Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

Would you believe a state supreme court justice received a $50,000 trip to Italy from a lawyer who routinely appears before the court representing major clients?

Oh, it happened. And it could be happening a lot more often than you’d think because most states make it exceedingly difficult to discover. Every now and again someone will do important work pointing out that electing judges in an era of unfettered campaign contributions poses a significant risk to judicial integrity, and everyone will cluck their tongues, stroke their beards and wonder, “What’s to be done with this state court system?” A new study goes further and looks at the financial wheelings and dealings — and the lack of oversight they receive — of judges outside of election season.

How does your state court system fare?

Spoiler alert: Badly…

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‘Don’t Tase these, bro!’

* A proposal to raise the retirement age for judges in New York was crushed by voters, but Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has vowed to continue fighting the requirement — just like a stubborn old man. [New York Law Journal]

* Which law schools have the highest percentage of graduates working as corporate directors or executive officers of companies? You might be surprised by some of the results. Or you might not. [National Law Journal]

* Dean Lawrence Mitchell of Case Western Reserve Law wants parts of the retaliation suit that’s been filed against him tossed for being “scandalous” and “salacious.” But those are the best parts. :( [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

* Thanks to a $25 million donation from an alumnus and his wife, Yale Law School is going to be getting dormitories for law students in the very near future. The thought of all of those coed nerdgasms between future SCOTUS clerks is a thing of beauty. [Fox News]

* Clark Calvin Griffith, the former adjunct professor at William Mitchell Law, has been suspended from practicing law for 90 days after exposing his penis to a law student. Stiff punishment. [Pioneer Press]

* If you were thinking of giving away guns on Facebook, then you should think again. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun on the internet is with slideshows of the 572 best kitty cat gifs. [Corporate Counsel]

* A police officer in Arkansas ordered a woman to flash him her boobs while she was at work, and when she refused, he allegedly Tasered her repeatedly. She’s obviously suing now. [New York Daily News]

Last week, we focused a lot on a controversial study about the economic value of going to law school. Today, I want to look at some more useful approaches to the question.

Looking at the lifetime earnings of of J.D. holders compared to people with undergraduate-only education based on historical data about J.D. earnings couldn’t have less to do with the current decisions facing prospective law students. Prospective law students are looking at a shifting market for legal employment, and they are dealing with skyrocketing tuition. Are there any studies that are looking at the economic value for them?

In fact, there are… and while the outlook doesn’t paint the rosy picture some law professors seem really invested in, there are rational arguments available for those who want to convince people to go to law school…

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Every now and again, a foreign news agency picks up a story from The Onion as fact and the world snickers behind their back. A Chinese state-run paper and a South Korean paper picked up Kim Jong Un’s election as the “Sexiest Man Alive.” The Iranians ran with an Onion story that rural whites “would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama.”

And everyone falls for the Daily Currant because it’s not really funny.

One law school is now prominently displaying its award as the “Most Amazing Place to Get Smart” from a local satirical newspaper…

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A potpourri that’s been thrown away.

It’s a bit of a slow news day around here. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people who have been tornadoed.

I was on the Huckabee show trying to explain the IRS scandal to rabid conservatives. It was like a “road game.” I don’t really feel like providing the considered, rational counter-argument to all the people who are more interested in blaming people than fixing things.

Some of the few legal stories floating around today that don’t involve “OMG OBAMA IS LIKE NIXON (minus all the lying and paranoia)” are things that have been overturned by higher authorities. Like all media outlets, we’re pretty good at covering new laws or lawsuits or convictions as they happen, but less good when a higher court quietly says “GTFO.”

So let’s take this opportunity to breeze through three things that were happening and are now probably not going to happen. We’ve got some abortion news, some BP oil spill news (remember that?), but let’s start with a murdering bastard in Guatemala who looks like he’ll escape justice again…

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* New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg commissioned a report on SDNY Judge Shira Scheindlin in advance of her ruling on the NYPD’s controversial “hey, you’re black, come get a pat down” “stop-and-frisk” policy. According to the report, Judge Scheindlin is biased because she ruled against the NYPD in search and seizure cases 60% of the time. An alternative read is that the NYPD is really bad at following the Constitution. Occam’s Razor strikes again. [New York Daily News]

* STRIKE!: Legal Services NYC walked off the job this morning after rejecting new contract offers. [New York Law Journal]

* Pentagon Papers lawyer James C. Goodale thinks President Obama, whose administration seized phone records of journos, is worse than President Nixon, who tried to charge the New York Times for conspiracy to commit espionage. Because hyperbole is the awesomest thing in the world! [New York Observer]

* A surplus of lawyers over law jobs exists in every state, and for most states the surplus has grown. I’m sure third-party litigation financing will solve all of this though. [Am Law Daily]

* Tennessee law grad and judicial affairs director fired amid allegations she hooked up with Tennessee basketball player Trae Golden. [MStars News]

* After revelations earlier that Arkansas wasn’t “buying American” and instead getting its death penalty drugs from the UK, the pharmaceutical company announced it would cut off the supply, joining a number of drug companies that are practically slowing executions around the country by limiting supply. [YubaNet]

* After the post, check out the Biglaw firm using 4square way too much…

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With spring semester drawing to a close, graduating law students must be getting really antsy. After all, the July 2013 bar exam is just around the corner, and in this kind of a competitive job market — you know, the kind of job market where only 56 percent of graduates secured long-term, full-time jobs that required bar passage in 2012 — passing the test is more important than ever.

That being said, wouldn’t it be convenient if you knew how hard you needed to study for your own state’s exam (not that you shouldn’t be studying hard in the first place), as compared to other states’ exams? Luckily, there’s a brand new ranking for that.

You’ve all got some preconceived notions about which states have the toughest bar exams, so the top 10 on this list might just blow your mind. Let’s take a look….

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Today, SCOTUS is all about the gays, and soon enough, it’ll be back to helping white people overcome affirmative action, but soon — very soon I imagine — some court is going to have to step up and reaffirm a woman’s right to choose. Or strike it down and rouse the overwhelming majority of people who support choice out of their complacency.

But quietly, abortion is under attack. And so we’re going to have to have this fight again.

And when we do, wherever we fall, we’re going to have to update Roe v. Wade to take account of the miracle (or madness) of modern science.

North Dakota just signed in the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, more restrictive than Arkansas’s new law that has received more publicity. But some of the new restrictions seem, almost, enlightened….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Has Everybody Noticed That States Are Now Openly Ignoring Roe v. Wade?”

* If you hate the government and you hate lawyers more, then you’ll love this. In the past five years, the feds have awarded $3.3 billion to more than 4,700 vendors for legal work. [National Law Journal]

* A year and a half after he was nominated for a Federal Circuit judgeship, and more than a year after his hearing, the Senate finally decided to confirm Richard Taranto. How kind. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Pretty pretty please? Zvi Goffer and Michael Kimmelman would really really like it if the Second Circuit could overturn their insider trading convictions due to unfairness. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The U.S. News law school rankings are often criticized, and here’s why: if survey respondents “were asked about Princeton Law School, it would appear in the top 20. But it doesn’t exist.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Nevermind the fact that law school applications are down, but Northwestern Law is doing the “responsible thing” and reducing the size of its incoming class — and raising tuition by 3% to boot. [Wall Street Journal]

* Jason Rapert, the Arkansas senator who passed a fetal-heartbeat abortion ban in his state, says he “has no time” for anyone who says it’s unconstitutional. To paraphrase, ain’t nobody got time for that. [New York Times]

* Dewey was quick about getting its Chapter 11 plan confirmed, but all of these unfinished business claims are taking a little longer to resolve than previously hoped. But hey, at least Paul Hastings settled. [Am Law Daily]

* Because sometimes profit sharing isn’t enough: Theodore Freedman, a former Kirkland & Ellis partner, pleaded guilty to tax fraud after underreporting his partnership income by more than $2M. [New York Law Journal]

* Here are some tips if you’re trying to get off a law school’s wait list. Apparently it’s wise to wait patiently instead of being a complete gunner from the get go. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Imagine a land filled with millions of little Honey Boo Boos. That’s what the great state of Arkansas is going to look like if the legislature passes the most restrictive abortion law in the country. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Not only do the Mavericks suck, but Mark Cuban’s luck in court does, too. His bid to toss an insider trading case was denied. He’d probably jump over the bench and have a fit if he could. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Dawn Clark Netsch, beloved Illinois pol and one of the nation’s first female law profs, RIP. [Chicago Tribune]

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