California

Monica Marie Jenkins

I’m not worried anymore; give me some cocaine.

– Los Angeles County public defender Monica Marie Jenkins, in a statement allegedly made to police officers shortly after she was arrested on drunk-in-public, assault, and battery charges at the San Francisco International Airport. Jenkins was not permitted to board a flight due to her drunken state, and as police attempted to escort her from the gate, she allegedly began to kick at them and scream profanities, threatening to sue them. Soon after she arrived at San Mateo County Jail, she allegedly tried to bite a nurse. Jenkins pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lawsuit filed earlier this month has raised the ire of several leading lawyers and legal bloggers. Noted First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza — a panelist at our Attorney@Blog conference, by the way — describes the case as “truly disgusting.” Ken White of Popehat, another prominent commentator on the legal profession, calls the suit “despicable” and “thoroughly contemptible,” writing that he “cannot remember a lawsuit that so immediately repulsed and enraged.”

Let’s find out what all the buzz is about. Which law firm filed this controversial complaint, what is the case about, and how bad is it?

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Hello, bar exam takers. We hope everything is going well. If you are taking the February Bar because you failed the one in July, take heart; things can’t get any worse.

Well, unless you are in California. Things certainly got “worse” for some test takers in Ontario and Pasadena yesterday. Really, it’s the kind of exam screw up that you would expect from New Jersey.

Read on for the gory details….

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Ed. note: Please welcome Jenny M. Brandt, who will cover celebrities and the law. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

Dax Shepard somewhat recently wrote in the Huffington Post of his support of the legislation signed into law in September aimed at curbing paparazzi from aggressively photographing children. Interesting. How could such a law comport with the First Amendment? Though there are several more paparazzi regulations that an organization called the Paparazzi Reform Initiative seek to enact, SB 606 is noteworthy because it was signed into law and because Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry were public supporters — they even testified before California’s Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of the bill.

Although it was previously illegal for a person to intentionally harass a child because of his parent’s employment (really? weird), SB 606 made it so that actually photographing or attempting to photograph a minor without his parent’s consent in a way that “seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes” is harassment and punishable in the county jail for up to one year. The new language essentially specifies that if the conduct that seriously alarms the child is photographing him, then it is illegal, thereby implicating the First Amendment….

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Christina Gagnier

Ed. note: Please welcome Christina Gagnier, who will be covering small law firm practice. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

My foray into writing this column for Above the Law is appropriately timed with a running Evernote scribble of speculative episodes that my partner and I have been sketching out about our lives managing a small law firm. Running a boutique tech law firm in San Francisco led by two women with a bunch of under 35-somethings is fodder for a half-hour “dramedy.”

Hopefully, through some storytelling, this column can provide inspiration, and perhaps to some, caution, about running a boutique/small law firm. Some of the things that happen to us are a little too unbelievable to be true, but I assure you, they happened and continue to make us laugh (or cry).

A little backstory. My partner and I met at law school and quickly came to the realization that we needed to get back to work, or the entire experience of simply reading a lot of old material and regurgitating it back on exams would quickly claim our souls. So, as is the San Francisco entrepreneurial way, we started our law firm, then solely a public affairs consulting firm, by incorporating in the back of our Evidence class.

The starting operating budget? $87 from an AT&T account deposit refund. We scurried to the nearest Bank of America and began to live the American dream of being lawyers in a big city. I guess it was the American dream if the American dream consists of crashing on office floors, sleeping in airports, and working out of Starbucks. It was 2008, and we thought to ourselves, in the midst of the greatest economic upheaval since the Great Depression, that we would simply walk out of law school and start a law firm. Well, we are still here…

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Times are still desperate for recent law graduates looking for work. There’s no guarantee that you are going to get a good job… or any job.

One parent of a Millennial is doing what parents of Millenials often do: stepping in to soften the slings and arrows of their son’s outrageous fortune.

I can’t really fault the parent, but I’d be mortified if I were the son. Of course, the son could have thought more critically about his future before he went to law school in the first place….

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Ed. note: Please welcome Jenny M. Brandt, who will be covering celebrities and the law. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

As an attorney, I have noticed how obsessed other attorneys are with boxing in our identities. Either you’re a plaintiff’s attorney or a defense attorney. A prosecutor or a public defender. A Biglaw sell out or a public interest bleeding heart. Everything about you can be learned from which area of law you pursued. To some degree, these stereotypes ring true. I could never be a prosecutor, and there are few I’d like to have a drink with. They are a certain kind of person. But, in many ways, these boxes restrict us from living life free to enjoy all that is out there for consumption.

I view the aversion to celebrity gossip among attorneys as a byproduct of this black and white thinking. What does it say about you if you actually care that a criminal defense attorney allegedly slept with Lamar Odom, a Kardashian husband? Attorneys like to sound smart and believe the same about themselves. Consuming celebrity gossip with the masses means that you are a commoner, lowbrow, lacking in sophistication, or just plain dumb. Right?

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Getting placed on a law school admissions wait list can be traumatizing if you overthink it. The admissions officers thought you were good, but not quite good enough. They’re waiting to see if they’re desperate enough to allow a simpleton like you to become a member of the entering class. You could be in law school limbo for weeks, or even months.

Imagine how devastating it would be to receive a rejection letter after languishing on a wait list for what seemed like eons, hoping and praying that this would be the school to accept you. Imagine how vindictive you’d be if you were under the impression your application had been guaranteed special consideration. Imagine what it would be like to exact your revenge upon another cruel admissions dean, as you’ve done so masterfully in the past.

Keep reading if you want to see how to weasel your way from a rejection to an acceptance by making veiled threats of impending litigation….

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Some large law firms, when announcing year-end associate bonuses, also announce base salaries for the new year. In Biglaw, the salary scale hasn’t budged since January 2007, when Simpson Thacher announced the $160K scale (providing for base salaries ranging from $160,000 for first-year associates to $280,000 for eighth-year associates).

You could view this as a compensation cut, since we have had some inflation (even if not high inflation) since 2007. According to the inflation calculator of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $160,000 in 2013, the latest year available, had the same buying power as $142,407 in 2007. Of course, law school tuition has climbed quite a bit since 2007 — so even for the lucky souls who land Biglaw jobs, the value proposition of a law degree isn’t as appealing today as it was back in 2007. You’re paying more for a degree that gets you less.

What’s the solution? Work for a firm that will pay you more than $160,000 as a starting salary, of course! Let’s say hello to the newest member of the $160K-Plus Club….

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* Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, has left Akin Gump’s dugout. He hopes to hit it out of the park and slide into his new home at Jackson Lewis. Please, no more baseball references. :( [Am Law Daily]

* Thanks to Virginia, the electric chair may be making a comeback when drugs for lethal injection aren’t available. OMG, that’s so freakin’ lame. Bring back the breaking wheel or death by disembowelment. [Gawker]

* A lawyer won’t have to pay an ex-law student $1M after making a hyperbolic challenge in a TV interview. Better luck reading the Leonard v. Pepsico case next time, pal. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Protip: when you’ve been recommended for suspension for your “contemptuous attitude,” bragging that one of the judges who disciplined you thinks you’re “probably the best DUI lawyer” isn’t smart. [Santa Barbara Independent]

* If you watch The Walking Dead, you’ve probably wondered if all of the killing was legal — because you’re a lawyer, and you can’t enjoy anything anymore. Here’s your answer, from a UC Hastings Law prof. [GQ]

* If you’d like your chickens to live a life of luxury before you eat them and their eggs, then you’re going to love this law in California. If not, you can move to Missouri. See Elie squawk about it here. [ATL Redline]

* Ian Whittle, a recent George Mason Law grad, took a break from watching the saddest Super Bowl ever to save a little girl from drowning in a pond. Check out the news coverage, after the jump. [CBS 6 WTVR]

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