Monday, April 14, 2008

Harry Potter Opens Today!

No, it's not another Harry Potter movie that opens today.  Rather, it's the first day of trial in a copryight infringement suit brought by "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling and her publisher, Warner Bros. against RDR Books, publisher of Steve Vander Ark's 400 page reference book, the Harry Potter Lexicon, based on the online version.  Rowling and Warner claim that the Lexicon is a derivative work that infringes Rowling's copyright and interferes with Rowling's plans to write her own Harry Potter encyclopedia. 

Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project is defending RDR books, along with outside counsel, New York attorney, David Hammer.  In a press release issued on the lawsuit, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project (and also counsel in the case) stated:

The right to create literary reference guides like the Lexicon has remained nearly unquestioned for hundreds of years. The Lexicon is a valuable resource that helps people better understand and enjoy the Harry Potter books. It's exactly what copyright law should encourage, not suppress.

Dan Slater at WSJ Law Blog is observing the trial; his dispatch from this morning's trial proceedings is posted at the WSJ Law Blog. According to Slater, Dale Cendali, who represents Rowling and Warner, emphasized during her opening that the Lexicon "takes too much and does too little."  Cendali's point is that the Lexicon merely copies Rowling's work without any original, value-added content that might qualify as new art.  In response,  Anthony Falzone asserted in his opening statement that the "the public will lose out if publication of the Lexicon is enjoined."

If you're interested in further analysis of some of the issues in the case, check out this lengthy post by copyright guru William Patry and this post by Mike Madison of Madisonian.net.

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Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 14, 2008 at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Associates May Find Bigger Benefits in Smaller Markets

In a softening economy, competition for positions at large law firms is more intense than ever. But in some smaller markets, such as Worcester, Mass., the second largest city in Massachusetts after Boston, law firm business is still booming and firms are hiring, according to this story from the Worcester Business Journal.   

So should you consider moving to a smaller market?  The pay is lower; for example, the $90,000 starting salaries at Worcester law firms are roughly 60 percent of the going rate at Biglaw.  But a less expensive cost of living helps to compensate for the disparity.   Plus, law firms in smaller cities often boast a less stressful work environment with lower billable hour requirements and emphasis on having a life outside of the office.   In particular, many women lawyers and young mothers find these benefits appealing -- and Worcester firms have reported an increase in hiring women lawyers over the past few years.

Do you work in a second-city market -- and if so, what has your experience been like?  If you currently work at a large firm, would you consider a move to a smaller market?  And what are some other cities in addition to Worcester that are home to law firms that serve larger corporate clients?  Please post your comments below.

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Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 14, 2008 at 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Blogosphere's Advice for Current and Prospective Law Students

Today's blog offerings contain a wealth of information from some top minds that will guide current and prospective law students on decisions such as where to go to law school or what specialty to pursue.  Here's a roundup:

More Expensive Law Schools Won't Necessarily Guarantee A Top Job -- Despite most law schools' obsession with their rankings in U.S. News and World Reports , this system offers incomplete information to law students deciding where to attend law school, argue Professors William Henderson and Andrew Morriss in this extensive piece, "What Rankings Don't Show."  Armed with empirical data, Henderson and Morriss show that schools with impressive local and regional reputations have better employment outcomes for students than higher-ranked law schools.  Even better, many of these regional schools offer financial aid or scholarship packages, making them a bargain from a financial perspective.  And by graduating with less debt, students can more readily opt for less immediately-lucrative options, such as starting a law firm or working for a public interest group -- without feeling strapped by debt.

Best Paths to White Collar Criminal Lawyer -- If you're interested in practicing white collar criminal law, Biglaw may not always be the best option right out of law school, suggests Professor Ellen Pogdor at White Collar Crime Profs.  Other options include Department of Justice Honors Program, the FBI, state attorney generals' offices or smaller firms that specialize in white collar criminal practice.

What Are the Best Future Practice Areas? -- Sun Microsystems GC Mike Dillon offers some advice to a 3L who asked about future opportunities in the law during this economic downturn.  Dillon says that perhaps the best area is intellectual property law, a field rife with new and interesting developments.

Should Law Students Get an MBA? -- Prospective law students may want to consider tacking on an extra year of education and get a joint JD-MBA degree, advises Julie Hilden in this Findlaw piece.  Hilden gives five key reasons to consider an MBA, including mastering business skills that will help run a law practice and learning how to act with business people whom you may eventually represent in your practice.

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Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 14, 2008 at 08:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blawg Review #155

April is National Poetry Month and what better way to celebrate than a poetry-themed Blawg Review #155, hosted by Greg May at The California Blog of Appeal.  It's hard to do poetic justice to Greg May's masterpiece with just a summary, but I'll give it a try below:

Blawg Review #155 covers the
balancing of work and life;
avoiding cases with the potential for strife;
cases that never make it to court;
PowerPoint for cases in tort;
And a conversation in which many great bloggers are mired:
Should former Assistant AG John Yoo be fired?

Visit Blawg Review #155 for more links.

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Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 1

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