The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Archive for March, 2011

Helpful articles from Above the Law

Posted by brightcoast on March 31, 2011

Career Advice here

Choosing which law school, article here

And perhaps most helpful to those deciding where to go, an article on best value at graduation law schools here


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Book Recommendation and Twitter Endorsement

Posted by demkid on March 23, 2011

A month ago, Rick Sanchez offered to give five of his Twitter followers a copy of his book “Conventional Idiocy: Why the New America is Sick of Old Politics.”  To win, one had to be the first to reply to Rick’s NewsFeed handle (@RickTVnet) with the correct answer to a current events trivia question.  Rick’s questions ranged from, “How many of the 50 U.S. states are actually designated as ‘commonwealths'” to “What is Muammar Gaddafi’s military rank and what year did he assume control of Libya?”  Of course, to be first, the keys were to see the question almost immediately after it was posted, and to reply with the correct answer quickly (no time to Google!).  Fortunately, yours truly knows his current events AND has quick fingers, and was the first to correctly answer Rick’s question of, “Who came in 2nd place in CPAC’s 2011 straw poll?”  (No, I didn’t answer “that Mormon guy.”)

True to his word, Rick graciously sent my winnings, and was even kind enough to provide an endorsement for The Bright Coast’s fabulous Twitter feed (see below)!  If you recall, I recently commented on the events surrounding Rick’s firing from CNN and discussed my opposition to some of the language used on the Friends of Rick Sanchez site.  Friends made Rick seem like the victim in the matter and deflected others’ legitimate criticism of his colorful comments.  Fortunately, Rick himself didn’t act like a victim, but instead reached out to those he may have offended by his remarks about Jewish people.  He took full responsibility and has spent the last several months reflecting and learning from his mistakes.  In a recent piece by Mediaite discussing the recent “redemption” from his his harshest critic, Rick states:

I tell my children that when they make a mistake, they should take responsibility, atone and work to repair whatever they have done. For the past several months, I have followed that same advice and tried to be an example for them. I cannot take back what I said. I cannot undo the offense or controversy I caused; all I can do is to try and learn from this experience and strive to become a better person.

It seems to me that Rick Sanchez has done all the right things since the day he said the wrong things.  I hope he’ll continue to connect with his followers via social media and that we’ll see him on the air again, soon.  Perhaps he’ll write another book in the near future, but in the meantime, I recommend reading his first, with or without a personalized autograph!

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Less “Froth” in Law School Applicant Pool?

Posted by demkid on March 19, 2011

Certain law school deans seem to think so.

The number of law-school applicants this year is down 11.5% from a year ago to 66,876, according to the Law School Admission Council Inc. The figure, which is a tally of applications for the fall 2011 class, is the lowest since 2001 at this stage of the process.

This drop in applications is being attributed to an increasing awareness of the poor job market and a trepidation of facing this market with massive law school loan debt.  The article quotes advisers and deans who give prospective students a lot of credit, by saying that they’re now more “clear eyed” about the huge challenges they could very well face upon graduation.  Those in the know claim that there aren’t very many students currently applying to law school who are doing so just to avoid the workforce or because they don’t know what else to do.

At Fordham University School of Law in New York, applications this year are down 15%, and those applying “appear to have analyzed the investment in law school closely and are serious about pursuing a career in law,” said Carrie Johnson, a school spokeswoman.

I call BS.  If you want to claim that applicants are, on average, slightly more serious about taking on a legal education in this struggling economy, that’s fine.  But to state that the “froth” of kids who apply to law school because they can’t think of anything better to do is “pretty well gone,” then that’s just not being knowledgeable about your own applicant pool.  66,876 and counting are applying to an ever-growing number of law schools around the country this year.  Sure, this total applicant number might be slightly lower than in years past, but you can bet that thousands of these applicants are still applying for reasons that might make a dean or career adviser cringe.  Avoiding the workforce now might not actually be the worst idea in the world, as most would bet on an improved economic picture when these thousands of students graduate in 2014.  Instead of pretending that they know what’s going on with applicants, perhaps law school deans should do something productive that would actually lessen the burden on young people once they get out of school and into the real world.  Why worry about the amount of “froth” in an applicant pool, when you can tackle the froth that is found in every bill for law school tuition?

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USD Law Slips Back to 67th in 2012 US News Law School Rankings

Posted by demkid on March 16, 2011

Despite recent gains that saw USD Law rise 26 spots in the past two editions of the US News Law School Rankings, the 2012 numbers weren’t as kind, as the school dropped to #67, from it’s all-time high of #56.  USD’s part-time program fell slightly from 10th to 12th, and it’s tax law specialty ranking fell out of the top-10.  Perhaps it’s all my fault, as I wasn’t paying attention to this year’s release date, so I couldn’t participate in helping leak the rankings as I did the previous two years.  Seems like a reasonable explanation!  I didn’t expect that the 2012 rankings would be released a full month earlier this time around.  At this pace, the 2013 rankings will be released in December, 2011!  Well, at least I don’t feel obligated to post screen shots or go through a thorough analysis this year, but I will list the biggest risers and fallers from the 2011 rankings.

Biggest gainers are: Indiana-Bloomington (23rd from 27th), UC Davis (23rd from 28th), Washington (30th from 34th), Washington & Lee (30th from 34th), Maryland (42nd from 48th), Florida State (50th from 54th – Tier Change), Baylor (56th from 64th), Penn State (6oth from 72nd), Illinois Institute of Technology (61st from 80th), Seton Hall (61st from 72nd), Temple (61st from 72nd), Richmond (67th from 86th), Northeastern (71st from 86th), Catholic (79th from 98th), DePaul (84th from 98th), Santa Clara (84th from 93rd), Buffalo-SUNY (84th from Tier 3), Nebraska (84th from 93rd), Marquette (95th from Tier 3), Michigan State (95th from Tier 3), and Louisville (100th from Tier 3).

Biggest fallers are: Emory (30th from 22nd), Georgia (35th from 28th), Wisconsin (35th from 28th), Colorado (47th from 38th), USD, Miami (77th from 60th), Kansas (79th from 67th), New Mexico (79th from 67th), Villanova (84th from 67th), St. John’s (95th from 72nd), Hawaii (95th from 72nd), Syracuse (100th from 86th), Chapman (Tier 3 from 93rd), Missouri-Columbia (Tier 3 from 93rd), and William Mitchell (Tier 3 from 98th).

So, USD Law’s 11-rank fall isn’t the worst of the bunch, but it’s still notable, and 67th is noticeably behind both Pepperdine and Loyola (both at 54).  I don’t have the full rankings, so I can’t compare numbers and try to guess what caused USD’s drop, but recent lackluster Bar performances surely don’t help.  The US News rankings are pretty arbitrary once you get into Tier 2 territory, as many schools are tied, and a 1-2 point drop in a school’s raw score can send it falling by double-digits in the rankings.  This arbitrariness is clearly demonstrated by USD’s recent rankings, as the school has been in the 80’s, 50’s, and points in between.

As far as other California schools are concerned, Davis sure looks impressive at 23rd.  I remember when Davis and Hastings were comparable rankings-wise, but Davis now has a 19-rank advantage on it’s UC counterpart.  Also, poor Chapman just couldn’t hang onto it’s surprising Tier-2 rank from a year ago, falling to 104th.  Hopefully we’ll see them up there again in coming years.  (It’s interesting to note that US News is now ranking Tier 3 schools individually, so now a school like the University of New Hampshire can say, “We’re the 143rd-best law school in the country!”  Perhaps they won’t say that.)  Alas, fellow San Diego schools Cal Western and Thomas Jefferson are still Tier 4 schools, with no published ranks.

That’s about all I have for now.  If I find out anymore interesting details about the rankings, I’ll update this post.  I still highly recommend a legal education at USD, no matter where the rankings roulette ball may fall each spring! (I mean, late winter.)

Update: I feel a little better now about my lack of attentiveness to the rankings this year.  Dan Filler at the Faculty Lounge states: “The most surprising thing about this year’s U.S. News law school rankings is that the magazine (if you can properly call it that) managed to embargo the list right up until its release on the web.  They did so by deferring sale of the hard copy version of the rankings until April 5 – thus denying thieves, snoops and other crafty characters a chance to score a photocopy of the new rankings prior to the moment of formal release.”  For the record, I consider myself to the third type of person in that group!

Posted in Education, USD Law | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Virtue and Chastity > Victory and Championships

Posted by demkid on March 3, 2011

At least, that’s how it works at Brigham Young University.  On Tuesday, starting center and leading rebounder Brandon Davies was dismissed from the BYU basketball team after he admitted to having sex with his girlfriend.  The most recent rumor is that his girlfriend is pregnant.  Of course, premarital sex is a big no-no for Mormons, and BYU’s honor code also requires students to be honest; abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse; and attend church regularly.  I really wonder if there’s more to this story.  It’s hard to believe that Davies just decided to come out with this fact at this point in the season, and on the same day that the Cougars (27-2 overall) rose to #3 in the national polls.  They were poised to perhaps be a 1-seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but that’s all gone now, as they lost yesterday at home to New Mexico by 18 points.  Was Davies actually upholding one principle of the honor code by admitting his violation of another?  How ironic!

I’ve heard lots of people applaud BYU in the last day for standing by its honor code and for putting standards above victories.  Pat Forde on ESPN compared this stance with recent happenings at other schools:

What makes this such a powerful testament is the fact that so many schools have cravenly abandoned their standards at such a time as this, embracing athletic expediency over institutional principle. It happens so often that we don’t even raise an eyebrow at it anymore.

Player arrests or other antisocial behaviors are minimized as youthful mistakes, with strenuous institutional effort put into counterspinning any negative publicity. Academic underachievement is dismissed as merely the price of being competitive in big-time athletics. “Indefinite” suspensions often last only as long as they’re convenient — timed to coincide with exhibition games or low-stress games against overmatched opponents.

That certainly didn’t happen in this instance at BYU.

That’s all well and good, and it’s true that Davies knew what he was getting himself into, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still find this all a bit uncomfortable.  People are going out of their way to applaud a school that banned a player because he had sex?  They’re applauding a school that assesses penalties for going to Starbucks and for forgetting to shave in the morning?  I’ve never understood Mormons, and I’m sure I never will, but if we’re going to commend a school for enforcing its rules, can’t we also criticize those ultra-religious rules for being ultra-crazy?  Can’t we also bring up the fact that Brigham Young himself had 55 wives, one of whom was 15 when she married a 42-year-old Young?  (She had 5 of his 57 children.)

Can’t wait for the Romney campaign to get underway

Brandon Could Have Used A Shirt

Jimmy Kimmel gets up on his high horse and explains my thoughts, exactly:

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SCOTUS upholds funeral protests

Posted by brightcoast on March 2, 2011

Roberts wrote the majority opinion stating that the First Amendment protects the rights of such “outspoken” groups as Westboro Baptist, who protest at funerals of deceased homosexual soldiers.

What ever happened to Time, Place, and Manner restrictions? The Court noted that the protestors followed police instructions, and maintained a 1000 feet distance from the church, but regardless of the political message, what ever happened to the sanctity of a funeral, and respecting the rights of the mourners. Since when does freedom of speech mean that any fundamentalist group can set up shop and stir up some media attention merely to feed their self-centered and hateful group.

I find this sort of speech distinguishable from the court’s jurisprudence  on events such as parades because, while the content of the speech may be just as (if not more) vile, people can generally choose not to attend or otherwise avoid being subject to the distasteful speech, whereas here the mourners have no choice but to be subjected to the incredibly insensitive demonstrations. It seems as though the 1st Amendment protection in this case actually serves as a governmental endorsement of this sort of speech.

In the name of maintaining content neutral standards, I suggest Congress pass a statute prohibiting the protest of funerals of military members (or otherwise private citizens–as the argument to protect all governmental figures may be prohibited under the notion that they are public figures, and thus not privy to the same speech protections) within a more reasonable distance, say a mile. This simultaneously maintains the integrity of the mourning and funeral process, but also allows a forum for the passionate protestors to find alternative sites to express their hatred. I’m sure it would still garner the media attention these AWs are looking for, but would make for a more respectful and still constitutional process.

It is worth noting that the actual cause of action seems to be the intentional infliction of emotional distress or IIED.

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