Conferences / Symposia

Let’s talk about two of our favorite topics: money and politics. And the combination of the two, which creates both problems and opportunities for our democracy.

On Saturday I attended an excellent New Yorker Festival panel about politics and money, featuring some impressive speakers:

What did these distinguished and high-powered panelists have to say about the influence of money on our political system?

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Mahbod Moghadam

* VC heavyweight Andressen Horowitz is investing in Rap Genius, the hip-hop brainchild of Stanford Law grad Mahbod Moghadam. Yadadamean? [Rap Genius]

* If your fraternity has to hire a lawyer to hold a press conference to deny allegations of butt-chugging, and an extraordinarily uncomfortable video of the press conference makes its way online… you’re probably up s**t’s creek without a wine bottle paddle. [Outkick the Coverage]

* There’s no crying in baseball, and, in other creepily homoerotic collegiate news, there shall be no drunken teabagging in college football, either. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

* Professor Richard Sander’s new book (affiliate link) argues that affirmative action actually hurts the students it intends to help. Release the partisan bickering! [The Atlantic via ProfessorBainbridge]

* An interview with law prof Jay Wexler, who also released a book (affiliate link) earlier this year. His is slightly less serious. Absurdist legal humor for the win. Check out this podcast interview, too! [Constitutional Daily]

* The fifth annual She Leads Conference on Women in the Law is this Friday at American University Washington College of Law. Go forth and be educated! [Ms. JD]

* U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz of Connecticut, RIP. [Connecticut Post]

This column was written in the middle of a swamp in Central Florida. Yes, I speak of Orlando, and specifically, the 47 square miles of property belonging to the Disney Corporation. I am attending the Annual Meeting of the Association of Corporate Counsel, but all my kids know is that Dad disappears for a while each day while they ride, eat, play, swim, etc., to their hearts’ content. I have written before of my membership in ACC and the benefits that I have enjoyed in my five plus years as a member. This week, Lat asked me to report in from the conference, and I was happy to oblige.

As an in-house attorney, there are numerous organizations seeking your membership. Depending on your specialty, there are national and even global organizations to join. However, if your company is like mine, and will cover the cost of a state bar membership and one association, the one to join that is truly comprehensive in scope and resources is ACC….

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[L]aw schools are questioning whether or not they are teaching students the right way, and it seems to me that the bench and the bar can engage in serious discussions with the law schools to advise them whether or not, say for the next 20 years… they have the proper approach for teaching those who will soon be the trustees of the law as active practitioners. That is urgent.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking this week at the Ninth Circuit’s Judicial Conference in Maui.

(Justice Kennedy’s defense of Hawaii as a conference venue, after the jump.)

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This past week, I was in Chicago for a national conference of professional responsibility lawyers. We usually meet in the same city and at the same time as the ABA, as we have many dual members (no, not at the same time as ABA toy tech show — I’m talking about the ABA meetings where real lawyers discuss law and policy). So although I don’t attend the ABA meetings, those that do come over to our conference and vice versa.

One of the benefits of attending national (real) lawyer conferences as a small-firm lawyer with a real practice (not the social media conferences where broke and unemployed non-practicing lawyers hang out in the vendor hall), is that besides learning something, you have the ability to network and develop relationships that may turn into referrals. I hear lawyers talk about not going to conferences because of the cost. The cost, including transportation, hotel, and conference tuition should usually be no more than $1,000-$1,500. If investing that amount of money in your firm is not worth it, then you are doomed to be nothing. Stop reading now and go work on your internet presence….

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Even people inside the Ivory Tower can tell that legal education needs serious reform.

I just got back from the International Legal Ethics Conference in Banff, Alberta. I feel like I literally just got back, since WestJet made an atrocious decision to detour a direct Calgary to Newark flight — full of people who had already cleared U.S. Customs — to Toronto, where we were trapped on the tarmac for six hours.

In any event, the ILEC conference was full of law professors from just about everywhere. I enjoyed many discussions about how the next generation of lawyers are being trained. I’m happy to report that a lot of the professors I talked to understood that one of the big problems facing American law students is the out-of-control cost of legal education. And I spoke to many American professors who understood that high professorial salaries are partially responsible for the runaway cost of tuition. There were lots of innovative ideas about how to make legal education cheaper for students, and more useful for clients.

Unfortunately, while there are many great ideas out there, the 800-pound gorilla is the restrictive American Bar Association, and it didn’t even have to bother being in the room for everybody to feel its weight. The ABA is perhaps the only organization in the world that doesn’t understand that the American legal education system is horribly flawed.

If the ABA could get a clue, there are a lot of people willing to go into the laboratory and experiment with new ideas. I was at ILEC on a panel about whether or not law should be an undergraduate degree. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but the ABA needs to realize that almost anything is better than the current system.

You don’t have to listen to me, you can listen to the New York Times….

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It is a part of our circuit. We wish people would pay attention to that. It’s more often held elsewhere than it’s held in Hawaii. It’s often held in California. There’s a great concentration of judges and attorneys in California.

David Madden, public information officer for the Ninth Circuit, refuting Republican accusations that the appeals court is being wasteful by holding a conference for federal judges in Hawaii.

If you’re like me, you’re happily ensconced (hmm, where have I seen that before…?) in your company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Your company may have a Diversity Committee in place and may have implemented diverse hiring and retention practices. They may hold trainings and events intended to promote awareness. Your legal department may even encourage outside counsel to staff minority and women attorneys on matters. All good stuff.

What else is there? Last week, I attended a day-long regional meeting for a fantastic nonprofit diversity organization. Although the fees to attend their conferences and meetings (which include CLE) are hundreds of dollars, in-house counsel get to attend them for free. You just need to pay a $59 shipping and handling fee. Wait, scratch that last part. (Been watching way too many infomercials lately.)

So, which organization was this, and what great tips did I leave with on how in-house counsel can further their companies’ diversity initiatives?

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If there was ever a place where your self-esteem could be crushed just by stepping into an airport, Los Angeles is it. Being a New Yorker, I had the high-minded misconception that New York was the mecca of beautiful people, especially in summer. Wrong. I’ll end this tangent with the statement that I saw more perfectly tanned, toned, muscular, and ridiculously in shape people in the 15 minutes it took me to walk to baggage claim in LAX, than I have in my entire time in the Big Apple.

I was in L.A. to present at ACC’s Corporate Counsel University (“CCU”). CCU is a two-day nuts to bolt immersion program for folks who are new to in-house positions. It’s relatively small compared with the Annual Meeting, 200 or so attendees, but I have enjoyed presenting at this conference more than any other, because I can so readily identify with being new to in-house and feeling overwhelmed about how much I did not know….

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The Snooki Defense

* Aw, come on, Mort, Dewey really have to pay you $61M? In case you missed it last night, the only thing that made the former vice chairman’s departure memo dramatic was the insane amount that he claims he’s owed. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Congratulations to Jacqueline H. Nguyen on her confirmation to the Ninth Circuit. She’s the first Asian American woman to sit on a federal appellate court, so she’s earned our judicial diva title (in a good way). You go girl! [Los Angeles Times]

* Google might’ve infringed upon Oracle’s copyrights, but a jury couldn’t decide if it constituted fair use. Sorry, Judge Alsup, but with that kind of a decision, you can bet your ass that there’ll be an appeal. [New York Times]

* A Harvard Law professor has come to Elizabeth Warren’s defense, claiming that an alleged affirmative action advantage played no role in her hiring. And besides, even if it did, it only played 1/32 of a role. [Boston Herald]

* Classes at Cooley Law’s Tampa Bay campus began last night. Unsurprisingly, the inaugural class is double the size originally projected, because everyone wants to attend the second-best school in the nation. [MLive]

* Albany Law will be having a three-day conference on the legal implications of the Civil War. This could be a little more exciting if presenters wore reenactment garb and did battle when it was over. [National Law Journal]

* Jury selection is underway in a second degree murder trial that will forever be known as the case where a defendant first raised the “Snooki Defense.” He didn’t kill his wife… but her spray tan did. [CBS Miami]

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