October 2014

exam taker law school exam test.jpgEd. note: This is a guest post by Anonymous Law Professor (“ALP”), who may be writing occasionally for these pages. Given how stressed-out law students are right now — as reflected in, among other things, their exam-time tweets — we asked ALP to offer some advice on the dreaded law school exam, from the professorial perspective.

Do professors really care about drafting and grading exams?

I have yet to encounter a law professor with a flippant attitude toward grading (not that there aren’t some out there.) We want to get it right. Generally, we take pride in creating fair exams. In law schools with curves, a good exam will be a hard exam. A well-constructed exam results in a distribution of competence. I will throw questions into my exams that anyone with a pulse and writing instrument should get right. If someone routinely misses those questions, it’s clear where they fall on the curve. On the best exams, occasionally a student will spot a relevant ambiguity that even I didn’t see when I created the test. To me, that’s creditworthy.

So, yes, we care. But that doesn’t mean we like giving and grading exams.

I think my colleagues at schools that don’t give letter grades may have a different approach. They have it somewhat easier….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “All You Ever Wanted To Know About Law School Exams”

Tiger Woods golf AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Kash wants Tiger to talk. Now! She’ll show Tiger the business end of a Gillette razor if Tiger doesn’t start coming clean. Me? I think we need to take a closer look at Tiger’s 9-1-1 calling neighbor. [True/Slant]
* Martindale-Hubbell is still alive and kicking. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Lat on the beauty and terror of internet commenters. [Big Think]
* A tax on legalized marijuana would be a fiscal boom for our state governments. And it would help the dreadful unemployment numbers, as a lot of currently unemployed people would soon stop looking for work. [Tax Prof Blog]
* Do you get angry when other students are given time extensions on exams because of learning disabilities? Do you also mutter inappropriate things under your breath when handicapped people are slowly loaded onto the bus? I don’t, not anymore (see link above). [Blackbook Legal]
* I tried to use the Socratic method on my parents once. Only once. My parents responded with the Bill Cosby method of “I brought you in this world, and I’ll take you out.” [Litination]
* Happy St. Andrew’s Day. Remember to tell your enemies that they may take your lives, but they’ll never take your FREEDOM. Or your Blawg Review. [IPTAblog via Blawg Review]

Faegre and Benson logo.JPGI really didn’t think any firm would lay people off last week. I figured the coming turkey holocaust would spare the jobs of any associates Biglaw wanted to devour. I was wrong. A tipster reports:

There was another round of layoffs at Faegre & Benson last week. The partners decided to send six to ten associates off with little to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, unless you consider two or three months severance something to get excited about. Corporate, IP and Real Estate associates were laid off.

As if winter in Minnesota isn’t bad enough already, now these six to ten associates have to put chains on their tires and go hunting for jobs.
Still, this brings up the age old (since 2007) question: is it better to get fired right before the holidays or right after the holidays?
Pros and cons after the jump.

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Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s time to shift into holiday season mode. Let’s do that with a caption contest. Here’s the photo:
gift wrapped office.jpg
This time the rules are a little different. We’re going to have not one but two contests. The first contest will be a traditional ATL caption contest — put your suggested captions in the comments.
The second contest will involve our upcoming Holiday Happy Hour, taking place this coming Wednesday in D.C., and sponsored by Applied Discovery. We will accept entries from the attendees.
Nominations for both contests will be accepted until Wednesday, December 2, at 11:59 p.m. We will pick our favorite suggested captions from each pool — the comments on this post, and the submissions at the party — and let you, the readers, vote for a winner in each. Good luck!
P.S. If you’d like to RSVP for the happy hour, please fill out this form. Please note that space is limited and that the invitation list is controlled by the event sponsor, Applied Discovery (not Above the Law). Thanks!
UPDATE: The winners of both contests will receive Amazon Kindles, courtesy of Applied Discovery.
Above the Law + Applied Discovery Holiday Happy Hour

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. note: Welcome to ATL’s first foray into serial fiction. “My Job Is Murder,” a mystery set in a D.C. appellate boutique, will appear one chapter at a time, M-W-F, over the next few weeks. Prior installments appear here; please read them first.
Susanna Dokupil can be reached by email at sdokupil@sbcglobal.net or on Facebook.

Tyler slowly awoke to the sounds of the drones coming to work in the hive. He dragged himself to the men’s room, looked at the closed ceiling tiles with a smile, and straightened himself up. He planned to read his draft again, give it to Carol, and go home to get some sleep.
On the way back to his office, he saw Mark.
“Have you heard? Thrax was poisoned!” he said.
“Poisoned? How?”
“The medical examiner found batrachotoxin in his bloodstream.”
“Batracho-what?” Tyler asked.
“Batrachotoxin. The stuff in the skin of poison dart frogs that makes them poisonous.”
“Weird. Was there a frog in his office?”
“They’re in there now, checking everything for traces of the poison,” Mark replied.
“Hmm. . .” Tyler said sleepily and staggered back to his desk. He had to send that draft.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Beetles and Batrachotoxin”

Soup Nazi hope for partnership.JPGA lot of people have been emailing Above the Law asking about their partnership prospects. Senior associates who have survived layoffs are evidently concerned about whether they will have an opportunity to transition from employees to owners.
Our tipsters report their anecdotal sense that fewer partners are being made this year, at least compared to years past. One of our sources at Finnegan puts it this way:

How about doing a post on how (un)likely it is to make partner (especially equity) these days?

Finnegan just announced new partners for 2010 and there were only four on the list. Only four new partners (all nonequity) in a firm of almost 400 lawyers and 9 offices.

CORRECTION: Finnegan actually promoted five (not four) associates to partnership. In addition, it promoted a number of non-equity partners to equity partnership (or from “income partner” to “share partner,” in Finnegan-speak).

The economy sucks and profits per partner is way down and I’m sure the equity partners don’t want to share any more pieces of the pie than they have to, so should I just give up on my dream of making partner some day?

Yeah, it doesn’t look like Biglaw is eager to welcome the next generation of equity partners. Unless you are one of the few who (magically) has a booming book of business despite the recession.
The feeling that fewer partners are being made is based in reality. The New York Law Journal uses statistics to illustrate the plight of senior associates, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New Partner Watch: No Partnership for You!”

theguantanamolawyers.jpgPresident Obama recently announced that Guantanamo Bay will not be closing in January – reneging on a promise he had made to close the detention center within a year of his taking office. This did not come as a surprise to the many lawyers who have provided counsel to the detainees in Cuba.

At a panel discussion about the Guantanamo lawyers, Ramzi Kassem — a City University of New York law professor representing one of the current detainees – said: “What matters more than when [the closing] happens is what happens to the [200] men still there.”

Hundreds of attorneys have been working for years to ensure habeas corpus for the over 800 men who have been detained at Guantanamo Bay. The lawyers who have assembled to represent detainees come from many walks of law, from human rights advocates to law school professors to Biglaw partners. Seton Hall law professor Mark Denbeaux and civil rights attorney Jonathan Hafetz have collected the stories of 113 of the Guantanamo lawyers, law students, and translators for The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison, Outside the Law.

There is a rainbow of Biglaw firms involved in Guantanamo. Among the firms working there (with lawyers who contributed to the book) are WilmerHale, King & Spalding, Pillsbury Winthrop, Jenner & Block, Pepper Hamilton, Dorsey & Whitney, Baker Hostetler, Paul Weiss, Perkins Coie, Reed Smith, Mayer Brown, MoFo, Weil Gotshal, Hunton & Williams, Covington, Dechert, Bingham McCutchen, and Shearman & Sterling. A heart-warming tale among the horrors of the book was two Allen & Overy attorneys who fell in love and married after meeting while representing a 17-year-old Yemeni detainee.

Both Denbeaux and Hafetz point to Thomas Wilner of Shearman & Sterling as one of the most important Gitmo lawyers. “He cleared the way for the others,” said Denbeaux. “Shearman was the central [Biglaw] firm in getting it all going.”

More about Wilner, and tales from other Biglaw Guantanamo counsel, after the jump.

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pink slip layoff notice Above the Law blog.jpgEd. note: Above the Law has teamed up with Law Shucks, which has done excellent work translating all of the layoff news into user-friendly charts and graphs: the Layoff Tracker.
Even though we’re going to see unemployment continue at the highest level since 1983, there are some promising trends. November payrolls are expected to fall by 120,000, which would be the fewest since January 2008 (or, as we at Law Shucks call it, "when Cadwalader started the law-firm layoff trend in earnest" — that’s when we started keeping track). Unfortunately, this continues to be a jobless recovery, and unemployment is expected to exceed 10% through the first half of next year.
And that’s not even considering the so-called "underemployment" rate, which is between 16-20%, depending on whom you ask (and how you count).
We might get a little direction on the U.S. macro plan on Thursday, when President Obama holds his "Jobs Summit", at which he will have lunch with a bunch of rich, employed white guys, and figure out how to magically make jobs appear after $787 billion failed to do so. And it’s even trickier now, now that his Democrat base wants him to create the jobs without spending any more money (they want the money spent on healthcare). It’s also interesting that Obama has said that the government has done what it can, so now it’s time to hear from the private sector (which makes sense with the Summit), while people like Jack Reed (D-RI) are basically saying that the government should extend its involvement in the private sector by subsidizing job growth.
But at least he’s keeping a good outlook on the whole mess, quipping that he "saved or created four turkeys" at the annual White House turkey pardoning.
So while the U.S. stumbles along with little or conflicting direction, law firms just stumble along. After the jump, firms’ most-recent efforts to return to profitability (and a big announcement from Law Shucks).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Thanksgiving Week in Layoffs: 11.30.09″

Tiger Woods Rachel Uchitel Elin Nordegren.jpgWe mentioned L’Affaire Tiger Woods in Morning Docket (first three links), but since it was the big story of the long holiday weekend, we thought we’d revisit it in more detail. This story has a number of interesting legal angles.
The most thorough coverage appears over at TMZ. Check out these posts, which thrown together could make for quite the law school exam hypothetical (we’ve included study questions with each one):

  • Cops Pursue Warrant in Woods Case: According to TMZ, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) may be “obtaining a search warrant — allowing them to seize medical records from the hospital that treated Tiger Woods — in an attempt to determine if the wounds Woods sustained are consistent with a car accident or domestic violence” (allegedly perpetrated against Woods by his wife).

Is there probable cause?
More links and questions appear below.

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2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGThe bonus machine keeps on rolling. Milbank Tweed announced its 2009 associate bonus schedule just before Thanksgiving. The firm will be matching Cravath.
It’s interesting that Milbank decided to match the bonus market, considering the firm has already greatly reduced the size of its summer program. In July, we reported that Milbank canceled its 2010 summer program in its Los Angeles office. So it doesn’t appear that Milbank matched the market because it is all that concerned about recruiting.
Then again, with the bonus market set where it is — unless Sullivan & Cromwell wants to turn everything upside down — there is not a lot of recruiting that will be done on the back of this bonus.
Current Milbank associates probably don’t care very much about future recruitment at Milbank. They just want their reward for a hard year of work. Enjoy your bonus, Milbank friends.
Read the full memo after the jump.

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