Yesterday, we devoted some coverage to the devastation down in Alabama due to the terrible storms there earlier this week. In the National Law Journal, Karen Sloan has an excellent report about how the tornadoes are affecting operations at the University of Alabama, including its law school.
It appears that the storms affected the college more than the law school. But we are hearing students at Alabama law complaining that Dean Kenneth Randall is pushing too hard to maintain a normal schedule.
We understand that finals at the college have been postponed indefinitely. But at the law school, tests are supposed to resume Monday.
Whether or not that is the correct decision, Dean Randall’s method for communicating his directives has rubbed some students the wrong way…
Tornadoes don’t get cute names like hurricanes. Unlike volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes there’s really only been one cool disaster movie about tornadoes with halfway decent CGI — and it wasn’t a very good movie because you can’t be a good movie when your main star is Bill Paxton. And since tornadoes mostly strike in the middle of the country instead of densely populated coastal cities, many people take a “meh” approach to these devastating forces of nature. There’s a dismissiveness about these storms; maybe because they form and strike so quickly that it leaves little time for the media to stoke people into a “we’re all gonna die” lather, maybe because the aftermath shots aren’t gruesome enough.
Well, I lived in Indiana for 13 months and I know these suckers are not to be trifled with. Our brothers and sisters down South are dealing with major devastation after yesterday’s storms. People are dead, people are injured, and you need to be able to conduct photosynthesis to generate power.
We don’t know how all these storms are affecting the legal community, or law students (especially in Alabama) who are trying to prepare for finals. That’s the coastal bias right there, if it snows in D.C. there’s information all around about law students fighting off advancing glaciers with naught but Zippos and Bluebooks. But trying to ascertain how the legal community was hit by these storms is like trying is like trying to find a needle in a haystack that was blown over a two mile radius by a tornado.
So let us know how things are going down there. And stay safe.
While some people seem to think Japan’s status as a rich nation means it doesn’t need any international aid, I don’t see how the country’s long-term ability to recover has anything to do with the immediate humanitarian crisis. Japan will undoubtedly be able to rebuild in the future, but its citizens need food and water today.
We’ve now received word that even more Biglaw firms are pitching in to do what they can. If you know of additional firms supporting relief efforts that we have not mentioned, please tell us in the comments to this post….
After the Haitian earthquake last year, we saw law firms step up in a big way to support relief efforts down there. Hopefully we will see the same reaction to the ever-increasing tragedy unfolding in Japan. Given an 8.9 a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a massive tsunami, and a nuclear disaster that is already the second-worst nuclear accident in history, you hope that Japan will get all the help that the world can provide.
If anything, the nuclear meltdown angle is obscuring the humanitarian crisis currently happening in Japan. We know that Americans can’t focus on something unless there is some tangential relationship to something bad that could happen here, but you’d think that the possibility of 10,000 deaths would be enough to trigger our humanitarian concern without obsessing about apocalyptic scenarios.
Thankfully, a couple of law firms aren’t waiting for Japan to start glowing before making efforts to help…
Here in New York City, the headquarters of Above the Law, we’re still dealing with the aftermath of the Great Blizzard of 2010. Check out our slideshow for some images (like the one at right).
Although the snowstorm ended on Monday, and it’s now Wednesday night, many streets remain unplowed and many sidewalks uncleared. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, generally praised for his tremendous competence, is taking a lot of flak for the city’s inadequate response.
And that’s just in terms of politics and public relations. Wait until the lawyers get involved!
What possible causes of action could arise out of the snowstorm? Let’s discuss….
As I alluded to last week, today I was supposed to be getting some action down in sunny Florida. Alas, thanks to the massive blizzard that hit the East Coast last night, I’m stuck in my Manhattan apartment — after three consecutive flights got canceled on me.
I’m grumpy, but understanding (and enjoying a Glee marathon — finishing up season one). The snowstorm was epic, after all. It’s over now, but the effects linger.
As we mentioned this weekend, the BP oil spill has been capped (for the time being), and now we can fully focus on who needs to get paid. As with so many things, it’s Ken Feinberg’s world and we’re just living in it. Bloomberg reports:
Kenneth Feinberg, who is overseeing a $20 billion fund to pay damage claims from BP Plc’s oil spill, pledged to create a system “more generous and more beneficial” to spill victims than taking the company to court.
More generous than court? Ooohh, judicial system, Czar Feinberg is calling you out. You gonna just take that?
It’s getting hot in herre
So turn off all your lights.
I am… getting so hot…
I wanna turn my lights off! [FN1]
Here on the East Coast, things are heating up. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the legal job market.
We’re speaking much more literally. For the past few days, New York, Washington, and places in between have been in the grips of a brutal heat wave. On Tuesday and Wednesday, temperatures in NYC broke record highs, entering triple-digit territory.
Today, mercifully, has been a bit better. In D.C., temps will top out in the mid-to-upper 90s this afternoon. As a Washington Post reader quipped, “Only in the mid 90′s today… better grab a jacket before leaving the house!”
They say lawyers are cold-blooded creatures — but we get hot too. How are law firms and law schools coping with the heat?
Not many people are happy about the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — with the possible exceptions of (1) Elena Kagan, whose confirmation to the Supreme Court is all but guaranteed (since everyone’s too distracted to oppose her); (2) the lawyers who are getting work out of this disaster (as discussed below); and (3) whoever is behind the fake BP Twitter account, which currently has over 167,000 followers.
But today brings some news that might make some people a little less angry at BP. Even though the government probably couldn’t have forced the oil giant to set up a $20 billion fund to pay oil spill claims, for the reasons explained by Professor David Zaring, BP is setting up such a fund voluntarily. The New York Times reports:
The White House and BP agreed on Wednesday that the oil giant would create an independent $20 billion fund to pay claims arising from the worst oil spill in American history.
Bowing to pressure from the Obama administration, the company also said it would suspend paying dividends to its shareholders for the rest of the year and would compensate oil field workers for lost wages.
There are actually several legal angles to the BP drama. For example, who will administer this massive fund? And which firms are getting a piece of all the defense-side action?
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