March 11, 2015
icon Family Film Blogging (Oscar Edition): Boyhood
Posted by Christine Hurt

So, those who saw my FB rants know that I was stuck in airports two days this week.  I tried to get some work done, but I'm also not that serious, so I downloaded a movie.  I chose a movie that I wanted to see, but wasn't particularly fun for the whole family:  Boyhood.  Running time was 2:46, which helped to pass the time.

As almost everyone knows now, Boyhood was shot over twelve years, so you see the characters age in front of the camera.  The film is really a series of scenes from twelve different years of a family's life, focusing on Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who ends the movie graduating from high school and going to college.  Physically and emotionally, he ages the most of anyone on-screen.  He and his extraordinarily self-centered and bossy sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), live with their single mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette).  In the second year of the movie, their dad Mason, Sr. (Ethan Hawke) shows up and become reintroduced into their lives.  By the end of the movie, Mason has moved from a stoner would-be musician less-than-part-time dad to an actuary dad who drives a minivan with his new wife and baby and is a more-than-part-time dad.  But, he is still less than perfectly reliable.  Samantha is still self-centered and bossy, and Olivia is still utterly unappreciated by her children, though those around her often comment on the impact she has had on others and how well she has raised her children.

The scenes are fourteen mini-movies of Mason's childhood, and they aren't wholly connected.  We meet characters in one year that are gone the next and never spoken of again, including stepfathers, stepsiblings, and friends.  The movie opens in an unnamed Texas city, but Olivia's family moves first to Houston and then to San Marcos.  If you are from Texas, the movie is quite a treat, with hints to tell those in the know where scenes are filmed and places characters go.  In Houston, the family gets a mean, drunk stepfather and in San Marcos the family gets a sullen, drunk stepfather.  The children also get a loving stepmother and step-grandparents, who come with a birthday gun and a birthday bible.  Mason has friends, bullies, and girlfriends that pop up in one year and disappear.  Surprisingly given the drunk stepfathers, Mason and his sister also spend their early (and later) years drinking and smoking pot with permission from their parents.  But, Mason pulls it together in the last two years and goes off to college (Sul Ross in Alpine).

If you enjoyed Slacker and Dazed and Confused, then you'll love Boyhood.  I tried to think of it as a sequel to Dazed:  if the characters there had skipped a decade or so and had kids, they could have been Olivia and Mason, Sr.  What would there kids be like?  I think Mason and Samantha.  Mason is very much like the main character in Dazed.  All the grown-ups are nagging him to have a work ethic, but he doesn't see what a work ethic has done for his mom.  He is somehow on a superior philosophical plane that separates him from others, whether they are schoolmates, teachers or bosses.  He listens to his dad, but that's about it.  He reaches his pinnacle and finds his people on move-in day at college.  They go on a vision hike ('shrooms and all) to Big Bend and talk about how you don't seize the day, the day seizes you.

So, I'll be a weirdo.  I know everyone loves this movie, and it is definitely a great moviemaker's movie.  A lot of references to current events remind us of the passage of time, as well as the aging of the actors.  The novelty of having your actors age alone is worth watching the movie.  I've been thinking of certain scenes since I saw it, and definitely the scenes feel very real.  But I am not and have never been an ambivalent, wishy-washy man-boy.  I'm not a fan of Hamlet, or Holden Caulfield or Mason.  I don't have a romantic notion of him and his place in life.  I love boys -- I have two of them.  But in my movie, Mason would come to appreciate his mother (and his stepmother) and not plan to cruise through college (on his not-so-rich parents' dime) going to class when he feels like it. 

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icon Prospective Law Professors Workshop at SEALS, July 28-29
Posted by Christine Hurt
From Colin Marks:
 
The Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) is pleased to once again offer its Prospective Law Professors Workshop as part of its annual meeting. This two-day workshop is for those seeking law teaching jobs in Fall 2015.  The Prospective Law Professors Workshop will run on Tuesday, July 28, and Wednesday, July 29, at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.  The workshop will include practice interviews, practice jobtalks, guidance on drafting CVs and FAR forms, and several panel discussions geared toward prospective law professors.  There is no supplemental fee to participate.  Participants in the workshop need only pay the standard SEALS registration fee.  The number of participants will be limited. For more information on the program, including how to apply, please visit our website at  http://sealslawschools.org/seals-prospective-law-professors-workshop/

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March 10, 2015
icon New Article: Protecting Gamblers or Protecting Gambling? The Economic Dimension of Borderless Online "Speech"
Posted by Christine Hurt

Last Fall, I had the great honor and privilege of traveling to the University of Aberystwyth to participate in a conference on Internet Jurisdiction.  I was quite out of my league among a group of European and Australian scholars and professionals specializing in EU laws regulating the internet.  Speakers came from many different countries, representing universities, EU commissions, Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia.  My contribution was to discuss the U.S. policy regarding online gambling, which sticks out like a sore thumb from the U.S. policies on borderless speech.  

Here is the link to the draft of the short 6,000 word essay that followed, and the abstract:

The globe is a patchwork of laws on various “sin” activities: alcohol, drugs, prostitution, pornography, and gambling. Separately, the globe is a patchwork of laws on free speech. Many times, these categories of activities and speech are even more blurred. Prior to the internet, however, citizens of the world could only avail themselves of other jurisdictions’ looser laws by being physical travelers between these patches. Tourists could travel from gambling-free states in the United States to Las Vegas, Nevada to gamble, or even to foreign jurisdictions such as Monte Carlo. College students from the U.S. could study abroad in Europe, where the drinking age was lower than 21 years of age, and drink without impunity. The occasional American tourist venturing into the Amsterdam “Red Light District” would also not face penalties in his home jurisdiction for engaging in activity that would be illegal in the U.S. Home jurisdictions rarely were concerned about this type of tourism, even though some modest amount of dollars was exiting the jurisdiction. Writers and thinkers in countries with anti-free speech laws could emigrate to other countries to voice opinions, but could rarely freely move back and forth without reprisal at home. The valuable speech the authors created could also not be freely distributed in the home country, making speech tourism less practical or even valuable.
The advent of the internet and the ubiquity of computers have created the ability to be “virtual vice tourists” and well as “virtual speakers.” In the former instance, web-surfers engage in activities online that are illegal in the country in which they are sitting, but not in the country in which the computer server sits. In the latter instance, speakers with legal rights in the country in which they sit are projecting their speech into jurisdictions in which such speech is restricted. In addition, physical forms of speech, such as books, may be read or purchased online by residents of countries with stricter speech laws. Citizens of nations with strong free speech rights and histories wish to export that culture and demand that all countries respect the rights of the speaker. In other words, the speech law of the internet should be that of the country that respects speech the most. Though the U.S. government urges foreign jurisdictions to protect internet speech to the fullest extent, the U.S. does not protect fully internet activity, such as online gambling. In fact, the U.S. would like to spread the reach of its online gambling regime beyond its own borders. Perhaps this is consistency: our laws, whether they relate to free speech or online gambling, should be respected everywhere. Or, these policies could be incompatible: the laws of the internet should mirror the jurisdiction with the most liberal speech laws and the jurisdiction with the most restrictive online gambling laws.
In 2005, the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body ruled that the United States was violating the General Agreement on Trade in Services by prohibiting online gambling sites headquartered in foreign jurisdictions (and domestically) while allowing certain kinds of internet gambling, namely horserace betting. Though the U.S. had argued that it had the ability to prohibit internet gambling under the exception for public morals and public safety, this argument was specious at best due to the fact that other types of gambling are legal and available in almost every state: casino gambling, tribal gambling, state lotteries, and video gambling, to name a few. Moreover, the next year the U.S. passed a federal law explicitly prohibiting online gambling and the processing of payments and credit to online gambling operators under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which was appended to the Safe Ports Act, legislation focusing on homeland security. This act made online gambling by U.S. residents harder by forcing U.S. banks, credit card companies and online payment processors to decline to transfer payments to offshore gambling companies, but not impossible. However, in 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed eleven indictments against individuals associated with the largest offshore gambling sites – sites that operated completely offshore but that also enjoyed a clientele comprised of U.S. citizens. These defendants faced charges associated with fraudulent practices aimed at bypassing the restrictions placed on banks by the UIGEA. After this so-called “Black Friday,” the illicit online gambling by U.S. residents through convoluted payment systems was severely curtailed.
The U.S. stance prohibiting online gambling has toughened substantially since the WTO’s 2005 ruling, yet the U.S. government’s public morals argument has grown even weaker. Since 2012, three states, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, have passed laws legalizing intrastate online gambling. Other states are contemplating the same revenue-generating move. To say that offshore online gambling must be prohibited for public morals and public safety reasons is particularly disingenuous when domestic online gambling is becoming widespread. However, as domestic online gambling grows, the pressure to keep offshore online gambling illegal also grows as U.S. states attempt to preserve their market among their own citizens. To add to this disconnect, the U.S. takes the stance that U.S. speakers should not be subject to tighter anti-speech laws of other jurisdictions when citizens of those jurisdictions access that speech, whether the speech is a book or a blog post. The U.S. should revisit its off-shore online gambling position in light of its free speech policies.

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icon YikYak
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

In two weeks UGA's Thinc. Week will kick off with YikYak Day.  Professors, you haven't heard of YikYak?  Your students have.  According to the NYT YikYak is:

a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location or, in many cases, by university. Only posts within a 1.5-mile radius appear, making Yik Yak well suited to college campuses. Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union. It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school.

 I first heard about YikYak by way of a bomb threat on UGA's campus that resulted in evacuation of a campus building.  Anonymous speech can lead to abuse pretty quickly, as the NYT piece points out.  So why Yik Yak?  Here's the origin story, again by way of NYT:

Yik Yak was created in late 2013 by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, fraternity brothers who had recently graduated from Furman University in South Carolina. Mr. Droll majored in information technology and Mr. Buffington in accounting. Both 24, they came up with the idea after realizing that there were only a handful of popular Twitter accounts at Furman, almost all belonging to prominent students, like athletes. With Yik Yak, they say, they hoped to create a more democratic social media network, one where users didn’t need a large number of followers or friends to have their posts read widely.

“We thought, ‘Why can’t we level the playing field and connect everyone?’ ” said Mr. Droll, who withdrew from medical school a week before classes started to focus on the app.

“When we made this app, we really made it for the disenfranchised,” Mr. Buffington added.

Yik Yak is a denizen of the Atlanta Tech Village (about which I blogged last year). I'm interested to hear what the YikYak founders have to say here in Athens on March 23rd.

Update: A doctoral student says stop the professorial hand-wringing, already.

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icon Family Film Blogging: McFarland, USA
Posted by Christine Hurt

McFarland, USA with Kevin Costner is the latest in a run of PG Disney movies that are live-action, family films.  In a film industry made up of animated movies on one side and PG-13 action movies and R-rated drama, these movies are big hits with our family of spread-out children's ages.  We also enjoyed Million Dollar Arm with Jon Hamm.

To be honest, our oldest daughter didn't want to go because she thought it sounded so similar to Million Dollar Arm.  The premise of that movie was that an aging (almost washed up) talent agent went to India to find great cricket players to be MLB pitchers; hilarity ensues as cultures clash, leading to the inevitable heartwarming "becoming a big family" moment between the young Indian athletes and the agent.  The agent has an opportunity to return to his former glamorous life but doesn't.  The premise of McFarland is that an aging (almost washed up) football coach moves to a small town near Bakersfield, California, which is populated with migratory farm workers with Mexican roots.  The very white Coach (last name White, new nickname Blanco) sees potential in a small group of bad football players and attempts to turn them into cross-country runners.  Hilarity ensues as cultures clash, leading to the inevitable heartwarming "becoming a big family" moment between the White family and the families in town.  Coach White gets the opportunity to move on to a glamorous life as the Palo Alto track coach, and you can guess what happens.

Though the premises are very similar, the movie was really enjoyable.  Particulary if, like us, you are from the "Texican" part of the world.  The story is sweet and gritty enough to be real.  And, the story is true.  At the end, we get to meet the real characters of the story, set 25-ish years ago.  The movie has a challenge:  cross-country is not exciting to watch.  Other sports movies have pitching contests, stealing bases, football touchdowns, etc.  Cross-country was not designed to be a spectator sport.  But, the movie does a good job of building tension in races anyway.  The movie runs long (over two hours) and probably could have been cut down somewhat, but the scenes move the story.  As evidence, our seven-year-old never got squirmy.

My friend and I had one quibble:  The movie is set in 1987, a year I know very well.  None of the ladies in the movie have 1987 hair.  They have 2014 hair.  There should have been more bangs, perms and hair spray.

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March 09, 2015
icon Business Law Job Announcement: Western Carolina
Posted by David Zaring

It's located in mighty pretty country.  The announcement is after the jump.

 

more ...

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icon Charity and Debate
Posted by Gordon Smith

 

Earlier today my friend Steph Tai at Wisconsin got me thinking about academic debates. She was writing about the live debates that are a staple of FedSoc and ACS events, but the thoughts may also apply to written debates. While the debate format has some virtues, the key shortcoming of debates is that people are cast in roles that require disagreement and that lead -- often ... perhaps inevitably, if we really want to win -- to distortion and misunderstanding. Debates are sometimes fun and often interesting, but if the goal is to advance understanding, they are too often unproductive or even counterproductive.

All of this reminded me of the "principle of charity." Although this has religious overtones, I am talking about the idea from philosophy, defined on the linked page as "a methodological presumption ... whereby we seek to understand [a point of] view in its strongest, most persuasive form before subjecting the view to evaluation." This is a useful principle, even for debaters, though my experience has been that it is often ignored.

Maybe the format of our events can make a difference here. Next week I am participating in the annual Law and Entrepreneurship Retreat, hosted this year by Usha at the University of Georgia. One of the features of this event that I really appreciate is the format because we present each other's work. For example, I have a work in progress this year, but it is being presented by Bobby Bartlett at Berkeley. I will get a little time to talk after he presents, but authors mostly just listen and respond to questions during the Q&A. It's not an attempt to reach consensus but an attempt to understand. I am quite certain that everyone at the Retreat will learn more about my topic in this way than they would from a debate.

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icon Dorothy Brown on Law Schools' "Death Spiral"
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

In advance of the US News rankings to be published tomorrow, my friend Dorothy Brown (Emory) has a provocative post at WaPo titled Law schools are in a death spiral. Maybe now they’ll finally change

She makes some interesting points, but her concluding prediction, that "In three years, a top law school will close. Then watch how quickly things change" seems to come out of left field.  I have been waiting for law school closures for some time now, but I expect them to come from the third- and fourth-tier schools.  As Dorothy points out,

Law schools are currently in a bidding war for the students with the highest LSATs and GPAs because U.S. News heavily emphasizes those factors in its rankings. Students with higher LSATs tend to have a higher socioeconomic status; poorer law students lose out on scholarships and end up paying full tuition, financed through student loans, subsidizing their richer classmates. And law schools are still struggling to break even. Most JD programs are hoping their central administrators will remember a not-too-distant past when law schools subsidized the greater university.

But these pressures seem to me to strain to the breaking point at the low end of the pecking order. My instinct is that a "top law school"--meaning, even by a generous metric, a top-50 law school--will try to ride out the current economic situation and trust that it can ride out a storm that will take out lower-ranked schools.  We'll see...

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March 05, 2015
icon Happy Stress Test Day!
Posted by David Zaring

The 31 banks subject to stress tests - to see how their positions would hold up if the economy hypothetically tanked - all passed, good news for them, and especially for Citi, which failed the last one, and vowed not to do so again.  More here, featuring a picture of former law professor/current Fed board member Dan Tarullo, who supervised the test.  And if you're thinking of investing in banks, the Times has a chart of the percentage of money-like assets in the banks' total assets mix.  If you are risk averse, you want to invest in Deutsche Bank or Discover.  But I think leverage is the most powerful force in the world, so hello, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley!

 

 

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March 04, 2015
icon The Spread Of The Resource Extraction Reporting Requirement, In A Map
Posted by David Zaring

The SEC still hasn't gotten around to finishing the latest version of the resource extraction rule, which requires publicly traded extractive industries to disclose every payment they make to a government.  But their flexibility is limited, Congress signed on to the rule, and quite explicitly linked it to the so-called Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which encourages the adoption of this sort of rule.  I made a map, which shows that the US is one of two wealthy countries to announce that it would abide by the rule.  What do you think of it?

 

Image1

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March 03, 2015
icon Fixing Law Review Submissions
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

Redyip has returned, and by virtue of my new role as Associate Dean for Faculty Development, I'm more interested than usual in the annual springtime flood of submissions to the newly minted law review editorial boards (although I do have an article out this cycle.  And it's totally awesome).

The problem is one of volume: ExpressO and Scholastica have lowered the cost of submission to each additional journal to mere dollars, giving an author the incentive to submit to dozens and dozens of journals.  The fall cycle is diminished, and so more and more submissions funnel into the weeks of February and March.  For years this system limped along mostly on expedites, where authors submitted to large numbers of journals.  Once an author received an offer from a journal, she would expedite up, and law reviews in the tier above the offering school would use those expedites as a screening mechanism.  But anecdotal reports suggest that the sheer volume of articles may be overwhelming students, and expedited articles are going unread.

The typical law prof response is to tut-tut, and murmur approvingly about peer reviewed journals.  But a peer review journal means exclusive submissions, the torture of revise and resubmit, and a whole lot of work from the peers (i.e., us).  I think most professors, when alone with their thoughts in the dark of night, would admit that they like the ability to submit simultaneously, and the closure of knowing where their piece will land come April. So what to do?

ExpressO's now offers two limited forms of relief to student editors: First, it allows law reviews to set a maximum number of simultaneous requests for expedite.  Second, it allows law reviews to select "peers" from which to receive expedites.

Here's a bolder solution: what if authors could credibly commit that they were only offering to 10-20 journals at a time?  This would reduce submissions significantly, and also allow journals more comfort in knowing that the authors really are interested and that their offers, while being shopped, aren't being shopped to every single school ranked higher than they are. 

The problem is that it would be hard for authors to credibly commit, since any individual is best served by cheating.  But what if the system's intermediaries--ExpressO and Scholastica--offered this feature?  That is, allowed authors to signal that they'd only submitted to a limited number of reviews at any one time, and then flagged those pieces as "exclusive" (or at least, semi-exclusive) for law review editors?  If the reviews collectively stated a preference--even a mild one--for such submissions, maybe we'd all be better off. 

 

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February 25, 2015
icon Job Announcement: Fellow - Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE)
Posted by David Zaring

The business law group there is extremely strong, and the way to apply can be found here.  The announcement:

Fellow - Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE)

  • Boalt School of Law - JD Program

RECRUITMENT PERIOD

Open Feb 23, 2015 through Apr 30, 2015

DESCRIPTION

Salary Range: Commensurate with experience 
Start Date: August 2015 or earlier by agreement 
This is a 100% time, one-year term contract position, with the possibility of renewal for a second year.

Overview: 
The Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy is seeking to hire a Research Fellow.

The Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) is Berkeley Law’s hub for rigorous, relevant, empirically based research and education on the interrelationships of law, business, and the economy. BCLBE informs students, policymakers and the public of the implications of this innovative work to promote positive outcomes on business operations, economic growth, and market efficiency. BCLBE’s interdisciplinary approach to basic research, timely policy research, curriculum innovation, and public education empowers current and future leaders in business, law and policy to tackle the most pressing problems of today and tomorrow.

For more information on BCLBE, see http://www.law.berkeley.edu/bclbe.htm. If you have questions about the position, contact academicpositions@law.berkeley.edu.

Primary Responsibilities: 
The Fellow’s primary responsibilities will include:

• Working with the BCLBE faculty and staff to arrange and implement programming, including student events, conferences workshops and alumni and practitioner events. 
• Working with the BCLBE faculty and staff, to develop research topics in law, business and the economy; 
• Researching and writing white papers of publishable quality for policy-focused audiences, under the direction of faculty and staff; 
• Speaking at workshops, to the academic community and the press about research initiatives; 
• Assisting with other necessary aspects of the operation of BCLBE; and 
• Assisting faculty in research questions involving data collection.

In addition, the Fellow will be provided with a significant opportunity to develop a research and writing agenda, including authorship of their own research work.

Minimum Qualifications: 
• J.D. degree or equivalent is required at the time of application

Preferred Qualifications: 
• Relevant experience in corporate finance, programming, and/or quantitative research is preferred; 
• Excellent research, analytical and writing skills; 
• Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; 
• Organizational skills; 

• Self-starter able to prioritize and function both independently and collaboratively; 
• The ideal candidate will have a high degree of organization skills, experience and knowledge of business law and the ability to work capably with faculty and staff. The candidate should also have an interest in research and academia.

Benefits: 
UC Berkeley offers an excellent benefits package as well as a number of policies and programs in place to support employees as they balance work and family. Information about health and retirement benefits can be viewed online at http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/.

Early applications are encouraged. The final deadline for applications is April 30, 2015.

Letters of reference and copies of scholarly transcripts may be requested of top candidates. All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a dossier service or career center, to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality (http://apo.berkeley.edu/evalltr.html) prior to submitting their letters.

Berkeley Law is interested in candidates who will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education through research. Qualified women and members of underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000376/NondiscrimAffirmAct.

LEARN MORE

More information about this recruitment: http://www.law.berkeley.edu/index.html

REQUIREMENTS

DOCUMENTS

  • Curriculum Vitae

  • Cover Letter

  • Writing Sample

REFERENCES

3 references required (contact information only)

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February 24, 2015
icon I Love You, Trade Deal!
Posted by David Zaring

I've seen hard lobbying before, but this literal love letter from the Chamber of Commerce to the Trans-Pacific Partnership is pretty next level. The big finish:

I love your trade promotion authority as if she were my own family. I’m ready to adopt her today if that would fast-track me to your heart. I can’t wait to call you my own and make sweet sweet economic progress with you.

Please be mine. I will be yours.

Love

The American Business Community

There's an actual poem too. Well worth your time.  HT.

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February 23, 2015
icon Family Film Blogging: Into The Woods and Annie
Posted by Christine Hurt

Just before DVDs come out, here are two reviews of holiday movies the kids and I finally caught at the "dollar movie" ($4).  We were excited about both of these back in December, but then the reviews came out and we dragged our feet.  In the end, we weren't (too) disappointed.

Into the Woods.  If you were wondering what Anna Kendrick was doing with Neil Patrick Harris last night during the Oscars opening number, this is it.  Kendrick seemed to be wearing her exact dress (but not shoes -- remember the cow ate one) from her role as Cinderella in this musical movie.  Unlike my kids, I had not seen even a high school production of Into the Woods, so I was struck for the first time at how clever the plot is.  Many (many) fairy tales are woven into one story of an old, ugly witch who gives the barren baker couple next door a chance to have a child if they will go "into the woods" and fetch her four objects by midnight in three days -- a red cape, a milk white cow, a gold slipper and hair the color of corn.  The woods here are a metaphor for [life/the world/fears/hopes/whatever].  People are changed when they go into the woods and emerge wiser and less innocent.  The Broadway version (not the high school musical version) is grittier, so some of the songs don't seem quite right with the Disney-fied version, but that's ok.

So, is the singing good?  Yes, by most measures.  Meryl Streep is much better than she was in Mamma Mia, I suppose because the genre is a better fit?  Or the range?  The autotune?  Anna Kendrick is also great, as is Jack (of beanstalk fame), played by Daniel Huttlestone, sounding (and looking) exactly as he did as Gavroche in Les Miserable.  I found this actually distracting, but that may just be me.  The funniest song is "Agony," sung tongue-in-cheek by Prince Charming (Chris Pine) and his brother, Rapunzel's hero (Billy Magnussen).  It goes on a bit long, but so does everything in the movie.  At one point, my son got up to go to the restroom, and I warned him that the movie was almost over.  He gave me a knowing look and said, "No it's not, Mom."  And it wasn't.  So, if you think the play goes on a bit long, so does the movie.  All in all, I'm glad we went and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Annie.  We were shocked that this movie did not get good ratings, particularly because the trailer seemed so promising.  Now, we aren't as shocked.  I think the reviews for this movie are low for two reasons:  substance and score (I guess that's everything, though).  

When the movie came out, I noticed a lot of chatter on FB about how parents with adopted children should stay clear of the movie.  And here's the problem.  Little Orphan Annie was a depression-era cartoon, and the play and Carol Burnett movie version keep the action in our romantic past.  The long-distance lens lets us pretend that orphans in orphanages are blissfully ignorant of their basket-on-doorstep pasts, perfectly well-adjusted and healthy, one day away from a happily ever after with a new family, and temporarily cared for by a matron who is too campy and funny to be too evil.  But Annie tries to revamp the musical by putting the events in modern day, where we know a little too much about the foster care system, attachment disorders, and reunification to find the fairy tale in five foster care children daydreaming about their real families.  The foster mom, played to the hilt by Cameron Diaz, is more sharp than funny as a bitter alcoholic. Of course, if the movie were too realistic it wouldn't be the same musical, so our five foster care children feel sorry for their foster mom and laugh her off.  The right balance may have been impossible, but it's definitely not there.

So, our 2014 Annie is still waiting for her parents, who left her (somewhere) when she was 4, leaving a note saying they would come back and get her and a locket.  She seems to have no memories prior to being left, and no hard feelings.  But early on, she (literally) runs into Mr. Stacks (Not Warbucks, but close), who is the richest man in America and is running for mayor of New York.  He is elitist and out-of-touch, and befriending a "foster kid" improves his polling.  Annie is worldy-wise and agrees to play along, all the while continuing her search for her real parents.  Of course, the two opposites grow fond of each other, but the evil scheme of Stacks' political consultant and the foster mom to "find" the real parents intervenes.

Here, again, reality intervenes.  In a realistic movie, the thought of paying a couple to pretend to be the real parents of a little girl, take her somewhere and "dump her back in the system" seems like the worst atrocity, not a temporary plot tension.  This twist does not play well in a light-hearted musical.

Which brings us back to the musical.  The credits list as producers not only Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith, but also Jay-Z.  These extremely talented people know a lot about music.  But funnily enough, the "new" songs are completely unmemorable.  They are not toe-tapping, and in fact they can't even get the actors in the movie into any sort of dancing most of the time.  The musical restraint here is very boring.  In Enchanted, show-stopping song and dance numbers were woven into the script, even though they seemed out of place and out of time.  The script used that juxtaposition, and it worked.  Here, the subtle songs just don't work. 

there are also some plot holes -- Where is Stacks' mother and the rest of the family?  He acts like an orphan, but his family is just in Queens.  Where is Annie's parents?  If Annie becomes an overnight social media sensation, why don't they come forward?  Especially when the fake reunion is plastered everywhere?  In the 1920s, it is realistic to think that families would become separated and unable to find each other.  Now?  Not so much.  

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February 22, 2015
icon New Article: The Limited Liability Partnership in Bankruptcy
Posted by Christine Hurt

I hope everyone is having a great Oscar Sunday!  Scholastica and ExpressO tell me that I have successfully submitted my latest paper, but I think they mean that I have successfully uploaded my latest paper.  Anyway, months before it is published (if at all), you can get <i>The Limited Liability Partnership in Bankruptcy</i> here.  Here is the abstract:

Brobeck. Dewey. Howrey. Heller. Thelen. Coudert Brothers. These brand-name law firms had many things in common at one time, but today have one: bankruptcy. Individually, these firms expanded through hiring and mergers, took on expensive lease commitments, borrowed large sums of money, and then could not meet financial obligations once markets took a downturn and practice groups scattered to other firms. The firms also had an organizational structure in common: the limited liability partnership.
In business organizations classes, professors teach that if an LLP becomes insolvent, and has no assets to pay its obligations, the creditors of the LLP will not be able to enforce those obligations against the individual partners. In other words, partners in LLPs will not have to write a check from personal funds to make up a shortfall. Creditors doing business with an LLP, just as with a corporation, take this risk and have no expectation of satisfaction of claims by individual partners, absent an express guaranty. In bankruptcy terms, creditors look solely to the capital of the entity to satisfy claims. While bankruptcy proceedings involving general partnerships may have been uncommon, at least in theory, bankruptcy proceedings involving limited liability partnerships have recently become front-page news. The disintegration of large, complex LLPs, such as law firms, does not fit within the Restatement examples of small general partnerships that dissolve fairly swiftly and easily for at least two reasons. First, firm creditors, who have no recourse to individual partners’ wealth, wish to be satisfied in a bankruptcy proceeding. In this circumstance, federal bankruptcy law, not partnership law, will determine whether LLP partners will have to write a check from personal funds to satisfy obligations. Second, these mega-partnerships have numerous clients who require ongoing representation that can only be competently handled by the full attention of a solvent law firm. In these cases, the dissolved law firm has neither the staff nor the financial resources to handle sophisticated, long-term client needs such as complex litigation, acquisitions, or financings.  These prolonged, and lucrative, client matters cannot be simply “wound up” in the time frame that partnership law anticipates. The ongoing client relationship begins to look less like an obligation to be fulfilled and more like a valuable asset of the firm.
Partnership law would scrutinize the taking of firm business by former partners under duty of loyalty doctrines against usurping business opportunities and competing with one’s own partnership, both duties that terminate upon the dissolution of the general partnership or the dissociation of the partner. However, bankruptcy law is not as forgiving as the LLP statutes, and bankruptcy trustees view the situation very differently under the “unfinished business” doctrine. The bankruptcy trustee, representing the assets of the entity and attempting to salvage value for creditors, instead seeks to make sure that assets, including current client matters, remain in partnership solution unless exchanged for adequate consideration, even if the partners agree to let client matters stay with the exiting partners. This Article argues that the high-profile bankruptcies of Heller Ehrman LLP, Howrey LLP, Dewey & LeBeouf, LLP, and others show in stark relief the conflict between general partnership law and bankruptcy law. The emergence of the hybrid LLP creates an entity with general partnership characteristics, such as the right to co-manage and the imposition of fiduciary duties, but with limited liability for owner-partners. These characteristics co-exist peacefully until they do not, which seems to be at the point of dissolution. Then, the availability of limited liability changes partners’ incentives upon dissolution. Though bankruptcy law attempts to resolve this, it conflicts with partnership law to create more uncertainty.

Permalink | Bankruptcy, Business Organizations, Law Schools/Lawyering, Limited Liability, Partnerships | Comments (View) | TrackBack (0) | Bookmark

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