The True Value of a Law Degree, or Why Did Thurgood Marshall Go to Law School?

R. Lawrence Dessem & Gregory M. Stein

Volume 65

There has been vigorous debate in recent months over whether a law degree is a worthwhile investment. Much of this discussion has focused on whether the economic costs of obtaining a degree pay off over a lawyer’s career. This conversation has largely overlooked the many non-economic benefits of a law degree. In this essay, we seek to re-introduce several non-economic factors back into this important dialogue. We suggest that prospective law school applicants would be wise to consider these non-economic factors in addition to economic ones.

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A Triumph of Ill Conceived Language: The Linguistic Origins of Guantamo’s “Rough Justice”

Brian Christopher Jones

Volume 64

Throughout the years, the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay has witnessed an abundance of intriguing linguistic words and phrases. For example, “Freedom Vanilla” replaced French Vanilla ice cream in the mess hall, andthe area where journalists and others were often sequestered during their visits to the base was re-named “Camp Justice.”3 The list goes on. However, the language that has had the most significant impact throughout the years has been the words and phrases used in the administration of justice regarding the detainees being held on terrorism charges.Wall St. Journal Supreme Court reporter Jess Bravin’s book, The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay, thoroughly chronicles how the use of military commissions came about for the first time since the Second World War, and pointedly demonstrates the abundance of problems they faced once established. In addition to telling the story of Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Stuart Couch, an earnest military prosecutor who later becomes exhaustively disenchanted with the commissions, the book chronicles the new linguistic frontiers in the American legal community. In particular, the disturbing treatment of detainees and the hasty establishment of the commissions significantly troubled the process, leading to numerous problems that the commissions still face today, more than a decade after their establishment.

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The Long-Awaited Nationwide Mortgage Settlement: Only a Small Step Forward in the Struggle for Accountability in the Financial Crisis

Julia Mas-Guindal

Volume 64

After sixteen months of negotiation, state attorneys general and the federal government have reached agreement on a record joint state-federal settlement with the country’s five largest lenders—Ally Financial (formerly GMAC), Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo—over improper foreclosure practices. The nationwide accord seeks to address banks’ misconduct that took place after the burst of the housing bubble. Some of the largest lenders in the country that process foreclosures issued improper mortgages, violated homeowners’ rights and protections, and used false affidavits. Bank employees did not properly verify documents; they signed papers they had not read or forged signatures to expedite foreclosing on homeowners, also known as “robo-signing” documents. Announced in February, the deal consists of $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers as well as direct payments to states and the federal government. While this is the largest multistate settlement since the Tobacco Settlement in 1998 and the largest consumer financial protection arrangement in U.S. history, one question remains: is this settlement a comprehensive solution to the current foreclosure crisis?

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The Supreme Court’s Open-Ended Protection Against Third-Party Retaliation

Jessica K. Fink

Volume 63

In Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, the Supreme Court contradicted the federal appellate courts and unanimously held that Title VII prohibits employers from engaging in third-party retaliation. This Essay contends that because the Court failed to establish any meaningful boundaries for the scope of third-party retaliation doctrine, the doctrine’s benefits may not outweigh its potential costs.

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Excluding Unemployed Workers from Job Opportunities: Why Disparate Impact Protections Still Matter

Helen Norton

Volume 63

Despite our tough economic climate, many employers exclude currently unemployed workers from consideration for a wide variety of jobs. Not only does this practice seem cruel and unwise, but, as this Essay explains, under certain circumstances the practice may violate federal antidiscrimination law.

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Right-Sizing Bar Association Governance

Daniel R. Suhr

Volume 63

This Essay evaluates bar association governance nationally in light of best practices for corporate and nonprofit governance. Governance experts agree that boards should be small. These scholarly recommendations are confirmed by the experiences of many large nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations. They are shared by several publications from different sections and committees of the ABA and American Law Institute. Yet these recommendations remain unimplemented in the vast majority of bar associations. This Essay contends that California should pursue a smaller governing board, and other bar associations, particularly those with significant staff and budgets, should undertake similar self-studies.

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Sustainable Capitalism: Revelations from the Japanese Model

Joel Slawotsky

Volume 63

This Essay utilizes the Japanese governance model as it provides a useful comparative illustration. Unlike the United States, the Japanese model engages in a stakeholder value system wherein the interest of shareholder profits lies at the bottom. As will be seen below, while the United States has its share of corporate scandal, such corporate abuse is not solely relegated to the United States but exists in Japan as well. Moreover, notwithstanding claims that a shareholder model results in income inequality, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, while the United States has the fifth highest household disposable income gap, Japan is close behind in sixth place. In addition, despite the global economic slowdown and market volatility, the U.S. stock indexes are just slightly below record highs, while in contrast, Japan’s major index is down about 80% since peaking in 1989. Finally, a review of macroeconomic statistics reveals that in contrast to an ever growing—albeit at a slow pace—U.S. economy, Japan’s economy has been shrinking, and its overall economic standing has slipped.

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