Posted on February 23, 2010
The federal courts have always been up on technology. The administrative office of the United States Courts established Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), a one-stop shop for uploading and downloading court documents for federal cases. The courts themselves are relatively high-tech, containing such items as Smart Screens, document cameras and various display devices.
So it’s no surprise to find out that in December 2009, the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management added to its Proposed Model Jury Instructions rules on social networking sites such as Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. The proposed rules basically add e-mail, text messaging and the use of the sites mentioned above as forms of communication under the basic “no talking about this case” rule.
Although these rules are simply proposed, it probably would not be a bad idea to include such rules when you are drawing up your jury instructions. Never assume that jury members would come to the conclusion that they should not tweet, “OMG, just saw the grossest crime scene ever!”
W. Blake Wilson
Instructional & Research Services Librarian
Posted on February 19, 2010
On this gloomy winter Friday in Lawrence, let’s brighten things up by highlighting the job hunting successes of three current students and one very determined recent grad.
Often a law student will tell us that he or she landed a job by being “at the right place at the right time.” Statements like this suggest that serendipity is to thank, when in fact the vast majority of successful job hunters make their own luck.
What appears on the surface to be a fortunate and unconnected series of events leading to a job is almost always a planned and cultivated strategy. While organized job seekers may not always be able to predict the end result of their searches with perfect clarity, through diligence and determination they increase their odds of ultimately being hired.
For example, I recently spoke to a 1L who landed a position with a highly respected mid-sized litigation firm in Topeka. The firm didn’t interview on campus, so how did he do it?
He met two attorneys from the firm at Legal Career Options Day in November. Neither attorney indicated that the firm had a summer law clerk position available, but the attorneys and student had a pleasant conversation. The student followed up with a thank-you note a few days later.
After the New Year, he sent one of the attorneys a cover letter and resume to inquire about summer opportunities. He was the first 1L to approach the firm after it had made the decision to hire a summer clerk. A couple of weeks later, the attorney contacted the student to set up an interview, which resulted in a job offer on the spot.
Or consider the case of a 2L who, after being rejected last spring for a number of paid positions for which she was well-qualified, finally took an unpaid summer position with a federal district court.
She parlayed this experience, and the recommendations she garnered from it, into a part-time, paid summer position with a small law firm, which undoubtedly helped her secure on-campus interview invitations. She prepared for these interviews carefully and eventually accepted an offer for paid summer employment with a large law firm in Kansas City.
Then there’s the 3L who knew that he eventually wanted to work out of state, but for a variety of reasons choose to work during his first two summers in Kansas. He spent his 1L summer as a volunteer clerk with a state court judge. During his second summer, he worked for a small law firm as a paid law clerk. He met several times with our office beginning in the fall of his 2L year to discuss how to best narrow down his geographic targets for full-time employment.
Armed with comprehensive lists of KU Law alumni, he made specific inquires about the job markets in a number of cities. Eventually, he narrowed his choices down to one city each in the two states with which he had the deepest connections.
A number of applications resulted in one job offer in each state, and he will proudly walk across the stage in May as an employed grad, without ever accepting a position from an on-campus interview.
Our final story of grit and determination comes from a recent grad who did well in law school but couldn’t quite decide where he wanted to practice. On-campus interviews didn’t pan out for him in either the spring of his first year or the fall of his second.
As a 1L he enrolled in the Judicial Clerkship Clinic. He secured a summer job offer as a 2L through a position advertised on Symplicity.
He initially hoped to land a post-grad federal clerkship, and got close on several occasions. When clerkship season ended he decided to take the Missouri bar, but not before submitting applications to firms in a number of other states. He soon received invitations to interview from firms that shared one thing in common — they weren’t in Missouri.
The interviews didn’t pan out, and no firms in Missouri were biting. By the time he graduated in May 2009, he was back to square one, questioning his Missouri bar plans and wondering how to restart his job search.
He took and passed the bar exam and eventually began working part-time reviewing legal documents in order to pay the bills. One of his co-workers, a recent grad from another law school, told him about an interview she had lined up with a local law firm with offices at a well-known Johnson County intersection. When he inquired about the firm’s name, she begged off.
Undeterred, our student drove to the intersection, wrote down the names of all the firms with offices there, and contacted each one by letter and resume. He secured an interview with the one firm that was hiring, impressed the partners with his attitude and preparation, and landed the job. He’ll sit for the Kansas bar next week and soon will be an employed member of the bar in Missouri and Kansas.
Right place, right time? Sure. Serendipity? No way. The moment these grads stumbled on something fortunate was the culmination of months, and sometimes years, of carefully crafted effort.
Todd Rogers, assistant dean for career services
Posted on February 17, 2010
I am enrolled in Trial Advocacy this semester, which consists of a classroom lecture component once a week and an in-class performance component once a week. The class is broken up into small groups of eight students, and each group is assigned an attorney/judge to serve as the judge for the class. Every week, we conduct a direct examination, a cross-examination and serve as a witness for one of our classmates.
My first week I could not believe how nervous I was! I was even nervous to be a witness. I survived but vowed not to let my nerves get the best of me the following week. It seems as though the whole class felt the way I did because the second week went much more smoothly. Sure we all made mistakes, but everyone seemed to be breathing during their examinations. This was a big change because the first week it seemed like we were all holding our breath to see who would be called to go next.
Even though it is an intense experience, a little comedy has managed its way into our courtroom. We had some flimsy poster board exhibits that just did not want to stay upright on the easel. One classmate accidentally suggested the answer sought from the witness by shaking her head “yes,” which prompted an objection from defense counsel. By the end of the second class, I decided class was much more enjoyable and successful when I relaxed a little bit. The other thing that helped was treating the examination exercises more like a competition.
It may sound a little strange to think of Thursdays as game days – but that is exactly what I do now. I played sports all through high school and even in college, so hopefully this mindset will prove to be just as successful with oral arguments as it was with basketball. It is nice to have a class where I get to apply some of the information I have learned in law school. In all of my other classes, I sit in my seat and the professor asks me questions, but in trial advocacy we get to be the ones doing the questioning!
Chelsea Barnett, 2L
Posted on February 16, 2010
THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Since that time, THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to include the features and content listed below.
- Bills, resolutions
- Activity in Congress
- Congressional record
- Schedules, calendars
- Committee information
- Presidential nominations
- Government resources
Several changes have been made to THOMAS for the second session of the 111th Congress. Below is what THOMAS has to say about what’s new.
Bookmarking and Sharing Widget
This new toolbar, found near the top of most THOMAS pages, allows users to save or share a permanent link via bookmarks, e-mail or social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. The toolbar also includes quick links to subscribe to THOMAS Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds and to print.
Top Five Bills
The five most-searched-for bills from the past week are listed in the center box on the right side of the home page. Hover the mouse over a bill number to display the title of the bill. Click on the bill number to view the bill summary and status page for the selected bill.
New RSS feed: Bills Presented to the President
This new RSS feed lists bills that have passed both the House and Senate and have been sent to the White House for the president’s signature. If no bills are currently awaiting signature, a list of all bills signed into law thus far during the current Congress is displayed.
To see a complete list of RSS feeds and e-mail updates available through the Library of Congress, please visit Library of Congress RSS Feeds and Email Subscriptions.
Contacting Members of Congress
It’s now easier to contact your members of Congress. A link to tips about how to contact your representative or senator is included on the THOMAS home page.
Tip of the Week
Each week, a new tip about using THOMAS is displayed on the right-hand side of the THOMAS home page, below the “Top Five” list. Each tip contains a link to in-depth information on the covered topic.
Bill Text PDFs
To increase visibility and accessibility of the Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of bill text, we have added PDF links on the bill version listing page. Click on these links to view the official Government Printing Office (GPO) PDF for a specific version of a bill.
Increased Timeout Interval
Search results within THOMAS are displayed on temporary pages. In response to your feedback, we have increased the timeout interval for these pages from five minutes to 30 minutes.
All of these additions make it easier for you to keep up-to-date on developing news and legislation! And, as always, if you would like a tutorial on THOMAS or any other resource, feel free to contact me and we can arrange a meeting!
W. Blake Wilson
Instructional & Research Services Librarian
Posted on February 12, 2010
This semester, Women in Law is continuing to support and promote women law students and attorneys. In February, we’re partnering with the Public Interest Law Society to raise money for Habitat for Humanity in Haiti by selling and delivering Valentine’s and candy to the student body.
Also this month, Women in Law is hosting the second annual Judicial Speakers Panel, featuring Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Melissa Standridge. Judge Standridge will speak to our members at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, about her experience as a woman in law and as a judge. A question-and-answer session will follow.
Our main event of the semester, Pub Night, is scheduled for April 9. This year’s theme is “A Day at the Races.” Your fellow students will amaze you in the 1L skit and the talent show. The faculty band the Moody Blue Books return with old favorites and new hits. This year, our auction features a professional auctioneer and generous donations from faculty members. We’re introducing a new game, Spin to Win, where you can win amazing prizes, like polish sausage and strudel, for only 50 cents. Bring quarters! We are also working on a Kentucky Derby-themed drink special. All proceeds go to area women’s shelters, such as Women’s Transitional Care Services, and student summer stipends.
President, KU Women in Law
Posted on February 11, 2010
February in Lawrence means two things: School is back in full swing, and the Jayhawks are in the middle of some intense Big 12 conference basketball games!
One of the challenges of being a law student at a school where basketball is more of a religion than a sport is figuring out how to balance your time so that you can take in the games without falling behind on your studies. As hard is it may be to believe, I think I have more time for basketball games now than I did when I was an undergrad here at KU. I am going to attribute most of this to the fact that I am much more conscientious of how I allocate my time in law school than during my undergrad days, but it also helps that I joined a camping group and spend at least five hours a week sitting at Allen Fieldhouse with not much else to do but study. (That’s me on the far right in front of Allen Fieldhouse in the photo!)
One might think that joining a camping group would be counterproductive to studying, but I have found the opposite to be true. Since the Fieldhouse is conveniently located across the street from the law school, it is easy to sign up to camp before or after class or during a time when you have a couple of hours between classes. There is also no excuse not to stop in the law building and grab a book from your locker because there really isn’t a whole lot to do when you are sitting in the concourse of the Fieldhouse. Sure you could always take a nap, watch a movie on your laptop or get caught up on TV shows that you’ve missed on Hulu, but if you don’t want to feel guilty about spending four hours on a Monday night at the game, my advice is to study!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with how the camping works for KU basketball games, here is my unofficial guide:
- A camping group may have a maximum of 30 members.
- A lottery is held at the Fieldhouse the morning after home games. During the week, the lottery is at 6 a.m., and on the weekends it’s at 8 a.m. The lottery determines the order of camping groups for the next game. At least five people from your group must show up to participate in the lottery.
- Camping occurs between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. The hours for weekend camping are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Groups may vote to suspend camping at any time while camping.
- Camping will always be suspended three hours prior to a women’s basketball home game and two hours before a men’s basketball away game.
- While camping, any group may call a roll call at any time. The group who calls roll reads the group names off the list and if a member from a group is not present when the group name is called, their group is crossed off. The group is free to sign up again at the bottom of the list.
- Approximately three hours before the game, a final roll call is taken and the groups receive their final group number and line up in numerical order outside. Doors open two hours before tipoff.
The camping process starts in early November and repeats itself until early March. For more information on KU basketball, the official camping rules and more KU traditions, visit the KU Athletics camping page and the KUpedia camping page.
Posted on February 9, 2010
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and you might be thinking of changing the status of your relationship. Well, the Wheat Law Library is here to help! Whether you are looking to get married or divorced, we have all of the information you need! Not to mention the forms you need to file.
For information on the Web, the Kansas Bar breaks things down nicely. It explains requirements for both marriage and divorce.
Both marriages and divorces are filed with the district court. Although what is required for a marriage doesn’t change all that much from one county to another, you will want to check your county when filing for divorce. Douglas County, for example, has a page for getting married as well as a page for getting divorced.
And, of course, we have tons of resources here at the Wheat Law Library!
- The Martindale Hubbell Law Digest contains a brief synopsis of the requirements for marriage and divorce, not only in Kansas but also in the other 49 states.
- Practitioner’s Guide to Family Law is a source put out by the Kansas Bar Association. It contains all of the information you need for marriage and virtually every form you would need to file for divorce.
- Kansas Law and Practice: Kansas Family Law is another great series that breaks down the law of marriage and divorce and provides some forms.
These are just a few! We have many more for your legal enjoyment.
So Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at the Wheat Law Library!
W. Blake Wilson
Instructional and Research Services Librarian
Posted on February 5, 2010
President Obama’s reference to student loan assistance in his Jan. 27 State of the Union address was brief: “And let’s tell another 1 million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years – and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.”
The president’s plan refers to changes to Income-Based Repayment (IBR), a provision of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act that provides relief for those with high student debt. According to CCRAA expert Heather Jarvis of Equal Justice Works, “IBR allows for much reduced monthly student loan payments for those with high debt-to-income ratios. President Obama proposes lowering the cap on federal student loan payments from 15 to 10 percent of discretionary income, and forgiving any remaining debt after 20 years of payments, rather than the current 25 years. Those in public service, including nonprofit and government employees, can get their remaining debt forgiven after 10 years.”
IBR became available in July 2009, and law graduates may utilize it to reduce their monthly loan payments. So it’s fair to say that Obama also meant that no one should go broke because they choose to go to law school.
For more information on IBR, visit Equal Justice Works’ student debt relief resources section and http://ibrinfo.org. Also, consult the links at the bottom of this page that provide important information concerning a basic checklist for loan forgiveness, eligible loans, qualifying employment and qualifying payments.
Assistant Dean for Career Services
Posted on February 2, 2010
February is Black History Month and, in recognition, SCOTUSblog has set up a rather impressive line-up for their programming on Race and the Supreme Court. Over the next four weeks, law professors, litigators, journalists and other top professionals will donate their time to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s historical impact on the black community. These posts promise to reflect “diverse and sometimes divergent views, opinions, attitudes and assumptions.”
Here is a list of their scheduled postings from the Web site:
“Has the Supreme Court Been Mainly a Friend or a Foe to African Americans?: The Supreme Court’s Impact on Black History for the Past Fifty Years”
–Michael Klarman, professor at Harvard Law School
“Ending Racial Preferences”
–Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity
“Justice Kennedy’s Evolving Views On Race”
–Heather Gerken, professor at Yale Law School
Podcast: Interview on Brown v. Board of Education and subsequent litigation over black civil rights
–Jack Greenberg, professor at Columbia Law School and former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
“NAMUDNO: Right Question, Wrong Case”
–Abigail Thernstrom, vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
“Jones v. Alfred Mayer and the Uniqueness Of Race”
–Michael Rosman, general counsel for the Center for Individual Rights
“The Supreme Court, Race, and Political Representation”
–Kenneth Mack, professor at Harvard Law School
Post on Buchanan v. Warley and residential segregation
–David Bernstein, professor at George Mason University School of Law
Podcast with Vernon Jordan, former president of the National Urban League and civil rights litigator (topic TBA)
Podcast: “The Unexpected Consequences of Brown v. Board of Education on African American Schools and Education in the South”
–David Cecelski, historian and author of Along Freedom Road, Hyde County, North Carolina, and the Fate of Black Schools in the South
Podcast on Brown v. Board of Education
–Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio
“The Global Impact of Brown v. Board of Education”
–Mary Dudziak, professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and founder of the Legal History Blog
“What Can Brown Do For You?: The Court’s Struggle Over the Meaning of Equal Protection”
–Pamela Karlan, professor at Stanford Law School
Post on “disparate impact analysis” and the Constitution
–Gail Heriot, former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and present professor at the University of San Diego Law School
Podcast with David Stras, law professor at the University of Minnesota, on his experience clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas
“What Powell v. McCormack Teaches Us About Racial Politics in a Constitutional Democracy”
–Kareem Crayton, professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law
I recommend checking out the blog as well as subscribing to the RSS feed.
W. Blake Wilson
Posted on January 26, 2010
The New York Times reported yesterday that Westlaw and LexisNexis will undergo some major changes in order to accommodate a younger class of lawyers who have cut their teeth on search interfaces provided Google and Microsoft.
I confirmed all of this with the LexisNexis rep yesterday but am still waiting to hear back from Westlaw. According to the article, Westlaw will introduce its changes on Feb. 1; LexisNexis has yet to specify a date.
This presents a wonderful opportunity for us to offer everyone in Green Hall the chance to go through some training and brush up on research skills! We will present at least two group trainings: one for faculty and staff and another for students. For those who need specialized training, we can arrange small-group sessions or even one-on-one training as your scheduling permits.
No times have been set up, but I will let you know as soon as we have something scheduled. And, as always, contact me if you have any questions!
W. Blake Wilson