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The U.S. General Services Administration publishes an annual Consumer Action Handbook, a guide to help citizens make smarter decisions with their money. It is a compilation of buying tips from across government agencies, with updates on the latest scams and a consumer contact directory, and is available in both print and online formats. The Handbook also provides a sample consumer complaint letter wizard to help frustrated consumers experiencing a problem with a product or service: the Consumer Complaint Wizard asks a person to answer a few questions, and from the answers produces a downloadable letter that can be edited and mailed to the company responsible for the product. The Wizard takes the user through a 5-step process:

  1. Explanation of the product or service (including date of transaction)
  2. Mailing address of the company
  3. Description of the problem
  4. Choices for resolution of the problem, and
  5. A preview of the letter.

The Complaint Wizard also features “help” text and examples associated with a light bulb icon. The new online tool intended for consumer use supplements the resources available through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov) and other government agencies.


For those interested in keeping up with the development of the situation in Ukraine, check out the Ukrainian Crisis 2014 guide created and maintained by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library. This page is being updated regularly and includes the following information:

Further, Ukraine, although a non-State party to the Rome Statute, has referred its situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation. The Office of the Prosecutor has issued a decision to open preliminary examination into the situation in Ukraine to determine whether the Rome Statute requirements for opening an official investigation are met.

One of the most recent controversies surrounding the Internet in the US concerns the FCC’s proposal for open internet rules having direct impact on the concept of Net Neutrality. Net neutrality is what makes the Internet a fair and leveled playing field for all. Net neutrality is considered the fundamental precondition to the growth and entrepreneurship on the Internet.

On May 15, 2014, the FCC released an unofficial announcement informing the public that it is launching rulemaking on how to protect and promote the open Internet. This announcement, almost immediately, spiked an uproar among the Internet community pointing out that FCC’s proposal would de facto hinder the Internet as we know it. As many news providers reported, this proposal,  under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, would effectively undercut the very idea of a leveled and open Internet because it would create a so-called ‘slow’ and ‘fast lane’ for the Internet speed and thereby allowing for companies to pay Internet providers to deliver content to customers more quickly. Moreover, this proposal comes under the leadership of the FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was appointed to his current position in November 2013 after spending years being one of the top lobbyist for the cable and wireless companies. 

The FCC has opened its proposal (proceeding number 14-28) for public comment through June 27, 2014. Those interested in commenting may utilize the FCC’s inbox for Open Internet Comments and send an email to the listed email address, or you may file a comment using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System. This proposal has already generated over 42,000 comments that can be viewed here.

Related Readings:

POST WRITTEN BY: Steven E. Gavin (’14), Pace Law School

It is said that all land use law is inherently local. As such, finding resources applicable to a particular state or municipality can prove difficult even for the most experienced practitioner or scholar. Fortunately, the Land Use Law Center maintains a database called Gaining Ground, which provides users with a comprehensive collection of all things land use.

LULC BrowseThe “Browse Resources” function offers an intuitive and straight forward platform by which to locate a massive amount of land use resources, from the esoteric to the fundamental.  The user can browse not only by jurisdiction, state, and topic, but also by resource type and EPA region. This function proves particularly helpful to practitioners working in a particular state or area of land use law.

LULC Class

The “Resource Type” allows the user to narrow their search by particular type of content. The database contains many documents on laws that cannot be found anywhere else. Additionally,  the database is unique in  the availability of commentary and student articles produced under the supervision of  the Land Use Center staff.


The “By State” function contains documents from all fifty states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although there is an understandable northeastern emphasis, one can find unique research throughout. As the Land Use Center expands to different regions of the nation, particularly the southwest, the database will continue to grow.

Finally, the “Advanced Search” function allows the user to combine all of the previous functions for a targeted search. Additionally, the user is able to search by “Publisher,” “URL,” “Municipality,” “Email address,” as well as many others. This function allows a user interested in a highly defined subject to go directly to the document, circumventing the need to use the “Browse” function.

LULC Advanced

The Land Use Law Center also suggest that the user utilize the Database of New York State Municipal Laws on Green Buildings, Alternative Energy, and Energy Efficiency, which is maintained by this partner, Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law.

The oral advocacy program at Pace Law School is a robust one. Students here have the opportunity to learn and practice their oral advocacy skills by participating in the trial advocacy and/or the moot court programs. Along with standard set of courses, students have the opportunity to join variety of trial advocacy, appellate advocacy and/or moot court teams. It is a critical addition to the classroom learning, allowing for students to learn the value of preparation, hard work and collaboration. It is an intense learning experience which instills great confidence in our students. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Pace students participated in a total of 29 trial and moot court competitions in the areas of criminal law, civil rights, constitutional law, immigration law, labor law, client counseling, mediation, arbitration, negotiations, international environmental law, securities dispute resolution, energy and sustainability, international law, international commercial arbitration, international criminal law, evidence, baseball arbitration, voir dire skills, trial skills, appellate advocacy skills, and more. Join us in congratulating all the teams, their members and coaches, on a job well done! Special thanks goes to the Director of the Pace Oral Advocacy Skills Program, Prof. Louis V. Fasulo, the Pace Moot Court Board (consisting of hard working students), and Ms. Loretta Musial, the administrative assistant to oral advocacy program at Pace.

The following is a list (in no particular order) of trial and moot court competitions Pace law students participated in during 2013-2014 academic year:

National Sports Law Negotiation Competition // Thomas Jefferson School of Law (September 20 – September 22, 2013)
Coach: Jared Hand, Esq.
Team Members: Dan Masi, Jesse Kantor, Peter Naber (Student Coach)

GGU-BLS Criminal Mock Trial Competition (October 10 – October 13, 2013)
Coach: Hon. Sharon A. M. Aarons & Prof. Samuel Braverman
Team Members: Christopher O’Brien, Chris Camastro, Nicole Sosnowski, Erica Gilerman

Buffalo Niagara Trial Competition // SUNY Buffalo Law School (November 7 – November 11, 2013)
Coach: Prof. Julia Cornachio
Team Members: Jin Wu, Christian McCarthy, Lani Brandon, Juna Dawson-Murray

Voir Dire – Show Me The Challenge // UMKC School of Law (April 3 – April 5, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Eylan Schulman
Team Members: Ellen Zhang, Jon Panico, Chris Schweitzer

Judge Paul Joseph Kelly, Jr. Invitational Trial Competition // Fordham Law (February 22 – February 23, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Louis Fasulo
Team Members: Christopher O’Brien, Peter Oliveri

Student Trial Advocacy Competition (STAC) / American Association for Justice (March 20 – March 23, 2014)
Coach: Prof. John Meringolo
Team Members: Arthur Muller, Mike Andreani, Nicole Gard, Alexandra Ashmont

John L. Costello National Criminal Law Competition // George Mason University School of Law (February 6 – February 9, 2014)
Coach: Jason Herman, Esq.
Team Members: Alyson Kuritzky, Levi Glick, Michelle Piantadosi

National Pre-Trial Competition // Stetson Law (October 10 – October 13, 2013)
Coach: Jason Herman, Esq.
Team Members: Kasey Parente, Lauren Creegan, Levi Glick, Jack Bingham

Peter James Johnson ’49 National Civil Rights Trial Competition (NCRC) // St. John’s School of Law (October 24 – October 27, 2013)
Coach: Sheila Gabay, Esq.
Team Members: Jessica Piperis, Boris Shapotkin, Jessica Ingersoll, Chris Berengieri

Estrella Trial Advocacy Competition (ETAC) (April 5 – April 6, 2014)
Coach: Profs. Keith Sullivan and Louis Fasulo
Team Members: Christopher O’Brien, Matthew Pellegrine, Nicole Murdoca, Erica Gilerman

ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) (February 20 – February 22, 2014)
Coach: Prof. James Castagna
Team Members: Edward Johannes, April Booker, C.J. Croll

ABA Client Counseling Competition (February 8 – February 9, 2014)
Coach: Stephanie Chow
Team Members: Jay Vyas, Levin Thomas, Danielle Meeks, Pooja Shah

ABA Law Student National Representation in Mediation Competition (February 22 – February 23, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Danielle Shalov
Team Members: Matt Trauner, Jessica Piperis, Michelle Rakebrand, John Darmino

ABA Arbitration Competition (November 16 – November 17, 2013)
Coach: Prof. John Meringolo
Team 1 Members: Arthur Muller, Mike Andreani, Nicole Gard, Alexandra Ashmont
Team 2 Members: Daniel Greco, Rich DePonto, Christopher Schweitzer, Peter Oliveri

ABA Negotiation Competition (November 16 – November 17, 2013)
Coach: Stephanie Chow
Team Members: J. Justin Woods, Rikki Bahar, Daniel Phillips, Ellen Liang, Jake Sher

International Environmental Moot Court Competition // Stetson Law (January 24 – January 26, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Matthew Brotmann
Team Members: Charter Williams, Ellen Zhang, Megan Hopper-Rebegea

St. John’s Securities Dispute Resolution Triathlon (October 19 – October 20, 2013)
Coach: Prof. Elissa Germaine
Team Members: Crystal Green, Jaclyn Weissgerber, Jeffrey Peters

National Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition // West Virginia University College of Law (March 27 – March 29, 2014)
Coach: Andrea Cerbin, Esq.
Team Members: Mike Dicato, Ellen Liang, Levan Thomas, Andrea Rodricks, Ellen Zhang (Student Coach)

Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (February 13 – February 16, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Lucie Olejnikova
Team Members: Ann Bermont, Bianca Francois, Rocky Boussias, Kiersten Schramek

Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (March 28 – April 7, 2014 (East); April 12 – April 15, 2014 (Vienna))
Coaches: Profs. Vikki Rogers and Linda Wayner, and Genavieve Shingle, Esq., Bryn Fuller, Esq.
Team 1 Members: David Calvello, Kristen Carroll, Justin Pifer, Christina Riggio
Team 2 Members: Megan Harney, Faiza Jamil, Hilary Atzrott

International Criminal Moot Court Competition (March 7 – March 9, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Peter Widulski
Team Members: Amanda Ibrahim, Patrick Dowdle, Alexandra Ashmont, Catherine Peña, Richard DePonto

Thurgood A. Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition (March 27 – March 28, 2014)
Coach: LaWanda Geter, Esq.
Team Members: John Astarita, Joseph Fortunato

Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition // Brooklyn Law School (March 27 – March 29, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Peter Widulski
Team Members: Jonathan Alvarez, Christian McCarthy, Patrick Williams

National Moot Court // New York Bar (November 20 – November 21, 2013)
Coach: Prof. John Fullerton
Team Members: Nicole Murdocca, Matthew Pellegrine, Alena Eydlish

National Baseball Arbitration Competition // Tulane University Law School (January 22 – January 24, 2014)
Coach: Jared Hand, Esq.
Team Members: Dan Masi, Jesse Kantor, Jared Hand, Peter Naber

Fredrick Douglass Moot Court Competition // NBLSA (January 22 – January 26, 2014)
Coach: Hon. Alexander W. Hunter, Jr.
Team Members: Michael Armstrong, Darilyn Octave

Immigration Law Moot Court // NYU Law (February 22 – February 24, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Vanessa Merton
Team Members: Katie Mendez, Seth Levy, Stephanie Ramos

National Trial Competition (February 6 – February 9, 2014)
Coach: Prof. Joel Seidemann
Team Members: Jack Bingham, Nicole Sosnowski, Christian McCarthy, Chris Berlingeri, Melissa Rodriguez, Jessica Ingersoll

ABA Labor Law Trial Advocacy Competition (November 23 – November 24, 2013)
Coach: Prof. James Castagna
Team Members: Danielle Koves, Stephen Cobb, Kee Han, Faiza Jamil

POST WRITTEN BY: Angelique Rivard (’14), Pace Law School

The Animal Law Resource Center (ALRC) is a comprehensive clearinghouse for information on animals and the law. The information on the ALRC’s website is accessible to everyone and is particularly beneficial for attorneys, law students, policy makers, engaged constituents, academics and all other animal advocates. ALRC is entirely funded by the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing science without harming animals, and sponsored by The International Institute for Animal Law (IIAL), a not-for-profit organization comprised of internationally renowned attorneys and judges.

The International Institutanimal law resource center sme for Animal Law provides animal law programs, workshops, online resources such as ALRC and offers grants, but is not licensed to practice animal law or give legal advice. Rather, the mission of IIAL is to encourage, at the international level, the development of legal scholarship and advocacy skills and as a result enhance the development of animal protection laws. IIAL along with many animal advocates including animal law attorneys believe that increasing animal welfare and rights through the law is the next logical step in the movement toward social justice. While the news articles available on ALRC’s website may promote this sentiment, the legislative and legal resources are neutral and unbiased. IIAL’s “scope is broad and far-reaching in providing up-to-date resources on all aspects of animal law, whether it concerns stronger enforcement of existing laws, tighter regulations regarding the use of animals, the case for granting fundamental legal rights to animals, or the civil rights of those who defend animals.” Furthermore, the information on ALRC’s site proves especially valuable for animal law attorneys and other legal practitioners working for non-profit organizations who may not have access to legal databases for purchase.

The Animal Law Resource Center website has numerous features that are clearly categorized in the top menu bar. The user can search both current and pending legislation by filtering through jurisdiction, filling in a keyword or the bill number and/or selecting popular tags, such as “Dog Fighting.” The “Model Laws” section of the website is a particularly unique and useful resource. Local constituents, advocates and policy makers can utilize the model laws to build and create animal legislation within their states. Sample legislation topics include entertainment, hunting and product testing. One may also search case law. The content in this section is unique from other online resources in that it contains brief-like summaries instead of case opinions. The “Bibliography” section is helpful for locating other sources, like books and law review articles, based on your topic of research. Also, the “Links” section on the top of the menu bar links to other websites pertaining to animal law, such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund site and the Animal Legal and Historical Web Center. Attorneys, students and other advocates may find these additional websites beneficial in researching animal law.

NCA-logo smToday the U.S. Global Change Research Program released its Third National Climate Assessment.  The report which was overseen by the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) was authored by over 300 experts and received over 4,000 public comments.  The report discusses how:

Climate change is already affecting the American people. Certain types of weather events have 2 become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some 3 regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers 4 and arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, 5 which is primarily driven by human activity.

The 827 page report, is broken out into three main sections discussing: sectors (water; energy; transportation; agriculture; forests; ecosystems; human health; energy, water and land; urban; indigenous peoples; land use and land cover change; rural communities; and biogeochemical cycles); regions (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska, Hawai’i and Pacific Islands, and Oceans & Coasts); and response strategies (Decision Support, Mitigation, Adaptation, Research Needs, and Sustained Assessment).


rosetta_stone_smPace Law School recently obtained a subscription for the language-learning software Rosetta Stone. The purpose of the program is to better support the U.S. Comparative Environmental Brazil program, the Immigration Clinic, John Jay Legal Services, International law externships, as well as students applying for Fulbright Scholarships. Due to the limited number of available licenses and the strong demand for this product, the Law Library has set up certain parameters for usage. Preference will be given to current Pace Law Students, although faculty and staff are also encouraged to apply. Use is limited to 25 individuals at any given time. For more information about the program see the Usage Policy. This program was made possible with a grant from the Elizabeth Haub Foundation.

POST WRITTEN BY: Catherine Lyster (’15), Pace Law School

For practitioners interested in keeping up to date with the latest developments and key issues affecting the environment, analysis of recent legislative action, or more in depth reports on specific environmental topics–then the Natural Resources Defense Council website, http://www.nrdc.org, is the place to go.

NRDC smThe Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a non-profit environmental policy and advocacy group of lawyers and scientist who work with businesses, community organizations, and policy makers on issues related to the environment. Their mission is “to safeguard the earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.” About, NRDC.

This website is a useful source for the practitioner who needs to find clear, up-to-date information on a broad range of issues relating to the environment including energy, oceans, sustainable development, health, nuclear energy as well as environmental concerns that affect the global community. Besides providing the practitioner with a basic understanding of these issues, the website also has more in-depth scientific reports. Additionally, the practitioner will find briefs on current environmental concerns affecting specific regions, analysis of recent legislation, and fact sheets.

The NRDC is an environmental advocacy group so the information on the website is strongly aimed at convincing readers that there are a number of environmental problems that are the result of human behavior. However, they provide sources and scientific data to back up the statements that they make.

By clicking the ‘Issues’ tab the practitioner will be taken to a page with links to a wide range of topics relating to the environment, from global warming and food and agriculture, to environmental justice and transportation. From here there are links to facts sheets, guides, reports, and overviews of more specific issues relating to a topic.

The ‘Policy’ tab is where the practitioner will find more in-depth information on current issues, research reports, blog posts and legislative analysis. The ‘Act Now’ tab will give the practitioner easy tips on how to live a more environmentally friendly life and also allow you to send messages to the EPA, the President, and members of Congress petitioning them to take action on an environmental concern that affects you. Finally, if you have still not found what you are looking for, there is a search box in the top right hand corner of the page. It only offers a basic search of all of the material on the website but if you have a specific topic or term to search then it is possible to find some helpful information.

POST WRITTEN BY: Ben Lowenthal (’13), Graduate Fellow, Center for Environmental Legal Studies at Pace Law School

For many environmental lawyers practicing in multiple jurisdictions, it is often difficult to locate and track various state energy and environmental legislation. Oftentimes, practitioners must take a piecemeal approach to researching state bills. Making research all the more difficult, a single bill may be postponed in a house or committees for a seemingly indefinite amount of time. It could take years and multiple legislative sessions for a bill to be rewritten and then reintroduced. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Energy and Environment Legislation Tracking Database has made it possible for practitioners to obtain real-time information and track bills introduced in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

NCSL Overview

The National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL, is a bipartisan organization founded in 1975 with three unique goals: 1) “improv[ing] the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures, 2) promot[ing] policy innovation and communication among state legislatures, and 3) ensur[ing] state legislatures [have a] strong, cohesive voice in the federal system.” About Us, Nat’l Conf. of St.  Legislators.  With an emphasis on promoting state rights, one primary purpose of the NCSL is to ensure “state sovereignty and state flexibility and protection from unfunded federal mandates and unwarranted federal preemption.” NCSL Bylaws, Nat’l Conf. of St.  Legislators.

The NCSL allows users to utilize specific filters in each search, including topic, state, keyword, status, bill number, year, and author.

NCSL Overview 2

After conducting a search, the results appear by state at the bottom of the page. Each result will have a bill number, status, date of last action, author, topics, and a summary of the bill. In addition, the database allows users to view the history of the bill.

NCSL Overview 3

The one apparent “flaw” is that the database does not include the text of each bill. To view the text, a user must click on a “BILL TEXT LOOKUP” link that directs the user to a state legislature’s homepage (not the specific language of the bill).

In addition to the Energy and Environment Legislation Tracking Database, the NCSL publishes energy legislative updates and reports. The publications are valuable resources to any practitioner searching for a state-by-state survey of energy policy under a variety of topics. A user can then view each publication on the NCSL website or download each publication in a PDF format.

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