I graduated law school in 2003, owing Harvard University just under $150,000. At the time, I had no idea what starting my professional career $150K in the hole would do to my life. I figured I’d work hard, make money, and pay my loans out of my general non-disposable income funds — kind of like my cable bill.
Seven years, two careers, numerous deferments and defaults, and one global economic meltdown later, I still owe a ton of money. Now, however, I pay it to various debt collection agencies and lawyers. When prospective landlords run a pro forma credit check on my application, they come back looking at me like I’ve been convicted of multiple war crimes. Every raise I’ll ever get will be eaten up by the collection agencies until sweet death allows me one everlasting and satisfying default. And, oh yeah, I don’t even want to practice law anymore — I quit my Biglaw job because, despite the debt, I really wanted to have a job that I enjoyed. So I essentially purchased a $150,000 disposable good. My time working in Biglaw was kind of like a very expensive vacation that I debt financed.
I mention all this because I am the cautionary tale prospective law students never want to think about. I mention all this because it is noble to crush false hope. I mention all this because there are way too many people poised to follow in my financially ruinous steps….
We know how you love caption contests. Just like our last one, which was holiday-themed, this one is also timely.
It goes out to law students in the midst of studying for or taking final exams. Here’s the pic:
Same rules as always: Submit possible captions in the comments. We’ll choose our favorites — with preference given to those with a legal bent — and then let you vote for the best one.
Please submit your entries by TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, at 11:59 PM. Thanks! UPDATE: Check out the finalists here.
I spent all day yesterday trying to summon the rage, trying to figure out a way to trumpet the cause of a sixty-something, recent law school graduate who is still having trouble discharging her student loans in a bankruptcy proceeding. The National Law Journal has the tear-jerking story:
When she graduated four years ago with a law degree at the age of 61, Denise Megan Bronsdon likely did not foresee bankruptcy court in her future. But that’s where she ended up — as a debtor.
The former farmer’s wife, who operated a tractor before going to Southern New England School of Law in 2002, convinced a Massachusetts bankruptcy court in January that repaying the more than $82,000 she owed in student debt would create an undue hardship. However, the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, considering an appeal by the lender, Educational Credit Management Corp., found on Nov. 20 that Bronsdon’s decision not to participate in a loan repayment assistance program should be part of the bankruptcy court’s undue hardship analysis.
If I was half the man I used to be, I’d take a flamethrower to this place. Hoo-Ha!
But the problem with my flamethrower is that I do not know where to point it. I could get angry at the entire system that makes student loans so difficult to discharge through bankruptcy. Or I could get mad at the law school that essentially stole this woman’s money. Or I could get angry at the woman herself — who failed the Wisconsin bar three times.
Oh, I know, let’s get pissy at all of them.
Our long, national, helium induced nightmare is almost over. CNN is reporting that Richard and Mayumi Heene — parents of Falcon “Balloon Boy” Heene — will plead guilty tomorrow:
The Larimer County district attorney’s office Thursday said Richard Heene has been charged with one count of attempting to influence a public servant, a felony, and Mayumi Heene has been charged with one count of false reporting to authorities, a misdemeanor.
Richard Heene turned himself in Thursday afternoon and was released on his own recognizance, authorities said.
The Heenes will appear Friday in Larimer County Court, where they are expected to plead guilty, their attorneys said.
I think we’ve all learned an important lesson. Children, be they in a balloon, down a well, with a fox, or in a box, do not constitute breaking national news.
Not that there is going to be a lot of sympathy for the Heenes, but it does appear that they got strong armed into this guilty plea.
Details after the jump.
Trick-or-treaters can get into serious trouble on Halloween. Especially if their Halloween activities involve arson. Or blackface. Or guns.
A student at BYU Law School donned a costume last week that was police-raid worthy. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
When Attorney General Mark Shurtleff spoke at a BYU Law School criminal procedures class Thursday, one law student came to class dressed in full SWAT gear, including an armor belt, and some students said he had carried a gun on campus, although they weren’t sure it was real.
Yeah, that’s probably taking All Saints’ Day Eve a little too far.
Delaying start dates for incoming associates may have another downside: leaving them with nothing to do but get into trouble.
Brian Schroeder has an impressive résumé. The Texan graduated from Duke in 2005, having majored in theater studies, and went on to Harvard Law School. There, he was an editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review and a co-president of Lambda, an LGBT student group. He also took part in Parody, the HLS comedy show (which Elie was involved in during his time at Harvard Law).
After taking a year off to travel around Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe, he graduated from HLS this spring and moved to New York for a Biglaw job. He was supposed to start at Sidley Austin. [Update: Tipsters say Schroeder had taken the Sidley deferral package and was doing pro bono work.]
Last week, we posted a highly unusual motion from Arizona. Attorney Tajudeen “Taj” Oladiran filed a “Motion for a [sic] Honest and Honorable Court System” in his racketeering case against Suntrust Bank before the “dishonorable” Susan Bolton.
Taj was extremely disappointed in a ruling by Judge Bolton, calling her “a brainless coward.” He ended the motion with the following:
[M]any good lawyers in town told me the bank’s executives would never be deposed, and that the case would go nowhere. I stupidly stuck to the notion that everyone is equal under the law etc. Boy was I wrong…
My thanks go out to Larry Folks and Kathleen Weber [Ed. Note: opposing counsel] who both warned me that I would lose (I should have listened to them).
I apologize to all my clients. I know, I’m sorry does not repair the mess I made but, that’s all I’ve got.
To my family, words can’t express my apologies; please remember me kindly.
Finally, to Susan Bolton, we shall meet again you know where.
Some readers of last week’s post worried that was a suicidal sign-off.
We got worried too when Taj failed to respond to our emails and phone calls of the past few days. Today, we sent him a Facebook message. When our phone rang with a strange number this afternoon, and the voice on the other end had a Nigerian accent, we were relieved.
Taj lives! He sent us a lengthy missive. Here’s an excerpt:
I hope my explanation will stop the jealous haters that sent me nasty comments from holding their breaths in anticipation of news that I’ve committed suicide. Sorry, no such plans. The Whistleblower Pleading is not about a suicidal lawyer, it is about how an out-of-state bank that made bad mortgage loans in Arizona was able to obtain a horribly biased ruling in its favor. An occurrence that I thought was impossible in the federal district court. .
Given those credentials, we were surprised that he would file one of the craziest motions we’ve come across here at Above The Law.
From the U.S. District Court of Arizona:
It is a motion in a case that Tajudeen Oladiran and his wife filed against Suntrust Bank for racketeering. We gather from the motion that Oladiran was not pleased with the ruling by “the Dishonorable Susan R. Bolton” (as she’s identified in the caption). Oladiran wrote: “I just read your Order and I am very disappointed in the fact that a brainless coward like you is a federal judge.”
A lesson on how not to address the court, after the jump.
On Thursday morning, a “homemade flying saucer” took off from the Colorado yard of Richard and Mayumi Heene. The Heenes drew nationwide attention when they claimed that their 6-year-old son Falcon was inside.
When the saucer finally landed, Falcon did not glide down with it. Instead, he was hiding in the family attic. The Heenes said he was hiding because he feared punishment, but he told CNN that he “did this for the show.”
Now it looks like the Heenes were full of hot air. Robert Thomas, a former assistant to Richard Heene, penned a column for Gawker calling it all a big hoax by his attention-hungry boss, claiming to have discussed a plan like this with Heene earlier this year. Plus, Thomas says the attic in the Heene home is virtually inaccessible and that Falcon would have needed help to fly up there.
The authorities appear to agree and announced last night that they will be filing charges. From the New York Times:
The office did not identify the specific charge or charges on Saturday, but said a Class 3 misdemeanor charge was possible, according to The Associated Press. False reporting of a crime falls under that class of misdemeanor.
The sheriff, Jim Alderden, said a Class 3 misdemeanor “hardly seems serious enough given the circumstances.” He added, “We are talking to the district attorney, federal officials to see if perhaps there aren’t additional federal charges that are appropriate in this circumstance.”
Orly Taitz is a California attorney described by Wikipedia as “a leading figure in the ‘birther’ movement, which challenges whether Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen eligible to serve as President of the United States.” She started the Defend Our Freedoms nonprofit in order to wage the birther battle. We’re glad to see that its website does not have a photo of Obama with a question mark; instead, it has a tasteful image of Taitz’s head photoshopped over the Constitution, the American flag, and ALR volumes.
Earlier this year, Taitz went to federal court (M.D. Ga.) to request a restraining order on behalf of Army doctor Connie Rhodes preventing Rhodes’s deployment to Iraq. Taitz claimed that the deployment order was illegal because President Obama is not legally president, and attached among her evidence the obviously-faked Kenyan birth certificate for Obama that has circulated on the Internetz.
Federal judge Clay Land aborted that birther suit and reprimanded Taitz for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Shortly thereafter, Connie Rhodes wrote Judge Land a letter saying she found out about the lawsuit via media reports and had neither asked Taitz to represent her nor wished to resist her deployment.
Yet Taitz is still laboring over this suit and filed an order challenging Land’s dismissal of the case. He responded by giving her a two-week deadline to explain why he shouldn’t sanction her and fine her $10,000. On the deadline, she filed a motion to recuse Land from the case. He didn’t like that…
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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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