October 2014

Usually when we report on jobs that have been posted on Craigslist, we’re talking about some kind of horrifying example of how the open market values attorneys at about the same level it values responsible high school girls. But today we have a legal job that most lawyers couldn’t have performed in high school. At the very least, one needs to be of legal drinking age to compete for this position.

The job ad is from the firm Strike & Techel. The homepage of the San Francisco-based shop claims that the firm “practices exclusively in the field of alcohol beverage law.”

So put down your tobacco and firearms, crack open a cold one, and ponder the wonders of making a living off of alcohol… and law and stuff…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Firm Seeks Experts in Alcoholic Beverages”

Justice Stephen Breyer

* An updated version of the Twinkie defense? A Kentucky man on trial for murdering his wife plans to blame it on the caffeine. “If this defense works, partners, lock your doors….” [BL1Y]

* Speaking of coffee — for just a dollar a day, less than the cost of your daily Starbucks fix, you can fulfill a poor Bolivian child’s dream of owing you money for the rest of his or her life. [Huffington Post]

* Suing for defamation: it’s just not worth it. Larry Joe Davis, the Florida attorney who sued lawyer-rating website Avvo, is dropping his libel claims. [Avvo Blog]

* If you’re planning to attend tonight’s event at the New York Public Library — featuring Justice Stephen Breyer, who has a new book out, and Jeffrey Rosen — look for me. If you can’t make it in person but are interested in the proceedings, you can watch them over the web. [FORA.tv]

* Blawg Review #282 — that’s a pretty number, isn’t it? — has a theme: Constitution Day. [Defending People via Blawg Review]

The iPad: much cooler than a Crackberry.

The recession is officially over, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. But don’t just take NBER’s word for it; there are other signs, too.

Like the return of law firm perks. Sources report that Edelson McGuire — a Chicago-based boutique with some high-profile clients, like Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich — is giving away iPads to everyone at the firm. The lucky recipients include attorneys, administrative staff, and even some law students who are working for the firm part-time.

This is not ordinary behavior — the trend among law firms is still to roll back perks, not to expand them — but Edelson McGuire isn’t an ordinary firm. How many firms have conference room tables that convert to ping-pong tables? Or have a neat firm website, where each attorney profile contains such fun facts as daily coffee consumption, favorite time of day to work, and “pre-court ritual”?

Is giving away iPads a new law firm trend? Edelson McGuire isn’t the first firm to do this in 2010….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Perk Watch: Who Wants a Free iPad?”

Do public officials in Michigan need to jump in the lake? Last week, we covered an assistant attorney general in the Wolverine State who is on the hunt for a gay student at the University of Michigan. Today we bring you news of a misbehaving judge.

According to court records, Judge James M. Justin, a state district judge in Jackson County, dismissed nine traffic cases against himself and his wife. The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that the judge fixed four illegal-parking tickets that he received from 2002 to 2004. He also dismissed five traffic tickets received by his wife, Kim R. Justin, over a ten-year span. Who says chivalry is dead?

Judge Justin’s tickets were, amusingly enough, “dismissed after explanation” — to himself. Presumably Judge Justin found his explanations very convincing.

So what does His Honor have to say about all this?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: ‘I find myself… not guilty!’”

Last year, Harvard Law School abandoned letter grading and went to a High Pass/Pass/Low Pass/Fail system. The news was greeted with much fanfare, as it seemed like HLS was trying to become a kinder, gentler academic environment — one that wouldn’t be dominated by cutthroat competition to beat the curve. You know, something like a mega-Yale.

But it appears that soft grading just didn’t appeal to the lords of HLS. This semester, a more traditional grading scale is back. The letter grades are still gone, but now the grading distinctions at Harvard Law will conform to the tyranny of numbers. The Harvard Law Record reports that students will receive a point value for each grading distinction — five points for each Dean’s Scholar Prize credit, four for each Honors credit, three for per Pass credit, two for a Low Pass credit, and zero for a Failing grade — and those numerical values will be transmitted to employers.

And unlike last year’s grade reform, which was wildly publicized and discussed both inside and outside HLS, students only learned of this new grading system if they bothered to read the student handbook….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harvard Law School to Stealth Grade Reform”

After a bit of explanation last week, we’re back to live action. As you’ve likely concluded from the title, this is the second installment in a series. Last week we discussed hours spent in the office, with the lesson for future small law practitioners being this (based on your comments and emails): small law practice doesn’t necessarily mean fewer hours.

On the heels of that conversation, I thought we should delve into the reason young associates so often spend those long hours in the office becoming fatter, more pale versions of their pre-law selves. It’s likely the bane of your existence regardless of the size of your firm or the size of the city in which you find yourself…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Great Expectations (Part 2): The Billable Hour, Bane of Your Existence”

It’s not often that those of us in the legal field get a television show to call our own. So very few shows attempt to capture our passion — our calling — on the small screen. So it was with great anticipation that I watched the pilot of Outlaw, a show that premiered last Wednesday on NBC and features Jimmy Smits as Justice Cyrus Garza, an uber-conservative Supreme Court justice who abruptly steps down from the bench to fight for the little guy.

Great anticipation? Just kidding. Lat heard this show was written for idiots by idiots (“FIBI”), and so he immediately thought I’d have a good time watching it.

Even though numerous television reviewers have skewered the show, often with groan-inducing legal puns, I was curious to see whether it could rise to the level of guilty pleasure and take up residence on my DVR.

I’ve previously tried my hand at screenwriting, and that experiment went so well that I thought I’d throw on the television reviewer’s hat and give you a succinct and well-reasoned review of “Outlaw”.

Without further ado, here is my verdict….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Modest Review of Outlaw”

Convicts, or Mississippi lawyers?

Can Mississippi force lawyers to do pro bono work?

That’s the question state bar officials are thinking about, as reported in the ABA Journal. A number of Mississippi lawyers are objecting to a proposal that would require them to either (1) spend 20 hours a year representing the poor or (2) contribute $500 to the state bar for legal services programs.

One of these days, Mississippi is going to do something objectively good and moral and not at all confusing. But today is not that day…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mississippi: Finally Doing Something Right, or Still Unhappy with 13th Amendment?”

* Five U.S. soldiers accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport. [Washington Post]

* In a talk in front of UC Hastings students last Friday, Justice Scalia said “A lot of stupid stuff is perfectly constitutional.” My writing, for example. [San Francisco Appeal]

* The Show Me State shows judges the estimated cost of their sentencing options. [New York Times]

* Wisconsin: where men are men and goats are trademarked. [Wall Street Journal]

* On the heels of this report, Newt Gingrich warned against Sharia law coming to the United States. I’m not worried, as Africanized killer bees will probably kill us all first. [CNN Political Ticker]

* I’m not going to lie. Former Liberian president Charles Taylor’s lawyer sounds kinda awesome. [Times LIVE]

* Lindsay Lohan doesn’t need Rick James to tell her cocaine is a helluva drug. [ABC News]

* This fake gymnast is no fake gangsta. [Seattle Weekly]

* ‘Tis a problem for the attorney who was in charge of splitting up Angela’s Ashes. What’s that? Wrong Frank McCourt? Whatever. The Angela’s Ashes bit made no sense anyway. [Los Angeles Times]

Leicester Stovell

* Who’s tougher: lawyers or accountants? [Going Concern]

* In defense of hiring gunners. [What About Clients?]

* Thrilla in Manila for con law nerds: Pam Karlan and Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz debate constitutional interpretation (with Dahlia Lithwick moderating). [American Constitution Society]

* Look before you leap pee. [Young Lawyers Blog]

* D.C. attorney Leicester Bryce Stovell stands by his claim that he’s LeBron’s daddy. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* False confessions can be a real problem. [Underdog]

* You know, Dennis Rodman really never was meant to play the wing…or wing man. [Deadspin]

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