Monday, August 31, 2009

Most Important Case of Last USSC Term - Iqbal

It now appears that the most important case decided by the USSC last term will be Ashcroft v. Iqbal. This case clearly resets the standard for filing a complaint in federal court. You can see it on the USSC site or at 129 S.Ct. 1937.

Under the terms of FRCP 8 the only requirement for a complaint is that it contain a "short and plain statement of the claim." This has been the standard since the FRCPs first came into existence in 1938. Under Iqbal, however, the complaint must now contain a "plausible claim for relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950. To make that determination requires the federal District Court ''to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'' This is carte blanche for any District Court to dismiss a case that does not plead specific concrete facts.

A quick review of KeyCite or Shepard's will show that Iqbal has been cited by 1388 times, primarily to support the dismissal of a complaint in federal court. So far, only three courts have declined to extend the case or have distinguished it.

This seems to be a case that was determined by the Court on the basis of its political underpinnings. According to Justice Kennedy, all that the Iqbal complaint plausibly showed ''is that the nation's top law enforcement officers, in the aftermath of a devastating terrorist attack, sought to keep suspected terrorists in the most secure conditions available.'' Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1952.

Although the USSC is a political body, it seems to have carried this political ruling too far into the realm of practical law.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Proliferation of Practitioner Blogs Continues

Readers of this blog will recall previous posts here and here about the trend toward current awareness through niche practice blogs. Here's another one to consider - California Securities Fraud Lawyer Blog. This one is from the Acala Law Firm.

If you were practicing in this niche area wouldn't you want to know about posts to this blog? Practitioner blogs may never fully replace other more formalized current awareness mechanisms. Still, this is exactly the kind of blog that should make BNA think about what they are producing and how much they are charging for it. Look for more niche blogs like this...

Meanwhile, Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog continues to post links to practitioner blogs. Using one blog to find others. Is that a Web 2.0 idea or what?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Latest Westlaw v. Librarian Tempest

Here's the latest spat between Westlaw and the Law Librarian community. ATL has posted an article about the Westlaw advertisement sent to thousands of lawyers.

In what must be the most bone-headed decision since the Dred Scott case Westlaw decides that attorneys who consult their firm librarians are wasting their time. Everyone knows that West delivers everything you need to do legal research right to your desktop. Right? They don't mention the material available only on Lexis. They don't mention all of the free online research resources. Oh, and why did we buy all those books for the law firm library?

Considering yesterday's post you might be right in thinking that Westlaw is getting a little desperate.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stanford Law Library Cutting West Publications

It should come as no surprise. West is pricing themselves out of the market. Paul Lomio, Director of the Stanford Law Library explains his rational here.

If this develops into a trend will Lexis see a resurgence of its fortunes? Hmmm. Don't forget that they have all of the Matthew Bender secondary material - a very powerful research tool.

BTW, Lomio's blog, Legal Research Plus, does an excellent job of tracking the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the legal research world.

You Know Its Real When...

Well. You know the market for new associates is tough when it becomes national news. Take a look at this article from the first page of the NYTimes Business section.

But, read closely before falling into despair. The downturn in hiring affects large firms, i.e., the ones paying those mega-salaries. Now is the time to consider exploring other options - a smaller firm, a judicial clerkship, an in-house position.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Legal Profession Responds to Technology (at last)

Nicole Black, in a short article on LLRX, analyzes the slow acceptance of technology by lawfirms. According to her the big firms are the big losers right now - the small boutique firms are reaping the benefits of embracing emerging technology. How will it all end? She has some interesting predictions.

If you are interesting in technology and the law you should take a close look at and subscribe to their RSS feed. Their tag line is - "Law and technology resources for legal professionals." Law truly is a profession that is driven by information.