sophist

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On Tuesday, I profiled worthless classes that most everybody had to take. Today, the readers weigh in on classes that allow law schools to bilk you for additional years full of totally useless information.
Many commenters also suggested which lessons law students should really be focusing on, if they want to succeed in Biglaw.
With an honorable mention to “Elements of the Law,” after the jump, I rank the classes readers can do without, and the replacements that everyone needs.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to School: What is the Most Worthless Class You Could Have Avoided?”

Deborah Epstein Henry.JPGThis week, Working Mother magazine, in association with Flex-Time Lawyers, released its second annual Best Law Firms for Women rankings.
Some of the firms on this year’s list are notorious sweatshops, more likely to help women freeze their eggs than they are to aid either sex in raising a family.
I contacted Deborah Epstein Henry (pictured), founder and president of Flex-Time Lawyers and co-author of the list. Henry said that her results reflect more than firm PR. The rankings score firm programs based on how many attorneys actually use those programs.
In Henry’s view, ranking the best law firms for women is more than just a women’s issue.
“What we are looking for is firms that have work/life policies that are both gender- and racial [sic] reason-neutral,” Henry said. “I firmly believe that the more we can move work/life issues away from being a ‘mommy’s issue’ the better off we’ll be.”
More on Henry’s efforts to make law firms responsive to lifestyle concerns after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Woman’s Place Is… At Cravath”

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
With classes starting soon, another crop of 1Ls will be starting on a journey that has only one sure outcome: the accumulation of useless information devoid of any practical professional relevance.
Once you take away all of the prestige-whoring, grade-inflating shell games that allow top schools to separate you from your future earnings, can’t most law classes be reduced to an Emanuel’s outline and a BarBri lecture?
Which classes were the most irrelevant to the life of a Biglaw associate?

Today I’ll offer my worthlessness rankings on basic classes that most everyone was forced to take. Thursday I’ll open up the field and rank useless classes that ATL readers could have avoided, in a bold “Clarice Starling” attempt to save just one law school lamb from signing up for International Law.
But I’m about more than telling 1Ls that the next three years of their lives are pointless (though, really guys, totally pointless, just saying). I’ll be offering up alternative classes that might not be available at your local registrar, but that every Biglaw associate needs to take before leaving law school’s protective cocoon.
After the jump, see the classes worth sleeping through.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to School: What Is The Most Worthless Class You Had to Take?”

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Next week, Louisiana will become the last state in the union to officially ban cockfighting. The business was already on the decline in Louisiana thanks to new federal laws that make transportation of roosters across state lines for fighting, a felony.
Still, defenders of the “sport” bemoaned the new law. “The culture, the custom of the Cajun people, it’s gone,” said Chris Daughdrill, a cock breeder from Louisiana.
When Oklahoma banned cockfighting, lawmakers there tried to make the sport more humane. Oklahoma State Senator Frank Shurden suggested fighting roosters be fitted with protective vests and boxing gloves. “We want to show the nation that we’re more than trailer parks and a perceived lack of sophistication,” Shurden said at the time.
Good luck with that Oklahoma.
Back in Louisiana, Elizabeth Barras, who has fought champion cocks for years, made an insightful point about the new Louisiana statute. “They’re still going to fight, they’re still going to fight for years to come,” she said. “They’ve still got cockfighting in every state. They just hide it from the law.”
Though we have achieved John Adams’ goal of a government of laws, those laws must still be enforced by men and women. A fact Elizabeth Barras knows all too well.

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Thanks to all who participated in rounds one and two of the Lionel Hutz Invitational. Today we crown the most unrealistic fictional attorney of the past 18 years (subject to other completely arbitrary disclaimers and conditions, stated and imaginary).
The finalists share one thing in common; they represent clients far dumber than they.
Congratulations to readers’ choice winner LeBron James. He played LeBron James on brain steroids in the popular commercial, entitled “I’m pretty sure we can get idiots to purchase water with food-coloring in it if we call it Super-Water.”
Vote in the final poll after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lionel Hutz Invitational: Bonfire of Horrors”

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Looks like I seeded Jack McCoy all wrong. Maybe McCoy is a realistic approximation of what you get if you combine Stalin, bushy eyebrows, and a totally incompetent criminal defense system.
5. Vincent Gambini (My Cousin Vinny) v. 8. Bobby Donnell (The Practice)
Legal movies portray “the law” as something grounded in common sense. But you cannot learn the law “from the streets.” Martial arts, yes; the 23 exceptions to the hearsay rule, not so much. Vinny failed the bar six times, yet won his first murder trial. That is impossible. I think The Practice did a good job showing the real life difficulties associated with going out there and “hanging a shingle.” Unfortunately, “Plan B” is also known as blaming a third party that had absolutely nothing to do with the instant crime. It’s a sophisticated defense strategy employed by eight-year-olds all across America.
2. Jake Brigance (Time to Kill) v. 3. Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)
The thought of random attorney nakedness should make you shudder. Instead, this unrealistic match-up is titillating. Did anybody go to law school with a girl that looked like Reese Witherspoon? Does anybody know a litigator preparing for a murder trial who maintains a full-body tan? I refuse to believe that I am the only JD out there that has to keep his shirt on for fear of scaring small children.
Maybe if Matthew McConaughey had followed that same code of conduct, I would have gotten his character’s name right the first time.
After the jump, readers weigh in with their choices.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lionel Hutz Invitational: Round 2″

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
On Tuesday, American Lawyer published a follow-up report to their overall associate satisfaction survey, released last Friday. This report ranks midlevel associates’ satisfaction with their pay packages. Not surprisingly, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz midlevels were most satisfied with their overall compensation, thanks in part to bonuses which ranged from $175,000 to $215,000.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, associates still lucky enough to have jobs were less than thrilled with their pay. Overall, midlevel salary satisfaction has only risen 1% annually since 2006.
The new numbers are surprising to some because top firms in other major markets are now matching the base compensation awarded in New York, while New York associates still receive higher bonuses to keep their landlords at bay.
According to American Lawyer, midlevel associates understand that extra compensation results in longer hours, less partner contact, and decreased job security. As one Jenner & Block associate put it, “They’re not raising because they value us. We’re just the collective beneficiary because the firm needs to keep up in the market. It’s a back-handed compliment.”
Perhaps it is time to use the lysine contingency to control the law student population in order to make firms care about associate retention.

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Why does my television constantly tell me that being an attorney is: glamorous, “fun,” and yet so easy that any idiot can do it? I caught a preview for TNT’s new lawyer show, Raising the Bar, and, after my seizure, I realized that dramatic license has gone too far.

So, with a nod to the Coolest Law Firm bracket, I bring you the “Lionel Hutz Invitational.” Which of the following characters has done the most to mislead our friends and family about the true nature of our profession? Let’s keep it to characters created after 1990, so the kids can play along.Today, I’ll start with the quarterfinals, I’ll update the progress on Thursday, and on Friday we’ll vote on the finalists. But I sense how much ATL readers love to write in candidates, so please comment on the fictional donkeys that didn’t make my cut (I cannot watch Eli Stone or Shark). Perhaps I will run my own “shadow poll” based on the most popular write-in choices.

See the field after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Legal Fiction Makes Your Life Worse?”

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
This is why people hate lawyers. This is why lawyers hate lawyers. Scrabulous was too much fun for lawyers to leave it alone.
Hasbro has a legitimate issue, because Scrabulous is clearly ripping them off. Facebook had no choice but to remove Scrabulous once Hasbro smacked them around with a DMCA notification.
Scrabble rack Scrabulous.jpgBut there are other legal issues that Hasbro would like you to ignore. There are split IP rights for the Scrabble franchise; Hasbro owns the North American rights (licensed to Electronic Arts for online play), Mattel owns the rights elsewhere.
Scrabulous’ real sin is that it allows you to log on in New York and play someone living in York. Hasbro’s and EA’s exclusively North American products can’t compete, and that puts panties in a bunch.
Aside from Facebook-stalking counsel from Hasbro and Mattel, what is the solution? Hasbro’s open contempt for the consumer does nothing to change the fact that they have a solid case. They’ve even offered to pay Scrabulous’ creators Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla handily just to go away. But as Real Networks CEO Robert Glaser points out, the real problem is that Hasbro and Mattel must merge their rights.
They’d better get on that soon or I’m going to have to go back to anime porn to pass the time.
(Photo credit: Flickr.)

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Nebraska’s Attorney General Jon Bruning might want to call OnStar before he files his next lawsuit.
In January, Bruning filed suit to stop the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska from constructing a casino on their reservation lands. Unfortunately for Bruning, the Ponca Tribe planned to build their casino in Iowa. In papers filed Friday, the DOJ argued that Bruning lacked standing to block the casino’s construction. The Government could have pointed out that Bruning’s lawsuit is also entirely redundant, given that the Attorney General of Iowa has already filed an appropriate action. How many state Attorneys General does it take to fight off the natives and their tricky card games?
In response to the DOJ’s clever Google maps defense, Bruning refused to bow to any “juris-my-diction” flak. In an email to the Omaha World-Herald, Bruning defended his lawsuit by noting that gamblers might drive through Nebraska to get to the Ponca casino. It will be fun when Bruning claims lordship over Las Vegas, another destination that is hard to get to from Iowa without passing over or through Nebraska.
Posturing lawsuits of this nature are part of a pattern for Killjoy Jon. His other career highlights include leading the charge against salvia, the psychotropic sage that briefly made YouTube fun again. Not surprisingly, his attempt dramatically increased sales of the drug. Bruning did not let the legislature’s refusal to act stop him from enforcing the non-existent statute. On March 10, 2008 a salvia purveyor was arrested for what some would describe as selling a substance we’d very much like to control someday.
To the extent that Bruning’s grandstanding (not my word) distracts him from protecting Nebraskans against thieving crows and other heartland menaces, his reasons are understandable. Like so many attorneys, he is absolutely desperate to get out of the legal profession. Bruning, a Republican, started running for Chuck Hagel’s Senate seat before Hagel even announced his retirement. Having aborted that campaign, Bruning now casts a lascivious eye towards Democrat Bob Nelson’s seat in 2012, or a future gubernatorial run.
Whatever his ambitions, it is unlikely the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska will stand in his way, since the Ponca’s problems, of course, are with Iowa.

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