July 31, 2007
Defense Lawyers at Guantánamo Bay
Powerful GQ article on military lawyers defending detainees at Guantánamo Bay. An excerpt:
Which is why the commissions were designed to appear to be fair. The rules required each defendant to be provided a JAG officer who would be bound by personal and professional honor to present as robust a defense as possible. It would all look very proper, but the outcome would be preordained, the defendant utterly doomed, because of all the other rules....
“Only the government benefits if we do a bang-up job,” Fleener says. “The administration believes the commission process will ultimately justify the detentions. They know they can’t just hold people; they don’t want to take the political heat. So they rigged the rule of law. And because it’s rigged, the only thing that’s in play is the appearance.” And the detainees know it, which is why they don’t want to go along with a charade. “At the end of the day,” he says, “that’s how these guys look at it: ‘If I’m going to get a life sentence—or a death sentence—I’d rather get one in this weird, disgusting system that everyone knows is a weird, disgusting system than have some military lawyer up there dancing and juicing it up and making it look like it’s not rigged.’”
July 21, 2007
"British Lawyers Are Unhappy, Too"
Many American lawyers are unhappy with their jobs--so much so that we sometimes think we have a monopoly on unhappy lawyers. But it turns out British lawyers are unhappy too, according to this Times of London article. The article lays out the main seeds of discontent (as recapped by the WSJ Law Blog):
* Dehumanizing hours
* The gap between lawyers’ intelligence and the mind-numbing nature of their work
* The gap between the ideals of those entering the profession and the reality
* The cumulatively lowering nature of the work
* The vortex of hatred that envelops them
* The self-inflicted nature of their suffering
It would be an amusing and entertaining read if it didn't hit so close to home! HT WSJ Law Blog.
July 17, 2007
Bloggers Up, Tech Media Down
Yesterday, I noted that some bloggers are making a surprising amount of money. Today, we learn that the money going into blogs is coming at the expense of the mainstream media covering technology issues.
July 16, 2007
Wisconsin Legislature Goes After University of Wisconsin Law School Funding
A Wisconsin legislator who believes Wisconsin has too many lawyers is trying to eliminate the state subsidy to the University of Wisconsin Law School. The motion was added to the Assembly budget, but it's likely to get washed out in negotiations with the Senate or get vetoed by the governor. Interestingly, there isn't even agreement on the amount of the state subsidy. The legislator believes it's $7M/year; the dean says it's only $2M/year (or only 10% of the operating budget).
Bloggers Earning Big Bucks
BusinessWeek estimates the earnings of some top bloggers. Some bloggers are earning surprisingly large amounts of cash from blogging. I can assure you I'm not!
July 12, 2007
Private Equity Funds Buying Into Patent Portfolios/Lawsuits
IP litigation--especially patent litigation--is hot, but I've been trying to figure out what's causing the growth and whether it's persistent. Jessie Seyfer at the Recorder provides one explanation for the discontinuous bump-up in patent litigation: private equity funds, tired of poor returns elsewhere, are channeling their investment dollars into a new asset class of patent portfolios and buying into patent lawsuits, thus providing a vast pool of new money flowing into plaintiff-side patent work that will generate lots of legal fees for both sides. Accordingly, it seems to me that patent litigation will stay hot for quite some time as the legal industry resets to a new and higher equilibrium of patent lawsuits.
July 10, 2007
Bar/Bri Settlement Approved
Judge Real approved the $49M settlement in the Bar/Bri antitrust litigation, but he rejected the incentive payments to the class representatives, instead telling the lawyers and the class representatives to work out the financial matters among themselves. So the settlement approval hardly ends the case; instead, it appears to commence a new round of fun.
July 08, 2007
Wunderlich County Park
I have three main criteria for a great local hiking park: interesting enough to warrant multiple visits, reasonably quick to drive to, and no entry/parking fee. A number of parks along the 280 meet these criteria, but three stand out as my favorites:
* Edgewood Park
* Arastradero Preserve
* Wunderlich Park
Wunderlich Park makes the list for one major reason--only about 10 minutes up Woodside Road (Highway 84) from the 280, it's one of the most convenient ways to access a redwood forest. It's also nice because it offers a few nice panoramas of the Bay and has a number of great loop trails that get the blood flowing without being painfully steep. One other plus: below the Meadows, most of the trails are well-shaded, so this park is a good choice even when it's too warm for more exposed trails. Trails are well-maintained and signed, and there are free maps at the parking lot, so it's very hard to get lost.
My favorite hike is to start on the Alambique Trail and take it to the Alambique Flat, a terrific redwood grove that meanders up a quiet canyon. As second growth redwood forests go, Alambique Flat is as good as it gets. It's a perfect spot for lunch or quiet contemplation. I then continue to the Meadows, which isn't very meadow-like but does offer good mountain views. From the Meadows, I continue down the Bear Gulch Trail through Redwood Flat and back to the parking lot. This is a great 6 mile loop trail offering lots of redwoods, bay views and mountain views, plus some good exercise.
As a variation, at Redwood Flat, turn along the Redwood Trail (which exits the redwoods disappointingly quickly) and go to Salamander Flat, where there's a small and not especially attractive reservoir. I then take the Madrone Trail (which has more redwoods than the Redwood Trail) back to the Bear Gulch Trail. This adds a little extra exercise and variation to the trip.
Another variation is to continue from the Meadows up to Skyline. I must confess that this doesn't do it for me. After the Meadows, the trail follows a relatively boring fire road. It's satisfying to reach Skyline, but the ennui usually isn't worth it.
Instead of going up the Alambique Trail, an alternative is to hike up Bear Gulch Trail to Redwood Flat (3 miles RT). This portion of the Bear Gulch Trail goes through many redwood groves, making this a great redwood experience. At Redwood Flat, you can turn around and retrace your steps, or make a small loop by going to Salamander Flat and taking the Madrone Trail back to Bear Gulch Trail.
A few other things to consider:
* this park is popular with horses, so watch your step. On the plus side, no mountain bikes!
* even though it's well-shaded, always bring plenty of water
* at peak times (i.e., weekend mornings) the parking lot can be full
* Bear Gulch Trail follows Bear Gulch Road, so it will get a little road noise. Alambique Trail follows Woodside Road for the first mile or so; it gets a lot of motorcycle and truck noise. As with most parks on the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it also gets a fair amount of airplane noise from planes heading to SFO or the local San Carlos/Palo Alto airports.
July 05, 2007
Blogs Help Law Students Get Jobs
The National Law Journal runs a glowing article on how law students have gotten jobs/offers from blogging. This is great to hear, and done properly a blog can turn a law student into a superstar while still in school. But as the article only hints at, blogs also have the potential to produce the directly opposite effect, as evidenced most recently by the AutoAdmit fiasco. I caution law students to consider both the upsides and downsides of blogging before entering the blogosphere.