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May 10, 2005

Beyond Red v. Blue

The Pew Research Center has just released its latest typology of America's political divisions. You can take the survey yourself to see where you fit in the nine different categories Pew has devised. I'm fairly sure most of you can guess where the survey pegs me:

This group has nearly doubled in proportion since 1999, Liberals now comprise the largest share of Democrats and is the single largest of the nine Typology groups. They are the most opposed to an assertive foreign policy, the most secular, and take the most liberal views on social issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and censorship. They differ from other Democratic groups in that they are strongly pro-environment and pro-immigration, issues which are more controversial among Conservative and Disadvantaged Democrats.

Yeah, more or less. And just in case you missed it, let's repeat:

Liberals now comprise the largest share of Democrats and is the single largest of the nine Typology groups.

Hope springs eternal.

Posted 08:15 PM | Comments (1) | general politics

Blawgging Summer Jobs: Discuss

As spring transitions into summer, the time has come for most law students to prepare for their summer jobs. If you're a law student with a blog, you're probably wondering how much you'll be able to say about your job on your blog. No? Well, I am. And since my class in “professional responsibility” didn't address blogging at all (I can't imagine why), I'd love to hear from lawyers, other law students, professors, whomever, about the ethics and boundaries of blawgging a summer job.

As I see it there are at least two main levels of concern for the summer job blawgger. First, there's the concern about professional responsibility and confidentiality: How much can I say about what I'm doing without violating my professional duties? Generally, Model Rule 1.6 says that you can't “reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by” several different exceptions that probably won't apply to most law students in summer jobs. This obviously means you shouldn't blawg about anything you learned in confidence, but if what you say would not be “revealing” then it's ok, right? I take that to mean that if the information is otherwise publicly available, it's ok to blawg. Unfortunately, it turns out that often very little of what happens in a law office is otherwise publicly available.

The other main level of concern is more prudential: How will what I write reflect on me as a future lawyer and how will it affect my career chances in the future—either with my current summer employer, or with others who might find my blawg in the future? The answer to this seems to depend on the person and the type of work involved. If you're working in a “white shoe” firm somewhere, you probably want to say next to nothing about what you're doing. Nobody wants any light shed on those smoky backroom deals. (Joke!) If you're working in a political advocacy/policy position, you might be able to say a lot more about what you're doing because part of your job is to spread the word about your employer's agenda.

Since I'm working at a public defender's office again this summer, I'm specifically interested in hearing thoughts on what I can talk about in that context. I said almost nothing last year about the different cases I saw in court or worked on, but instead talked mostly about my own impressions of learning the basics of criminal defense. On the other hand, Public Defender Law Clerk has been writing more detailed anecdotes about the cases that run through the jurisdiction he/she is working in. Monica has also written some excellent and detailed posts about working in a PD's office (like this one, where she won a trial!). I don't think any of these posts cross any lines of confidentiality, but I could be wrong. Any other opinions out there?

Generally, it seems that if you're doing cases that play out in public proceedings, you can write about anything that anyone who might have happened to be in court would have learned or observed just by being there and paying attention. This means that it's harder to talk about cases pre-trial, but once there are proceedings in public, there is more that's safe to say. I guess for now the rule I'll be following when I start my job next week is that if I were a reporter on the criminal beat and I could have learned something in that capacity, then it's bloggable. That's still a little vague, but it seems like a good rule of thumb to follow for now.

Posted 01:02 PM | Comments (25) | 2L summer

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