Sold Out: SBA not releasing more Barristers’ Ball tickets

Tickets for the annual ball quickly sold out.Ever since a gargantuan line of students snaked through — and around — Hotung last Wednesday, the SBA has been under growing criticism for the rapid sell-out of Barristers’ Ball tickets. George Chipev, the incoming Chair of the SBA’s Special Events Committee, sat down with the Law Weekly to clear some things up.

800 tickets were released for this year’s event. Chipev said that this was “about 50 or so more than last year’s initial allocation.”

“Last year’s allocation sold out in over two and a half days,” said Chipev. The committee gauged interest for this year by “basing it off of last year’s demand.”

Addressing the speed with which the ticket supply disappeared, Chipev admitted that this “probably made things look like they were less organized than they were.”

In reality,he said, ticket sales went so quickly because the sales process operated more efficiently than ever. “We sold out the tickets — more than we did last year — in about 45 minutes.” Someone at SBA even calculated the rate: 1 ticket sold every 4.6 seconds.

Chipev was also asked if SBA would be repeating last year’s release of additional tickets. “The venue was bigger last year, which then allowed us to release more tickets. This year we aren’t releasing any more … . We have reached the allowable and preferred indoor capacity of the venue for our purposes.”

Regarding a rumor that the committee’s refusal to provide additional tickets this year was the result of laziness, Chipev offered a sharp rebuttal. “Any rumors that we simply do not want to renegotiate food or drink contracts are unfounded.”

Some students, however, have been questioning the foresight of SBA with regard to event attendance. Many 1Ls remember not being able to get a ticket for Fall float either.

Chipev acknowledged difficulties there, but noted that those difficulties had been attributed to other factors. This year, he explained, “people were aware that the weather was going to be really good, and also tickets were $25 cheaper” than the previous year. “We attributed fall float selling out as it did … to those two circumstances, which didn’t really line up with Barrister’s Ball.”

“There was clearly alot more demand [for Barrister’s Ball], more than we thought,” said Chipev, adding that “these are things that we are going to take into account next year.”

“It’s a balance,” he explained, “and the committee as a whole felt that we made the right decisions.”

Students who have tickets and are not planning to attend can help out someone on the waitlist (and get their money back) by contacting Dan Soleimani at

Disclosure Statement: Justin Waddell is a current SBA delegate.

U.S. nuclear power stock needs replenishing

Evan Oxhorn, 2L, and Lisa Lowry, 2L are staff writers for the Law Weekly. Both are members of the Georgetown Environmental Law Society.

The Facts: How does Nuclear Energy Work?

Nuclear power plants generate electricity in much the same way a regular power plant does, except that nuclear power plants generate electricity by using uranium fission reactions that release energy to heat water to generate steam, which turns turbines and generates electricity.

A regular power plant burns coal or natural gas to generate the steam that turns turbines. Fission reactions start with atomic molecules. Atoms have a large amount of energy holding their nuclei together. When certain isotopes of some elements like uranium split, they release part of that energy as heat.

This process is called fission, and the heat released is used to help generate electricity in nuclear power plants. When fission occurs, the element splits into fission products, which may hit other atoms, causing more fission, and, under the right conditions, a self-sustaining chain reaction.

Nuclear Power: From Savior to Scapegoat

In 1942, a group of scientists met at the University of Chicago and created the world’s first self-sustaining chain reaction. By the 1960’s, nuclear energy was identified as an environmentally clean, economical, and safe way to generate electricity. While the nuclear power industry grew rapidly in the 1960’s in the U.S., concerns over reactor safety, waste disposal, and other environmental considerations began to slow demand for nuclear power plants.[1] The accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 fueled anti-nuclear sentiments and contributed to a virtual halt to new construction of nuclear power plants in the U.S.

The stock of nuclear power plants in the United States is aging and there are only modest plans to build new nuclear power plants. Furthermore, the Energy Information Administration anticipates that no new nuclear power plants will become operable before 2025, but electricity demand in the U.S. is expected to increase 24% by 2035.[2] The upfront cost of building a new plant is high, and the entire process of applying and building a new power plant takes an estimated 9 years.[3] Concerns over effective waste disposal, liability insurance requirements, and public safety issues add additional barriers to new construction.

Relicensing Can Mitigate Energy Demand

One option in response to the looming increase in electricity demand and stagnant nuclear power stock is to relicense existing facilities. The Atomic Energy Act allows the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue licenses for new reactors for up to 40 years; those licenses can be renewed for another 20 years. Many plant owners are taking advantage of the renewal option and are applying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for license extensions to continue operating existing facilities. Of the 104 reactors in the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved license renewal for 61 reactors.[4]

Relicensing is attractive to owners because it avoids many of the hurdles that energy companies face when considering construction of new facilities. A new facility must deal with battles over site location, land rights, and public distaste for nuclear energy. The whole relicensing process can be completed within a period of about 30 months, compared with the estimated 9 years to license and construct a new facility. Litigation over placement of new power plants increases delay and uncertainty and drives up the cost of constructing a new plant. Project financing is hard to secure for new plants and the variability of costs extend the time horizon for investment recovery. 

New Nuclear Facilities are Necessary

However, although relicensing is clearly an attractive option for existing nuclear reactors, it has its drawbacks and limitations.  Many of these plants will soon reach the end of their design lifetimes and will need to be decommissioned. Regulatory incentives are needed to push for new nuclear power plants to meet future electricity demand. New nuclear power plants have the benefit of new construction and design technology that maximize safety and streamline plant operation. New safety features, such as passive cooling mechanisms that require no power, can be more effective when integrated during initial plant design than when added to existing plants. New facilities can be constructed in safer locations, taking into account enhanced engineering expertise and increased understanding of the risks. 

The Japanese nuclear power plants are an example of the importance of adequate assessment of risk and safety margins in new facilities. The failure of seawalls in Japan to withstand the tsunami allowed water to wash over walls built to protect the Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants off the coast of Japan. The water disabled the diesel generators that sustained power to the reactor cooling systems during power outages, causing partial fuel meltdowns and the greatest nuclear accident in Japanese history. Generators in these plants should have been constructed on higher ground to avoid risks from flooding, more emergency battery power should have been available, and seawalls should have been built higher to reduce the risk that water could overwhelm the sea walls. New construction can take these lessons into account to improve the safety and efficiency of future nuclear facilities.

Incentives are needed to promote the construction of new nuclear reactors

Nuclear energy can be an important clean energy source utilized in combination with other clean energy sources like wind, geothermal and solar to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuel. There have been some efforts by the U.S. government to incentivize construction of new nuclear power plants. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has streamlined nuclear reactor licensing process to incentivize new plant construction. The Nuclear Energy Act of 2005 provided federal loan guarantees for clean-energy technology, including new nuclear power plants. In 2010, an $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee was granted to build two additional reactors at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia. Future incentives need to include more financing options and continue to streamline the process for application and construction, while still adequately addressing public concerns about safety and environmental impacts. 

As Japan recovers from a nuclear accident, the U.S. procedures that incentivize construction of new nuclear plants to meet increasing energy demands should incorporate high standards of safety design in licensing new nuclear facilities. Newer, safer designs should be deployed. In the meantime, a thorough relicensing program represents a reasonable stopgap. Current nuclear power plants provide nearly 20% of America’s electricity. If decommissioned, these plants would almost surely be replaced by dirtier coal and natural gas plants. Once the lessons of the Japanese plants have been distilled, every American plant should be reviewed to prevent similar tragedies from occurring here.


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Cultural property and antiquities must be protected

Deborah Newburg, 2L, is a staff writer for the Law Weekly. Amanda Blunt, 2L, is a guest writer for the Law Weekly. Both are members of Students Against Looting Valuable Antiquities (SALVAGE).

Every time we turn on the news, members of Congress are railing about wasteful federal spending and the dire need to curb ineffective programs. Yet Monday, at a public meeting on the Hill about one of the most ineffective, and potentially illegal, federally-funded committees, not one Congressman, staff member, or reporter was present. 
The Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) was established in 1983 by the Cultural Property Implementation Act to advise the Department of State on which art and artifacts should be restricted on import due to looting. The goal was to reduce looting of art and archaeological sites by cutting off the U.S. market, in accordance with a 1970 international treaty. CPIA was meant to transcend activism to strike a balance between the free trade in antiquities and ethical preservation of the world’s cultural heritage. But since its enactment, CPAC has been horrifically derailed. 
CPAC board members are archaeologists, historians, and other experts who  understand the value of cultural heritage and are clearly interested in the United States’ ethical treatment of international cultural property. It is a sorry and sour comment on the Department of State when CPAC’s own members, so dedicated to its mission, resign and call for the committee’s dissolution.
Several former committee members, including a member who resigned just 21 days ago, told horror stories of inefficiency, secrecy, and outright illegality. For example, a former Chairman recalled a member sleeping through meetings, the Department of State blatantly ignoring CPAC’s votes and recommendations, and being denied access to the Committee’s own research and documents. 
As a result, the Department of State creates over inclusive trade restrictions that deny acquisitions to U.S. collectors and museums. Those works of art and archaeological artifacts, many with immeasurable monetary and educational value, simply go elsewhere, often to European markets with more precise but less restrictive import bans. The net effect? Turning away major investments during a recession, while wasting government money on a committee the Department of State ignores anyway. 
It may not be a “sexy” issue like health care or gay marriage, but protecting art and cultural property is an important goal, especially in light of the recent spread of armed conflict in some of the world’s most archaeologically rich Middle East regions. CPAC protects nothing but the Department of State’s  unethical acts. 


Free trade darlings not so neoliberal after all

When wind blasts through the fields of bamboo in East Asia, the clackety-clack of shoots slamming against each other evokes the tickety-tick of the old method of reading stock prices. Open your borders! Unshackle your prices! For the gospel of Friedman has cometh! The recent economic ascendancy of the East Asian Tigers has been heralded by some as a true coup for neoliberal development policies. Indeed, it is now “common knowledge” that the reason these countries succeeded where others have failed is that they removed barriers to free trade where others did not.

Unfortunately, as so often is the case, “common knowledge” and elegant mathematical models of the hegemonic theory do not successfully explain the ascendancy of these countries. In fact, given that it is historical fact that these East Asian countries had governments with no qualms about interfering in the free market (and that the market sectors in which they interfered often became some of the largest sectors of the economy), crude neoliberal doctrine positively fails to explain their rapid development.

However, it is now without doubt that absolute government control over the economy of a country will absolutely fail to industrialize that country without major human costs (Stalin’s rapid industrialization of Russia being the textbook example). The question, then, is what the proper role of the government of a developing country is, given that one major characteristic of development will be the modernization (and, in most cases, deregulation) of the country’s economy. Neoliberal development theory would maintain that the most important duties of government in development are to enforce clear property rights, encourage export-led growth, and otherwise integrate, deregulate, and trade with developed countries. While these duties are quite important to development, they are not the only important duties of government for development, if history is any indicator; and countries who take only these steps without qualification have tended to do worse than countries who took a more moderate approach.

Many developing countries have economies that are primarily agricultural in nature. Agriculture makes four important contributions to development: a market contribution, a foreign exchange contribution, a product contribution, and a factor contribution. Thus, the modernization of agriculture (which mainly consists of raising productivity) plays a central role in every central concern for development. Unfortunately, many developing countries have agricultural sectors that are characterized by extremely inefficient patterns of landholding, which significantly impedes development. For example, in Latin America, one percent of the landowners own seventy percent of the land, while ten per cent of the largest farms occupy eighty percent of the land. Property rights assigned to land in this manner are inefficient because peasants who farm the land—who are tenants, not owners—often have no security on their tenure and may have to relinquish to the landowner a significant part of their output, and due to these conditions there is no incentive for the farmer to increase efficiency or productivity.

The interference of government is the only true means through which these inefficiencies can be corrected. Among the most important changes it must accomplish is that property rights must be shifted from the landowners to the tenant farmers. However, this is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for increased productivity in agriculture. New landowners must be given access to credit, water, fertilizers, and extension services for advice. Farmers must have access to credit, improved farm implements, irrigation, and new social infrastructure.

Government has a role to play in all these endeavors. If the new landowners do not have sufficient access to the basic necessities of commercial farming, it is not likely they will break traditional farming techniques and improve productivity. If, however, the government steps in and provides incentives as well as infrastructure, the evidence shows that peasant farmers are ready to break with custom and tradition.

Another area in which governmental interference in the free market is beneficial to growth is investment in infrastructure. As most important kinds of infrastructure are public goods, private entities will undersupply them. Good infrastructure increases productivity and reduces costs in the private sector, and also has the effect of diversifying production, improving environmental conditions, coping with population growth, and reducing the effects of poverty. Although the public sector must provide these public goods to some extent, it is true that the lack of competition results in inefficiency in many cases; and it is not impossible to apply private sector principles to public sector goods. The World Bank thus recommends that governments set performance targets, increase managerial autonomy, and increasing competition.

What, then, of the commonly held assertion that the East Asian Tigers, following neoliberal principles, have achieved what so many other countries have failed in development? The economist Marc Piazolo maintains that South Korea, at least, did not follow broadly neoliberal policies, but did not follow protectionist policies, either. Rather, it changed its policies through time, generally following an import-substitution model but with an emphasis on export diversification.

As South Korea’s labor market dried up in the early 70s and light industry became burdensome on the country’s trade balance, the government initiated a program that heavily favored capital-intensive industries and built them up—simultaneously subsidizing them and encouraging them to become internationally competitive early on by setting export targets. Thus, by the time neoliberal policy prescriptions became fashionable and widely applied in the 80s and 90s, South Korea’s government had already interfered in the free market to positive effect: it protected infant industries from foreign competition but also forced them to remain competitive without opening their borders. And the eventual effect was that South Korea’s economy was heralded as a miracle, growing in the 90s at an average nine percent yearly.

These functions of government in developing countries are, of course, in addition to the usual (and widely accepted) governmental functions of correcting for negative externalities (and promoting positive ones), correcting for market imperfections, and generally correcting for other market failures while providing an environment in which markets can flourish. While the academic debate still rages between neoliberal economists and those who take more heterodox views, the data seems at the moment to support the assertion that government has a major role to play in the development of impoverished countries, that whether a country has good governance or bad governance can determine whether that country will develop, that countries that adopt hard neoliberal policies seem to have performed worse than countries that take a more moderate approach, and that the countries with the most impressive development patterns took a moderate approach and also benefited from good governance.

Liveblogging the Wal-Mart v. Dukes event at S.C. Institute

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.3:31 – This being moderated by Nina Pillard, Jenny Yang is discussing from the perspective of Dukesand Mark Perry is from the Wal-Mart camp

3:34 – Mark Perry teaches a class action seminar here at Georgetown

3:35 – Jenny Yang is also a class action specialist, who had previously worked in the civil rights department of the DOJ. 

3:36 – Pillard continued with the background of the case, which involves all women working at Wal-Mart since the claim was filed. The merits have yet to be litigated. But the question that went before the Court today is whether this should be brought as a class action.

3:38 – The issues relate to (1) whether the class action claim being filed under is limited to injunctive relief or can the claim for backpay go forward. and (2) whether the class certified was consistent with the acceptable prerequisites for a class.

3:40 – Class actions are based on an efficiency argument that common litigation will be faster and easier. The claim here is that there was a discretionary policy in hiring and promotions which was influenced by an atmosphere that led to sex discrimination. Wal-Mart contends that discretionary policies meant that there wasn’t a common question, because this wasn’t a top-down policy. 

3:41 – Prerequisites to a class include a common issue, typical claims by the named parties of the group, and whether the named plaintiffs and their lawyers would effectively litigate for the group.

3:43 – The debate is which category of classes this group would fit under. One is what is often called the ‘civil rights’ provision, the other is the ‘mass tort’ provision, which requires that common questions predominate over the individual claims. So there is a greater burden on the plaintiff class under the second provision. 

3:45 – The two representitives then discussed a short explanation of their arguments, and what the larger scale important of the case is. Perry begis by addressing the history of class actions. There have been few over time. 

3:47 – Class actions are still a questioned field, it’s still under debate. In fact, Justice Kagan wrote a note 20 years ago questioning their efficacy, a note which Professor Pillard now informs us she wrote.

3:49 – The part of this case that has captured the public attention is that this is the largest class action in history, but the court’s interest relates to these underlying questions regarding class certification. But also the struggle the 9th incurred in debating this issue, which was in conflict the first time around and en banc.

3:51 – Perry suggests this is a great argument to listen to because of how coherent the discussion was in the Court. This was a human story and the lawyers seemed to work hard to try to actually answer the judges questions. So this is a great case to look at for a law student.

3:53 – Yang then spoke on why she felt this case was important. She agrees that there are unfinished questions regarding class actions that this Court has shown an interest in resolving. The’ve granted cert in other cases that raise overlaping issues. 

3:55 – But this isn’t necessarily a question that needs to be address, she added. Because the seven Circuit Courts that have looked at whether backpay is an appropriate remedy in these types of class actions have agreed that it is. But there are some civil procedure questions that are at issue, especially related to the size of the class. 

3:57 – The determination whether to go forward in these cases depends on the facts and Yang argues that the standard for the plaintiff’s burden was relatively similar between the parties: that the plaintiff must show a link between the discriminatory behavior and the affect on the class on a whole.

4:00 – Pillard switched to discussing class actions generally, and the difference between the B(2) and B(3) frameworks: the “civil” and “tort” provisions, respectively. Perry answered by saying B(2)’s don’t require notice to all the class members, which limits the options of the class members, potentially without their knowledge. B(3) also requires the judge to make written findings, and these findings are valuable for future inquiries. But most importantly is the requirement that the common claim predominates in B(3). 

4:01 – He adds that the practical significance between the two is great, that this claim wouldn’t go forward in B(3), and this is supposed to be a specialized provision that isn’t applicable here. 

4:05 – Yang agreed that this case is important because of the difference between (2) and (3). She added that this is a classic civil rights case as is expected to be under B(2), because it is about changing a major pervasive practice of a company, and the central aspect of this litigation is the injunction, the back-pay being secondary. 

4:06 – She added that the notification requirement of B(3) can prevent a party from bringing the claim at all. First it requires a first class mailing to all parties, which can become substantially expensive. 

4:08 – One of the things that came out today in the discussion was whether the defendant could address a specific claim from the class by separating it out, and whether is has that right has widespread implications. 

4:10 – Yand and Perry sparred on whether the intent of R23 in general is to be a bright-line or a discretionary rule. With competing claims of efficiency and justice. 

4:12 – Another issue here is the absent class members and how R23 needs to be framed to best enforce their interests in the majority of cases, and the Court is looking to further that purpose with their determination in this case. 

4:14 – Pillard then asked about preparations for the arguments today, and also both sides efforts to get the Solicitor General’s office to publish an amici, which they did not.

4:16 – Perry started off. His firm has rooms and rooms fool of documents on this case. But the Court just gets the briefs. [He then took out the red and blue briefs of the two parties and the dark and light green briefs of the amicus] Amicus are somtimes good kindling, but often they’re great because they give the Justices perspectives that are different than either party. 

4:19 – You have to remember, the Justices of the Supreme Court are lawyers, but they are the most general lawyers in the country, and so you have to be able to frame your arguments from that perspecitve. They have to constantly shift gears and the advocates job is to give them the information they need.

4:22 – Yang then talked about the great variance of issues involved here. She said there was a near infinite number of questions that could arise. In each of the practice moots there was a good deal of variance in the focus of them. The Court won’t necessarily be up on the precedent like the lawyers who have been working on the case for nearly a decade, so it’s useful to have people play judges in the moots who are relatively new to the case. 

4:25 – Pillard then asked about amicus briefs. Do the parties think about counters to the amici and encouraging others to provide rejoinders? Perry started by saying because this case was so heavily litigated in the 9th, most amici had already put their arguments out and so there was less of a question here than there normally would be. 

4:26 – Pillard asked whether there were any amici the parites asked the justices to review specifically. Perry noted the Chamber of Commerce. 

4:29 – Pillard lastly asked about the Justices today, what surprised the parties, and who, if anyone, were you targeting? Yang started by pointing to Justice Kennedy, who connected a recent precedent related to the standard form municipalities’ liability. That took the plaintiffs off guard because municipality liability is normally treated as a unique field. 

4:32 – Yang added, that both sides were appealing to Kennedy, as a swing vote. But Roberts had hard questions for the defendants. Perry added that, from his perspective, Kennedy’s question asking the plaintiff to lay out what the specific claim was, and that was surprising because it’s unexpected given how heavily litigated and focused-on this case has been. 

4:34 – What was great about this case, to Perry, was that, looking at the Justices today, they seemed genuinely interested in this case through out the questioning, which is not as common as you’d expect.

That’s it for us at Court Reports. Thanks to all who have been listening. We encourage you to read the transcript of the case, or listen to the recording, which should be listed by the end of the week on the Supreme Court’s website.

OPICS offers advice amid “tough” job market

OPICS offers new job-hunting advice to students.As the hunt for legal jobs moves into high gear, the Office of Career Services and the Office of Public Interest and Community Service are offering fresh advice to students in a Q&A.

How is the search going for this year’s 3Ls? Does the economy seem to be improving for them, and do there seem to be enough opportunities out there for all the graduates?

Our graduating students seeking employment are working very hard on their job searches with support and advice from OCS and OPICS counselors.  It is still a tough market for graduating law students across the country. We are focusing our efforts on two issues: reaching out to potential employers to find out about all available openings; and helping our students to be as well positioned as possible for positions that fit their interests.

What kinds of jobs are students finding? Are there certain fields that obviously seem to be hiring?

Though all sectors of the legal market have been hit to varying degrees by the economic downturn, and most large law firm hiring is complete, many government agencies, small firms, and non-profits will be hiring. 

However, outside of early recruitment programs (e.g. government “Honor” programs and non-profit fellowships) the hiring timeline for these sectors has always been now through the months following graduation. 

Also, some state courts still have judicial clerkship openings, but those will likely be filled soon, so students interested in them should apply immediately. New Jersey in particular has a very well regarded court system and has a number of current clerkship openings.  Keep your eye on Hoya Headlines(,) the career blog that OCS and OPICS update daily, for more details.

What advice do you have for 3L job-searchers?

You are more likely to be successful if you develop a plan of action to seek a job in one or more settings that fit your interests and skills than if you apply generically for any and all jobs. We understand that the job search can be challenging, and we can help keep you focused and motivated.  The Bootcamp program is one tool to help students with these issues.

The Bootcamp Program

Is this a new program?

Yes, the Bootcamp Program was created specifically for 3L and 4E students seeking work in their last semester of law school in a difficult legal market.

Why is OCS offering this program?

Job searching can be challenging and requires constant attention and motivation.  OCS counselors were finding that some students needed additional focus, motivation and follow-through to keep up the energy required to conduct a successful job search.

No one size fits all when it comes to job hunting. While some students are comfortable networking and seeking out new opportunities, other students need more guidance to brainstorm ideas, advice on how to network and ask for “favors,” and some sense of accountability in their job search (knowing that someone is going to check-in and monitor their progress or lack thereof).

In fact, one student registering for the program indicated. “some external motivation would be helpful.”

What will students get from this program?

Students will get one-on-one narrowly tailored attention from an OCS counselor coupled with regular check-ins. The counselor and student will be partners in the job search, rather than advisor and counselee.  Moreover, there is more than one counselor assigned to the Bootcamp Program, thus students have access to a greater range of contacts, ideas, and ways to stay energized in the job search.

What is different about this program versus the usual OCS counseling?

Rather than a typical counseling session, this program offers a regimen for job seekers.  Students are given a systematic plan narrowly tailored to their needs and abilities. But more than that, students are required to “check-in” and if they fail to check in counselors will follow-up with the students. 

Rather than having students stall in their job search, students will be encouraged to complete tasks, will be given specific contacts and referrals, and counselors will follow-up to make sure students made contact and to facilitate next steps.

The 1L Job Search

How is the job search going for this year’s 1Ls?

Our first year students are actively engaged in the job search.  Many students have job searches for first summer positions in progress, and some are receiving and accepting offers for positions next summer.

How is their job search comparing to last year’s?

The 1L job search typically spans the Spring semester, so it’s too early to tell what it looks like compared with last year. However, our sense is that students will have many interesting opportunities to gain some legal experience in the coming summer, whether in the U.S. or around the world. 

What areas seem to be interested in hiring 1Ls for summer work? 

A wide spectrum of legal settings are interested in hiring 1Ls for the summer. Large law firms are the one setting that traditionally do not hire many 1Ls, and that remains true this year.

What advice are you offering to the 1L job-searchers?

You are not behind if you don’t already have a job for the summer lined up. Job offers for the summer come in throughout the spring semester. Students frequently ask us if it is “better” to work in one setting versus another.

The answer depends on what you want to do longer term, what skills you want to develop, what areas of work you wish to explore and more. So make an appointment with an OCS or OPICS counselor to explore these questions in more depth if you haven’t done so already.

By Law Weekly Staff

SBA president leaves office, reviews tenure

Broderick-Villa, left, says he regrets controversy over Colombian leader Uribe, right.William Broderick-Villa is officially a former SBA president. After a tenure that saw Georgetown undergo significant changes—including the arrival of a new dean and the expansion of the university’s externship program—Broderick-Villa, 3L, left office on Mar. 29.

“After working with William for the previous year, I know that he always tried to approach the SBA presidency with dedication and integrity,” said Elizabeth Farrar, 2L. Farrar served as SBA Day Vice President during Broderick-Villa’s term and has succeeded him as SBA president.

She added, “William actively advocated for students in important decisions, especially in relation to next year’s restructuring of the Law Center’s evening program through his work on the Committee for Academic Standards.”

The Law Weekly also asked Broderick-Villa to assess his work as SBA president and review what he did well and what he wished he had done differently.

Regarding his regrets, he mentioned a computer glitch that destroyed much of the SBA’s historical archives, and his failure to bring visiting professor and former Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe to the Law Center amid student protests (more on Broderick-Villa’s regrets later in this article).

As for his accomplishments, he offered a list of his February 2010 campaign promises and addressed his work to fulfill each pledge.

He pointed to seven major promises: first, working to “get grades faster, and get all professors to return exams.”

Many students have complained about the lag time between exam completion and the return of grades from the Registrar. In a sparsely attended open house meeting between the visiting accreditation team and students earlier this month, multiple students complained about the wait time.

One student, a 3L, said, “Faculty members need to realize how important it is that grades are submitted on time.”

Broderick-Villa said he made this subject a regular priority in his interactions with school administration, including the Curriculum, Academic Standards and Teaching Committee, and experienced some success. “With regard to grades, the CAST Committee just voted to change the deadline for professors to submit grades and to eliminate any grace period for missing the deadline.

He also said that Dean Wendy Perdue “stepped up her reminders to professors” and acted as a “very good sheriff.”

Broderick-Villa also acknowledged that a compromise led to the date of grade submission being pushed back by three days, but said, “I think this will be more than made up for by the complete elimination of a grace period (which actually makes the de facto grade submission date earlier).”

 Finally, the former SBA leader said, “As for returning all exams, Dean Perdue similarly agreed to inform professors of their duty (if they do not return exams to the registrar) to keep copies of exams for one year per ABA regulations.  Before this I had professors who did not send exams to the registrar and did not keep them either.  I have not been made aware of any professors violating the policy in the last two semesters, but if any student has trouble getting an exam back, I want to know about it.

Campaign Pledge #2: Expanding Externships

His second campaign promise was to pursue “a more sensible Externship policy, with expanded credit limits, flexibility in geographic offerings and more administrative support.”

Last spring, the SBA drafted and submitted a measure to the faculty that would have expanded the school’s externship program, but the faculty tabled the proposal amid heated debate over its wisdom.

“While it was disappointing not to have this in place for the Fall semester,” Broderick-Villa said, “we decided to redouble our efforts.  We appointed an unprecedented four students to the committee and engaged in hours of meetings with Deans, professors and students.”

That fall, the faculty approved an updated version of the externship proposal.

“In the end we got a better proposal, with a possibility of 6 externship credits (from two 3-credit externships) and an expansion in the pass/fail cap to 7 credits.”

He thanked the student members of the drafting committee and committee chair Professor Jane Aiken for their “hard work,” and also expressed gratitude to Dean Treanor, who expressed support for an externship expansion after joining the Law Center last summer.

Still, Broderick-Villa hopes that a future SBA president will manage to further expand the externship program. “I think 8 to 12 is a good range, and in keeping with our peers.  I would also like to see externships extended to those who volunteer at for profit enterprises (this is currently the third rail among faculty, but I believe with respectful discussion and dialogue we will get there).  Still, tripling the number of externship credits is more than anyone thought possible last year, and I’m happy for the win.”

Searching for a New Dean

His third campaign promise was that he would ensure student views reached the search committee that eventually selected William Treanor as the new Law Center dean.

“Accordingly,” he said, “I worked with the Dean Search Committee and was on the student committee that vetted the three decanal finalists.  I also analyzed a student survey and conveyed the results to the Dean Search Committee.”

Broderick-Villa expressed strong support for the committee’s decision to ultimately choose Treanor. “I was very pleased with the choice of Dean Treanor to lead Georgetown Law, and I have been continually impressed by his willingness to listen to student concerns.”

Finding Jobs

Broderick-Villa’s fourth campaign promise was to “strengthen the Office of Career Services so that we can make finding a job in this economy as easy as possible.”

“One of my first meetings as SBA President was with Dean Fernando,” he said. “I expressed student frustration that OCS was not doing enough to help students get jobs.  SBA then appointed one of our toughest negotiators, David Yellin, to head the committee charged with evaluating and revamping OCS procedures.  This has paid dividends in a number of new initiatives, including the “Jobs Bootcamp,” designed to get students jobs.”

Still, Broderick-Villa said, work remains. “While the progress is promising, I still think we could be doing more.  We need to keep real time data of which students have jobs and which students don’t so we can vigorously target unemployed students with personalized strategies (and not just wait for students to go to OCS).  I would like to see OCS keep best practices lists of what other universities are doing.”

Campus Facilities Improved?

Broderick-Villa’s fifth campaign promise was to “make sure our campus facilities and gym reflect a clean, professional atmosphere.”

Here, the SBA leader pointed to his work to address trash overflow in campus bathrooms. “It used to be that the trash can by the second floor stairs in McDonough would overflow daily in the late afternoon, and by evening classes it would look like a frat house trash pyramid.  This was embarrassing.  We got extra attention for problem restrooms and extra collections for waste receptacles.  We worked with our facilities committee to get more garbage cans installed in the second floor McDonough by the stairs.”

The SBA also had certain recycling and garbage receptacles renamed to make more room for trash disposal. “There are still some bathrooms that could use a lick and a prayer, but overall I think the situation has improved greatly.”

Improving Professor Evaluations

Sixth, “make sure best practices [of teachers] get discussed, recognized and emulated schoolwide.”

“I am currently working with the Curriculum, Academic Standards and Teaching Committee to revamp the end of semester teaching evaluation instrument we use at Georgetown Law,” Broderick-Villa explained, adding that his pre-law school work training teachers leads him to believe that the current post-course evaluation questions are too “vague” to be helpful.

He continued, “With the support of CAST, we are beginning a discussion on what makes good teaching, and how can we measure and better encourage good instruction.  The gold standard would be to have professors sit in on each other’s classes regularly… this was a hard practice to get instituted at the high school where I used to teach (teachers tend to be extremely protective of their fiefdoms) but once we did, the dividends were enormous.  That will have to wait for a future SBA.  For now we will have to be content with getting the conversation about instruction started and getting a more streamlined and useful evaluation instrument implemented.

Regarding his work to reduce classroom sizes, Broderick-Villa said, “I am pleased to have been part of the committee whose proposal will make all first year class sizes smaller next year by adding a section (§ 5) while at the same time reducing the size and 1E credit load of our Evening program (thus making our #1 ranked part time program even stronger, more intimate and more user-friendly for those who work full time).”

Disappointments & Regrets

When asked if he had any regrets, or wishes that he had done something differently, Broderick-Villa pointed to two things: first, his failure to improve SBA archives.

“This goal encountered a major setback when the SBA computer (a dinosaur that even in its better days processed slowly) completely crashed over the summer, erasing several years’ worth of documents, minutes, past budgets and files from several previous E-Board members. The historian in me found this tragic.”

Some records, he said, remain, but much of the recent SBA history was lost. “I’ve been able on our website to post names of many previous Presidents and E-Boards, but I’m still not happy with the amount of gaps we have in the record, and after I leave office I plan to continue the task of going through the library’s archives of past Law Weekly Articles (which I’ve begun to do) and past yearbooks to reconstruct the record of SBA.”

Broderick-Villa considers his other regret his failure to bring former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe—a visiting professor at Georgetown University—to the Law Center. Dozens of students, led by a Law Center 3L, fiercely criticized Georgetown for hiring Uribe, who they accuse of committing human rights violations during his tenure. The controversy peaked when Georgetown main campus security detained that Law Center student on suspicion of assaulting Uribe during a protest last Spring.

“I was fortunate enough to meet [Uribe] in the fall (a point of great pride for the Colombian side of my family),” Broderick-Villa said, “and he had originally agreed to speak at the law center, until an unfortunate incident with one of our students convinced him otherwise.  I can’t help but think our law school lost out from this opportunity to engage a unique and transformative world leader.”

Of the controversy, he said, “I understand many hold strongly differing opinions about President Uribe (as does Uribe, who when I met him said he welcomed an opportunity to engage his opponents in respectful discussion and debate).  I regret we were unable to have that respectful debate at Georgetown Law and that behind-the-scenes negotiations fell through.”

“But other than that, I’d say on the whole it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience.  Public service is a noble calling and I am honored to have been given a chance to serve as Georgetown Law’s Student Bar Association President for 2010-2011.

Broderick-Villa’s Successor Looks Ahead

As for his successor, new SBA leader Elizabeth Farrar, she says she is looking to build and improve upon the past year. “The outgoing SBA produced real results for students, including a stronger externship program and a class registration schedule that no longer conflicts with the 1L LRW exam. Although those positive changes are the result of the work of several SBA members, I plan to focus on making next year’s SBA more productive by engaging more of SBA’s membership and pursuing more initiatives.”

“S.J.D.? What’s THAT?” – a brief history of an overlooked, mysterious degree

A guest writer explains the S.J.D.In a little over a month, about 44,000 law school graduates nationwide will don ceremonial garb and anxiously await receipt of their hard-earned diplomas. 

Among them will be a handful of students on whom will be conferred the rarified and little known degree, the S.J.D.

Although the S.J.D. has been conferred in the United States since as early as 1912  and is described by many universities as the “highest” or “most advanced” degree in law,  few lawyers (let alone non-lawyers) have even heard of it.

As one pseudonymous blogger put it, “an S.J.D. sounds like a doctorate in Jesuitology to me,”  apparently referring to the letters “S.J.” that Jesuits sometimes place after their names to indicate membership in the Society of Jesus. Others nearly believe me when I tell them that the “S” stands for “Super.”

Less tongue-in-cheek, the former Assistant Dean of the graduate program at Harvard Law School notes that “[the S.J.D. is] a degree most U.S. scholars have either ignored or deprecated.”  

In part, the S.J.D’s mystery results from the fact that only about 42 of the 199 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) confer the degree. 

Even within the hallowed halls of S.J.D.-granting institutions, few are aware that the ABA, which accredits law schools based on their J.D. programs, does not formally approve any S.J.D. programs.  Nor does it approve any LL.M. programs, for that matter.

Equally unknown is the fact that while almost all of today’s S.J.D. students hail from foreign jurisdictions, the degree was originally created to train Americans for law teaching careers in the United States. 

This lack of awareness is somewhat surprising in light of the fact that the S.J.D. degree is almost exactly 100 years old (depending on whether you count from the date the first program was initiated or the date the first student graduated), making it older than all but a handful of J.D. programs.

Surprisingly, the degree has actually declined in popularity in the last half-century, bucking the general trend of ever greater academic study.

During the 1950’s, as many as one in five faculty members at some United States law schools held an S.J.D.  In the 1970’s, that number was about 1 in 13.  Today, studies show the number to be between 1 in 20  and 1 in 40. 

In part, the decline may be attributable to the switch from the “LL.B.” to the “J.D.” that swept the nation during the 1960’s, making the S.J.D. appear redundant, or at least confusing its significance.

In 1975, a professor named Herman E. Taylor memorably labeled the resulting confusion as the “double doctoral dilemma,” a state of affairs that he decried as leading to both discrimination in professional compensation and a general “disparagement of legal education.”

Taylor was not entirely off-base in pointing out the oddity.  It is not immediately obvious, for example, why one would pursue an academic doctorate in law (the S.J.D.) if one already holds a professional doctorate in law (the J.D.).

The answer, in part, is that very few do. Another part of the answer is that many S.J.D. students hold not the J.D. per se, but its foreign equivalent, which, despite nominative status as an equivalent, usually does not qualify its holder for either law practice or law teaching in most U.S. jurisdictions or law schools, respectively.       

Conversely, it can be a bit awkward to point out the obvious: if the 1-in-40 figure cited above is accurate, then most of the nation’s J.D.-holding law faculty, the same faculty who supervise S.J.D. students, do not hold the degree themselves.

The confusion has not abated much, if at all, in the 36 years since Taylor’s article. Today law schools do even not agree on what to call the academic doctorate in law.

A group of about 28 schools including Duke, Georgetown, Harvard and Notre Dame confer the “S.J.D.,” while another group of about 14 schools including Yale, Stanford, Cornell, and Chicago confer the “J.S.D.”

Ask what those letters stand for and you will find yet more diversity.

Cornell translates its J.S.D. as “Doctor of the Science of Law”  while both the University of Chicago and the American Bar Association call the same degree “Doctor of Jurisprudence.” 

This latter translation is particularly confusing, since “Doctor of Jurisprudence” is the same name used by other schools in connection with their J.D. programs.

The S.J.D. is also variously translated as “Doctor of Juridical Science”  (Southern Methodist University) and “Doctor of the Science of Law”  (Michigan). 

None of these, of course, should be confused with the J.D., which is variously translated as “Doctor of Law,”  “Juris Doctor,”  or as just mentioned, “Doctor of Jurisprudence.”

Despite these curiosities and inconsistencies of form, few will pause during commencement to consider the rich history, diversity, and even occasional controversy that underlie the S.J.D. degree. 

As thousands of parents, families and guests traverse freshly manicured lawns to hear luminaries speak and preserve special moments on film, this year’s graduates will likely be very grateful to finally be done with what has almost certainly been a long and rewarding process, regardless of its name.

About the writer: Jonathan J. Darrow holds a J.D. from Duke University, an MBA from Boston College, and an L.L.M. from Harvard Law School, where he is currently a S.J.D. candidate.  His scholarship on intellectual property has appeared in publications including the “Stanford Technology Law Review,” “the NYU Journal of Legislation & Public Policy,” “the Northwestern Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property,” “the Albany Law Review” and the “Harvard Journal of Law & Technology.” His textbook Cyberlaw: Text & Cases (Cengage 2011) was recently published.

Review: Kushi Izakaya and Sushi pricey, but offers tasty and unique menu

Photo courtesy of bvalium’s photostream on Adam recommends ordering the fresh sea urchin sushi, which is delicious despite its mucusy texture.I’ve never been to Japan, but if the average Japanese bar and grill is anywhere close to being as good as Kushi Izakaya and Sushi near 5th and K St. NW, then I need to start thinking about conditioning myself for a 14-hour plane flight. 

The restaurant is home to some of the D.C. area’s top Japanese food; and although it can be pricey, it’s recommended as a unique place to try.   

Kushi opened back in winter 2010 as an “izakaya” and sushi bar.  At least according to Wikipedia, “izakaya” is a combination of the Japanese for “to sit” and “Sake shop.” 

What sets Kushi apart from a typical Americanized Japanese restaurant is its focus on small grilled plates:  the restaurant offers both charcoal-grilled meat and vegetable skewers, or “kushiyaki,” and wood grilled items (“robata”).  

Kushi’s interior design reflects this fact, as the centerpiece of one of the two large dining rooms is a grill with surrounding seating where diners can view (and smell) their chefs cooking up your meal.  

I had two recent meals at Kushi: a Thursday night dinner, and a Saturday lunch.  The dinner menu is more expansive than the lunch menu.  Diners should note that the grill isn’t in full operating mode until the dinner service.     

The pork belly and crispy chicken skin skewers were delicious, as were the chicken livers and asparagus and bacon skewers.  The grilled rice balls are also quite good, and at only $3 each, they’re a good value.    

Kushi has quite a variety of vegetable skewers as well.  The “sticky yam” is more sticky than sweet and has an interesting texture. 

The sushi is probably some of the best I’ve had in D.C.: the freshness is quite apparent.  Although pricey at $11, ask for the fresh sea urchin, which looks like orange mucus but which is actually incredibly tasty.  

The desserts mostly consist of gelatos and sorbets that include interesting flavors like sea salt and salty plum, but steer clear of the wasabi—it’s too overpowering and reinforces the fact that some things just shouln’t be made into ice cream.

Kushi has a full bar; and the servers even let you choose your own sake cup, a kitschy but fun touch.

The servers are knowledgeable and helpful and will be able to steer you in the right direction to get the most for your money.  I’d also recommend looking at what other tables are ordering to get an idea of the size of the plates.

Kushi is located at 465 K Street, NW in the City Vista building.  Average tab for dinner per person is $25-35, and average tab for lunch per person is $15-25.  Reservations are available on OpenTable or at (202) 682-3123.  It is open for lunch Mondays-Fridays from 11:30-2:30 PM and Saturdays-Sundays from 12:00-2:30 PM and is open for dinner Sundays-Wednesdays from 5:30-11:00 PM and Thursdays-Saturdays from 5:30 PM-2:00 AM.  Visit for more details.

by Adam Wesolowski, 1L