Payday borrowing is like alcohol in that it is a positive for some and an utter disaster for others, said St. John’s University School of Law professor Jeff Sovern. The CFPB’s challenge is to come up with rules that enable those for whom payday borrowing is a positive to have access to it while keeping those for whom it is a disaster away.
Last week, Professor Jeremy Sheff presented his work-in-progress, Dilution at the Patent and Trademark Office, at the American Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Law Section’s Spring Meeting. His was one of three papers presented at the Section’s inaugural Scholarship Symposium. Slides from the presentation are available here.
Patricia Grande Montana, Professor of Legal Writing and Director of the Street Law Program at the law school has published a book, Navigating Law School’s Waters: A Guide to Success, in Vandeplas Publishing. This is Professor Montana’s first book. Here’s a synopsis and review of the text:
Law school, particularly the first year, can be a rather intimidating and challenging experience for many students. This book is designed to give students the tools they need to successfully navigate their way through it. It introduces students to the fundamentals of legal analysis and writing and teaches them how to read and brief cases, outline, study, master law school exams, and care for their physical and emotional well-being. In short, it prepares students for every aspect of their journey through law school.
Unlike other introduction to law school texts, this book is unique in that it takes a cognitive approach to its instruction. It is premised on the belief that students learn new information best when they have a “schema” or framework that allows them to think logically about the information. Thus, it routinely draws on non-legal examples when introducing new topics and skills, and spends substantial time explaining why law students are expected to read and brief cases, outline, study, and write exam answers the way they are. Additionally, this book builds upon the same core problems throughout, including the chapter exercises, so that students can more easily master the relevant skills. Every concept is illustrated and every chapter includes exercises that encourage students to apply what they have just learned. Accordingly, this book provides more than just written instructions on how to navigate law school’s waters. It shows law students how to do so, thereby allowing them to sail smoothly through the experience with great skill and confidence.
Lazaro Receives Legal Society Distinguished Service Award at the College of Professional Studies’ Division of Criminal Justice
Last night, Director of the Law School’s Securities Arbitration Clinic Christine Lazaro received the Legal Society Distinguished Service Award at the College of Professional Studies’ Division of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies and Homeland Security’s Annual Honor Societies Induction and Awards Dinner. The award was for “leadership, service, and dedication to the students of the Legal Studies Program” and came about as a result of the partnership between the Securities Arbitration Clinic and the Legal Studies Program. Students from the program intern each semester as paralegals in the Clinic. The Legal Studies undergraduates gain experience working in a legal setting, while the Clinic students learn delegation and supervision skills.
Today, Thursday, April 10, Professor Eva Subotnik spoke at the invitation of the Nassau County Bar Association Intellectual Property Committee on fair use in copyright law. Professor Subotnik’s scholarship and research interests focus on copyright law and policy in the context of changing notions of the professional and amateur in the digital age.
David L. Gregory, Dorothy Day Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law at St. John’s University School of Law and Leonard M. Baynes, Professor of Law and the inaugural Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law co-authored an essay on Jurist, titled Title VII and the Interplay of Racial and Economic Justice. The essay arose out of the Title VII at 50 Symposium that Baynes and Gregory co-chaired, along with Professor Sam Estreicher, Dwight D. Opperman Professor at New York University School of Law, on April 4 at St. John’s and on April 5, at NYU. In the essay, Baynes and Gregory reflect upon Title VII’s role in transforming the American workplace and the continuing struggle to end employment discrimination. Here’s an excerpt:
As we think about this conundrum of Title VII and its relationship to the economic progress of African Americans, it is important to keep King’s overall message of jobs and justice in mind. We should not be blinded by the formal employment equality that Title VII affords to African Americans while economic injustice remains. Like King, we need to advocate on a broader playing field championing civil, labor, and human rights, and against the ill-gotten wealth of a few and for the poor “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” If not for the assassin’s bullet, perhaps the 85-year-old Rev. Dr. King would be with us today advocating for economic fairness for all Americans.
Professor Jeff Sovern spoke at a Georgetown Law School conference on consumer law, titled “Making the Fine Print Fair.” Other speakers included Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who provided the keynote address, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau General Counsel Meredith Fuchs. The conference was sponsored by the Georgetown Consumer Law Society and Citizen Works. Professor Sovern’s panel, titled “Has Disclosure Failed and What Could/Should Be Done to Make Fine Print Fair”, included professors from Georgetown and Michigan law schools, and a former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Yesterday, Janai S. Nelson, Professor, Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, and Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development was quoted in La Presse on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down the aggregate limits on campaign contributions. The article, La cour supreme ouvre les vannes du financement électoral (The Supreme Court Opens the Campaign Finance Floodgates), describes the decision as political win for conservatives and a blow to the Obama administration. The McCutcheon decision is one in a line of Supreme Court cases that have invalidated campaign finance restrictions, including the controversial Citizens United decision in 2010. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
For Janai Nelson, law professor at St. John’s University, “the Court seems to be on a steady path toward eliminating decades of campaign finance protections aimed to prevent our government from operating as a real life House of Cards“, the popular television series that displays influence peddling in Washington. (Pour Janai Nelson, professeur de droit à l’Université St. John, «la Cour semble invariablement chercher à éliminer des décennies de protection du financement électoral visant à empêcher le gouvernement à agir dans la vraie vie comme House of Cards», la série télévisée à succès qui met en scène les trafics d’influence à Washington.)
Professor Nelson was also quoted in The Citizen and Yahoo news: For Janai Nelson, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law, the ruling “reinforced the notion that American democracy is for sale.”
Director of the Law School’s Securities Arbitration Clinic Christine Lazaro was quoted in a recent article, Should Dozens of FINRA Arbitration Cases Be Reopened? The article centers on a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrator who was removed from FINRA’s arbitrator roster after falsely claiming to be a lawyer. The main issue is whether there is any remedy with respect to the cases in which he served as an arbitrator over the past 15 years. Here’s an excerpt:
Arbitrators have immunity for civil liability, but that does not apply in situations of fraud or corruption, explains Christine Lazaro, director of the securities arbitration clinic at St. John’s University School of Law.
The leading peer-reviewed journal on consumer affairs, the Journal of Consumer Affairs, has published Professor Jeff Sovern’s article, Fixing Consumer Protection Laws So Borrowers Understand Their Payment Obligations, in a special issue titled The New Era in Consumer Protection Regulation. Here is the abstract:
The millions of consumers who defaulted on their mortgages in recent years should all have received disclosures mandated by the federal Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), which requires that lenders inform borrowers of certain loan terms including monthly payments required. Yet many of those borrowers seem not to have understood what their payment obligations were. In fact, TILA, which was intended to enable consumers to borrow wisely, not only failed the subprime borrowers in that goal, but was interpreted to require lenders to provide misleading disclosures that might have persuaded borrowers that their loans were more affordable than they would turn out to be. This article attempts to substantiate the claim that the laws in place during the years in which the subprime loan buildup occurred did not provide the aid consumers needed in making borrowing decisions, and explores strategies to improve the disclosure environment.