The Yale Law Journal's launch of a bloglike "online companion" for the Journal, called The Pocket Part, has generated a well-deserved bit of blogobuzz. It quickly generated reportage posts by Stephen Bainbridge, Ben Barros, Heidi Bond, Orin Kerr, Dan Markel, and Larry Solum. Like others, I'm delighted to see this development. And, just at it did for Paul Horwitz, Pocket Part prompts me to think about how internet-based technologies that lower the costs of collaboration could spark new socially-produced scholarship or scholarship tools ... in short, how the scholarship's social layer may grow. Paul muses on the Wiki-Treatise. Matthew Bodie has a paper at SSRN about an open-source approach to the casebook. My own hope? Social tagging for scholarly papers. More below the fold ...
Existing social tagging technology and practice, on sites such as Flickr (for photos) and del.icio.us (for web bookmarks), show the power of letting users grow a social layer to comment on the content layer in a way that organizes the content.
Now that others (besides Westlaw and Lexis) present electronic versions of scholarly articles, I start to wonder: Can we bring social tagging to legal scholarship? I've been looking around for this phenomenon in other scholarly fields and have not yet seen it. But I'm going to keep searching.
Why? What's the point? Well, my own motivation is that I think keyword searching within the text of an article is far too crude a search tool, but it is all that Westlaw and Lexis offer. Social tagging strikes me as a much more nuanced and powerful search tool. And I know that I would add tags, sharing with my colleagues in the hope they would share with me, to make my research time far more productive as the social layer grows.
Perhaps Westlaw or Lexis will roll out a user-based social tagging system at some point. Perhaps repositories like SSRN and Berkeley Electronic Press will beat them to it. In the interim, I hope that individual law reviews themselves will think about doing so. Many of them already host electronic copies of the articles they publish. Wouldn't it be simple to, e.g., generate a tag cloud from the text of each article for a baseline tag set, then use social tagging tech to let users generate a second tag set thereafter? The law reviews that make their articles more usable with a rich social tag set will doubtless attract more readers, which may boost citations to those articles in other articles.
I want to welcome Will Baude as a guest blogger. Many of you may already know Will from Crescat Sententia. I came to admire Will from his comments here and elsewhere, where he has proved himself a dangerous heavyweight with a sharp right hook.
Will is not yet a business law guru, but he certainly knows his fair share of economics, so we are looking forward to having him blog with us.
Will is our first student guest-blogger. But thanks to our exchanges on the blog, we tend to think of him as a colleague. More evidence, perhaps, of the hierarchy-flattening nature of the Internet.
BWV has another entry about on-campus interviewing as a write-on member of law review. You know it's going to be funny ...
Another production from the students at Penn Law: Law School UNconfidential. Among the highlights: BPLazy has a hilarious recuiting story, and Bacon (on loan from Notes from the (1L) Underground) has had some incredible interviews.
Last year, I created the Law Student Blog Honor Roll, which still appears in my sidebar. All of those blogs are still around and still being run by law students. So they will remain in my sidebar.
This year, I am adding a new set of ten law student blogs. Less fanfare this time around. No internet polls, though recommendations of new blogs would be much appreciated.
Postings on some of the blogs of the Law Student Blog Honor Roll have become a bit spotty as exam preparation (or not) has intensified. But exam angst isn't the only thing on the menu this week. Check out my favorite posts of the week.
ai is feeling procrastinator's remorse:
I could have studied more during the semester instead of saving it until the end. I should have done that. And I would have except, well... wel... I don't know why. I like pain? I think what I'm really saying is I'll be really really glad when this exam is over and I swear I will never ever ever procrastinate my studying like this again. Never ever. (Now when next Sept./Oct. comes around, will someone please remind of this? Thanks.)
BWV does it again. I want to be this funny just for a day:
Problem: I have a 20-25 page paper due in a few weeks, and though the entire thing could probably be written based on my own thoughts and some minor empirical work, I'd probably feel obligated to relate it all to the readings from the course, which would mean re-reading massive chunks of a 1200-page course packet.
Solution: My cat pissed all over the entire course packet. I had to throw it away.
I am going to cheat a little by giving BWV two entries this week. This second one asks the age-old question (for which he never provides an answer):
As I head into the last few days of class, I must admit that this time of the semester really stresses me out. On top of the 18-hour, coke-fueled study binges and the insane pressures of my competitive Scrabble career (which always manages to heat up around this time), the end of the semester brings up that age-old question: When the professor finishes his/her last lecture...do you clap?
Bekah at Mixtape Marathon has an entry entitled "Wah."
My hair hurts.
Although some professors at other law schools seem to take my memos to heart, my own professors take pleasure in blatantly ignoring them, or even reveling embarrassingly in complete disregard of their contents. We covered public forum law in 14 minutes this morning. Literally. 14. Minutes.
This semester, I have three exams in a row, starting with the first day of exams. That day is Monday. This Monday. I still have class today. I certainly hope I get to learn something new.
Please accept my apologies for not writing much lately, but I think anything I write (other than straight up whiny complaints) would be illegal threats of some kind, and I really don't have much time for jail at the moment.
At least the air conditioner in my car sounds like gravel in a blender, and I can't find my phone.
Heidi at Letters of Marque sets the bar high for professors:
An outstanding professor is one where you find yourself reaching to do as well as you can, not because you care about the grade or the result, but because you feel that there's been a really good partnership. You think you learned a lot. And you want the professor to know that you respect them and what they've taught you by doing as well as you can, so they know that they did a good job.
Not exactly in the same vein, Sua Sponte mentions the LawProf 100 and even plugs Volokh, Bainbridge, Leiter, and yours truly. Nice sentiments, and I appreciate them, but I this is a ranking that exceeds even the US News law school rankings for inanity.
And, finally, I suppose that if you have been following Will Baude's path to law school you already know that he chose Yale over Chicago. Frankly, it's hard to go wrong with options like that.
Another great week in the law student blawgosphere. The great thing about the law students on this Honor Roll is that they don't stop blogging for anything, including finals.
Buffalo Wings & Vodka has a new site, but it's more of the same great stuff. The latest is a hilarious account of law review editing.
So the big question for Cescat Sententia is whether Will Baude can become even more interesting by attending law school. That may not be possible. Earlier this week, he was wondering about involuntary servitude (the 13th Amendment) and the draft. During law school, I was a complete Con Law geek -- though mostly the structural stuff -- and these are the sorts of questions that would occupy me to no end. Earlier this week, I was reminded why I lost my taste for Con Law when one of my colleagues asked, "Why do we care what the Founders thought? They owned people!" I don't know, maybe because they wrote it? Ok, I'll stop now before a fight breaks out. (By the way, here's another good one from Will.)
Nick Morgan has been busy at De Novo, where he has a thoughtful entry on technicalities.
Heidi looks inward at Letters of Marque: "I've been in school for eight years straight. I went from undergrad to grad school to law school. And I can't stop wanting more. I still want to learn everything I can get my hands on. I want to know how everything works. I thought law school would give me answers, but like graduate school, it's designed to teach you to recognize the hard questions."
Speaking of exams, Joshua Claybourn quips: "I am now only three weeks away from a complete mastery of contracts. Now if only the exam wasn't one week away."
And while everyone else is stressed over finals, Sua Sponte is relaxing in the middle of the third quarter at a law school that sounds very familiar to me.
This has nothing to do with law school, but Tony at Three Years of Hell is musing about Gmail. Earlier this week, I was writing about being Bearish on Google, and Tony has some cautionary words about Gmail. By the way, I don't have an account yet because I haven't seen the need. I already have four email accounts. How many does one person need?
In attempting to assemble law student blawgs, the biggest challenge has been finding them. This is my biggest oversight yet: The Rising Jurist is a terrific blawg that has been going since the beginning of the school year. The student has a knack for cool design and perhaps more than any law student blog I have read, conveys the sense of confusion, discovery, frustration, irony, cynicism, and anxiety that is the first year of law school. While it is hard to assess the size of this blawg's audience, whatever its size, I am convinced that it deserves a bigger one.
Blogging is catching on here at the UW Law School. Could it be that students are wanting to avoid studying for finals? In any event, I discovered two more law student blogs today: idée fixe and The Incredible 2-Headed Blog!. Half of the latter blog is my student, Lisa Infield-Harm, and the other half is her husband. With a name like Infield-Harm, I would have expected a baseball themed blog, but they seem to be avoiding that topic. (But as long as we are on the subject, how about those Twins!) The idée fixe blog is maintained by Ann Laatsch, who has an affinity for cheese that may exceed mine. I can tell already that I will be visiting this site often for the Cheese of the Day picks (even though they don't seem to be coming daily ... to be honest, it's hard to keep up the energy for a daily cheese adventure). Welcome to my blogroll, Ann and Lisa!
This is the first in what I hope will be a regular feature of this blog: a review of my favorite posts from the Law Student Blog Honor Roll. As I wrote when I first introduced the Honor Roll, I am interested in blogging as a tool of legal education, so I will focus here on posts about law or law school. Finally, I will not feel compelled to include a post from every blog on the Honor Roll each time I do this. So, here goes ...
* Sua Sponte is most entertaining in her description of Socratic teaching. She notes that "old school" Socratic teachers are rare and sometimes scary, but ultimately fair:
That's one thing to value about Old School Socratic Guys: they may play hard, but by and large, they play fair. Even if "fair" is defined as "by my rules," those rules at least stay constant. You just need to figure out what they are. It's kind of like playing Mao: equal parts frustrating and tantalizing, but ultimately, you hope, entertaining.
Sometime I wonder how my students would describe my teaching style. I often call on students "cold," and I do not abide lame excuses for non-participation. On the other hand, I am not Kingsfield-like (read: "mean"). My goal is to guage and engage, not to torture.
* ai indicts law school teaching:
I've missed some class recently (shock!), but thanks to Passover, at least one of my professors videotaped several of the classes I missed. As I watch these taped lectures, I realize once again how broken the learning model is at a major law school like GW. What do I miss by having not been in class and watching the class on video instead? Absolutely nothing. Sure, there was the one day per semester in each of my classes where I had to "perform" the ritual of regurgitating the day's reading, acting as little more than a foolish foil for my professors' otherwise largely canned lectures, but aside from those 4 days of class, I might have watched the whole semester on video. I would have learned just as much. In fact, I might have learned more; it's nice to be able to rewind to listen again to the confusing parts.
So what do I pay for in law school? Why doesn't GW just package videos for me to buy, rather than making me move to DC and actually show up on campus for classes? I can think of many reasons—attending class is only one part of a full law school experience—but it's hard to shake the feeling that the attendance requirements are just a mask for the fact that big law schools are just degree factories that long ago sacrificed learning models for business models. Sure, we do learn this way, but let's just drop the pretense, shall we? Charge me half the tuition, send me the videos, I'll watch them at home, and we can all stop pretending there's really a need to pay for the plasma screens in the lobby that no one even looks at. Grrrr.
ai is a first-year law student and has already figured out that the law school model is broken. Most classes are too large. Most professors are too interested in conveying information and not enough interested in engaging their students' imagination. This generation of students is demanding better, and they should.
* Mixtape is her usual hilarious self, describing class notes that she received from a fellow student after missing class. (Hmm ... missing class. Am I sensing a pattern among Honor Roll bloggers? No wonder they are on the Honor Roll!) For all of you law professors out there who have forgotten what students are getting (or not) from your classes, read this.
* Three Years of Hell offers sound advice to 1Ls:
Incidentally, if you're lucky enough to find a companion during your 1L year, seize that particular opportunity with both hands. I'm going to break my standard policy of not talking about my personal life to say that finding someone understanding of a 1L's schedule, who can put up with the fact that you're available only at odd hours and that your one instant topic of conversation regards your workload, is an circumstance of tender mercy. If she knows how to cook brilliant halibut cooked with saffron, yogurt and shallots, all the better. But during this madcap silly season, having someone to share with is really the crowning glory.
I was already married when I started law school, and my wife was stalwart throughout. After receiving my diploma in the Rockefeller Chapel, I walked down the center aisle. As I passed my wife, I handed her the diploma and said, "You deserve this as much as I do." And I wasn't just being nice.
* This last one, from Crescat Sententia isn't exactly about law or law school, but Jeremy discusses the BloggerCon conference sponsored by the Berkman Center. His conclusion: blogging is not a money-making operation. I hope Jeremy is right about that, and I think he must be. Blogging's edge is its spontanaeity and irreverance. If I were trying to make money doing this, I would be tempted to be more careful, which would defeat the purpose.
Life has been a bit hectic around here, with Tax Day and all, so I haven't had much time to focus on completing the Law School Blog Honor Roll. With two spots remaining, one choice seems obvious to everyone: Buffalo Wings & Vodka. I might be worried if he were one of my students, but as long as he is at UT, he is very, very funny.
And for the final spot on the Honor Roll, I am reaching back to last week's poll for ambivalent imbroglio. ai is not as law-school focused as some of the other blogs, but when the topic turns to law school, it's good stuff.
So, there you have it: one professor's Law Student Blog Honor Roll. You can always find the list in my sidebar, which it now has its own section.
The last poll on law student blogs was designed to fill out the Honor Roll, and it got me part way home. Two new blogs have been added:
Sapere aude is a well-deserving group blog from Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis.
A spot is reserved for Mixtape Marathon, while Bekah figures out how to add an RSS feed. Anyone willing to help her? Her email address is on her site.
Earlier this week, I started the Law Student Blog Honor Roll. Since that time, I have discovered some additional blogs. Before adding any of these to the Honor Roll, I would like a little feedback. And I am still looking for that diamond in the rough. Who am I missing?
* ambulance chaser had me at hello, so to speak. This self-description was great: "law student. former engineer. couch potato. shopaholic. slob. glutton for good food. lazy ass. anal retentive. ebay addict. girly girl. pack rat. blogging fiend." Plus, she wants Kwame to win The Apprentice. (I just wish she would fix that shift key.)
* ambivalent imbroglio has been slow of late, but seems to have a pretty good history of posting.
* The Angry Clam adds a libertarian/conservative voice to the mix.
* The top post on Ditzy Genius today reads, "Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya." I just don't have any response to that.
* Speaking of conservatives, how about IrishLaw?
* And now for something completely different ... substance. Lawgorithm is a new blog, but it might make a nice addition to the Honor Roll simply because they talk about law! In this case, law and technology issues.
* Law, Life, Libido (commonly known as L-Cubed) provides a steady diet of material on all three of the aforementioned Ls.
* Lonestar Expat got a mention in the original post, and deserves a mention again here.
* Mixtape Marathon ... that last post is still making me chuckle. If she wins here, we will either make sure she gets an RSS feed or leave an empty place for her on the Honor Roll.
* Sapere aude, by Joshua Claybourn and other students at IU School of Law in Indianapolis
You can vote for as many of the blogs as you like, but you can submit only one set of votes.
Crescat Sententia is an obvious candidate for the Law Student Blog Honor Roll. This is an excellent group blog, some members of which have already made the Honor Roll. They did not make the original cut because of my confusion about whether they were law students, practicing lawyers, undergraduates, etc. That confusion having been set to rest by Greg (see the comments here), I have added them. Congrats, CS!
That leaves us with four places on the Honor Roll. I am watching some other candiates, but I am looking for recommendations before pulling the trigger.
I am interested in the role of blogging in legal education, though my efforts to date have been rather tentative. I started blogging not long after encountering the Berkman Center's "Weblogs at Harvard Law" project. At that moment of discovery, my attitude toward blogging was less than enthusiastic. I wrote an email to our faculty that said, in part: "If you don't have the faintest idea what all of this is about, join the club. Why would anyone read these blogs? Why is HLS trying to encourage them? People talk as if this is a 'revolution' in information dissemination, but I am on information overload already without having to check multiple blog sites." I hereby retract that.
With the recent addition of UW Law Blogs to my blogroll, I have now taken to reading law student blogs. This is still a relatively unorganized corner of the blogosphere, and it is likely to remain that way as student blogs are inherently transitory. Some students make the successful transition to real-world law blogging (see Nate Oman & Kaimi Wenger, for example), but many law student blogs die a fairly quick death. jd2b.com has compiled a nice starter list of law student weblogs, but a more complete list can be found at Sua Sponte.
If you look in my sidebar now -- under "Links! Links! Links!" -- you will find the Honor Roll of five law student blogs. To make the Honor Roll, a blog must be by a law student or law strudents and must relate primarily to law or the law school experience. The blog must have content! No once-a-week postings here. I am looking for a steady stream of insights. Good writing of any sort is the lodestar. Of course, I am not attempting to set myself up as the ultimate arbiter of law student blogs; these are just some that I liked very much. In addition, one technical requirement: since I am using Bloglines, the blog must have an rss feed. So, without further delay, here is my inaugural Honor Roll:
* De Novo is a group blog involving three law students from different law schools and one prospective law student. These guys are funny and smart and law geeks to the core, their own protestations notwithstanding. One of them, Jeremy Blachman, also has a great solo blog.
I tried looking up 1 US 1 today. 1754. Hrm. That got me thinking. So then I used date restrictions to try and find the oldest case in State/Federal combined. 1 H. & McH. 1; 1658 Md. LEXIS 1 is what I find. Lexis 1? Wow. This case is basically one long-ass sentence:
UPON the difference between Capt. William Stone and William Boreman, touching the said Boreman's land at Nanjemoy, it appearing to this Court that the said Boreman did not legally pursue his warrant for four hundred acres of land within the time of the said warrant prescribed--It is ordered by this Court that a patent immediately be passed to Capt. William Stone of the land by him demanded, and in regard that the said Boreman's right to so much land doth yet remain unto him; and the surveyor did, in his own wrong, survey and receive pay for survey of that land at Nanjemoy.
In the intervening 350-odd years courts have figured out how to use periods.
Oddly enough, 1658 WL 1 (the same case) has lots more detail.
I've heard that many professors don't appreciate the incessant web surfing that goes on during class, and the scuttlebutt is that some want wireless disabled during class time. This would be a mistake. Wireless access in the classroom is important inasmuch as it prevents me (and I can't imagine I'm unique in this regard) from lashing out at my fellow classmates and the "contributions" they insist on sharing each and every class.
The real issue isn't who feels the most insulted by the fact that [school] has dropped out of the top ten, or whose faculty publishes the most prolifically, or that students will be drawn to high-ranked schools by their fancy numbers and fall prey to firms doing the Dance of the Six Figures. The real issue is that, thanks to a silly system of categorizing disparate experiences, talented people will reap less than what should -- and elsewhere would -- be the full fruits of their labor. And it bothers me, even with all the hemming and hawing about how rankings are crap (which they are), that people still construe them at a macro level as a proxy for merit.
The trouble with wanting to be a lawyer is that you have to go to law school. The trouble with law school, at least for me, is that I've never really 'fit in' with the academic paradigm. When I was younger, I used to question why I was being put through academic hoops that made little sense to me. Years of experience taught me that while you learn a lot of things at any level of school, the primary function of education is a kind of sorting hat, where the skills your tested on bear some peripheral relationship to what you'll eventually do upon graduation. In other words, an employer can count on the fact that by hiring 'the best' graduates, he can't guarantee an employee will be good for his firm, but he's less likely to have to fire them later."
The quality of law student blogs was surprisingly high, and my self-imposed limitation of five blogs made this really tough. Many of the blogs that didn't quite make the Honor Roll are nevertheless worth a visit. Here are a few of the other nuggets:
* Mixtape Marathon would have been on the Honor Roll, but I couldn't get an rss feed for the blog. This blog seems to be more about life at the Michigan Law School than the law itself, but Bekah is engaging and witty. This recent post had me laughing for several minutes after I read it:
Population of the reading room, as of 4:08 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2004:
1. Blonde girl in far corner, twirling her hair and playing with her glasses. Types a few words and then stares off into space for hours at a time.
2. Girl with huge laptop, drinking a Diet Coke and smiling at the screen. Probably internally chuckling over a politically-themed email forward. No books in sight.
3. Guy in polo shirt drinking out of a bike water bottle. Reading for what looks like a seminar and playing brick attack on his cell phone. Thinking about calling it a day.
4. Really diligent girl to my left who is actually doing work. Reading intently, outlining intently, not noticing the blueness of the sky or the futility of her existence. Simultaneously admirable and pathetic.
5. Dude next to me. Lots of books and highlighters, none of which have moved in three hours. Probably reading ESPN. Intimidates me anyway because the books are for one of my classes, and he looks like he's really up on things. Makes me hate myself for falling behind.
6. Girl behind me. Also really doing work and constructing beautiful, handwritten case briefs on pristine yellow legal pads. I hate her with an indescribable passion, but also want to be her friend.
7. Me. Sitting under a pile of Westlaw printouts, trying to avoid looking out the window, filling with more and more resentment as the day goes on, feeling my back and neck start to tense up to the point of paralysis, wishing I could be at a crawfish boil, even though I don't eat crawfish, and their little black googly eyes scare me a lot, and so does their poop, but I would eat them anyway if I could just leave this godforsaken place.
By the way, what is happening at Michigan that they have so many good blogs? Glorfindel of Gondolin is another good blog over there.
* Lonestar Expat has a soap opera going in connection with the writing competition at his school, which I assume is Wash U, though I couldn't quite pin it down. Anyway, it should make every law student who isn't there grateful to be somewhere else.
OK, so here's the deal. I have chosen five blogs for the Honor Roll. I have five open spots left, to correct for oversights. And oversights abound. I looked at about 50 law student blogs, but I know that I missed many good ones. Once I fill those spots, I will have to figure out a way to allow for new great blogs to enter. Of course, some of these bloggers will graduate and be removed from eligibility. Anyway, in the meantime, if you want to see a blog other than your own on the Honor Roll, nominate it in the comments, and I will take a(nother) look.
UPDATE: Some may have noticed the absence of any University of Wisconsin Law School blogs on the Honor Roll. That is partly because those blogs are honored elsewhere on this page and partly because I didn't want to be a complete homer (after all, this is not Leiter Reports). That said, one of the UW blogs keeps catching my eye: The Fort. Part of the appeal is that he writes a lot over there. And I appreciate the fact that he occasionally links over here. Last week, he wrote this, which probably should have been posted on April 1: "Prediction: Professor Smith will easily get tenure and thereafter serve as Dean, where he will raise more money than any of his predecessors. None of the money, however, coming from me." Well, he is right about the tenure part, since I had that when I arrived. As for the Dean part, I will quote Princess Bride: "inconceivable!" (And, yes, that word means what I think it means.)