OK, Bubba, Where did You go to Law School? Best Quality vs. Best Value is a Hot Topic : How About a Quality of Football Team Correlation?

Jennifer Pohlman at the September 2009 National Jurist has an article on their list of the top 65 “best value” law schools, reporting under the title “Best Bang! for your buck“.

Hat tip here to Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal Law News Now and her article, North Carolina Central Tops List of Best Value Law Schools, citing to Paul L. Caron’s TaxProf Blog, where the posting Best Value Law Schools compares the National Jurist “Best Value Rank” with the “US News Rank” of “Best Law Schools” in the nation.

We found it interesting to see that Big 12, SEC and Big 10 schools (traditionally the top college football conferences) dominate the “Best Value” law school rankings, suggesting an unexpected and of course speculative direct correlation between the quality of the football team and the “best value” of the law school ;-)

It is gratifying to this writer – as a strongly biased Husker undergraduate graduate – to see that the University of Nebraska (UNL) law school ranks 3rd in the “Best Value” list, which might just mean that the Cornhuskers very soon may again become a national football force to be reckoned with.

We say this as a “biglaw” Stanford Law School graduate, who also recognizes that there are significant differences between two universities like the University of Nebraska and Stanford – unless of course you are talking women’s volleyball, where team talents are comparable, but where the Husker fan base puts the Cardinal to shame.

It is true, of course, that one most keep in mind that top law schools open career doors that generally remain closed to graduates of law schools not having top national reputations – but this is part of a selection process which is based on individual school (and other) performance stretching back to elementary school.

You do the work – and you get the rewards. If you slouch, you have settle for a lower tier.

If school and test performance is thus lower and a person’s general track record is not as good as another’s – this may say nothing about slumbering talent or intellect – then that person, barring affirmative action or personal connections of some kind, is very unlikely to get into a top tier law school, and that is the way that it should be. Performance is rewarded. Slouching is not.

But this does not prohibit someone from emerging as a star later in life – which happens, more often than one thinks. Adolescents grow up, get married, have children, become responsible, and emerge from the shadow of previous slouching days. Life can be a strong motivator. In the long run, it is not where you went to school, but what you do with your life afterwards, that counts.

Top 100 Law Firms in the United States by Prestige According to the 2010 Vault (Vault.com) Rankings

Update: October 9, 2009. We have had a number of people trying to reach the Vault.com Top 100 Law Firm list from our pages and we are sorry that our links below no longer work. To see the Vault.com Top 100 law firms you have to go to the front Vault.com page, then click on the menu item “Industries”. On the subsequent page click “law firms” in the list. On the next page click “Top 100 Law Firms” under Vault Industry Rankings. Sorry, but our direct links below to Vault.com are no longer functional and no new direct links appear to be possible, except to the front page.

Go to Vault.com.

Vault.com has published its

2010 Vault (Vault.com) Law Firm Prestige Rankings

with its familiar line-up of “big law”.

Interesting – with few exceptions – is that the current recession and the substantial effect of the financial crisis on law firm hiring – and firing – practices has had as good as no effect on individual law firm prestige. We see, for example, that our former law firm in New York City, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, has retained its 13th position from last year.

Here are Vault.com’s top 25 law firms – see the full list of the top 100 and respective “scores” at Vault:

1 Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, New York, NY
2 Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP, New York, NY
3 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates, New York, NY
4 Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, New York, NY
5 Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York, NY
6 Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, New York, NY
7 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, New York, NY
8 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, New York, NY
9 Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC
10 Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Chicago, IL
11 Williams & Connolly LLP, Washington, DC
12 Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, New York, NY
13 Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, New York, NY
14 Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Los Angeles, CA
15 Sidley Austin LLP, Chicago, IL
16 WilmerHale, Washington, DC
17 Latham & Watkins, Los Angeles, CA
18 Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington, DC
19 Jones Day, Washington, DC
20 White & Case LLP, New York, NY
21 Shearman & Sterling LLP, New York, NY
22 O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Los Angeles, CA
23 Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP, Los Angeles, CA
24 Ropes & Gray LLP, Boston, MA
25 Hogan & Hartson LLP, Washington, DC

ABA Journal launches Legal Rebels Project providing Profiles, Videos and Audio Slideshows about the Leading Innovators in the Profession of Law

We just received this announcement from the ABA Journal:

We thought you and your blawg’s readers would be interested in the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels project, which launches today.

Over the course of the next three months, we’ll be profiling 50 of the profession’s leading innovators at http://www.legalrebels.com. The first seven profiles, along with videos and audio slideshows that illustrate the changes they’re trying to make in the practice of law, are now online. We’ll be adding at least three new profiles to the site every week until Thanksgiving.

You can also directly participate in the project:

Sign (http://www.legalrebels.com/manifesto) the Rebels Manifesto, which was written by lawyers nationwide.

Ride shotgun (http://www.legalrebels.com/tour) our two-week Rebels Tour, kicking off Sept. 14.

Stay connected (http://www.legalrebels.com/connected) to the project through your favorite social media tool.

Check out (http://www.legalrebels.com/buzz) what lawyers are saying about the Rebels.

Buy (http://www.zazzle.com/legalrebels) the Rebels T-shirt featured on our September cover, a mouse pad, or even a Rebels skateboard.

Nominate (http://www.legalrebels.com/nominate) someone you think we should profile.

We think of this project more as a journey than as a destination–a search for the future of the practice of law in America. We hope you and your readers will come along for the ride.

– Ed

Edward A. Adams

Editor and Publisher

ABA Journal

The Natural Born Requirement of the Presidential Eligibility Clause : Preempted by the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution ?

In connection with our previous posting we have been following – with bemused legal interest – the uninformed and in part duped “Birthers” false campaign against President Obama’s legitimate birth as a U.S. citizen, a “natural birth” amply demonstrated by his birth certificate:

The U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have denied hearing this issue – not only because there is no serious legal question about Obama’s eligibility for the Presidency, but also – in the case of the Supremes – because the present Supreme Court would not likely have the necessary courage to correctly declare the applicable Constitutional Presidential eligibility provision to be unconstitutional, as it surely is in view of the 5th and 14th Amendments to that Constitution.

What is disturbing is that many American citizens – all of whom trace their own citizenship to what were once “foreign born” immigrants – now try to draw a class distinction between citizens who are “foreign born” and those who are “native born”, as if the place of birth would somehow better guarantee a citizen’s loyalty, which, as we know in the age of terrorism, is simply not the case. Critical is not the paperwork of birth but rather the internal allegiance.

The law recognizes no legal distinction between Americans based on natural or naturalized citizenship (naturalized means that the citizenship is the grant of a citizenship which is the equivalent to “natural born”), and all citizens – once they are citizens – are seen by the law to be “equal” before the law, without exception.

The clearly discriminatory provision of the Presidential eligibility clause is surely unconstitutional today by virtue of the due process clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which would absolutely prohibit the creation of two classes of U.S. citizens, one of which would have superior rights. Indeed, the current discussion in the USA is the direct and expectable product of the anti-American notion that there are two different classes of citizens in the USA. Such a discriminatory provision only feeds the fires of discrimination and divisiveness. We say this not only on behalf of Obama but also on behalf of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who should not be denied the opportunity to be U.S. President by an anachronistic law.

The applicable Section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution provides:

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States. ” [emphasis added]

As discussed at the Wikipedia:

“The requirements for citizenship, and its very definition in American statute law, have changed since the Constitution was ratified in 1788. Congress first recognized the citizenship of children born to U.S. parents overseas on March 26, 1790, stating that “the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.” To date, the Naturalization Act of 1790 has been the only U.S. law explicitly conferring statutory “natural born” citizenship. In 1795, Congress removed the words “natural born” from the law; the Naturalization Act of 1795 says only that foreign-born children of American parents “shall be considered as citizens of the United States.”

All persons born in the United States, except those not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. government (such as children of ambassadors or other foreign diplomats) are citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment. Additionally, under sections 301–309 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (restated in sections 1401–1409 of Title 8 of the United States Code), current U.S. law defines numerous other categories of individuals born abroad, as well as people born in most U.S. territories and possessions, as being “nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.” The phrase “natural born citizen,” however, does not appear in the current statutes dealing with citizenship at birth.

The law governing the citizenship of children born outside the U.S. to one or more U.S.-citizen parents has varied considerably over time. Current U.S. statutes define various categories of individuals born overseas as “citizens at birth,” including (for example) all persons “born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person[s].”

The definition of the “United States”, for nationality purposes, was expanded in 1952 to add Guam, and in 1986 it was expanded again to include the Northern Mariana Islands. Persons born in these territories (in addition to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) currently acquire U.S. citizenship at birth on the same terms as persons born in other parts of the United States. The category of “outlying possessions of the United States” (whose inhabitants generally have U.S. “nationality” but not U.S. “citizenship”) is now restricted to American Samoa and Swains Island.

Regarding people born at U.S. military bases in foreign countries, current U.S. State Department policy (as codified in the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual) reads:

“Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth.”

The foregoing section of the FAM only addresses citizenship by jus soli: In short, what is the geographic scope of the “United States”? This does not affect citizenship via jus sanguinis, i.e. those who are born abroad to U.S. citizens and who otherwise meet the qualifications for statutory citizenship. The State Department also asserts that “the fact that someone is a natural born citizen pursuant to a statute does not necessarily imply that he or she is such a citizen for Constitutional purposes.” This position seems to be at odds with the fact that Congress in 1790 felt it could confer natural born citizenship on those born abroad to American parents. Ultimately, it will take a Supreme Court decision to settle the matter once an American citizen born abroad runs for and wins the presidency.

Here is our own discussion of this topic as posted previously at LawPundit:

“The Presidential Eligibility clause ….

The Yale Law Journal has picked up on this issue at its online Pocket Part companion, citing to
Jill A. Pryor, Note, The Natural-Born Citizen Clause and Presidential Eligibility: Resolving Two Hundred Years of Uncertainty, 97 Yale L.J. 881 (1988) writing:

Last week, the usually obscure Natural-Born Citizen Clause of Article II of the Constitution became the subject of newfound media attention. As the New York Times reported, the candidacy of Sen. John McCain, born in the Panama Canal Zone, has revived a “musty debate”: Is a person born abroad of American parents a “natural born Citizen” eligible to be president? As noted in the article, Jill Pryor, writing in the Yale Law Journal twenty years ago, examined this very issue.

What interests us there is her Footnote 11, where she writes:

11. U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1 (“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and , subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are Citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”)., .
The natural-born citizen clause and the naturalization powers clause come together in section one of the Fourteenth Amendment since the Amendment both distinguishes native-born and naturalized citizens (“born [in] or naturalized”) and equalizes them (both are guaranteed the same rights under the Amendment). See infra Section II-B.“[emphasis added]

Hence, no State should be able deny ANY citizen from running for the office of President of the United States, for all citizens have the same rights and there is no difference between them in the eyes of the law.

However, the 14th Amendment applies to the States and not to the Federal Government:

The 14th amendment is not by its terms applicable to the federal government. Actions by the federal government, however, that classify individuals in a discriminatory manner will, under similar circumstances, violate the due process of the fifth amendment. See U.S. Const. amend. V ….”

In other words, the same rule applies to the Federal Government through the 5th Amendment:

[I]n Bolling v. Sharpe 347 U.S. 497 (1954), the Supreme Court averred that it was absurd that the Constitution could deny the states the power to abridge equal protection of the laws, yet permit that power to the Congress. “[T]he concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from our American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive,” reasoned Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Court thus interpreted the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause to include an equal protection element but has continued to hold that there is a difference between due process and equal protection in its Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence.

What this means in terms of the development of modern Constitutional Law and Human Rights is that the Presidential Eligibility requirements are no longer valid law. If “born citizens” and “naturalized citizens” are both guaranteed the same rights under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, then it can not be that they have different rights as to their eligibility to be elected President of the United States, so that the original language of the Presidential Eligibility clause is clearly preempted by those same 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.“

Socio-Economic Data and Demographics in the USA by Country, State, County and Neighborhood : Education : Occupation : Income : Housing : Religion

The United States has always been a nation of immigrants and their progeny, and this is particularly true in the current era, although the current recession may be slowing immigration for the time being. People go where opportunity knocks.

In better days, before the current recession and the discussion about “natural born” citizens, one used to talk about 1st-Generation Americans as opposed to e.g. 2nd-Generation Americans. Recently, the country has gone nutty on this topic, and we have thus been examining the facts.

The New York Times at “Remade in America” in its Immigration Explorer features an interactive nationwide map from SocialExplorer.com which shows the distribution of foreign-born inhabitants in the United States by county (clickable). Immigration has been the trademark and lifeblood of America for centuries, so that this is not surprising, but what has changed is the origin of “where” – the countries from which the immigrants are coming – and that is the core of the problem., with the balance of immigration having shifted from Europe to immigration from 3rd-world countries.

Social Explorer – by the way – is not only a useful subscription-based website for information found in socio-economic maps, but it also provides free access to U.S. Census data maps for the years 1790 to 2000 for the U.S.A., broken down by States, particular counties, or even exact streets and neighborhoods – for the following parameters:

Population, Age, Sex, Race, Income, Family Structure, Marital Status, Group Quarters, Unmarried Partners, Education, Housing, Labor Force, Employment Sector, Industry, Occupation, Occupation by Sex, Unemployment, Poverty, Travel time to Work, Transportation, Residence, Veterans, Foreign Born, Foreign Born Place of Birth, Ancestry, Asian and Hispanic Groups, Asian and Hispanic Groups (%), Ancestry Place of Birth (%), Foreign Born Place of Birth (%)

These maps show clearly the changing nature of population demographics in America and the new challenges that the citizens of the United States face in the coming years.

World Bank Group issues Business Rankings relating to the Ease of Doing Business in Any Country : Startups, Taxes, Property, Contracts

How conducive in any country is the regulatory environment for starting a business and for doing business? How about taxes, property, and contracts?

The World Bank Group gives us a guide to answer such questions through their newly released Doing Business Economy Rankings, where, for example, the United States ranks 3rd overall in the world and Germany 25th.

The rankings can also be customized in output by region, population and income.

Hat tip to Dr. Marlena Corcoran for her comment about these rankings at the German American ExecuNet at LinkedIn.

The United States Lags Far Behind Many World Countries in Medical Care : It is a Disgrace : A National Health Care System Should Be Inevitable

We posted previously about this topic at LawPundit but add a bit more here, as we just received an email from David Axelrod, Senior Adviser to the President of the United States, about the new White House Reality Check on Health Insurance Reform. Check it out.

Axelrod writes (we have added some additional formatting to enable easier reading):

This is probably one of the longest emails I’ve ever sent, but it could be the most important.

Across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.

As President Obama said at the town hall in New Hampshire, “where we do disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.”

So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.


David Axelrod
Senior Adviser to the President

P.S. We launched www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck this week to knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the internet. You can find the information below, and much more, there. For example, we’ve just added a video of Nancy-Ann DeParle from our Health Reform Office tackling a viral email head on. Check it out:


8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage

  • Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  • Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  • Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  • Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  • Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  • Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  • Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won’t be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/

8 common myths about health insurance reform

  • Reform will stop “rationing” – not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a “government takeover” of health care or lead to “rationing.” To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
  • We can’t afford reform: It’s the status quo we can’t afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
  • Reform would encourage “euthanasia”: It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
  • Vets’ health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans’ access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President’s budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
  • Reform will benefit small business – not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
  • Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare “doughnut” hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
  • You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
  • No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now

  • Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
  • Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
  • Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
  • Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes
  • Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline
  • The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction
  • Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people – one in every three Americans under the age of 65 – were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
  • The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance – projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf

Our LawPundit take on this topic:

One of the areas in which the United States is unquestionably behind the rest of the civilized world is in medical health care. Already in the year 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the US health care system a comparatively disastrous 37th in the world, just behind Costa Rica.

A British Medical Journal report ranked America 16th in the world in terms of health care.

As the New York Times wrote subsequently in 2007, things have gotten worse since then:

Many Americans are under the delusion that we have ‘the best health care system in the world,’ … the disturbing truth is that this country lags well behind other advanced nations in delivering timely and effective care….

More recently, the highly regarded Commonwealth Fund … ranked the United States last or next-to-last compared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom — on most measures of performance, including quality of care and access to it….

Insurance Coverage. All other major industrialized nations provide universal health coverage, and most of them have comprehensive benefit packages with no cost-sharing by the patients. The United States, to its shame, has some 45 million people without health insurance and many more millions who have poor coverage….

Fairness. The United States ranks dead last on almost all measures of equity because we have the greatest disparity in the quality of care given to richer and poorer citizens….

Healthy Lives. … We rank near the bottom in healthy life expectancy at age 60, and 15th among 19 countries in deaths from a wide range of illnesses that would not have been fatal if treated with timely and effective care.

Life and Death. … In an eight-country comparison, the United States ranked last in years of potential life lost to circulatory diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes and had the second highest death rate from bronchitis, asthma and emphysema.

Top-of-the-line care. … The main goal should be to reduce the huge number of uninsured, who are a major reason for our poor standing globally.”

Let us then turn to 2008 and some of the most up-to-date figures in the freely downloadable 2008 America’s Health Rankings (TM) – ©2008 United Health Foundation. All Rights Reserved – a joint effort of United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention. The Rankings report was funded entirely by United Health Foundation based on the following sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American Medical Association, The Dartmouth Atlas Project, Trust for America’s Health, and the World Health Organization. Project by Arundel Street Consulting, Inc., St. Paul, Minn. and Design by Aldrich Design, St. Paul, Minn.

The Findings of those Rankings point to a core American health care problem:

“… despite spending more than any other country on health care, the United States continues to slip further behind other countries…

while the U.S. is spending more on total health care when compared to other countries, the country is getting less access, patient safety, efficiency and equity.”

One of the biggest problems in modernizing American health care is that the taxpayers who have health care are screaming that they are going to have to pay for the medical care of those who do not have health insurance currently.

This is a seemingly reasonable argument made from the point of view that everyone who “pays” for his or her health costs or health insurance pays the full price for medicial treatments and services, but that argument fails, for the following reasons.

All of the health products and services to which anyone in society is entitled by virtue of money in their pockets are blessings that have been in creation over millennia by all of human society, created by countless individual efforts as well as by the various institutions that man has developed over millennia. The community of man has created them – we are ALL the freeloading benefactors of all of the technologies that our predecessors have created for us.

For example, antibiotics that can save the life of a rich man or woman cost a pittance as compared to their life-saving worth. How much would you pay for antibiotics if we measured them at their actual full value – how about, say, one-half of a patient’s net worth, would that be a fair price to save your life?

The costs of innovation and of the development of numerous medications have in the course of years been spread out over the mass of citizens and institutions and that is the only reason that medications are as relatively cheap as they are, when compared to the benefit that many of them produce. The same applies to all of the medical wonders that are available to anyone today, not to mention the education and training of doctors and medical personnel, etc., as well as medical research, a lot of which is publicly financed, funded or supported, also by the very same working taxpayers who themselves may not be able to afford adequate health insurance coverage.

No one pays the “full value” of the medical services from which they benefit. Full payment would involve reimbursement of everyone in history and in the country who has contributed to put present medical health care at the level at which it is now found. Impossible.

Those who scream that they are subsidizing the health care costs of others forget that their own health care has been vastly subsidized by the societal system as a whole and that they are the selfish beneficiaries of the work of countless other humans who they can not and never will properly reimburse.

More than that, everyone living in a free nation such as the United States has countless other millions to thank, who founded the country and made it grow, who, when needed, fought in wars of liberty to create the free system from which every citizen prospers, or who otherwise contributed to the building of a great nation and to the creation of its working infrastructure.

Anyone crying that he now has to help others by giving some of his wealth to the common weal does not understand his historical debt to the past and to humanity in general. It is selfishness and ingratitude at the highest level. YOU did not make America’s wealth but America made YOUR wealth.

America, the fact that there is no national provision of basic health care for all of our citizens is a disgrace.

Google Books and Copyright Law : New Feature Creates Word Clouds for Published Materials : The Example of Stars Stones and Scholars by Andis Kaulins

Words. Words. Words.

Google Books has a special page for Legal Analysis relating to Google Books and copyright law.

Our photo shows the sculpture “The Word” at Groote Markt, the marketplace in Sint-Niklaas, capital of Waasland, Flanders, Belgium,the largest such marketplace in the country:

Google Books is a wonderful information resource which can assist greatly in determining whether to buy a book or not.

Google Books has expanded in the course of time to include many new features. Among these new features are word clouds – in a book’s “Overview” section – showing a selection of frequent important terms found in a book. Here is the Google Books word cloud for Stars Stones and Scholars, the Decipherment of the Megaliths by Andis Kaulins.

Common terms and phrases

.cloud9 {color: #7a7777;font-size: 10px;}.cloud8 {color: #7a7777;font-size: 13px;}.cloud7 {color: #646262;font-size: 15px;}.cloud6 {color: #646262;font-size: 15px;}.cloud5 {color: #4f4d4d;font-size: 19px;}.cloud4 {color: #4f4d4d;font-size: 19px;}.cloud3 {color: #393838;font-size: 22px;}.cloud2 {color: #393838;font-size: 22px;}.cloud1 {color: #242323;font-size: 26px;}.cloud0 {color: #191919;font-size: 28px;}.cloud {margin-top: 4px;line-height: 18px;}.cloud a {margin-left: 3px;margin-right: 3px;text-decoration: none;}

Ain Ghazal Ancient Britain Andis Kaulins Andromeda Aquarius Aquila Arbor Low astronomical Auriga Autumn Equinox Barclodiad Y Gawres Bouar Canis Major Carnac Cassiopeia Catal Huyuk Cave Paintings Ceide Fields Celestial Pole Centaurus Cepheus Cetus Clava Cairns Cohen Gadol Coma Berenices constellations Corona Australis Corona Borealis County Sligo Creswell Crags Cygnus Decipherment Delphinus Deneb Dolmen Draco Dschubba Ecliptic Pole Egypt Eridanus Estonia Externsteine False Cross Fowlis Wester Gardom’s Edge Gavrinis Gemini Ggantija Gozo Herefordshire Beacon Hierakonpolis Hyades Hydra Hydrus Kents Cavern Lanyon Quoit Large Magellanic Cloud Lascaux Latvian Leo Minor Magdalenians Malta megaliths Menhir Miami Circle Milky Mnajdra Mulfra Neolithic Newgrange Ophiuchus Ordnance Survey Perseus planisphere Pleiades Pole Star precession Richard Hinckley Allen Rock Drawing Rollright Stones Sagittarius Sarsens Saulheim Scorpio Scotland Serpens Caput Serpens Cauda Silbury Hill Solstice Stonehenge Tarxien Taurus Trethevy Quoit tumuli Ursa Major Ursa Minor Virgo Wayland’s Smithy Yarmukian Zhangye

We are very happy to be part of Google Books and view “word clouds” of our published works to be “fair use”. But is the legal issue here so simple?

Take a look at these word cloudsvia Federal News Service transcriptsregarding the Democratic Party and Republican Party conventions leading to the US Presidential Election of Barack Obama.

It would certainly seem to be the case that a particular design of a word cloud is copyrightable, and since every word cloud has its own design, then word clouds would appear to be subject to copyright protection. But who owns the words in a cloud?

Word clouds are essentially one example ofdata visualization, for which there are numerous programs online.

Is a “word cloud” a derivative use (in which case it belongs to the original copyright holder) or is it a transformative use (in which case it belongs to the transformer). We favor the latter interpretation, but the issue has never been litigated.

As software applications show, “word clouds” appear to have a very “proprietary” character.

Online anyone can generate word clouds for free at WORDLE.net, which, however, claims the copyright to the word cloud image created, licensing it under a Creative Commons license with attribution. Here is a Wordle word cloud of the most recent postings at LawPundit:

Wordle: LawPundit Recent Postings
There is also a free networking site for writers at The Word Cloud.

Standardize Electric Car Batteries so that Drivers can quickly exchange Battery Units at Charging Stations rather than charge a Car’s Own Batteries

Are we missing something?

The main problem with electric cars is the rather ridiculous state of affairs that each car has its “own” set of batteries which have to be recharged at charging stations over a considerable period of time, which greatly limits the mobility of electric cars – and greatly impedes their sale.

The solution is simple. Perhaps others have already suggested this solution, but in this case, this is our idea.

There is no reason for drivers to have to recharge “their” batteries. Rather, what needs to be done is to standardize electric car batteries so that the entire battery unit can simply be replaced at charging stations in a matter of minutes, just like filling the gas tank. When car buyers see that electric cars then have practically no mileage limitations, sales of electric cars will skyrocket.

Day Pitney Unwisely Launches the Dysphemism "Summer Apprentice" for On-The-Job Legal Training to Replace the Euphemistic "Summer Associate"

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and that proverb might be applied in principle to a well-meaning press release issued by the law firm Day Pitney announcing their launch of a “summer apprentice program” to replace the firm’s previous “summer associate program” (hat tip to Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal).

This virtual misnomer appears to us to perhaps be an outgrowth of the current recession in which the value of young law graduates and law student summer associates has been reduced primarily by the flawed financial policies of law firm partners. As usual, it is the people down the responsibility ladder – as always – who have to bear the brunt of an economic downturn which they had no hand in creating.

We can not speak for others, but the term “Summer Apprentice” for law students doing on-the-job legal training appears to us to be an ill-chosen dysphemism when compared to the previous perhaps euphemistic “Summer Associate” label, especially since a “legal apprentice” or “law apprentice” in the English-speaking world has traditionally been a title reserved for persons who embark on a course of legal study without going to law school and who are as a result of that apprenticeship entitled to take a bar exam without having a law school background.

Nostalgically bringing back the terminology and ideology of an apprenticeship system is in our view a crass step backward in legal education and training since it denigrates that which the best law schools attempt to train in their students – the capacity for critical thinking, a skill so badly lacking in modern society, especially in modern America – and replaces that system with an older and less effective learning system, prevalent in lower quality law schools – where rote learning of laws and procedures is preferred to the type of critical thinking which is required in the top legal echelons of any successful institution or nation.

See our posting at Great Law Schools – “Advice” for Law Students – Socratic Method.

When I go to my family lawyer I am not interested that he can recite a specific case or paragraph accurately from memory. That kind of rote learning is the primary purpose of bar exams and similar examinations and it is a complete waste of time – anyone can look up laws and judicial decisions in the nearest law library. What a lawyer’s client requires is someone who can apply a given legal paragraph or case effectively within the legal system – and that is a different kettle of fish. You do not learn that as an apprentice and that is why law schools were created in the first place. Practicing law is not the same as shoemaking – the master/apprentice concept fails.

Although it is of course true that summer associate jobs do in fact give law students practical exposure and training in the law on the legal front lines, this is no reason to call them apprentices, and what a summer associate does in a large law firm is a far cry from the cheap labor supply represented by legal apprentice systems elsewhere around the world.

For example, here in Germany, a legal apprentice is a “Referendar”, and law school graduates have to fulfill a mandatory two-year period of practical State training after their law school studies called a “Referendariat”. As the Wikipedia writes under jurist:

In some of Continental Europe, anyone with a degree in law (e.g., a bachelor or master of laws) may be called a jurist. Such jurists can practice law as employees hired by law firms or legal departments of other business entities. Being a jurist does not necessarily mean that one has the privileges usually attributed to “attorney” or “solicitor”. In Germany e.g. you do a first Examination (“Erstes Staatsexamen”) after four years of University studies. If you pass the Examination you are a “Referendar jur.” (“Jurist”). With this you can apply to a two year post-university education called “Referendariat”. If you do this, you are employed by a German State Government and work in several positions; normally: judge assistant, assistant to an public prosecutor, civil servant and assistant to a “barrister”. Then you have to do a second Examination (“Zweites Staatsexamen”). If you pass it, you are a (“Assessor jur.”) (“Volljurist”). With this title, you can apply as a judge, public prosecutor, civil servant or you can work as a Rechtsanwalt (“barrister”). Independently from this, some German universities offer LLM studies, but they do not give anyone the qualification to apply for one of the jobs mentioned above. Alternatively, the LLM degree taken in the US would provide a German qualified lawyer with the opportunity to become a US Attorney.

Moreover, in spite of the fact that German students can study law straight out of high school – a college degree is required for law study in the United States – for anyone in Germany interested in an academic career or law at a higher level of “higher learning”, by the time a jurist gets his Dr. iur. in Germany (roughly comparable as a doctoral degree to a J.D.), can be in his 30’s and – to my knowledge – it is perhaps a rare law professor in Germany who is hired the younger side of 40. When I graduated from Stanford Law School I was 24 years old and the average age of the graduating class was 28.

The J.D. degree (Juris Doctor viz. Doctor of Jurisprudence), by the way, was developed in the United States as a practical solution to the elevated university education of jurists, a solution which has never been adopted fully in Europe, much to the detriment of legal education in European jurisprudence, which is simply inferior to that practiced in the U.S.A. As the Wikipedia writes under Juris Doctor:

Christopher Columbus Langdell, who served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895, dedicated his life to reforming legal education in the United States. The historian Robert Stevens wrote that “it was Langdell’s goal to turn the legal profession into a university educated one — and not at the undergraduate level, but through a three-year post baccalaureate degree.” This graduate level study would allow the intensive legal training that Langdell had developed, known as the case method (a method of studying landmark cases) and the socratic method (a method of examining students on the reasoning of the court in the cases studied). Therefore, a graduate high level law degree was established, the Juris Doctor, implementing the case and socratic methods as its didactic approach. The J.D. was established as the equivalent of the J.U.D. [Juris Utriusque Doctor] in Germany to reflect the advanced study required to be an effective lawyer. It was not a conversion of the LL.B. degree, though it did replace it at those law schools that initially followed the Oxford tradition and which offered the LL.B. as a second bachelor’s degree. [material in brackets added by LawPundit]

Harvard was first to offer the new doctorate. The University of Chicago Law School was the first to offer it exclusively (i.e., the first to not offer both the J.D. and the LL.B.). While approval was still pending at Harvard, the degree was introduced at many other law schools in the United States.

The result of the highly antiquated and totally inefficient German legal educational system – which is backwardly similar to the same system that the USA reformed over 100 years ago – is that many a jurist is already well along in age and “burned out” from endless years of totally superfluous “training” before he ever starts to practice law or do serious academic research, so that many a jurist’s potentially best years are spent doing junk work or serving as a supply of cheap labor for the legal system.

The current virtually feudal “apprentice-based” German legal system is thus no model for other countries in terms of its legal education or training. It is totally outdated and inadequate for modern law. In What Are Law Schools For?, edited by P. B. H. Birks, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 91, Hans Leser writes via Questia.com about “Legal Education in Germany”, inter alia:

… For the last two centuries the State, not the courts or professional organisations, has monopolised legal education in Germany….

The result of all of this is that German students spend too long at university, on average five to six years including examinations, notwithstanding that legislation prescribes a four year course of study. All current reform proposals seek to address this issue.

Given the above discussion, applying the apprentice label to law school students in summer jobs at law firms is thus simply wrong as a matter of terminology and Day Pitney would be well-advised to reconsider a new name for its program rather than letting it run under this misleading and indeed, backward-oriented, terminology.

You can train seals … in an apprentice-type system.

Lawyers have to be educated.

See also generally, Albert James Harno, Legal Education in the United States.

Law Firms as "Attractive" Investments under the UK 2007 Legal Services Act : Private Equity Funds Consider Investing in BigLaw Starting 2011

The mass of law firm layoffs in the current recession, putting profits before principles, indicates that the practice of law as a profession in the modern era has become more and more a typical “business” and is less and less a noble legal profession conforming to the faulty image of professionally ethical attorneys nostalgically portrayed by the monopolistic bar associations. When push comes to shove in law firms across the nation and the world, attorney colleagues are coldly put out on to the streets to find their sustenance elsewhere under the motto that “someone else can take care of them”. Ours is a hard world which shows no quarter.

Fitting in with this trend is the UK 2007 Legal Services Act which permits investment in law firms. Private equity funds, knowing a good “business” when they see one (as opposed to a “professional” deal), are already considering investing in BigLaw starting 2011, something which is already permissible in Australia.

Lindsay Fortado at Bloomberg.com in Private Equity Considers Investing in U.K. Law Firms (Update1) reports:

Slater & Gordon Ltd., based in Melbourne, became the world’s first law firm to sell shares on a stock exchange two years ago after a similar bill was passed in Australia. The personal-injury firm raised A$35 million ($29 million) from the listing and acquired two law firms….

Read the details about the UK here.

Some law firms are understandably resisting this development, but the march of time is against them.

Hat tip to Martha Neil at the ABA Journal and
Private Equity Funds Ponder Purchase of Up to 20% Interest in UK Law Firms

The Potential Economic Impact of Weather and Climate on the Example of El Niño which is Back in Force for 2009 and 2010

Global warming is one thing but the cyclical El Niño is another.

Michael McCarthy, environment editor at the Independent – via Reddit – informs us that a new El Niño is developing – the second strongest El Niño on record, which means global economic impacts for the world based on weather implications in the coming 2009-2010 period.

The arrival of El Niño was reported at the NOAA, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which has numerous El Niño website pages devoted to “Research, Forecasts and Observations”, where they write:

El Niño is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the Tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather and climate around the globe.

The NOAA writes inter alia about the Economic Implications of an El Niño, pointing to both unavoidable economic losses as well as forecast-based economic benefits:

Implications of El Niño for the Nation’s Economy

Weather and climate sensitive industries directly impacted by weather (such as agriculture, construction, energy distribution, and outdoor recreation) account for nearly 10 percent of GDP. Further, weather and climate indirectly impacts an even larger portion of the nation’s economy, extending to parts of finance and insurance, services, retail and wholesale trade, as well as manufacturing. Some analysts estimate that nearly 25 percent of GDP, or $2.7 trillion, is either directly or indirectly impacted by weather and climate.

El Niño impacts important business variables like sales, revenues, and employment in a wide range of climate-sensitive industries and sectors. Overall, total U.S. economic impacts of the 1997-1998 El Niño were estimated to be on the order of $25 billion….

The Economic Benefits of Better El Niño Forecasts-Improving Economic Decisions

Although all losses cannot be avoided, NOAA’s El Niño forecasts produce economic value by allowing individuals, industries, and public officials to take timely actions based on the forecast to mitigate and reduce losses or to capitalize on the information to improve economic outcomes…“

Take a look at the NOAA article on economic implications in full for more information about this important economic development.

Crossposted to our Private Wealth Blog.