Blog Archives - Professor B's World of Legal Writing

Have you seen the new VW Jetta ad for the California limited edition?

 It ends by saying that the Governor has one on reserve.

This is not commercial appropriation.



Best Defense?

Seeking a Haven in Law School

by Nathan Koppel,


which includes the following comments (sounds a lot like “the law school speech,” huh?):

School administrators seize on the versatility of a law degree in asserting that it is still a sound investment. Lawyers, they say, will play a central role in navigating a variety of issues, such as the use of natural resources, cross-border trade and government stimulus spending, which likely will play a central role in the economy for years to come.

"As compared to other graduate programs, [law school] is more analytically rigorous and touches more areas of society," says Paul Berman, dean of Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, where applications this year are down.

But even those bullish on law school stress that students should take steps to ensure that their investment pays off. For starters, students should aim to get into an elite law school. . . . In a buyer's market for jobs, lawyers note, employers can afford to be choosy and hire only the most pedigreed applicants.

That said, all hope is not lost for students who do not gain admission to a top-tier school -- if they work hard once there and gain a place on the school's law review. Students who graduate "at the top of their class from almost any school will find work in almost any economy," says the National Association for Law Placement's Mr. Leipold.

Once in school, law students should take classes in legal specialties that are poised for growth, such as intellectual-property law and international arbitration, which often is used to resolve cross-border business disputes. Students should also reach out to lawyers practicing in such growth practices, using their school's alumni directory as a source of professional contacts.

"It's never too early to start making contacts in your field and learn about what the practice entails," says Amy Berenson Mallow, a managing director at Shannon & Manch LLP, a Washington-based consulting firm that provides career counseling to lawyers.

If students know where they want to live after graduation, it may help to attend a law school in that region. "Homegrown kids always have an advantage," says Bruce MacEwen, a New York-based law-firm consultant.

Those committed to taking the plunge into law school can at least take heart in the fact that the job market, come graduation, probably won't look much worse than it does now. "Hopefully by then there will be a turnaround," Ms. Berenson Mallow says. "Economic cycles can change."





Seth MacFarlane and "Family Guy" first wished upon a Jew, then wished upon a federal judge (not a Jew) and came up winners on both counts.

Federal District Judge Deborah Batts (we're making an assumption she's not Jewish) ruled the episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein," featuring the song
"I Need a Jew," did not infringe on the copyright of the owner of "When You Wish Upon a Star."

The show, which was produced in 2000, showcased Peter's frustration that he could not manage his family's finances. He lamented how he needed a Jew to help him with his money and broke into song:

"Nothing else has worked so far
So I'll wish upon a star
Wonderous dancing speck of light,
I need a Jew."

The court tossed out the claim the parody was a copyright infringement. Judge Batts (we still think she's not a Jew) also scoffed at the notion the parody would create "harm by association."


H. B. 2918

          (By Delegate Eldridge)
          [Introduced March 3, 2009; referred to the
          Committee on the Judiciary.]

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §47-25-1, relating to banning the sale of "Barbie" dolls and other dolls that influence girls to be beautiful.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
     That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §47-25-1, to read as follows:

§47-25-1. Unlawful sale of Barbie dolls.
It shall be unlawful in the state to sell "Barbie" dolls and other similar dolls that promote or influence girls to place an undue importance on physical beauty to the detriment of their intellectual and emotional development.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to ban the sale of Barbie dolls and other similar dolls.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.


I mentioned in the last class that you always need to have your own lawyer (which both the philanthropist in assignment #1 and the husband and wife in assignment #2 should have had and the cases would be much clearer and simpler). From this morning’s news (The AmLaw Daily):

Lessons From the Stanford Scandal: Bring Your Own Lawyer

Laura Pendergest-Holt, the former chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group, is the only person charged with a crime (so far) in the billion-dollar scandal emerging around the investment group--and she is charged not with stealing any money, but with lying to lawyers for the Securities and Exchange Commission during testimony she gave on February 10.

The only defense lawyer in the room with Pendergest-Holt that day was Proskauer Rose partner Thomas Sjoblom, an experienced white-collar defense lawyer (and former SEC staffer). Twice during early testimony, Sjoblom made sure to remind the SEC's lawyers that he was the company's lawyer, not Pendergest-Holt's personal attorney. Take this exchange between Sjoblom and Kevin Edmundson, assistant regional director for the SEC's Fort Worth, Texas, office:

Edmundson: "Just so we're clear. As I understand your statement, you do not, as far as you're concerned, represent the witness here today?"

Sjoblom: "I represent her insofar as she is an officer or director of one of the Stanford-affiliated companies."

Later during a break in questioning, Sjoblom actually called his secretary to have her pull the engagement letter so he could check that he indeed represented all Stanford-affiliated companies.

To many lawyers, the exchanges make clear that Pendergest-Holt walked into one of the trickiest situations for a high-level official of a company under investigation: testifying before the SEC with representation only from a company lawyer.

"You should always have your own lawyer," says Peter Henning, a former SEC and Justice Department prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Wayne State University Law School. "Always. At some point, the individual's interest and the company's interest are going to diverge."

White-collar defense lawyers agree the setup is typical, especially at the early stages of an investigation, but also that it is fraught with potential conflicts some witnesses won't see. 


Rather than my acting it out this year, every time you see “slow down” on your paper, remember this video: