Courts have cited the Administrative Procedure Act, Pub. L. 79–404 enacted on June 11, 1946, in blocking the Trump administration’s attempts to end policies from the Obama era. These include actions to undermine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (New York v. Trump), a delay in a regulation requiring oil and gas companies to reduce methane leaks (Sierra Club v. Zinke), and postponement of a rule that would give low-income families more access to housing in wealthier neighborhoods (Open Communities Alliance v. Carson). In each instance, Trump policy changes have hit the same stumbling block: Courts say the administration has not followed the proper steps in enacting them, citing a 1940s-era law that’s become a key weapon in the legal battle over the president’s agenda. Under that law, the Administrative Procedure Act, federal agencies are required to provide a reasoned justification for their policy decisions and offer the public an opportunity to weigh in when they are creating new regulations, making notable changes to existing rules, or scrapping them altogether. In other words, rescission of the former policies require that the government provide notice and comment, otherwise there would be a violation of Section 553 of the APA.
Congress passed the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946 amid the rise of communism and fascism in Europe, hoping to place checks on the vast bureaucracy created by the New Deal and “avoid dictatorship and central planning,” as one legal expert explained. Under the law, federal agencies must provide a reasoned analysis for making policy changes to avoid “arbitrary and capricious” rule-making. The Administrative Procedure Act requires that agencies go through a process known as “notice and comment” before issuing, amending or repealing “substantive rules.” As part of that process, the agency must publish proposed actions in the Federal Register and then give the public at least 30 days to submit feedback. When it finalizes its proposal, the agency must respond to issues raised by the public comments and must explain why it settled upon the course of action that it chose. The explanation must show why the agency’s action is reasonable and not “arbitrary” or “capricious.”
Brooklyn Law School students may want to review Informal Rulemaking, a CALI lesson (password required), which examines the procedural steps that an administrative agency must follow in order to create a valid “informal” rule. This lesson is intended for students who have studied these issues in class and wish to further refine their knowledge.
Brooklyn Law School, during the Summer 2017 semester, has taken a first step with its Externship Seminar – Tech Tools For Law Practice, in teaching technology to law students. As more and more states take note of ABA Standard RPC 1.1 Comment  and add state level rules which require that lawyers have basic technology competency, more law schools are responding and adding technology courses to their course offerings.
A session at CALI Con 2017, Teaching Law Practice Tech to Law Students – State of the Art, discussed three major themes aimed at teaching a new technology course. Michael Robak offered a walkthrough of the approval process for proposing a new technology course and provided tips for getting faculty and administrative officials onboard. A recent comment, Winning the Battle to Teach Legal Technology and Innovation at Law Schools by Christy Burke, states that many law schools are not yet convinced that this kind of practical non-theoretical education is their responsibility. However, she notes several examples, such as Stanford Law School’s Legal Design Lab, Vanderbilt Law School’s Technology in Legal Practice and Oklahoma University Law’s Digital Initiative, that offer a counterweight to that resistance.
Nichelle “Nikki” Perry discussed methods and options for choosing course content. Knowing where and how your students will practice can make a difference in class coverage. Stacey Rowland gave an overview of a recently taught course at the University of North Carolina discussing technology for new lawyers. This course covered topics such as Advanced Legal Research through Ravel and Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics, using Word Styles as a foundation for document automation, asking students to construct a mock law firm website, litigation support services as well as hands on experience with CLIO and kCura’s Relativity.
In Brooklyn Law School’s Tech Tools for Law Practice seminar, the first assignment was to have the students complete a Legal Technology Assessment to determine how fluent they were with the basic technology tools of their trade: Word, Excel, and PDF. The website Procertas helped us to answer the question of what are the tech skills we should be teaching law students to better prepare them for working in the “real world?” See Tech Comes Naturally to ‘Digital Native’ Millennials? That’s A Myth by Darth Vaughn and Casey Flaherty which relates that testing of hundreds of law school students resulted in scores as low as 33 percent when asked to complete some simple Word tasks such as:
- Accept/Turn-off track changes
- Cut & Paste
- Replace text
- Format font and paragraph
- Fix footers
- Insert hyperlink
- Apply/Modify style
- Insert/Update cross-references
- Insert page break
- Insert non-breaking space
- Clean document properties
- Create comparison document (i.e., a redline)
Hopefully, as more law schools incorporate teaching law technology into the curriculum, those scores will improve.
On Thursday, June 18 at CALIcon 2015 held at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, one of the opening sessions was called Incorporating Technology, Business Development and Marketing in the Law School Curriculum. The session by Brooklyn Law School Reference Librarian Harold O’Grady and Brooklyn Law School Technology Educator Lloyd Carew-Reid examined how law schools are now incorporating technology, business development and marketing in the law school curriculum. Using Google Hangouts, Harold and Lloyd were joined by Brooklyn Law School Professor Jonathan Askin and MIT’s Danza Greenwood to discuss their ABA-MIT Online Legal Appathon which took place at the ABA Tech Show 2015 in April.
Three BLS students participated remotely in the session: Alex Goldman, Class of 2014, Patrick Mock, Class of 2017 and Paula Collins, Class of 2017. Alex discussed his project on Technical Standards for Warrant Canaries. Patrick and Paula talked about their awards at the second annual Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) Innovators Competition held in April 2015. Patrick won 1st Prize for his proposal, Buoy, which addresses the problem of student loan debt by incorporating a crowdfunding model into a student loan service. Paula won 3rd prize for her FLIC (Film Legal Information Center) app, which would deliver a virtual law practice, direct client services, and business/entrepreneurial services to a community of Indie film artists in Brooklyn and surrounding areas.
A video of the hour-long session is available on YouTube at this link.
The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) has informed BLS Library that they have been having issues with the stability of instances in the CALI web cluster that have taken www.cali.org offline for extended periods over the last few days.
If you try the CALI website and it is down or slow please wait an hour or so and try again.
They hope to have this problem rectified soon and are sorry for the inconvenience.