Legal News

Stacks of law bulletins & piles of bar journals - Help!

There’s a stack of law bulletins and other legal periodicals piled up in a corner of the office. Some of the newspapers are starting to get that yellowish color because they’re exposed to sunlight all day for weeks at a time. There’s a smaller but similar collection of unread legal magazines at home too. The piles of periodicals never seem to get smaller because I haven’t read them yet. And yes, I do plan to read them all - eventually. 

There are lots of interesting articles in the legal newspapers and magazines. I’d probably be a better lawyer if I stayed current on all the information provided in the bar association journals. But the measly 10 minutes I give myself each day to read them isn’t nearly enough time - especially since I frequently miss a day or four or more at a time. 

Recently I had an epiphany. My Aha! moment was borne out of self-interest (no comments on this dicta please...). 

 I was looking at all the stacks of unread Chicago Daily Law Bulletins and I thought to myself, if I was writing an occasional (this is my term for avoiding a set, committed schedule) column for the Muslim Bar Association’s website reviewing and summarizing these legal periodicals then it would make sense for me to spend more time reading them all! And just like that I had my self-serving justifications to do what I wanted to do and even feel good about it at the same time. 

So here’s my plan: I’m going to write summaries of interesting articles, columns and features in whatever legal periodicals make their way across my desk at work and into my mailbox at home. As a member of the Chicago Bar Association I’ll likely cover the CBA Record. Other publications likely to make it into this occasional column are the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the ABA Journal, Chicago Lawyer and perhaps the ISBA Journal

Maybe this new column will help you filter your personal heap of legal news. Or perhaps you’ll appreciate my effort to point out the really interesting stuff. If so, great! 

 But just remember, this column is mine (at least until the MBA board yanks my blogging privileges). Like some pop rock radio stations in town, I don’t take requests. I write what I want to write. If you want some periodical covered then, well, write with me. 

 Chicago Lawyer - July 2010 

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The July issue of Chicago Lawyer has a great feature article on diversity in large law firms. It’s an issue that is important to many MBA members. The Chicago Lawyer’s annual survey of Chicago firms found that the number of women and minority lawyers - both associates and partners - declined in the past year. 

It’s a good article for law students and for bar association leaders. In case you’re wondering why, in 2010, people are still talking about diversity in the law, a set of statistics will help put the situation into the right frame of reference. Mr. Rory Smith, associate dean and director of diversity affairs at The John Marshall Law School, cites these numbers in the Closing Argument column titled “Fighting a slow battle”: white Americans make up 76% of the U.S. population and represent 92% of the legal population; black Americans are 12% of the population but are only 4% of the legal population; Hispanics are 9% and 3% respectively; asian Americans are 3% and 1% respectively; and American Indians are 0.7 % and 0.2% respectively. 

The magazine also features a supplement - a pull out section - titled “Women in Law” which includes six articles and interviews by women attorneys about the issues facing women in the legal profession. Women are grossly underrepresented as well. 

The featured article, the supplement focusing on women in the law and the closing editorial are refreshing because they don’t pull punches. Some of the quotes are really blunt and people are quoted saying things that often don’t get said in other feel-good features on diversity emanating from the public relations departments of big law firms. 

The other interesting article - this one is for everyone in law school and in the legal profession - is a profile of jurist and criminal defense and civil rights attorney George N. Leighton. It’s a short story covering 4 pages (with two big pictures) and it necessarily only summarizes the extraordinary life (so far) of an African American attorney’s 6 + decades of advocacy for clients and for minorities. It’s a great introduction to Judge Leighton. 

 August 2010 Review 

I’m working on the August review of periodicals and will have a column out soon. Keep checking the MBA website for details!

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Written by Junaid M. Afeef (junaid.afeef@gmail.com)