By Laura P. Valtorta
One of my resolutions for 2017 is to launch a blog about laws referred to often in the press but never fully referenced or explained. Title IX, the First Amendment, and Roe versus Wade are examples. The one I need to study more carefully is Dodd-Frank – the law enacted by President Obama to regulate banking and finance. Who is Dodd? Who is Frank? How does their law impact banking and investment?
The law swims through time like an amorphous amoeba. Figuring out how to research and explain it efficiently is difficult. I took a year to write the first edition of Social Security Disability Practice. Each new edition sucks up two weeks of work. With a blog, I won’t have that much time to mess around. The first steps will be to read the law and then listen to someone interpret it. With the First Amendment, the amendment itself is about six lines long, but the interpretive cases stretch on forever.
Wooo weee! The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 12 U.S. Code 5301 et ff. is about 200 pages long. These pages are the single-spaced, two-column kind found in federal statutes. Every line opens itself up to interpretation, evasion and scamming. Thank goodness for Michael Lewis’ book, The Big Short, that can help me understand the impetus for this law. Thank goodness for the holiday break.
At the onset, I plan to include these elements in each blog.
1. REFERENCE TO THE STATUTE - Everybody writes “Dodd-Frank,” for example, but nobody writes 12 U.S. 5301 et ff. – which directs the researcher to the current wording of the statute.
2. SUMMARY OF THE LAW – This part will be the trickiest to write. Dodd-Frank deals with banking practices and Wall Street trading. All of this affects the everyday lives of the average Jane. I don’t want my summary to exceed 300 words.
3. WHAT THE LAW WAS INTENDED TO ACCOMPLISH – Writing about intent is always impossible, especially with something as old as the First Amendment. The blog needs to clarify that any description of intent is based on my own personal opinion as a citizen and a lawyer.
4. SNARKY COMMENTS ABOUT HOW THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE MESSED UP THE LAW – With something like Title IX, this will be my chance to rant about university life and sports. Comments about the importance of teamwork in scientific research may also fit in here. Once again, all will be my opinion, and clearly labeled as such unless I can point to reliable research and statistics.
Blogs allow us to express our opinions. They should never be read as news or fact. They can, however, aid us in interpreting the Wall Street Journal or National Public Radio.