October 2014

Earlier this week, I interviewed Darrell Mottley and Laura Possesky, the two candidates for president-elect of the DC Bar. Motley is a shareholder at Banner Witcoff, LTD, and Possesky is a partner at Gura & Possesky, PLLC.

Running for president-elect of the DC Bar means they are running for president as well, because the president-elect automatically ascends to the presidency after a year. This leadership structure is very common in most bar associations, including the ABA.

I thought this would be valuable for ATL, since many attorneys who read this blog are DC-licensed, regardless of whether they reside in the DC area. Many others are eligible to waive into DC, if they are already licensed in another state or jurisdiction. The process is pretty simple. In order to waive into the DC Bar, one has to do the following:

  • Score at least a 133 on the multistate portion of the of the bar exam;
  • Fill out a lengthy bar application, which you can do online;
  • Not kill anyone; and, most importantly,
  • Pay all applicable fees.

By all indications, this race is anything but a knock-down, drag-out fight. Bush v. Gore this is not. However, it’s what they agree on that’s very telling about the direction the DC Bar will go. It seems the Bar is well on its way to embracing the ways of the World Wide Web…

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When you think of Notre Dame Law School (ranked #22 in the latest U.S. News rankings), you generally don’t think of lies and deceit. But there have been some troubling campus security issues at the school. We previously reported on a creepy, fake 1L that was posing as a Notre Dame law student.

And we’ve heard rumors of the mysterious Notre Dame kleptomaniac. Some kid who has been stealing books around campus. Apparently this person has made the trip to London along with a number of Notre Dame students studying abroad.

The change of time zone hasn’t changed this person’s desire to steal. A tipster reports on “Petty Theft Law School: London”…

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Ian Graham is the author of Unbillable Hours: A True Story, which was published earlier this month. The book is a memoir of Graham’s time at Latham & Watkins, where he spent about five years as a litigation associate.

Unbillable Hours is not, however, a Latham exposé (which I’d eagerly read, by the way). Rather, the book centers on Graham’s work on a major pro bono case. The book’s publisher describes it as follows:

Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly became evident. The work was grueling and boring, the days were impossibly long, and Graham’s main goal was to rack up billable hours.

But when he took an unpaid pro bono case to escape the drudgery, Graham found the meaning in his work that he’d been looking for. As he worked to free Mario Rocha, a gifted young Latino who had been wrongly convicted at 16 and sentenced to life without parole, the shocking contrast between the quest for money and power and Mario’s desperate struggle for freedom led Graham to look long and hard at his future as a corporate lawyer.

Yesterday I chatted with Ian Graham about his book, his time at Latham, and how he made the transition from a legal career to a writing career.

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Jerry O'Connell Jeremiah O'Connell law school law student small.jpg* Legal troubles mount for Google after its disclosure that its Street View cars sucked up wireless information from people who stupidly neglected to password-protect their networks. [Media Post; Courthouse News Service]

*Apparently, 1L year did Jerry O’Connell in. [Associated Press]

* Will Michelle Obama deport this over-sharing little girl’s mom? [Washington Post]

* If you think you can parlay your J.D. into teaching high school, think again. [New York Times]

* Elena Kagan will be in the hot seat in June. [Washington Post]

* Pennsylvania AG goes after critical tweeps. [Threat Level/Wired via ABA Journal]

* NYCLU wants to put a stop to the NYPD stop-and-frisk database. [New York Times]

Graduation marks the end of grueling law school exams… and the beginning of preparing for the worst exam of your life.

Most recent grads are heading straight from law school classes into bar exam prep classes, and so 3Ls have been bombarded for the last nine months with spam informational emails from bar prep companies touting their costs, features and success rates.

A new entrant into the bar prep field this year is BarMax, an iPhone-based course that’s significantly cheaper than BAR/BRI and Kaplan. In better times, when graduates could count on new employers to foot the bill for prep courses, they likely wouldn’t have considered a tele-course, but the high numbers of grads without firm jobs may bode well for the app.

How will having a cheap choice affect the market? And how does one decide between the options?

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* Thank God they didn’t ask Sandra Day O’Connor to actually throw the first pitch at Wrigley yesterday; she is a bit on the older side. Then again, I bet she could approximate a strike better than Obama. [Cubs.com]

* Yesterday, we started talking about commencement speakers. Today, Paul Caron gives us a very big list. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Remember George Reckers, the anti-gay clinical psychologist who got caught with a “rentboy”? The noted legal ethicist, Stephen Gillers of NYU, argues that lawyers who relied on his gay-bashing testimony have an affirmative duty to update the court. [New York Times]

* Supreme Court justices are like common jurors? I don’t know about that. Justices want to be there for the rest of their lives, while jurors just feel like it’s taking that long. [The Jury Expert]

* Counterfeiting Louis Vuitton bags = the latest form of helping terrorists. [Fashionista]

* A trinity of links documenting WASPs kvetching. (Yes, I just worked Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish imagery into the same sentence. Yes, I am self-satisfied.) [Ivy Style]

* People have been predicting the death of the yellow legal pad at least since I was in college. Probably longer. At this point, I think we’ll see a paperless bathroom (a la Demolition Man) before we see a paperless office. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Too bad New York State doesn’t really have the money to fund indigent criminal defense attorneys. But I guess you can just add “eviscerating a fundamental constitutional right” to David Paterson’s legacy. [New York County Lawyers' Association]

* Larry Ribstein is changing his web address — and maybe expanding his reach. Goodbye, Ideoblog. [Ideoblog]

The bottom line here is that Judge Posner is one of the few appellate judges that writes his own opinions. Otherwise it would be like getting quotations from law clerks.

Robert Blomquist, editor of the new book The Quotable Judge Posner.

Quick, somebody call the Waahmbulance

The language police are out in force. The ABA Journal reports that a lawyer’s bad language, used in public, has triggered an ethics inquiry:

A township lawyer in New Jersey is facing the wrath of an animal rights group after he used the C-word to describe one of its demonstrators.

Lawyer Richard Shackleton now faces an ethics grievance and a privately filed criminal complaint as a result of the Feb. 20 dustup outside the Philadelphia Gun Club where the group was protesting, the New Jersey Law Journal reports. Shackleton had taken part in a live pigeon shoot, and as he left, he yelled at a protester, who also happened to be a lawyer. “Go f— yourself, you rotten c—,” he screamed.

Now, I’m not going to defend the language. The “c-word” isn’t part of my functional vocabulary. I don’t even use it in private. I think the c-word is a “fighting word,” so even if I wanted to use it, my general desire to avoid getting punched in the face would prevent me from saying it.

But an ethics inquiry? Really? Despite the fact that I’m a person who is regularly subjected to epithets of all kinds, I still don’t want to live in a society where public insults turn into ethics grievances and criminal complaints.

Perhaps things have gone this far because Shackleton wouldn’t apologize for his potty mouth…

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Some of our readers enjoy engaging in meta-commentary about the commentary we offer here at Above the Law. Other readers do not care for such “coverage of the coverage,” finding it to be nothing more than navel-gazing.

If you fall into the former group — or if you’ve been unhappy with our Elena Kagan coverage, and want us to explain ourselves — then this post might interest you.

Read and comment over at Breaking Media (link below).

Elena Kagan and the Albino: Giving You the Journalism You Deserve [Breaking Media]

On Sex and the City, Samantha was never seen scrolling through comments on news blogs to make sure her clients’ reputations weren’t being maligned. Instead, she attended fancy New York parties and talked up her roster of good-looking clients.

But SATC is dated. The work of public relations professionals has been made harder (and less glamorous) by the explosion of online news sources. We know that law firm PR folks spend a healthy amount of time monitoring the legal blogosphere to do damage control for their firms. Another place they need to watch is Wikipedia.

The crowd-source encyclopedia has become the go-to reference site for most Internetters. Society’s sages often warn people not to take everything they find in Wikipedia at face value — since the information does not necessarily come from experts and is not systematically vetted — but that advice often goes unheeded.

Because Wikipedia is such an important source of information, and so easily edited, some try to manipulate entries to give them a positive or negative spin. Lawyers at certain firms have been found guilty of this before (e.g., Wachtell). Sometimes dueling manipulation of an entry reaches the level of what Wikipedia calls an edit war — when two or more editors are continually overriding one another’s changes.

The Wikipedia gods ordered an end to the war on the page of Latham & Watkins. BLY1 noticed that the page was put on lockdown. A note from the Wikipedia war god says:


Someone kept inserting references to Latham’s layoffs and how hard hit first-year associates were. That info has now been scrubbed from the page.

We decided to take a stroll though the revision history of other law firm pages to see who needs to do clean up, and who has done clean up. Cravath, for example, had a very interesting description for a short time…

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