Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Roundup: Legal News Worth Noting


Roundup: Legal News Worth Noting

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 29, 2008 at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scalia's Write Hand Man

For all the buzz surrounding the 60 Minutes interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one might overlook the fact that this was not his only interview. For example, NPR's legal affairs reporter Nina Totenberg broadcast a three-part interview with Scalia this week. (Part one, part two, part three.) And in the May issue of the ABA Journal, reporter Richard Brust has his own sitdown with Scalia, who is joined in the interview by Bryan A. Garner, co-author of the reason for all these interviews, their new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

Garner made a cameo appearance in the 60 Minutes piece, but the ABA Journal interview gives him more of his due. Garner, after all, is the guru of legal writing, the man The New York Times once called, "the persnickety stylist for a linguistically challenged profession." The author of several books on legal writing, he runs LawProse, a company that trains lawyers to be better communicators, and is editor in chief of Black's Law Dictionary. His collaboration with Scalia grew out of his earlier project, in which he interviewed eight of the nine Supreme Court justices about legal writing and advocacy and posted the interviews online.

The ABA Journal interviewer talks to Scalia and Garner together and also provides an excerpt from the book and a podcast of the interview. When asked about the legal writers he most respects, Garner answers, "My own heroes there are Charles Alan Wright, author of Federal Practice and Procedure; I love the writing of Grant Gilmore, the great Yale law professor; and Lon Fuller, the Harvard philosopher of law."

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 29, 2008 at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Of Virgins and Christians and Net Neutrality

Whatever your position on net neutrality, you have to admit, the debate is getting weird. Witness two items making the rounds of the blogosphere, one tying advocacy for net neutrality to a presidential candidate's supposed denigration of Christians, and the second involving an advocate's promise to deflower every virgin who joins her campaign.

For the first item, we turn to the conservative news blog Redstate, which recently posted a story under the headline, "Obama and Google's Mutual Adviser: Jesus is gay, wears a diaper, and gets run over." The "mutual adviser" in question is none other than Stanford Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, who Redstate says "really could care less that so many of us revere Jesus." Its evidence is a video, Jesus Christ: The Musical, showing Jesus dancing down a street, lip-syncing to the Gloria Gaynor disco classic "I Will Survive," before being hit by a bus. Given that Lessig supports Barack Obama, Redstate reasons, this somehow links the candidate to denigration of Christianity. More to the point, it proves ... well, something about the net neutrality debate. (Read the post for yourself and try to decipher exactly where it comes down.)

Of course, Lessig had nothing to do with producing the video. Rather, as Ars Technica explains, he showed the video during a recent lecture he gave at Google about copyright and "remix culture." The maker of the film, Javier Prato, is being sued by the owner of the rights to Gaynor's song, and Lessig showed it to illustrate the tension between fair use and intellectual property. In his own response to Redstate, Lessig writes, "It will be interesting (in a root canal kind of way) to see how far or deep PC-ism runs in this society."

As if testing that very point, another supporter of net neutrality legislation has launched the Web site and campaign, Save the Internet ... Don't Stay a Virgin. Belgian Tania Derveaux is doing her part for net neutrality by issuing this promise: "I will make love with every virgin who defends the Internet." Here is how she explains it:

Net neutrality is paramount to safeguard free speech and innovation on the Internet. With only one arguably negative side-effect: an unusual amount of today's Internet users are virgin. That's a problem I intend to solve. In history, man has always waged war for freedom. Now it's time to obtain our freedom with love.

Before leaping to proclaim your support for net neutrality, be sure to review Derveaux's terms of service, which, among other things, requires proof of activity in defense of net neutrality and limits the encounter to "no longer than 30 minutes." Derveaux is spokesperson for the Belgian activist group I Power, and this is not the first time she has offered sexual favors in exchange for activism, MSNBC reports. In 2007, she ran as I Power's candidate in the Belgian general election, with a promise of 40,000 jobs, with "jobs" suggesting relief both economic and of another sort.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 29, 2008 at 09:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The American Lawyer Launches New Site

Tomorrow brings the release of the Am Law 100, The American Lawyer magazine's annual ranking of the nation's largest law firms by revenue. This year, the release will also bring the official launch of the magazine's redesigned Web site. While much of the new site is already up and running, tomorrow's debut is slated to feature extended coverage of the Am Law 100 rankings, including Web-exclusive charts that will project firms' profitability through 2025. An announcement last week gave this overview of the site:

The new site will feature daily news coverage of the legal business, including breaking news reporting on developments at the world's leading law firms, and on the lawyers and professionals working in and with those firms. News will be spotlighted in The Am Law Daily, focusing each day on topics related to 'The Firms,' 'The Talent,' 'The Work,' 'The Management,' 'The Score' and 'The Life.'

Online subscribers and registered users will receive a free daily e-newsletter highlighting top stories.  A second e-newsletter, focused on litigation news, will launch in June.  The site will also feature full access to each month's print issue and a searchable content archive of past issues.  Current issues and the site archives will be available free to registered users until July 31.

Depending on when you are reading this, you may still be able to catch today's free webinar in which Aric Press, editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer, will give a preview of the Am Law 100 results. The 15-minute webinar is at 3 p.m. Eastern time and requires advance registration.

The American Lawyer is, of course, owned by ALM, which also owns Law.com and the blog you are reading, Legal Blog Watch. For anyone interested in reading more about ALM's future, in print and online, I recommend Rob La Gatta's interview with ALM's CEO William L. Pollak, published at the blog Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Among other points, Pollak says that the Web has leveled the field between journalists and readers:

In the pre-web era the paradigm was simple -- editors figured out what was important, presented it to the reader, and the reader took it in. Now, there is much more back-and-forth, and much more user participation in the process of news gathering and analysis. Journalists may still be subject-matter experts on various topics, and their voice may be one which readers still want to hear. But the journalist now has to listen and react to users in a more direct way, and can no longer assume that their word will be the last heard on a given topic.

Pollak also talks about RSS feeds, the Law.com Blog Network, and the future of ALM's print publications.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 29, 2008 at 09:05 AM | Permalink |

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