: 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

Indecent Exposure, Defined and Illustrated, Helpful Chart

Take a moment to ponder the implications of this image. This sort of informational graphic requires the kind of reasoning that can only seem sensible in a bureaucratic environment, idiocy aforethought, we might call it. It requires a regulatory judgment (gasp! even legislative perhaps? oh, for a crack at that brief…) which gives definitions to the degree of buttock exposure that constitutes ‘indecency’. Lastly this was professionally rendered, requiring someone to explain and hire an illustrator on the basis of his skill at exposed-buttock-rendering (cheek-aroscuro?) and even a round of proofs and revisions – ‘oh no, this is entirely too much buttock’ or ‘yes, I think you’ve captured the essence of the offense nicely here.’ Sigh…

via ffffound

Public Interest Lawyers – Thank You for Not Being Evil

I had to laugh at this April 1st article from the Harvard Law School Record, School Holds “Thank You For Not Being Evil” Ceremony:

As part of its continuing campaign to encourage students and graduates to pursue careers in public interest, the law school held a “Thank You For Not Being Evil” ceremony last Wednesday recognizing graduates who chose to take jobs with employers who are not primarily dedicated to destroying weaker businesses, poor people, or the environment.

“You,” Dean Kagan told the assembled crowd, “are exemplifying what this law school is all about: not actively working to make the world a worse place. You should be proud of yourselves for bucking peer pressure and institutional inertia and instead making a courageous choice to live up to your own ideals and the bare minimum standards of human decency.”

Ah ha, ha, ha…… it’s funny cause it’s true. No really.

Stephen Bainbridge of UCLA takes Erwin Chemerinsky, the inaugural dean of the new UC Irvine Law School in Erwin Chemerinsky: A Law School for the 21st Century:

You want to help make society a better place? You want to eliminate poverty? Become a corporate lawyer. Help businesses grow, so that they can create jobs and provide goods and services that make people’s lives better.

Those whose livelihood depends on corporate enterprise cannot be neutral about political systems. Only democratic capitalist societies permit voluntary formation of private corporations and allot them a sphere of economic liberty within which to function, which gives those who value such enterprises a powerful incentive to resist both statism and socialism. Because tyranny is far more likely to come from the public sector than the private, those who for selfish reasons strive to maintain both a democratic capitalist society and, of particular relevance to the present argument, a substantial sphere of economic liberty therein serve the public interest.

I took another look at Chemerinsky’s post A law school for the 21st century for the offending condemnation of corporate lawyers -

Using law to help people and society is neither liberal nor conservative. It is about the duty of every lawyer to use his or her training for the social good. Law schools must instill this throughout the curriculum and must look for ways, such as summer stipends, post-law school fellowships, and loan forgiveness programs, to encourage more law students to pursue careers in public interest law. All law students, whatever their field of practice, should graduate believing that they have the duty to do pro bono work and use their training to improve society.

Hmmmm…. damn law school deans trying to improve society….

Dave Hoffman seems to do a better job explaining it at Concurring Opinions, contending that

The big idea to agree with here is that it is a terrible fact that law deans, and law professors, continually push out the message that corporate lawyering is a less moral & desirable career path than “public interest” lawyering.

Hoffman goes on to offer up some moral implications, but I would argue that the more pertinent question is why we assume that public interest practice (this is a misnomer, IMHO) is somehow immune or unresponsive to the market mechanisms that operate in corporate law land. There is a high degree of market failure in these cases, I’ll grant, but this is not an insurmountable economic problem. Becoming a corporate lawyer is one way to attack that problem, though a lot of people don’t have that long to wait for the benefits to trickle on down. The work of Muhammad Yunus with the Grameen Bank offers a more useful model.

Lawyers representing people in ‘public interest’-type cases need to get a long tail by which I mean a particular method of economic pie-expansion, the biggest hurdle to which I believe lies in the rules governing lawyers in structural and billing practices. I’m working on a business plan relevant to this subject in an Entrepreneurship class I’m taking right now. I’ll post it after I, well, after I actually get around to writing it, and we’ll see where this conversation goes.

Are lawyers born or made narcissistic?

I’ve been developing a theory for a concern of mine over the past few months that I may try to develop here on the blog. My concern is this – are lawyers self-selecting narcissists or do we become that way as part of our indoctrination into the profession? I knew this was a somewhat narcissistic and self-obsessed profession when I decided to go to law school. What I had assumed going into it was that this was a self-selection problem – that a lot of
people go to law school because they want the power and prestige associated (rightly or wrongly) with the profession. I’ve been in law school for almost two years now and I for a variety of reasons now tend to think that while self-selection is part of it, the study of law itself breeds narcissism and rewards self-obsessed behavior as part of the dominant image of the legal process and ‘learning to think like a lawyer.’

I’ll leave that assertion to stand on its own for now. Hopefully I’ll have the time to come back and delve into the details, but a talk by psychologist Daniel Goleman, from the TED conference, entitled Why aren’t we all Good Samaritans? spurred my thinking along a little on this.

Daniel Goleman @ the TED Conference

One of Goleman’s points is that there is no correlation between IQ and empathy. He describes a visit his brother-in-law made to interview the Santa Cruz Strangler, a serial killer with a 160 point IQ, who when asked how he could kill his victims in such an intimate way responded, “If I felt their distress I could not have done it. I had to turn that part of me off.”

I was struck by the notion that much of “becoming a lawyer” in terms of learning to think and reason in an abstract, disinterested and objective manner is uncomfortably close to “turning that part of ourselves off.”

While I’m certainly NOT advocating the injection of touchy-feely new age-y-ness, I’m nevertheless a bit horrified by the thought that were nurturing our sociopathic tendencies and wonder if there isn’t a middle path.

More later.

Entrepreneurs for Guaranteed Health Insurance

I have a knee-jerk distaste towards any mention of national health care proposal. Having spent the bulk of my working life working for small companies and for myself this argument strikes a chord –

…the lack of fairly priced, guaranteed health insurance is [a drag] on labor mobility and entrepreneurial endeavors. Busineses need water, roads, electricity, and enforceable contracts to run efficiently. Perhaps guaranteed health insurance should be considered part of that essential infrastructure.

From Frank Pasquale at Concurring Opinions: Entrepreneurs for Guaranteed Health Insurance

This American Life: Habeas Schmabeas

NPR’s This American Life had an interesting (award-winning even) show on Habeas Corpus, specifically regarding prisoners of war at Guantanamo. I won’t pretend the coverage is fair or balanced, but it should give you pause regardless of your political stripe.

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This American Life ~ Habeas Schmabeas (.mp3) [via]

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