets. An option for engaging in a conversation, a reply includes the original author's Twitter handle and is linked to the original tweet. Just click on "reply" and type your text after the auto-filled Twitter handles. But don't confuse DM (a private direct message) with a reply: replies are essentially a public conversation. [EDIT: When you click reply, that reply is only visible in the news feeds of those that follow both parties. The reply does appear on the profile page of the person who wrote the reply.]  One new change is that the characters in the Twitter handles for replies don't count towards the 140 character limit. For experienced Twitter users, note that replies used to be visible to only certain Followers, but they are now visible to everyone even if the tweet begins with a Twitter handle. This means the "[email protected]" workaround is no longer necessary to keep replies broadly visible. [EDIT: Old Twitter treated any tweet that started with a Twitter handle as a reply. So, if you started a tweet with "@" fewer people would see it. The period or dot before the Twitter handle was a pro-tip for users wanting to make tweets beginning with "@" more visible. Under the 2016 changes, a newly composed tweet that begins with "@" is visible like any other tweet, so the dot is not necessary. But when you hit the reply button, visibility is still limited. Thus, the "[email protected]" convention is not totally dead yet (and this requiem for the [email protected] may be premature). This help page explains tweet visibility more. But the best practice may be to retweet anything you're mentioned in (replies or otherwise) if you want them to be seen.]

Next up: ways to streamline your Twitter routine.

 

Posted by Agnieszka McPeak on December 28, 2016 at 03:45 PM in Blogging, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Professors or Pundits"

I received an announcement about this new volume, edited by my Political Science colleague at Notre Dame, Prof. Michael Desch, called "Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena:  Professors or Pundits."  The book grew out of a conference, held at Notre Dame in 2013 and sponsored by our Institute for Advanced Study.  Our own Paul Horwitz was one of the presenters, and I had the pleasure of providing a short response to his paper, "The Blogger as Public Intellectual."

I cannot find a linkable copy of Paul's chapter, but here's a Prawfs post I did at the time.  (How meta is that?!)  Brad DeLong also blogged a detailed response to Paul.

I wonder, Paul, if your thoughts on the subject are what they were in the Spring of 2013?

Posted by Rick Garnett on December 14, 2016 at 02:58 PM in Blogging, Rick Garnett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 09, 2016

Professor Michael L. Rich

Michael L. Rich of Elon law passed away Wednesday, after a several-years illness. Michael was a guest prawf in April of this year and wrote movingly about his experiences and challenges balancing his prawf life with a terminal illness.

Our thoughts and prayers go to his family, friends (in and out of the legal academy), and Elon colleagues.

(Thanks to Eric Chaffee (Toledo) for sharing the news).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 9, 2016 at 10:03 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Greetings from a First-Time GuestPrawf

This is my blogging debut – thanks for having me as a guest this month! I’m an assistant professor at University of Toledo College of Law, where I teach Torts, Legal Ethics, a seminar on social media discovery, and, as of next semester, Privacy & Data Security Law. I mainly write on social media & the law (which is basically the law of the horse but with emojis). I thought December would be a great month for my guest stint, as post-election analysis would die down and we once again would be interested in seemingly trivial things, like social media. So much for that!

But I still intend to blog about social media topics, including social media’s post-election angst. Other topics will include top social networks your students use (spoiler alert: it’s Snapchat), Facebook tools to tame your out-of-control news feed, social media issues in legal ethics, and Twitter tips for academics. I’ll also write a bit about the sharing economy & tort law, my other area of interest.

So thanks again for having me and I look forward to a great month!

Posted by Agnieszka McPeak on December 1, 2016 at 10:42 AM in Blogging, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rotations

Happy December, everyone. Thanks to all of our November guests, as well as our election bloggers (I will post a single post with all the election-related writings later today).

And please welcome our December guests: David Lander (Saint Louis), Kevin Lapp (Loyola-LA), Scott Maravilla (ALJ), and Agnieszka McPeak (Toledo).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 1, 2016 at 08:43 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sponsored Post: Learning Criminal Procedure

The following post is by Ric Simmons (The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law) and Renee M. Hutchins (University of Maryland Carey School of Law) and is sponsored by West Academic.

The ABA, employers, and students themselves tell us that law schools must do more to produce students who are better equipped to enter the practice of law.  The goal of complete practice-readiness might be something of a tall order.  True competence in even one area of the law may take five or even ten years to develop.  We have our students for just three.  But, there is certainly much more we can be doing to make our students what we will call “practice-primed.”  There are steps we can take during those three years to ensure that the students have the basic knowledge they will need as young lawyers.  There are things we can do to ensure students are exposed to a fuller array of the skills they will need in practice, not just the narrow range that has been the focus of more traditional approaches to the curriculum.  This is a large part of the reason we came together to write the Learning Criminal Procedure.

And, so many former students report back that they are using the book precisely as we intended:  First, as a learning tool to expose them to criminal procedure doctrine.  And, then as a desk reference to help them navigate the early years of practice as defense attorneys or prosecutors.

As a learning tool, Learning Criminal Procedure eschews the traditional method of law school teaching, which asks students to read cases and then derive the law by parsing through the court’s decisions.  Instead, the book presents the applicable legal rule to the students in the very first section of each chapter. The next section uses case summaries to explore the scope and policy behind the rule. The book takes this approach because it frees up class time for you and your students—instead of guiding them through the cases to eventually arrive at the rule, you can start with the rule and then use the text in class to engage students with the doctrine in the many ways students will see the doctrine deployed in practice.  For example, when teaching students about Terry’s stop-and-frisk doctrine, you might first work through each of the review problems that we present at the end of each chapter, allowing students to immediately apply the knowledge they have learned and use the law as a practitioner would.  After you have a sense that students have a preliminary grasp on the material, you can then do a deeper dive.  For example, you might explore one of the simulations mapped out in the Teacher’s Manual and require your students to use their newly acquired knowledge in the dynamic environment of role play.

As a desk reference, your students can use the book to refresh their knowledge and inform their thinking after they have moved out into practice.  The book’s clear organization and direct approach to presenting the law make it easy for new lawyers to refer back to the book when they have a specific legal question.  Indeed, former students routinely report back that the book has been essential to them as they bridge the gap between law school and the early years of practice.  Just the other day, a former student reported that his first draft of a response to a suppression motion had been adopted with few changes by the supervising attorney at the state prosecutor’s office.  “Your book was essential to that draft,” the student said.  Mission accomplished.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 30, 2016 at 09:31 AM in Article Spotlight, Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Sponsored Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Law School Election Night Blogs

This year at least three law schools are holding Election Night events to watch returns come in and provide election law commentary.  I'm currently with 10-12 members of the UK Election Law Society, and students are blogging here (after I approve the posts).  William & Mary law students are blogging here.  And Ohio State's Election Law @ Moritz students and faculty are providing insights here.  

These events are a great way to engage students in election law issues while also providing important commentary to the community.  I'm proud that a few years ago some students formed the UK Election Law Society on their own, and the event tonight is largely student-driven.  Please hop on over to the website throughout the evening!

Posted by Josh Douglas on November 8, 2016 at 06:46 PM in Blogging, Law and Politics, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Rotations

Welcome to November and either the end of the republican experiment or just another election.

Our October election symposium will continue at least through Election Day and perhaps through November. Meanwhile, we welcome new November guests to the mix--Andrea Boyack (Washburn), Dave Fagundes (Houston), Tracy Pearl (Texas Tech), and Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indianapolis).

Enjoy the month.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 1, 2016 at 09:31 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Rotations--Election Symposium

Thanks to our September guests, who may be sticking around for a few extra days.

For October, we are going to try something different with our guest slate. With the election looming, we decided to do a month-long symposium, with expert guests writing about the election, election law, and related issues, such as what might happen after the election and in the new administration. I am happy to introduce  Josh Douglas (Kentucky), Ned Foley (Ohio State-Moritz), Lisa Manheim (Washington), Michael Morley (Barry), Bertrall Ross (Berkeley)  and Franita Tolson (Florida State). They will be with us for October and perhaps through to the election in early November.

We look forward to a great, and unique, month of posts, from our guests and our regular bloggers.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 30, 2016 at 09:31 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 05, 2016

Blowin' Down the Road

I had good intentions to post a few more times, but Hurricane Hermine had other plans. And so it goes. But I'm glad that Prawfs provided a platform for my live-blogging experiment from the Intellectual Property Scholars Conference at Stanford. I hoped for a bigger turnout, but a few dedicated souls shared some wonderful summaries of fascinating scholarship. Perhaps I'll try again next year. If you have clever ideas to encourage more scholars attending multi-track conferences to live-blog or tweet the panels they attend, please share your ideas in the comments.

In the meantime, I'm thankful that Hermine only landed a glancing blow on funky Tallahassee, and that family, friends, and community members made the experience bearable. Hermine may spend more time in the North Atlantic, so I hope my northern colleagues stay safe.

Until next time!

Posted by Jake Linford on September 5, 2016 at 09:02 PM in Blogging, Funky FSU, Information and Technology, Intellectual Property | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 01, 2016

What to expect this month

Since my modest reputation doesn't usually precede me by very far, please let me introduce myself a bit. I am starting my third year as an assistant professor at Howard University School of Law, where I teach contracts, consumer financial law, bankruptcy and commercial law classes. I write primarily about bankruptcy issues. This month, I intend to primarily blog about the business of higher education. To get a flavor of what I intend to write about, you can check out my earlier blog posts and my forthcoming article on the topic. But I also intend to use this platform to highlight interesting scholarship by other commercial law/bankruptcy folks and to note interesting developments in the consumer law or contracts law spaces.

Thanks to everyone at Prawfs for having me this month! I'm excited to contribute to the community, instead of just obsessing over the submission angsting threads. 

Posted by Matthew Bruckner on September 1, 2016 at 11:00 AM in Article Spotlight, Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rotations

Thanks to our August guests, who may be sticking around for a few more days.

And welcome to our September guests--Matthew Bruckner (Howard), Jennifer Bard (Dean at Cincinnati), Jeffrey Lipshaw (Suffolk), Jack Preis (Richmond), and Ari Waldman (New York Law).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 1, 2016 at 08:46 AM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bard Signing In

Let me start my third visit to Prawfs Blog with warm thanks to Howard Wasserman and to my fellow bloggers for the work they have done keeping this forum going. As the public information about Professor Markel’s murder becomes increasingly lurid, I’d rather focus on his work than on the circumstances of his tragic death. And from the beginning his work on this blog was to provide legal academics a forum to talk to each-other about matters of interest to them—whether it was highlighting a new study, commenting on a case or talking about legal academe.  

As a brief self introduction, I’m starting my second year as the very proud dean of the absolutely amazing University of Cincinnati College of Law. Every day I hear something about what one of our faculty, alumni, staff or students are doing and I’m proud to have a role in sustaining the framework that allows these things to happen at our historic law school. So I’m going to talk about legal education. But as an engaged health law academic specializing in ethical issues in public health, the unchecked spread of Zika in the United States is also going to be a topic of discussion. Thank you for having me. It is a real honor to be included.

Posted by Jennifer Bard on August 31, 2016 at 09:37 PM in Article Spotlight, Blogging, Culture, Current Affairs, Dan Markel, Howard Wasserman, Information and Technology, Life of Law Schools, Lipshaw | Permalink