Bad Ideas

Ed. note: This post is by “The Gobbler,” one of the two writers under consideration to join Morning Dockette as a Morning Docket writer. As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comments.

Lawyers tend to define their careers by numbers (school rank, class rank, firm rank) – at least when the numbers are to their liking. Unfortunately for Larry Joe Davis, he does not have a good number (a 3.7 out of 10). He is angry about it and, like any good American, expressed his anger in the form of a lawsuit. Larry Joe’s rambling 21-page complaint, which he of course filed pro se, makes him the latest of several plaintiffs to take a shot at Avvo, the Zagat-esque rating website for the legal industry. I haven’t read the other complaints, but I’m still sure his is the worst of the group.

It reads like a Jack Kerouac novel, jumping around and running together, making it harder to follow than a screenplay-style blog post. The two main points seem to be that Avvo has a “routine business practice of publishing false and misleading information regarding attorneys” and that it coerces attorney participation via a “join-us-and-fix-it-or-else strategy” that “approaches actionable blackmail.” In other words, Larry Joe doesn’t like what’s on his profile and can’t figure out how to change it. His Internet ineptitude seems far-fetched at first, but given his statement in the complaint that web searching is a “new field,” maybe he really can’t figure it out.

So what “misleading information” is making Mr. Davis one of the mad ones?

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Zenovia Evans

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on “Ethan Haines,” a law school grad who is allegedly on a hunger strike to support the cause of law school transparency. Today, Ethan has outed herself in USA Today, as Zenovia Evans (pictured).

Here’s the USA Today report about her hunger strike:

One recent grad even went on a hunger strike on Aug. 5. “We have a new crop starting, and no one’s telling them anything about this,” says Zenovia Evans, 28, of Denver, who uses the name “Ethan Haines” on her blog, UnemployedJD.com.

The first in her family to finish college, she says that “no one wants to say, ‘Hey, career office, you failed me,’ ” but “I couldn’t take this lying down.” She says she owes more than $150,000 in loans.

So she’s a girl! Well, that’s one twist.

At least one anti-law-school blogger (aka “law school scamblogger”) who initially supported Haines / Evans now feels like the whole thing is a publicity stunt, maybe even a hoax…

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A D.C.-based friend of Above the Law sent us an email Friday, with very simple instructions:

LOL … please find out more about these d-bags:

http://biglawsociety.eventbrite.com/

The link took us to an invitation to the launch party for the “Big Law Society.” It’s tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at the BlackFinn American Saloon. While BlackFinn is in the appropriate part of town, the power corridor near the White House, it is a sports bar.

A sports bar! Ick. Not an auspicious start for these “d-bags.” (A proper Biglaw Society event should be in the cigar bar at the Old Ebbitt Grill, or at an upscale restaurant like the Palm or Central.)

What is it with D.C. and douchey societies? See our previous coverage of the Ivy Plus Society.

We’re not sure how many firms in D.C. received the invitation, but our Biglaw correspondent told us that the email with the invitation attached was “carpet-bombed to associates” in his office. We’ve tried to find out more about the people behind BLS, but it appears they want to keep the founders’ identities secret. We did find something that gave us serious concern about this society, though…

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An attorney's lovely suburban home was allegedly transformed into A DEN OF SEXUAL SIN....

This story — which could also qualify as a Lawsuit of the Day — is fine, funny Friday fodder. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports:

Adam Bunge, an attorney, and his wife, Sarah Bunge, a Lutheran pastor, put their Maple Grove home up for sale and headed off to London this year for a four-month “work holiday.”

While they were gone, they allege in a lawsuit filed last week, their real estate agent used their house and possessions for “unauthorized sexual escapades,” staining their sheets, couch, carpet and other surfaces….

“It feels like we have been violated in every sense of the word,” Adam Bunge said in an interview.

The Bunges weren’t the only ones who were “violated.” In every room of the house. And it got pretty messy up in there….

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Some people — such as the many anti-law-school bloggers, or my colleague here at Above the Law, Elie Mystal — think there are too many law schools. I’m not as much of a pessimist; I take a more measured view. Although I share the concern that perhaps too many schools are cranking out too many debt-saddled graduates, releasing them into an already saturated legal job market, I think there are some perfectly good reasons to go to law school.

Should I be even more optimistic? Is it possible that we need more law schools? Maybe law degrees are like clean water or good health care: everybody needs them, so we have to make sure that every part of the country has a source.

If that’s the thinking, then this week brings some good news: a law school is coming to Shreveport. With a population of 200,145, this bustling metropolis is the third-largest city in Louisiana.

Let’s learn more about the fabulous Louisiana College School of Law….

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As of this writing, Ethan Haines, writer of the UnemployedJD blog, has gone 32 hours without food. I think the kid might be joking, but Haines said he is going on a hunger strike — to convince law schools to be more transparent about the employment options of graduates, before the schools rope them into three years and six figures of debt.

He’s even served official notice of his hunger strike on five law schools, and he’ll put five more on notice today. From his self-styled media advisory:

On August 5, 2010, Ethan Haines, self-designated J.D. Class Representative, emailed an Official Notice of Hunger Strike to administrators of ten randomly selected law schools ranked in the Top 100 of the 2010 U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. These schools were selected because they stand to gain the most from keeping the current rankings structure in place.

Ethan intends to bring awareness to the concerns of law students and recent law graduates by having them addressed by law school administrators. Their primary concerns are inaccurate employment statistics, ineffective career counseling, and rising tuition costs. The strike was motivated by a recent American Bar Association (ABA) investigate Report, which concluded that educational leaders are unable to timely combat the adverse affects of U.S. News’ rankings on legal education.

It’s a worthy cause, even if Haines’s methods seem a little tongue-in-cheek. At the very least, unemployed law graduates with mountains of debt don’t have a lot of spare money lying around for food. Might as well put all those hunger pains to good use.

And maybe he’s not joking? Like all legitimate hunger strikers, Haines has a list of demands…

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Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink champagne on ice
And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
And in the master’s chambers, They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can’t kill the beast

For many takers of the bar exam, the ordeal is over. Yay! Congratulations. It’s time to get your dragon drink on.

But before you put this experience behind you, we wanted to give you one last picture of bar exam trauma. A tipster reports:

I’m taking the CA bar exam at the Ontario location and staying at the adjacent Airport Marriott. I found the following on my pillow last night.

Yeah, the Marriott’s heart was in the right place, but they really need to think more critically about what kind of gifts they leave on the pillows of people taking the bar…

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A group calling itself “Concerned Citizens of the United States” has compiled and published a list of 1,300 allegedly illegal immigrants living in Utah. In addition to names and addresses, the list goes into shocking personal detail about the people the Concerned Citizens group is concerned about, The New York Times reports:

Each page of the list is headed with the words “Illegal Immigrants” and each entry contains details about the individuals listed — from their address and telephone number to their date of birth and, in the case of pregnant women, their due dates. The letter was received by law enforcement and media outlets on Monday and Tuesday.

Hey, nothing says “America” quite like menacing pregnant women, right?

But the medical data released by this organization could make somebody liable for a felony….

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There are a lot of angry job hunters in the legal marketplace right now, thanks to lots of debt and little in the way of prospects. They’re desperate, frustrated, and may be dangerous. The Great Recession has turned some of these poor legal puppies into Cujos.

In May, we wrote about a heated exchange between a Massachusetts law student and a potential lawyerly employer. The lawyer, Rose Clayton, had hesitations about hiring the law student as a paralegal and offered to hire him on a trial basis. When he objected, demanding a full-time offer instead, she laid out exactly what he had done wrong. That set him off and the conversation deteriorated into an exchange of unconstructive criticism. The law student, Jesse Clark, ended with this:

It’s amazing that the Ma Bar lets women practice law. Shouldn’t you be home cleaning and raising children? As for your practice, its just Bankruptcy. It’s not difficult, and many Petitioners file pro bono and get discharges.

Clayton posted the exchange online, redacting the student’s name, and Massachusetts Law Weekly picked up on it. And then we picked up on it. Jesse Clark responded on his blog and thus shed the cloak of anonymity.

Noah Schaffer at the Massachusetts Law Weekly’s Docket identified Clark in a second story, which led Clark to create a nude modeling profile for Schaffer.

After corresponding with Clark, my photo and phone number found their way into a Craigslist casual encounters ad. I deflated quite a few, um, hearts when I let the many callers know that it was a prank.

Then all was quiet on the digital terrorism front for over a month. Until this week. Rose Clayton became the victim of a nasty new prank…

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Erin Elmore, The Apprentice

Erin Elmore, ex-reality TV star.

In our last few reality TV stories, we have highlighted the perils of putting your life on camera — publicly flunking out of law school, having the world know you’ve failed the bar exam twice, and exposing an ego surgically enhanced to the size of Texas.

One former reality TV star emailed us to protest. Erin Elmore wrote:

I also was on a realty show….. Apprentice 3 with Donald Trump. It actually opened career doors and I never regretted doing the show!!!

Elmore was on the 2005 Magna vs. Net Worth edition of the show, pitting those with book smarts against those with street smarts. Since she has a law degree from Villanova, she was obviously teamed up with the book smarties.

She sent along a series of YouTube clips with the email, showcasing all the TV gigs she’s gotten since doing The Apprentice. Here’s a montage. The girl knows how to work a Philadelphia red carpet.

Elmore worked for Marshall Dennehey and then JP Morgan Chase before going on The Apprentice. Trump fired her, and she returned to the world of law. To what great heights has reality television propelled her?

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