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Student loans and blithe self-confidence prop up law school enrollments (access required)

The atmosphere in law school admissions offices these days is downright dreadful. Applications to law school are down 15 percent from this time last year, according to the Law School Admission Council, and down by a third from eight years ago. The projected number of law school applicants for fall of 2012 would be the lowest since 1996, when there were 21 fewer law schools nationally and 16 percent fewer seats to fill. If applications remain depressed nationally, it will raise acceptance rates or reduce the total number of seats at law schools—and maybe both. But experts say two factors are mitigating what would otherwise by an even steeper drop: federal student loan money, and students’ unerring faith in their own ability to beat the odds.

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Blogger’s comment wasn’t libel, then it was (access required)

In politics, it’s known as the non-apology apology. North Carolina political strategist Ed Rapp offered one in the wake of an accusation he posted on his blog about Brunswick County (N.C.) Superior Court Judge Ola M. Lewis. But it didn’t help: The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that Rapp couldn’t be sued for his initial mistake, but when he stuck to his guns in the apology, even knowing he was wrong, he committed libel per se.

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Most corporate social media policies flunk the test (access required)

Workplace strife is increasingly boiling over into the realms of social media. But when employees rant about their bosses on Facebook and badmouth the companies they work for on Twitter, what are the repercussions? Well, it depends. That’s the essence of the National Labor Relations Board’s most recent report on social media. But the Jan. 25 paper, which follows a similar report issued last August, drives home some important practice points for employment lawyers.

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This ain’t your grandpa’s CLE (access required)

Watching Batman movies and playing bingo might seem better suited to a 6-year-old’s birthday party than a professional development seminar, but when you’re trying to persuade a roomful of lawyers to take stock of their own mental health, you do whatever works. Over the years, Continuing Legal Education seminars on mental health, addiction and ethics have evolved beyond the standard, heart-wrenching testimonial to include multimedia programs studded with film, comedy, games and even modern dance. Credit that change to an ongoing effort to create an environment of acceptance and support in a profession known for high stress levels and burnout rates.

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Chief justice seeks nine new judges from lawmakers (access required)

South Carolina’s top jurist told state lawmakers last week that she needs nine new judges to run the state’s court system more effectively — and that she’ll use a new electronic filing system to fund them. In her annual State of the Judiciary address, Chief Justice Jean Toal told a joint session of the Legislature that she can pay for three new circuit court judges and six new family court judges by implementing a new system for attorneys around the state to file court documents electronically.

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Edwards campaign owes taxpayers $2M, but spending continues (access required)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal election officials say John Edwards owes taxpayers more than $2.1 million in public matching funds improperly received after he dropped his 2008 run for the White House, yet disclosure reports show his failed campaign is still spending freely. Edwards’ hopes for the Democratic presidential nomination imploded in a sex scandal four years ago that left him facing criminal charges. But reports filed last week show his 2008 primary campaign spent $836,712 in 2011 on airfare, hotel rooms, cell phones and other expenses.

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Lender not required to stop borrowers from making bad investment, court rules (access required)

A bank has no extra fiduciary duty to a customer if the relationship between them is an ordinary lender-borrower arrangement, a North Carolina Business Court judge has ruled. Judge James L. Gale, in Wells Fargo v. VanDorn, decided that the buyers of mountain real estate did not ask for, nor receive, advice about their purchase from Wells Fargo, and therefore could not later claim the bank had breached a fiduciary duty. In VanDorn, the defendants purchased a lot in a gated-resort community in Watauga County called Laurelmor, using Wells Fargo – the preferred lender for the development – for their financing.

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