Bad Ideas

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.

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.

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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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