What do you think the resale value on your law degree is? Earlier this year, a San Francisco lawyer put his degree up for sale on Craigslist and found out.
The Georgetown grad was miserable working for a large law firm in Silicon Valley. So he quit and posted his degree in the Craigslist “For Sale” section for “the bargain basement price of $59,250″ — the current value of his student loan balance — or best offer. He hoped to get rid of the piece of paper with “the amazing ability to keep you from doing what you really want to do in life, all in the name of purported prestige and financial success.”
Back in March, the best offer had come from a documentary filmmaker who offered to give the miserable lawyer $50 to “piss on the diploma and then set it on fire.”
That would have been a serious markdown on the $100,000 degree. We checked back in with him this week and found out that a slightly better offer came along…
In our recent caption contest, there were quite a few captions that alluded to the members of the Supreme Court being in bed with conservatives. As we reported this morning, Clarence Thomas is most definitely in bed with a conservative. Ginni Thomas is the President and CEO of the newly launched 501(c)(4), Liberty Central Inc., with the mission statement to “serve the big tent of the conservative movement.”
Since the judiciary prefers the appearance of nonpartisanship, the Los Angeles Times found her Tea Party-inspired group worth covering:
“I think the American public expects the justices to be out of politics,” said University of Texas law school professor Lucas A. “Scot” Powe, a court historian.
He said the expectations for spouses are far less clear. “I really don’t know because we’ve never seen it,” Powe said. Under judicial rules, judges must curb political activity, but a spouse is free to engage.
Of course, Justice Thomas is not the only judge to have had a spouse in a prominent political role. Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s wife, Ramona Ripston, has just stepped down from being head of the Southern California ACLU. Third Circuit Judge Jane Roth’s husband was a U.S. Senator; Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell’s husband is a governor. So I’m not sure that there’s really a judicial norm that judge’s spouses should stay out of politics, whether partisan politics, advocacy group politics, or public interest litigation (itself a form of politics, at least when done effectively).
All this talk of justices’ second halves made us think it was time for a rundown of the other Supreme spouses. The Honorable Husbands and Wives, and their careers, after the jump.
On Thursday morning, a criminal law professor at Georgetown University Law Center started his class with some startling news. He told his first-year law students that Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was planning to retire due to health concerns. He told his students that he could not reveal his sources but that the information was credible.
Some argue that the internet should not be allowed in law school classrooms. What transpired in Professor Peter Tague’s classroom lends support to that argument. His students proceeded to send out the surprising news via email and/or chat and/or tweet. Somehow it made its way to Radar Online, and soon the blogosphere went into a frenzy over the news.
But the news was spurious. Midway through his lecture on the credibility and reliability of informants, Professor Tague revealed that the Roberts rumor was false and that he was illustrating how someone a lawyer might ordinarily think was a credible source — like a law school professor — could disseminate inaccurate information. An important lesson in law: trust should be based on multiple sources.
It’s an important lesson in journalism as well. And the blogosphere learned it the hard way yesterday. Radar Online published an “exclusive” story that Roberts would be retiring “at any time.”
We did not initially report it here, after checking with our sources and encountering extreme skepticism. But it spread like wildfire through the blogosphere, so we “broke the news” that Roberts was still chief justice. A couple of hours later, we broke real news, of how the rumors got started.
We did not criticize Professor Tague in our story, but we’ve been contacted by his current and former students who wish to defend him. He certainly succeeded in teaching them — and many news organizations — a lesson, but he must also have learned about the dangers of pedagogical pranks in the Internet age…
Everyone is wondering: Where did that erroneous rumor of an imminent retirement by Chief Justice John Roberts come from? The gossip spread like wildfire, triggering thousands of texts, blogposts, and emails — a few hundred of them to the ATL tips line — before Radar, which first published the rumor, retracted its report.
We were skeptical, which is one reason why we didn’t write about the gossip as quickly as some other outlets. We reached out to the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office after we heard the rumor, and we didn’t want to write about it until we heard back from the PIO (or at least gave them a little time to respond).
Of course, we have many Supreme Court sources other than the official ones — and they reacted with extreme skepticism when we ran the Radar report by them. One of our SCOTUS experts actually laughed out loud after we (sheepishly) asked, “Have you heard anything about a possible Roberts retirement?” This source noted that JGR would sooner die — literally — than give Obama the chance to appoint his successor.
Like many a promising legal career, the Roberts resignation rumor traces its origins to a 1L class at Georgetown University Law Center….
Georgetown 3L Mike Sacks had a mission this semester. He wanted to be first in line for every major argument at the Supreme Court. He’s been documenting his adventures on his blog First One @ One First.
This is made easier for him because he has no morning classes and lives on Capitol Hill, a few minutes away from the High Court. He should also have camping experience from his undergrad days at Duke, but unlike me, he somehow avoided spending time in Krzyzewskiville.
Maybe if he had paid his dues tenting out for basketball games, he would have succeeded in his mission. But no. Some Californians derailed him this week, as documented by the New York Times.
On Friday, we told you about the San Francisco lawyer trying to sell his degree for “$59,250 or best offer.” Sick of practicing law and being “surrounded by hobby-less a**holes whose entire life is dictated by billing by the hour and being anal dickheads,” he hoped to get rid of the piece of paper with “the amazing ability to keep you from doing what you really want to do in life, all in the name of purported prestige and financial success.” He posted his degree in Craigslist’s “For Sale” section last week. He also put it up on eBay yesterday for 99 cents.
The West Coaster did not identify the university from whence the degree came, writing instead that “it’s from one of those elitist BS institutions that accept people like George W. Bush cause their daddy donated $20 million.” Our readers quickly identified it as a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.
We reached out to this hapless Hoya to see what offers he has gotten. He’s received over 300 e-mails. He told us:
So far I’ve received an offer for $200 and at least two dozens offers to buy me drinks. Another guy offered to give me an Ipod Nano. One girl told me I’m her soul mate and that she wants to go on a date…. I got an offer from a women lawyer with “marry me” in the subject line and a comment that my post saved her from stabbing herself with a pencil in the eye. I know, wtf?
Apparently, misery attracts company.
The bidding is up to $222.50 on eBay. What could beat that?
We 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.
Thanks to all of you who sent along good wishes after the birth of Baby Lin. It’s been a busy two months, but we’re emerging from the vicious beatdown that is new parenthood. (By which we mean that we’re sleeping in luxurious two-hour stretches and showering almost daily.)
We’ve been keeping up with the NYT weddings, but as usual the November and December offerings were relatively weak, which gives us a good excuse to eliminate the dreary matches (e.g., Fordham-marries-Fordham; Cardozo 1L, no picture; U. Penn., blah, blah) and bring you each month’s top three. And if ATL management accuses of slacking off, we’re totally playing the mommy card.
We’ll be back soon with December’s couples and our 2009 Couple of the Year reader poll.
Here are your November couples:
Given the state of the legal economy, I don’t have a problem with grade inflation at top law schools. The job market is terrible enough as it is. If an extra (inflated and totally BS) third of a grade helps a student get a job right now, I think that is fine. Whatever, sometimes you have to “juke the stats,” and I understand that.
But it’s not cool when schools institute grade inflation secretly and hope nobody will notice. It’s not cool when schools try to pass off grade inflation as something other than grade inflation. Law schools have to do what they have to do, but there is no reason to pretend that everybody is stupid.
At Harvard Law School and at Georgetown University Law Center, the administrations have decided that their students need things to be a little easier. But neither law school seems willing to admit that the economy played a role in their sudden embrace of grade reform….
Big news today from Georgetown University Law Center. The law school’s dean, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, is stepping down from his position.
But he is leaving Georgetown for a good cause. Dean Aleinikoff will be the new “Deputy High Commissioner in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.”
From law school dean to “Deputy High Commissioner”? That, my friends, is a title bump.
The instant reaction from the (numerous) Georgetown tipsters who sent us the news has been to wish Dean Aleinikoff the best of luck. “He will be missed,” seems to be the prevailing sentiment. Sam Arora, president of the Georgetown Student Bar Association, had this to say:
“We are sad to lose Dean Aleinikoff but excited to see what he will do on the world stage. Alex’s leadership in expanding Georgetown’s transnational legal curriculum and focus on the future of legal profession has made us a stronger institution.”
And so Georgetown becomes the latest law school in search of a dean. I tell you what, some of these deferred or laid off associates need to get on the “dean track.” There are seemingly always opportunities available for people who want to run a law school.
Read the full goodbye letter after the jump.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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