The much publicized accelerated J.D. program has been discontinued. Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez announced this decision via e-mail on Friday, Oct 2, 2015:

“I write to inform you that we are suspending indefinitely admissions recruitment for our Accelerated JD program. Consequently, we will not be enrolling a new class of AJD students this coming spring.

This decision was a difficult one — a conclusion I have reached after many months of deliberation and consultation with numerous individuals throughout our university and law school community, the legal academy, and our profession, and after a careful review of relevant internal and external data. In the end, I have determined that this course is the best one for the time being in order to advance the strategic priorities of our law school.”

The American Bar Association’s refusal to allow law schools to experiment with this sort of innovation factored in with this decision. Also, Northwestern didn’t want to charge students two years’ worth of tuition for two years of education so it killed the market for this program. Even though Rodriguez thinks people should choose to obtain a law degree within 2 or 3 years, he still wants to charge by the degree.

Benefits of the 2 year program included students saving a year of living expenses and finding a job more quickly. And because of that, some students disagreed with this decision:

“I would have never considered going to law school without the AJD program and I know the same is the case with many of my classmates. The AJD brought a unique and interesting group of students to the school. We were hardworking, successful and quite frankly paid the same as our three-year counterparts. In a landscape where traditional legal education seems antiquated and in desperate need of reform, I always looked with pride in Northwestern and the AJD as a front runner in legal education reform.”

Northwestern will support the program until the currently enrolled students graduate.

Article via Above the Law, October 5, 2015

Photo: Northwestern University 18 via Herb Nestler [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Edward Snowden fled the US in 2013 after leaking classified documents to reporters. These documents revealed domestic surveillance by the NSA on United States citizens and ignited outrage and debate about security and surveillance. To escape arrest, Snowden left the country and resides in Russia, where he has been since 2013. Now he wants to come back home.

In an interview that aired Monday with the BBC, Snowden says that he has offered to go to jail in exchange for coming home, but has not received a response from the government. He stated, “I’ve volunteered to go to prison with the government many times”. He continues saying that “what I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.” This echoes a sentiment that he expressed in a Wired interview in 2014 where he said that he wouldn’t mind going to jail as long as his sentence “serves the right purpose.”

Snowden has been charged with 3 felonies in accordance to the Espionage act that  carry a sentence of over 30 years. His lawyers have objected to Snowden returning to the US because they believe that a trial with charges under the espionage act would not be fair. “The Espionage Act finds anyone guilty who provides any information to the public, regardless of whether it is right or wrong,” Snowden told the BBC. “You aren’t even allowed to explain to a jury what your motivations were for revealing this information. It is simply a question of, ‘Did you reveal information?’ If yes, you go to prison for the rest of your life.”

There continues to be ongoing debate as to whether Snowden is a patriot or a traitor. Those who see his actions as an act of patriotism have called for President Obama to grant Snowden a full pardon. But, when Secretary of State John Kerry visited Moscow in 2013 he called Snowden a traitor and a coward. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated that a plea deal could be possible that can met the request of both the government and Snowden.

In the meantime, Snowden continues to use his status to speak out about issues of security and surveillance.

Article via TechCrunch, 6 October 2015

Photo: snowden via duluoz cats[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Even though there aren’t many jobs available for tech experts in the law profession, those that have experience in litigation support or e-discovery can expect to be able to obtain higher salaries than they have in the past, simply because there aren’t that many professionals out there that fit the criteria. It’s a simply case of supply and demand—with a limited supply of these tech professionals, they’re able to demand more money. For example, Robert Half predicts that litigation support/e-discovery directors can expect an approximately 6% increase on average in their salary, bringing the average range between $101,000 and $130,050. Tech professionals working in major markets such as New York can expect much more, though, with an average salary of $230,000 or more. Chief information officers can also expect to see an increase in their earnings, and their salaries can fall into the range of $300,000 to $500,000 at top law firms. As the global practice leader in law firm management at Major, Lindsey & Africa, Amanda K. Brady, explains, “It can be lucrative …. but there’s just not a lot of these jobs.”

As tech-related fields continue to grow, though, tech professionals can expect to see more opportunities for working in law. For example, multidisciplinary teams containing professionals knowledgeable about networks and information security are predicted to become more common for firms who have practice groups centering on cybersecurity or privacy. Additionally, many firms are expected to create practice groups for these kind of tech concerns if they have not already. With this much growth in the future, tech experts can look forward to salaries continuing to rise. According to Brady, “There’s only an upward projectory here. The demand will only continue.”

Though the prospect of a better salary may attract many tech professionals to law, they should keep in mind that the workplace culture found at a law firm can be very different from what they are used to. It isn’t entrepreneurial, like the environment found at a startup. Additionally, tech professionals, especially chief information officers, are often paid very well because technology can present a huge risk to the firm. If the tech systems are not kept up to par by the chief information officer and other tech employees, the firm’s reputation can suffer. Those looking to work in a law firm should keep the above in mind, but in addition to a higher salary, tech professional may also look forward to being involved in many different parts of the firms and handling many responsibilities.

Article via Legaltech News, September 25, 2015

Photo: Cash Money (part two) via Jeremy Yerse [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]