The Cornell Law Library is pleased to announce the 2014 recipients of The Cornell Law Library Robert Cantwell Prize for Exemplary Student Research:

First Prize:

The Religion of Alcoholics Anonymous (“AA”): Applying the Clergy Privilege to Certain AA Communications, by Ari Diaconis, 3L

d_diaconis_ari_ajd256Ari Diaconis cast a wide net in compiling his research, drawing from over 180 sources including in-person interviews, Bible scripture and empirical studies while also using traditional legal research and analysis.

Diaconis argued for the application of the clergy privilege to Alcoholics Anonymous (“AA”) by constructing a detailed history of AA from its origins to present day, relying on a variety of primary and secondary sources including interviews with current members. He then used that historical research to argue that AA constitutes a religion under Supreme Court precedent, providing analysis of the Court’s jurisprudence dating to the 19th Century.

“I learned a tremendous amount from conducting the research necessary for this Note,” he said of the process. “The most important of which include: (1) take things one piece at a time (even sentence by sentence at times); (2) pick topics that genuinely interest you; (3) do not always look for sources that support your thesis; rather, seek the truth; (4) do not trust everything you read; and (5) ask for help.”

Second Prize:

The Law Review Divide: A Study of Gender Diversity on the Top Twenty Law Reviews, by Lynne Kolodinsky, 3L

d_kolodinsky_lynne_lnk29Lynne Kolodinsky used empirical analysis as the basis for her research in examining gender diversity in law review membership.

Kolodinsky designed an original study seeking to explore the apparent gender disparity among top law review journals and possible explanations for that gap. Building on previous scholarship on gender diversity in legal academia, her goal was to produce “the first comprehensive statistical analysis of independently reported and verified data on the gender diversity of law review membership.”

Kolodinsky collected school enrollment data from the archives of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools and also gathered information on law review admissions processes as the basis for her study. She then combined her findings with a broader discussion of women’s evolving experiences in the traditionally male-dominated law school setting using a variety of more traditional legal scholarship sources.

“Without this experience, I doubt I would have had any exposure to [statistical] software in law school,” she said. “I also learned how to effectively synthesize empirics with theory to make an original argument that contributes to the broader sphere of academic studies relating to women’s experiences in the legal field.”

About the Cantwell Prize:

A review panel comprised of Librarians Amy Emerson, Nina Scholtz and Mark Williams selected the winners from among 29 competitive entries.

Funding for the Prize is provided by an endowment given to the Law Library by Barbara Cantwell in honor of her late husband, Robert Cantwell, a 1956 graduate of Cornell Law School.

In addition to receiving a monetary award, the winners are also invited to publish their papers in Scholarship@Cornell Law, the Law Library’s digital repository, and to feature their papers in Reading Room displays.

 

Today we're featuring one of the most recent additions to our repository with Professor Charles K. Whitehead's January 2014 article "Lawyers and Fools: Lawyer-Directors in Public Corporations" appearing in the Georgetown Law Review and co-authored with Lubomir P. Litov and Simone M. Sepe of the University of Arizona.

From the abstract:

The accepted wisdom—that a lawyer who becomes a corporate director has a fool for a client—is outdated. The benefits of lawyer-directors in today’s world significantly outweigh the costs. Beyond monitoring, they help manage litigation and regulation, as well as structure compensation to align CEO and shareholder interests. The results have been an average 9.5% increase in firm value and an almost doubling in the percentage of public companies with lawyer-directors.

This Article is the first to analyze the rise of lawyer-directors. It makes a variety of other empirical contributions, each of which is statistically significant and large in magnitude. First, it explains why the number of lawyer-directors has increased. Among other reasons, businesses subject to greater litigation and regulation as well as firms with significant intangible assets, such as patents, value a lawyer-director’s expertise. Second, this Article describes the impact of lawyer-directors on corporate monitoring. Among other results, it shows that lawyer-directors are more likely to favor a board structure and takeover defenses that potentially reduce shareholder value—balanced, however, by the benefits of lawyer-directors, such as the valuable advice they can provide. Finally, this Article analyzes the significant reduction in risk-taking and the increase in firm value that results from having a lawyer on the board.

Our findings fly in the face of requirements that focus on director independence. Our results show that board composition—and the training, skills, and experience that directors bring to managing a business—can be at least as valuable to the firm and its shareholders.

For more on the latest scholarly articles from Professor Whitehead and the rest of the law school faculty visit the repository at Scholarship@Cornell Law.

Net neutrality has been back in the news in a big way following the D.C. Circuit Court's decision in Verizon v. F.C.C.  to strike down many key provisions of the agency's open-internet rules.  The decision was a monumental one, but far from then end of the debate with President Obama indicating Friday that he expects the FCC to revisit the issue in some fashion. The immediate fallout from the decision and what happens next remain to be seen, but in the meantime here's a few links from around the web covering the issue from a variety of perspectives.

"Disruptions: Paying to Travel in the Internet's Fast Lanes" - Nick Bilton- New York Times

"A FEMA-level fail’: The Law Professor who Coined ‘Net Neutrality’ Lashes Out at the FCC’s Legal Strategy" - Brian Fung - Washington Post

"Verizon's Net Neutrality Victory Means More Fighting to Come - Joshua Brustein" - Bloomberg Businessweek

"Calm Down. The Courts Didn’t Just End the Open Internet." - Ezra Klein - Washington Post 

"Netflix Neutrality: Court Ruling Won't Boost Your Netflix Bill. Yet." - Joan E. Solsman- CNET

The end of one year and the begenning of a new one always seems to bring with it a trove of lists taking stock of the best and worst of the previous year. Never one to miss an opportunity to list things, we thought we'd highlight one of our own featuring the top ten most downloaded papers in the history of the Scholarship@Cornell Law Repository. Some on the list are more recent publications, while one others have been around for a decade or more.

Top Ten Downloads:

African Customary Law, Customs, and Women's Rights
Muna Ndulo

Basic Indian Legal Literature for Foreign Legal Professionals
Uma Narayan

Overview of Legal Systems in the Asia-Pacific Region: India
Navoneel Dayanand

Overview of Legal Systems in the Asia-Pacific Region: South Korea
Oh Seung Jin

Legal Education in China: English Language Materials
Roderick O'Brien

Legalization of Prostitution in Thailand: A Challenge to Feminism and Societal Conscience
Virada Somswasdi

A Study of Islamic Family Law in Malaysia: A Select Bibliography
Raihana Abdullah

Introduction to the Italian Legal System. The Allocation of Normative Powers: Issues In Law Finding
Marinella Baschiera

Larger Board Size and Decreasing Firm Value in Small Firms
Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren, and Martin T. Wells

Legal Treatment of Cohabitation in the United States
Cynthia Grant Bowman

 

homeHeaderLogoImage_en_USThe Journal of Open Access to Law is making its official debut this week. The journal describes itself as "an open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal of international scope. Its purpose is to promote international research on the topic of open access to law."

The inaugural issue features articles discussing "the governance of new models of legal publishing, projects in open access to law, technical challenges and economic opportunities created by open access to law as well as trends and changes suggested by the globalization of access."

For a more detailed description of the journal and its aims head over to Legal Information Institute Director and journal co-editor Tom Bruce's blog B-Screeds.

The Cornell E-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI) has been exploring technological innovation as a supplement to formal Notice and Comment rulemaking provided by the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations.  Attorneys and professional associations frequently submit lengthy comments regarding important proposed rules but advocates for open government worry that participation by affected individuals is lacking.

A recent CeRI article by Cynthia R. Farina, Dmitry Epstein, Josiah Heidt, and Mary J. Newhart summarizes some of the CeRI findings: "Regulation Room: Getting 'More, Better' Civic Participation in Complex Government Policymaking." CeRi's 'Regulation Room' supported online participation for 5 proposed federal rules & then evaluated the impact in their recent paper.  The rules governed texting while driving, Electronic Onboard Recorders in trucks, airline passenger rights, airline kiosk and website accessibility, and consumer protections for home financing.  In addition to providing an opportunity to comment on particular sections of the proposals, CeRi members advertised the regulations on social media and then moderated comments by asking for more detailed information. The paper analyzed the effectiveness of the Regulation Room initiative by looking at the summary of the comments in the final rules as well as the type of comments forwarded to the agency.  Without the Regulation Room support, there is a participation literacy barrier: many members of the public don't have the ability or inclination to devote a significant amount of time reading through lengthy proposed regulations, even if the proposal has a direct impact.

For more on the latest scholarly articles from CeRI and the rest of the law school faculty visit the repository at Scholarship@Cornell Law.

Professor Robert C. Hockett has been exploring the idea of using eminent domain as a way to relieve underwater mortgages in several of his recent publications. The research is more than just theory, as the city of Richmond, California took steps this summer to put such a plan into action, while several other municipalities are exploring the idea as well.

The Scholarship@Cornell Law repository is featuring one of Professor Hockett's recent publications on this topic titled: "A Federalist Blessing in Disguise: From National Inaction to Local Action on Underwater Mortgages", originally appearing in the Harvard Law and Policy Review earlier this year and co-authored with John Vlahoplus of the advisory firm Mortgage Resolution Partners.

The abstract describes the paper as:

Taking "the measure of the national mortgage debt overhang problem as a cluster of local problems warranting local action. It then elaborates on one form of such action that the localized nature of the ongoing mortgage crisis justifies - use of municipal eminent domain authority to purchase underwater loans, then modify them in a manner that benefits debtors, creditors, and their communities alike."

For more on the latest scholarly articles from Professor Hockett and the rest of the law school faculty visit the repository at Scholarship@Cornell Law.

Perhaps you've heard the federal government is currently shut down?

With budget negotiations at an impasse, and another debt ceiling battle looming, the Scholarship@Cornell Law repository is featuring two articles published by members of the law faculty that touch on these respective issues.

Professor Josh Chafetz's essay "The Phenomenology of Gridlock," turns the conventional dysfunction narrative on its head, arguing that the hunt for causes of gridlock are misguided. Originally appearing in Notre Dame Law Review's 2012 "The American Congress: Legal Implications of Gridlock" Symposium, Chafetz argues that gridlock itself is not a phenomenon, but an absence of it, and that looking at why and how legislation occurs is the more fruitful course of action in determining institutional dysfunction.

Also, Professor Michael Dorf and George Washington University's Neil H. Buchanan tackled the debt ceiling fight last year in companion articles "How to Choose the Least Unconstitutional Option: Lessons for the President (and Others) from the Debt Ceiling Standoff" and "Nullifying the Debt Ceiling Threat Once and for All: Why the President Should Embrace the Least Unconstitutional Option" appearing the Columbia Law Review and Columbia Law Review Sidebar respectively. In the papers, Dorf and Buchanan examine the recent history of the debt ceiling brinksmanship between Congress and The White House and examine the options the President may have to prevent the ceiling from becoming a negotiation tactic every time it needs to be raised. Additionally, visit Professor Dorf's blog, Dorf on Law, where he's been posting on the current budget negotiations.

For more on the latest scholarly articles from these authors and the rest of the law school faculty visit the repository at Scholarship@Cornell Law. 

The Cornell Law Library is pleased to announce the 2012 recipients of The Cornell Law Library Prize for Exemplary Student Research:

First Place: Annexation of the Jury’s Role in Res Judicata Disputes: The Silent Migration from Question of Fact to Question of Law, by Steven Madrid, 2L

Steven Madrid focused his research on two hundred years of case law to uncover an historical development not currently identified in any secondary source.  Discerning the silent migration of the jury’s role in res judicata disputes from question of fact to question of law required performing the difficult research task of proving a negative – in this instance, proving the absence of cases overturning relevant precedent or otherwise affirmatively establishing res judicata disputes as a question of law.  Steven’s research was further challenged by the fact that current terminology, i.e. “res judicata,” “collateral estoppel,” “claim preclusion,” and “issue preclusion,” was rarely used in nineteenth century cases.  This necessarily led to the creation of innovative search queries to complete the project.

Steven’s foray into the history of his topic was unplanned at the outset of his research, and he notes that, “by maintaining an open attitude a researcher can mold his/her topic into a slight variation that may prove more interesting and novel.”

Second Place: Targeted Killing and Just War:  Reconciling Kill-Capture Missions and the Combatant Civilian Framework, by Louis Guard, 3L

Louis Guard’s research encompassed a diverse array of legal, philosophical, and factual resources.  Not only did he examine the theoretical underpinnings of customary international law principles, but he successfully navigated the intricate research involved in locating hard evidence of customary international law as well.  To this he added an accurate accounting of the specific facts and circumstances surrounding his topic.  His sources included blogs, military-specific news sources, policy briefs and position papers, speeches and public statements, treaties and their interpretive documents, and even a number of forthcoming publications.

Through discussions with both scholars and practitioners, Louis learned how depth of research affects quality of scholarship.  He states, “Academic pieces lacking in rigorous research seem to do little in advancing the [academic] dialogue and are short lived.  The more novel and valuable contributions always seemed to be those that were more thoroughly and competently researched.”

A review panel comprised of Librarians Jean Callihan, Pat Court, Amy Emerson, Matt Morrison and Nina Scholtz selected the winners from among 27 competitive entries.

Funding for the Prize is provided by an endowment given to the Law Library by Barbara Cantwell in honor of her late husband, Robert Cantwell, a 1956 graduate of Cornell Law School.

In addition to receiving a monetary award, the winners are also invited to publish their papers in Scholarship@Cornell Law, the Law Library’s digital repository, and to feature their papers in Reading Room displays.

Need to stay up-to-date with news and events in China?  The Law Library has a new electronic subscription called Current Digest of the Chinese Press.  This is an excellent resource, especially for those who do not read Chinese, because it offers an unabridged and unfiltered English translation.  The product is published by East View Press, and it offers a comprehensive view of China through relevant and timely stories.  The Digest is a weekly that culls articles from a broad range of sources all aimed at a domestic audience.  These articles are then carefully translated so as not to lose the actual sense and meaning of the original article.  So, if you need reliable Chinese news, be sure to check out the Current Digest.

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