April 1, 2008

VH1's 'Best Week Ever' Comedian to Co-Headline YLD Comedy Night Saturday, May 10

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Join the YLD for a night of laughs on Saturday, May 10 featuring opening act Anton Shuford and co-headliners Lynne Koplitz and Doug Benson of VH1's "Best Week Ever." Tickets are available now and include open bar, heavy hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction and a DJ.

For sponsorship information, please contact Brian Chacker. To donate items to the silent auction, please contact Abbie DuFrayne.

All proceeds benefit the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

Careers in Tax Law - Opportunities and Planning Cocktail Reception April 3

The Philadelphia Bar Association Tax Section invites you to attend a cocktail reception on Thursday, April 3 5:15 - 7:30 p.m. at Pepper Hamilton LLP.

The goal is to help tax professionals learn about career paths, and how to develop a career in tax law. We'll hear from representatives of law firms, Big 4 accounting firms, in-house practioners and government attorneys.

The reception is sponsored by the Tax Section. There is no admission cost, but we do ask you to RSVP to Marilyn Bennett.

"Slice of Justice" Public Interest Auction

The Public Interest Employment Grant Board will hold its inaugural "Slice of Justice" Public Interest Auction on Thursday, April 3 from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Drexel University School of Law, Behrakis Grand Hall, Creese Student Center, Chestnut Street, between 32nd and 33rd streets.

All money raised at the auction will subsidize public interest summer internships for Drexel Law students. The auction is open to the public and costs $15. For more information, contact Karen Pearlman.

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Volunteers Needed for Law Week April 28 - May 2

The Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association seeks volunteers for Law Week events. Law Week is a series of programs that place Philadelphia lawyers of any age and law students in the community to educate the city's youth and public about the law through direct interaction.

Some of our Law Week activities include:

Lawyer in the Classroom – Volunteer lawyers and law students will visit different schools throughout the week to address students' concerns about the law and the legal issues that affect them as they enter adulthood and answer questions about the legal profession. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Kelly Gastley or Josh Ryan.

Legal Advice Live! - A free, daylong ask-a-lawyer event spanning across Philadelphia. On Wednesday, April 30, dozens of Philadelphia attorneys will gather on Independence Mall to provide free, in-person legal advice from noon to 2 p.m. in Center City. Attorneys will provide answers to legal questions on a broad range of topics, including landlord/tenant law, divorce and child custody matters, wills and estate planning, real estate law and employment law. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Abbie DuFrayne.

Also on Wednesday, April 30, volunteer attorneys will go into the community and give free legal advice at select Free Library of Philadelphia branches. Volunteers are needed at the South Philadelphia Branch at Broad and Morris Streets and the Tacony Branch at Torresdale Ave & Knorr Streets from 1 to 3 p.m. To volunteer contact Abbie DuFrayne.

Legal Line - As part of Legal Advice Live!, on Wednesday, April 30, from 5 to 8 p.m., area residents can call lawyers at 215-238-6333 and have their legal questions answered free and confidentially. The lawyers will staff a phone bank at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market St., 11th floor. If you would like to volunteer for Legal Line (either April 30 or a future date), please contact Stephanie Mensing.

The Trials of Goldilocks and the Big Bad Wolf – On Thursday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., volunteer attorneys will use the facts of the well-known fairytales, Goldilocks and The Three Little Pigs, as the basis for criminal trials. Volunteers act as prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses in the criminal trials, which include opening statements, examinations and cross-examinations of witnesses, closing arguments, and instructions of the juries. At the conclusion of each trial the students are given the role of the jury and determine whether the Big Bad Wolf or Goldilocks are guilty of a crime. To volunteer please contact Heather Herrington.

Lawyer for a Day - Volunteer attorneys, law students and judges pair with high school students and take them into the courts to learn more about the process of the judicial system as well as the role lawyers, judges and juries play in our community. Several city courtrooms will be open to allow the participants to observe proceedings. This program starts at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 2 at the Philadelphia Bar Association, and all participants are invited back to the Association’s 11th floor Conference Center at noon for a concluding lunch, which includes a keynote by a guest speaker. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Carey Chopko or Corey Davis.

Also if you know 4th, 5th, 6th or 12th grade students, teachers or parents at a Philadelphia public, parochial, charter or private school, we are seeking submissions for:

· Edward F. Chacker Essay Contest - Named for past Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Edward F. Chacker, the 2008 contest offers a $1,000 college scholarship to a high school seniors who attend public, parochial, charter or private school in Philadelphia. Seniors are asked to write an essay of at least 1,000 words on the question:

Do you think that school officials should be permitted to search a student's computer, iPod or iPhone? Why or why not? What factors should a court consider when deciding whether it is proper for a school official to search the contents of a student’s computer, iPod or iPhone?

The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is supposed to protect the privacy and security of individuals against unreasonable searches by government officials. However, school officials also have an interest in protecting the safety of their students and teachers. Students may want to address the possible kinds of information that could be on a computer, iPod or iPhone - like voicemails, emails, text messages, documents, videos, etc. - that could be illegal or perfectly legal but highly private information.

In addition to the scholarship, the winner will read their essay at a Naturalization Ceremony on May 1, 2008. Submissions should include the student's name, address, telephone number and school on a cover sheet accompanying the essay. All entries must be received by Amy Muldoon at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107 or amuldoon@philabar.org by NOON on Friday, April 11, 2008.

· 2008 Poster Contest - All 4th, 5th and 6th grade students who attend Philadelphia public, private, charter and parochial schools are invited to participate in the 2008 Poster Contest. Students are asked to: Draw a picture that best illustrates how law provides opportunity and equality in our community. Posters should be produced on standard 22" x 28" poster board and students should include their name, address, telephone number and school on the back of the poster. First, second and third prize savings bonds will be awarded. All entries must be received by Amy Muldoon at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107 by NOON on Friday, April 11, 2008.

If you would like to volunteer or know of someone who can, please contact us or forward this information to them (including teachers or parents of students in the 4th, 5th, 6th or 12th grade). With your help, we look forward to a week of successful events.

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Our Las Vegas Economy by Harper Dimmerman

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Right? Well, not so fast. In addition to being a modern-day mecca for debauchery, Las Vegas sees annual gambling revenues in the billions. Our tendencies toward betting are highly portable, like a savvy attorney's book of business. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending whether you're into masochism or not, unadulterated risk-taking is all the rage, at least in the States. We seem to be gambling with everything these days. The contestants on Deal or No Deal comically try to convince themselves they can feel the lucky numbers and usually wind up crashing and burning once avarice kicks into high gear. A group of office workers won the Powerball a couple weeks ago and the visionary of the group claimed she knew they purchased the winning ticket. Now that's damn impressive.

And then there's the housing market, where we're betting on gentrification in dilapidated sections of the city or that interest rates will behave a certain way. For the past few years, millions of consumers have been riding the euphoric wave of historically low rates, snatching up McMansions and other dream homes (or homes for dreamers) like hot wings at a non-Eagles Super Bowl party. And for many of them, the loan of choice has been the ARM, the 30 year fixed for the 21st century, or so they thought (or wanted to believe). How else can you buy a house you can't afford? The jump in the rates surely wouldn't qualify as dramatic and already the panic is setting in. Although I do sympathize with borrowers who were deceived into taking on these loans, I'd reckon the large majority of defaulters knew precisely what they were getting. These loans were the debtors' panacea. Demand continued to grow and our altruistic investment banker friends were more than happy to oblige. Firms like Bear Stearns perpetuated the myth while borrowers hoped for the best.

So who's to blame? Just the other day in New York, protesters voiced their discontent with the concept of the Federal Reserve bailing out Bear Stearns. Why should the gambling of bullish rich bankers be rewarded while that of bullish borrowers be punished with foreclosure? It's an excellent question. No easy answers though. Another perspective has been voiced by another contingency, the conservative consumer also known as those who refrained from getting in over their heads, settling for predictability and more modest abodes. There's talk of lenders working with the defaulters, renegotiating rates, moratoriums on sheriff's sale. Philadelphia's April foreclosure sale was postponed for instance.

It reminds me of the honest landlord who is penalized for mitigating damages. We know it's all about damages. Here's the lesson: you will be rewarded for acting with reckless abandon. Second chances might be unfair yet they will be tolerated in today's economy. In fact, they must be tolerated. When push comes to shove, all of us have a vested interest in ensuring that our economy stays afloat, even if it means bailing out the gamblers amongst us. And the gamblers know damn well that's exactly what will happen, which only serves as an incentive for them to up the ante.

Come to think of it, maybe there's more predictability in gambling these days than I originally thought. Bailouts have become a virtual certainty. Maybe that contestant really does feel the numbers. For me at least, that's the part about our economy that really stings. Let's face it. There a big difference between a chapter 7 filer discharging extravagant spending debt and one rebounding from a catastrophic medical situation. Isn't it ironic though that those living high on the hog, in many cases for the sake of maintaining appearances, are the same people empowered to diminish public confidence in our economy? How can this group wield so much power? Perhaps our economy is too preoccupied with appearances. Maybe our economy is a bit too much Vegas, baby, Vegas...

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