Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

One would imagine that a law school would be prepared to manage an unimpeachable quasi-judicial proceeding. If anything, a bunch of lawyers idealistic enough to turn their backs on private practice to preach from an ivory tower would bend over to expand the bounds of fairness in some kind of hippie Bill of Rights love-in. Law school court would be like Hair with more procedural safeguards and hopefully much less nudity.

That wasn’t the case last year, when a law school convened an Honor Board to prosecute a student for cheating on her exams. Now, that student is suing the school in federal court alleging due process violations and breach of contract arising out of the investigation and prosecution of her case.

Is she guilty of an infraction or not? We can’t pass judgment on that from the pleadings alone. We can however, troll this law school for its pretty terrible grasp on how the justice system is supposed to work….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cheating Scandal Embroils Law School In Federal Lawsuit”

Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. (1941-2014)

* Tommy Boggs, the name behind Squire Patton Boggs, has died at the age of 73. [On Politics / USAToday]

* As you read all the over-the-top awful details from the Rep. Mark Sanford divorce hearing, remember there was a day not too long ago that he was considered a serious presidential contender. [Wonkette]

* In his deposition, Robin Thicke says he was too drunk and high to write that rapey song about getting women drunk and high. [Music Times]

* Stymied in his bid to become Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Debo Adegbile will have to settle for becoming a partner at WilmerHale. [Law Blog / Wall Street Journal]

* Legal and public health problems of the wireless age. [Consumer Law & Policy Blog]

* The second in a series on Charlotte Law School by a former professor. The first addressed the school’s treatment of faculty and staff. This one talks about the school’s treatment of students. [Outside the Law School Scam]

* If you’re a law student in the New York area, Marino Bar Review is hosting an open bar tomorrow. Check it out. [Above the Law]

The Daily Business Review has a nice article up on the declining number of applications to law schools in Florida. You are familiar with the gist, if not the details. Applications are down at all but one Florida law school. The money quote is from George Dawson, dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law: “If any law school dean told you he or she wasn’t concerned, you shouldn’t believe it…We had a significant problem this past year … with applications down 20 percent.”

Well, that’s the money quote from a news perspective. From a comedy perspective, we’ve got to check in on a different law school…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Candy Crush Law School”

Two hundred years ago yesterday, on September 14, 1814, a Washington, D.C. lawyer penned the words to what would become the United States’ national anthem. Today that man, Francis Scott Key, is better known as a lyricist than a lawyer. But at the time, the judge’s son, born to a wealthy slave-owning family in Maryland, was well respected in Washington’s legal and political circles. This week, On Remand looks back at Francis Scott Key’s legal career and some laws and lawsuits featuring Key’s composition, The Star-Spangled Banner.

By 1814, the thirty-five-year-old Key had already argued several cases in front of the Supreme Court. The most famous case, Mills v. Duryee, was the first time the Supreme Court construed the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. Key argued that a judgment from one state, when presented in another state, was merely one piece of evidence to be weighed with all other evidence. Justice Story, delivering the majority opinion, thought little of Key’s argument, writing that it would render the Full Faith and Credit Clause “utterly unimportant and illusory.”

Key’s power of persuasion didn’t lead to victory at the Supreme Court. But, a year later, Key’s advocacy for a prisoner of war brought him near the frontline of the War of 1812. What he watched “o’er the ramparts,” then observed afterwards at “dawn’s early light” from a ship in Baltimore Harbor, became the inspiration for our national anthem….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Docket’s Red Glare: Francis Scott Key And The Star-Spangled Banner”

Two years ago, the LSAT was given to more than 104,000 people. Last year it was given to 52,000 nationwide, a 50 percent drop. Law is no longer seen as the golden calf. This is very hard work. It’s not Boston Legal.

You don’t walk into the office and pop open a scotch and sit around chatting with your partners about the ball game. It’s emotionally draining. You’re only as good as your last trial, your last settlement. You are constantly looking for more clients. Going to law school is not the automatic $120,000-a-year job.

Terry Robertson, the dean of Empire College School of Law, a school accredited only by the California Bar, without any employment statistics to speak of found online, commenting on the state of the legal profession.

Last year, St. Martin’s Press published The Partner Track, the debut novel of lawyer Helen Wan. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, I praised the book for being engaging, suspenseful, and — unlike so many legal novels — realistic. The paperback edition of The Partner Track became available last week.

I enjoy fiction about lawyers, as both a reader and writer — my own first novel comes out in a few weeks — and I’m deeply interested in how other writers work. So I interviewed Helen Wan about her book, her approach to writing, and how she managed to write a novel while holding down a demanding job as an in-house lawyer for Time Warner. I also asked for her advice on how women and minority lawyers can succeed in Biglaw.

Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Lawyer To Novelist: An Interview With Helen Wan, Author Of The Partner Track”

When we covered the American Lawyer’s annual summer associate satisfaction survey last year, we noted that “[b]eing a summer associate just isn’t what it used to be.” All work and no play may make summer associates dull boys and girls, but it also makes them highly confident they’ll receive offers of full-time employment when their programs end.

Despite the fact that it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms,” many of them tossed out offers to their summer classes like Mardi Gras beads. Summer associates were no longer praying for an offer, as they were last summer; no, this summer, they almost expected an offer to be handed to them.

These were the conclusions drawn from the American Lawyer’s 2014 Summer Associate Survey. Am Law polled 5,085 law students at the nation’s largest firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 96 programs. This year’s crop of would-be lawyers was seemingly at ease about their situations, despite the fact that there is still a general unease permeating through Biglaw.

This summer’s overall rankings were overwhelmingly positive. If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: which law firms came out with the highest scores?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ranking Summer Associate Programs: You Were Optimistic About Offers (And Getting Paid More)”

Louie C.K. has the definitive statement on the legal standing of corporal punishment (it’s Louie C.K., so I shouldn’t have to tell you NSFW):

” ‘Stop hitting me, you’re huge. You’re a giant and I can’t defend myself.’…

Kids are the only people in the world that you are allowed to hit… They’re the most vulnerable and they’re the most destroyed by being hit but it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones. If you hit a dog, they’ll f***ing put you in jail for that s**t. You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f**k ‘em, who gives a s**t, let’s all hit them…

Let me say this, if you have kids and you do hit your kids, I totally get it. I’m not judging. I get it. My mom hit me. I don’t hit my kids… I’m not better than my mom, it’s because she was poor and I have money… I work two hours a week sometimes.”

That’s pretty much the law right there folks. Of course people shouldn’t hit their kids. It’s freaking barbaric. It’s proven to be an ineffective and damaging form of discipline.

But the law accepts the premise that some people are going to hit their children from time to time. Once you’re there, once you abandon a “zero tolerance” policy on corporal punishment for children, it’s exceedingly difficult to parse “reasonable” from “abusive” punishments…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Child Abuse Isn’t Really Against The Law”

We all dream of a world in which collegiality matters.

Partners at law firms are . . . well . . . partners. They look out for each other. They build each other’s practices. They work for the common good.

Perhaps that firm exists. I wouldn’t know.

From my perch here — as the guy who left a Biglaw partnership for an in-house job, and on whose shoulder other Biglaw partners now routinely cry — the view is pretty ugly. (Perhaps my perspective is distorted because of an obvious bias: Partners happy with their firms don’t come wailing to me.) What I hear these days is grim: Guys are being de-equitized or made of counsel; they think they’re being underpaid; they’re concerned that they’ll be thrown under the bus if they ever lose a step.

Several recent partners’ laments prompted me to think about something that I’d never considered when I worked at a firm. (Maybe that’s because I’m one of those guys who was perfectly happy laboring for the common good. Or maybe it’s because I’m a moron.)

In any event, here’s today’s question: I want to wrestle effectively with my own law firm. I don’t want to be nasty; I just want to be sure that I have implicit power when I negotiate with the firm. I want the firm — of its own accord, without me saying a word — to treat me right. How do I wrestle my own law firm to the ground? How do I pin my partners?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pinning Your Partners: 3 Ideas For Ensuring That Your Firm Treats You Fairly”

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Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

The recent case of Brown v. Tellermate Holdings Ltd. is noteworthy for its imposition of near-terminal evidentiary sanctions, and order directing counsel and defendant to jointly pay plaintiffs’ cost of bringing motions to compel. But its important lesson is that counsel must stay abreast of continuing changes in information technologies, and critically assess client information about electronically stored information if they are to meet their duties to courts and clients.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Wake-Up Call To Counsel Over ESI Discovery”

  • Fall 2013 OCI Schedule

    from the firm

    8/5: University of California, Berkeley
    8/14: Washington University
    8/16: Harvard Law School
    8/16: University of Michigan
    8/19: John Marshall
    8/20: University of Colorado, Boulder
    8/22: Northwestern University
    8/23: Loyola University
    8/29: University of Chicago
    9/3: University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
    9/3: IIT Chicago-Kent
    9/10: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

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