September 6, 2005
On the passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist
My more opionated thoughts, and some links, are here.
September 5, 2005
The AALS Meeting Slated for New Orleans in January 2006
Larry Ribstein (Law, Illinois) reports a good idea from his colleague Richard McAdams: keep the annual meeting in New Orleans, but push it back on the calendar to a more realistic date than January. Longtime readers know what I think of the AALS (short version: not much), but it would no doubt be a modest contribution to economic recovery for the AALS to retain New Orleans as the meeting location, and just postpone the date.
September 4, 2005
Outsourcing Legal Services to India?
Is this the wave of the future?
September 2, 2005
Chronicle of Higher Ed Web Site with Information on Schools Affected by Hurricane
Here. Tulane has cancelled the fall term is among the lead news items.
Communications Resources for 5th Circuit, Tulane, and Loyola/New Orleands are being compiled...
AALS Web Site with Information on Law Schools Accomodating Students Affected by the Hurricane
September 1, 2005
The Hurricane's Impact on the Louisiana Legal System
This informative message from Professor Michelle Ghetti of the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge (which has been widely circulated) paints a grim picture (on top of all the other grim news emanating from New Orleans):
5,000 - 6,000 lawyers (1/3 of the lawyers in Louisiana) have lost their offices, their libraries, their computers with all information thereon, their client files - possibly their clients, as one attorney who e-mailed me noted. As I mentioned before, they are scattered from Florida to Arizona and have nothing to return to. Their children's schools are gone and, optimistically, the school systems in 8 parishes/counties won't be re-opened until after December. They must re-locate their lives.
Our state supreme court is under some water - with all appellate files and evidence folders/boxes along with it. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals building is under some water - with the same effect. Right now there may only be 3-4 feet of standing water but, if you think about it, most files are kept in the basements or lower floors of courthouses.
What effect will that have on the lives of citizens and lawyers throughout this state and this area of the country? And on the law?
The city and district courts in as many as 8 parishes/counties are under water, as well as 3 of our circuit courts - with evidence/files at each of them ruined. The law enforcement offices in those areas are under water - again, with evidence ruined. 6,000 prisoners in 2 prisons and one juvenile facility are having to be securely relocated. We already have over-crowding at most Louisiana prisons and juvenile facilities.
What effect will this have? And what happens when the evidence in their cases has been destroyed? Will the guilty be released upon the communities? Will the innocent not be able to prove their innocence?
Our state bar offices are under water. Our state disciplinary offices are under water - again with evidence ruined. Of particular interest to you...our state disciplinary offices are located on Veteran's Blvd. in Metairie. Those of you who have been watching the news, they continue to show Veteran's Blvd. It's the shot with the destroyed Target store and shopping center under water and that looks like a long canal. Our Committee on Bar Admissions is located there and would have been housing the bar exams which have been turned in from the recent July bar exam (this is one time I'll pray the examiners were late in turning them in- we were set to meet in 2 weeks to go over the results). Will all of those new graduates have to retake the bar exam?
Two of the 4 law schools in Louisiana are located in New Orleans (Loyola and Tulane - the 2 private ones that students have already paid about $8,000+ for this semester to attend). Another 1,000+ lawyers-to-be whose lives have been detoured. I've contacted professors at both schools but they can't reach anyone at those schools and don't know the amount of damage they've taken. Certainly, at least, this semester is over. I'm trying to reach the Chancellor's at Southern and LSU here in Baton Rouge to see if there's anything we can do to take in the students and/or the professors. I think I mentioned before, students from out of state have beens stranded at at least 2 of the other universities in New Orleans - they're moving up floor after floor as the water rises. Our local news station received a call from some medical students at Tulane Medical Center who were now on the 5th floor of the dormitories as the water had risen. One of them had had a heart attack and they had no medical supplies and couldn't reach anyone - 911 was busy, local law enforcement couldn't be reached, they were going through the phone book and reached a news station 90 miles away!! It took the station almost 45 minutes to finally find someone with FEMA to try to get in to them!!
And, then, there are the clients whose files are lost, whose cases are stymied. Their lives, too, are derailed. Of course, the vast majority live in the area and that's the least of their worries. But, the New Orleans firms also have a large national and international client base.
For example, I received an e-mail from one attorney friend who I work with on some crucial domestic violence (spousal and child) cases around the nation - those clients could be seriously impacted by the loss, even temporarily, of their attorney - and he can't get to them and is having difficulty contacting the many courts around the nation where his cases are pending. Large corporate clients may have their files blowing in the wind where the high rise buildings had windows blown out.
I woke up this morning to the picture of Veteran's Blvd which made me think of my students who just took the bar. My thoughts wandered from there to the effect on the Disciplinary Offices and I thought of you.
Then my thoughts continued on. I'm sure I'm still missing a big part of the future picture. It's just devastating. Can you imagine something of this dimension in your state?
UPDATE: One of my colleagues here at Texas reports: "Re the 5th Circuit: the 'first floor' of the courthouse is 20 feet above the street. When Katrina threatened, files were moved to the second floor."
UT Austin Offering Help to Students and Faculty in the Areas Affected by Hurricane
UPDATE: And an offer to Tulane 3Ls from Columbia's Law School:
Responding to a request from Tulane Law School Dean Larry Pomoroff, Columbia Law School will offer an abbreviated and accelerated admissions process for third-year Tulane Law School J.D. students to complete their legal education at Columbia. We will waive tuition for these students, and some limited housing is available.
Interested Tulane students should call Columbia Law's Admissions Office at 212-854-2674.
Clinical Law Blog Serving as "Information Hub" for Members of the Legal Academic Community in New Orleans
MOVING TO THE FRONT FROM YESTERDAY: SEE THURSDAY UPDATE
UPDATE: Tulane Law School now has a temporary web site, hosted by Emory. (Thanks to Paul Caron for the pointer.) Note that the Tulane Law School web site also has a Discussion Board feature.
ANOTHER: More information on New Orleans law faculty and students here. (Thanks to Stephen Bainbridge for posting this link.)
THURSDAY UPDATE: Eric Muller (Law, North Carolina) has set up blog sites for the law school communities of Loyola/New Orleans and Tulane. He writes, "The idea is to give the communities a message board -- a place to post information of common interest that community members can access (as they are able). People can post to the blogs by emailing me (for Tulane news, for Loyola news), or by phoning me at (919) 962-7067 and leaving a message with the content of what they'd like posted."
Top Law School Warns Students: Watch What You Post!
A top law school, with perhaps more than its share of students misbehaving on various web sites, recently welcomed its students back with the following prudent words of advice:
First, welcome to a new school year. We hope it is a healthy, happy and productive time for you, bringing you much satisfaction both personally and professionally. With that in mind, we want to raise what we feel is a very important issue.
The use, misuse, and permanence of discussion boards, blogs, group websites and other web postings has been much in the news lately, and we want to bring some concerns to your attention.
Most importantly, we've learned that posts made on the web may well be permanent and may have serious consequences. Things said on discussion boards and blogs can travel around the world instantly, and become something that can define the writer now or at any future point. Statements made now, in jest or between what the writer assumes to be a small group of friends, may come back to haunt one in the future. Early this summer we became aware of an incident in which comments made by a student on a blog were read by his employer when the employer googled her own name and discovered what the student had said about her. Result: instant termination of employment.
We are also aware of cases in which potential employers have seen some very intemperate postings and have questioned the desirability of hiring the individual. And similarly, we know of a young attorney who was fired one day after accidentally sending firm- wide, rather than deleting as she'd intended, an inflammatory and personally abusive email directed at a member of her firm's support staff.
The same caution holds true for the owners of websites, where the language used by others may well reflect negatively on the site's owners, no matter how well-intentioned the site may be.
At the moment, the upcoming Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Roberts has made us all aware of the importance of statements, many written decades ago. These writings, the thoughtful and long- considered work-product of an attorney, are mild compared to some of the postings which people put on their blogs or in other postings these days. It is a certainty that some contemporary postings, done for friends or for unknown readers out in cyberspace and in tones that are presented as jests or as sarcastic provocations, will look far different when viewed in the light of an employment review or a Senate confirmation hearing. What is said now as a joke or a flame under cover of supposed anonymity, may well come back to haunt the writer in later years.
The web continues to provide new opportunities, new uses, new challenges, AND new ways to make major life-altering errors. We are writing to you now as a gentle and collegial reminder to give some thought to what you write and send out into the world at large.
Freedom of speech is an overarching value to all of us. But the occasional use of self-restraint is no assault on that freedom. PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND: you are at the start of your professional career.
We urge you to take the long view and the adult view of what you write. THINK about the words you send out into the world, and imagine what they would you look like when you - and surely some of you will - find yourself under review at a confirmation hearing for a professional position you dearly desire.