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Law Library News

Law Library News Archive

Nov. 8, 2004
Mary Whisner, Editor

Legal Journalism

Each year, the American Bar Association presents the Silver Gavel Awards, recognizing efforts improve the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system. The 2004 awards are listed http://www.abanet.org/publiced/gavel/win04.html. A ten-part series in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about murder victims and missing persons won honorable mention. See the PI’s special report at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/missing/.

Would you like to try your hand at legal journalism? Send in a submission to the Legal Affairs law student writing contest, http://www.legalaffairs.org/contest.html. This year’s deadline is Dec. 1. Jennifer Lauren (UW class of ’06) earned honorable mention in last year’s contest for her article, "Discrimination with a Small ‘d’: At Will Employment Makes No Sense to the Public and It Shouldn’t Remain the Law."

Legal Affairs, a bi-monthly magazine, is available on the display shelves in the Reference Area.

Book of the Week: Todd D. Rakoff, A Time for Every Purpose: Law and the Balance of Life

-- Mary Whisner

It can be refreshing when an author explores a topic that cuts across standard doctrinal categories. Todd Rakoff has done just that, giving the law of time a thought-provoking and literate treatment, in A Time for Every Purpose: Law and the Balance of Life (KF450 .T5 R35 2002 at Classified Stacks).

What does the law have to do with time? Quite a lot, as it turns out. An early chapter traces the standardization of time -- the legal institutions of time zones and Daylight Savings Time. Then there is a discussion of Blue Laws (and their demise). Other chapters discuss wage and hour laws and school attendance laws.

The book is interesting on two levels. First, there are many historical tidbits -- for instance, did you know that many public schools in cities were open for more days per year before the Civil War than they are today? More important are the questions of social policy Prof. Rakoff addresses. Time is not fungible, and most activities require structured time. For example, if one works during the evening of a PTA meeting, then one simply misses the meeting, even though one might have two hours to spare on another evening. Having a church service -- or a Rotary Club lunch or a community theater rehearsal -- requires getting a number of people together at the same time. For a balanced life, most of us need to have time for work, family, recreation, and social, political, or religious activities. How will a move toward a 24/7 economy affect individuals and all the social institutions we value? What should the law's role be?