Bad Ideas

In Morning Docket we mentioned that the new public law school at UMass is off to a flying start. Let’s check back in with those students in three years when they are in massive debt and have no job prospects.

We’ve slammed UMass Law quite a bit. But there are other university systems that are looking to fleece those interested in a legal education. Last year, we reported that the University of North Texas was going forward with its plans to start a public law school.

Over the weekend, a tipster sent us the pitch North Texas is using on Texans who don’t know any better. Here’s the school’s headline:

Opening a public law school at the right time in the right place

You have got to be freaking kidding me…

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Ann Althouse was a law student once. (Photo by Richard Lawrence Cohen.)

We spend a lot of time telling prospective law students to carefully consider the decision to go to law school. And still they come. We tell prospective law students that law school is expensive and the job market is weak. But still they come, in record numbers.

What makes them come? NPR did a story on the difficult job market for recent college graduates. The article tells us about Hawaii college graduate Ryan Kam’s considered rationale for going to law school.

It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright pathetic…

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From the files of “things that will never freaking happen,” the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is telling law schools to discontinue divulging LSAT scores to U.S. News for the publication’s annual rankings. SALT should duck before that flying pig smacks it upside its head. The National Law Journal reports:

[SALT] has urged law schools to stop providing U.S. News with their incoming students’ LSAT scores on the theory that the immense pressure to snag incoming students with high scores is making it harder to admit diverse classes. The median LSAT scores of the entering class accounts for 12.5% of each law school’s U.S. News score — a greater weight than the magazine gives to average grade point average or acceptance rate.

Not only is this something that will never happen, it’s also an idea that is beyond dumb. Quite an exacta there from the law teachers…

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An attorney representing a man in a Virginia Circuit Court came up with a creative defense strategy for one of his clients. Attorney George Freeman was representing a man who had pleaded guilty to fraud. Due to nine prior convictions, Rodney Newsome was facing serious jail time.

But Freeman got him off with no sentence at all: By telling the judge that Newsome was dead. From the Washington Post:

Rodway told Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Devine that in 2008 and 2009, Newsome’s attorney at the time, George Freeman, had filed doctor’s notes, and then a report from the Maryland health department, that “indicated Mr. Newsome had gone to the big courthouse in the sky.”

Newsome claims not to have been aware of the fact that his attorney was filing forged doctor’s notes and death reports. He just thought he had a good attorney?

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You don’t know how to ask a question. You don’t know how to offer things into evidence. You keep making stupid speeches. You keep saying you are good at this. You are not. I do not say this to insult you.

Justice Carol Berkman to Robert Camarano, a pro se litigant representing himself in a murder trial in New York State Supreme Court.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good, hard laugh at the expense of Michigan law students. As the recession took hold, Michigan students stopped stealing sandwiches and cell phones.

So maybe the latest spate of on-campus douchebaggery at Michigan is a sign that economy is picking back up? Or maybe it’s simply another example of 1Ls who think law school is College 2.0? A tipster reports:

A secret society has been formed by the rich, straight, white men at Michigan Law, apparently because it’s so difficult to find people like that in the Law School. It appears to be a bastardized version of the old Barrister’s Society. Hostility has been high towards the group of ~20 1Ls, and will probably increase with the leaking of internal memos….

Also, Thursday night they put sheets on our residential building roofs. The biggest problem was that nobody could figure out that the weird scrawling was meant to be a stylized “B”. People were milling about and one could hear “I think that’s an M” “I think that one’s an “IS.” The Barristers don’t have great penmanship.

Yeah, we’ve got leaked memos, and art! And if you caught 30 Rock this week, you should know that these guys are not nearly as cool as Twig and Plums …

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I was trying to engage my class, moving about the room, and I saw a student watching a graphic porn video on his laptop. Really? And this guy hopes to be a practicing lawyer in nine months?

– An unidentified law professor, complaining about student laptop misuse in class.

Cornell Law School Andy Bernard The Office Ed Helms.jpgCornell’s use of Andy “The Nard Dog” Bernard to promote its law school was a questionable decision. Alumni are saying it makes their toolish reputation even worse, and some are calling for someone at the law school to be fired.

After news outlets like TMZ and Entertainment Weekly picked up our story, the school rethought the promotional item. (Even though over 35% of our readers thought it was a brilliant idea.)

One problem with the ad is that Bernard is a total douche. From CLS alumnus METAezra:

For those of you who don’t quite understand the problem with this (beyond the fact that the ‘Nard Dog has no ties to the Law School), Andy Bernard is like the uncle in your family that nobody quite likes. You can laugh at him in the presence of good friends, and smirk at him in the presence of polite company. But you don’t bring him up unless asked.

There may be a much bigger problem with the ad, though. It may reveal that the law school doesn’t have a very good handle on intellectual property law…

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caution crazy people.jpgAttorneys and law students across the country have been on the receiving end of emails from a rabid activist named Leslie Brodie this month. Brodie is waging a crusade to “end racism/sexism in U.S. law firms” by starting a petition.
In a mass email about the petition, she directed her attack specifically at one firm, the small San Francisco-based Kerr & Wagstaffe. Brodie mentions founding partner James Wagstaffe, who is also an adjunct professor at UC Hastings Law, and points out “that out of 10 lawyers, all but one are white; out of seven partners, all but one are males; and all the associates are young and attractive white females.”
Virginia attorney Ken Lammers of Crim Law Blog was one of the many to receive the email. He checked out Kerr & Wagstaffe’s website and offered a measured and convincing defense of the firm, in part arguing that the female attorneys aren’t actually that hot. He also discovered the reason for Brodie’s attack on Wagstaffe:

As I write this, the petition has 13 whole “signatures”, 4 of which call out the author and 1 of which is the author threatening a disagreeing signatory with sanction by the law school. It’s the exchange between these two which clarified what’s actually going on here. I had thought that this was a non-hire who was striking back at the firm, but apparently it’s even more petty than that. This is about a bad grade which the author got from James Wagstaffe in a CivPro class. A BAD GRADE. A law firm, which by all appearances is filled with bright, capable people, is dragged through the mud over a grade. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

A Berkeley law student responded to the mass email by requesting removal from the mailing list, citing the CAN-SPAM Act — a perfectly reasonable request. But when you’re dealing with unhinged, anti-racist spammers, reason doesn’t often serve you well…

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Macys star logo.JPGIn October, we mentioned that the giant department store, Macy’s, was having some trouble disposing of its sensitive documents. Reports surfaced that internal documents, some of which included the Social Security numbers of Macy’s customers, were being disposed of on the streets of St. Louis, in lidless containers.
Now, months after the initial, embarrassing incident, Macy’s is doing it again. Missouri Lawyers Weekly reports (subscription):

Sensitive Macy’s records have again been littering the sidewalks of downtown St. Louis.
The records, meant for disposal, included shoppers’ Social Security numbers, employees’ expense reports, memos from the department store’s attorneys and even a letter from a distressed aunt about a foul-mouthed Santa Claus.

Macy’s — and Federated Department Stores, which owns Macy’s — has had months to fix this obvious problem. Their solution? Wait for it… buy lids for the streetside containers!
Details on this clever plan after the jump.

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