Jack Lew, L’83, approved as Secretary of Treasury

Jack Lew, Georgetown University Law Center graduate from the class of 1983, was approved as Secretary of the Treasury on February 27, 2013 by a vote of 71-26. The Chairman of the Senate committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), praised the nominee, stating: “Jack understands what it takes to tackle our economic and fiscal challenges in a balanced and bipartisan way.”

Jack Lew was born in in 1955,  New York City, where he later graduated from Forest Hills High School. He then went on to graduate from Harvard College in 1978 and Georgetown University Law Center in 1983.

Lew’s political career commenced in the 1970s when he began working as a legislative aid to U.S representative Joe Moakley when he was just 19 years old. He then became one of the principal policy advisors to house speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr., where he served at the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee as Assistant Director and subsequently as Executive Director.

Afterwards, he became the speaker’s liaison to the Greenspan Commission, which played an instrumental role in reforming social security in 1983. He was part of the Clinton cabinet as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and served as a member of the National Security Council. During his tenure at the OMB, the United States operated at a surplus for three consecutive years. Prior to working at the OMB,  Lew served as Special Assistant to the President in the Clinton Administration.

Apart from the fact that much was made of Lew’s loopy signature by the mainstream media and some concerns over his connections to Wall Street stemming from his time working at Citigroup where he worked as Chief Operating Officer of Citygroup’s alternative investment unit, his nomination went through relatively smoothly. He has recieved praise on both sides of the aisle as exemplified by Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) statement in 2011 that Lew “was always very polite and respectful in his tone and someone who I can tell is very committed to his principles.”

President Obama, in a statement following Lew’s confirmation, said that “At this critical time for our economy and our country, there is no one more qualified for this position than Jack”.

Dean Treanor stated, “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Jack Lew…. Jack’s leadership and distinguished achievements exemplify Georgetown Law’s commitment to public service.”

Before becoming Treasury Secretary, Lew succeeded Bill Dailey as Chief of Staff, and he served in that position until January 25, 2013, during which he most notably appeared as one of the most prominent supporters and negotiators for the “grand bargain” deal between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner.

Prior to joining the Obama administration,  Lew was co-chairman of the Advisory Board for the city of New York and on the board of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Tobin Project, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and  the Brooking  Institution Family Project.

Georgetown Law Deans react to decline in law school applications

Following a recent New York Times article concerning declines in law school applications, Georgetown Law administration has been quick to respond to the student body and the  Georgetown community.

 In an exclusive interview with the Law Weekly, Dean Andy Cornblatt, head of Admissions at Georgetown Law, suggested that the nation-wide decrease in law school applications was likely to continue in the future as even fewer people are taking the LSAT this year than last.

 Dean Cornblatt noted the severity of the New York Times’ findings, going so far as to say that “some law schools may not survive” the decline in admissions.

However, administration officials are confident the Law Center has the tools and resources necessary to deal with any new developments. As the Admissions Office put it: “Thanks to Georgetown’s position as a top-ranked, internationally-recognized law school, we hope that we will continue to do better than many other schools during these times as far as receiving a sufficient number of applications from highly-qualified students.”

Dean Cornblatt and the Georgetown Law Admissions Office expect the decrease in applications to continue in the near future.  Georgetown Law Admissions also believes there to be some benefit to a national decrease in law school applications, as students who apply for law school nowadays “really do want to become lawyers” as opposed to previous years, in which a number of students might have taken the LSAT  without real intention to follow through in attending law school or becoming lawyers.

In interviews with the Law Weekly, the Georgetown Law administration emphasized the continuous efforts the school is expending to raise Georgetown Law’s standing internationally, and to ensure the best new applicants commit to the  Law Center. Dean Cornblatt and the Admissions Office also observed an increased number of “applicants waiting to apply until they have been out of college for some time,” including mature professionals. In light of this growing trend, Georgetown Law  Admissions has been increasing their promotional efforts towards organizations such as the military, Peace Corps, staffers working on Capitol Hill, and others.

Dean Corblatt noted: “We have no way of knowing what the future holds, but the Law Center has every intention of getting out in front of the situation as much as possible and responding in ways that most help our students. We are well aware of  what is going on in the law school applicant pool, and doing everything we can to maintain Georgetown’s position as a top law school in the changing market.” His comments fall in line with an official, campus-wide email sent by Dean William Treanor on January 31, immediately following the publication of the New York Times piece.

 Dean Treanor’s e-mail explained the new statistics and what the Law  Center was doing to tackle the problem. He stated, among other things, that the Law Center has embarked on a strategic planning process which has as a central focus, the task of addressing “market challenges”. Dean Treanor also emphasized that the law school possessed “unique strengths” to respond to such “unprecedented challenges.”

One of the core strategies embraced by Georgetown Law has been to adopt an experiential learning approach by increasing the number of externships and practicum placements, allowing students to actually practice areas of the law before graduating. Dean Treanor also noted that the law school has endorsed a number of projects destined to make matriculation to the law school more financially viable— programs such as the Entry Into  Practice program, increasing support for summer employment, and the loan forgiveness program.

He also emphasized efforts to strengthen student career prospects, including policies and counseling programs that have, according to the  dean, resulted in a 50% improvement in summer associate placements. In terms of the actual admission process, he stated that, although there has been a reduction in the number of applications, the decline in applications to Georgetown is still below the national average.

Additionally, the median GPA and LSAT averages for the entering class have remained virtually equal to last year’s. Georgetown Law is expecting a 12% decrease in applications for 2013 compared to the 21% national average. Georgetown Law is still the law school with the most applications nation-wide, topping the list for 2013.

The New York Times article in question (“Law Schools’ Applications  Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut”) created a stir when published on January 30. The article highlighted the fact that 2013 has been an exceptionally bad year in terms of law school applications, which have reached a 30-year low. Only 38,000 students matriculated last year, the lowest number since 1977.

The Times article also noted that this trend was contrary to other professional or graduate school applications, specifically mentioning medical schools, which have benefited from a steady rise in applications in the last decade. This article is the latest in a long string of articles from various sources outlining a decrease in law school applications.

Khanna on copyright cracks Reddit front page

 In an article titled “The Most Ridiculous Law of 2013 (So Far): It Is Now a Crime to Unlock Your Smartphone”, Derek Khanna, 2E, criticized a new rule issued by the Librarian of Congress last October. The rule makes it a criminal offenseto unlock one’s smartphone, opening it up to use on other carriers. The article has been the most cited article on the issue of unlocking your smartphone to date and has garnered over a million views and three-thousand comments on Reddit.

The Librarian of Congress (LOC) reviews the DMCA laws every three years and makes exemptionsas it sees fit. In 2006, the LOCexempted smart phone unlocking but did not renew the exemption in 2012. The primary reason cited by the LOC was that it was no longer‘fair use’ and ‘acceptable’ and that since people could now buy unlocked phones easily it was no longer necessary to make an exception.

The ‘Electronic Frontier Association’ amongst others had apparently listed a number of failings by the ‘DMCA Triennial Rulemaking Process’ and that led the exception to expire. The rule will only apply to “newly purchased” phones, thus any smart phones purchased after January 26th. The article did however mention somewhat sardonically a “silver lining” in the fact that violators of the law would most likely be subject to civil liability, under section 1203 of the DMCA, rather than criminal prosecution. In any event first time offenders may face a penalty of up to $500,000 and up to five years in prison.

The article began by criticizing the passing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, assessing it as a “great idea” but in practice having “terrible, and widely acknowledged, negative consequences that affect consumers and new innovation.”

A second, more  wide ranging point of criticism, was that criminal laws should be passed by Congress and not by the LOC; “Laws that can place people in jail should be passed by Congress, not by the decree of the Librarian of Congress” and the fact that the people making the decision were not elected officials was not appropriate. The poimt made thereafter was that absurd laws are relatively common but the elected officials that pass them can be voted out of office.

Khanna goes on to discuss further problems with the DMCA illustrated with ludicrous examples of the enforcement of the copyright law in question. Additionally, the United States is pushing to have the DMCA included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty. This would enact our copyright laws internationally creating a very problematic situation, further suggesting that the DMCA needs revision.

Rounding off the article is a statement by Khanna, “I for one am  pro-choice with regard to my smartphone. Our representatives ought to be, as well.”

 

by Nicholas Barnabo, LL.M

Lively Capitol crowds catch Inauguration spirit

On January 21, incumbent President Barack Obama took his oath of office in front of a crowd of millions of Americans, including those who watched live in Washington D.C and those who watched on their television screens.

The president was sworn in on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and took the oath on two bibles, one that had belonged to Dr. King and one that had belonged to President Abraham Lincoln.

Students from the Law Center were scattered throughout the crowd (consisting of approximately a million people), ranging from the Capitol to the White House. Some were fortunate to get seated tickets; others woke up early to get a better glimpse of the President; and some were just content with simply being a part of the electric atmosphere.

Crowds of hundreds of thousands of people gathered around the colossal platform and the dome of the Capitol as Obama spoke for a total of eighteen minutes. He spoke of the United States needing to “be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice” and stressed values of common purpose and national unity.

Although some found Obama’s speech to be an inspirational performance, some political pundits have described his speech as a bold and stark departure from the conciliatory and bipartisan stance espoused in his first inaugural address. President Obama spoke forcefully in favor of gay rights, gave climate change center stage, and cited immigration reform as one of the main focuses of his second term: “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.”

 

The weather that day was warmer than it had been in previous days as the temperature hovered around a tolerable forty degrees; although many still complained about the biting cold, especially when getting through what some participants thought of as seemingly never-ending security checks.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee did not disappoint, as it lined up performances from Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and the illustrious James Taylor. As the forty-fourth president of the United States finally exited the stage, he turned around, paused, and gazed at the scene before him one last time. “I’m not going to see this again,” he said to those nearby.

As this unique day came to an end, some Georgetown Law students attended the Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where the President and the First Lady danced to Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

by Nicholas Barnabo, LL.M

GULC student’s memo triggers controversy

On Friday, Dec. 16 the Republican Study Committee (RSC ) posted a brief written by Derek Khanna, Georgetown 2E, criticizing the existing copyright systems’ laws and effects. Twenty-four hours later it had vanished. The RSC ’ s director, Paul Tel l e r justified the removal on the bas i s that it had been “published without adequate review.”

Media organizations ant political groups were quick to react. The Huffington Post accused the Republican Party of throwing Derek “under the bus.” Yet liberals were not the only ones voicing their support of Derek’s memo, as the staunchly Republican RedState.org stated that the RSC “should not have pulled the paper.” By all accounts, whichever political affiliation, the memo was overwhelmingly commended for its bold critique of a status quo system that is in desperate need of reform.

The report took an unconventional approach, addressing “three myths about copyright law and where to start to fix it.” It outlined three main fallacies underlying the current system:

  1. 1.       “The purpose of copyright is to compensate the creator of content,”
  2. 2.       “Copyright is free market capitalism at work,”
  3. 3.       “The current copyright legal regime leads to the greatest innovation and productivity.”

It then outline four possible solutions:

  1. 1.       Statutory damages reform
  2. 2.       Expansion of fair use
  3. 3.       Punishments for false copyright claims
  4. 4.       Drastic limitations on copyright terms.

As to copyright terms, long-lasting copyrights theoretically incentivize investment. But the memo argued at some point gains turn into losses, with old claims stifling new creativity. The memo also generally argued for viewing copyright more as a kind of regulation rather than actual property; an analysis that was called ‘fascinating’ by a reporter at Slate.

The paper was praised as “shockingly sensible” in incentivizing innovation in the area and “perhaps the most insightful and thoughtful piece of scholarship on copyright to come out of a government body in decades.” Why then was its posting so short-lived?

There is still mystery as to who or what exactly forced the removal of the article, but general suspicion points to industry lobbyists who put pressure on the RSC to have it taken down. According to a reporter at the blog TechDirt, the occurrence of the memo caused the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America to go “ballistic and hit the phones hard, demanding that the RSC take down the report.” The two heavyweight groups have proven to wield substantial political power with Democrat and Republican political groups alike.

Two observations can be made: one is cause for optimism, the other much less so. The positive is that it has brought necessary debate to the forefront again. The negative is that a constructive and innovative approach was withdrawn for unbecoming reasons, whether it be the pressure of an entrenched industry or the inability of a policy research organization to even consider an audacious and productive approach for fear of political consequences. In either case, the episode casts doubt as to whether copyright reform can really be achieved.

Alumnus Derek Webb wins Warren Burger prize

Photo courtesy of Derek WebbThe American Inns of Court recently selected Derek A. Webb, a  graduate of Georgetown Law, to receive their prestigious Warren E. Burger Prize for his essay “The Original Meaning of Civility: Democratic Deliberation at the Philidelphia Constitutional Convention.”

Every year, the American Inns of Court bestow this award on one recipient for an unpublished article of 10,000 to 25,000 words on a topic that addreses issues of legal excellence, civility, ethics and professionalism. A committee of law school professors from Boston university, New York University, University of Pennsylvania and the University of South Carolina selected Webb’s article as the top submission. The winner of the Burger Prize receives a cash prize and automatic publication in the South Carolina Law Review. The Burger Prize recipient also formally receives the award at the Supreme Court of the United States, where it is bestowed each year at the American Inns of Court’s annual black tie Celebration of Excellence. The Burger Prize recipient, along with recipients of the three other national awards given out each year, then gives an acceptance speech of five to seven minutes in the courtroom.

In his essay, Webb explored the ways in which delegates to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention reasoned together and hammered out compromise in the face of considerable philosphical, poolitical, and personal differences. He was particularly struck by the importance of what he calls “civic friendship” that prevailed among many of the delegates in Philadelphia. Despite their serious disagreements, at the end of the daily five hours of deliberations in the assembly room, the delegates would typically gather together in cross-sectional, cross-ideological dinner parties at taverns and evening parties teas at delegates’ homes throughout the city that helped keep the Convention form breaking down at critical moments.

Webb said that the origins for the paper came in two classes he took at Georgetown Law; the first was a class on negotiation with Stephen Altman and the second a year-long class on contemporary legal scholarship taught by Gregory Klass and Robin West. Sherman Cohn, a professor at Georgetown Law since 1965 and the first national president of the American Inns of Court for eleven years, presided over the Celebration of Excellence at the U.S. Supreme Court where he met Derek and saw him give his speech.

“Of the eight that got it before him, he is the first law student. That alone is impressive,” stated Professor Cohn.

Webb is currently in the first year of a two-year academic fellowship at the Stanford University Constiuttional Law Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Before law school, he earned a B.A. in Philosphy from Yale University and a Ph. D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame. While at Georgetown, he earned CALI best paper awards in six different classes and along with his moot court partner Rob Silverblatt, won the Spong Moot Court Competition at William and Mary Law School, the longest running constitutional law themed moot court competition in the country. The pair also took home top writing honors by winnin

Georgetown Law alumni elected to Congress

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsLast week’s election not only saw President Obama win re-election but also the addition of four Georgetown Law alumni to the 113th Congress, bringing the number of Georgetown Law alumni serving in congress to a total of thirteen. The election of these Georgetown Law alumni emphasizes the strong and continuing tradition of public service undertaken by many of the Law Center’s graduates, affirming the law center’s motto: “Law is but the means, justice is the end.”

“We are proud of and grateful to the many distinguished alumni who have committed themselves to lives of service, following our Jesuit tradition of being women and men for others” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “We congratulate them on their success and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

It seems the unique position of the Law Center in the middle of American political life is considered one of the main factors compelling students to pursue a political career. “Lots of people who come to Georgetown without that [interest in politics] sort of get smitten by the political bug because they’re here” stated Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming.

Mazie Hirono, a graduate of ‘78 was elected to the Senate. During her time at the Law Center she was a standout student who focused primarily on public interest law and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She will now join Mark Kirk 92’, Patrick Leahy 64’ and majority whip Dick Durbin 69’ as senators with a degree from the Law Center.

John Delaney, L’88 (D-Md.), Lois Frankel, L’73 (D-Fla.) and Ann McLane Kuster, L’84 (D-N.H.) have been elected to the House of Representatives. “It was at Georgetown Law where I developed a sense of what I wanted to do with my career and started to put together a plan for becoming an entrepreneur. I started my first company with friends I’d made at Georgetown” stated Delaney, who is also a board member of Georgetown University, where he met his wife, April McClain Delaney.

Lois Frankel, who won Florida’s 22nd district, was a strong advocate of feminist issues during her time at the Law Center as she challenged the male dominated Law Center to make accommodations for its women students. Law Center Alumni who were reelected to the House of Representatives include David Cicilline, L’86 (D-R.I.); John Dingell, C’49, L’52 (D-Mich.); Peter Visclosky, LL.M.’82 (D-Ind.); Chris Van Hollen, L’90 (D-Md.); Frank Wolf, L’65 (R-Va.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, L’66 (D-Md.).

Law Center Graduate wins prestigious award

Derek A. Webb, who completed his JD at the Law Center has won the Inns of Court’s prestigious 2012 Warren E. Burger Prize. 

Webb received the Warren E. Burger Prize due to his essay “The Original Meaning of Civility: Democratic Deliberation at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention.” The paper dicusses the convention as a potential new model for constructive dialogue using as a basis for argument the story of civic friendship among the delegates at the convention.

Derek’s was alos on the winning side of the 2012 William B. Spong, Jr. Invitational Moot Court Tournament, the longest-running constitutional law-themed moot court competition in the country and during which he also earned the “Best Brief Award for the Respondent’s Side” in the competition.