July 31, 2008
How to Pay for Your Law Degree 2008-10
I'm pleased to announce the third edition of How to Pay for Your Law Degree [Amazon Affiliate link], a book of financial aid opportunities for law students published by my mom. I contributed a foreword. This book has gotten better with each edition, providing an increasingly more comprehensive directory of the financial aid programs for law students that she, her co-author and I have discovered over the past 5 years of research.
As I mention in my foreword, this book could help some students afford law school and pursue their career dreams. As a result, I think this is a vitally important resource for current and prospective law students. More practically, it's a far better use of your time than trying to aggregate this information yourself from the Internet, which invariably involves looking at a lot of redundant but incomplete lists and following many dead links.
The book is available in most law school libraries, so I recommend that you check it out there (and if your library doesn't have it, ask them to get it!). However, if you want to purchase your own copy, follow the link above. Or, as I've said before, the book is a thoughtful and sure-to-be-appreciated gift for prospective law students.
July 30, 2008
Comments on Ethan Leib's "Friends as Fiduciaries" Article
I am participating in the Fourth Annual Conglomerate Junior Scholars Workshop as a commenter on Ethan Leib's paper, Friends as Fiduciaries. The group discussion. My comments. The intro from my comments:
There can be a fine line between genius and insanity, and for some readers, Ethan Leib’s paper Friends as Fiduciaries may be right at that border. The paper argues that friends are being recognized as fiduciaries under existing law, an insightful observation that deserves the careful treatment it gets in the paper. The paper goes on to argue that the law should affirmatively designate some types of friends as fiduciaries because this will improve friendships—a provocative normative conclusion that, I think, some readers will reject no matter how persuasively it’s supported. In this respect, the paper reminded me a little of my conversations with my mom after she reads my papers that try to defend the indefensible (like spam and adware). She says in an affectionate but motherly way that the paper was nicely written but also has to be wrong. I can see some readers reaching the same conclusion here.
July 27, 2008
Reuters Mismanages License Option
I've previously noted that contract drafting attorneys aren't done when their contracts are signed because post-signing activities can dictate whether a well-drafted contract works as intended. Specifically, important dates related to the contract need to be calendared in a reliable calendaring system because failure to adhere to those dates can foil the prettiest drafting.
A good example of this is FaceTime Communications, Inc. v. Reuters Ltd., 2008 WL 2853389 (S.D.N.Y. July 22, 2008). The Justia page. Reuters licensed FaceTime's software for 2 years at $1.3M and invested substantially in customizing the software for its needs. To protect those additional investments, Reuters retained an option at the end of the 2 years to pay $150k for a perpetual license. For reasons that aren't entirely explained, Reuters didn't exercise the option before the exercise deadline, but instead tried to exercise the option after the window closed (and tried to do a little backdating at that). Not surprisingly, the court is completely unsympathetic to Reuters' arguments to try to avoid the obvious consequences of blowing this option exercise (it calls it an "open-and-shut case"). Judgment for FaceTime. Now that the court has spoken, I'm sure Reuters will get to keep using the software if it really wants to, but I suspect the price tag will go up (i.e., to basically the full hold-up value that FaceTime can extract).
It's not clear what went wrong at Reuters, but this loss should have been avoidable with a proper calendaring system that alerted its in-house lawyers to begin the option evaluation process well in advance of the option window deadline. (This principle holds the same for contract auto-renews, which I routinely see mismanaged--I usually don't put auto-renews in my contracts because I'm confident that the deadlines won't be managed properly). Stated differently, Reuters' contract drafters did exactly what they needed to do when drafting the contract, but mistracking the contract's option undid their nice drafting and cost Reuters a lot of money.
UPDATE 2: In reference to the AP story: Isn't it odd that on July 1, Reuters made a filing with the court saying that it would take several months to develop an alternative, but now it is saying that it will transition to an alternative with no problems by Friday?
July 26, 2008
Soy Milk v. Cow Milk, the Environmental Comparison
Slate's Green Lantern compares the environmental impact of drinking soy milk v. cow's milk. The conclusion: "soy is the somewhat more eco-conscious choice," a conclusion reached somewhat reluctantly because soy milk is so much more processed than cow's milk.
July 21, 2008
Teaching Cyberlaw Article
[Cross-posted to the Technology & Marketing Law Blog]
As part of the recent St. Louis University Law Journal's issue on Teaching Intellectual Property Law, I published a short article entitled "Teaching Cyberlaw." The abstract:
"Over the past dozen years, Cyberlaw courses have become a staple of the law school curriculum. This Essay, part of a Spring 2008 St. Louis University Law Journal issue on Teaching Intellectual Property Law, explores methodological and pedagogical issues raised by these courses."
This article, based on my experiences teaching Cyberlaw for the past 13 years, organizes my thoughts about the pedagogy of teaching Cyberlaw, including course titling, doctrinal coverage, teaching materials and more. I think the article will be particularly interesting to folks teaching the course for the first time, but I expect veteran Cyberlaw professors will find a few interesting tidbits as well. I was given a limited word count cap, so I didn't intend to make this article exhaustive. Instead, I view it as a tentative and limited effort to help kick off a community discussion about how we teach the course.
On that front, I am scheduled to be the Chair of the AALS Law & Computers Section in 2009, which principally means that I will help organize the Law & Computers session at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans in January 2010. (Hard to believe, but it's less than 18 months away!). One idea I've been considering is to have a panel discussion about Teaching Cyberlaw issues at that session. Comments/thoughts?
When i did my research for my Teaching Cyberlaw article, I didn't find any other law review-style articles that addressed Cyberlaw pedagogy at any length. Then, just as my article was going to press (and therefore after I could make any changes), a topical article emerged: Patrick Quirk, Curriculum Themes: Teaching Global Cyberlaw, International Journal of Law and Information Technology, March 2008. Quirk uses the article to enumerate 10 topical "themes" that are likely to be omnipresent in Cyberlaw courses both today and in the future:
"Where are we? (Jurisdiction),
Who are we? (Transacting via networks),
Who pays us? (E-money and funds transfer),
Who protects us? (Spreading and transferring transactional risk),
Who funds us? (The other type of computer ‘security’),
Who taxes us? (Who doesn’t?),
Who bugs me? (Network crimes and misdemeanors),
Who came before me? (Historical analogies for technology regulation),
Who watches (over) us? (Ubiquitous privacy issues),
The pervasive problems of intellectual property."
I definitely organize my course differently, but vetting different organizational approaches is part of the pedagogical fun.
July 18, 2008
David Lander: "Are Adjuncts a Benefit or a Detriment?"
David Lander, Are Adjuncts a Benefit or a Detriment?, 33 U. Dayton L. Rev. 285 (2008). This article looks at the pros and cons of staffing a course with an adjunct vs. full-time faculty and some ways to get the most out of a corp of adjunct faculty. From the conclusion:
One of the key reasons that law schools use adjuncts is to save money and other resources. Yet, to make the use of adjuncts truly beneficial requires resources, including money, energy, and creativity, to construct and monitor an effective and integrated adjunct program.
July 15, 2008
My Sprawling Digital Empire, Where to Find Me Online and My Friending Policy
Recently, I have proliferated the online venues where I am publishing content. This blog post enumerates all of the various places I hang out online:
Technology & Marketing Law Blog. This is my main ongoing publication outlet. I try to post there about 15-20 times a month.
Goldman's Observations. Since you're here, you already know about this one! I post here when I have something to say that doesn't fit into the Technology & Marketing Law Blog. Typically, that's around 8-10 times a month.
Personal Website. I use this for archival storage and navigation-driven retrieval. Often, when I post something online there, I will blog about its availability. There's no other easy way to find out when new content is added there.
Epinions.com. I don't write new product reviews often. When I do, I will often double-post them here or at least post a link to the new review. I also occasionally post to TripAdvisor--same deal about cross-posting.
SSRN. SSRN always has the "canonical" and "final" version of my academic articles. I will always blog about a new SSRN posting.
InformIT. I occasionally publish articles there. Sometimes they are reposted to the blog.
Twitter. I've launched a Twitter account but I still don't know what to do with it.
Facebook and LinkedIn. If we're not already friends, send me an invitation (but see my friending policy below). Like Twitter, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with these sites. I probably still have accounts at Friendster and Orkut, but I haven't been to either site in ages.
My slinky store. I used Zlio to put together a slinky store. It's not been successful, but part of the problem is that Zlio doesn't carry enough slinky items to make a unique store.
Chat. I use AOL's IM (which very few people seem to use any more--email me if you want my IM screen name) and Gmail's Chat.
Others. I'm sure I have other digital hangouts, but if they didn't make this list, I'm probably not investing very much in them.
My Friending Policy
I'm pretty liberal about accepting friend invitations at Facebook and LinkedIn. However, there are two main reasons why I might decline or ignore a friend invitation:
1) If we have never met face-to-face, I may not accept your invitation. I've made a lot of friends through my online activities, and FTF isn't a prerequisite to friendship in my book. However, over my 3.5 years of blogging, I've found that eventually I cross paths with my virtual friends in physical space for some reason or another. I do have some Facebook and LinkedIn friends who I've never met, but that's a pretty small group.
2) If I don't recognize your name, then I probably won't accept your invitation. This doesn't mean that we won't become friends in the future, but we'll probably have to get to know each other first before I am ready to close the loop on a social networking site.
Just like my blogroll, I occasionally purge my friends list.
July 02, 2008
Review of Ah, Rose Marie Bed & Breakfast, Fairbanks, Alaska
The Ah, Rose Marie Bed & Breakfast is a seven-room B&B in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. I spent 3 nights there in June 2008 before and after my Hulahula River rafting vacation. My buddy and I picked the Ah, Rose Marie because it was recommended by our tour company, which isn't surprising because the place caters to a lot of people going out to or coming back from the Arctic. While the place ended up being passable, I probably would not choose to stay there again if my travels took me back to Fairbanks.
The B&B is located in a mostly residential neighborhood about a $20 cab ride from the Fairbanks airport. The B&B is a convenient few blocks (a quick 5 minute walk) from the Chena River and the restaurants and other tourist attractions in downtown Fairbank's core center. Unfortunately, downtown Fairbanks is a so-so tourist destination; while it generally caters to tourists' needs, there is no grocery store (or even convenience store) in downtown, and the area outside of the core can get a little sketchy quickly.
The B&B is located on Cowles Street, a through street that gets a surprising amount of loud road noise. I stayed in the upstairs room facing Cowles Street for two nights, and the road noise was noticeable. You might try to avoid this room.
The B&B is a 1920s Craftsman-style house with 7 rooms. The rooms are generally small/cozy, and most of the rooms have some sort of goofy layout feature. For example, at least two of the rooms (the first floor room and one of the basement rooms) are advertised as having "private" baths, but in fact the bathrooms are outside of the room and across the hall.
The rooms and bathrooms were very clean/spotless, but their decoration was kitschy. Even I noticed the lack of style. The common areas were thematically decorated. There is a nice sitting area in the side yard.
Personally, I found the B&B noisy. The proprietor warned us in advance that Room A in the basement is noisy. Room A is right under the common areas and the floor/ceiling is just wood--no insulation or other material to muffle the sound. As a result, whenever anyone walks over the room (which inevitably is well before 7 am because people are heading out to their Arctic excursion), the floor/ceiling squeaks pretty loudly. If you are a really heavy sleeper, it may not bother you; but there was no way my buddy or I could sleep through the noise, guaranteeing an early start to our day.
We were warned about the basement noise, but I found the upstairs room to be noisy as well. As I mentioned, the front room faces Cowles and gets street noise. Further, noise from the common areas travels directly up the staircase to the upstairs rooms. This is not the noisiest place I've stayed, but I got less sleep there than I'd hoped.
Some other noteworthy attributes about the facilities:
* the second floor and basement are reached via a spiral staircase, which might pose an unexpected navigation problem for some folks.
* the first floor room is advertised as having a private bath. Not only is it across the hall, but the proprietor encourages other guests and outsiders to use this bathroom, so it's not very private.
* the B&B has wireless Internet access. Ask the proprietor for the password.
* there is a house cat, a short-haired Siamese named Tyla. Personally, I like friendly B&B house pets, but it's potentially problematic if you're allergic to cats.
* the proprietor graciously offers to provide free storage for your luggage while you're on a tour. Note, however, that the storage area isn't secure (it's just in an open area at the bottom of the staircase). I felt a little uncomfortable leaving my iPod and cash there. If you're going to take advantage of the storage option, you may want to minimize the number of valuables you store there.
Breakfast included a home-cooked omelet, some baked good (typically store-bought), a choice of cereals, toast, fresh and dried fruit and juice/coffee. Unlike some B&Bs, there were no quantity limits. I thought the breakfast was generous and satisfying. Throughout the day, the proprietor also makes available some sweets, fresh fruit, and lemonade/iced tea.
The proprietor infuses the house with a strong sense of his family. There are reminders throughout the house of his mother, the eponymous Rose Marie, and there's a small corner dedicated to his deceased wife and daughter who were killed in a tragic car accident in the 1970s. Superficially, this emphasis on family (among other things) gave the place a homey feel.
At the same time, the hominess is undercut by the proprietor's enigmatic mix of gregariousness and standoffishness (perhaps apropos descriptions of Alaska generally). At times he went extra lengths to please his guests; but at other times, I thought he was rude and condescending (both to me and other guests), easily annoyed (watch him get wound up if someone parks in the wrong place) and only grudgingly helpful. This volatility/drama was off-putting enough that, while I was away on my tour, I slightly dreaded returning to the B&B for my last reserved night.
Also, the proprietor lost a lot of credibility with me when I asked him about restaurants and he recommended a Thai restaurant (Bahn Thai) that he claimed was the best Thai restaurant in the world. Those are fighting words! Of course I had to try it. The food was competent, better-than-expected for being in the middle of Alaska, and good enough to go a second time. But c'mon, best in the world? The restaurant is no Cha'am or even Amarin, and it was ridiculous to insinuate otherwise. Given this puffery, I would rely on his recommendations cautiously.
It's inevitable that any hotel charging less than $100/night in Fairbanks during summer has at least one major defect with it. You usually get what you pay for, so you roll the dice and take your chances. In my case, if I needed budget accommodations in Fairbanks again, I'd probably roll the dice on some other place than try this one again.
July 01, 2008
Santa Clara County "Staycations"
After literally traveling to the end of the earth on my last vacation (Kaktovik, Alaska), my next few vacations probably will be closer to home. On that topic, the Mercury News ran a special feature this weekend on Santa Clara County as a tourist destination for locals (a "staycation"). Santa Clara County gets a little overshadowed by some of its showier neighbors (e.g., Monterey, Santa Cruz, the San Mateo Coast, the Pinnacles, Berkeley and of course San Francisco) but there's still a lot of neat things to investigate:
From my perspective, a newcomer wanting to explore Santa Clara County should try all of the following:
* hike in the chaparral, the redwoods and the marshlands
* tour one of our educational institutions. Stanford is the most logical choice and has plenty to do and see, but Santa Clara University's campus is nice too (especially the old Mission)
* tour the Silicon Valley technology community. Because there's no "there" in the Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum is a good place to start. A drive around the Googleplex, just around the corner from the museum, is a good supplement.
* eat. Check out how many of the reader-supplied suggestions relate to the fact that we have really good food here. With these culinary attractions, it would not be improper to organize a vacation around your lunch and dinner destinations, with other activities to fill in the gaps. Personally, I think any Santa Clara County gastronomic tour is incomplete unless it includes a stop at an ethnic restaurant on El Camino Real/the Alameda/Santa Clara Street (my favorite is Udupi Palace in Sunnyvale--get a dosa or the thali). The tour also has to include (1) a meal in one of the small suburbs' downtowns--there are hidden gems in each, (2) a stop at one of the local farmers' markets, and (3) a visit to one of the ethnic grocery stores, such as the Asian markets.
I guess you could also try to go to one of the more overt tourist traps, such as Great America, the Winchester House, the Gilroy Gardens or the Egyptian Museum. I've never been to the latter three, and I don't think most locals are attracted to places like the Winchester House.
Some of the places mentioned in the Mercury News articles that I haven't been but would like to go:
* Moffett Field hangar
* the Hanna House
* Hakone Gardens
* Mt. Hamilton, especially right after a snowstorm
For many years, I have also wanted to tour SLAC, but unfortunately the tours are on hiatus.