August 2014

Payback may be a bitch, but she rarely moves so swiftly. As we just mentioned in Fame Brief, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is fielding more allegations about his sexual preferences today, after former girlfriend Lillian McEwen made some “explosive” statements to the Washington Post about her time with the Supreme Court justice.

I put “explosive” in scare quotes, because really all we’re learning from McEwen is that Justice Thomas likes (or liked, she dated him a long time ago) boobs and porn. Is that really such a big deal? Hey, quick question: Would you rather be reading this article about Clarence Thomas and Lillian McEwen right now, or doing something that involved boobs and porn? I know what my answer is. But like most of you, apparently watching boobs and porn is “FROWNED UPON in this ESTABLISHMENT.”

But does enjoying (sorry, allegedly enjoying) the mystifying undulations of the opposite sex make Clarence Thomas unfit to sit on the high court?

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Ginni Thomas could be accidently dialing Anita Hill in this photo.

By now it’s ancient news that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas — wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, Tea Party-er, and Heritage Club Foundation member — lost her damn mind and called Anita Hill. Many news outlets have speculated as to what in God’s name could possibly have motivated Ginni to “reach across the airwaves and the years” and ask for an apology, like some creepy ex-boyfriend from high school who hasn’t moved on.

Some of them conclude with infuriating non-theories like “only time will tell” or “we’ll never know.”  That is unacceptable.

I’ve compiled a list of sung and unsung theories of the phone call and included a reader poll, so that we as a community can determine what really happened, record it in Wikipedia, and get on with our lives. Because, as Ginni herself might say, this is America. And majority rules….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fame Brief: Seven Theories on Ginni Thomas’s Call to Anita Hill & A Reader Poll”

I don’t want to step on Oprah’s toes, but I have a book recommendation for you: Law of Attraction. No, it has nothing to do with this law of attraction. Yes, you will enjoy it.

This Law of Attraction is a novel by Allison Leotta, a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. It’s a fun, fast-paced read; I could hardly put it down, finishing it in two sittings. I concur with the blurb by Harvard law professor and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz: “I loved this novel. Law of Attraction is realistic, gritty, and filled with twists and turns. Allison Leotta’s female lawyer character is compelling and engaging. This is a great read for anyone who loves legal thrillers, cares about domestic violence, or wonders how lawyers can live with themselves.”

(Disclosure: I also enjoyed Law of Attraction because it contains an Above the Law cameo. After the protagonist, assistant U.S. attorney Anna Curtis, gets in trouble, her misadventures wind up on ATL (pp. 217-18). The novel even contains fictionalized comments from the peanut gallery of Above the Law commenters — which are hilarious.)

I spoke with Leotta recently, while she was in New York to meet with her agent and do a book reading. We discussed such subjects as why, and how, she wrote her novel; the Department of Justice review process for the book; how she juggles her day job as a prosecutor, her writing career, and being the mother to two kids; and her advice to lawyers who want to become writers.

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* Robert Gates has now issued a memo saying only the heads of the Army, Navy, and Air Force may approve discharges under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Gates’ predecessor was right. Democracy is messy. [CNN]

* Ginni Thomas did not intend to call Obamacare unconstitutional. But if the health care law would like to apologize, that’d be cool. [Los Angeles Times]

* The practice of checking the credit history of job applicants discriminates against blacks, Latinos, and me. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The creator of Facebook app Farmville has been sued for being awful. Or something. I didn’t read this one all that carefully. [Am Law Daily]

* A poll of prospective law school students found that most would still apply even if they were told jobs would be scarce upon graduation. If transparency doesn’t help, will we ever truly be able to suck each other’s popsicles? [The National Law Journal]

* Homeowners in New York who win foreclosure proceedings against their lenders will now recoup lawyers’ fees thanks to a new law. Doesn’t matter who cuts the check as long as we get paid. Am I right, guys? *raises hand to high-five, remembers he’s a contract attorney, slowly lowers hand* [New York Times]

What you are about to see will entertain you. It will make you feel good about yourself. It will make you thankful that, despite whatever hurdles you have faced in your life, it never came to this.

In fact, the first comment on the YouTube clip I’m about to show you was written by the person who posted the video. It says simply “it has come to this…”

And it has. Ladies and Gentleman, I bring the video resume and hip-hop stylings of a would-be lawyer…

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* Hallowed ground is not sacred? [Simple Justice]

* … Here are some things you can and cannot do around graves. [Infamy or Praise]

* I didn’t know this till I saw this happening outside the ATL offices this summer, but apparently it’s completely legal for women to go topless in New York City. Will the same liberalism come to Massachusetts? [WSJ Law Blog]

* A brief history of British legal blogging. Sorry ladies, no accents, just text. [Legal Week]

* Remember when the economy was hot enough that departure memos could be epic? [Last Day at the Office Emails]

* The guy who tried to ruin South Park pleads guilty to providing support to terrorists. I hope this guy meets Woodsy the Owl in prison. [BL1Y]

* Frisking people merely to cop a feel as a prophylactic safety measure is not cool. [Underdog]

* If you missed it earlier, please check out my editorial about bullying. I really think this is the version of the argument that will win over all but the most unrealistic of my critics. [Daily News]

We don’t usually have a lot of time to scour minute orders from the Orange County Superior Court.

But our readers do, and we rely on you guys to bring us the excellent news nobody knows about. Today, a loyal reader sent us some rulings from the Orange County last month. And one ruling caught our eye. We’re going to reprint it below, but scroll to the bottom of page 1 of this document if you want to see it in the original.

But before you look, take a second and think about the etymology of the word “piecemeal.” Don’t Google, just think. Okay, now think about whether it would be appropriate to use the word as a verb.

Okay, now consider what the judge thinks (especially if you are a lawyer in Orange County)…

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Yesterday I was busy trying to keep bullies out of jail. Check out my editorial in the New York Daily News for a full discussion on how I would handle mean children. But while I was away, news broke that the Syracuse College of Law is conducting its very own witch hunt, which could lead to the expulsion and deportation of a kid accused of saying mean things on the internet.

I’m telling you guys, this country is going to hell, one ridiculous overreaction at a time.

If you missed the story, the ABA Journal has a nice summary of what’s going on at Syracuse. The facts are pretty straightforward: student writes a satirical blog which attributes funny, Onion-style quotes to real people. The real people get their panties in a bunch. Syracuse launches an investigation into whether or not the blog constituted libelous bullying of other students, and whether the student author should be expelled for a “code of conduct” violation.

Now, to be clear, if we are going to hold people accountable for being mean to others, expulsion (and not jail) is a far more appropriate response. But, to my mind, this isn’t libel. This is clear parody, and satire should be protected, not punished…

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I’d like to believe we live on a planet where reason dictates the choices we make as well as the policies of law firms. As numerous personal experiences and Above the Law articles have demonstrated to me, this isn’t always the case. And nowhere is this irrationality more perplexing than firm policies towards LinkedIn recommendations.

LinkedIn has a feature that allows lawyers and clients to write recommendations of each other. For a recommendation to be published online, it has to “accepted” by the person being recommended. The problem is, major law firms are prohibiting the use of LinkedIn recommendations by their attorneys (both inbound and outbound). Referrals and peer-to-peer recommendations are the lifeblood of most practices.

So why are so many firms prohibiting their use online?

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The Drive-Thru at the Kocian Law Firm

We all knew it would come to this eventually. The legal profession — once reserved for studious minds who diligently ponder the most complex moral, ethical, and legal issues of the day — has been reduced to a collection of short-order cooks, who whip up documents instead of eggs and toast.

Actually, that change probably happened many years ago. Generations ago, even. But there is something visual striking about the new Connecticut offices of the Kocian Law Firm. The firm is operating out of an old Kenny Rogers Roasters building. The Kocian lawyers are keeping the drive-thru window — and they’re using it as an easy and efficient way to exchange documents and quick advice with their clients.

Somewhere, Partner Emeritus is crying…

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