Tag Archives: American Bar Association

Student Spotlight: Maritza Adonis

maritzaadonis

I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division 4th Circuit Governor, Maritza Adonis, who is a first-year law student here at Charlotte School of Law. Maritza, a Miami, Florida native, graduated from North Carolina State University in 2010 and worked in the Wake County Teen Court before beginning her law school career last fall. In only her first year of law school, Maritza has accomplished so much, both professionally and academically. In addition to her role as the American Bar Association Law Student Division 4th Circuit Governor, Maritza is active in the Black Allied Law Student Association, Counsel for Children’s Rights, Education Legal Society, and Women in Law.  Maritza is also the recipient of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys’ Sarah Parker 2014-2015 Scholarship.

Maritza won the spring vote for the American Bar Association Law Student Division 4th Circuit Governor position by receiving a majority of the votes from the 17 law schools in the American Bar Association Law Student Division 4th Circuit. As Governor, Maritza will be focusing on several different tasks, but some of her main initiatives focuses on the mental health of law students. Maritza believes mental health is a huge issue for law students, and she wants to figure out why students are not seeking help during law school and figure out a way to resolve this issue. One of the ways that Maritza can be a change agent and advocate for law students is by writing American Bar Association resolutions, which are voted on by the American Bar Association and potentially become American Bar Association Rules. Maritza is also hoping that being the American Bar Association Law Student Division 4th Circuit Governor will help to give Charlotte School of Law more national recognition and instill pride in the current students.

Keep a lookout for the major initiatives and moves Maritza has in store for Charlotte School of Law and the entire American Bar Association Law Student Division 4th Circuit.

~Minerva Mims~

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Thar’s Gold in them Thar Asteroids! But Who Owns It?

miningmanIf you managed to snag an asteroid and tow it back to Earth, is it yours?  What are the laws about space resources?  Is Space Law the final frontier?

You may laugh, but this science fiction movie plot is coming closer and closer to becoming reality.  Planetary Resources is backed by Google billionaires Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, billionaire Ross Perot, Jr. and director James Cameron, among others.  The mission of Planetary Resources is to “apply commercial, innovative techniques to explore space. We will develop low-cost robotic spacecraft to explore the thousands of resource-rich asteroids within our reach. We will learn everything we can about them, then develop the most efficient capabilities to deliver these resources directly to both space-based and terrestrial customers. Asteroid mining may sound like fiction, but it’s just science.”

In plain English, they are going to mine asteroids for valuable resources.

The latest issue of Popular Mechanics features an article by Space Law expert, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, who reviews the questions surrounding the ownership of asteroids:  What is at stake?  Potentially trillions of dollars per large asteroid.  The 1967 Outer Space Treaty prevents national appropriation of celestial bodies but is silent on private appropriation and it fails to define “celestial bodies.”  Scholars are starting to weigh in on whether or not asteroids are celestial bodies.  Andrew Tingkang argues in Seattle University Law Review that if it can be moved, it isn’t a celestial body.  The full title of his Jedi Master-inspired work is These Aren’t the Asteroids You Are Looking For: Classifying Asteroids in Space as Chattels, Not Land.  If you don’t get it, go watch Star Wars:  A New Hope.

Reynolds agrees with Tingkang’s classification and analogizes to the distinction on Earth between “real” and “personal” property.  Real property stays put.  As he points out, a supertanker the size of a city can be personal property and it can move.

There are more questions than answers now and it will take many years for the situation to evolve and resolve but won’t it be fun to watch?  Do we have a new Wild West with the 21st century version of Forty-Niners?

For more information, check out the ABA newly published guidebook on Space Law or the ABA Space Law Committee.

For a humorous take on asteroid mining, take a look at this Jon Stewart segment from the Daily Show.

~Mary Susan Lucas~

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A Competent Lawyer Will Keep Current with Technology

Recently the American Bar Association revised its model rules, specifically addressing the need for an attorney to keep current with advances in technology.  The change in rules was proposed by the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 and was adopted during the annual meeting, held in Chicago, August 2-7. The affected Model Rule 1.1 speaks to the importance of an attorney understanding the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”   As stated in the Report to the ABA House of Delegates, “[A] lawyer would have difficulty providing competent legal services in today’s environment without knowing how to use email or create an electronic document.”

The impetus behind the changes had everything to do with developing a set of guidances to assist attorneys in not only representing their clients, but in understanding how to maintain the confidentiality which corresponds to competent representation.  The American Bar Association has made practice resources available through its Legal Technology Resource Center.  Its Law Practice Management Section’s eLawyering Task Force has also provided resources.  The amended Model Rules have rounded back and have now imposed a duty on attorneys to embrace technology.

So how has Charlotte School of Law addressed the need to remain knowledgeable regarding technology and the practice of law?  In July, the library staff conducted two student focus groups which addressed how students were accessing legal resources.  Another purpose of the focus groups, moderated by Adjunct Professor and Reference Librarian, Cory Lenz, was to ascertain which legal apps students were accessing through mobile phones and tablet technology.  This evaluation has been continued into the fall semester by the Advanced Legal Research class.  As part of the class, every ALR student is evaluating a specific legal research app and will post the evaluation to the CSL Library blog.  So watch this space!  In the interim, please take a look at the “There’s an App for That”  research guide, created by Metadata & Serials Librarian, Ashley Moye, and available on the Library’s electronic resource page.

~ Susan Catterall ~

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Blogs – They’ve Come A Long Way!

A blog posting about blogs?  Go figure!

Since 2007, the American Bar Association has listed its favorite 100 “Blawgs.”  (The term “blawg” originated with Denise Howell, an attorney at the Reed Smith firm.) Readers are invited to go to the ABA Journal website and vote for their favorite blogs in each category before the close of business on December 30th.  There are 12 categories to choose from and by registering, one is able to obtain 12 votes for 12 different blogs.  If you’re not sure of what blogs are available to choose from, you can access the BLAWG Directory and view by topic, author type, region, or law school.

Very few of you need to be brought up to date, but here goes.  Blog is short for web log. At one time, blogs were equated with online journals.  They’ve become popular because anyone can start a blog. You don’t have to be a website developer or invest a lot of time or money. Over the years, blogs have become more specialized and are often linked to online resources.     Another site, in addition to the ABA BLAWG Directory, for locating law-related blogs is www.blawg.com.  The directory is arranged topically and there is a category for “Law Libraries and Research.”

Not all blogs/blawgs are created equally.  What is the role of a blog in our profession?  Not all blogs qualify as scholarship, yet almost everyone is beginning to see that blogs have an important role to play in conveying information.   J. Robert Brown in his December 21, 2009 “The Influence of Law Blogs on the Judicial Process,” noted that judicial law clerks are using blogs to prepare their judges for oral argument or to draft opinions.  He theorized that blogging “can be a form of post-oral argument analysis.”

I understand that Supreme Court clerks …often check the blogs that cover their cases.  Appellate lawyers are aware of this practice, and, as a result, blogging is sometimes used as a kind of back-door, post-argument supplement briefing. In most appellate courts, particularly the Supreme Court, the court will only very rarely allow the filing of a post-argument brief to address an issue that arose during oral argument. However, since bloggers discuss and comment on the oral argument in prominent cases, and since the clerks (and possibly the Justices themselves) read these posts, the blogosphere can serve as a vehicle to, in effect, continue the oral argument or supplement the briefing.

Let’s return to the topic of choosing favorite blogs as part of the annual ABA Journal survey.  There are too many to choose from.  The three I recommend are:

  • SCOTUSblog, which is useful when searching for news and analysis regarding the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • 3 Geeks and a Law Blog , which is coordinated by law librarian, Greg Lamber, discusses developments in research, law libraries and knowledge management.  This is often the site to monitor when information vendors release new products, such as WestlawNext;
  • Above the Law, which covers lawyers and the business of law. During 2009, this blog was often the go-to site to learn which firms were quietly laying off employees in massive numbers.

There are too many good (and not as good) blogs out there to monitor.  It can’t be denied that blogging is affecting how information is disseminated, even in the legal profession.

~Susan Catterall~

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From Law Office to Oval Office

Every four years, Americans go to the polls to elect the individual who will serve as our chief executive officer, commander in chief of the armed forces, head of state, and who, since the Truman administration, is known by the acronym, POTUS – President of the United States.  These individuals have brought numerous skills and diverse experiences to our highest office.  These experiences have included: architect, soldier, diplomat, Secretary of State, governor, postmaster, ordained Minister, school teacher, sheriff, journalist, U.S. Solicitor General, judge and vice president of the United States.

Significantly, of our 44 presidents (if one counts Grover Cleveland twice), there have been 25 individuals who were lawyers before becoming presidents, including William Howard Taft who became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court after he served as President.  In addition to Taft, who argued before justices he had appointed, seven other lawyer-presidents have appeared before the United States Supreme Court.  The most recent lawyer-president to do so was Richard Nixon when he argued the case of Time v. Hill in 1966.

Some individuals actively practiced law.  John Adams combined a lengthy career as an attorney with major contributions to the founding of a new nation.  His son, John Quincy Adams, successfully argued that the kidnapped and sold-as-slaves Africans should be treated as free men and released in Amistad [Part of our audio/visual collection available on display].   Rutherford Hayes and Benjamin Harrison handled several high profile cases, including sensational murder trials.   Abraham Lincoln was involved in more than 5000 cases, spanning his 25 year career.   He was also a postmaster and a captain in the Black Hawk war.  Lincoln was a skilled draftsman.  He utilized this skill in crafting a legally binding executive order, the Emancipation Proclamation.

Some presidents studied the law to further political aspirations.  Some, such as Lincoln and James Garfield, set their own course of study and read the law before being admitted to the bar.  Garfield is better known as a teacher, college professor and president, soldier, congressman and a Minister of the Disciples of Christ.  Others took the more traditional approach and attended law schools.  President Gerald Ford, in fact, attended three including a summer spent at the University of North Carolina School of Law.  Norman Gross has profiled the men who were both lawyers and president of the United States in his treatise,  America’s Lawyer-Presidents: From Law Office to Oval Office [Available at on display - Call No. KF353 .A46 2004 ]

Test your knowledge of America’s Lawyer-Presidents by taking the quiz sponsored by the American Bar Association.

 – Susan Catterall -

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“Law Day USA” – Celebrating Traditions and Embracing Challenges

Ever since 1958, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower first dedicated May 1st as “Law Day”,  every American President has issued an annual proclamation recognizing “Law Day USA” as the day on which we celebrate the rule of law and the freedoms assured to us by our legal system.   In 1961, Congress formalized “Law Day” by passing Joint Resolution, Pub. L. 87-20, 75 Stat. 43, now codified in Title 36, Section 113 of the United States Code.  The law requests the President to issue an annual proclamation and also, in part, provides that:

Law Day, U.S.A., is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States—

(1) in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; and

(2) for the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life.

North Carolina native, Charles S. Rhyne, a former President of the American Bar Association, had envisioned the idea of a special day which would recognize the contributions made by our legal system.  It is on this day that we not only honor our legal and judicial systems, but also recognize that this legacy emanated from countless individuals’ struggle for justice.  Upon the occasion of the first “Law Day,” then Governor of New York, Averell Harriman stated:

“Adherence to law has enabled commerce and industry to build upon a firm foundation.  The whole complex of our social order has been erected on a framework of law and justice.  Without this recognition of law as the base of our free society, individual liberties would be impaired, if not destroyed.  In our country, we must recognize that the preservation of equal justice under law in a personal responsibility.”

This year, the ABA has chosen “Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges” as a theme which were permits us to look forward as well as recognizing past contributions. This theme is significant as our legal system is being shaped by new technologies and a mobile society.  Global transactions have introduced shared concerns and have required that we adapt to new cultures and become knowledgeable about other legal systems.  We are being challenged to new understandings and partnerships.

Challenge yourself by taking the President’s Day trivia quiz and learn more about the contributions our leaders have made to our legal system.

-Susan Catterall-

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Marketing your Career on Day 1

Ok, let’s be honest, when I get something from the Bar Association or the ABA and it isn’t in a sealed envelope, most of the time it goes directly into the trash.  CLE-this, Newsletter-that.  However, I started getting a new mailing, The Young Lawyer, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Divison Newsletter.  Rather than merely chucking this right into the 2 foot trash can next to my desk, something caught my eye.  One of the cover stories directly targets young associates and dives right into the essential role that legal marketing has taken within a law firm.  This article categorized different marketing strategies by year to help new (or fairly new) attorneys gather a game plan early on for firm growth and revenue building.  Here’s a snip-it:

First-Year Associates: “Volunteer for assignments and ask your firm’s ‘rainmakers’ for assignments”… “Scrub your Facebook page to eliminate anything that you don’t want a client or a managing partner to find”… “Send out holiday cards to those on your mailing list.”

Second-Year Associates: “Find a mentor” … “Ask your clients what meetings they go to, and join them” … “Read articles about marketing and business development.”

Third-Year, Fourth-Year, and Fifth-Year Associates: “Declare your major. Visualize the kind of person you’d most like to have as client.  Than reflect on the legal work you most enjoy.  Your goal is find these ideal clients and solve their problems with legal services”… “Develop a 30-second commercial.  Develop a concise description of yourself in terms of (1) what you do (e.g. ‘I’m a deal maker’, or ‘I settle disputes’); (2) what kind of clients you work for; and (3) what kind of problems you solve.

That was just a taste, now go see the full-text of the Definitive Associate Marketing Checklist and reflect on what you can do as a law student looking for those summer internships or as a new attorney wanting to razzle and dazzle the partner at the firm.  Here are a few other good reads I would recommend for the young lawyers out there:

  • The lawyer’s guide to marketing your practice / James A. Durham, Deborah McMurray, editors. Available at KF316.5 .L38 2004.
  • The lawyer’s guide to strategic planning : defining, setting, and achieving your firm’s goals / Thomas C. Grella, Michael L. Hudkins. Available at KF318 .G74 2004
  • The lawyer’s guide to creating a business plan [electronic resource] : a step-by-step software package / Linda Pinson. Available at AV KF315 .Z9
  • The lawyer’s guide to effective yellow pages advertising / Kerry Randall, Andru J. Johnson. Available at KF310.A3 R36 2005
  • The lawyer’s guide to increasing revenue : unlocking the profit potential in your firm / Arthur G. Greene. Available at KF316.5 .G74 2005

-Liz McCurry-

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