Food Taster Needed?

Last week I opened my BU office to find a gift box of cookies on my desk.  There was no note attached, no signature card, nothing identifying the giver.  Just a box of fancy decorated cookies.  I asked around but no one knows who delivered them to my office.  No one has called or emailed to ask “how were the cookies?”  I assume the giver is female; it is unlikely–not impossible, of course, but unlikely–that a male would give me a box of heart-shaped cookies.  I assume they are benign, yet I’ve yet to eat one.

Would anyone like a cookie?

Grim Career News: One-Stop Shopping

I have keen interest in the job market for recent law graduates.  My oldest son is looking for a position after his current judicial clerkship ends next fall and a 3L friend is gingerly holding a permanent Big Law job offer, fearing it may disappear with one brief email.  As a service to law students, interested observers of the legal job market, and worried parents The Shark (motto:  “don’t stop swimming.  it’s law school”) has compiled all the depressing info we could find on your future, all in one place, a chart detailing which firms have rescinded offers to 3Ls, deferred 3L start dates, and closed or cut back on 2009 summer programs.


Is It Time to Retrain B-Schools? in the 3/14 New York Times contained this revealing, disturbing fact:

A study of cheating among graduate students, published in 2006 in the journal Academy of Management Learning & Education, found that 56 percent of all M.B.A. students cheated regularly — more than in any other discipline. The authors attributed that to “perceived peer behavior” — in other words, students believed everyone else was doing it.

How depressing.  We need to throw the ethics curriculum out the window and start fresh because whatever we’ve been doing is inadequate.  How do you reach someone whose sole value is to make as much money as possible?

Malware Aid

Malware is a serious, growing problem.  The Berkman Center and Consumers Union have launched, “a community of people working together to fight back against viruses, spyware, and other bad software.”  If you believe your system has been infected with malware, have expertise about malware that you want to offer others, or want to learn more about what malware is and how to deal with it. check out the site.

Toxic Data

Tomorrow I start teaching a half-semester seminar on privacy law in the honors program.  Here’s Bruce Schneier with a timely piece about data, “the natural by-product of every computer mediated interaction.  It stays around forever, unless it’s disposed of.  It is valuable when reused, but it must be done carefully.  Otherwise, its after-effects are toxic.”   Schneier warns that future generations will look back on our heedless treatment of data as we look back with dismay on our forebears’ cavalier treatment of industrial pollution.

Job Discrimination Cases Tough to Win

A study published last month in the Harvard Law & Policy Review proves something I’ve stressed in classes for many years, based on anecdotal experience:  winning a federal employment discrimination claim is a long shot.  Based on data from 1979-2006 the study reports:

  • Federal employment discrimination plaintiffs won 15% of their cases, compared to the 51% win rate for other federal civil plaintiffs;
  • 12.5% of federal employment discrimination cases end in summary judgment; employers sought summary judgment in 90% of those cases.  In contrast, 3% of contract cases and 1.7% of personal-injury and property-damage cases ended in summary judgment.
  • By applying a “plausibility” standard to the pleadings Federal judges “routinely terminate employment-discrimination cases through motions to dismiss” (according to the 19-Feb Wall Street Journal article titled “Job-Discrimination Cases Tend to Fare Poorly in Federal Court”).
  • From 1999 to 2007 federal employment-discrimination cases declined by 40%.

The Journal article offered a number of reasons for the low success rate:  the difficulty of proving an employment discrimination claim “which,” the article notes, “is rately overt;” employer willingness to settle credible suits quickly; employment practices that lessen the incidence of employment discrimination; and better record-keeping that documents non-discriminatory grounds for employment termination.