July 2014

In our little world, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is a career-defining moment. A few points on the test can mean the difference between going to a law school that can get you a job, or going to a law school where you’ll be locked in gladiatorial combat with every other student in order to finish in the top 10%.

But does this test really tell us anything about a person’s logical reasoning ability? Does it tell us anything about one’s ability to be a lawyer? It’s been well-documented that the LSAT is a great indication of past performance, a solid indicator of law school performance, and a very poor judge of future legal success.

So what is the LSAT really testing anyway? We all know really smart people who didn’t do too well on the LSAT, and we all know incredibly dumb people who got a high score.

On the Huffington Post, Noah Baron argues that the LSAT is really testing one thing: whether or not you are wealthy enough to spend the time it takes to prepare for the exam…

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Gary Cruciani

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including awards for lawyers who sue firms for making misleading promises during the wooing period.

Gary Cruciani sued asbestos litigation firm Baron & Budd and its managing partner Russell Budd in 2008, for luring him away from McKool Smith with “negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations,” according to a lengthy Texas Lawyer article:

Cruciani alleges Budd “completely misrepresented the compensation system at Baron & Budd and the upside that allegedly existed there,” and Budd showed his “greed” when he paid himself a $50 million bonus in December 2005, which was 75 percent of the firm’s bonus pool that year.

Note to partners with a wandering eye: If a firm describes its compensation system as “Hully Gully,” be wary. In addition to misrepresenting the firm’s compensation system, Budd also neglected to tell Cruciani that there was bad blood between him and co-founding partner Fred Baron.

After hearing a host of counterclaims during a six-week trial, the jury sided with Cruciani, and decided the lost income and the impact on his future earnings warranted a $8.8 million award.

According to the Dallas Observer, the local legal community was shocked by the size of the award. Why was it so big?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Gary Cruciani Collects $8.8 Million Award from His Former Law Firm”

* Hell yeah! U.S. News will start penalizing schools who don’t report their employment statistics. Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog deserves a mighty big shout out. [ABA Journal]

* Andrew Cuomo is trying to pick his replacement as New York Attorney General. [New York Times]

* I’m a PC and naming Microsoft the best in-house legal counsel of the year was not my idea. [Corporate Counsel]

* Obama nominates a Yale lawyer for a Second Circuit vacancy. [National Law Journal]

* Chevron will have to wait a little longer to get their hands on potentially exculpatory documentary footage. [New York Times]

* Financial reform passes the Senate. The Street is reacting like Obama ambushed them with friends and family for a surprise intervention. [Wall Street Journal]

Update: Check out Part 2: The Conservatives.

As we were planning Above the Law’s Elena Kagan confirmation coverage, we got to thinking (always a dangerous thing around these parts): What if Supreme Court nominees didn’t have to defend themselves to the American public? What if the U.S. Senate’s constitutional privilege of “advice and consent” was revoked? What would the Court look like if the nominees didn’t have to even pretend to be moderate?

It’s a thought experiment that we’re sure has been done countless times before. But we’ve never done it, so we’ll plunge ahead.

Here are the rules: (1) The nominee should be unconfirmable. (2) The nominees on the right should make Elie angry; the nominees on the left should make Lat uncomfortable. (3) Mealy-mouthed moderates need not apply.

We decided to keep the five-four ideological balance of the current Court. Sure, we know that some people think that without the Senate, Presidents would nominate apolitical justices who have no discernible political slant. Sadly, apolitical justices = yawn.

In this post, Elie picks four pinko commie scumbags. In a future post, Lat will select five right-wing fascist nutjobs. Should be fun…

So, who are the SCOTUS nominees in the administration of President Elie Mystal?

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* Arguably, things like giving a kid a swirly or locking him in the janitor’s closet (or doing other things that happened to me in school) are still okay in Louisiana. But sending a nasty email is now a crime? [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Some advice on how to keep the pounds off while you are a summer associate. If you don’t have a summer associate gig, I’m assuming your problem is trying to figure out how to live off your law school fat reserves for three months. Hibernation is always an option. [Corporette]

* As a New Yorker, I am soooo over Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt to murder me or some of my 8,000,000 friends. But let’s hope the lesson sinks in with the rest of the country when it comes time to debate who should get the lion’s share of homeland security funding. [What About Clients?]

* Come on, you know you want to hear what Kagan thinks about 2 Live Crew. [Copyrights & Campaigns]

* Is going to journalism school just as wasteful as going to law school? [Law and More]

* … And if it is, then what should you do if you’re considering a job in law or journalism? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Kash will be emceeing the Electronic Privacy Information Center “Champions of Freedom” Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. on June 2nd. It will be a very public celebration of privacy. [Epic.org]

As I noted this morning on Twitter, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is looking like a million bucks these days. And this should come as no surprise, since she’s worth a million bucks — and then some.

Recently I examined the financial disclosure form filed by Elena Kagan last year, when she was nominated for Solicitor General. It showed the Divine Miss K with a divine net worth — just over $1 million (as of January 2009). That may not put her in Biglaw partner territory, but for someone who has spent most of her career in government service or academia, Kagan has done quite well for herself. (She’s also doing much better than most ATL readers; according to our reader poll, over 40 percent of you have negative net worths.)

And in the past year, despite her taking a pay cut when she left Harvard Law School to become SG, and despite the economic downturn, Kagan’s net worth has jumped — significantly. Just like Lady Gaga, Lady Kaga is beautiful, dirty, rich.

How rich? Let’s take a look at Elena Kagan’s latest financial disclosure form, submitted to the Senate earlier this week….

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In Louisiana, lobbyists for the oil industry tried to push through a bill that would limit the effectiveness of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. That’s right, the same people that brought you The Day After We Ruined the Gulf tried to stop a law school clinic from bringing pesky environmental lawsuits.

We’ve seen this before. Perdue Chicken got all up in the grille of the Maryland Environmental Law Clinic a couple of months ago. Did companies who rape the environment just figure out that environmental law clinics spend a lot of time trying to defend the environment?

In any event, it’s not surprising that corporate interests would try to crush the life out of law students doing work that private individuals won’t pay for. It is marginally surprising that state legislators are totally unashamed to appear to be in the back pocket of their corporate handlers.

But maybe all of the bad press the oil industry is getting just at the moment saved the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic…

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There are a number of firms that aren’t up to speed with this whole “social media thing.” But they should be, because their clients are.

American Lawyer Media, Zeughauser Group and communications firm Greentarget surveyed 164 in-house counsel about their social media habits. Lo and behold, they are making use of blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to get their legal information… and, perhaps more interestingly, to judge law firms.

In-house counsel still primarily rely on “referrals from trusted sources and credentialing activity (i.e., demonstrations of thought leadership)” to choose outside lawyers, but they are increasingly taking brilliant tweets and blog posts into consideration…

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She came steaming into my office and said, ‘Why have you done that? It’s a confusing situation and you’ve made it worse.’ She screamed and shouted at me and slammed the door and stormed out.

Two minutes later, she came back and said, ‘I’m sorry I shouted.’ I said, ‘Elena, don’t apologize, you were right.’

Charles Fried, the Harvard Law School professor and former Solicitor General, describing an interaction he had with then-Dean Elena Kagan.

This isn’t going to come as a galloping shock to anybody here, but the new NALP numbers confirm that the job market is terrible for young lawyers (aka the “lost generation”) :

Analyses of the NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2009 reveal an overall employment rate of 88.3% of graduates for whom employment status was known, a rate that has decreased for two years in a row, decreasing 3.6 percentage points from the recent historical high of 91.9% for the Class of 2007. The employment figure for the Class of 2009 also marks the lowest employment rate since the mid-1990s.

“There are dozens of reasons why the employment report for the Class of 2009 will be different than those that preceded it, and dozens of reasons why the data that has been gathered will require special explanation and analysis to make sense of it,” said NALP Executive Director James Leipold in commentary accompanying the Selected Findings. He noted that while the employment rate of 88.3% may seem stronger than expected, when the statistic is teased apart, it begins to reveal some of the fundamental weaknesses in the job market faced by this class.

Please, prospective law students, do not look at the 88% figure and start wetting yourself. There are a number of reasons to explain why employment statistics look as basically decent as they do…

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