October 2014

Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.

Let’s say you just woke up. After working at the firm until midnight last night, you’re already underslept and overtired and now you have to haul your ass out of bed and get ready for another day at the firm. You either:

(A) Get up; brush your teeth; spend 10-15 minutes prepping your face, hair and bod; get dressed in the dry-clean-only version of the same basic outfit and shoes that you would wear if you were going to the park for a weekend stroll; and leave for work.


(B) Get up; brush your teeth; spend 45-75 minutes prepping your face, hair and bod; get dressed in the diametrical opposite of the outfit and shoes that you would wear if you were going to the park for a weekend stroll; and leave for work.

In other words, you’re either (A) a man or (B) already screwed before you get out the door. Because if you have two X chromosomes and work at a law firm, you’re always going to be inherently less productive than your XY counterparts by sheer virtue of the fact that you have to get ready for work every morning. Even if you couldn’t care less about your appearance.

Unconvinced? Let’s take a look at how the actual numbers shake out….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Price of Getting Pretty: Productivity”

For a long time, Jonathan Lee Riches reigned as Craziest Pro Se Litigant in America. But at a certain point, JLR jumped the proverbial shark. His handwritten complaints, making bizarre allegations against everyone from Michael Vick to Martha Stewart to the late Benazir Bhutto, were just too clever by half. And once he passed the 1,500 mark in lawsuits, his shtick got… old.

Fortunately we have a new favorite pro se party for you. Meet Deborah Frisch (or Deborah E. Frisch, Ph.D., as she identifies herself in court filings). Frisch appears to be something of a loon, despite her doctorate and past teaching positions at such schools as the University of Oregon and the University of Arizona. Ironically enough, or maybe not so ironically, the nutty professor teaches… psychology.

Here’s the charming opening paragraph from a document that Frisch filed last week in federal district court in Oregon:

Plaintiff shall henceforth refer to self as litigant since she is defendant, appellant or plaintiff, depending on which shyster-vermin she is dealing with. Litigant files this response to the order filed by Docket Clerk Brinn and signed by USDC-OR Magistrate Coffin deeming all pending motions… moot since the frocked cowfucker in San Francisco denied the plaintiff’s appeal.

The “frocked cowfucker” appears to be the Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, who served on a panel that rejected a Frisch appeal. For the record, his chambers are in Pasadena, not San Francisco.

Let’s look at the rest of Frisch’s filing, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pro Se Litigant of the Day: Deborah Frisch, Ph.D.
Practice pointer: don’t refer to judges as ‘frocked cowf**kers.’

There’s one thing every lawyer, no matter how miserable, seems to agree on: law school wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was kind of fun.

Things take a nosedive when you get to a firm. That’s when you start hating life.

Maybe we should take a look at this phenomenon, and ask ourselves why this might be the case.

There are a few prominent disparities between the experience of law school and that at a big law firm.

First – in law school when you work hard, you get a reward. There is an “incentive” for “doing your best.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Not in Kansas”

* Virginia Thomas, the politically active wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, called Anita Hill and suggested she apologize to Clarence in order to get “passed” the whole ugliness. Does that blow your mind, Anita? That JUST happened! [ABC News; New York Times]

* Foreclosed homeowners smell blood, and K&L Gates… well, they probably smell a gold mine. [Reuters]

* Former Jenkens & Gilchrist attorney Erwin Mayer faces up to 10 years in prison for actions that helped bring down the firm. Someone must pay for this abortion of a video. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The government is shelling out plenty of coin to settle a discrimination suit brought against the USDA by Native Americans. This Italian dude shed a single tear upon hearing the news. [CNN]

* The Pentagon has instructed military recruiters to accept the applications of openly gay men and lesbians. [Washington Post]

* I wouldn’t say trial lawyers are in bed with the Democratic Party. But they’re definitely engaged in some heavy petting. [National Law Journal]

* The law school cares about your crappy job prospects, Boston College 3L. Too bad caring isn’t going to pay back that mountain of debt, sucker. [Boston Herald]

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com

Dear Above the Law,
I’m a third-year litigation associate in New York City. Lately, I have been thinking about *trying* to make a lateral move. But a nagging thought keeps holding me back: When you’re a lawyer and you reach your late 30s/ early 40s, what do you do? Where do you go?
So, here’s my question: If you (1) are lucky enough to have a job at a mid-law firm; (2) are doing well; (3) like your partners; (4) like the work; and (5) realistically think that you have a decent shot at making partner, should you stay even if you feel (really) underpaid? (i.e., you make about half as much as your Biglaw counterparts, but work comparable hours). And not just underpaid right now — but probably underpaid for the duration of your career.
I’m just nervous about transitioning because I have security with my current firm. The last thing I want is an extra $30,000 today, and unemployment tomorrow.
Dear No Mercy,

If you’ve ever been to Iceland, you probably noticed that there are no old people there.  My personal theory is that they throw old people into tar pits like on The Dinosaurs. But if you ask any Icelanders where there hell everybody over 40 is, they’ll usually shrug or laugh or give some non-committal answer like “they‘re around,” mainly because they don’t actually know. Similarly, nobody knows for sure what happens seven years down the road to all the first years that started. Because even if you tally up all the farewell emails, a few of your co-workers will remain unaccounted for, in the tomb of the unknown lawyer

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?”

Michael Critchley Sr.

* Joe Miller might not be Yale Law School’s most disgraceful graduate, but his campaign is certainly taking some interesting turns. [The Mudflats]

* Potty police at the Second Circuit: rude bathroom graffiti results in a handwriting test for court employees. [Page Six / New York Post]

* If Snooki gets in legal trouble again, she should turn to Michael Critchley — one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the Garden State, and a feared adversary in my former office. [Bergen Record]

* Does Justice Sotomayor’s heart bleed for pro se prisoners raising “patently frivolous” claims? [Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit]

* The U.S. isn’t the only jurisdiction going down the path of financial reform; the Brits are trying it too. [Guardian - U.K.]

Last week, we asked you to vote on this question: Who is the most disgraceful graduate of Yale Law School? Our post was inspired by a spat between two YLS alums, former president Bill Clinton ’73 and Alaska senate candidate Joe Miller ’95, over who had done more to tarnish Yale’s good name.

We offered up seven candidates: Bill Clinton, who did have sexual relations with that woman; Joe Miller, who’s experiencing a rocky road to the Senate; loony televangelist Pat Robertson; Justice Clarence Thomas, alleged harasser of Anita Hill turned Supreme Court sphinx; Elizabeth Wurtzel, drug-addicted writer turned bar-failing lawyer; John Yoo, internationally infamous author of the torture memos; and yours truly, scandal-prone blogger (and this was before the Above the Law boycott).

That’s an impressive field — even without Arlen Specter — so you’d expect the competition to be fierce. But the winner won in a landslide….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Congratulations to Yale Law School’s Most Disgraceful Graduate!”

If you want to marry a shoe, I’ll marry you.

Jimmy McMillan, running for governor of New York as the candidate of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party.

(Watch this awesome video clip of McMillan from last night’s debate.)

Vive la Révolution!

In cooperation with our friends at ALI-ABA, Above the Law will be helping you out with your Continuing Legal Education needs. We’ve combed through the extensive CLE offerings of ALI-ABA and picked out a few courses that struck us as particularly interesting, even sexy (at least by the standards of CLE). Today we bring you the inaugural offering; others will follow in future posts.

The new Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has been described as “the biggest expansion of government power over banking and markets since the Depression.” It overhauls rules and regulations “touching every corner of finance, from ATM cards to Wall Street traders.”

How will the new law affect your broker-dealer and investment adviser clients? If you’re free this Thursday and Friday, you should take advantage of this course, offered by ALI-ABA in partnership with Above the Law: The Financial Services Regulatory Revolution: Navigating the New World.

Even if you do not specialize in financial services, this is the kind of information that makes lawyers look intelligent and educated at cocktail parties. It’ll give you something to talk about when your crazy uncle (played by Michael Moore) starts rambling about the evils of Wall Street during Thanksgiving dinner. And it’s a much better way to fulfill your CLE requirement than 90 minutes on seafaring tax law in the post whaling age.

This is a course that you won’t want to miss. You can take it live, in Washington, D.C., or you can access it as a live video webcast. To learn more and to sign up, click here.

The Financial Services Regulatory Revolution: Navigating the New World of Broker-Dealer and Investment Adviser Regulation, Supervision, and Sales Practices [ALI-ABA]
Law Remakes U.S. Financial Landscape [Wall Street Journal]

Ed. Note: Will the Lost Generation ever find its way back into Biglaw? If recent law school graduates can’t find a Biglaw job straight out of school, or if they were laid off from their initial Biglaw job, the chances of them having a Biglaw career seem unlikely.

But not impossible. This new column is written by a member of the Lost Generation who initially was thrown off of the Biglaw bandwagon but was able to get back on, and is now trying to hang on to his Biglaw second chance.

The first thing many of you must wonder when some new writer infiltrates your daily ATL intake is, “Who the hell is this girl or guy?” Thus, before I begin telling you how it is in my world, let me tell you who I am.

I am T-Fifty. I go by that name because I have learned the importance of law school rankings in the legal industry. I graduated from a T50 law school, and that ranking has now consumed my identity in the legal world. I could tell you all the things I’ve told Mark Zuckerberg and his business partners, but you wouldn’t care. Not when I’ve got T-Fifty emblazoned on my face. It is the way of things.

My journey begins the summer prior to my graduation from my T50 law school. I was no-offered by my Biglaw summer employer, and I soon learned that I was part of the Lost Generation, doomed to be excluded from Biglaw and the accompanying paychecks forever. I will admit that I was distraught. I faced a mountain of debt that I had no chance of paying off….

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