: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Is Obama the first Web 2.0 President

Marc Ambinder’s article in The Atlantic, HisSpace outlines a vision for technological revolution under an Obama Presidency similar to Candidate Obama’s nimble use of social media to harness support -

Obama clearly intends to use the Web, if he is elected president, to transform governance just as he has transformed campaigning. Notably, he has spoken of conducting “online fireside chats” as president. And when one imagines how Obama’s political army, presumably intact, might be mobilized to lobby for major legislation with just a few keystrokes, it becomes possible, for a moment at least, to imagine that he might change the political culture of Washington simply by overwhelming it.

What Obama seems to promise is, at its outer limits, a participatory democracy in which the opportunities for participation have been radically expanded. He proposes creating a public, Google-like database of every federal dollar spent. He aims to post every piece of non-emergency legislation online for five days before he signs it so that Americans can comment. A White House blog—also with comments—would be a near certainty. Overseeing this new apparatus would be a chief technology officer.

Ambinder also points out the the potential pratfalls of opening up two-way discourse with the American people – reminding us that it’s a representative democracy for a reason. The potential for transparency may usher in a new era of government accountability to to me bodes well for both fiscal conservatives and civil libertarians.

Attrition Rate Numbers Among Texas Law Schools

Via one of my favorite new reads, the Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog, mouthful that, comes Retentionally yours, noting the following attrition rates among Texas law schools:

University of Houston Law Center: 1.79%
SMU Dedman School of Law: 1.81%
University of Texas School of Law: 2.13%
Texas Tech University School of Law: 2.99%
South Texas College of Law: 4.45%
Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law: 6.99%
Baylor University School of Law: 7.23%
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law: 10.15%

It’s nice to see the University of Houston come out on top in this one, confirming my own opinion that it’s a great place to go to law school. See also Above the Law, Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Law School Attrition, Tex Parte Blog

This is a test, this is only a test…

Apparently there is a problem with my RSS feed, which means, paradoxically, that some of you won’t get this message, but just in case, there you have it. Hopefully I will have it fixed soon. That is all.

Summer Reading List for Students Excited they are about to start Law School

Inspired by the achingly literate McSweeney’s Internet Tendency which brings us a series of clever user-contributed lists, including Classes My Top-Tier Law School Should Have Offered as Warnings About the Profession, including…

Cutting and Pasting Legal Lingo

Explaining Business Associations to the People Who Are Running Them

4 A.M. Word Processing and the Law

Ethics of Conspicuous Consumption

Forwarding E-mails: Theory and Practice: Seminar

Arbitrary-Deadline Negotiation Strategies

Crying Quietly: Clinic

Jeans-Friday Advocacy Workshop

Cutting and Pasting II: Plural to Singular

I present a list of my own creation:

Summer Reading List for Students Excited they’re about to start Law School

Fear and Loathing in the Library

Death Comes to the Defeasible Estate

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Right

The Old Man and the C


Prof the Obscure

How to Annoy Friends and Alienate People

The Idiot

Zen and the Art of Laptop Maintenance

For Whom the Statute Tolls

The Grades of Wrath

As I Lay Studying

A Portrait of the Student as a Sane Man

A Room Without a View

The Odyssey

See also

Lawyers in Flight, Full-Billing Grounded

As I learned in Professional Responsibility this semester, nothing so stimulates the discussion as the subject of lawyers getting paid. The WSJ Law Blog’s Dan Slater piqued the ire of the inner Ayn Rand in hearts of the lawyers commenting below the fold in Traveling But Not Working? Can’t Charge Full Hourly Rate, Court Says – with a woeful tale of travel recompense found wanting:

Caplin & Drysdale was appointed national counsel for the asbestos claimants’ committee in the bankruptcy of Babcock & Wilcox, a maker of boilers and generators. The firm sought about $6.3 million in fees and costs for it services, and charged its full hourly-rate for travel time. The bankruptcy trustee objected to paying the full hourly rate for travel time not spent working, and the bankruptcy judge agreed, awarding attorney’s fees at 50% for those hours — trimming $135,685.80 from Caplin & Drysdale’s tab.

This is interesting mostly because it gives me a chance to vent about the hoary hypo of legal ethics in which a lawyer flies on business for one client, works on the case of another while in the air then charges for both. Spoiler alert – this is unethical.

This case would seem to indicate that not only can you not bill two client’s for the same time, you can’t even bill one client your full rate.

The reality is a bit more pedestrian and unsurprising result as the firm couldn’t be bothered to (1) specify in its employment agreement that it would bill the full hourly rate for non-productive travel time or (2) establish at trial that “comparably skilled practioners” charged the full hourly rate for travel time (feebly arguing that the law firm always does it that way and that the lawyer’s old firm did it that way too) and (3) they had to overcome an abuse of discretion standard on appeal.

Tellingly the court cites Henry v. Webermeier, 738 F.2d 188 (C.A.Wis., 1984) (a Posner opinion, somehow, not sure what he was doing in Cheesehead country), which vacated and remanded a decision in which the district court declined to award expenses and reduced attorneys fees when the plaintiff’s attorneys helpfully established the market rates for southern Wisconsin civil rights trial lawyers by affidavit. There’s a little more to it than that, as Posner goes on –

Moreover, to award nothing for travel time in this case would be unreasonable. As the defendants do not contend that the total number of hours that the plaintiffs’ lawyers put in on the case was excessive, the travel time must have been worthwhile, and the only question therefore is the appropriate billing rate for it. Probably that is the same billing rate as would be appropriate for the other time the lawyers put in on the case. When a lawyer travels for one client he incurs an opportunity cost that is equal to the fee he would have charged that or another client if he had not been traveling. That is why lawyers invariably charge their clients for travel time, and usually at the same rate they charge for other time, except when they are able to bill another client for part of the travel time (a lawyer might do work for client A while flying on an airplane to a meeting with client B). If, though reasonable in terms of the amount of time consumed, the travel is unnecessarily luxurious, the court should not reimburse the plaintiffs for the entire out-of-pocket expenses of travel; but that is a completely separate issue from the hourly billing rate and an issue that the defendants will be entitled to explore on remand. The presumption, which the defendants have not attempted to rebut, should be that a reasonable attorney’s fee includes reasonable travel time billed at the same hourly rate as the lawyer’s normal working time.

The analysis is typically (wonderfully, IMHO) Posnerian, in that it recognizes the appropriate starting point for determining reasonableness is not whether or not it sounds reasonable (what a tiny fraction of litigation would pass that test, I wonder…) but whether, given the alternatives and information available at the time, the lawyers and clients would have agreed to do it all that differently.

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