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November 27, 2008

Yale Law School Information Society Project Fellowships

Having worked with the ISP for the last few years, I encourage applicants for this program that combines interest in law and information policy. A law degree is not required, though of course lawyers are welcome into the program.  -- Anupam Chander

Yale Information Society Project Fellowships for 2009-2010

The Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School is seeking applicants for 2009-2010 postdoctoral fellowships.  The ISP resident fellowships are designed for recent graduates of law or Ph.D. programs who are interested in careers in teaching and public service in any of the following areas:  law and innovation; Internet and telecommunications law and policy; intellectual property law; access to knowledge; first amendment law; media studies; privacy; civil liberties online; cybercrime and cybersecurity; social software; standards and technology policy; bioethics, biotechnology, and law and genomics; and law, technology, and culture generally.

Information about applying is available at the ISP web site at:http://www.law.yale.edu/intellectuallife/6523.htm. Applications for 2009-10 ISP fellowships must be postmarked no later than Feb. 1, 2009.

November 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2008

Throwing bombs

Like Doug, I have been reflecting on the number of law professors involved in the Obama transition, and wondering what that will mean.  I don't think many of them will bring radical change, for good or bad, despite the fact that we might expect or even hope for that from those in the academy.

As I read legal scholarship these days, I see many pieces analyzing doctrines, tracing historical developments, seeking adjustments to parts of rules or laws, and suggesting new "perspectives," but very few that broadly attack a law or practice as fundamentally unjust.  We have many exceptional analysts and commentators, but few bomb-throwers, and those that exist often are outside the core of elite institutions.

It could be that we are fortunate enough to live in a nation without unjust laws, but I doubt that many of us would truly agree with that statement.  Given that most of us would agree that there are unjust laws, why are we not more focused on attacking them?  I suspect that at least two factors dampen the excitement for overarching reform within legal scholarship.

First, we do live in a society where the laws are the product of a democratic process.  Thus, if we identify a law as unjust, we are suggesting either a flaw in the process or that the majority of people in our nation are not only wrong about something, but at some level that they are fundamentally, morally wrong.  Understandably, we are reluctant to attack our democracy or our fellow citizens.

Second, to call a law unjust requires a position from which to determine justice as a moral position.  Legal philosophers discuss this in depth, but generally not in connection to a live issue, while the rest of us are often uncomfortable with the ideas of positivism or natural law, and certainly loath to connect a contemporary debate to either.

Still... if we don't throw the bombs, who will?

-- Mark Osler

November 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2008

Interesting (and important?) legal development for online law grad

A helpful reader pointed me to this news of a seemingly important ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.  Here are the basics:

The state supreme court has ordered that a graduate of an online law school be allowed to take the bar exam. Ross Mitchell of West Newton sued the Board of Bar Examiners for preventing him from taking the exam because he does not have a degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

Mitchell, a computer systems and management consultant who has lived in Massachusetts since 1981, took his classes through Concord Law School, which is part of the Kaplan online university. He is licensed to practice law in California, the only state that has accepted candidates from online schools, and in March he was among the first four Concord graduates admitted to argue before the Supreme Court.

In a 6-1 decision released Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Court opened the door to Mitchell and other graduates of online law schools, but noted that the exception is limited to those with strong records in competitive programs. The court cited Mitchell's "exemplary degree of success" and his acceptance to the California bar.

The full ruling in Mitchell v. Board of Bar Examiners (Mass. Nov. 20, 2008), is available at this link, and it is a very interesting read. 

Because the SJC stressed the "the particular circumstances of this case" in its ruling, it would be hyperbole to suggest that Mitchell v. Board might be viewed as comparable in some way to Brown v. Board.  However, I suspect that the the petitioner in this case, Ross Mitchell, can (and should) be viewed as a poster-child for the great potential and accomplishments of students who get law degrees from online and/or non-ABA accredited schools.  At the very least, I suspect Mitchell v. Board will be cited by lots of "innovative" law school graduates looking to gain the right to sit for a state bar exam.

Posted by DAB

November 23, 2008 in Legal profession realities and developments | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What should we make of all the law profs involved in the Obama transition?

Professor Nan Hunter has this helpful post compiling information on all the law professors who are playing formal roles in the Obama transition.  As of this writing, the post is headlined "Law professors in the Obama administration: 35 and counting."

To my knowledge, there has never been a formal head-count of how many law professors were involved in prior presidential transitions.  Still, the number already involved in the Obama transition seems high, though I suppose not surprisingly high given that both the President-Elect and the Vice-President-Elect are law profs themselves.

Of course, as a personal friend and fan of many law profs (including some on this growing list assembled by Nan Hunter), I am inclined to say "the more, the merrier" when thinking about law profs in the new administration.  But maybe others have different views.

Posted by DAB

November 23, 2008 in Service -- legal profession | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack