Bad Ideas

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Did Cornell Law School Violate IP Law with its ‘Nard Dog’ Ad?”

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Crazy Spammer Maligns San Francisco Law Firm and Berkeley 3L”

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dear In-House Counsel for Macy’s: Buy a Shredder. HTH.”

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Snowpocalypse LSAT at Georgetown”

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hard-Hitting Term Paper Exposé Costs Appellate Law Clerk His Job”

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Update: Some Panelists Won’t Participate in Revised Panel for Lady Lawyers”

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”?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hey, Lady Lawyers: Have We Got a Conference for You….”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Debt: The Silent Killer”

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.

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