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Bertha Wilson and the Creation of the Discipline of Legal Research

I hope that my friend Maurice Coombs will forgive me reproducing a tribute to the late Justice Bertha Wilson, which has some interesting insights into how Osler established the first legal research practice area in Canada – and I would suspect the world. It comes from the OBA’s Briefly Speaking but deserves a wider readership.

With the death of Bertha Wilson we have lost a superb lawyer, a wonderful woman, and a great Canadian.

I first met her in the fall of 1971 when I interviewed with her for the position of associate lawyer in the research practice she had

. . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Welcome Dave

The new law blog from the Pacific west may be new – but the views and contributions of David Bilinsky are well known across the country.

Through:
his pioneering articles in the legal press
his leadership of the Pacific Legal Technology Conference
his book on Amicus Attorney in One Hour for Lawyers
his editorial leadership of Law Practice Magazine
his work as Practice Management Advisor to the Law Society of British Columbia
and
his marathons and jogs up the Grouse Grind.

Welcome Dave

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Posted in: Miscellaneous

Lawyer Dissatisfaction

As ever, Rob Hyndman points us to the important stuff, in this case a piece in the Times Online on why lawyers are miserable. Sathnam Sanghera takes a look at U.K. and U.S. evidence and then gives us 6 beautifully written reasons for practitioner chagrin — “Up to 40 per cent of US lawyers want to leave their profession” — reasons such as “the vortex of hatred that envelops them entirely” or “the yawning gap between their intelligence and the mind-numbing nature of their work.”

Nothing here is new, of course, law being the second oldest profession and the most . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

University Admissions Scan Social Media

Following on from the Oxford proctor story in the prior post, I’ve come across a summary of a recent study [PDF] that finds (U.S.) university admissions departments make use of the various online social media to examine applicants. “The Game Has Changed: College Admissions Outpace Corporations in Embracing Social Media,” by Nora Barnes and Eric Mattson, finds, among other things, that:

A significant proportion of schools are beginning to research students via search engines (26%) and social networks (21%). While certainly the traditional factors will still play dominant roles in admissions decisions, no longer can students place damaging material online

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Posted in: Miscellaneous

Facebook Used by Oxford Proctors

I have been charged by the proctors for breaching rules and being ‘disorderly’, on the basis of photographic evidence from Facebook.

Oxford University student Alex Hill must attend a disciplinary hearing the outcome of which may delay her graduation. Proctors apparently got access to photos of her involvement in disorderly celebration of the end of exams despite the high level of privacy she claims she selected on Facebook, which should have protected her data from prying. A number of students are in a similar position. It’s not clear how proctors were able to access the Facebook accounts or whether they . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Law Books as Disaster Relief

We haven’t heard anyone blogposting from the AALL annual meeting in New Orleans.

But today’s Times-Picayune has a story about a unique gift the law librarians left behind.

Books. Book gift cards. School books. Library books. Law books.

Suggests an interesting task for similar professional meetings in the future.

BTW I was trying to link to some great conference materials that I was hoping to find from the Annual Meeting – but far too many of the sessions had no printed materials available, and those that did were largely useless PDFs of PowerPoint bullets. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Dot Com(pilation)

Dorothy Parker left a number of poems un-anthologized at her death, of which L.A. lawyer Stuart Silverstein gathered together 122 in “Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker.”See Amazon’s “search within book” for some excerpts; also see a review in Salon Some time later Penguin Putnam published “Dorothy Parker, Complete Poems” and incorporated all but one of the poems in the “Not Much Fun” book without giving Silverstein any credit or payment. Silverstein sued, claiming compilation copyright. The cases has been to trial (where Silverstein won) to appeal [PDF] (where he lost on some issues), . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Book: Innovation at Risk

Three free chapters are available online of a book to be published by the Princeton University Press, Innovation at Risk: The empirical case that today’s patent system discourages innovators—and how it might be fixed, by James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer. To see if it’s of interest, you might take a look at the Synopsis [PDF] or Chapter 1: Introduction: The Argument in Brief [PDF]. The other free chapters are: 3: If You Can’t Tell the Boundaries, Then It Ain’t Property [PDF] and 9: Abstract Patents and Software [PDF]. You’ll also find a few links to associated material on . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Wordcount

The word “law” is the 321st most frequently used word in the English language, which ain’t bad. I know this via Wordcount, a datamining tool by the inventive Jonathan Harris, creator of the interesting news site 10×10 and other fascinating displays of our collective behaviour.

Mining data from the British National Corpus, Wordcount includes all the words that occur at least twice there, some 86,000 of them. It then portrays them according to frequency, using size as a visual indicator. There may not be much intellectual meat here, but it is fun to roam around and to . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Placeholder on Dell

I’ve no time to do a thorough analysis but the Dell decision was handed down by the Supreme Court this morning.

Court split 6-3.

The case has interesting things to say about

arbitration
contracts of adhesion in consumer matters
click-through contracting on websites
the relationship between the Civil Code and the principles of private international law.

And its the first time that the court has referred to Max Weber‘s typologies of legal rationality in On Law in Economy and Society, for which see Rheinstein, Kronman and now Duncan Kennedy.

Now over to Vincent for the full analysis . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Friday Fillip

So many things. New products every day. So much choice. Or…?

Photographer Mark Luthringer has put together — literally — images of parts of everyday objects, such as cars, houses, RV’s, commercial buildings, all under the rubric of Ridgemont Typologies. The effect can be surprising, as we see our variety disappear into the dominant stylistic mode. There’s an artist statement here, if you’re interested. Now, I’ll let the images speak for him, only a couple of which I’ve excerpted below, linked to a larger array on his site.

I was struck the other day, after looking at Luthringer’s photos, . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous