10 August 2017
In a time when nearly everyone has an online presence, more and more jurisdictions are having to navigate the extent to which trial lawyers can use a juror's social media to inform jury selection. In 2014, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released Formal Opinion 466 on this topic. The Committee said that lawyers can review a juror or potential juror’s internet presence before or during a trial so long as they do not communicate with or request access from those jurors.
Rebecca Love Kourlis
8 August 2017
Last month, in "We Won’t See You in Court: The Era of Tort Lawsuits Is Waning," the Wall Street Journal took a look at the decline in tort lawsuit filings and the reasons fueling the decline, citing “state restrictions on litigation, the increasing cost of bringing suits, improved auto safety, and a long campaign by businesses to turn public opinion against plaintiffs and their lawyers.” At first blush, this may seem like good news: lawsuits are down, people are suing less! However, I caution that it is far from good news and, if this trend continues, the courts may be in danger of becoming irrelevant.
7 August 2017
In the name of simplicity, the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to roll back transparency in employment outcomes for law school graduates in a process that, itself, is under attack for its lack of transparency. Simplicity is a good thing, but not when it risks mischaracterizing important facts. Understanding how law graduates are employed is critical for prospective students, current students, law schools, and the profession—and under this approved proposal, we would know less than we do now.
2 August 2017
The California State Bar recently released the results of a study on the state bar exam’s current cut score, or pass line. The study, which was accelerated in order to possibly apply a new score to the July 2017 exam, suggests two possible options for addressing concerns that the exam may be too hard: 1) Leave the pass line at its current score of 1440 (144 on the 200-point scale), or 2) Set an interim pass line of 1414 (141.4 on the 200-point scale). The Committee of Bar Examiners and the Board of Trustees’ Admissions and Education Committee voted to adopt the study and to collect public comments on both options until August 25.
1 August 2017
As noted by the Miami Herald, the average lifespan of an immigration case in the United States is about three years. Several factors have led to the nation-wide backlog, but many say the most prominent reason is the national shortage of federal immigration judges. According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, the backlog of immigration cases nearly doubled between 2009 and 2015 due to the shortage of judges. The average caseload for each judge is approximately 2,000 cases and some immigration courts are so backed up that they’re already scheduling cases for the year 2020.
31 July 2017
Faced with rising numbers of people in poverty, funding deficiencies, and an increase in self-represented litigants in state courts, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators unanimously passed Resolution 5, in July 2015, to address these issues directly and to reaffirm their commitment to meaningful justice for all.
Rebecca Love Kourlis
28 July 2017
When she became President of the American Bar Association, Linda Klein had a goal of traveling to every state to meet with bar members. It was a commitment that not everyone may fully appreciate. Is there really any greater proof of dedication to and passion for the job than committing oneself to a life in constant motion and going weeks without sleeping in your own bed?
Rebecca Love Kourlis
27 July 2017
Aspen has been the home of things of great value for a long time… beginning with silver. Today, one of the treasures in Aspen is the Aspen Institute. It was founded in 1950 to promote the “appreciation of open minded ideas and values, open dialogue and enlightened leadership.” One aspect of the Institute is the Justice and Society program, which focuses on issues related to the meaning of justice and how a just society ought to balance fundamental rights with public policy.
26 July 2017
The 6th Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference is right around the corner! It has become ETL Conference tradition to kick off the first day with a series of Ignite presentations. Presenters have 6 minutes, 20 slides, and 18 seconds per slide to share their projects, successes, and innovative ideas with a room full of legal educators and employers. In past years, presenters—and attendees—have been mostly from Consortium Schools. This year, all registrants are welcome—and in that spirit, we are also inviting any registrant to give an Ignite presentation!
25 July 2017
The legal industry is changing. In some courts, upwards of 80% of civil and family cases involve litigants who are navigating the court system without any form of legal assistance. Research has confirmed that the primary reason so many do not have the benefit of a lawyer is because of cost. The inability to afford an attorney is no longer an issue confined to low-income Americans. Increasingly, middle-class litigants are finding themselves priced out of legal services as well. In addition, even litigants who can afford an attorney may choose to opt for self-representation in order to maintain a certain level of control over their legal matters or to keep the costs of such services down.
24 July 2017
Late last week, tens of thousands of Polish citizens took to the streets—and citizens around the world took to social media—to protest three legislative proposals that would severely impair the independence of Poland’s judiciary and weaken the Rule of Law in the country. Protesters used the hashtag #wolnesady, or "free courts,” to mark their efforts.
24 July 2017
The legal profession is amid one of its most tumultuous periods ever. The way law firms conduct business is changing. Technology is upending many long held established practices. New entrants are entering the market and changing the way legal services are provided. And while there may be pros and cons to these changes, they are largely occurring because they produce better results for the ultimate end users of the legal system—clients.