August 2014

Whenever a judge turns to rational-basis analysis, he’s basically saying, ‘You think two plus two equals five, and I don’t know how to add.’

– Professor Richard Epstein, at an interesting debate sponsored earlier this evening by the Columbia Law School Federalist Society. Professor Epstein and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) debated the merits of Kelo v. City of New London (2005). Professor Epstein attacked Kelo and Chief Judge Kozinski defended the decision.

(The event was standing room only, even though tonight was Halloween. Clearly this was more fun to CLS students than donning cheap costumes from Ricky’s and marching around the Village in a state of inebriation.)

I’m starting to think that staff attorneys are being discriminated against because they are staff attorneys.

Today Thomson Reuters reports that a racial discrimination lawsuit has been filed against Quinn Emanuel by a former staff attorney. The plaintiff, who is African-American, claims that she was given less desirable work than her white colleagues and that she was forced to work with a person she “feared,” as retaliation for complaining about her treatment at the firm.

I’m not sure if racism really fits into Quinn’s work hard/play hard firm culture. I feel like the only color Quinn cares about is green, as in, “You’ve billed a ton of hours today despite being all kinds of hungover, I think you’re turning green”….

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* Would you wear your Halloween costume to court? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Student/teacher Facebook love is still legal in Missouri. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* An in-depth interview with Tyler Coulson as he nears the end of his epic, totally getting a book deal, journey. [Am Law Daily]

* And here’s a good look at Ted Frank’s crazy class action ways. [WSJ Law Blog]

* If you round up all the sex offenders, what will the kids have to be afraid of when they are trick-or-treating? [The Examiner]

* We’ve mentioned the Jill Filipovic v. TSA freak off before. But never quite so explicitly. [The Legal Satyricon]

* Texas is shooting donkeys. Just another reason why Republicans are more hard core; liberals run around trying to save elephants. [Huffington Post]

Remember how everyone used say, “Don’t post anything on Facebook you wouldn’t want your boss to see. But if you do, just make sure you set your privacy settings so that your boss can’t see.”

Well, things have changed. Now, when companies enter workman’s compensation or personal injury litigation, courts will sometimes order discovery on password-protected Facebook information.

On Thursday, a New York appeals court ruled that a company could not see the plaintiff’s protected data, but not simply because it was private. Let’s see what happened…

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Congratulations to the “Minority 40 Under 40.” This is a distinguished group of 40 minority lawyers, all under the age of 40, who have just been honored by the National Law Journal for their accomplishments within the legal profession.

Let’s learn more about them. Maybe you have friends or colleagues on the list?

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Whenever I ask law school deans to explain their BS employment statistics, they just shovel more BS my way.

But maybe if students themselves asked where these figures come from, they’d get some straight answers.

One student, at a law school that at this point is undisclosed, asked her dean why the school’s employment statistics were clearly misleading. And it looks like the dean broke things down for her.

She used the information to tell another story of the 99%….

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New ATL columnist Brian Tannebaum.

So, looks like I’m going to hang out here for a little while writing weekly about small-firm and solo law practice issues. I’m as shocked as you are that I was asked to type over here – as I actually practice law, in a suit, in an office, with other humans, with a desk, and have real live clients who actually need legal services. I’ve done so for 17 years.

I’m also not the law review type. I wrote one sentence of a law review article in law school and threw it in the garbage. Since that day, no client has asked about my law review experience or cared when they were sitting next to me in a courtroom, so save your writing critique. To those who pay for advice from lawyers practicing 17 months, stop reading now. I can’t predict the future as it pertains to the practice of law, as the people doing that around the internet are mostly unfamiliar with the practice of law, and I can’t tell you how to be rich and famous via Twitter or a Facebook Fan Page.

Not to further disappoint, but I’m not here to play to the pajama-wearing, Starbucks-dwelling, sell-documents-and-pretend-I’m-a-lawyer-and-insist-this-is-how-all-law-will-be-practiced collection of lawyers. And to the resident cheetos-eating basement-dwelling “my law school sucks” whining anonymous commenting crowd here, start typing now – it will help drown out the possibility of you actually learning something….

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A few years ago, the law firm of Nixon Peabody came up with a catchy jingle to celebrate its own fabulosity. You can listen to the song here, in case you’ve never heard it. The chorus went as follows: “Everyone’s a winner at Nixon Peabody!”

Alas, a recent lawsuit filed against Nixon Peabody by a former partner at the firm, David Tamman, does not put the firm in a very winning light. Instead, it just makes everyone look bad.

The allegations are seamy. What does Tamman allege?

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Allegedly offensive Halloween costume

I thought the rule for Halloween costumes was “don’t dress like Hitler.” But apparently you are also supposed to wear costumes that are nice and compassionate — or else you might be smacked around in the New York Times.

(We won’t smack you around. Please send in Halloween pics, and you might win a t-shirt.)

Over the weekend, you might have seen the Times story on the Stephen J. Baum law firm. As the largest so-called “foreclosure mill” in New York state, representing banks that kick people out of their homes, it’s not the kind of place that receives hugs and kisses from the community. Which is fine; lawyers there are paid for their work.

Every year the Baum firm hosts a huge Halloween party. Last year, employees reportedly dressed up like the some of the people who lose their homes during the course of Baum’s foreclosure business.

Some people are outraged that foreclosure lawyers don’t have “compassion” for their adversaries….

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Four months ago, you revised your company’s policy on employees’ use of social media. The policy said all the right things: When employees use social media, they should respect the rights of others and treat people with dignity; obey the company’s code of business conduct; maintain corporate confidences; and so on.

Unbelievably, some recent communications from the National Labor Relations Board suggest that each of those provisions (except for the “and so on”) could actually cause your company some labor pains. Why?

Here’s the easy part: The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in “concerted activities” for the employees’ “mutual aid or protection.” Those words apply across the workforce and are not limited to unionized employees. An employee acting solely on his or her own behalf is not engaging in “concerted activities.” On the other hand, consider an individual employee who is working with (or on the authority of) other employees, or is trying to induce a group of employees to act, or is bringing group complaints to the attention of management. The NLRA may protect all of those activities, and an employer may violate the NLRA if it maintains a rule that could reasonably “chill employees in the exercise of their” rights.

What does that mean for the three examples suggested in the opening paragraph of this post?

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