Terrorism, Criminal Act, or Mental Illness: How Does the Law Decide?

Global acts of terrorism are on the rise. There have been periods of time where acts of terrorism or mass murders occur weekly. With the rise of ISIS, news agencies are very quick to label acts of violence as terrorism. For individuals acting alone, mental illness and the criminal’s mental state always come into discussion when examining the criminal’s motives. It is important to understand the implications and relationships of this terminology. When looking at mental illness and terrorism, both have elements of trauma, isolation, and exclusion. If a person who has mental illness turns to blaming a group or ideology and has support, this can turn into radicalization. If this radicalization then finds a group for support, this support can remove some of the feelings of isolation and exclusion. Thus, mental health can play a role in terrorist acts, but it’s not directly related to terrorism. Second, terrorists differ from criminals in a variety of ways. Generally, terrorists have been trained by the group they are acting for. Regular criminals usually have not been. Criminals also tend to hide after committing their crimes, while terrorist organizations usually proudly claim their attacks. These differences in actions come down to a discussion of the actor’s intentions. Terrorists are motivated by an ideology and use their actions to attempt to change policy with intimidation or coercion. Criminal acts lack this ideological element and are focused more on the results of the action, like the highest number of deaths possible. Terrorists choose their acts of violence such that they make a sweeping statement of some kind. This becomes very important because federal law in the US grants special authority when dealing with terrorist actions. The term terrorism contains substantial connotation, and news agencies need to be more careful when using this term. It is incredibly inflammatory and should not be used without serious examination of the evidence. There are a lot of things to consider before slapping labels on an act of violence. Usually circumstances are complex, and fact based thinking is essential.   No related...

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How to Choose The Best Law School For You

Choosing which college to attend is a tough decision every college student has had to mull over. Beyond choosing the correct university or college that is a good fit for yourself financially and culturally, there is the added layer of finding a school with the programs that are the best suited to meet your needs. This is especially crucial when you are choosing a law school! Some of the best law schools include: Yale University: Yale offers top-notch financial aid advising for current students and alumni, career counseling, and competitive clinical training. Stanford University: Stanford’s Law School offers joint degree programs, which are attractive alternatives to more traditional law programs—no wonder Stanford is commonly rated one of the best schools in the country! University of Chicago: Regularly ranking in the top 5 law schools in the country, the University of Chicago retains its edge by staying on the bleeding edge of the application of social science to law. If you’re interested in social science and its intersection with law, then the University of Chicago may be the school for you! What should you consider when choosing a law school? While there are some factors that may be unique to choosing a law school, there are many variables that you should consider that are the same as every other college student. Here are a few factors to considering carefully: Location: The very important question—where do you want to be located? Not only does this mean living off campus or on campus, but also where your school is in general. If you know where you want to live post graduation, then you should attempt to find a school in that general area. By doing so, you can start building up your professional network right away once you get there, and you’ll create some powerful connections prior to entering the workforce. Specialized programs: Are there specialized programs that put one school above the rest of the pack that would help you advance in your career? Campus: What is the campus like? Do you want it to be integrated into a city or do you like a large, standalone campus? Where do you want to be located in general on the campus? If you are seriously considering a school, you should definitely give their campus a visit! Faculty: A school’s faculty, by and large, will have the biggest impact on your life outside of school. Studying the faculty of a law school is especially important if you are considering postgraduate studies—on grad school applications, you will certainly be asked who you will want to work with. Related posts: Georgetown Invites Law Students to Participate in Crisis...

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How to Get the Most From Your Mentorship

Young lawyers should all have a mentor–someone that they can trust, someone to look up to in their firm while they are learning the art of becoming a litigator. There are so many things that you can’t learn in law school about being a lawyer, and your mentor is the perfect person to teach you! Given how important your relationship with your mentor will be, it is vital that you don’t squander such a golden opportunity. Below is some crucial advice that will help you get the most from your relationship with your mentor. Keep the lines of communication open. There is no point to having a mentor if you don’t utilize them! Keep in close contact with your mentor so that you can always get quick feedback whenever you have a question. Meet regularly with your mentor. Especially when you have just started at a new practice and there is so much to learn, you’ll want to spend a lot of time with your mentor. This goes hand-in-hand with keeping in close contact with your mentor—give yourself as many opportunities as reasonably possible to learn from them and ask questions. Ask your mentor for networking advice. Beyond showing you the ropes at your new practice, your mentor can be a very valuable asset in the networking game. It really is all about your connections and who you know, which makes your mentor and their network extremely valuable and helpful for long-term career success. Ask your mentor the tough questions. Your mentor is the perfect resource for questions that you would normally be too embarrassed to ask. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your mentor any burning questions about your practice or the profession at large. Return the favor! Now that your mentor has done so much for you, look to return the favor. Naturally, you won’t be able to help them in the same way that they helped you, but look for opportunities to do whatever you can to make their life easier. And who knows, eventually you may wind up knowing more than they do! Hungry for more advice on making the most of your mentorship? Check out the resources below for some further reading: 7 Questions to Ask Your Lawyering Mentor—BluePrintJD Developing a Relationship with Your Mentor—LexisNexis No related...

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The Impact of Technology on the Law

Later this month, the Florida Bar will hold its Annual Convention in Boca Raton, in what will be a fantastic opportunity to gauge the pulse of the legal industry. This year’s Convention promises to place an emphasis on legal technology and innovation, which speak to the 2015 theme: “Charting a Course for the Future.” Legal technology is certainly becoming even more relevant as more technological advancements create opportunities, as well as pose challenges, for law professionals. Florida Bar President Gregory W. Coleman believes that technology is transforming the legal profession, and he isn’t alone. Many legal experts have pointed not only to the vast array of challenges that technology creates – including the growing rate of cyber crimes that the law hasn’t found a way to catch up with yet – as well as the abundance of law technology that has the power to help simplify and improve various legal processes. Because the use of word processing, database technology, telecommunications, presentation, and legal software have become commonplace, there is now pressure for lawyers and other legal professionals to utilize and become proficient in the many technological resources that exist today. Legal careers expert Sally Kane points out that “As advances in law technology revolutionize today’s legal landscape, the role of the legal professional has evolved.” She also explains that “Law technology has impacted every aspect of the legal field, from law firm and corporate practice to courtroom operation and document management,” which suggests that lawyers must find a way to incorporate law technology into their practice as a way to remain competitive and forward-thinking amid a rapidly changing legal climate. Vivek Wadhwa, a Fellow at Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, strongly suggests that laws and ethics can’t keep up with technology, which is another way in which technological advancements have complicated the profession. In an article for the MIT Technology Review, Wadhwa writes, “Employers can get into legal trouble if they ask interviewees about their religion, sexual preference, or political affiliation. Yet they can use social media to filter out job applicants based on their beliefs, looks, and habits. Laws forbid lenders from discriminating on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality. Yet they can refuse to give a loan to people whose Facebook friends have bad payment histories, if their work histories on LinkedIn don’t match their bios on Facebook, or if a computer algorithm judges them to be socially undesirable.” Wadhwa goes on to explain that “These regulatory gaps exist because laws have not kept up with advances in technology.” He also notes that these gaps are continually getting wider as technology develops at a rapid pace. What’s more, the legal disconnect is not just happening in employment and lending, but in every single industry and social domain that technology touches (and you’d be hard-pressed to create a list of jobs and social scenarios where technology doesn’t play a role). It is vital that conversations about technology and the law continue to be the focal point of annual conventions and summits, so that legal professionals may continue to find ways to use technological resources to their advantage in the future. Resources and further reading: “Technology and the Law” by Sally Kane “How Technology is Changing the Practice of Law” by Blair Janis “Laws and Ethics Can’t Keep Pace with Technology by Vivek Wadhwa Related posts: How Cyber Civil Rights Complicate the Legal...

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Georgetown Invites Law Students to Participate in Crisis Simulation

This March, the Georgetown University Law Center hosted the National Security Crisis Law Invitational, an annual event that invites law students to sit in the hot seat as a way to prepare them for a career in national security law. The Invitational is a crisis simulation program developed by Laura Donohue, the director of Georgetown’s Center on National Security and the Law. 80 law students from nearly a dozen law schools across the country participated in this year’s National Security Crisis Law Invitational. Although this event is not a competitive in nature, students who participated spent several months preparing for it by reading up on national security law. According to Molly Greenberg, a Senior Writer at DC Inno, the students’ performances are “accessed by highly regarded national security experts.” This year, such experts included James Baker, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and Rosemary Hart, special counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Donohue created the National Security Crisis Law Invitational eight years ago as a way to prepare law students for high-pressure crises. “There is a lot about how we teach in law school that doesn’t work for students who are jumping into national security law,” she explained in an interview with The National Law Journal of the need for students to be exposed to real world, high stakes scenarios. “We teach the law as it is written, not how it is applied,” she says. “Law is one of many competing considerations during a national security crisis. How do you talk with policymakers? How do you bring the law into the conversation?” Students from Cornell law School, George Washington University Law School, Stanford Law School, University Virginia School of Law and other prestigious institutions were tasked with answering these questions at this year’s invitational. During the two-day event at the Georgetown University Law Center, students were asked to apply law, politics, and public opinion as they navigated and mitigated simulated threats. Participants were divided into teams and acted as departments within the National Security Council. According to Greenberg, while in these roles, they were also paired with mentors with a background working within the agency each student was assigned to. According to The National Law Journal, a large component of the simulation is how students interact and communicate with each other. Donohue has previously studied communications between participating students in order to analyze how leaders and decisions emerged during the simulation. Interestingly, “The strongest leaders weren’t necessarily from the agencies closest to the crisis, she found,” writes Karen Sloan of the Journal, “further, they were the ones who communicated most effectively.” Here are some resources for more information about the National Security Crisis Law Invitational: Crisis Simulation Puts Law Students in the Hot Seat by Karen Sloan A Crisis Simulation Put Law Students in the Roles of the Nation’s Top Decision-Makers by Molly Greenberg No related...

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