We’ve linked an item from this series previously, but it deserves a post in itself: “Law’s Picture Books,” an exhibition at NYC’s Grolier Club, displayed more than 140 items from the Yale Law Library’s collection of images and writings on legal themes. In a series of ten posts at Concurring Opinions (link is to the series tag), Mark S. Weiner explores many of the highlights. They include images of courtrooms and of lawyers at work; books using mathematical and quantitative methods to address legal issues arising from water and land; images used in law teaching; tree-and-branch and other diagrams; and a 1554 treatise on criminal law whose breakthrough innovation was its inclusion of 60 woodcuts depicting specific crimes.
“Association for Honest Attorneys loses its tax-exempt status after founder can’t find a lawyer” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]
Attorneys may or may not be pleasant to deal with, or wise in the ways of the world, or skilled with the spoken and written word. But watch out for the ones who don’t know how to handle and evaluate their cases, or are untruthful [Jeremy Richter]
“There were a bunch of kids all dressed up, the boys wearing power ties.” Are toddler birthday parties themed after personal injury lawyers becoming a thing? The latest case, from South Carolina, like one noted in 2015 from Louisiana, seem to have come into existence because the kids see and listen to injury lawyers’ ads and jingles on TV again and again (and again) and fix on them. Indeed, they may even begin to interpret the counselors as some species of superhero. “The report includes plenty of party pics as well as a three-minute highlight video, all provided by the office of George Sink, P.A., Injury Lawyers. Is it a marketing piece? Sure. But hey—the family asked him to come to the party, and he was a good sport about it. He’s entitled to a little credit for that, I think.” [Lowering the Bar; earlier 2015 on Louisiana case]
A prospective bride feels “miserable and unmoored” as her lawyer advises her to insist on negotiating a term of a pre-nuptial agreement proffered by her intended. Did the lawyer add or subtract value, or was it others’ fault? [Abby Mims, New York Times “Modern Love”; Steve Lubet, Legal Ethics Forum; Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]
- Research by Todd Henderson et al. suggests that lawyers may often do well as CEOs, and anticipating and reducing litigation risk may be a key mechanism [Stephen Bainbridge]
- Canada: Couple sues neighbors for $2.5 million for copying their house’s architecture [Rain Noe, Core77]
- Abraham Lincoln on public choice and the aligning of interest with ethical duty [David Henderson]
- Redistricting, Anne Arundel county executive allies with trial lawyers to file opioids suit, Baltimore police, Montgomery County minimum wage in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
- Black smokers in the U.S. are more likely than whites to prefer menthol, and prohibitionists frame foiling their wishes as a matter of racial justice [Christian Britschgi]
- Here come the trustbusting conservatives back again, no more convincing this time around [Steven Greenhut]
According to the Ontario bar association, all lawyers “must prepare and submit a personal ‘Statement of Principles’ attesting that we value and promote equality, diversity and inclusion.” Bad idea: “In free countries, law governs actions rather than expressions of beliefs. People can be required to obey the speed limit and pay taxes, but they may not be compelled to declare that the speed limits are properly set or that taxes are a good thing. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that forcing someone to express opinions that they do not have ‘is totalitarian and as such alien to the tradition of free nations like Canada, even for the repression of the most serious crimes.'” [Bruce Pardy, National Post]
A lawyer recruitment ad from Birmingham, Alabama is raising some eyebrows [Keith Lee]. “Maintaining professionalism and decorum” is important, at least up to a point: “You should want to destroy your enemies and leave their tattered bodies littered around the courtroom.” The pay? It starts at $35,000 a year.
1/ The Most Hilaribad Lawyer Job posting you'll read this year. "Destroy opponents and make lots of money!!!1!" pic.twitter.com/Uy1wiOFAkj
— Keith Lee (@associatesmind) August 1, 2017
In the mail, and on sale soon from Encounter Books: Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers, and the Future of Law by Benjamin Barton (University of Tennessee) and Stephanos Bibas (Penn). Publisher’s summary:
America is a nation founded on justice and the rule of law. But our laws are too complex, and legal advice too expensive, for poor and even middle-class Americans to get help and vindicate their rights. Criminal defendants facing jail time may receive an appointed lawyer who is juggling hundreds of cases and immediately urges them to plead guilty. Civil litigants are even worse off; usually, they get no help at all navigating the maze of technical procedures and rules. The same is true of those seeking legal advice, like planning a will or negotiating an employment contract.
Rebooting Justice presents a novel response to longstanding problems. The answer is to use technology and procedural innovation to simplify and change the process itself. In the civil and criminal courts where ordinary Americans appear the most, we should streamline complex procedures and assume that parties will not have a lawyer, rather than the other way around. We need a cheaper, simpler, faster justice system to control costs. We cannot untie the Gordian knot by adding more strands of rope; we need to cut it, to simplify it.
And the blurb I was happy to contribute to the book’s back jacket:
“America’s legal establishment is right that our legal system is suffering an access-to-justice crisis, but dead wrong about how to fix things. In clear, energetic, skillful prose, Bibas and Barton first give the misguided crusade for Civil Gideon a decent burial. Then they go on to propose ideas that are much better ? better in moving with the times on technology, better at lowering rather than heightening the problems of cost and delay, and better at focusing the scarce talents of skilled courtroom counsel where they can make the most difference, specifically on felony charges.”
— Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of The Litigation Explosion
Other blurbs are by Deborah Rhode, Philip K. Howard, and Glenn Reynolds.
“This lawyer helped steal $600 million from the government, got caught — then disappeared” (Eric Christopher Conn, Kentucky) [Avi Seik, Washington Post; Bill Estep and Linda Blackford, Lexington Herald-Leader; FBI Louisville; earlier here and here]