Health Care / Medicine

Judge Richard Posner

From the Above the Law mailbag: “Is ATL ever going to call out Judge Posner for being so needlessly nasty to litigants?”

Ummm, no. I’m a big fan of Judge Richard Posner, who is brilliant and hilarious. (Yes, hilarious — if you doubt that, check out the awesome podcast that he and I did together, which you can download and listen to during your commute or at the gym.)

But in the interest of fairness, I will make this reader’s case. This correspondent cited the recent oral argument in Notre Dame v. Sebelius, which we alluded to yesterday, in which Judge Posner dispensed some benchslaps to Matthew Kairis, head of litigation in the Columbus office of Jones Day. The reader also mentioned the argument on remand in the Conrad Black case, alleging that Posner “was particularly nasty to Miguel Estrada, seemingly piqued that Estrada got him reversed by SCOTUS.”

Let’s focus on the Notre Dame v. Sebelius argument, since it just happened. How bad was it?

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Kourtney and Caleb Ballew, posing for a picture while at the White House for a state dinner with President Obama (with a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the background).

The White House State Dinner that President Barack Obama hosted on Tuesday night in honor of President François Hollande of France featured quite the convocation of legal eagles. As we mentioned yesterday, attendees included such law-world luminaries as Justice Elena Kagan, Secretary Jeh Johnson, and ATL’s reigning Lawyer of the Year, Roberta Kaplan.

Also in attendance: Caleb Ballew and Kourtney Ballew. They’re a pair of twenty-something, small-firm lawyers from Huntsville, Alabama.

Say what? Did the Obama White House get Salahi’d again?

Actually, no. The Ballews came as honored guests of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Because the Obamas have had so few state dinners, invitations to the ones they do host are in especially high demand. How did two recent law school graduates score one of the most coveted invites in the country? I interviewed the Ballews to find out….

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Ed. note: Please welcome Elizabeth Adams, who will be covering health and wellness in the legal profession. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

It’s virtually impossible to get decent advice about whether to go to law school.  On the one hand, you have advice from non-lawyers, like your mom, who will promise you that even if you don’t like it, you can do anything with a law degree.  On the other hand, you have advice from actual lawyers, who will tell you the exact opposite.  I, like many others, made the decision to listen to my mom rather than the many, many practicing attorneys who warned me about the realities of the profession.  Although this somehow seemed like a rational choice at the time, I realize, in retrospect, I should have taken the advice of counsel.

It’s true, being a lawyer is hard. Even on a good day it is both extremely boring and highly stressful — a unique combination found in few other jobs.  Equally troubling to me, however, is the toll it takes on your body. Indeed, recent studies have shown that sitting as much as lawyers do is bad for the body, and the physical effects of sleep deprivation are well documented and pretty serious.   Of course, I don’t need scientific studies to confirm what appears obvious to me on a daily basis.  Many lawyers I encounter seem perpetually exhausted and sort of sickly.  Some are much worse than that, appearing as if they are in need of urgent medical attention.   Lawyers, it seems, are literally dying at their desks…

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Pro bono for clients, but not for students.

* Sedgwick is the latest Biglaw firm to jump on the back-office bandwagon. The firm will be moving all of its administrative operations — from HR to IT — to Kansas City, Missouri. Don’t be sad, it’s probably better than West Virginia. [Am Law Daily]

* Lawyers may be pecking at Biglaw’s rotting carcass, but at least there are lessons to be learned for Big Med, the next profession supposedly on the brink of implosion. It’s time to stop obsessing over revenue and rankings. [The Atlantic]

* Ten states rushed to help Utah defend its ban on gay marriage using “pretty embarrassing” arguments, but Nevada just washed its hands of its own appeal, saying its ban was “no longer defensible.” [Bloomberg]

* Here’s something that’ll make you love or hate Chris Christie even more: he once made Bristol-Myers Squibb donate $5 million to Seton Hall Law to avoid securities fraud charges. Yep. [Washington Post]

* Faruqi & Faruqi doesn’t want its attorneys’ compensation information to be disclosed to Alexandra Marchuk in her sexual harassment case against the firm. A kinder, gentler firm, huh? [Law 360 (sub. req.)]

* Soon you’ll be able to take the bar before you graduate in New York, but only if you do pro bono work during spring semester of your 3L year — and you’ll likely have to pay to complete it. [New York Times]

* If you just took the LSAT, you’re cutting it pretty close, buddy. Guesstimate your score so you can avoid sending out applications that will make admissions officers laugh. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

It’s time for the State of the Union again, which means it’s time to gather around the TV and thoughtfully discuss the future of the country play a sophomoric game based on the events that we expect to unfold over the course of the evening.

Remember to follow your Above the Law editors covering the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog@DavidLat@ElieNYC@StaciZaretsky, and @JosephPatrice.

Now, on to the game….

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* Opera singer who can’t sing without farting sues for $2.5 million. She should try blaming it on the phantom. [Gawker]

* Speaking of Gawker, Elie has an article up about last night’s Grammy ceremony over at our new outpost in Gawkerville, the ATL Redline. [ATL Redline]

* Amazingly, adding Elie’s perspective wasn’t the worse thing to happen to Gawker this week: Quentin Tarantino has decided to sue them for publishing copies of his latest script, The Hateful Eight. [Grantland]

* Everyone’s favorite Harvard Law transcript forger cum insider trading defendant, Matthew Martoma, just can’t catch a break — the government is trying to get a couple of key defense experts tossed. [The Expert Institute]

* Should bloggers out pseudonymous commenters? No, because… free speech? Whatever, bloggers aren’t the government. [Ramblings on Appeal]

* The ABA’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education thinks schools should cut costs and prepare students for legal careers. Welcome to the ATL Family! [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* It’s an old adage but it bears repeating: if you want to win a negotiation, be prepared to go to trial. [Katz Justice]

* An update on Stephen Glass, the plagiarizing fabricating (plagiarizing suggests it was at least true when the first person said it) journalist applying for admission to the California bar. Want to know what happened to his application? Click on….

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“Hey, kids! Just keep clicking the ‘Mommy’s Credit Card’ button!”

* The feds say that Apple has agreed to pay “at least $32.5 million in refunds” to people who didn’t realize their children were racking up huge bills in FarmVille and the like. It’s good to see parents won’t actually have to pay for their absentee parenting. [Washington Post]

* It’s a good day for successful — kinda rapey — pop songs, as the family of Marvin Gaye decided that they “Got to Give It Up” and settled with Sony over alleged copyright infringement by the Robin Thicke song, Blurred Lines. [Rolling Stone]

* Apparently the Florida Bar Association took a look at the state of the judicial system and decided to screw it and start selling baking utensils. Or it was hacked. But probably they just gave up. [IT-Lex]

* Tailgating at the Yale-Harvard game is way more dangerous than I’d realized — a clutch of Yale frat bros (what is the proper collective noun for Elis) have been sued over an incident where a U-Haul loaded down with kegs struck and killed one person. [Jezebel]

* A hearing was cut short in New Orleans when an inmate arrived from the prison high as a kite on illicit drugs he procured in custody. Way to run a tight ship, New Orleans. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on them. After all, they just got their “inmates unintentionally set free due to clerical oversight” statistic back down to zero. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

* A rundown of high-profile cases that turned on expert witnesses. Good to see that everyone’s favorite “affluenza” made the list. [The Expert Institute]

* Cable news has really botched their coverage of Little Sisters. For example, if you think Obamacare requires religious institutions to offer coverage for contraception, then you’ve been duped. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* To shake things up, let’s check out a defense of stop-and-frisk policies. If a society isn’t prepared to pay for police protection, it’s likely to find cops resorting to these sorts of short cuts. [Voice of San Diego]

* Musings on Staci’s recent piece on law firm client service and/or arrogance. [Law and More]

* A Little League coach is suing one of his players for $600,000. Something tells me a reboot of Bad News Bears would end exactly like this. Video of the story from local news channel KCRA embedded below…. [Deadspin]

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Key to writing a self-help piece? Pictures of bland smiling people.

Self-help books are amazing. So simple, so pedantic, so lucrative. If I could muster enough “human compassion,” I’d get in on that action. But, as is I’ll have to stick with mocking dumb lawyers online. It’s a living.

A self-help book for lawyers is out and boasts some advantages for lawyers choosing to live a “wellness” lifestyle.

If you’re wondering what “wellness” means, it’s kind of a catch-all pop psych term for “not being a f**kup.” Glad I could help out….

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Gov. Chris Christie

* The Supreme Court has been “surprising[ly] silent” when it comes to how to apply Obamacare’s contraception mandate to religious non-profits. We imagine at least one justice will raise hell about it during their first judicial conference of 2014. [Los Angeles Times]

* Contrary to what was apparently popular belief by some, Justice Sonia Sotomayor doesn’t wear dentures. She was very candid about her oral hygiene at a recent speaking event — her teeth are so great because she’s had a lot of work done on them. [Washington Post]

* In your face, Cravath! James Woolery is movin’ on up to officially taking the rein at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft. Fun fact: Chuck Woolery of “Love Connection” is his distant cousin. [Am Law Daily]

* The U.S. Attorney’s office Chris Christie used to be in charge of will investigate Bridgegate. Word on the street is that the governor had just finished reading War and Peace when he heard the news. [Bloomberg]

* Sumner Redstone donated $10 million to Harvard Law School so that its graduates can pursue public interest careers — because otherwise they’d be too poor to “build a better world.” [National Law Journal]

* Downton Abbey has inspired a new bill making its way through the House of Lords, who apparently watched the show and figured out for the first time that women get screwed by the law of entail. Now if they can just pass a law that would keep Bates out of prison in the first place. [The Atlantic]

* Ben Adlin reminisces about the era when the Supreme Court actually cared about oral arguments. [Summary Judgments]

* An interesting infographic on where Superlawyers went to school. Finally a ranking where NYU can top Yale. [Online Paralegal Programs]

* Another installment of classic ads ruined by lawyers. [Vice]

* Fifth Circuit judges aren’t the only ones to tell their colleagues to shut up; here’s some fun news from the Philippines. [Manila Times]

* French cities have banned performances of a comedian with a history of racking up hate speech fines. I mean, since when has anti-Semitism been a problem in Europe? [Al Jazeera]

* If you think conservative arguments against the Affordable Care Act are dumb, check out liberal columnists arguing that Obama screwed up by not pushing for single-payer. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

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