Holidays and Seasons

Massive brawls, videotaped hand jibbers, and violating Section 478 of the New York Judiciary Law. What an issue spotter!

Last weekend, New York once again endured the insufferable gathering of mouth-breathing douchebags known as SantaCon. Scores and scores of bros and ho ho hoes crawled into Manhattan bars dressed as Santa Claus (or some other holiday character) to get absolutely wrecked before screwing the bartender on the tip and moving on to the next bar for another dose of Jagerbombs.[1] That Agent Smith quote from the Matrix about how human beings are a disease that ruin everything and then move on to another area? That’s SantaCon.

And it’s all fun and games until they have to explain to the rental place why there’s vomit all over the red velvet suit. Or write a major publication pretending to be a lawyer to complain about the world watching Christmas-themed sex acts through a Duane Reade window….

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It’s that time of year again. Maybe you call it the most wonderful time of the year, but it isn’t all holiday parties and goodwill towards men. There is inherent stress build into the expectations of the season (the trifecta of family time, gift giving and less sunlight) that can turn ordinary people into basket cases.

While contract attorneys may not have the burden of worrying about what to get their secretary, there are still financial, emotional and social pitfalls to avoid.

So what are the best tips to survive this season…

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If you still need to do holiday shopping for a lawyer or law student in your life, we’ve got you covered. Just check out our ATL Holiday Gift Guide (sponsored).

What about holiday gifts for secretaries or administrative assistants? In the past week or so, our lawyer readers have been writing to us seeking guidance.

With all due respect to Marin’s hilarious list, secretaries do not want “scented candles, Josh Groban CDs, or Cirque du Soleil tickets.” They want straight cash, homey.

But how much cash should you give? And what, if anything, should you give to paralegals and other support staff you work with? Let’s discuss, then take a few polls at the end….

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Bonus season is upon us, but some people aren’t satisfied with the extra wad of cash they’ve received. In the eyes of disgruntled associates, these are the same bonuses that were handed out last year — only this time around, they’re stale and being served cold.

The angry associates will trudge along to their Biglaw holiday parties, muttering under their breath about the five-figure sum the partners have low-balled them with this year. The name Cravath will be grunted with disdain and paired with an eye roll, and whispers of “Why didn’t I choose Boies Schiller during OCI?” will be followed by mournful sighs.

Cheer up, everyone. There’s a very obvious solution waiting for you just inside the doors of the party you didn’t want to attend….

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Sometimes in life you face choices. When faced with a slight, you can either walk away or you can keep it real.

Take the case of this benchslap. The lawyer felt the judge was being unfair because an appearance was scheduled for the date of the office holiday party. He could have just sucked it up, but he decided to “keep it real.”

And like so many of the protagonists of the Dave Chappelle skit of the same name, it ends with an important lesson about what happens when keeping it real goes wrong….

(Please note the UPDATE added below.)

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Over the summer, the Texas Legislature passed the “Merry Christmas Law.” With the first Yuletide under the new law now upon us, folks are revisiting the law’s wisdom or lack thereof. The law provides that a “school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations, including: (1) “Merry Christmas”; (2) “Happy Hanukkah”; and (3) “happy holidays” [ . . . ] A school district may display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a menorah or a Christmas image such as a nativity scene or Christmas tree, if the display includes a scene or symbol of: (1) more than one religion; or (2) one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.” The law also provides that any displays may not include “a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.”

Admittedly, this sort of law at first sounds a bit like a legislative resolution saying, “Can we all just agree once and for all that America is seriously the greatest country ever and Jesus totally loves us best?” There’s a problem, though, with commentators who “find it hard to believe any Christmas-observing child feels deprived of the holiday spirit in school, especially in Texas.” The problem is that some Texas schoolchildren have, indeed, had their rights infringed upon by school officials. Many liberals respond as though laws like this and the outrage that inspires them are silly. But ask Jonathan Morgan, and he’ll tell you that it’s not so silly…

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Your ATL editors: David Lat, Staci Zaretsky, Joe Patrice, and Elie Mystal.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: a time for law firm bonuses, new partner announcements, holiday cards (including our annual contest), holiday gifts, and holiday parties.

Thanks a lot to everyone who came out last Thursday night to attend the Above the Law holiday party. This year’s festivities were extremely well-attended (the bar was packed), and the entire crowd enjoyed all of the specialty drinks that were served. Thanks to our sponsors, Superior Discovery and Prestige Legal Search, for making such a great evening possible.

If you weren’t able to make it out, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the pictures from a night that was full of fun and fabulosity…

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Who says lawyers and law firms are humor-impaired? A Canadian litigation firm, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP, has been winning publicity and props for its clever holiday card based on the troubles of Rob Ford, the Toronto mayor who has admitted to smoking crack.

This reminded us: it’s time for Above the Law’s fifth annual holiday card contest! This favorite feature is fun for the whole family, and it’s perfectly legal too.

We are a legal website, so of course there are rules. Read carefully; failure to follow them to the letter will result in disqualification. Here they are:

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* Another lawyer is going on The Bachelor! This time it’s Andi (pictured), a Wake Forest Law grad who is described as a federal prosecutor (though other sources say she works at the district attorney’s office). She says she got a murder conviction in 8 minutes, which is impressive for someone who graduated last year. Like, hard-to-believe impressive. Well, now she’ll be trading in all that self-respect for roses and 15 minutes of reality TV fame. [Huffington Post]

* The law of underground trespassing — when drilling sends contaminants into neighboring land. “I poison your milkshake. I poison it up!” [Breaking Energy]

* At least a couple readers have had a bad exam experience already this term. Here’s how to deal with it. The advice is pretty good except for advising you to avoid alcohol. Alcohol is always the answer. [Law School Toolbox]

* It’s time to start making moves to improve your long-term quality of life. [Law and More]

* Kevin Underhill of Lowering the Bar has a new book about all the stupid laws on the books out there. It’s called The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance. [Lowering the Bar]

* When you hear about the similarities between Obamacare and the Heritage Foundation plan from the old days, recognize you’re getting spun. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Trying to balance out religious symbols in public spaces for the holidays is dumb. All you need is the Festivus pole. Lest you forget the story of Festivus, there’s a video embedded beyond the jump…. [PrawfsBlawg]

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Did you catch 60 Minutes last night? Did you at least catch the 60 Minutes promos during various awesome football games this weekend?

On last night’s program, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos declared that Amazon intends to send drones to your house to deliver packages. I’m pretty sure this is the only strategy that would be ultimately effective in Afghanistan. Instead of using drones to bomb people, if we were sending HD televisions, water, and vacuum cleaners, you’d see that region become much more amenable to America. At the very least, sending people things from the ATL holiday gift guide (sponsored) is better than sending them warheads.

But the thought of Amazon drones dropping consumerism on us from the sky should be pretty terrifying to Americans. How would that even work? I live in an apartment building… the humans often don’t know where to leave my packages. Watching Bezos, all I could think of was angry robots shooting copies of the Washington Post at me through my window while I read news on the internet.

Luckily, the Amazon plan is currently illegal. And it’s likely to stay completely unworkable…

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