March 15, 2004

Day One: Thinking Like A Lawyer

by Announcement

Welcome to De Novo!

After the end of our former group blog, En Banc, the four of us were eager to start something new, but we wanted to take advantage of the chance to start fresh by thinking about what the legal blogosphere was missing and what we might be able to offer that would excite us—and excite our readers. This new venture will in some ways be very much like the old one—the thoughts and perspectives of three law students and one law student-to-be on politics, law, and whatever else catches our fancy. In addition, however, we've come up with the idea of a continuing series of symposia—a chance for guest contributors, as well as for us, to write about and discuss some relevant legal issues on people's minds. We hope each symposium will bring together the thoughts of professors, practitioners, students, and readers in a way that nothing else we've seen has done, and provide a reason for you to link and visit often. Assuming all goes well, we plan on doing this regularly, perhaps twice a month.

We're launching with an inaugural De Novo symposium, "Perspectives on Legal Education." This event will bring together the perspectives of professors, practitioners (and other law school graduates, including those in the judiciary —Ed.), law students, and pre-law students on "thinking like a lawyer" (today), "entering the profession" (tomorrow), and "being a student" (Wednesday). Be sure to return and check them out! We owe a deep debt of gratitude to our guest contributors, whose essays we think you'll really enjoy.

Today we bring you the following four essays on the topic of "Thinking Like A Lawyer":

Howard Bashman, "To Think Like A Lawyer"

Prof. Douglas Berman, "It Depends"

Prof. Lawrence Solum, "What Do Law Schools Teach?"

Prof. Eugene Volokh, "Writing to Think Like a Lawyer"

Read and enjoy, but most importantly, discuss! We're excited at the prospect of using the symposium idea to really start a dialogue among all of us. We encourage readers to respond in the comments section (Concur/Dissent—aren't we clever?), but we also welcome more lengthy responses submitted via e-mail to be considered for posting. Also, if there's something important about legal education that no one here has said, feel free and encouraged to write something up and send it our way.

Some future symposium topics we're considering include Law & the Internet, Free Speech & Obscenity, and Civil Disobedience. We're eager for more ideas, so please comment or e-mail us with additional topics suitable for a future symposium, suggestions about the concept, or any other feedback you may have.

Again, welcome to De Novo. We hope you enjoy.

Chris, Jeremy, Nick, & PG

March 15, 2004 12:30 AM | TrackBack

How exciting.

The site looks great.

Posted by: Greg at March 15, 2004 01:03 AM

Good stuff. Can't wait for the 4-corner, hardcore, tag-team matches on the minutia of con law and the federal judiciary.

Posted by: Brian at March 15, 2004 02:15 AM

Indeed, indeed. I've got blog-envy.

Posted by: Will Baude at March 15, 2004 02:43 AM

Welcome back, folks. This looks like a great venture.

Posted by: buddha at March 15, 2004 04:00 AM

Great to see y'all back at it.

Posted by: Mr. Poon at March 15, 2004 07:46 AM

Finally, an end to my comment withdrawal :)

Posted by: Sean S at March 15, 2004 11:02 AM

I really like the finishing touches! The constant blue in the sidebar and the links is excellent, as is the implementation of the symposia idea. I think it turned out great!

And I think you can say, rather uniquely and proudly, that this truly is a group blog, planned, designed, and executed as a group. It certainly shows. I for one will be a daily reader.

Posted by: Unlearned Hand at March 15, 2004 12:05 PM

Sooooo.... your planned symposia "..will bring together the thoughts of professors, practicioners, students and readers...". Into which catagory would you think crusty old trial judges would most comfortably fit?

Posted by: Judge Rodney L. Walker at March 15, 2004 12:06 PM

Hey, who died and made you judge?

(holds breath in the hopes that crusty old trial judges have senses of humor)

Posted by: Brian at March 15, 2004 12:11 PM

Judge Walker, the average trial judge would be a Practitioner; but "crusty" implies that one acts as a Professor to some young whippersnapper attornies who didn't learn everything they needed to know in law school; and "old" indicates a lengthy experience of the law, itself an education and thus one is also a student.
In any case, I hope we continue to count you among our readers and commenters, and perhaps even our guest contributors!

Posted by: PG at March 15, 2004 12:14 PM

Judge Walker, I had originally been writing out the last as professors, practitioners, (judges?), students, and readers, but then decided to be more humble. We would be more than thrilled to see this space reflect some judges' views as well. Welcome.

Posted by: Chris Geidner at March 15, 2004 01:27 PM

Would this be the place for symposium feedback? If so, then you should definitely do Law and the Internet next. It'd be especially interesting for bloggers.

Posted by: Curious Girl at March 15, 2004 01:35 PM

Brian. I have what I consider to be a rather well developed sense of humor. Who could not after nearly 30 years in the business?

"Who died and made me judge?". A fair question and not terribly unusual coming from one who may be nearer the front entrance of a legal career than the back door. But here goes.

First, I think you may have me confused with my federal brethern [or sistern]. We state judges are a rung or two below the imperial status of that group. If they may be compared to God, perhaps we may be fairly analogized as buglers at the entrance to the pearly gates. [With armed guards] We even have to stand for [gasp!!] elections.

Although we don't have to wait for death to usher opportunity, it requires a bit of ingenuity to get one of these jobs in California where I sit. If one is unable to convince the governor to appoint one to a vacancy, running for an open seat or against a sitting judge are the only alternatives. We sit for terms of six years on the trial bench. Appellate justices for longer periods. Our elections are contensted, appellate elections are the rentition variety.

O.K., O.K., vacancies on the trial bench are often created by death but elevation and retirement create a fair amount of openings as well.

It has been said that logic is the life of the law. Therefore it unlikely that one who has passed will "make" anyone still on the mortal coil anything. Lesson number one. Think about the format of your question before asking it. It reduces the opportunity for one so inclined to make light of both question and questioner. No one I know would take such advantage, but undoubtedly there are such persons afoot.
Ahhhh, now considering that this is a legal education blog, doesn't that feel better?

Governor Duekmejian appointed your humble corespondent to a municipal court vacancy in 1989. Last I heard of the "Duke" he was sitting center court at a Laker game last week. Alive, I think. But if he has passed, I wonder if he could make me the owner of those seats?

Posted by: Judge Rodney L. Walker at March 15, 2004 04:27 PM

Welcome back, guys! Good luck with the new venture. Looks good so far!

Some future symposium ideas:

1) Best (and/or worst) Supreme Court case ever and why

2) (along the same lines) The area of law currently in most need of revision

3) Who should be the next Supreme Court justice should there be a vacancy

These topics came to mind as things that would be most interesting to hear different perspectives from -- e.g. I bet a law student has a much different reading of Sup. Ct. cases then, say, a judge.

Posted by: Scott at March 15, 2004 09:01 PM

Great to see y'all back & blogging. I missed my daily dose of En Banc, and I'm sure to be stopping by here regularly as well.

Today's posts kicked things off very well I do think.

Posted by: Visible Hand at March 15, 2004 09:17 PM


Excellent response! My joke has gone down in flames! The "Who died and gave you life tenure?" one reserved federal counterparts will be immediately scrapped. Ack! I have no more material.

Humor is indeed a fine line. On a similar note, I've always wondered how to interject humor into clerkship interviews to give the judge a taste for your personality. It's always hard to feel out someone you have just met and it's only multiplied when that person is twice your age, an established member of the judiciary, and could just mark a big red X over your resume.

Tough crowd, tough crowd!

Posted by: Brian at March 15, 2004 11:38 PM
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