Conferences / Symposia

Banks need panic buttons. Jodie Foster needs a panic room. I only panic when it’s nine in the afternoon. But the thought that American law schools should have a panic button in their career services office didn’t occur to me until I attended the NALP panel on spotting mental health issue in the law school community.

The panel consisted of Hanna Stotland, a career and admissions consultant; Dr. Nada Stotland, Professor of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center; and William Chamberlain, Director of Career Services at DePaul Law School.

I thought I was in for a touchy-feely hour about how it’s wrong to exclude the awkward gunner in the front row from all the reindeer games. Instead it was a sobering medical breakdown of the mental illnesses that afflict 20 percent of law students — and what career services officers can do to help stop people from literally killing themselves, which happens at way more law schools than I realized.

And yeah, your CSO should probably get a panic button installed if it doesn’t have one already….

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Tampa is lovely this time of year.

Hello from Tampa, Florida, site of the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). Elie Mystal, Brian Dalton and I have been attending some excellent panels, catching up with old friends, and making new ones (although some law school folks here have given Elie the stink eye).

Yesterday I attended an interesting panel entitled “Homegrown or Not: Lateral Hiring vs. Law Student Recruiting.” The important topic drew a standing room only crowd….

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We had the good fortune to have Patrick Fitzgerald — the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois who recently joined Skadden — speak to my company’s global compliance conference last month.

Let me prove that I’ve learned a little about this blogging business over the years: Before the jump, I’ll give you my personal thought or two about introducing prominent speakers. I’ll hold the good stuff — what Fitzgerald, the famous guy, said — until after the jump. (Watch this, Lat! They’ll be drawn through the jump like vultures to carrion!)

How do you introduce a prominent speaker? You can do it the usual way: He went to school, got a job, and did some fancy stuff, zzzzzzzz.

Or you can find something offbeat about the person. I chose to introduce Fitzgerald by saying that I was afraid that our speaker had peaked too young. He had been named one of the sexiest men alive by People magazine in 2005; how do you ever surpass that? And, also in 2005, he had received an award from Washingtonian magazine for “best performance without a script.” For most people, it’s all downhill from there.

Fortunately, our speaker managed to surpass his early achievements. And then I trotted through what must be the usual litany in a Fitzgerald introduction: Led the prosecutions of former Illinois Governors George Ryan (sentenced to five years) and Rod Blagojevich (14 years) and a bunch of others.

That was my contribution to the hour. But, you might ask, what did the famous guy have to say?

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From what I recall of this panel, he was speaking for the trees.

The title had flitted into the ATL tips inbox a couple weeks earlier: Exploring Civil Society Through the Writings of Dr. Seuss. The invitation described a seven-hour symposium of legal academics waxing philosophic about the legal lessons one could draw from Hop on Pop.

My instincts told me that this session could be a ludicrous ivory tower circle jerk.

But most importantly, the invitation told me it was $55 for 7 hours of CLE, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and an open wine/beer bar. And with that, I was off to New York Law School to cover the event.

Their first mistake was not having green eggs and ham for breakfast. What the hell? I’m unaware of the work in the Seuss oeuvre that focuses on “sesame seed bagels” (ed. note: Thomas the Ox Who Loved Lox). Perhaps we’re too close to St. Patrick’s Day for the city to spare any of its Strategic Green Food Coloring Reserve on non-alcoholic causes.

What did I learn from a day in Whoville? Here are four specific observations….

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Chief Judge Merrick Garland

Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since last week, is dreading March 1.

With heavy stress on “not,” Chief Judge Garland said he does “not look forward” to the potential sequester because he knows that it would mean cuts and that he would have to make them.

Garland, along with fellow D.C. Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith and Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, spoke Saturday at the Georgetown University Law Center, as part of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society’s annual conference. I attended the panel presentation.

One positive of the new job for Garland is that he can make more writing assignments. Like Justice Breyer, he was a longtime junior judge. Translation: He had to take what he was given to write.

“The public has seen [Garland’s] last opinion on energy law,” Griffith predicted.

Read more about the panel, including Silberman’s jabs at the recess appointments decision, Griffith’s magical (?) clerk gift, and Garland’s limited edition headgear for a court party, after the jump….

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‘If you really wanna party with me…’

Most professional conferences for lawyers are painfully boring. You register, engage in awkward small talk with other attendees, and the time spent listening to the speakers’ presentations is often interrupted by incessant watch-checking to see if time is, in fact, going in slow motion. We’re willing to bet that most lawyers would rather subject themselves to the evils of document review than continue to suffer through another monotonous, days-long conference.

But what if in exchange for all of that never-ending boredom, the conference host was gracious enough to provide all of the lawyers present with the concert experience of their lives?

That’s a respite from torture that everyone would be willing to pay for….

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‘If only I had an eDiscovery solution for compliance and discovery requests to efficiently manage, identify, analyze, and produce potentially responsive information from a single, unified platform. Of course, it would be hosted in a private, cloud-based environment.’

While technology has reduced costs for many areas of legal practice (e.g., research), the centrality of electronically stored information to complex civil litigation has sent discovery costs skyrocketing. Hence the rapid proliferation of e-discovery vendors like so many remoras on the Biglaw shark. Nobody seems to know how large the e-discovery market is — estimates range from 1.2 to 2.8 billion dollars — but everyone agree it’s not going anywhere. We’re never going back to sorting through those boxes of documents in that proverbial warehouse. New amendments to the FRCP specifically dealing with e-discovery became effective way back in December 2006, but if the e-discovery vendors (evangelists?) at this week’s LegalTech tradeshow are to be believed, we are only in the technology’s infancy in terms of its development and impact on the legal profession.

At LegalTech, we attended a “supersession” presented by e-discovery provider Planet Data, promising to present “judicial, industry, legal, and media perspectives on where legal technology is taking litigation and how it affects you.” Don’t be jealous….

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* The latest bombshell in the Chevron / Ecuador litigation: an ex-judge cops to participation in a bribery scheme. [Fortune]

* I wish this “defense” of posting one’s law school grades on Facebook were more full-throated and “in your face.” [Virginia Law Weekly]

* I suspect Professor Stephen Bainbridge is in the minority here. Most of my law professor friends enjoy all-expenses-paid trips to the Cayman Islands. [Professor Bainbridge]

Elie Mystal, or Somali pirate?

* Professor Glenn Reynolds: “As the GOP looks for issues it can win on, how about lowering the drinking age?” I’ll raise a glass to that. [Instapundit]

* Ahoy, mateys! Did the Supreme Court grant cert in that piracy case out of the Fourth Circuit? [FindLaw]

* Not all liberals hate guns. [New York Times]

After the jump, the dashing and handsome Ryan Chenevert — Cosmo’s reigning Bachelor of the Year, and a Louisiana lawyer — offers his thoughts on dating….

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I work in the IT department of a law firm and I set up conference rooms for meetings. A few of the rooms I set up are right across the street from a brand new apartment building that’s almost 50 stories tall. Most of the time you can’t see into people’s living rooms because the glass is reflective. But between 8 and 9 a.m., because of the angle of the sun, you can see right into people living rooms and bedrooms. One woman gets up around 8:30 a.m. and likes to strut around her bedroom naked.

“Accidental Peeping Tom,” who recently sought the counsel of Slate’s Dear Prudence advice column. Check out his query, and her response, over here.

(If you have an idea about which law firm this person works at, feel free to drop us a line. We might want to schedule some morning meetings there….)

So I went to the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools in New Orleans this past weekend. The place was lousy with law school deans and I had a ton of interesting, off-the-record conversations that I can’t report on. I also spent a weekend in New Orleans that involved all sorts of other things I can’t report on. It was fun and informative, you just have to trust me.

One thing I can report on was an AALS panel I attended, “The 75th Anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Looking Back, Looking Ahead.” Now… I know that doesn’t scream “drop your panties,” but the panel was moderated by Arthur Miller. Yeah, that Arthur Miller, the famous law professor who wrote Death of A Civil Procedure Rules Salesman or something. And the all-star panel he was moderating included Justice Antonin Scalia… a person Miller doesn’t really agree with when it comes to rules. I had to go. Literally, I had to.

Unfortunately, the conversation was completely over my head. I’m not embarrassed to say that. Other people in my position may pretend that they got the most out of this discussion between Miller, Scalia, Biglaw partners, district judges, and others who have advised the Rules Committee. To me it sounded like, “TWOMBLY wha wha whaa, but in IQBAL wha wha wha wha! Wha? Given TWOMBLY’s wha and IQBAL’s wha, how could you wha wha whaaa?? [Laughter]”

That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything….

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