Category: Law Practice

46

Abolish the Bar Exam

barexam3a.jpgThe recent story in the WSJ that Kathleen Sullivan (law, Stanford) failed the Bar Exam raises anew whether the exam ought to be abolished. Before discussing this issue, I must note that I found the story to be a bit sensationalistic for the WSJ, as its main purpose seemed to be to mock Kathleen Sullivan. I was interviewed by the reporter of the story a few days ago because of my blog posts earlier this year (here, here, and here) arguing that Bar Exam should be abolished.

The reporter emailed me and wrote: “I’m a reporter with the Wall Street Journal. I’m researching arguments in favor and against the abolition of bar exams, and wondered if you might have time to share your thoughts on this matter with me today.” I spoke to him about my arguments, but he asked a few times if I could name any prominent professors or lawyers who failed. I told him I didn’t know of any and that even if I did, I would consider revealing this fact to be a bit tawdry, as failing the Bar Exam is considered an embarrassing fact. I didn’t see why it would be necessary to bring embarrassment upon a person for a story about the abolition of the Bar Exam.

I was quite surprised when I read the story, a bit peeved at not being quoted, and somewhat annoyed that the story seemed to be primarily cast as a way to showcase Sullivan’s failure rather than address the problems of the Bar Exam. The reporter did not mention Sullivan at all in my interview.

So since they didn’t make it into the story, I want to reprise my arguments against the Bar Exam. As I wrote in a post called “Bar None”:

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10

Old Courthouse Architecture

The other day, I blogged about new courthouse architecture. A few of the commentators said they had a soft spot for older courthouse architecture, which I share. Therefore, I thought I’d surf the web for some examples of older courthouses. I love architecture, and I found many an interesting picture to share with you. Here is what I found, with the year each was constructed:

courthouses-old4.jpg

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12

New Courthouse Architecture

They’re being built at a staggering rate. New ones are rapidly replacing old ones. Top architects are being called in to design them. . . .

No, I’m not talking about stadiums. I’m talking about courthouses. A recent Legal Affairs article chronicles a dramatic transformation in courthouse architecture and describes the building boom in new courthouses. Courthouses used to be built as “solemn, neo-Classical style structures,” but recently things have changed. Today, top architects bid on the construction of courthouses:

The new architect selection standards coincide with the largest federal courthouse building initiative in the nation’s history, a program necessitated by the rise in the number of federal cases—up some 20 percent in the last decade—and a shift in caseloads from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt. As droves of people continue to move from Buffalo to Houston or from St. Louis to Phoenix, caseloads are moving with them. In all, nearly 200 courthouses will be built or renovated over the next 25 years, at a cost in the tens of billions of dollars.

If you’re interested in the history of courthouse architecture, the article is well worth checking out. One of the courthouses discussed in the article is the stunning new federal courthouse in Boston, pictured below:

courthouse-boston3.jpg

For all the law architecture nerds out there, I did a little web surfing and found some pictures of new or planned courthouses. Beginning with state courthouses, here are ones from Lexington, SC, Lexington, KY, and Syracuse, NY:

courthouses-state1.jpg

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1

How to Develop a Supreme Court Practice

supremecourt10a.bmpHow does a law firm develop a Supreme Court appellate law practice? Hang out a shingle? Well, yes, if you’ve got Seth Waxman. This interesting article explains how law firms build a Supreme Court practice. The article contrasts the firm of Wilmer Culter, where Waxman argued all five of its Supreme Court cases last term, with the firm of Jones Day, which had five different attorneys argue its six Supreme Court cases.

7

The Music of the Law

Unlike my co-bloggers, I practice law for a living. Like most would-be lawyers my view of practice was powerfully shaped by Law & Order episodes. I do mainly civil and appellate litigation, so my practice contains few trips to Attica, but I did envision the practice of law as being a much more social endeavor. At the very least, I expected there to be some noise. My law firm, however, tends to be a very quiet place. People work in their offices, and if they talk they do so in conference rooms. There is none of the noisy bustle of the Law & Order DA’s office. As it happens, I don’t think well in silence. I find it distracting and unnerving. Even in college, for example, I found it impossible to study economics in the library. The quiet destroyed my concentration, so I always did econ work in the student union cafeteria. At work, I escape the silence by closing my door and playing music, which leads to the important question of which music goes with which tasks.

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