Law School


Elizabeth F. Loftus

Elizabeth F. Loftus

This Wednesday, October 22, the University of Arizona law school co-hosts an event with cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus. Speaking on her topic “The Memory Factory,” Loftus explores “how the mind is a ‘memory factory,’ one that can construct a richly detailed and emotionally vivid story, believed sincerely by the speaker although it is entirely false.”

Often described as a memory expert, Loftus’s own university page describes her own work this way: “Her experiments reveal how memories can be changed by things that we are told. Facts, ideas, suggestions and other post-event information can modify our memories. The legal field, so reliant on memories, has been a significant application of the memory research.”

You are likely familiar with her work via the pitched “memory wars” that waged in legal circles. Through her research on “the malleability of human memory,” Loftus examined eyewitness memory and what was called “the misinformation effect.” Numerous cases and headlines over the years have centered on how false and recovered memories may be created, even inadvertently; those dialogues played out most notoriously in childhood sexual abuse cases.

University of Arizona Law School logoThe free event is open to the public and does not require registration (though seating may be limited).

When: Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 pm (doors at 6:00)

Where: Ares Auditorium (room 164), James E. Rogers College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway, Tucson

As the organizers say, Loftus’s presentation is “part of ‘The Mind & The Law’ Lecture Series sponsored by the UA’s College of Science, the School of Mind, Brain, and Behavior’s Cognitive Science Program and the James E. Rogers College of Law.”

More information on the series is available here.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson will speak in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday October 22 on the topic of Citizens United and the influence of money in judicial elections.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson will speak in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday October 22, on the topic of Citizens United and the influence of money in judicial elections.

The guest speaker at a Wednesday Tempe event will be a retired jurist who is expected to offer frank commentary about the corrosive role of campaign money in judicial elections.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson will offer remarks about the Citizens United ruling—and especially the impact of money on the election of judges—at a mixer hosted by the Arizona Advocacy Network.

As the AAN says, “Learn how to keep Arizona’s judicial system protected from political attacks. Increasingly special interests groups and big money are targeting the courts for their own gain.”

Former Justice Nelson is just as likely to offer a rousing dialogue on a variety of issues. His judicial contributions have sometimes been controversial, outspoken and noteworthy. (You can read more about Justice Nelson here and here.)

The October 22 event, co-hosted by the ASU Indian Legal Program, takes place at the Old Main on the ASU campus, 400 E. Taylor Mall, Tempe (parking is available in the Fulton Center parking garage across University Ave.).

The event is free, but RSVP is required. Register here.

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

This Thursday, October 16, former U.S. Representative Barney Frank speaks at the University of Arizona Law School, where he delivers the annual McCormick Lecture.

His topic: “Why We Need More Government and How We Can Pay for It

The event is free and open to the public (though seats may be hard to come by; register here).

As the law school reports:

“Barney Frank served as United States Representative from Massachusetts for more than three decades, starting in 1981. An outspoken and deeply respected legislator, noted for his keen sense of humor, Frank has played a key role in some of the most important legislation of our country’s recent history, including the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

“As Chair of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011, Frank helped craft the compromise bill to slow the tide of home mortgage foreclosures in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, as well as the subsequent $550 billion rescue plan, and the landmark Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—the sweeping set of regulatory reforms named partly after Frank and signed into law in July 2010, to prevent the recurrence of the financial crisis.”

Arizona Law logoMore detail is here.

School representatives say that they anticipate a large crowd for the event. Capacity is limited to 300 registrants; the first 100 individuals to register will be seated in the Ares Auditorium, where Frank will deliver his lecture. The additional 200 people will be seated in adjacent overflow rooms to watch the lecture streamed live.

Arizona Justice Robert Brutinel

Justice Robert Brutinel

A panel discussion on Friday, October 17, will cover recent changes to the Arizona rules controlling use of mobile devices in courtrooms. Sponsored by the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, it will feature Justice Robert Brutinel, who chaired the 2013 committee whose recommendations led to the changes.

Those changes specifically were made to Supreme Court Rule 122.1 (use of mobile devices in courtrooms) and Rule 122 (video, audio and still photography in courtrooms).

As the Coalition describes the free event, “Learn what is permissible use of smartphones, tablets or laptops in Arizona state courtrooms and what is not, as well as the latest regarding use of cameras and recorders in court.”

The discussion will be held at the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism in downtown Phoenix.

The RSVP page (and more information) can be found here.

The local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is a member organization I’m proud to call home. And that chapter is a charter member of the First Amendment Coalition. I hope you come out to join journalists, lawyers, law students and others as we hear about this important and evolving topic.

ABA blog question and data (Chart via Bob Ambrogi's Law Sites Blog.)

(Chart via Bob Ambrogi’s Law Sites Blog.)

Recent data from the American Bar Association suggests that fewer lawyers are blogging than have in the past. What this means … well, it could mean a few things.

Many folks—myself included—have advocated for the power of a blog to alter an attorney’s work life. Will a blog transform your law practice and rake in the clients? Probably not. Just like any tool at your disposal, this one can serve your particular needs—but you still have to identify what those needs are.

The hard work of determining your blog’s goals may have resulted in disappointment in the results—which were never clearly aimed for in the first place.

A very good roundup of the ABA’s new data is written by Bob Ambrogi. Among his mentions:

“Blogging was down among lawyers in all firm sizes except those in firms of 10-49 attorneys, where the percentage of lawyers who blog rose a point from 5% in 2013 to 6% this year. Among solos, the percentage who blog dropped from 12% to 10%; among those in firms of 2-9 attorneys, the percentage dropped from 11% to 8%; and in firms of 100 or more attorneys, the percentage went from 10% in 2013 to 9% this year.”

One interesting element of the ABA’s queries relates to its asking lawyers whether they “personally” maintain a blog (see chart above). Well, what else would they do?

As I have mentioned before, a debate exists over whether a lawyer’s blog is just another marketing tool, which no one (let alone potential clients) expects is penned by the lawyer herself.

Others (like me, for instance) see the blog as an opportunity to share your own thinking. It is not just like a lawyer bio, which we know a PR pro wrote. Neither is it like a brief, which everyone understands was drafted with the assistance of partners, associates and clerks.

As long as lawyers believe they can “farm out” the drafting of their own insights and legal perambulations, I’d wager that the decline in blogging may not be a bad thing.

What do you think?

 

Arizona UA Law School logoYou may have wondered: What are the best reasons for an American university to launch a Bachelor of Arts in Law degree? This week, you got an answer.

I wrote before about the University of Arizona’s decision to be the first in the nation to offer such a degree. Time will tell whether the notion will catch on.

Yesterday, a UA Law professor took to the pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education to offer multiple reasons why the idea is overdue in the United States. In “The Case for Undergraduate Law Degrees,” Professor Brent T. White wrote, “Stepping back from the culturally embedded assumption in America that legal training should be provided in professional schools, the lack of an undergraduate route to legal education is perplexing.”

How perplexing? He suggests that the model has been successfully adopted in many other nations, and there’s no reason it wouldn’t work well here.

And when it comes to our evolving legal profession, “The question is not whether nonlawyers will provide legal services; it’s whether they will be well trained. Undergraduate law degrees offer the most cost-effective and broadly accessible way to offer such training.”

As always when opinionated people are engaged, the comments below the article offer some props to the writer as well as some pointed rejoinders.

Where do you stand on this experiment? Do you see the role of a B.A. in Law? Or do you see pitfalls on the path?

Letterpress BlogToday’s Change of Venue item is aimed at law students (sorry lawyers). But I’d sure appreciate your sharing it with worthy law student friends.

The sum of it is, there’s a blog post contest, and there is cash-money involved. Full stop.

(My blog title may have fanned the flames of your interest by mentioning “fame,” but who’s to say, really?)

The-Expert-Institute-square-logoThe Expert Institute is seeking great law student blog posts and decided a contest may be the best way to locate them (this is their first annual). You can read more details here.

There are a list of rules (it is a legal writing competition, after all), but note that the contest is (1) open to all law students in the United States and Canada and (2) open through December 31, so you have time to provide much valuable content for possible review.

And yes, as you might guess, posts must be related somehow to the use of expert witnesses in litigation.

Turn up, law students! If an Arizona blogger earns a prize in the contest, maybe we at Arizona Attorney Magazine will throw a little fame their way ourselves. (No promises; I’m just thinking out loud. Get writing.)

Have a marvelous—and blog-worthy—weekend.

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