March 2012

Lawyer fight!

When a person mentions high-powered asbestos litigation, most of the time you would assume that means lawsuits seeking damages for health problems caused by the infamous chemical.

Not this time. Right now, there is a war emerging between attorneys at one of the most prominent asbestos litigation law firms.

Last week, a former attorney at a major asbestos plaintiff’s firm sued his former colleagues. Joseph C. Maher II made some pretty intense allegations of lawyerly espionage that one blogger called a combination of the “lawyering skullduggery of The Firm with the medical malpractice aspects of The King of Torts.”

What is going on here? Is this the real deal, or just a disgruntled, laid-off lawyer?

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* This is a great debate among law professors about the Affordable Care Act. [PolicyMic]

* Honestly, calling female law students “sluts” is just not a way to win an argument. [Stop the Harvard Law Hate]

* Dear God, I don’t want go to prison. [Dealbreaker]

* Dewey know the number for the lenders? [Legal Week]

* Judges who behave like “supervillans.” [Cracked]

* How many pictures of critically thin women can you solicit before it becomes wrong? [Fashionista]

* With the re-start of Mad Men, I’m wondering if this season might be the best race-baiting seasons of television in history. [Slate]

The law is for muppets!

– Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, at a Fordham Law moot court competition. According to a tipster, Judge Kozinski was alluding to the very public resignation of Greg Smith from Goldman Sachs last week, in the course of dismissing a student’s point that the panel should rely solely on the law to decide the case.

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of teenyboppers flocked to movie theaters for the premiere of The Hunger Games. In the film, based on a novel written by Suzanne Collins, teens in a post-apocalyptic world are selected to compete in televised battles against one another, and only one can survive.

Hm, that kind of sounds like what Biglaw interviews have come to in our own post-recession world. But would death matches be a more appropriate way to screen candidates? Apparently, at least one firm thinks so.

Here’s the photo for our latest caption contest….

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When you went to law school or started thinking about starting your own practice, did you have dreams of waking up in the morning, walking down the hall to another room in your house and sitting down to do legal work? Did you hope to bounce ideas off of the dog, or plan strategy watching Matlock re-runs at 2 p.m.?
 
I’m sorry, I just don’t get this “Do I need an office?” back and forth, in which my “future of law” friends are quick to say “You don’t need an office.”
 
No, you don’t need an office. They’re right. You also don’t need to wear clothes that make you look respectable. You don’t even have to have any idea what you’re doing. You can work from your computer in your dining room, in shorts, and find answers (some which are correct) to questions like “how to draft a will,” on the internet. Some client, somewhere, will hire you. Maybe a few.
 
As you build your practice, you can do everything small, cheap, and sloppy. Forget about being downtown or by the courthouse. Forget about having to dress like you want to be hired for important legal work. Forget about building anything of significance. Just stay home and be happy that you’re saving money every month on an office. Way to go. Hopefully you won’t take advice from business owners who know building a business takes investment….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: The Great (Stupid) Office Debate”

Over the weekend, a Northwestern 3L was hit and killed by an allegedly drunk driver in downtown Chicago.

The student was crossing the street to get a late-night snack when a woman hit him. She continued driving — at one point going the wrong way down a one-way street — until police noticed the extensive damage to the front of her car and pulled her over.

This is not the kind of story we like to write here at Above the Law. But keep reading for details on the student whose life was cut too short….

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Court watchers, it’s on. Today the Supreme Court started hearing arguments on its most politically-charged case since Bush v. Gore. It’s the first time in a generation where the Court might strike down a major piece of national legislation. The Court will hear three days of oral argument on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

This is big time. The entire country is watching.

And on day one, for the opening salvo in the biggest Court battle of the decade, we’re going to start with jurisdiction.

[CLEAR]

Still with me? I know it’s boring, but there’s an interesting political story here as we wait for the Court to get to the “main event” tomorrow….

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Remember back in high school, when the prospect of being named prom king or queen was oh-so-exciting (or incredibly annoying, depending on your social circle)? Attaining such a title was like winning the grand prize in a four-year long popularity contest. The hottest girl always took home the queen’s crown, and the most beloved football player always took home the queen.

Ah, memories. But what about students who swing a different way? Can they aspire to be crowned at the high school prom? Unfortunately, it looks like one high school in Georgia wants to keep students’ memories of prom as heterosexual as possible. A student body leader claims that he was ousted from his position because of his proposal to open prom royalty positions to gay couples.

Let’s take a look at the allegations made in our Lawsuit of the Day….

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When we talk about the power of the U.S. News law school rankings, we often talk about how prospective law students choose their schools based on the rankings and little other information.

U.S. News also flexes its muscles by getting law school deans fired. Oh, university presidents never like to admit that they push out deans based on the rankings. But if your law school drops like a stone in the law rankings, your law school dean is going to be looking for work.

Today, we could be staring at our first casualty of this year’s U.S. News rankings. We’ve previously written about the faculty member who tried to cheer up his dean after his law school plummeted again in the rankings. Well, now the dean is on his way out of the door….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is This Dean the First 2012 Casualty of the U.S. News Law School Rankings?”

An in-house lawyer receives an email from a law firm with the subject line, “Litigation Highlights!” Does she pop it open?

Probably not; it sounds like an advertisement.

Is there a subject line that stands a better chance of success?

Yes: Something that specifically identifies a subject that might matter to the recipient. Maybe: “The Constitutionality of ‘ObamaCare’: A Preview of the Arguments.”

The recipient might or might not care about that subject, but, if she does care, at least she knows to open the email.

My not-so-hypothetical “subject” line — “Litigation Highlights!” — is off-putting enough, but, if you made the mistake of opening that email, the substance could be even worse….

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