Saturday, May 26, 2007

From Legal Blog Watch

Legal Blog Watch

State Courts Favor Defendants on Appeal

Via TortsProf Blog comes word of a new study of outcomes in state court civil appeals. Authors Theodore Eisenberg and Michael Heise of Cornell University Law School conclude that two findings dominate: first, appeals courts are more likely to disrupt jury verdicts than bench decisions, and second, trial defendants fare better than plaintiffs on appeal.

These outcomes, on their face, are not so startling, given that prior studies of federal civil appeals have reached the same conclusion. But the authors find that the reversal rate in favor of defendants and against juries is much higher in state courts.

"[W]e find that state court appellate reversal rates for jury trials and appeals by defendants exceed the reversal rates for bench trials and appeals by plaintiffs. The reversal rate for trials appealed by plaintiffs is 21.5% compared to 41.5% for trial outcomes appealed by defendants. The reversal rate for jury trials is 33.7% compared to 27.5% for judge trials."

The authors say that the study, "Plaintiphobia in State Court? An Empirical Study of State Court Trials on Appeal," provides "the first statistical models of the appeals process for a comprehensive set of state court civil trials." It draws on data from 46 large counties consisting of 8,038 trials and 549 concluded appeals.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 25, 2007 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Scholars Topic Du Jour: Menstruation

It all started, as best as I can tell, with a post by University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse, Stemming the Red Tide, in which she noted the FDA's approval of a birth-control pill that stops menstruation. UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh picked up on Althouse's post, taking issue with one commenter who contended that it is not "right to sidestep" something that is "part of being a woman." Countered Volokh: "Why on earth should we want to accept natural but painful or unpleasant things?"

Volokh's remark elicited a comment from a male med student who equated menstruation for women with the types of "shared experiences" from which "humanity derives meaning." This commenter asserted: "Deleting one of the most universal and central of all female experiences can subtract perceived meaning from people's lives." To that, Volokh responded that, yes, humanity can derive meaning from some shared experiences, but others -- hangnails, nearsightedness and tooth decay, for example -- we can get by just fine without. Menstruation, Volokh conjectured, falls in this second group. But, acknowledging no firsthand experience, he issued an invitation:

"[L]et's hear from some people who actually menstruate, and have been pregnant. When you menstruate, do you feel that you're part of the 'in crowd'? ... Do you feel you derive meaning from the fact that you share menstruation as an experience with other women?"

With me so far? I hope so, because we're just getting started.

Althouse -- the one whose post started this ball rolling -- took Volokh's invitation as ludicrous. Writing at Feminist Law Professors, she promised to send Volokh a Judy Blume book describing a teen's first menstruation.

"Then, when he seems to have grasped the thirteen year old perspective, in a decade or so, I'm going to send him a package of Always and a bottle of Pamprin, and urge him to enroll in an introductory course in Women's Studies. ... Eventually, I will put him in a dress, heels and make-up and force him to ride the subways in Chicago. There will be video, I promise."

Feministing.com chimed in with equal ire, describing Volokh's post as condescending and patronizing. Belle Lettre at least gave Volokh the benefit of bona fides.

For his part, Volokh labeled Bartow's response as patronizing. He wrote:

"What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences, and for trying to start a public conversation in which women's opinions are actively solicited, on the grounds that the questioner should instead have gone to the library or taken up the time of his colleagues?"

Meanwhile, some women bloggers took Volokh's invitation seriously and offered answers. At Conglomerate, for instance, Christine Hurt equated pregnancy and childbirth for women to "sports for men, or Dungeons and Dragons." And, back over in the male camp, one commentator called Volokh's invitation "an entirely reasonable response."

Having now read this exchange between these two noted legal scholars, my conclusion is this: Law professors have way too much time on their hands.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 25, 2007 at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cameras in the Court: Roll 'em -- Or Not

I've never bought the arguments against televising Supreme Court proceedings. Cameras enhance public understanding and confidence and the justices and litigants will quickly forget they are there. But with legislation pending in Congress that would require the court to televise its proceedings, the topic takes on renewed urgency. For this reason, a symposium published this week, discussed at the blog Concurring Opinions, is well worth reading.

Published by the Michigan Law  Review's online journal First Impressions, the symposium features a diverse group of authors exploring the implications of  the prospective legislation and the potential risks and benefits of  televising the court's proceedings. The contributors:

To download a PDF of the entire symposium, click here.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 25, 2007 at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marketers' Favorite Marketing Books

Which books do the nation's top legal marketers consider to be the best on marketing, sales and strategy? Marketing consultant Amy Campbell put that question to a "select group" of law firm marketers and marketing consultants. While their responses named many different books, two authors' names came up again and again: Malcolm Gladwell for his business books The Tipping Point and Blink, and David Maister for The Trusted Advisor (co-authored with Charles Green and Robert Galford) and Managing the Professional Service Firm.

Based on her admittedly "quick-and-dirty" survey, here are Campbell's top 10 books picked by legal marketers:

  1. The Tipping Point and Blink, Malcolm Gladwell.
  2. The Trusted Advisor and Managing The Professional Service Firm, David H. Maister.
  3. The Woman Lawyer's Rainmaking Game:  How to Build a Successful Law Practice, Silvia L. Coulter.
  4. Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, Harry Beckwith.
  5. How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie.
  6. Legal Business Development:  A Step by Step Guide, Jim Hassett.
  7. SPIN Selling, Neil Rackham.
  8. Client at the Core: Marketing and Managing Today's Professional Services Firm, August Aquila and Bruce W. Marcus.
  9. Move the Sale Forward: Increase Your Sales Through Human Connections, John Klymshyn.
  10. Law Firm Associate Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills, Beth Cuzzone and Catherine MacDonagh.

That last one must be good; it made the top-10 list even though it will not be published until June. So read and prosper.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 25, 2007 at 02:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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