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A Necessary Delusion - Shadow Hand

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Time, Place, and Manner

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Alabama to Form Constitutional Committee

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Governor Robert Bentley says that he will sign a resolution forming a committee to look at rewriting the Alabama Constitution.

The measure has already passed the House and Senate, and is the first step in ditching the world's longest constitution.  The current constitution regularly comes under fire for containing racist language. Though no longer in effect, there have been several attempts to remove these sections, despite the repeal of constitutional provisions meaning just the addition of another amendment saying to ignore the earlier stuff, rather than an actual removal.

No word yet if the new constitution will get things off on a similarly bigoted foot with one of those traditional marriage provisions that are all the rage these days.

[Gadsden Times]

$100,000 for a Law Review Article

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According to Professor Richard Neumann (Hoffstra), the cost of publishing a single law review article averages around $100,000. The figure assumes that professors spend 30-50% of the their time on research and publish one article a year, and factors in research grants and the cost of student assistants.

One hundred freaking thousand dollars for a single law review article? Holy crap!  That's how much it costs to produce this:

Parchment and Politics: The Positive Puzzle of Constitutional Commitment, by Daryl J. Levinson, 124 Harv. L. Rev. 657 (2011):

Constitutionalism is often analogized to Ulysses binding himself to the mast in order to resist the fatal call of the Sirens. But what is the equivalent of Ulysses’s ropes that might enable a political community to bind itself to constitutional rules? The positive puzzle of constitutionalism lies in explaining the willingness and ability of powerful political actors to make sustainable commitments to abide by and uphold constitutional rules even when these rules stand in the way of their immediate interests. Why, for example, would a popular President choose to abide by constitutional limitations on conducting what he and the majority of the country believe to be a vitally necessary war to preserve the Union or to fight terrorism, or a critical intervention to save the country from the Great Depression or the collapse of the financial system? The puzzle generalizes to how intertemporal political commitments of any sort are possible. We might wonder, along similar lines, how a political community can credibly and durably commit itself to repaying its debts, refusing to bail out financially reckless banks, or refraining from war.

A standard approach to answering such questions in both legal and political contexts is to invoke stable “institutions” of various kinds as reliable commitment mechanisms. Courts can enforce constitutional norms. Structural arrangements such as federalism, separation of powers, democracy, and delegation can raise the cost of political change or stack the deck in favor of particular outcomes. And of course constitutions are commonly cast as somehow self-enforcing guarantors of political commitments. But this explanatory approach just pushes the puzzle back to how these institutions become impervious to socio-political revision or override. Why should we expect institutional commitment devices to be any more stable than the first-order commitments they are supposed to facilitate?

Understanding how constitutions and other institutions can effectively constrain politics remains a fundamentally important theoretical challenge in law and the social sciences. This Article demonstrates the generality of that challenge and explores its implications for constitutional law and theory. The Article also attempts to make progress in explaining how, and in what contexts, successful legal and political commitment may be possible by consolidating a set of mechanisms through which legal and political arrangements — prominently including systems of constitutional law, the constitutional structure of government, and judicial review — can become entrenched against opposition and change.

This goes on for 90 pages and 339 footnotes.  That's more than a thousand dollars a page.

But, this is really important, serious research that advances our society's legal infrastructure, right?

No.  Not even law professors think so.  They'll tell you how important their research is, especially if you ask them why their students have to shell out an extra $3000 for bar review classes after graduation and have no idea what a contract, will, or complaint even look like.  But, the facts just don't bear that out.

43% of law review articles are never cited, by anyone, ever. Not even by other law professors.

[National Law Journal]

8 Billable Hour Scams

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We're not going to tell you to engage in any of these activities ...not because it'd be unethical to do so, but because we don't have to, odds are you're already doing it.

From the Philadelphia Lawyer: 8 Billable Hour Scams.

Unemployment Hits Indian Law School

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To all of the lawyers worried about losing their jobs to outsourcing in India, hold on to your potatoes.

Students at Chanakya National Law University in Patna, India are outraged at their terrible job prospects, with 10 of the school's 80 final-year students (the school's first graduating class) engaging in hunger strikes. Though three small companies have said they have plans to interview students, no companies have yet visited the campus.


The complete lack of on-campus interviews is particularly embarrassing given that the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court serves Chancellor of the school.

In India, there are two separate legal education routes. The traditional model is similar to the American JD, with a law degree being acquired after an undergraduate degree.  The newer degree, administered by the national law schools, is a 5 year program that does not require any prior degree.  Only just over 1000 students from India's 1.2 billion population are admitted into the latter program each year.

This could be terrible news for American lawyers and law students. Perhaps the market is so bad that no one is even willing to hire cheap foreign legal labor.

Or, maybe it's great news. Not even Indians want to hire Indian lawyers.

[Times of India]

Page 265 of 338

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