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 2008 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.
Yesterday’s situation at Roger Williams University School of Law ended peacefully. Authorities report that a former student emailed threatening messages to certain faculty members at the school. The student, identified as 36-year-old Kevin Pacheco by WLNE-TV, barricaded himself in his home until police cut the power.
Police say that Pacheco had access to firearms — lots and lots of firearms — which is a whole different problem. But the increased police presence and community warnings seemed appropriate and timely given the situation.
Phew. But a tipster wonders if this is a sign of things to come…
The big news in “Justice” today is a new report from Professor Samuel R. Gross of the University of Michigan Law School showing that exonerations of convicted criminals are on the rise. Gross used data from the National Registry of Exonerations to determine that 87 prisoners were freed from wrongful convictions last year, the highest number in decades.
In a way, that’s good news. More exonerations suggest that more resources are being spent going back over closed cases and freeing people based on new or better evidence. But the report is also chilling proof that our criminal justice system gets things wrong, all the time, and innocent people go to jail because of it.
Instead of being obsessed with conviction rates, state bars might want to look into prosecutorial f**k-up rates. Because it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer…
Here was the ominous message that my colleague Joe Patrice received late last week from Georgia personal-injury lawyer Jamie Casino:
I saw the [story] you wrote about me. Good work. I got something big coming out at halftime during the Super bowl. Be sure to check it out.
I didn’t know if that was a threat, but now I see that it was a promise. We couldn’t “check it out” during the game, being up here in New York, but afterwards readers started sending us tips about an explosive lawyer ad that had played locally in Georgia.
Are there lots of people in law school who are under 21? Are there lots of people in law school who can’t give legal consent for taking out hundreds of thousands in student loan money? Are there lots of people in law school who should have to ask for a hall pass before they go take a leak? Not many? Then maybe law students should be allowed to congregate and have a freaking beer without the administration threatening them with sanctions. Maybe the law school’s policies regarding alcohol at student functions should be a little bit different than the policy of the undergraduate school. Maybe a group of legal educators should be able to DISTINGUISH between a law student and a college freshman.
A law school has come up with a set of embarrassing and ludicrous alcohol-related policies, and now it’s threatening students who try to work around them…
It’s not that cold today, but don’t you worry, the polar vortex is coming, again! This winter needs to be stopped by Dennis Quaid.
Going to work or school in this weather is no fun. That’s why I stay home, but some people don’t have that luxury. This weather is terrible because you freeze your ass off getting to work, and then once you get there you have to disrobe because your office is 5,000 degrees.
Well, one law school has seemingly solved the problem of “layering.” They just keep it so cold in the building that students only have to worry about frostbite…
Regardless of what you think about affirmative action, can we at least agree that it is a complicated issue? Can we at least agree that the vagaries of constitutionally permissible racial conscious admissions programs are subtle? Is it too much to ask that when reporters try to get the public to freak out about affirmative action proposals, they at least read the proposals first?
The Daily Caller got a hold of an affirmative action story yesterday, and they totally blew it. They’ve got a juicy headline: “Will public law school push affirmative action in secret?” And they’ve got a really crazy hook: “[The law school] would allow [disadvantaged minorities] to study a different curriculum and take different tests than other students pursuing the same studies.”
Well damn, if a law school was pushing a secret plan to allow minorities to take different tests than everybody else at the law school, that would be outrageous! And unconstitutional! And generally horrible.
Good thing that’s not at all what any law school is contemplating…
Law schools believe that if you start making people give to your program early, you increase the chances of turning them into lifelong alumni donors. That’s why schools try to start their alumni giving campaigns while students are still on campus. It’s not that your law school thinks they’ll make a lot of money off of graduating 3Ls. But they believe that a $20 pledge while students are on campus is the gateway drug to a $200,000 donation in twenty years.
It all makes a lot of sense for the law school, but what do the graduating students get out of it? A lot of students will be paying off their law school tuition for decades, and many will have to start making those repayments before they get a good legal job. Law schools spend money on a slick alumni giving team, with the law school dean serving in the role of “fundraiser-in-chief.” But 3Ls need their schools to focus on “job-raising” instead of fundraising.
To the extent that 3L giving is a reflection of the services rendered by the law school over three years of expensive education, you’d expect a lot of law schools to get squat out of their 3L giving campaigns. That is exactly what one law student is suggesting to his fellow classmates.
The fun thing is that this 3L is on the committee for 3L fundraising…
We know the new economics for middle-tier law schools. Applications are down, so to convince students with good test scores to come to your school, you have to offer them money. It’s the market, imperfect though it may be, at work.
So when a law school offers “full scholarships” to a number of students with strong academic credentials, don’t think that it’s doing you a favor. They’re trying to fill their seats, not trying to address the fundamental cost problem of law school. If a law school is offering “scholarships” to high-performing students, that means that the low-performing students who are paying full price are subsidizing the people in their class who are most likely to bust up the curve. Addressing the value proposition of law school involves lowering tuition for all students, not making law school free for the kids with potentially better options.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with a little price competition among law schools for those good students. If you can go to law school for free, what do you care if some of your classmates are being price-gouged?
And if you go to this law school, you might legitimately be getting an education more tailored to the real legal job market than at other schools, thus making your free education even more valuable…
Last week, we mentioned that Winston & Strawn partner Gene Schaerr is leaving the firm to represent Utah in its gay marriage squabble against equal rights. By all accounts, Schaerr is a terrific lawyer. The BYU and Yale Law School grad served as head of Winston & Strawn’s Appellate and Critical Motions Practice.
It’s a little bit surprising that Schaerr took the extraordinary step of leaving the firm to take this case. The move caused some onlinecommentators to speculate that Schaerr left W&S because of the firm’s work with LGBT groups… or even because W&S has an LGBT affinity group at the firm.
Well, we now have Schaerr’s actual departure memo, the one that he sent out firm-wide. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes suggested that Schaerr left the firm simply so he could “focus” on this important case. You can read the departure memo and judge Gene Schaerr’s motivations for yourselves…
To paraphrase Paula Cole: “where have all the gangstas gone?”
Back in my day, if you stiffed a drug dealer on a drug deal, you’d be signing yourself up for a world of hurt. Nowadays, backing out of a drug deal gets you Insta-bombed with meany emoticons.
Well, the law can adjust to this new softness. If drug dealers are going to threaten people with hateful emoticons (or “emoji” as is the technical term), then the law is fully capable of recognizing the threat. You know how the song goes (NSFW):
Grab your gifs when you see 2pac
Close the comments when you see 2pac,
Who snarked me, But your punks didn’t finish
Now you ’bout to feel the frown of a menace
Nigga, I gram ‘em up…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.