Alafair Burke – Close Case, Third Samantha Kincaid Crime Novel, A Journey Inside the Justice System

Author Alafair Burke, former deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon, and criminal law professor at Hofstra University, Long Island, NY, reveals the inner workings of the Justice system in Portland, Oregon, in her series of novels with heroine ADA Samantha Kincaid.

Truthfully, I picked up her first crime novel, Judgement Calls, when I saw her name on the cover, a name made famous by her father’s, James Lee Burke, invented adopted daughter in his best-selling series of Dave Robicheaux crime novels based in New Orleans and Southwest Louisiana.

Alafair doesn’t disappoint, her books are unique. She takes you inside a world she knows very well, the Portland, Oregon, justice system. In this Close Case, the obvious, usual suspects are all the wrong ones even the less-than-innocent ones that confess.

Conflicts of interest in the personal and professional relations between heroine Assistant District Attorney Samantha Kincaid and her boyfriend, a Portland police detective, complicate investigations into the murder of a popular newspaper reporter.

More die before the insidious tentacles of corruption that extend into the police department can be shut down by the efforts of Samantha and the Internal Affairs Division.

If you like crime or mystery series, you’ll like Alafair’s books. She just keeps getting better. Though she writes in the first person her books are different than her father’s books. I eagerly await her next book, Dead Connection, coming out Summer 2007.

You can find her books, including her first Judgement Calls and her second Missing Justice with news of her upcoming book on her website with links to your favorite stores, at

Job Listing For Law Enforcement – Know Where and What Jobs to Get

Interested in joining the law enforcement? Are you encouraged and motivated to help the community in setting and protecting the established order? If that is the case, then law enforcement jobs should be considered. These professions are always available and are not affected by falling economies and market movements because we all need to be and feel secure no matter what happens in the outside world.

And what you need to do is to check out the job listing for law enforcement jobs. You can use the internet for sites that are focusing on these careers in order to see these job listings. You can use Google.com, where all you have to do to do is type in ‘law enforcement jobs’ and you will be shown the results of sites that offer related listings.

So you have accessed the sites that offer this job listing for law enforcement jobs. The next thing to do is to properly select the job that you want. Now this is an important thing that you should know. Don’t just jump into job hunting without thinking aloud what specific law enforcement job is best for you- or what enforcement of the law career you would like to have.

If you don’t know the specific job that you want, then job hunting online will all be for nothing! You should remember that the key to effective and cost-effective job hunting is being knowledgeable on the jobs to consider. And this is true as well even for careers in enforcement of the law.

Now there are a number of job listing for law enforcement jobs that you can choose from. And a quick check on some of the state’s websites will reveal a good number of these. Here are some jobs which you can check out when looking at a listing:

Related to correctional administration and justice:

· Correctional Officer and Staff for the Homeland Security
· Park Ranger Officer
· Interior Officers
· Security Administration Officers
· Defense Department Officers
· Police Officers and a number of other varied positions

Now that you know the direction of your career, then that would be the time when you really need to fine tune your search for law enforcement jobs. At this stage you need to know where you can find the best job listing for law enforcement jobs. You can always start at the home websites of the employers themselves. Once you have targeted the websites of the employer, then the challenge for you is to find these job openings. It is also recommended to tap school associations and even alumni groups.

These organizations are best for networking, and your network can be an effective source of job openings a well. Job listings can also be provided by recruiters and staffing firms. And the most common providers of these listings are your job sites, classified ads and the job aggregators. Learn these approaches. Focus on the avenues for career hunting, and you can’t go wrong and will be safe when searching for law enforcement jobs.

Megan’s Law – It’s Only Half The Battle

Spend some time in any PTA meeting, Mommy & Me group, or even a playdate with friends and it isn’t long before the conversation turns into a worried discussion about Megan’s Law and the sex offender information that parents can now readily access with just a few clicks of their computer mouse.

Parents everywhere are feverishly checking these websites, sometimes weekly or even daily, to see if a registered sex offender resides nearby. Unfortunately, there are a few flaws in this perceived “safety net” that well-intentioned parents should know.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of Megan’s Law and the information it provides. I strongly believe that once a sex offender has been released back into the community, the public has the absolute right to know their whereabouts.

But… focusing solely on this component of child safety can do a serious disservice to our kids, IF we stop there.

A Basic Overview of Megan’s Law

Megan’s Law is a federal law, signed on May 17, 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It is named for 7 year old Megan Nicole Kanka of Hamilton Township, New Jersey, who tragically, was sexually abused and killed in 1994 by a twice-convicted pedophile who lived across the street from her home. Unaware of his presence and criminal history, Megan’s parents, Maureen and Richard Kanka, were devastated and outraged. They established the Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation and lobbied government officials to create a law which would require all 50 states to release information regarding the presence of convicted sex offenders in our communities. In it’s most basic terms, the law mandates that the public has the right to know the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders once they have been released, and that all 50 states must make this information available to the public.

Many states have created a dedicated Megan’s Law website, to which the public can log onto through their own personal computer and research the data pertinent to their town or local community.

There are several ways you can check the Megan’s Law sex offender register in your state. In my home state of California, the website is meganslaw.ca.gov. To access the information in your state, you can visit familywatchdog.us. This website provides a free national sex offender registry link and also contains excellent safety information. You may also check your state’s Attorney General’s website, your State Police website, or visit megannicolekankafoundation.org.

Only Part of the Solution…

While Megan’s Law is an excellent awareness tool and provides vital information to the public, parents must remember that it can only do so much.

To begin with, a sex offender register is not a perfect system. In some instances, registered offenders may or may not actually be living where they are listed. Depending on which state you live in, you may even have some registered offenders whose whereabouts are not made public due to an exclusionary clause in the law. For example, some offenders fall into the “undisclosed category” – which means they areregistered with the state, but their information is not accessible on the website. According to the California Dept. of Justice, approximately 25% of registered offenders are excluded from public disclosure by law, depending on the type of crime that person has been convicted of.

More importantly, parents must remember that there are plenty of sex offenders out there who simply haven’t been caught, and therefore, are not listed on any register. As a result, we need to protect our kids from those who may be “flying under the radar” as it were.

What’s A Parent To Do?

Be a PRO-ACTIVE parent rather than a REACTIVE one. A PRO-ACTIVE parent can beat a sex offender at their own game. By now, many parents are somewhat familiar with the real statistic that 90% of child sexual abuse happens by someone the child knows, not by a stranger. Since that’s the real issue, it’s time we started looking at prevention education in a way actually protects our children.

Kids need to be taught how to recognize and defend their personal boundaries with adults they interact with. They need to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior from a grown up (or even an older child), and what to do if they get a red flag or “uh-oh” feeling from someone’s improper actions.

In plain English, kids need to know what to do if “Coach Smith” tries to touch a private part of their body, or if a babysitter or relative wants to play a physical “touching game” that just feels weird or “yucky”. These are much more common scenarios than the stranger who may or may not be living down the street.

Megan’s Law is a good start in protecting our kids. Yet, it’s still only half the battle. With smart prevention education in conjunction with Megan’s Law, we can offer each other a real solution to keeping our children safe.

10 Prevention Tips for Parents

1. Don’t equate stranger with danger. Teach your child how to recognize a potentially dangerous action or situation instead. (“Thumbs up or thumbs down!”)

2. Be involved in your child’s activities. As a “visible parent”, you’ll have a better opportunity to observe how other adults interact with your child.

3. Screen caregivers and babysitters carefully. Always check references – no matter who they come recommended by.

4. Pay attention to clues and cues in other adults’ behavior around your child. A predator’s grooming tricks can be very subtle at first. For example, is there someone who continually tries to arrange “alone time” with your child, often working very hard to create the opportunity by using flattery or suggesting outings that don’t include you?

5. Listen to your child, especially if they consistently don’t want to be around a particular person, such as a babysitter, relative, or family friend. They may be sensing “a red flag” that you are unaware of.

6. Let children decide for themselves how they want to express affection. Do not force them to a hug or kiss another person if they don’t want to.

7. Spend quality time with your children. Kids who are starved for affection or attention can be vulnerable targets for a child molester or predator.

8. Be alert to anyone who insists on being physical with your child (hugging, kissing, tickling, wrestling, touching) especially when the child seems uneasy or has asked them to stop.

9. Let children know they have the right to say NO to any unwanted touches or physical attention. It’s okay to say NO even to a grownup or a bigger kid, and then immediately tell a grownup they trust (like mom or dad) as soon as they can.

10. Review and practice basic safety skills with your children often. Children need to hear the information more than just once to really understand.

Why I Like The Term Counselor At Law

The term counselor-at-law is more in keeping with high goals and ambitions than the term lawyer. Counselor elicits an image of one who has deep knowledge–who dutifully informs and offers insight into critical matters of the mind and heart. A counselor is a person who guides others–a confidant and a pathfinder, and law firms would be wise to find ways to show their clients that they are counselors as well as lawyers.

Creating a change in image does not mean rejecting traditions that have contributed to a firm’s past success. We must be careful not to toss out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. We should not take for granted the hard-won wisdom of the old traditions. The process of reinventing tradition need not always be at the expense of the past.

Progress is being made in the legal profession. Today, the art of mediation is being taught to lawyers in record numbers. Lawyers are seeing the value of keeping clients out of court and even experimenting with new methods of managing conflict resolution–sometimes on their own, but usually with the help of trained mediators.

Although the practice is still rare, lawyers are increasingly taking it upon themselves to meet with opposing counsel and discuss pathways to resolution for their respective clients.

Lawyers are beginning to see themselves as expert negotiators–as facilitators who are skilled at managing conflict proactively and helping parties to achieve mutual gain. This type of “counselor-to-counselor” mediation may be the beginning of a new -tradition–one in which using the term counselor-at-law seems more appropriate.

“Counselors” are still advocates who must vigorously serve their clients’ will in an adversarial forum. Yet we must remember that in days gone by, the court was considered a forum of truly last resort. Going to court often represented the failure of parties to resolve a dispute between themselves. The prospect of having strangers sit in judgment of one’s personal affairs was considered embarrassing. It meant that the parties were not able to handle their affairs responsibly on their own but needed outside help.

Although some lawyers are turning to negotiation rather than lawsuits, legal education has not kept pace with the profound need to teach client communication skills to law students. Many law schools do not offer courses in management and leadership, negotiation and alternative dispute resolution or, in a more general context, how to serve clients well. Less than 3 percent of the law schools in this country offer even a single course on client communication skills, negotiation or even alternative dispute -resolution.

Blind Advocacy

Law schools still believe that their role is to prepare students to become warriors; rarely are students taught that they may also be agents of resolution. To legal educators, the term advocate has traditionally been defined within the singular context of litigation. Lawyers, however, can also be advocates when they work toward resolution and finding ways to better serve their clients.

It is no surprise that law school graduates go on to become paper soldiers in a world filled with adversaries. The plaintiff is adverse to the defendant; the defendant is adverse to the plaintiff. Students are even taught how to protect themselves against their own clients. We lawyers measure ourselves by the number of wins we post, not by how skillfully we serve our clients’ interests.

Lawyers are steeped in their adversarial domain, and this tradition is hard to change. Too often we see our roles as extensions of our clients’ anger and frustration. We are like professional gladiators, wielding sword and shield, blazing a path to justice at almost any cost–even if we end up adding fuel to the fire and assuming greater levels of risk for our clients.

For new law-school graduates, the adversarial system must seem like a giant game station with its own set of rules–checks and balances. Each side is given equal access and the opportunity to use whatever traps and tricks they wish, with the assumption that in the end, justice will prevail. Students begin to think of themselves as hired guns–paid to win, but not necessarily paid to serve.

Today, trial advocacy is probably the single most popular elective taken in law school. Schools send their best and brightest students to compete nationally in the art of trial advocacy. Yet there is no national competition for serving clients well or negotiating and resolving difficult conflicts. At this time we can only imagine a competition where students win points for formulating creative strategies in negotiating a settlement or for demonstrating calm and reason at the negotiation table.

There’s no doubt that going to battle releases more adrenaline than providing service. But does teaching our law-school students only one way of problem solving really provide them with a complete view of their future roles as lawyers and counselors?

Negotiating a case to settlement is not always the answer–there are legitimate reasons to settle matters in a courtroom rather than a mediator’s office. Nonjudicial resolution may be impossible when the parties rightfully and legitimately want to have their day in court. Under these circumstances, what is the lawyer’s role in the context of being a service-driven counselor?

The lawyer, as counselor, helps clients to identify and clarify priorities and to distinguish anger from reason. The lawyer makes sure that a client’s decision to fight comes from a clear head and, if possible, that it is an unambiguous choice. In this counseling role, the lawyer helps a client to make a considered, thoughtful decision, born of free will, after all of the options have been explored and after all the costs and risks have been examined. Finally, when it is time for trial, the advocate skillfully and masterfully gives voice to and goes to battle for the client’s cause.

How to Achieve a Good Lawyer-Client Relationship

In courting clients, a good rainmaker discovers the nature of a potential client’s business and the specific challenges the person faces. When appropriate, the lawyer also learns as much as possible about the client personally.

This high level of commitment is the essence of being a fiduciary, and it does not end when the prospect becomes a client. Instead, taking on a new client must mark the beginning of a committed and conscious effort to serve.

For most lawyers, learning how to serve requires specific skill development and training. It requires learning the arts of listening and asking questions. These are the most undervalued and overlooked skills in the legal profession today. Law firms usually balk at investing in the education and professional development of their associates, and mentoring is often limited to developing legal skills, but developing communication and character skills should be at least equally as important.

Learning how to serve clients, especially for young associates, should not be a hit-and-miss process. Firms must take an active and determined stand regarding developing and sustaining a high level of communication skills throughout the firm. Promoting these skills should be as important as developing an associate’s writing skills.

What Does It Mean for Clients to Count on Their Lawyers?

Action that arises from character is authentic and, therefore, predictable. Clients should find that their lawyers can be counted on under almost any circumstances. Lawyers who can be counted on to be responsible, attentive, caring, sensible, honest, hardworking and trustworthy will attract new clients and keep existing ones.

Developing a law firm driven by such inspired values will create growth and prosperity. These values cannot be imposed from the outside and cannot simply be words in the firm’s brochure–they must originate at the core of the firm and grow outward. This is the essence of great marketing.

Justifying our hourly rates should have more to do with the service we deliver than the prevailing rate of the marketplace. The value of an extraordinary counselor–a trusted friend–is greater than one can imagine, and clients expect to pay more for such service. This is why, in the long run, no investment will bear greater returns than the investment firms make in marketing programs that reach into the essence of a firm and build service development systems that clients want and value.

It’s not too late. Signs of new traditions and new ways of looking at service-driven marketing are already upon us from places you might not expect. I speak of leading firms, giants in their own ways of doing business that are ever intent on reaching new levels of service for their clients.

Swinging Out: Keeping Our Eyes on the Ball

It’s said that those who dream most, do most. Dreams resides in our imagination and come to life in the choices and actions we take. The extent to which our dreams are realized depends on our willingness to consider new approaches and employ new ideas. Marketing, when done well, draws upon both.

The law firm of Heller Ehrman not only understands this concept, but has also applied it with great success. It has chosen to lead, and its own branding makes clear that it is a different type of firm. The ad copy below comes from a full-page advertisement about the firm. Listen for the inherent truth in their words:

“Perhaps a law firm need not exist inside the legal-sized parameters of tradition. Maybe it lies outside of convention. Maybe it crosses lines of formality. Maybe it recognizes a need to overstep the expected. And quite possibly, it realizes that inspired acts of tenacity and imagination are the only way boundaries get pushed.”

Consider that just five years ago, maybe less, a nationally recognized law firm would never have dared to print such statements. Today, however, these words are part of what defines this firm.

Daring to swing out–to take a chance by doing things differently–takes both courage and faith in a profession where convention rules: courage to face the consequences of our choices, and faith that whatever life throws at us will only strengthen our resolve. In this sense, faith and courage are inextricably tied together.

It takes great courage to keep seeing. The problem with looking away is that it requires that we take our eye off the ball–if only for a moment. We would rather not face the personal disappointment of knowing that we settled for less in our professional lives–that we could have gone much further had we dared to really swing out–had we had the courage to look inside and ask what it was that we really wanted and what it would take to get it.

Marketing ourselves is much more than promotion. It involves a search for professional identity. It must necessarily include, for each of us, an inquiry into our personal identity and then into the collective identity of the firm.

A concept such as finding our personal and collective identities may not be what you’d expect from an article on law firm marketing–but it goes to the essence of how we really attract and keep new clients. Changing the way you market your firm will require a willingness to change your perceptions, leave the comfort of your domain and dare to imagine how things might be. Your new vision will be the catalyst for your success. It will align your firm with its highest values and distinguish it from other firms.

This strategy goes far beyond the conventional approach to marketing. It is based on strength of character, and the marketing that emerges from character will continually generate powerful opportunities for your firm. If you dare to consider what it might mean to find your unique voice as a professional and your own special brand of service, you will be infinitely rewarded. Who would think that law firm marketing could lead to such extraordinary insight.

Criminal Justice Colleges – How to Choose the Best One for a Successful Career

Do you dream of making a career out of maintaining law and order in the society? Then perhaps you should start with finding and enrolling in one of the Criminal Justice Colleges in your region.

Nowadays, with the ever increasing rate of crime, the job market in the criminal justice department seems to be touching the sky as well. On the flip side, the infinite amount of job opportunities has motivated a vast array of colleges to open their doors to students across the United States. All justice educational institutions are beefing up their programs to suit the specialized requirements in public safety and law enforcement.

Today’s Top Criminal Justice Colleges

According to recent statistics, the top ten colleges operating in the US are:

  1. American University
  2. Arizona State University
  3. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice (New York)
  4. Florida State University
  5. George Mason University
  6. Indiana University
  7. Michigan State University
  8. Northeastern University (Massachusetts)
  9. Pennsylvania State University (University Park)
  10. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (Newark campus)

How to Find the Best Colleges

If you are still confused and wondering about where to start your career and how to search for a school, then here are a few quick links which can help you make your decision.

1. Organizations and Associations: There are numerous organizations and associations in the United States which guide students regarding the different school options available. When choosing from various colleges, you can easily discuss your preferences with the people of such organizations to get their advice. Nowadays, university offices also provide lists of schools having specific programs. Thus, you can easily choose a college according to your own eligibility criteria.

2. Education Counselors: These are experts who have extensive knowledge on the subject of your choice and can help you find and choose the right school. Their primary job is to steer you in the right direction based on how and where you want to study.

3. Local libraries and archives: These are just like storehouses of information and can sometimes be the other best place to find the information you need. They contain various books which store information on different criminal justice colleges, and can give you a number of options to choose from.

4. Internet and websites: Everybody has access to the internet these days. Not only does this medium inform us of the various accredited college listings throughout the US, but it also helps us gain access to additional information such as the admission criteria and the courses offered.

Perhaps now that you are well aware of some of the ways to choose between the different Criminal Justice Colleges in United States, you can now make a much more informed decision and choose a college that best caters to your individual needs.