First Monday - April 2, 2012
In this issue:
- College of Law Receives “A” Grade for Transparency of Employment Information
- Moot Court Competitors Earn (Another) National “Best Brief” Award
- Guest Lecture Provides Guidance on Becoming a Business Lawyer
- International Law Program Addresses Gender-Based Violence in Africa
- Tax Clinic Compiles More Success Stories
- Genetic Engineering Will Be Focus of Upcoming Law Review Symposium
Recent national news stories about employment of law school graduates have highlighted allegations that some institutions are furnishing prospective students inadequate or misleading information about employment opportunities. In 2009 a nonprofit entity known as “Law School Transparency” (LST) began surveying law schools and examining their websites to evaluate whether employment statistics were being forthrightly disclosed. Recently the National Jurist magazine utilized information gathered by LST to compile transparency grades for 197 of the approximately 200 accredited law schools in the United States. The grades, which appear in the March, 2012, edition of the magazine.
The grading criteria included whether employment data were published and accessible; whether the percentage of graduates responding to the school’s survey was disclosed; whether employment status, including full-time and part-time, was reported; whether sample employers were identified; and whether meaningful starting salary information was provided. These criteria were applied to employment information for the graduating class of 2010. The University of Idaho College of Law received an “A” grade, placing the College among the upper 15 law schools in the country that received a grade of “A” or “A+”. The grading was rigorous. In total, only 70 American law schools received grades of “C” or above, and 127 received grades of “C-“ or lower.
For law schools, gathering and reporting employment data is painstaking work, requiring individualized outreach to all graduating students in every class and solicitation of their cooperation in providing the requested information. At the University of Idaho, this effort is undertaken and guided by Career Development Director Anne-Marie Fulfer with assistance from Career Development Specialist Bill Rauer in Boise, by Student Service staff Susan Ball, and by other staff and faculty in both locations. Efforts are now underway to finalize employment data for the class of 2011, which will be posted on the Career Development Office website by mid-April. The College is grateful to its graduates for supplying the information necessary for the College to achieve and sustain a high transparency ranking. Further information about law graduate employment and career development is available from Ms. Fulfer.
For the second year in a row, students from the College of Law have received “best brief” honors at the John J. Gibbons National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition. This year, 2L students Joan Callahan, Christopher Boyd, and Brian Sheldon earned the Best Petitioner’s Brief award in the spring competition held at Seton Hall University. The competition encompassed 42 teams from across the nation, including teams from NYU, Georgetown, and Boston University. The University of Idaho teams are coached by Professor Alan Williams, who is quick to note that the “best brief” awards reflect the strength of the legal writing program taught by faculty colleagues Deborah McIntosh, Laurie O’Neal, and Abigail Patthoff. Further information about the Gibbons National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition is available from Professor Williams.
On February 27, 2012, the College of Law presented a special program, "Your Legal Education: Development of the Business Lawyer in the 21st Century," to audiences in both Moscow and Boise. Presenting the program at mid-day in Boise, and in the evening at Moscow, was Seattle University Professor W. H. “Joe” Knight, an expert in commercial law who has authored three books on the subject and has taught courses in domestic and international banking, contracts, and commercial transactions. The Boise presentation was attended not only by College of Law third-year students and faculty but also by invited members of the Idaho State Bar Young Lawyers and Business Law sections. Professor Knight traced the history of American legal education, noting a shift from educating problem-spotters to developing problem-solvers. He listed and analyzed the attributes of entrepreneurs, and he offered practical suggestions on how young lawyers can become “value added” assets to entrepreneurial clients or can become entrepreneurs themselves.
Professor Knight’s visit was coordinated by University of Idaho law professor Shaakirrah Sanders, with collaborative assistance in Boise from business law professor Wendy Couture. Information about the business law and entrepreneurism curricular emphasis at the College of Law may be obtained from Professor Couture.
On March 19, 2012, as part of a series of programs on professionalism, the College of Law presented a panel discussion on the topic, “Professionalism Abroad: How the ABA's Rule of Law Initiative Helps Combat Gender-Based Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo." Panelists included the Hon. Robert H. Alsdorf, retired federal district judge and chair of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (Africa Division), and Ms. Brahmy Poologasingham, program manager for the Africa Division. The panel discussion, which included a documentary film and commentary, provided an opportunity for students and faculty to learn about opportunities to get involved with international justice efforts to combat what University of Idaho international law professor Anastasia Telesetsky described as "cultures of impunity."
The ABA guests’ visit was coordinated by University of Idaho law professor Shaakirrah Sanders in collaboration with Professor Telesetsky. Further information about international law courses and programs at the College of Law can be obtained from Professor Telesetsky. Information relating to human rights law is also available from Professor Monica Schurtman.
As previously reported in “First Monday,” the College of Law has been ranked 13th out of approximately 200 accredited law schools for clinical education opportunities provided to students. Clinical education connects theory with practice, giving students the benefits of experiential learning while also providing access to justice for clients of limited means. The Low Income Tax Clinic, supervised in Boise by faculty member Barbara Lock, is a leading example. The cases handled by students may be modest in dollar terms; but the issues of law are the same as those found in larger cases and, for the clinic’s clients, the stakes are just as high. Here are a few recent illustrations:
- A client whose disabled 28 year old daughter lived with him was denied the earned income credit (EIC). The EIC is a valuable tax credit that can be worth up to almost $6,000 for a low-income taxpayer, even if he/she owed no tax. Because the daughter was over 19, our student had to prove that the daughter was permanently disabled for our client to receive the credit. Not only did our student do that, he discovered the daughter had a child who was also living with the taxpayer client. Our student proved to the IRS that the grandchild existed and lived with the taxpayer, and this increased the amount of the tax credit to which the taxpayer was entitled.
- The IRS sought $6000 from a client after denying the client’s dependency exemptions, child tax credit, and earned income credit. The taxpayer petitioned the Tax Court to contest the proposed deficiency. Our student worked with the IRS to prove the client was entitled to the disallowed exemptions and credits, and settled the case for $0 deficiency.
- The IRS disallowed another client’s business deductions after her long-time accountant, unbeknownst to her, developed Alzheimer’s and improperly prepared her returns. The IRS proposed a deficiency for two years of $61,000 with almost $12,500 in penalties. The client petitioned the Tax Court. Our student sorted through and organized the client’s “mess of documents” (student’s words), made our client’s case to the IRS, and settled for $0 deficiency. The client emailed the student and stated, “I don’t know what you did, but it was a miracle. You’re a genius for making this happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you so very, very much. … This was the best New Year’s greeting of all.”
Further information about the Low Income Tax Clinic can be obtained from instructor Barbara Lock.
Law, technology, and international commerce will intersect at the upcoming Idaho Law Review symposium, to be held in Boise at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel on April 20, 2012. As noted in last month’s “First Monday,” the symposium, “Genetically Modified Organisms -- Law and the Global Market,” will feature issues of close interest to Idaho practitioners (especially those who represent agricultural and intellectual property clients) as well as public policy makers.
Idaho exports its agricultural products nationally and globally, and Idaho agriculture includes genetically modified crops. Genetic engineering offers the promise of greater efficiency in farming, yet it comes with market and environmental uncertainties. The symposium will host four panels of experts to discuss, in a legal context, the science needed to better inform policy, GMO market acceptance, international trade issues, food producer and consumer issues, domestic GMO regulation, and biotechnology.
Further information about the program and the registration process can be found on the Law Review website.