The bar exam results for Florida are in and they are not good

The February bar exam scores usually possess the lowest scores. Most February test takers are usually second-timers and probably failed for a reason the first time around. However, the results from these Florida law schools were from first-time test takers meaning it does not factor in people who have failed before.

The results are as follows:

Florida Coastal School of Law (Jacksonville, FL): 32.7% pass

Barry University School of Law (Orlando, FL): 35.9% pass

St. Thomas University (Miami Gardens, FL): 42.3% pass

Stetson University School of Law (Gulfport, FL): 53.3% pass

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL): 56.3% pass

University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL): 53.1% pass

Ave Maria School of Law (Naples, FL): 52.9% pass

Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, FL): 75% pass

Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL): 71.4% pass

Florida International University (Miami, FL): 84.6% pass

Both Florida Coastal and Barry University boasted in the fact that they had the most students sitting for the bar exam, which usually is not a good sign. Florida Coastal is notorious for its unreasonable investment and low employment score (29%).

Even though the University of Florida and the University of Miami had the least number of test-takers, the results are still very surprising. Only about half managed to pass. UF has an employment score of 68% and a US News Rank of 47. UM has an employment score of 67% with a US News Rank of 63.

Nova Southeastern and Florida State University continue to well with about 3/4 of their test takers have passing marks. FSU has an employment score of about 68% and has a US News Rank of 45. Florida International University did the best, with a 84.6% pass rate.

Article via Above the Law, April 11, 2016

Photo: Last Undergraduate Class via Stephen Grebinski [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Obama bans slave products

Last Wednesday President Obama officially placed a ban on goods imported into the United States that are produced by slave labor. He signed a bill that includes a provision that bans imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh. This closes a loophole in an 85 year old tariff law that failed to keep slave produced products out of the U.S.

As long as domestic production couldn’t meet demand, the government has turned a blind eye to companies exporting these goods. The bill may be a game changer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agencies responsible for preventing goods derived from slavery from entering the country. Last year, an exposé by the Associated Press found Thai companies were shipping seafood into the U.S. that was caught by enslaved workers. As a result of the reports, more than a dozen alleged traffickers were arrested, millions of dollars worth of seafood and vessels seized, and more than 2,000 trapped fishermen have been rescued.

“The old system that leaves the door open to child or slave labor if it’s used to make a product that isn’t made here in the U.S. — that system absolutely must end, and it will,” U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who spoke against the loophole on the Senate floor, said in a statement.

The legal gap has been in place for so long that politicians who pushed for the change aren’t exactly sure how it will affect businesses cited by human rights groups or the agencies responsible for blocking goods derived from slavery.

“Ending this provision gives those fighting forced labor the confidence they can challenge imports of these products without fear of being undermined by an archaic and outrageous provision of U.S. trade law,”  Keith Chu, a senator who voted for the bill,  said in an e-mail.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio said Wednesday that his office is already asking U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure they begin enforcing the new rules when the law takes effect in 15 days. “It’s embarrassing that for 85 years, the United States let products made with forced labor into this country, and closing this loophole gives the U.S. an important tool to fight global slavery”.

 

Article via Mashable, 25 February 2016; Mashable,12 February 2016

Photo: White House Maker Faire (201406180003HQ) by NASA HQ PHOTO  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Can ‘borrower defense’ help forgive student debt?

A once obscure federal law is being cited by more than 7,500 borrowers who applied to have their debt erased because many schools apparently used illegal recruiting tactics.

Wall Street Journal reported that if schools violate a state law regarding the recruiting process, federal law states that students may receive forgiveness of debt from the government’s Direct Loan program. One example of a violation would be if the school lied about how many of its graduates landed jobs.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides. The law does not specifically state what is needed to prove fraud. The U.S. Education Department is presently drafting rules to provide clarification.

Most of the 7,500 borrowers that are seeking loan forgiveness attended private universities and 3/4 of those colleges were owned by now-defunct Corinthian Colleges. But, Above the Law says some unemployed law grads are encouraged to apply for loan forgiveness through this program known as “borrower defense”  or “defense to repayment.”

In spite of the negatives, Above the Law sees a positive beyond individual borrowers who might be able to benefit. In a blog, they state this: “If enough borrowers are granted relief under the borrower defense program, the Department of Education will eventually start investigating law schools that continue to admit under-qualified students who end up with no jobs and are unable to pass the bar exam.”

Article via ABA Journal, February 4, 2016

Photo: 2011 10 06 – 1237 – Washington DC – Occupy DC via thisisbossi [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


How to use social media evidence in court

In February of 2014, Maria Nucci attempted to sue Target after she slipped and fell on a work shift. In response, Target requested access to her Facebook profile in order to gather evidence on Nucci’s quality of life following the accident.

Saying that she had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” because of Facebook’s privacy settings, Nucci declined, and 36 photographs were removed from her profile two days following her objection.

The case was taken to the Fourth District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida, where in January of 2015, the three-judge panel ruled in favor of Target’s request for Nucci’s Facebook photographs.

“Because information that an individual shares through social networking websites like Facebook may be copied and disseminated by another,’ the expectation that such information is private, in the traditional sense of the word, is not a reasonable one,” the panel ruled.

Courts are still navigating how to use social media as evidence in legal cases. Currently, the main two issues complicating social media’s role in the courthouse are privacy, as in the Target case, and authentication.

Many social media sites require only an email to sign up, and those who require more don’t use any system to verify whether the person creating an account is in fact who they say they are.

Gibson Dunn partner Jennifer Rearden sums up the difficulties in using social media profiles as evidence: “Anybody can put anything on the Internet, and most Internet sites are not monitored for accuracy, so just because you have a print-out of someone’s profile page doesn’t mean you actually have confirmation they are controlling that page.”

 
Article via Legaltech News, November 2, 2015

Photo: Tumblr via Corrado [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


New .law domain name available for lawyers

Now, in addition to common domain names such as .com or .net, lawyers with the appropriate qualifications can differentiate themselves with a domain name specific to the legal community. As Lou Andreozzi, the CEO of .law explains, this new domain name can be useful in several ways to interested attorneys. For example, it opens up names that may already be registered to a .com or .net address to be used. Additionally, since there are specifications that individuals must meet to purchase a .law domain name, namely being a licensed lawyer, websites with .law may appear more creditable than those with a domain name that can be purchased by anyone, such as .com. While .law is the first domain name available specifically for those in legal professions, other such as .attorney or .esq may also become available soon.

Some prominent law firms are already beginning to take advantage of the new domain name. Though the domain name will not be available to the legal community at large until October, firms that have registered their trademarks with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers have had early access to ordering from the owner of .law, Minds + Machines.

Article via ABA Journal, August 10, 2015

Photo: The letters of the law via laura.bell [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]