Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Choosing a Pre-Law Major - Happy Holiday Season

This is final exam week at UConn. As the semester comes to a close I wish a happy holiday season and semester break to all readers.  Posts will return in earnest when the Spring semester begins in mid-January.

In the meantime, this clip of a family holiday dinner discussion allows us to reflect on how our students may be drawn to study the law.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bad Lawyer Ads #3

This is final exam week at UConn so, normally, I would post something on the lighter side. I went  looking for humorous lawyer ads to post and found the video below, Unfortunately, this ad, ostensibly intended to be clever turned out to be disturbing.

How can you be a lawyer who purports to make a living advancing the rights of innocent injury victims yet embrace the stereotype of "bullying" insurance companies into unfairly paying money to your clients after a "shakedown"?  Where is our credibility, as a profession, in advocating for a fair civil justice system when we sink to pandering for business at the expense of principles? An ad like this emboldens the cause of "tort deformers," and cheapens the search for justice.

I hesitated to post the ad here for fear that I would be giving it unwarranted exposure. But toward the greater interest of education, we all need to know what is happening out there and to what forces of "mis-education" our students may be exposed.

See also: Bad Lawyer Ads #1; Bad Lawyer Ads #2

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Law Music Video: "Sue Me" from Guys and Dolls

This week's installment in the "Law Music Videos" series is Sue Me from the musical "Guys and Dolls." This performance features Nathan Lane and Faith Prince.
Law music videos played before your class starts will positively contribute to learning.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Commercial Appropriation Claim: Kardashian v. Old Navy

We have seen successful commercial appropriation claims by Bette Midler and Vanna WhiteLindsey Lohan's claim deservedly crashed and burned. The latest person suiing to prevent others from trading on her fame is Kim Kardashian.  If you are like me, your first reaction is likely, "Who the heck is Kim Kardashian?"  However, I understand that she is a person well known to our undergraduate students. Yet, even the students are unable to satisfactorily answer my follow-up question, ". . . and why is she famous?"

Judge for yourself.  This is Kim Kardashian:

This is the Old Navy ad:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Law Lessong - Another Day (A Good Samaritan Law Song)

The next installment in the “Law Lessong” series is Another Day. The lyrics for this song were written by Faiven Feshazion, a student in my Legal and Ethical Environment of Business class at the University of Connecticut. Students may submit law songs for credit. In order to fashion a rhyming scheme that matches a melody, a student must carefully examine and distill legal principles and the language that expresses the legal principles. This song helps students consider the absence of a Common Law duty to assist someone who is in danger and, therefore, the public policy behind Good Samaritan statutes.

Learn more about Law Lessongs from the post found here.  More videos may be found at my youtube channel. Please feel free to use them in the classroom or as assignments or in any way that they work for you as an educational resource.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eat More . . . Doughnuts?

The NY Times is reporting that lawyers for Chick-fil-A have sent a notice to an entrepreneurial T-shirt seller in Vermont to cease and desist from selling his "Eat More Kale" T-shirts. Chick-fil-A claims that the shirt's slogan is "likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A's intellectual property."  (Chik-fil-A's trademarked advertising slogan is actually for the misspelled phrase "Eat Mor Chikin." See the video embedded below.)

I cannot profess to be an expert in these matters, but on the trademark infringement issue of public confusion, I just don't see a lot of dangerous consumer confusion between a fast food chicken restaurant that sells chicken sandwiches and a T-shirt maker that sells T-shirts about eating kale.

On the issue of trademark dilution, I think it is pretty hard to claim the distinctiveness of the phrase "Eat more (insert food item here)." In fact, I am certain that my children will recall me repeating that phrase, or something quite similar to it, many times over the years; "Eat more peas," or "Eat more liver" or "No desert until you eat more fish sticks," or something like that. If I reveal here that my physician recently advised me to "eat more fiber," should he expect a missive from Chick-fil-A?

Even a 30 second Google search turned up sites for, "Eat More Brook Trout,"  "Eat More Produce,"  "Eat More Chiles," "Eat More Cheese," "Eat More Fish," and "Eat More Cake." That last one might have run into some trouble with the British pop music group of the same name.

All in all, if I had my druthers, I'd rather eat more doughnuts. (I carefully avoided writing "donuts" so as to avoid any potential trademark issues.)

A Chick-fil-A sandwich:


Chick-fil-A commercial:

Press conference with Vermont's Governor and "Team Kale":

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Challenge For an Open Internet

Keeping internet speech open and free is certainly a desirable goal.  But how do we, as a society, deal with those who act irresponsibly and cause significant harm to others.  School systems are struggling mightily with the issues of cyber bullying. Teachers and school administrators have been targets of fake Facebook listings.  Thus far, legitimate websites such as Facebook have been cooperative in removing content that is obviously false and harmful, thereby attempting to reduce the magnitude of harm suffered by victims.  But how should the system deal with website hosters who not only allow false and harmful postings, but actually encourage the practice?

Consider the case of Sarah Jones.

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Frivolous" Lawsuits Are Good For America

The national news media reported last week on a lawsuit filed by a kidnapper against his victims claiming that they breached an oral contract to hide him from police. (A tip of the hat to ALSB member Marsha Hass for sharing the report). Predictably, bloggers and commentators have added this example to their rhetoric of a "justice system out of control" and "costing taxpayers money" and etc.

In this post, I advocate that this story, rather than supporting the notion of an out of control civil justice system,  is best understood as an example of a legal system working exactly as it should for the greater benefit of society.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Law Music Video - Folsom Prison Blues

This week's installment in the "Law Music Videos" series is Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash. This is both a Rock'n' Roll AND a Country classic.
Law music videos played before your class starts will positively contribute to learning.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Are Courts Insulated From Politics?

Students learn in high school Civics classes that the courts are insulated from the affects of politics.  This issue has already been mentioned in this blog. But as states all over the country deal with serious budget issues, all aspects of state government, including courts, have been affected. Reporting on Budget cuts in the New Hampshire court system, the New York Times reports:

While most state agencies are feeling a squeeze, legislatures squeeze courts at the risk of violating the access to the courts guaranteed in criminal and civil matters by the Constitution, said Steven Zack, a former president of the American Bar Association.

The video embedded below reports on similar issues in Iowa.

Part of being college educated is being able to see through the mask of "Civics class" platitudes and maxims and to see the Legal Environment with all its warts and imperfections.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Law Lessong - Administrative Runaround

The next installment in the “Law Lessong” series is Administrative Runaround.  This simple video and song from a Power Point presentation helps students consider aspects of Administrative Law, including rulemaking, enforcement and adjudication.  Please excuse the "Dylan-esque" harmonica playing.
Learn more about Law Lessongs from the post found here.  More videos may be found at my youtube channel. Please feel free to use them in the classroom or as assignments or in any way that they work for you as an educational resource.