Bad Ideas

Georgetown Law logo.jpgWe were beset by technical difficulties here at ATL yesterday (as we explained in our Twitter feed). We apologize for the site outages; hopefully the situation will be better next week.
At least we didn’t have to go out in the snow. Our brethren in D.C. were not as fortunate. The Washington Post reports:

The full weight of winter brought life in much of the Washington region to a standstill Saturday as a storm predicted to be one of the most powerful on record dumped 12 to 21 inches of snow overnight. …
[O]fficials pleaded with people to stay off the roads until conditions improve. People were confined to their homes by the mountains of snow, many in the dark as trees brought down power lines.

Stay off the roads? But we’ve got an LSAT to take, damn it.

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Damian Bonazzoli.JPGIn November, we told you about Damian Bonazzoli, who was — at that time — a senior staff attorney for the Massachusetts Appeals Court. He decided to make some money on the side by responding to a Craigslist ad seeking someone to write a term paper.
The Boston College law grad sent along his résumé and said he was willing to write a paper on physician-assisted suicide for $300. The Craigslist poster though was not a lazy Harvard freshman. It was an investigative journalist for Commonwealth magazine, who wanted to expose the “shadowy underworld” of college papers for purchase.
When the journalist confronted him, Bonazzoli was surely embarrassed but said:

“I am aware of no state or federal statute that prohibits such a practice. This is not the equivalent of, say, lying on a federal employment or tax form,” he said. “Could your school take disciplinary action? Of course. But that’s quite different from a criminal prosecution.”

Bonazzoli should have done some research before making that statement, as there is such a statute, passed in 1972.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court was none too pleased to have one of its staff attorneys on the wrong side of the law…

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Snooki Jersey Shore NYU Law.JPGAs a denizen of New York City, I find that I have to deal with people who could be cast members on The Jersey Shore all the time. They clog up my 4 train when the Yankees are playing. They bounce at bars and clubs. Here in the city, you can even see them in their natural habitat, Gold’s Gym.
That’s why I was surprised when students at NYU Law School offered $2,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to get Snooki to come out and party with them. Why buy the landfill when you can get trash for free?
But in the hearty Midwest, it’s a little easier to understand why the cast from Jersey Shore can be so compelling. I mean, from the perspective of a Midwesterner, the cast of Jersey Shore must look like an alien species. I bet a Midwesterner would look at J-WOWW with the same level of fascination I’d regard Michele Bachmann. “What does it eat?” “Can I pet it?” “If I use a sentence comprised entirely of polysyllabic words, will its head explode?”
So, I have a modicum of understanding for the underground movement happening at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Here’s part of a letter that Above the Law received yesterday:

Dear AbovetheLaw,
I am a third-year law student at the University of Wisconsin Law School. My graduation is fast approaching and so far we (my classmates and I) have not heard who is going to be our guest speaker. However, the last thing I want to hear during my graduation is how great we are for becoming young lawyers, and that we have such a promising future ahead, especially considering our employment options currently. Instead a couple of classmates and I have come up with this great idea. If our futures are going to dissolve following graduation, we want to go down “guns blazing.” We want to raise money in order to bring the cast of Jersey Shore to come as our guest speakers.

Wasn’t this the setup for The Simple Life?
Are the Wisconsin students serious? More details after the jump.

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Ally McBeal female lawyer woman attorney Calista Flockhart.jpgLast week we wrote about an upcoming panel discussion, sponsored by the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Women in the Law, that generated some controversy. The panel, entitled “Their Point of View: Tips from the Other Side,” was going to feature “[a] distinguished panel of gentlemen from the legal field,” who would opine on “the strengths and weaknesses of women in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization, and women’s overall management of their legal work.”
After some negative reactions, including calls for a boycott, the NYSBA revised the panel title and description. We noted this in an update to our post (added on Friday at 6 PM before the holiday weekend, so some of you may have missed it).
The revised panel, according to the NYSBA, will feature both women and men. The new description of the event led Professor Bridget Crawford to rescind her call for a boycott.
But at least two “distinguished gentlemen” will not be participating in the new and improved panel. Details — plus a READER POLL, and highlighted comments from our last post — after the jump.

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Ally McBeal female lawyer woman attorney Calista Flockhart.jpgEd. note: Above the Law is a bit estrogen-deprived this week, with both Kash and Marin on vacation. So your above-signed writer, who is more in touch with his feminine side than Elie, was called up for duty. He apologizes for not being able to do justice to this subject.
UPDATE (6 PM): The New York State Bar Association has changed the title and description of the panel in question. Details after the jump.
Women in the law: you’ve come a long way, babies. Many of you are partners, even managing partners, at top law firms. Some of you are professors, even deans, at leading law schools. One if you is the Solicitrix General; two of you sit on the Supreme Court.
But maybe you still need some advice for navigating the mean, cutthroat, male-dominated world of the legal profession. Ideally these tips should come from, you know…. MEN.
At the upcoming annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association, the Committee on Women in the Law is sponsoring a program called “Weathering Tough Times: Strategic Planning for Your Practice.” It includes this panel:
NYSBA conference panel Their Point of View Tips from the Other Side.jpg
So, how do you think women lawyers reacted to the prospect of enlightenment from a “distinguished panel of gentlemen”?

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Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgI 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….

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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:
Law Studying in the toilet bathroom stall.jpg
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.

Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgI 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.

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Falcon Heene Balloon Boy hoax.jpgOur 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.

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swat officer.jpgTrick-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.

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