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Category: Law Practice

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New Courthouse Architecture

They’re being built at a staggering rate. New ones are rapidly replacing old ones. Top architects are being called in to design them. . . .

No, I’m not talking about stadiums. I’m talking about courthouses. A recent Legal Affairs article chronicles a dramatic transformation in courthouse architecture and describes the building boom in new courthouses. Courthouses used to be built as “solemn, neo-Classical style structures,” but recently things have changed. Today, top architects bid on the construction of courthouses:

The new architect selection standards coincide with the largest federal courthouse building initiative in the nation’s history, a program necessitated by the rise in the number of federal cases—up some 20 percent in the last decade—and a shift in caseloads from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt. As droves of people continue to move from Buffalo to Houston or from St. Louis to Phoenix, caseloads are moving with them. In all, nearly 200 courthouses will be built or renovated over the next 25 years, at a cost in the tens of billions of dollars.

If you’re interested in the history of courthouse architecture, the article is well worth checking out. One of the courthouses discussed in the article is the stunning new federal courthouse in Boston, pictured below:

courthouse-boston3.jpg

For all the law architecture nerds out there, I did a little web surfing and found some pictures of new or planned courthouses. Beginning with state courthouses, here are ones from Lexington, SC, Lexington, KY, and Syracuse, NY:

courthouses-state1.jpg

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How to Develop a Supreme Court Practice

supremecourt10a.bmpHow does a law firm develop a Supreme Court appellate law practice? Hang out a shingle? Well, yes, if you’ve got Seth Waxman. This interesting article explains how law firms build a Supreme Court practice. The article contrasts the firm of Wilmer Culter, where Waxman argued all five of its Supreme Court cases last term, with the firm of Jones Day, which had five different attorneys argue its six Supreme Court cases.

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The Music of the Law

Unlike my co-bloggers, I practice law for a living. Like most would-be lawyers my view of practice was powerfully shaped by Law & Order episodes. I do mainly civil and appellate litigation, so my practice contains few trips to Attica, but I did envision the practice of law as being a much more social endeavor. At the very least, I expected there to be some noise. My law firm, however, tends to be a very quiet place. People work in their offices, and if they talk they do so in conference rooms. There is none of the noisy bustle of the Law & Order DA’s office. As it happens, I don’t think well in silence. I find it distracting and unnerving. Even in college, for example, I found it impossible to study economics in the library. The quiet destroyed my concentration, so I always did econ work in the student union cafeteria. At work, I escape the silence by closing my door and playing music, which leads to the important question of which music goes with which tasks.

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