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Russian student with NRA link is accused of acting as agent of foreign government

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Russian student with NRA link is accused of acting as agent of foreign government

Criminal Justice

Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C./Orhan Cam (Shutterstock.com).

A Russian woman attending American University in Washington, D.C., on a student visa is accused of conspiring to work as an agent for Russia to establish “back channel” communication with U.S. politicians and advance the Russian agenda.

The woman is identified in a Justice Department press release as 29-year-old Maria Butina, but court documents say an alternative spelling of her first name is “Mariia.” A criminal complaint and affidavit unsealed Monday say Butina worked for a high-level official at the Russian Central Bank who was a former member of the Russian legislature. She did not notify the U.S. attorney general of her efforts, the affidavit says.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR and the Wall Street Journal have coverage.

The affidavit says Butina established contact with a U.S. political operative in Moscow in 2013 to arrange introductions to persons having influence in American politics, including a “gun rights organization.” Media reports say the organization is the National Rifle Association.

According to the affidavit, Butina attended the gun group’s events and a National Prayer Breakfast, obtained seats for a Russian delegation to a second National Prayer Breakfast, wrote an article arguing that U.S. politicians and Russia share many common interests, and tried to organize several Russian-American friendship and dialogue dinners, some of which are believed to have taken place.

The article written by Butina argued that the U.S. and Russia could improve relations with the election of a Republican president.

According to the affidavit, Russian influence operations are a threat to U.S. interests because they are low-cost and relatively low-risk ways to shape perceptions. “Moscow seeks to create wedges that reduce trust and confidence in democratic processes, degrade democratization efforts, weaken U.S. partnerships with European allies, undermine Western sanctions, encourage anti-U.S. political views, and counter efforts to bring Ukraine and other former Soviet states into European institutions,” the affidavit said.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Neil Driscoll, said in a statement after a federal court hearing on Monday that Butina is not an agent of Russia and has been cooperating with government entities.

“The substance of the charge in the complaint is overblown,” Driscoll said. His client, he said, was only networking to develop relationships with Americans.

Previous reports have said Butina worked for a Russian official named Alexander Torshin, who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April. Torshin is a lifetime member of the NRA, according to the Post.

The Times previously reported that Butina had a close relationship with NRA member and conservative activist Paul Erickson, who was part of an effort to arrange a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

The criminal complaint was filed by the Justice Department’s National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C.

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Federal judge temporarily halts deportations of reunified immigrant families

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Federal judge temporarily halts deportations of reunified immigrant families

Immigration Law


Chodyra Mike / Shutterstock.com

A federal judge in San Diego on Monday temporarily halted the deportation of reunified immigrant families.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw granted a motion for a temporary restraining order by the American Civil Liberties Union after the group cited concerns that the government would quickly deport the families without oversight or due process, according to an ACLU press release. USA Today and the Wall Street Journal have coverage.

Sabraw issued the TRO after he “tore into” a senior official with the Department of Health and Human Services who said quick family reunifications led to increased risks to child welfare, according to USA Today. HHS has the responsibility to care for the separated immigrant children, and the agency maintains that pressure to reunify families by Sabraw’s deadlines don’t permit enough time to screen the children as required by a trafficking law.

Sabra issued a preliminary injunction last month that required the reunification of separated families. He imposed a July 10 deadline for family reunification of children under the age of 5, and a July 26 deadline for children who are age 5 and older.

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ABA president says Trump order could politicize the process of hiring administrative law judges

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on ABA president says Trump order could politicize the process of hiring administrative law judges


ABA President Hilarie Bass/Office of the president.

ABA President Hilarie Bass says President Donald Trump’s executive order eliminating the competitive hiring process for administrative law judges is “ill-considered and legally vulnerable.”

Bass wrote a letter urging leaders of the House Rules Committee to allow a House vote on an amendment would deny funds to implement the July 10 executive order, according to a press release.

Bass says Trump’s order gives agency heads “unfettered discretion” to hire administrative law judges based on agency criteria. Giving sole hiring discretion to agency heads “has the potential to politicize the appointment process and interfere with the decisional independence of ALJs,” Bass said.

Trump’s order is a response to the recent Supreme Court decision, Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, which raised questions about the constitutionality of the selection process for administrative law judges. In Lucia, the court ruled that administrative law judges at the Securities and Exchange Commission were officers of the United States under the appointments clause. As a result, the court said, they must be appointed by the president, courts or the heads of federal agencies.

There is no doubt that Lucia requires changes to the current selection and appointment process for administrative law judges, Bass said. “But we believe that those changes should be instituted after there has been an opportunity for Congress and the public to engage in an open and deliberative process that considers possible options for curing the constitutional defects in the current process,” she wrote

The debate on the issue should include how safeguards can protect the unique role of administrative law judges, Bass said. “Nothing less than the integrity of the administrative judiciary is at issue here,” she wrote.

“A fair and impartial administrative judiciary is indispensable to our system of justice. Vast numbers of Americans are involved in administrative adjudicative proceedings every day, and the decisions rendered by ALJs in these proceedings often affect their lives in profound ways,” Bass wrote.

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ABA files amicus brief with Supreme Court seeking to preserve cy pres awards for legal aid groups

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on ABA files amicus brief with Supreme Court seeking to preserve cy pres awards for legal aid groups


The American Bar Association on Monday filed an amicus brief that told the U.S. Supreme Court that class-action cy pres awards are often appropriate when paid to legal service groups that help provide access to justice.

Cy pres awards—paid to outside groups rather than class-action plaintiffs—provide an average of $15.5 million annually to legal services organizations, according to the ABA brief. Twenty-three states and Puerto Rico have enacted laws or rules authorizing cy pres awards from class-action settlements to be distributed to legal services organization that provide services to low-income residents.

A broad ruling imposing constitutional restrictions on cy pres awards would “potentially deprive legal services organizations of critical funding and low-income residents of legal representation,” the brief said. An ABA press release is here.

Cy pres awards are particularly appropriate in class actions aggregating small claims, the brief said. Class members with only small amounts at stake seldom bother to collect their shares of a settlement fund, creating a dilemma about how to distribute the settlement funds. Cy pres awards avoid returning the funds to the defendant or giving a windfall to class members who file claims, the ABA argued.

A fundamental purpose of class actions is to offer access to justice for people who could not otherwise realistically obtain justice to the justice system, the brief said. “Legal service organizations that represent poor and indigent litigants serve the same fundamental purpose,” the ABA brief adds. “With these closely aligned purposes, legal services organizations should in most cases be appropriate recipients of cy pres awards.”

At issue in the Supreme Court case is whether a cy pres award in a suit against Google meets the requirements of Rule 23(e)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires class-action settlements to be “fair, reasonable and adequate.”

The ABA brief doesn’t take a position on the specifics of the case, which challenges a class-action settlement that gave $5.3 million of an $8.5 million settlement fund to groups that protect internet privacy. Another $2.125 million was provided for attorney fees.

The class action before the court had alleged web browsers disclosed Google searches to third-party websites. The settlement included an agreement by Google to revise its FAQ page but gave money only to three name plaintiffs.

The ABA brief cites ABA policy that urges adoption of court rules authorizing the distribution of residual funds in class actions to groups that help improve access to civil justice for people living in poverty. The resolution says all reasonable efforts should be made to fully compensate class members before residual funds are awarded to charitable or nonprofit groups.

Cy pres awards serve an important purpose in class actions, and the Supreme Court should “avoid broad pronouncements about the constitutionality of cy pres remedies in class action settlements,” the brief says.

The case is Frank v. Gaos.

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BigLaw firm takes on porn infringement, says Prenda Law was a different, ‘malicious’ animal

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on BigLaw firm takes on porn infringement, says Prenda Law was a different, ‘malicious’ animal

Law Firms


Fox Rothschild has taken on copyright infringement suits, filing 870 such suits for porn studio Strike 3 Holdings in the first six months of this year.

Strike 3 and another porn studio, Malibu Media, are mostly responsible for an uptick in copyright suits filed through the end of June, the American Lawyer reports. More than 2,800 copyright infringement suits were filed during that time period, about twice as many as last year.

Fox Rothschild is the first law firm among the nation’s top 100 to represent a porn company in a nationwide copyright enforcement campaign, according to the American Lawyer.

Most of the Strike 3 suits this year have been overseen by Fox Rothschild partner Lincoln Bandlow, a First Amendment advocate and a visiting professor at the University of Southern California’s journalism school.

Bandlow told the American Lawyer that it’s “wrong and offensive” to use the term “copyright troll” to refer to Strike 3’s campaign against illegal downloaders. The lawsuits are “mostly a break-even” and are designed to send a message that the company is addressing piracy, he said.

Fox Rothschild says its methods are different than those of Prenda Law, the firm that made more than $6 million in copyright settlements against people who illegally downloaded porn films. Prenda’s lawyers filmed some of the movies themselves, uploaded them to the websites where others illegally downloaded them, and created fake businesses that owned the copyrights, according to federal prosecutors. One Prenda’s lawyers, John Steele, pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges of money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud last year.

Fox Rothschild successfully fought off sanctions in a federal case in Seattle after a judge questioned whether the firm had violated an order not to communicate directly with any defendant. In court papers, Fox Rothschild said Strike 3’s enforcement of its patents has been “wholly proper” and it communicated only with the downloaders’ lawyers, not the downloaders themselves. Fox Rothschild explained how Strike 3 was different than Prenda Law.

Strike 3 is an actual producer of the films, owns valid copyrights and makes nearly all of its revenue from sales of subscriptions, DVDs and licenses, not litigation, Fox Rothschild said.

“To be clear to the court, plaintiff must address the elephant in the room, and that elephant’s name is Prenda,” Fox Rothschild said. “That was a big, dumb, malicious animal from years ago that unfortunately now poses the risk of trampling the rights of all the legitimate content creators, such as plaintiff, who have been forced to seek court intervention to address the tidal wave of internet infringement that puts content creators at risk of drowning in a sea of theft. The court should rest assured: plaintiff and its counsel are the anti-Prenda.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly found no violation of his directive in a June 14 order.

Related articles:

ABAJournal.com: “How two California solos helped take down ‘porn troll’ Prenda Law”

ABAJournal.com: “Prenda Law principal pleads guilty to federal charges in porn copyright case”

ABAJournal.com: “Prenda Law attorney who had switched to ADA suits is suspended for earlier ‘copyright trolling’ work”

ABAJournal.com: “Judge boldly uses ‘Star Trek’ references in opinion blasting lawyers who sued porn downloaders”

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FCC Chairman Pai: Public comment portal may get upgrade

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on FCC Chairman Pai: Public comment portal may get upgrade

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai/Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

The Federal Communications Commission may update its public comments system, Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a recent letter to Congress.

The letter dated July 6 to U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.) stated in part that “the FCC is planning to rebuild and re-engineer [the Electronic Comment Filing System] and has submitted a request to reprogram the funds necessary to undertake this project.”

While the request sits in front of House and Senate appropriation committees awaiting approval, Pai indicates that CAPTCHA or a similar mechanism which could limit bots from posting comments should be one of the features incorporated to the new version of ECFS.

Ars Technica and the Wall Street Journal have coverage.

The FCC’s public comment system was criticized during last year’s net neutrality debate in which thousands of comments were fraudulently made through identity theft and by automated bots. While the public, Democratic lawmakers and minority commissioners objected at the time, the fake comments were allowed to stay as part of the public record.

An Obama-era reform, net neutrality required that internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon treat all web traffic equally. This meant that, for example, providers would not be allowed to “throttle” or change the speed with which a person accesses a website. The repeal allows ISPs to block or slow some online traffic. In other cases, the provider can negotiate with a website for “fast lanes” to users.

In December, the FCC voted on party lines to end net neutrality. The decision to end net neutrality went into effect in June.

The New York attorney general’s office, which is suing the FCC along with 21 other attorneys general over net neutrality, said as many as 2 million Americans had their identities misused. A report from industry group Broadband for America found that nearly 445,000 were from Russian email addresses, and that a similar number came from Germany.

Pai said if an individual contacted the FCC claiming that a comment was incorrectly submitted under their name, the commission invited that person to file a statement to be included in the public record. He did not indicate how many took up this offer.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission have all received fake comments or comments submitted under stolen identities.

Be sure to read Jason Tashea’s story, No Contact, coming in the August 2018 issue of the ABA Journal magazine.

Corrects to “net” in fifth paragraph at 2:16 p.m.

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West Virginia’s top court loses 2 justices to indictment, abrupt retirement

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on West Virginia’s top court loses 2 justices to indictment, abrupt retirement


The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will have only three justices available to hear cases after one was suspended following an indictment and another announced his retirement in a two-sentence letter on Wednesday.

Justice Menis Ketchum, 75, said his retirement would be effective July 27, report the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Associated Press and West Virginia MetroNews. He announced his retirement a day before West Virginia lawmakers were to begin discussing whether any justices should be impeached.

The impeachment proceedings follow an audit report that found Ketchum and now-indicted Justice Allen Loughry used state vehicles for personal use without claiming the benefit on their federal tax forms. A second audit said another justice, Robin Davis, used a court vehicle seven times without listing a business purpose for the trips, according to May coverage by MetroNews. Davis remains on the court.

The audit said Ketchum had received permission from his fellow justices in 2012 to use the state car to commute from his home, and also used a state fuel card to buy gas, according to a prior story by MetroNews. On five occasions, Ketchum used the car to travel to golf outings in Virginia. Ketchum stopped using a state vehicle in 2016, but sought mileage reimbursement for his commutes, the audit said.

After questioning by auditors, Ketchum reimbursed the state for the golf trips and 16 reimbursement requests for commutes on days after the supreme court ended its term. He also reimbursed the state for six days when he sought mileage reimbursement for commutes even though he used a state vehicle.

Ketchum is not facing any criminal charges or formal ethics charges. But Loughry was indicted last month on federal charges based on allegations that he used a government vehicle and credit card to buy gas on personal trips, lied about his involvement in pricey renovations at the court, and used a state-owned antique desk at his home.

The charges against Loughry include fraud, lying to federal agents and trying to influence the grand jury testimony of a court employee.

West Virginia Supreme Court justices are paid $136,000 a year, according to the prior coverage.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay nearly $4.7B in talcum powder case

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay nearly $4.7B in talcum powder case

Verdicts & Settlements

Lunasee Studios/Shutterstock.com.

Jurors in St. Louis awarded nearly $4.7 billion in damages on Thursday in a suit that claimed Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused 22 women to get ovarian cancer, including six women who died.

Jurors awarded $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages, report the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs expect the defense to file a motion to reduce the award because state law restricts punitive damages to five times the amount of compensatory damages, according to the Post-Dispatch.

A female juror, who did not want her name used, told the Post-Dispatch that jurors arrived at the punitive damages amount by multiplying the figure Johnson & Johnson earns each year for selling baby powder by the 43 years that the company has denied the product contained asbestos.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mark Lanier, told jurors in opening arguments that Johnson & Johnson had “rigged the tests” to hide that its baby powder contained asbestos, the National Law Journal reported in June. He said the company should have replaced talcum powder with corn starch, which would be safer but less profitable.

Johnson & Johnson’s lawyer, Peter Bicks of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, had argued that many studies and government regulators had found no link between baby powder and ovarian cancer. He said Johnson & Johnson doesn’t want asbestos in its talc and it has been careful to make sure it wasn’t in the product.

Defense lawyers had sought to dismiss 17 of the plaintiffs who lived outside Missouri, citing the Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. The decision said California courts did not have specific jurisdiction to hear the claims of nonresidents in a Plavix class action when those plaintiffs didn’t buy or ingest the drug in the state.

Judge Rex Burlison rejected the defense request because the plaintiffs had shown a Missouri connection, partly because a talc company that worked with J&J had a plant in Missouri, according to the National Law Journal.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it is “deeply disappointed in the verdict” and it plans to “pursue all available appellate remedies.”

The statement said the verdict “was the product of a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer. The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.

“Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed.”

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Mueller indicts 12 Russian intelligence officers for hack of Democratic groups and Clinton campaign

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Mueller indicts 12 Russian intelligence officers for hack of Democratic groups and Clinton campaign

Criminal Justice

Special counsel Robert Mueller.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers for allegedly hacking into Democratic organizations and trying to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The defendants are accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to a press release. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the 11-count indictment Friday.

The indictment also says the defendants conspired to steal voter data by hacking into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and U.S. companies that supplied election technology. In one hack of a state board of elections website, the defendants allegedly stole information for about 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial Social Security numbers, birth dates and driver’s license numbers.

The defendants were officers with a Russian military intelligence agency called the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, known as the GRU. The GRU had multiple units that staged releases of documents stolen through computer hacking.

The defendants released tens of thousands of the stolen emails and documents using fictitious online personas, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” according to the indictment.

Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, has previously acknowledged he communicated with a Twitter persona known as Guccifer 2.0, but has said the interactions were limited and entirely benign.

There is no allegation in the indictment that any Americans were knowing participants in the alleged conspiracy or knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers, the release points out. Nor is there any allegation that the hacking altered the vote count or changed the outcome of the election.

According to the indictment, the Guccifer persona communicated with an unnamed person who was in regular contact with senior members of Trump’s presidential campaign and asked if the person found anything interesting in posted stolen documents. Two days later, Guccifer asked the person what he or she thought about hacked information on the Democrats’ turnout model for the campaign. The person responded, “Pretty standard.”

The indictment says the Guccifer persona received a request for stolen documents from an unnamed congressional candidate and sent that individual stolen documents about the candidate’s opponent.

The indictment says the defendants also transferred stolen documents to a state lobbyist, two reporters and a group referred to as “Organization 1.” WikiLeaks posted many hacked Democratic documents.

The hacking started in at least March 2016 and the group began to release documents some three months later, the indictment says. Some of the defendants used “spearphishing” to steal victims’ passwords and gain access to their computers. The conspirators searched one hacked DCCC computer for terms that included “hillary,” “cruz” and “trump,” and also copied select folders, including one titled “Benghazi Investigations,” the indictment says.

The defendants allegedly used bitcoin and other cryptocurrency to hide the source of payments for their computer networks.

The defendants are accused of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to launder money.

“Free and fair elections are hard-fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide and conquer us,” Rosenstein said in the release. “So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.”

The Washington Post, Politico and the New York Times have coverage of the indictment and Rosenstein’s press conference.

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Reforming law school: Start with the end in mind

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Reforming law school: Start with the end in mind

Law Schools

Mary Juetten

Mary Juetten

Last month, I wrote here about some potential changes to legal training in the United States, based on my own experience and conversations within and outside both the industry and country. The response was overwhelmingly positive from those who understood that I am trying to improve our profession for lawyers and clients alike.

I did receive some negative comments that were disappointing because I believe they were both personal and displayed the very self-centered and protectionist attitude that I believe is harmful to our profession.

As I mentioned last month, I am exploring some changes to law school curriculum that would benefit clients and attorneys alike while improving access to justice. Thank you to Gina Alexandris, senior director of the law practice program at Ryerson University; and Cat Moon, director of innovation design for the Program in Law and Innovation at Vanderbilt University Law School, for speaking with me about this important issue.


In 2018, there are approximately 1.34 million lawyers in the U.S. according to ABA statistics and approximately 32,000 law students will graduate this year. Approximately 3 percent of lawyers were in the judiciary as of 2005 per this ABA report. More importantly, about half of the 75 percent of lawyers in private practice are solos, meaning more than 650,000 attorneys are running their own firms. And after deducting those solo firms, the other attorneys practice in one of the approximate 48,000 firms in the U.S.; 89 percent of lawyers work in firms under 10 attorneys; and 76 percent have two to five lawyers. Therefore, it’s more important for lawyers to understand how to run a business rather than sit on the bench. A few law schools are creating classes on business, like Suffolk University Law School’s program. However, that is a separate certificate from the J.D. program, rather than a mandatory class.

Every law student needs to become financially literate and understand the business aspect of running a firm, which today includes the use of technology for efficient and effective legal services delivery. Additionally, with 8 percent of lawyers working in-house, the business and technology of legal is invaluable knowledge. Finally, clients are demanding legal services with technology, and we ignore them at our own peril.

Another example is Canada’s Ryerson University, where a new law school is launching in 2020 that includes the following classes in the third and fourth semesters:

    • The Business of Lawyering
    • Social Innovation and the Law
    • Legal Innovation
    • Advocacy and ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)


Law students should be expected to take classes in alternative dispute methods to avoid lengthy and costly trials. According to the National Center for State Courts, there were 84.2 million new cases filed in state courts in 2016, a decline from a peak of 106.1 million cases prior to the Great Recession in 2008. Meanwhile, federal courts reported an increase in civil filings in 2017 by 6 percent compared to the previous year, while criminal cases dropped 5 percent. Most of those cases will never even go to trial but languish on a judge’s docket for months, if not years. For those who can afford a lawyer, they might not be able to afford much else after their case ultimately settles. The NCSC reported in 2013 that the median cost for a malpractice claim was $122,000 while the median cost for an employment dispute was $88,000. In addition to the costs, the courts are clogged with pro se litigants who slow down the entire process as identified in the Utah and Oregon Futures Reports.

ADR can take the form of a negotiated settlement, mediation, or arbitration. One of the main advantages of ADR is that disputes can often be resolved sooner because of the court backlogs. There is anecdotal evidence that the cost of a mediator or negotiator pales in comparison to the figures above. For example, in family law, mediation is often used to come to agreement rather than waiting months to go to court and spend thousands on an attorney.

In 2008, my 1L classes focused exclusively on doctrinal material, and while there were options to take ADR classes at my law school, it was not mandatory. Ryerson’s curriculum incorporates ADR in year two as a required class. It’s interesting, because Australia has now included an ADR course into their first year of law studies. In addition, I believe that online dispute resolution should be included as part of the mandatory ADR topics.


As I mentioned previously, clinical or experiential learning should be part of law school. In 2010, my last year of law school, I participated in the then-Technology Ventures Clinic with real clients. Clinics allow students to use legal knowledge but develop client service skills that cannot be learned from the Socratic method.

This summer, in my negotiation masters class, we took on roles for simulated scenarios and did not deal with actual clients. This role-playing or acting is sufficient training, definitely superior to theoretical lectures or reading. However, perhaps law schools could explore using actors, like medical, in the place of real clients where clinics are not feasible.


The above are some ideas to consider, mainly from Canada, and I will provide more examples, particularly for ADR, in future articles. I spoke with Cat Moon at VLS about how and what should be done to change the law school experience.

Cat provided this quote from The Future is Already Here blog post by Dan Hunter, founding dean of Swinburne Law School in Australia: “We must collectively learn how to think about what to do next, not what to do next.” She comments on her approach to redesigning the VLS law school experience as follows:

After almost 20 years in practice, I now have the opportunity explore this very idea at my alma mater. Named the director of innovation design for VLS earlier this year, I get to work with colleagues to create modern, relevant, and innovative content for the VLS curriculum—and for practicing legal professionals. So I’m constantly thinking and talking about how we can design a new vision for law school, and running experiments to see what works (and what doesn’t).

To really move the needle? We must focus on the how, to Dan’s point. I suggest the process and mindsets of human-centered design offer a valuable heuristic for the very wicked problem we face in redesigning law school. We’ve got to dig deep into the roots of the many problems existing in the traditional law school model, and walk in the shoes of the myriad stakeholders law schools must serve. All of this is the how, and must be done before we start prescribing the what.

And the how must focus not just on law school curricular content but also on how we teach law students. Pedagogical methods largely go ignored across most law schools (with some important exceptions, such as the many stellar clinical programs). Excellent pedagogy in law school must become the rule, not the exception.

To remain relevant for the millions of Americans who need access to justice, it’s imperative to consider change. I am excited to continue the conversation with Cat and dive deeper into Ryerson’s proposal and ADR projects in future articles. As I set out last month, anyone interested in being interviewed on this topic, whether you have ideas or are implementing change at your law school or in the broader legal profession, please reach out to me on Twitter @maryjuetten.

Mary E. Juetten, Esq. CA, CPA, is founder and CEO of Traklight and of counsel for Nimbus Legal. In 2015, Mary co-founded Evolve Law, an organization for change and technology adoption in the law, which she sold to Above the Law in 2018. She was named to the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center 2016 Women in Legal Tech list and the Fastcase 50 Class of 2016. She is the author of Small Law Firm KPIs: How to Measure Your Way to Greater Profits. She is always looking or success stories where technology has been used to bridge the justice gap, from pro-bono through low-bono to nontraditional legal services delivery.

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