October 2011

Old people are so cute. From the way they don’t understand how to use modern technology, to the way they cringe at the music of our times, it just makes you want to squeeze their wrinkly, little cheeks.

And old people in love? Well, that’s even cuter. So when we heard about a British couple in their mid-70s who had finally decided to tie the knot, it was a total cuteness overload. But all of the cuteness screeched to a halt when we found out that the loving couple’s special day had been ruined by allegedly over-amplified versions of ABBA songs.

This bride had no desire to be a “Dancing Queen,” and it wasn’t because she might’ve had to use a walker….

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I was never a huge fan of firm mentoring programs. In the days after firms started cracking down on using mentoring funds for hookers and blow, mentoring became distinctly less exciting. For the male associates, it seemed to revolve around mass quantities of red meat and booze. For the female associates, it was a lot of talk about “feelings,” and “glass ceilings,” and figuring out how to get a manicure on the firm’s dime. And while pretty nails are always nice, it was just one more billable hour that I’d have to make up at night.

But perhaps creative mentoring isn’t dead after all. It seems as though the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association might be trying to bring some fun back to its mentorship program. The MHBA recently distributed fliers on the University of Minnesota Law School campus that bear images of some pretty questionable-looking foliage.

Was this just an innocent mistake, or are Minnesota Law students being offered a chance to expand their horizons in more ways than one? You be the judge, after the jump….

UPDATE (6:30 PM): We’ve added statements from a board member of the MHBA and from the president of the Latino Law Student Association at the University of Minnesota, also after the jump.

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La vengeance se mange très-bien froide. Or as a Klingon might say, “revenge is a dish best served cold.”

I’m pretty sure that the administrators at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles didn’t think they were walking into a smackdown when they sent out an email to alumni asking them to update their employment statuses. But smacked they were, down on their heads, as one student’s epic, slightly rambling response to the innocent request just tore up the school for its behavior towards recent graduates.

And this comes from a student who seems to be doing well, despite the challenging economy. You want to know the best way to “get back” at your law school, if you so desire? Send them an email that says: “I am going to be very wealthy here, and I will not be giving a dime to Loyola.”

Time for the cold revenge of living well?

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In last week’s Grammer Pole, you voted to overwhelmingly approve the use of split infinitives. Fifty-three percent of Above the Law readers said that splitting infinitives is acceptable, even if it should be done sparingly. An additional forty percent said, “Yes. It’s great to liberally split infinitives!”

This suggests to me that ATL readers are a pragmatic bunch when it comes to language. You’re not hung up on hoary rules that don’t serve a practical purpose in communication.

I think I can guess, then, what you think of the injunction against ending a sentence with a preposition….

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A lot of people ask me how I ended up in this in-house gig. Oh fine, nobody has asked, but darnit, I’m gonna tell you anyway. And I’ll even include a couple of tips that I think helped me. I’ll assume you’re already familiar with a lot of basic interview tips, such as doing your research, preparing a great résumé, and not picking your nose in front of the receptionist, so I’ll avoid mentioning those.

I like to call the interview process I had for my current job the Shortest Interview Process Ever (SIPE, for short). If you’ve worked at a company before, you’ve probably noticed that companies absolutely love, love, love acronyms and use them all the time. Just FYI, your ability to learn acronym-speak is directly proportional to your success as an in-house lawyer, so feel free to start making up your own and using them on your BFFs!

At one point, after a few years in Biglaw, I called a recruiter I had used before and asked if there were any jobs out there. The recruiter was not happy to hear from me. But this was reasonable because, a few years earlier, he had helped to get me a job offer — that I didn’t take. At that time, I had four job offers (obviously, this wasn’t during the economic hellhole that we’re in right now) and decided to go with one other than his. So understandably, he wasn’t a happy camper to hear from me this time around….

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* According to Jacoby & Myers, “winning is everything.” And by “winning,” they, of course, mean “settling.” Ten points to Gryffindor Jay Shepherd. [New York Times]

* Ah, DOMA. Like it or not, we’re footing the bill for a law the DOJ won’t touch. This guy wants us to stop putting money in Paul Clement’s pockets. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Cooley Law has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint over its employment statistics. Reasoning? BLAME THE ABA. [National Law Journal]

* “You are a beautiful grave — dead inside.” Be still my heart. What kind of a girl wouldn’t appreciate a love letter like this? A former tax attorney from Winston & Strawn, apparently. [New York Post]

* What happened at yesterday’s hearing on public nudity in the Bay Area? Soon the only buns you’ll see at restaurants in San Francisco will be on the table. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Madonna

On Tuesday of this week, I popped over to San Francisco for the Computer Forensics Show. It’s a small tradeshow targeted at attorneys, accountants, IT professionals, and law enforcement.

I sat in on one legal technology-related panel that was particularly entertaining and informative. Many, if not most, of the people in the room were not attorneys. It was interesting to be a part of a non-attorney crowd and a reminder of how many people really don’t understand basic legal technology principles. What I heard underscored was the importance of maintaining a technology dialogue between legal and other parts of the business.

It was also chance to hear some awesome war stories from a veteran partner at a major law firm. Why did Archie Comics threaten to sue a baby? Why doesn’t Madonna like porn? Why aren’t you allowed to have the domain name fcukpenguins.com?

Beam me to the jump, Scotty, and let’s see….

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* Another victim of the vengeful prosecution of Tyler Clementi’s roommate might be the guy Clementi was hooking up with when Dharun Ravi broadcast it. [Gawker]

* As I said on Twitter, you have to give Obama a little credit: when he uses suspect legal reasoning to do whatever he wants abroad, he comes home with scalps. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Here’s a job opening for an attorney that might not actually exist. [Constitutional Daily]

* This job opening is much cooler. But, don’t get me wrong, no Cooley grads are allowed to apply. Seriously. [The Legal Satyricon]

* I think the lesson here is there’s no reason anybody should ever want to immigrate to Alabama. [Huffington Post]

* Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Halley Catherine Shaw, a law student at Texas Southern University who died in a car crash earlier this week. [ABA Journal]

If you ask a small-firm attorney what is the advantage of a small firm over Biglaw, most will tell you that smaller size makes firms more nimble and better able to adapt to client needs and market changes. It stands to reason, then, that small firms could revolutionize the law firm model. But what changes should small firms make? And how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

To answer these questions, I spoke to Mae O’Malley, founder of Paragon Legal, and a visionary when it comes to offering legal services. Paragon Legal is one of the fastest growing alternative legal models. Their model is to offer highly-qualified attorneys (with a minimum of 8 years of experience) to Fortune 500 companies, akin to a contract-attorney arrangement.

This model allows the client to obtain top-notch legal help for a fraction of the cost of Biglaw. The arrangement is also appealing to high-caliber lawyers, particularly women, who look to balance their professional growth with their family obligations. In light of the model’s success, it’s not surprising that Fortune recently featured O’Malley as an individual “fixing a broken legal industry.”

What advice does Mae O’Malley have for reforming legal workplaces?

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Robert Bork

Some lawyers can be so circumspect in speech and so careful in action that they’re just plain boring. Such caution might help you make it to the Supreme Court someday, but it’s not a recipe for a very fun life.

Thankfully, not all brilliant lawyers are afraid of speaking their minds. Take Robert Bork, the former U.S. Solicitor General and D.C. Circuit judge whose Supreme Court nomination famously went down in flames in 1987 — due in part to his loquaciousness during his confirmation hearings.

Judge Bork, now 84, is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank. He’s not as involved in public life as he once was, but he’s not completely out of the picture. For example, he’s serving as a legal adviser to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney (a development that some on the left have criticized).

And Judge Bork continues to make controversial pronouncements, most recently in an interview with Newsweek….

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