A Legal Tabloid - News, Insights, and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession
Managing Editor: David Lat
Editor: Elie Mystal
Assistant Editor: Staci Zaretsky
Contributors: Kashmir Hill, Marin, Mark Herrmann, Jay Shepherd
Elie Mystal joined ATL in 2009 by winning the ATL Idol Contest. Prior to joining ATL, Elie wrote about politics and popular culture at City Hall News and the New York Press. Elie received a degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He was formerly a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton but quit the legal profession to pursue a career as an online provocateur. He's written editorials for the New York Daily News and the New York Times, and he has appeared on both MSNBC and Fox News without having to lie about his politics to either news organization.
Look, we can’t have a final exam screw-up season without something happening at NYU Law School. For some reason NYU is like the ground zero of exam mishaps.
But not all screw-ups are created equally. Today we have a story of a professor who didn’t screw-up his final exams out of laziness or carelessness. Instead there was an honest clerical mistake. One that the professor took responsibility for and moved to correct as quickly and as equitably as he could.
Mistakes are going to happen, but law professors need to take this guy’s class in how to handle them…
In 1920, Lydia C. Chamberlain, a woman from Des Moines who moved to Manhattan, donated her $500,000 estate to create a fellowship at Columbia University. The fellowship had a few restrictions. Notably, recipients were not allowed to study “law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary surgery or theology.” Ha. Seems reasonable. Oh, and the recipients had to be from Iowa and had to move back to Iowa after completing their studies.
This kind of dead-hand control should really not be allowed in our modern, global society, but that’s not why the “Lydia C. Roberts graduate and traveling fellowships” is making news today. It’s making news because the other restriction is that recipients of the fellowship have to be white. “Of the Caucasian race” is the exact formulation.
This isn’t just a story about racism, it’s a story about institutional advantages white people have that some of them pretend to not even be aware of…
It’s the hypocrisy that bothers me first. Lawmakers at the National Transportation Safety Board have recommended that states lower the legal blood-alcohol concentration for drivers from .08 percent to .05 percent. For a normal-sized person, that’s going to be little more than a glass of wine with dinner. For a guy like me, that means I’ll only be able to have one bottle of whiskey. In a country that claims it can’t be bothered to run a simple background check before allowing people to legally purchase military grade weapons over the internet, we’re thinking of criminalizing having some wine with dinner and then driving home.
I suppose you could have all the alcohol you want if you drive home in a freaking tank, because as long as there is a gun involved, the government isn’t allowed to do squat.
But even if we ignore the hypocrisy and move past the obvious enforceability problems of turning nearly everybody on the road after 1:00 a.m. into a criminal, there’s still another huge problem with this NTSB recommendation. It’s a “national” standard for what absolutely is a state-by-state concern.
That’s right, I said it, I object to this recommendation on federalism grounds….
You’ll be popular. Just not, quite as popular, as, meeeee!
* Now that Republicans have some actual issues to concern themselves with, they’re going to… vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act again? My God, they’re dumb. [New York Times]
* Sonia Sotomayor has the highest name recognition on the Court. Kennedy is the most liked. Clarence Thomas has lower favorability among African-Americans than he does in the population as a whole. [Public Policy Polling]
* Aside from bitching, is the anything the AP can actually do about the DOJ subpoenas? [National Law Journal]
* The Obama administration is running a $51 Billion dollar profit off of student loans. Billion. With a ‘B.” As in “these students are my Bitch.” [Huffington Post]
* Liberals could learn a lot from the Federalist Society. [ABA Journal]
* This is an interesting “equal time” issue. Should a network run a reality series about a prosecutor’s office when that prosecutor is up for reelection? [Daily Business Review]
For soldiers who risked their lives in circumstances where bullets are flying around like rain and wind, if you want them to get some rest, a comfort women system was necessary. That’s clear to anyone.
Dear Republicans who are multi-orgasmic over this IRS scandal, just skip this article. Skip the comments. We get it: “OBAMA… had the GOVERNMENT… like, DO STUFF… which PROVES that taxes are bad!!!” Click over to Red State and bathe in the echo chamber. Here, the adults need to have a talk.
My question for the lawyers is this: how are we supposed to check the validity of groups asking for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status? I mean, let’s look at this “scandal” in the way the justice system will look at it, without all the partisan accusations:
Group asks for 501(c)(4) status.
Group has anti-government message in its very name.
Group doesn’t apply for 527 status as a political organization because???
IRS asks questions to figure out if these groups are really “social welfare” organizations.
I’m open to the possibility that the IRS did something wrong. I’d just like somebody to tell me what the hell they were supposed to do? Just rubber stamp it? Because if that’s true, I certainly think this website is concerned about the “social welfare” and would like to be tax-exempt.
Maybe we should ask the woman in charge of the IRS Exempt Organization Division if we can get tax-exempt status? She’s actually getting an honorary tribute at a law school this weekend…
Law dean v. Law faculty. In this analogy, the students are the dirt.
Thing is, I like law professors. I like professors. I think it’s an achievement of civilization (and, you know, agriculture) to have a class of people whose only job is to think and teach.
Law professors have a great life. They’re paid generously, they work occasionally, and they’re fired rarely. No, I don’t hate law faculty, I want to be on faculty. Even at a relatively poorly ranked school (not Cooley, a man’s gotta have a code). The life of a professor involves writing, interacting with young people, and occasionally crushing the dreams of people too stupid to parrot back to you exactly what you want to hear. What’s not to like?
Of course, if we want serious change in legal education, we’re going to have to take a flamethrower to the lives of law faculty. And they’re not going to give it up quietly. When an ambitious law dean takes on the law faculty for the benefit of students, that will be a great war.
But for now, we just have the less interesting skirmishes that happen when law deans take on faculty without benefiting students in any meaningful way…
* This IRS scandal is really like a Republican’s wet dream. Obama needs to start firing people. [Washington Post]
* The Department of Justice also looks pretty shady. See, it’s not the “size” of government we should worry about. It’s the power of government that leads to problems. Obama needs to start firing people! [Associated Press]
* Maybe the DOJ needs some compliance officers to tell them how to use the phone? [Corporate Counsel]
Last month, we wrote about a law school graduate who decided to “renounce” his U.S. Citizenship in a departure memo to no one in particular. The letter was somewhat threatening and was sent in the wake of the Boston Marathon attack, so it was a little bit difficult to make fun of him.
But now the guy is out with a video. And it seems like maybe he’s been checked out by the FBI? At the very least, he doesn’t seem to be actively threatening to go on a shooting spree.
Also, a tipster says his “Calvin Candie” voice is a recent affectation. I think we can all feel safe laughing now…
Can you imagine only having to listen to black people for 11 minutes for your entire year?
At what point do the Supreme Court’s views on racial equality and tolerance become entirely illegitimate?
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the only black people the nine justices know are characters they’ve seen in Tyler Perry movies. Sorry… characters the justices have seen in previews for Tyler Perry movies.
The Huffington Post has a damning report on the number of minorities who have even had the opportunity to argue in front of the Supreme Court this Term. It’s embarrassing. But in a couple of days or weeks, these nine people are going to presume to tell me whether or not we’ve achieved enough racial equality to do away with affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act?
It’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable that these nine people think there is any person of color who should respect them worth a damn…
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In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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