W&L Law Journal Rankings Updated

April 7, 2016 Leave a comment

The library at Washington and Lee School of Law has published the annual update to the Law Journal Rankings.  The rankings are widely used as a tool for scholars to evaluate law reviews and journals during the publication process.  The rankings site was visited over 700,000 times in 2015.

The new rankings reflect a new survey period of 2008-2015.  Users may customize rankings for a selection of journals based on subject area categories, country of publication, and format (print or online) among other options.  Data is available for over 1500 law journals.

Prior surveys are also available and provide longitudinal data on journal citation starting with 2003 and continuing through 2014.

Questions about the law journal rankings project may be directed to Stephanie Miller at millersc@wlu.edu.

 

Prof. Michelle Drumbl Presents at International Tax Conference

April 4, 2016 Leave a comment
Prof. Michelle Drumbl

Prof. Michelle Drumbl

Washington and Lee law professor Michelle Drumbl traveled to Sydney, Australia for the 12th International Conference on Tax Administration, hosted by the University of New South Wales School of Taxation and Business Law.  She gave a talk based on a paper she wrote entitled “Beyond Polemics: Poverty, Tax, and Noncompliance.”

At the conference, Drumbl received the Cedric Sandford Medal for the best paper presented at the conference.

Below is the paper’s abstract:

The earned income tax credit (EITC) is the most significant earnings-based refundable credit in the U.S. tax system.  Designed as an anti-poverty program, it is a social benefit administered by the Internal Revenue Service.  The EITC reaches more than 27 million households annually.  Studies show it has a positive impact upon the children whose families receive it. Despite its many positives, however, the EITC is a program that for years has been plagued by taxpayer noncompliance: the estimated rate of improper payments on EITC claims has ranged between 20 and 30%, totaling billions of dollars annually. Though it is believed that the majority of EITC noncompliance may be unintentional, public reports of misconduct and fraud add fuel to the political rhetoric about a revenue system in which nearly half of Americans pay no federal income tax.

This article unpacks the rhetoric. It describes why the term “improper payments” is not synonymous with fraud. It places EITC noncompliance within the broader context of the U.S. “tax gap” and examines what intentional EITC noncompliance has in common with sole proprietor noncompliance.  It explores motivations for intentional EITC noncompliance and also examines the role of inadvertent error in the overclaim rate. It describes the ways in which self-prepared returns present wholly different challenges than those completed by paid preparers.

Building on the above, the article critiques the Internal Revenue Service for its shortcomings in administering and enforcing the EITC program. The article calls upon the IRS to continue pursuing unscrupulous tax return preparers, but also highlights the need to design meaningful sanctions to punish and deter unscrupulous individuals who self-prepare.

The article addresses these concerns within a comprehensive proposal to increase the amount of information required from all taxpayers (whether self-prepared or using a preparer) at the time of filing.  It builds upon theories of taxpayer noncompliance in arguing that greater due diligence requirements will reduce both intentional and unintentional EITC errors.  The article also proposes a program that would allow first-time EITC claimants the option to submit substantiating documentation at the time of filing in order to receive an expedited refund.

The article concludes that increasing due diligence requirements at the time of filing, coupled with slowing down the refund process generally, is a reasonable way to improve administration of the EITC program without unduly burdening low-income taxpayers.

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Prof. Sahani Serves as ITA-ASIL Conference Commentator and Presents at ASIL Annual Meeting

April 4, 2016 Leave a comment
Prof. Victoria Shannon

Prof. Victoria Sahani

On Wednesday, March 30, Prof. Sahani served as the Conference Commentator for the ITA-ASIL Conference:

A Spotlight on Ethics in International Arbitration: Advocates, Arbitrators and Awards, jointly organized by the Institute for Transnational Arbitration (ITA) and the American Society of International Law (ASIL).  As Conference Commentator, Prof. Sahani commented on the Keynote Speech by The Hon. Ian Binnie C.C. Q.C., former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, about whether arbitral awards should be “right” or just enforceable and commented on two subsequent panels discussing arbitrator ethics and attorney ethics in international arbitration.

On Thursday, March 31, Prof. Sahani presented on third-party funding of disputes in African countries during a panel entitled “Africa’s New Economic Partnerships and Dispute Settlement” at the ASIL Annual Meeting.

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Professor Seaman speaks at Penn Intellectual Property Group Symposium

March 29, 2016 Leave a comment
Prof. Christopher Seaman

Prof. Christopher Seaman

On Thursday, March 17, 2016 Washington and Lee law professor Christopher Seaman participated in a panel debate at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  The debate was organized by the Penn Intellectual Property Group as part of the 2016 symposium, Innovation and IP Assets.   Professor Seaman’s panel discussed the pending Defend Trade Secrets Act (S. 1890 and H.R. 3326).  If adopted, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) would create a new private, civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation under federal law.

Professor Seaman has previously written on the topic of the DTSA in an article, The Case Against Federalizing Trade Secrecy, 101 Virginia Law Review 317 (2015), and a letter signed by 42 law professors opposed to the DTSA.   Also participating on the panel were Mr. James Pooley, an attorney in private practice who was the Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization and author of the a leading treatise on trade secrets law, and Professor Sharon Sandeen of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, who is an internationally recognized expert on trade secrets law and author of the first casebook on the subject.

 

 

 

 

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Professor Seaman participates in Supreme Court Series at American University

March 15, 2016 Leave a comment
Prof. Christopher Seaman

Prof. Christopher Seaman

On Tuesday , February 23, 2016, Washington and Lee law professor Christopher Seaman spoke at the American University Washington College of Law as part of the school’s Supreme Court Series.  The series is hosted by the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property and features post-argument reflections by counsel to parties in intellectual property cases before the Supreme Court.

Professor Seaman spoke on the pending U.S. Supreme Court cases Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc  and Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc. (which were argued before the Court that morning).  He presented the arguments advanced in his amicus curiae brief (available here) on behalf of several intellectual property law professors in the case and commented on questions and comments made by the Justices during oral argument.

Watch a video of the event here:

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Professor Seaman speaks at 2016 WIPIP Conference

March 14, 2016 Leave a comment
Prof. Christopher Seaman

Prof. Christopher Seaman

On Friday, February 19, 2016, Washington and Lee law professor Christopher Seaman presented a new paper at the 2016 Works-in-Progress Intellectual Property Colloquium at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, WA.  The paper is titled “Collaboration and Patentability”.

From the abstract:

Collaboration is a hallmark of modern innovation. Patented inventions are now more likely to be the result of large-scale research projects in private industry or academia involving a multidisciplinary team of collaborators, rather than the lone tinkerer in a garage. The growth of collaborative invention is due to several developments, including increased specialization within scientific disciplines, the prohibitive costs of independent research, and the ability for far-flung researchers to collaborate via the Internet.

Although patent law has evolved to facilitate collaborative invention in several important ways, it has lagged in recognizing the shift to team-based innovation in one important respect: the concept of the so-called “person having ordinary skill in the art” (PHOSITA). The PHOSITA plays an important role in determining numerous statutory requirements for patentability, including nonobviousness, enablement, written description, and definiteness. The PHOSITA also is central to determining the scope of a patent’s claims, which greatly influences both infringement and invalidity in patent litigation.

This Article contends that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the federal courts should account for the rise of collaborative invention by judging patentability from the perspective of a collaborative team, rather than a lone PHOSITA, at least in cases when the knowledge of an interdisciplinary team would be required to develop, make and/or use the claimed invention. By doing so, patent law will utilize a more realistic framework for judging patentability. Evaluating patentability through the lens of an ordinarily skilled team may raise the bar for some requirements like nonobviousness, but lower them for others like enablement and written description.

Professor Sahani Publishes New Article in UCLA Law Review

February 23, 2016 Leave a comment
Prof. Victoria Shannon

Prof. Victoria Shannon

Washington and Lee Law professor Victoria Sahani has published a new article in the UCLA Law Review.  The article, titled Judging Third-Party Funding, appears in Volume 63 of the journal.

Download the full text of the article here.

From the abstract:

Third-party funding is an arrangement whereby an outside entity finances the legal representation of a party involved in litigation or arbitration. The outside entity—called a “third-party funder”—could be a bank, hedge fund, insurance company, or some other entity or individual that finances the party’s legal representation in return for a profit. Third-party funding is a controversial, dynamic, and evolving phenomenon. The practice has attracted national headlines and the attention of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Advisory Committee). The Advisory Committee stated in a recent report that “judges currently have the power to obtain information about third-party funding when it is relevant in a particular case,” but the Committee did not provide any additional guidance on how to determine the relevance of third- party funding. What information should be obtained, and from whom? This Article offers that needed guidance by setting forth revisions and reinterpretations of procedural rules to provide judges and arbitrators with disclosure requirements and a framework for handling known issues as they arise. By revising and interpreting the procedural rules as suggested in this Article, judges and arbitrators will be able to gain a better sense of the prevalence, structures, and impact of third-party funding and its effects (if any) on dispute resolution procedures. Over time, these observations will reveal the true systemic impact of third-party funding and contribute to developing more robust third-party funding procedural regulations.

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