Top 10 Tips to Protect Your Privacy

privacytop10.jpgChris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s West Coast Office has posted a list of the “top 10 things you can do with very little money or effort to protect your privacy.” There’s hardly anyone who knows more about consumer privacy than Chris, so his Top 10 tips list is definitely worth checking out.


The Mysterious Disappearance Article III Groupie

underneaththeirrobes1.jpgHaving unmasked himself as Article III Groupie, David Lat has disappeared. We haven’t heard a word from him. His blog is now offline. Why? What’s become of David? Will his blog be back?

Howard Bashman is sleuthing out the case like Sherlock Holmes, so check out How Appealing for the latest news here, here, here, and here.

Bashman also has done some original reporting too, interviewing Judge Richard Posner, who says he feels vindicated because he thought A3G was male, and Jeffrey Toobin (the author of the New Yorker article), whose answer to practically every question is “I don’t know.”

Related Posts:

1. Solove, Article III Groupie Disrobed: Thoughts on Blogging and Anonymity


Unauthorized Practice on Craigslist?


I was recently browsing Craigslist’s Legal Forum. On that forum, folks post legal problems and others answer them. Some of the answering posters identify as lawyers, but do not provide their names.

The forum describes itself as follows:

res ipsa loquitur

DISCLAIMER – craigslist is not responsible for, and you may not rely upon, the accuracy of any information or advice posted here – this forum is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only – you should consult with an attorney prior to acting on any information found here.

Will such boilerplate really protect CL if, say, the PA Bar were to seek an injunction again the discussion group for hosting the unauthorized practice under 42 PA C.S.A. 2524? Or if the Bar were ask the attorney general of Pennsylvania to seek criminal penalties under that section’s misdemeanor provisions? I’m imagine that CL would try to avoid liability by pointing to the “Terms of Use” provisions on the page, but do such disclaimers survive a Grokster-like analysis? Maybe Dan’s analysis of suing wikipedia would throw some light on this problem. I haven’t been able to find much in the legal ethics literature on this problem – and some might argue that state bars have enough on their hands without investigating internet practice.

Obviously, what constitutes the practice of law is a matter for debate, and you should feel free to visit the site yourself and make your own mind up.


Amazing Investment Opportunity!

money3.jpgAbout three weeks ago, I blogged about the silly calculator that computes the value of your blog. At the time, Concurring Opinions was worth $33,307.86. Not too shabby, but not ready to sell yet.

Out of curiosity, I checked back again and now we’re worth $141,135.00. Wow! That’s an increase in value of over 300% in just three weeks. We’ll start selling shares soon. Dave, can you take care of the details please?


The Power of the Blog: My Most Widely Read Work

airlinetoy1c.jpgThis is a navel-gazing post, but it is self-deprecating, so please read on. What is my most widely read work? Is it one of the articles I wrote? Nope. My book, The Digital Person? Nope. My casebook, Information Privacy Law? Nope. None of the above.

The answer is The Airline Screening Playset: Hours of Fun!

The Airline Screening Playset: Hours of Fun! isn’t a book. It’s not an article. It’s a blog post. And it’s not a blog post about the law; nor does it have deep thoughtful musings about information privacy. Instead, it is a humor piece about the Playmobil airline screening playset.

Sitemeter-CO-airlinescreening3.jpgI posted the blog post on October 11, 2005. Within just a few hours, the post got linked to at many other blogs and in countless chatrooms. Hits to the post began to pour in. I received over ten thousand hits in the first day, and the hits just kept coming afterwards. The sitemeter is on the left.

I still get many hits each day for that post. In all, based on my server’s statistics, it appears that the post has received over 50,000 visits. If you add up all the sales figures for my two books as well as all my downloads on SSRN, it comes nowhere near this figure. This probably means that my most well-read work is my post about a toy playset! So while some law professors can say that the work they’re most famous for is some article or book about the law, I’d be forced to say that my most widely-known work is a blog post about a toy.

Anyway, I guess this is just one of those bizarre facts of life. . .


Article III Groupie Disrobed: Thoughts on Blogging and Anonymity

A3G.bmp“Article III Groupie” is the pseudonym for the mysterious author of a wildly popular blog about the federal judiciary, Underneath Their Robes. The blog is a lighthearted and witty discussion of the federal judiciary, chronicling the lives of judges and law clerks. Article III Groupie (or A3G for short) describes herself as an attorney from a Top 5 law school who works at a “large law firm in a major city, where she now toils in obscurity.” She writes: “During her free time, she consoles herself through the overconsumption of luxury goods. Her goal in life is to become a federal judicial diva.” Her identity has long remained shrouded in secrecy.

As she describes her blog:

This weblog, “Underneath Their Robes” (“UTR”), reflects Article III Groupie’s interest in, and obsession with, the federal judiciary. UTR is a combination of People, US Weekly, Page Six, The National Enquirer, and Tigerbeat, focused not on vacuous movie stars or fatuous teen idols, but on federal judges. Article III judges are legal celebrities, the “rock stars” of the legal profession’s upper echelons. This weblog is a source of news, gossip, and colorful commentary about these judicial superstars!

Her blog has become a regular read among the legal blogosphere. Even federal judges enjoy it. According to a New Yorker article:

The blog has many fans, including Richard Posner, the legal scholar and federal appeals-court judge in Chicago. “The beauty contests between judges can’t be taken very seriously, but I enjoy the site,” he said. “It presents good information about clerkships and candidates. It’s occasionally a little vulgar, but this is America in 2005.”

People have long wondered who A3G is. The drawing she supplies on her profile page is of an attractive Sex-in-the-City-type diva . . . and one who purports to be starstruck by the nerdy world of the federal judiciary. How exciting that someone–anyone–-is even interested in this lonely corner of the world in the same way that groupies are into rock stars!

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On Rankings Bias; or, Why Leiter’s rankings make Texas look good — and why that’s not a bad thing

Recent blog posts by Paul Caron and Gordon Smith note that creators of alternate law school rankings often seem to create rankings systems on which their own schools excel. A possible implication — not an implication that Smith or Caron make, but one that various Leiter critics have been making for some time — is that these alternative rankings are merely a form of naked self-promotion by their creators. In its simplest form, this argument would go something like this: “Brian Leiter promotes his rankings because they rank Texas higher than the U.S. News, and this makes Leiter look better.”

In response, Leiter has asserted through blog posts and comments that his rankings do not necessarily make Texas look better. His recent statements focus on the fact that he lists student quality on his new rankings page. He writes:

My institution, Texas, ranks 8th in faculty quality measured by reputation, 9th in faculty quality measured by impact, and 16th or 18th in student quality, depending on the measure used. Texas ranks 15th in US News, as it has for quite some time now. Texas thus ranks both more highly and more lowly in my ranking systems, depending on the measures used.

This is a singularly unconvincing fig leaf. Everyone knows that the 2000 and 2002 Leiter rankings did not weight student quality particularly heavily; they measured mostly faculty reputation, and they clearly gave an edge to Leiter’s school. (This is readily apparent from a look at Leiter’s archives section). Thus, for some time now, the Leiter rankings have placed Texas higher than the U.S. News list.

Is this cause for concern? Does this suggest that the Leiter rankings are simply self-promotion? Actually, there is a much more innocuous explanation.

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Law Professor Blogger Census (Version 3.1)

census.jpgUPDATED! This version of the census (Version 3.1) incorporates changes and additions to Version 3.0 of the census released last week. Thank you to all readers who pointed out omissions and errors. As a result of the comments, 20 new bloggers have been added to the census. In addition to the chart, the stats below have all be updated. Based on these changes, there are 202 law professor bloggers, a greater percentage of female bloggers, and three additional schools in the schools with the most bloggers list: American, Case Western, and St. John’s.

Back in June of 2005, I decided to do a census of law professor bloggers. I released Version 1.0, and after receiving comments from readers, released an updated Version 2.0 on June 16, 2005, which is available here.

In Version 2.0 of the census, on June 16, 2005, I listed 130 bloggers (28 female, 102 male), and schools with the largest number of bloggers: San Diego (7), UCLA (5), George Mason (5), Cincinnati (4), Ohio State (4), GW (3), Georgetown (3), Stanford (3), St. Thomas (3), Chapman (3), Villanova (3).

I’ve decided to update the census for this fall, creating Version 3.1.

Current statistics for Version 3.1 are:

Number of Bloggers: 202 bloggers.

Growth: Since the last census on June 16, 2005, the number of bloggers has grown from 130 to 202, an increase of 55%! That’s a big increase in less than 5 months.

Gender: Of the bloggers, 50 are female and 152 are male. Thus, about 25% are female and 75% are male. There are 22 new female bloggers and 50 new male bloggers. Female bloggers increased by 78.5% and male bloggers increased by 49%.

Schools: Schools with the most bloggers include:

Chicago (14)

UCLA (7)

San Diego (7)

GW (5)

Cincinnati (5)

George Mason (5)

Stanford (4)

Northwestern (4)

Ohio State (4)

U.C. Davis (4)

American (4)

Case Western (4)

St. John’s (4)

Schools in the U.S. News Top 20 rankings account for 61 bloggers

1. Yale (3)

2. Harvard (2)

3. Stanford (4)

4. Columbia (2)

5. NYU (2)

6. Chicago (14)

7. Pennsylvania (0)

8. Michigan (3)

8. Virginia (1)

10. Northwestern (4)

11. Cornell (3)

11. Duke (1)

11. Berkeley (1)

14. Georgetown (3)

15. UCLA (7)

15. Texas (3)

17. Vanderbilt (1)

18. USC (0)

19. Minnesota (1)

20. Boston University (1)

20. George Washington (5)

There are 61 bloggers from Top 20 schools. The number is roughly a third (30%) of the total number of bloggers (202). It thus appears that the Top 20 schools have a disproportionately large representation in the blogosphere. Only 2 schools in the Top 20 have no bloggers.

The Chicago Law Faculty Blog partly accounts for the disproportionate numbers among Top 20 schools. Without Chicago, there are 47 bloggers from the Top 20 schools, accounting for 23% of the total number of bloggers. Not including Chicago, the average Top 20 law school has 2.35 bloggers.

If we use Brian Leiter’s Top 20 law faculties based on scholarly citations, we must include 3 different schools (Colorado, Emory, Illinois – 4 bloggers) and exclude 3 schools (Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, Minnesota – 2 bloggers total). This results in a net increase of 2 bloggers, thus yielding 63 bloggers from the Leiter Top 20.

The schools with the most bloggers generally fare quite well in the Leiter rankings.

Chicago – Blogger Rank = 1, Leiter Rank = 1

UCLA – Blogger Rank = 2, Leiter Rank = 15

San Diego – Blogger Rank = 2, Leiter Rank = 23

GW – Blogger Rank = 4, Leiter Rank = 16

George Mason – Blogger Rank = 4, Leiter Rank = 23

Cincinnati – Blogger Rank = 4, Leiter Rank = Unranked (outside Top 30)

Stanford – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = 4

Northwestern – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = 12

Ohio State – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = 28

U.C. Davis – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = Unranked (outside Top 30)

American — Blogger Rank =5, Leiter Rank = Unranked (outside Top 30)

Case Western — Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = Unranked (outside Top 30)

St. John’s — Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = Unranked (outside Top 30)

New changes and additions to the census are indicated with the word “NEW.” This designation either means that the blog is new or the blogger is new or both.

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