In the interest of not cluttering up De Novo's front page with several posts only a pagraph or two long, I've compiled some observations with nothing to do with one another here, though they may be worthwhile if you're interested in sketchy land deals, law firm advertising or forgotten peculiarities in the judicial confirmation process.
Unmentioned in this New York Times article about the race between conservationists and developers to buy land from timber companies is the information revealed in a Washington Post series about the Nature Conservancy, a group involved in each deal noted by the Times. I used to donate to the organization myself, as their mission of buying up land to protect it from development looked like a good way to avoid fights over regulatory takings. However, I'd assumed that the protection was total; according to the Post, it wasn't.
[T]he Conservancy had repeatedly bought land, added some development restrictions, and then resold the properties at reduced prices to its trustees and other supporters. The buyers made cash gifts to the Conservancy roughly equal to the difference in price, thereby qualifying for substantial tax deductions -- just as if they had given money to their local charity. The Conservancy said the sales prices were proper because the development restrictions reduced the market value of the tracts. In the wake of the news articles, however, the Conservancy announced that it would no longer conduct such deals with its board members and trustees.Attorney advertising doesn't have a long history throughout the country; until the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona*, the guild in each state could set rules that prohibited it. It's gotten a questionable reputation that may support the concern that it would degrade the dignity of the profession, and the advertising most visible to the general public is directed at individuals in misfortune: DWI, divorce, personal injury, etc. During law school, I've encountered these on the subway and TV -- there's a commercial for a New York firm that cracks me up every time because it talks about the importance of teamwork while showing a crew team rowing -- but I've also seen the more subtle advertising of more prestigious lawyers. This advertising, however, is directed at potential employees rather than potential clients, and takes the form of free drinks and such, as well as expressions of support for law school endeavors like the parody show or journal symposia. But what would advertising directed at potential clients look like?
My most beloved swag from last year was the squeezable penguin given out by Stroock. While the penguin doesn't have the favor of all the firm's attorneys, it delighted me. Any time I've seen penguins since**, I've thought of Stroock, which I suppose is a sign of semi-successful advertising. I want the firm to license Lyle Lovett's song for commercials and put up bilboards with this picture (via Frinklin).
Reading about Manuel "Memogate" Miranda's return to Republican respectability, I fully realized how bizarre the conservative campaign against Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court was.
In March, Miranda, with little more than his contacts and his home laptop, formed the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters to pressure Republican senators to invoke the so-called “nuclear option,” a parliamentary tactic that would strip the minority of the right to filibuster judicial nominees. [...] Jim Backlin, vice president for legislative affairs for the Christian Coalition, said Miranda was one of the activists most responsible for bringing down Miers.After spending five years chanting about how choosing federal judges was one of the spoils of presidential election, the anti-Miers folks decided that while Democrats were obliged to accept whatever Bush threw them, Republicans were not. The people in Bush's party were to advise; Democratic senators were to consent.
* I somehow got Bates muddled with Goldfarb, and while trying to find my college antitrust casebook, I noticed that at some point, a book from a government course -- The Logic of Congressional Action -- had been shelved next to one from a sociology seminar -- The Logic of Collective Action. I'm not sure why this amused me.