Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oxford, FL

I just noticed that some from Miami University in Oxford, FL accessed this site today. I just learned that there is an Oxford in Florida.

Back to Admin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Triple Talaq Divorce

There was an interesting article about a couple in India who were proclaimed divorced because the husband said "talaq" three times in his sleep. According to religious leaders, this constituted a procedure known as "triple talaq" that, under Islamic law, results in divorce.

One Islamic scholar contradicts the religious leaders:
"The law clearly says any action under compulsion or in a state of intoxication has no effect. The case of someone uttering something while asleep falls under this category and will have no impact whatsoever," Khan told Reuters.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will the courts hold that speaking while asleep falls under either the category of an action under compulsion or in a state of intoxication? At first glance, it doesn't seem like it fits naturally within either category.

I also wonder how this may affect the adoption of Shari'a law in Canada. It would certainly disrupt our current Canadian laws on divorce. If I say "talaq" three times to my future wife but we're not Muslim, could the triple talaq divorce apply? (Don't worry, dear.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Women Outnumbering Men

In February, I wrote a posting about the successes of Canadian women. It was around the Olympics and it seemed appropriate to talk about the successes of women in law in addition to the success of our women's hockey team.

The Globe and Mail published article out today about Where the Boys Are? The first segment focuses on how female medical student outnumber male medical students. It also mentions:
they also outnumber men in post-graduate law studies, where women actually make up 67 per cent of Canadian law students. Men round out the figure with the remaining one third of those enrolled.
That is a huge difference. I can certainly see these numbers at Queen's. More than that, women are taking leadership positions. Last year's school president was a woman, and a woman has been elected to the post for next year as well. This trend could potentially significanlty alter the legal profession. It seems like it will take some time for these women to rise up the ranks at law firms but when they do ...

In the last issue of Canadian Lawyer, there was an article about how the Eat What You Kill mentality is going out of style. I wonder if this could be due, in part, by the influence of women in the legal profession.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Webtools: Newsvine & Google Reader

There are many services out there that allow you to customize your news. Newsvine is one of the newest. One of its best features is that it allows you to write articles and build a name for yourself.

Another service, that you may know about, is Google's Reader. It can be used to read blogs or other sites. I use it.

Lastly, a semi-useful site that was recently featured on Rocketboom is PopUrls. It brings together popular stories/videos from other sites (including Newsvine) for quick access. More fun than legal, it will keep you on top of technical innovations, deals and timely factoids.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Costs of Partying

There is one class that is famous for its annual parties: Advanced Corporate Law. The practitioners who teach the course treat all the students (20) to dinner and drinks at the end of the course to celebrate. And when I say "celebrate", think steak and single malt Scotch. There are students who actually ballot the course simply to partake in this evening (and night).

It is tough to know exactly how much these celebrations cost. One student estimated about $1500. Another thought it was closer to $4000 or maybe even $5000. (The upper estimate would put it at about $200/head.) Remember: for one evening of drinking and merriment.

I imagine that an evening like this is not unusual for a Corporate lawyer in a big firm. If they're charging $800 an hour to their clients, the cost of the bill could be less than one day of billable hours. $4000 may not seem to be significant.

But how much is $4000 in the real world? I was talking to a student who was disgusted by the whole thing. She argued that these Corporate lawyers are completely out of touch with humanity. She notes that in 2005 the average salary for Chinese college graduates is only $196 a month. I'm sure you've heard all these statistics many times. What do they say? About 1.2 billion people live on less that $1 per day? Certainly to these people, $4000 would be incredibly significant.

Worlds apart.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Webtool: Beer Locator

I was listening to the Inside the Net podcast and, according to Leo, only 1/5 Americans actually know the meaning of a "podcast". I'm guessing if you're savvy enough to find this site, you are part that enlightened minority. Then I was thinking, there may be some nifty tools out there that are even less well known than podcasts. I could use this site to highlight these tools in a "webtool" group of posts. The idea is that these posts will be like "daily distractions" but useful.

For this first webtool post, here is something that may appeal to most law students: the Beer Locator (aka the Beer Hunter). This is one of the best mashups out there. At this point, the site is limited to Ontario (which works for Queen's students) but they are planning on expanding. For the readers in Minnesota, New York or Taiwan, it may take a while. Here are a couple links to get you started:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Addicted to Westlaw

Legal research is fun. Right. Well, it might not always be fun, but at least as students, it's cheap. The folks at the LawBitches blawg (down south) recently posted about how much it actually costs firms to use services like Westlaw:
Here is what they should tell you about Westlaw before they get you addicted to the free stuff during law school. Once you leave law school, it is really expensive to use it. Several of us here took a Westlaw Seminar entitled "Prepare to Practice" (got us 500 Westlaw points and a beautiful soft leather portfolio) and we found how much it costs out in the real world. Here are just some examples (and the numbers are not exaggerations...).

Typical Database search Costs:

Search all cases- $159 (everytime you hit the "Search" button)
Search one state's cases- $52
Keycite a case- $6.25 (per Case- think of a memo you would write which may cite to 20-30 cases)

Search all cases- $15.80/minute or $948/hour
Search one state's cases- $6.33/minute, $380/hour

Of course this is without any real discounts (some firms have discounts and will allow you unlimited access but remember a client still does not want to see a $4000 bill for "research").
Note: all figures are US$$$. Anybody know the Canadian rates?

To students: enjoy it while it's free! I know I'm having a ball! ;)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Daily Distraction: The Joy of Tech

Article: Students draft new laws

A CBC program on TV, Making the Grade, may have enabled some high school students in Ontario to draft new laws.
The governing Liberals, Opposition Conservatives and New Democrats reviewed more than 100 ideas submitted by high school students across Ontario, and agreed to sponsor at least one bill each and schedule a day in April for debate.
"For these kids to actually see that there's nothing magic about making laws, that it's a very practical process, it's motivating."
Cool. Power to the people.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Shoutout: the Himalayan Highlander

Sometimes I think about what I would be doing if I weren't in law school. One option would be living like Brem. He's been traveling the world, doing good in the world, learning and living. This post is for you, bro.Check out his adventures on his blog.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

For some reason, the thought of green beer makes me more thirsty than just the thought of beer. Could classical conditioning actually be effective on an annual basis? :)On a sobering note ...

Correlation between increasing tuition and increasing law prof's salary ($136,634)?

I was reading Law, Love & Life and I clicked on her link to this article on At the very bottom of the article is this chart:

I can understand why Medicine is expensive. And I can understand, to a certain degree, why Dentistry is expensive. The article explains that:
At UBC, for example, the cost of tuition, dental instruments, clinic fees and other fees totals $172,000 over the four years of the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. And that doesn't include food or lodging.
But it is not obvious why law school tuition is so high. Do we use expensive cadavers? No (as far as I know). Do we consume expensive chemicals as we're mixing our metaphors? No. Are legal instruments expensive? Certainly not at Queen's. As it stands, the only "instruments" the school provides are pens and paper for students during exams and chalk for professors.

My guess is that the bulk of our tuition goes to pay faculty salaries. If that's the case, then are the recently unveiled 4% and 8% increases in tuition required to pay our profs? How were they paid in 1993 when students were only paying $2,500 in law school tuition? I would love to see a chart with rising tuition on one side and rising faculty salaries on the other. Research project anyone? Some information below might help.

Back in 2002, when UofT tuition was slightly lower than the current $16,xxx, Jim Phillips penned an OpEd about faculty salaries for Ultra Vires. He wrote:
The draft is vague about a lot of things, but not about $1.7 million for a "faculty recruitment and retention fund". There is no evidence presented for why we need this fund, for the simple reason that the evidence is not there.
He noted that the average starting salary for a UofT prof is about $100,000CDN (which is actually pretty cheap when you consider an article claiming that the Iraq war is costing Americans $100,000US per minute) and Jim stated that this $1.7m fund was needed to prevent faculty from going south. The dreaded brain drain to the USA. OK, let's check it out. What are law professors making down there?

In 2002 (same year), an article on gives us some numbers:
Salaries range from about $70,000 for a beginning instructor at smaller schools to between $200,000 and $250,000 a year, including summer grants and other support, for a top academic at a prestigious major university, according to law professors and published reports. At the University of Virginia School of Law, which many professors believe is the highest paying institution, 15 professors earned between $200,400 and $284,000 in 2001.
Based on this comparison, a starting salary at UofT actually makes quite a bit more than at a "smaller" school but we can't compare with, say, a law prof starting at Yale. Who knows. Anybody want to dig deeper?

We do know that law professors make a lot more than other profs. A recent post on a UBC blog has the title: Faculty Salaries Rise by 3.4%; Law Professors Still Earn the Most.
Law professors continue to lead the list. According to the survey, full professors in the field earn an average annual salary of $136,634. Even new assistant professors in law make nearly $80,000 a year. That is about the same average salary that full professors in history earn. New assistant professors in history average about $45,000.
Wow - that's a huge difference! But it's not difficult to justify it, even to the critics who say it's exorbitant.

On the one hand, it seems unjust when you think of the number of years that the history professors put in compared with the law professors. I believe a new assistant professor in history would have a minimum of 8 years post-secondary education (3 years for a BA + 5 years for MA/PhD) and an average new recruit would have about 10 years. Meanwhile, a new law professor could have as few as 6 years (2 years of undergraduate + 3 years LLB/JD + 1 year LLM) but the average is closer to 8 and now, with PhD law professors increasingly common, maybe even 11 or 12 years. Potentially less education and more money. Of course, this may say more about the value of a history degree.

On the other hand, if they were working in private practice, what would they be making? Probably more than $136k. In fact, one prof said to us on his first day of class, "you know I want to be here because I took a significant cut in pay to teach."

Based on the title ("still"), it seems like law professors have historically outpaced other faculty for $$$. Is the gap getting wider? Apparently.

Finally, how did they justify this 3.4% raise in salaries? According to the Bank of Canada, inflation rates were 1% - 2% last year and they are on the same track for this 2006. Not 3.4%. Is this the reason why our tuition continues to go up and up?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

75.8% VOTE FOR J.D.

The results are in:

244 votes (75.8%) in favour of switching to the J.D.
68 votes (21.1%) not in favour
10 ballots (3.1%) didn't vote

So, the next step is Faculty Board. They have already met internally and they want to move slowly. We will strike up another committee next year and continue this along. The Class of 2007 may have the choice of getting a J.D. (WOOOHOOO!!!)

Poll: LLB/JD Results?

Well, the elections committee is currently counting the ballots. We don't know the results yet. But, I've been polling students today. Here are a few predictions:

Student A: "Barely pass. Maybe 52%."
Student B: "I hope it doesn't pass at all."
Student C: "70% in favour of JD."
Student D: "65% for JD."
Student E: "It will be a shocker: 85% for JD."
Student F: "65% JD."
Student G: "Hopefully at least 2/3s for JD."
Student H: "I have no idea."

We'll know soon enough ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Alternatives to Law

A disaffected volunteer veteran of the maximum-security system at Kingston Federal Penitentiary thought she might go to law school. She finished her degree at Queen's University in Psychology and then ... changed her mind.

Instead, she became a Bank of Bermuda foreign exchange dealer. The story of Beverly Sgobba.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Annoying popups

Please let me know if you are still getting popups. I've been going back and forth with Blogger to try and solve this problem. Shoot me an email if the problem isn't solved.

Monday, March 13, 2006

LLB/JD listserv debate

The debate flamed up today! We have our referendum in a couple days and students have started actively expressing their views on the issue. More than that, a few faculty members have entered the fray.

So far, I've tallied 8 emails expressing support for the LL.B. and 11 in support of the J.D. (this tally is probably out of date as I'm typing this). Here is a selection of quotes - some funny, some insightful - from various emails sent to the listserv. To protect the authors, I have kept all the comments anonymous.
Personally, the more letters behind my name, the better.

Alumni can be given the choice of whether they personally would like to change the name of their own degree, just as the alumni at the University of Canada (I mean Toronto) had the option of doing.

Opportunities and options available to a 2006 graduate are, in my opinion, drastically different than those that were available 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

Once our clients and employers recognize that there is no finer law school in Canada, they (like I) will not care whether our graduates have a J.D. or LL.B. as long as they're from Queen's.

If we stood by the tradition for the sake of tradition' argument, things like anonymous grading, and grade confidentially would have never been implemented at this school.

I think the one thing this listserv debate has taught me is that I don’t type fast enough.

Views of present students about the LLB/JD are certainly important, but so are the views of alumni. It is their degree also, and we look to them for financial and moral support, so proper;y engaging them in this decision is important.

It will be hard to explain and justify to the public that lawyers want to be called doctors.

Is this not simply an exercise in semantics? If we are changing nothing but the letters on our degree, why bother?

I support making this change because it would add a professional quality to a degree that is elsewhere generally equated with a less advanced type of professional education.

Subject to a loss of alumni support, I support switching to a JD.

One would imagine that those doing the hiring at an internationally focused firm abroad would be aware of the differences between the legal education received in different jurisdictions.

I'm sure the rare student that applies to a big firm in India will be able to communicate to potential employers what the difference is.

Many people in the international arena are unaware of the various systems of legal education, and having a J.D. is much more recognizable as a professional degree. It simply shows that it is a graduate, not a bachelor's, degree.

With a law degree from a prestigious university such as Queen's, one can fulfill their great ambitions and become rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Thus, money, as usual, is the driving factor.

Arguably, it is only a matter of time before other Canadian schools fall into line. As we’ve said UWO and UBC are teetering. Though we can’t be the pioneer school do we want to be the 8th, 9th or 12th to fall into line?

In my mind, a graduate degree suggests a level of mastery that cannot possibly be imparted by an initial law degree.

The Queen's community is going to have to decide whether it wants to join the inflationary bandwagon, in an effort to protect its students, or whether its students can be better protected by standing by Queen's traditions.

While the majority of us appear quite happy that we are not the University of Toronto (I’m one of them…), I don’t want to base my decision on a comparison with another faculty.

I really think the U of T point should be a fairly marginal consideration in terms of the JD-LLB debate (although I too am not a fan of them, or their uppity mooters).

As a student noted in the last listserv debate on this subject, 'If you really want a job on Wall Street, change the name of the law school to Yale.'
I was chatting with another student who is strongly in the J.D. camp. He predits that the vote will go 80% in favour of switching. Personally, I doubt if it will go that high. Based on what I've heard/read, I will guess that the vote will fall somewhere between 65% - 70% in favour of switching to the J.D.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Freedom of speech in the classroom

Michael Kalo is a Jewish law student at the University of Manitoba and he is the victim of a racist attack due to comments he made during class. An article on this incident has been published by the Manitoban Online.

Mr. Kalo has Arab features and Iraqi roots. In a recent class of Constitutional Law, the discussion turned to the controversial printing of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Mr. Kalo compared publishing the cartoons to burning the Canadian flag. Subsequently, he received an anonymous threatening letter in his mailbox:


Why do you have to look and behave like that?

Do you want us to send you back where you came from?

You do not belong in our Faculty!

Don’t say we didn’t warn you . . .

The article states:

At the bottom of the letter is perhaps the most inflammatory cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed published in Jyllands-Posten: it depicts a man with a beard wearing a bomb for a turban.

Normally, I do not use this site to express my opinion on news but on this matter I will make an exception. From what I have read, I am outraged by this racist hatemail in a law school. I sincerely hope that the administration at the University of Manitoba takes this seriously. Mr. Kalo should be able to express his thoughts in class without fear of receiving threatening letters.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Overheard at Queen's

Some of my favourite blogs out there are the "Overheard at X" sites. Overheard in New York has got to be one of the best. New Yorkers just let it all hang out.

What is Hardcore? (NYC Short Stories)

Girl: Wow, last night I was so drunk. I can't believe that I got so wasted off only a pint of gin. In first year I could drink like twice that amount and party all night.
Guy: So you were hardcore then?
Girl: Naw, I wasn't hardcore, I was just an idiot.

--NYU A bus

Overheard at Western is also amuzing. Here's a post from the law school:

And you thought lawyers were soulless creatures.

Law Professor: I don't even know what fine arts is. But I assume it involves, like... making stuff.

-- Law school, overheard by Drew

Queen's doesn't have such a site, as far as I know. But another Queen's blawgger sometimes includes postings that might qualify:

Overheard in the law lounge today.

Woman with silver laptop: "Our reading for Ethics now is this novel, which I was psyched about because I thought it would be easy, but it's the worst thing yet. My god. It's about this butler, and it's set in super old times."

Woman with the black laptop: "What's it called?

[G, internally: "Please don't say Remains of the Day, please not Remains of the Day.]

WSL: "Remains of the Day. I think it might have been made into a movie..."
There is certainly a SparkNotes version. :)

For the record, I think Ishiguro's Remains of the Day is a brilliant novel and I applaud the professor for assigning it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

LLB/JD Open House

Queen's had an Open Forum today in one of the main lecture halls on this issue. The Dean, the Associate Dean, the President of the LSS and the VP Internal Professional of the SGPS explained their various positions. In general, they agreed that this is a hot topic and they will listen to the students.

We discussed the issue for about an hour and many points were clarified. Overall, it seems like students are in favour of the change but there is some concern over exactly what the referendum will mean. The Dean is also concerned about making sure that other stakeholders, such as Faculty and alumni, are also in favour.

At one point, the Dean noted that between 4,500 and 5,000 graduates of Queen's Law hold LL.B.s from the school. He did not suggest that they should get a vote in the referendum but he's concerned that their voices aren't being heard.

The strongest message was that moving too quickly could have negative results. We'll have to see how the students vote next week.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Minority Students & Public Interest Law

The fifth annual conference in Public Interest Law will be going on this weekend in Toronto. For bios of speakers and general info, check this out.

The Law Times recently published an article titled Rethinking 'Market Model" Might Break Open Articling. Here are some excepts:
[W]hile more articles have been available lately in, for example, public interest law, minority students “aren’t getting the articling positions in the [other] areas they want.”

And she said students themselves need to reach out to wider academic circles, for example by taking part in environmental or intellectual property law groups or organizing campus events.
Moreover, by not getting involved, “you also limit your connection” to more individuals in law, which can limit career advancement, she said.

Michelle Williams, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University, said representatives of a firm at a job fair told her that it only practised tax law yet a white student was told the firm had a range of practices.

On the realities of a practical job-seeking sort, Frank Walwyn, president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and a partner at WeirFoulds LLP — one of the few black partners at any Bay St. firm — told a session that the same realities apply to minorities as apply to all articling applicants: the competition is stiff, resume honing is a must, and connections help.

Walwyn said his firm receives as many as 400 resumes for four or five positions and interviews up to 40 candidates. “The very first thing I look for are marks,” he said, since they show intellectual rigour, a chief attribute in a firm that refuses to be “compromised by mediocrity.”

He said personal letters also count, and they should be no more than one page. Knowing the firm’s practice areas, why a student wants to practise, and even what the candidate has achieved outside academics, in fields like the arts or athletics, are important, if they show “a history of commitment to perfection,” he said.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Busy students

I definitely need to update my blogroll on the right. Some blawgs have been abandoned while others are just rarely updated.

Law school is busy, that's for sure. And, I suppose, blogging isn't for everyone. Good luck to all, and good night.

Daily Distraction: Captain Canada Ad

This is not a spoof ad, as far as I can tell. It airs on a television station based in St. John's Newfoundland in a series of "Captain Canada" spots. The narrator tells us:

To all those who share this planet: the call has been made to lead us into the future. Captain Canada has answered. ... so that all will be free to reach their heights ... our vision will be called upon. It is up to us. ... So be a beacon of light.

See it for yourself. I can't help wondering if this was written tongue-in-cheek.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Download the LLB/JD Report (click here)

Open Forum: March 9th

Referendum: March 15th & 16th

Faculty Board: March 17th

Career Day Loot

Friday was Career Day for Queen's law students. I wasn't really interested in the stuff they were giving away this year, but I did give you an enumerated list for last year's event so I thought I'd write a litte something and compare this year's loot with last year.

Things I noticed this year that were absent last year:
  • gum
  • solitaire game
  • backgammon game
  • bike light
  • glossy Charter
  • the backpack this year looked stronger
  • stress ball

Things that may have been absent (but I wasn't really paying that much attention):

  • yo-yo
  • slinky
  • gift certificate to Tim's
  • CD Roms that don't run on Macs
  • pen with flashlight

Useful objects that were again present:

  • ice cream scoop
  • cereal
  • umbrella
  • water bottles
  • CD case

Suggestions for future Career Days:

  • USB keychain
  • watergun
  • dart board (was there one? I may have missed it.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Quote from a Prof

Words of wisdom?
OK. Let’s talk about trials.

The first and most important thing is what you wear.