Media and Journalism

* Oh mon dieu, Justice Breyer was inducted as one of just 12 foreign members of France’s Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. C’est très chouette pour un Américain, non? [New York Times]

* Man, for a four-seeded firm that got knocked out of our March Madness competition after the Sweet Sixteen, Davis Polk is looking great in 2013’s first quarter as far as legal advising in M&A deals goes. [Am Law Daily]

* Brown Rudnick picked up a California boutique, and it’ll be doubled in size through lateral hiring. No layoffs are currently expected, but no one really advertises that as a merger selling point. [National Law Journal]

* The New York Times: bringing you last month’s news, today! South Dakota is offering a subsidy for law school tuition to keep lawyers in the state. Here’s our post from two weeks ago. [New York Times]

* Pace Law School’s “low bono” residency program was praised by New York’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, but if you’ve got other job offers, Dear Lord, take one of them. [New York Law Journal]

* AIG wants to prevent Hank Greenberg from suing in its name, probably because it’d prefer not to be known as “the poster company for corporate ingratitude and chutzpah.” [DealBook / New York Times]

* “[D]o I cover this really important story and maybe go to jail?” That’s the choice Jana Winter is facing after reporting on James Holmes’s massacre notebook and refusing to reveal her sources. [CNN]

Mickey Mouse, Esquire?

“I’m leaving the legal profession.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to Disney World!”

This is, in a nutshell, the story of the latest lawyer featured in our series on career alternatives for attorneys. But there is a lesson here of broader applicability.

Are you looking to leave the law? Your treasure trove of “useless” knowledge could be a valuable asset….

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In August, we lamented the fact that nearly two-thirds of Americans couldn’t name a single member of the Supreme Court. At the time, we blamed it on the perceived stupidity of our nation’s population, calling for televised oral arguments in the hopes that they’d someday compete in the ratings with reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Unfortunately, given the high court’s resistance to change and the burgeoning evidence that we live in a country that’s overflowing with Honey Boo Boos, neither is going to happen any time soon.

But that’s really beside the point, because even if SCOTUS arguments were televised, they’d likely appear on C-SPAN, a channel that some people have probably never heard of before. Another thing that some people have never heard of before is the Supreme Court itself. That was a serious statement….

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Jodi Arias: too happy for murder?

This trial has lasted much longer than we ever anticipated, and it’s been richer and deeper than we would have ever imagined.

Scot Safon, the executive in charge of HLN, commenting on the news channel’s intense coverage of the Jodi Arias trial.

(If you haven’t been watching all of the Casey Anthony-esque reporting on the Arias trial, she’s accused of killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, who was stabbed 27 times, shot in the head, and had his throat slit. Arias claims she killed him in self defense.)

Law school deans, are you ready for your report card?

The U.S. News law school rankings are due out in a couple of hours. But Above the Law sources have given us a sneak peek at the Top 25, this time in order. And not just from anonymous sources. Mike Spivey of the Spivey Consulting Group claims he’s laid eyes on the list, confirmed what our tipsters reported, and has been tweeting about the thing for the past few hours.

Every year, law school deans and professors tells us how the rankings are flawed, and every year, we find out that prospective law students care more about the U.S. News law school rankings than any other factor.

But this year, U.S. News claims it will be taking into account the employment figures of recent graduates nine months after graduation. Is that going to be a big substantive change, or have law schools already mastered the art of self-reporting their own employment outcomes in a way that hides the truth?

Let’s take a look. These notes will be UNOFFICIAL until U.S. News confirms the news with their midnight publication, but we’re confident this is the new top 25.

UPDATE (10:10 p.m.): U.S. News just confirmed our report by moving up their publication schedule. These rankings are now OFFICIAL….

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Lawyers are supposed to read. The best lawyers are usually the most voracious readers. One of the tragic consequences of life as an associate is the loss of time for leisure reading. Except for that hard-earned four-day vacation around Thanksgiving time. Or that quick beach jaunt in late August when you realize that not only are all the partners gone for their yearly family vacations, they are not even bothering to answer emails or calls. So you may as well take a long weekend yourself. Pretend you have a life. Endure your friends talking about how their corporate “Summer Fridays” are already tired out, and how they long to get back to a regular schedule after Labor Day. Admit it — you are not doing any serious reading on the beach, or in the airport, or sitting on someone’s pool deck with a homemade margarita. More likely, your brain is fried, and the appropriate level of reading material for you at that stage is a “men’s periodical” or some celebrity rag.

Partners have it a little better. The intellectual ones rekindle their loves for serious fiction, or Ulysses Grant biographies, or even high-priced gardening books so they can converse semi-intelligently with their illiterate (but highly skilled and inexpensive) landscaper. Other partners read junk, or choose not to read at all, only buying glossy magazines for the pictures of high-priced items they are thrilled they can now afford. Or for the cocktail recipes, now that the liquor on their “drink rack” is of better quality, all while their need for a nightly drink or two or three goes up. Leisure reading, or not, however you like.

But there is another kind of Biglaw reading. The type that all partners really should engage in. Daily if possible. It is accessible. Via browser. That’s right — legal blogs. Biglaw partners (and ambitious associates) need to be on top of what is going on in our industry. You know, the one that is changing rapidly. Where there is a battle for survival going on, even between firms that would normally be considered extremely successful, and that in and of themselves are many times larger and more successful than at any point in their own histories. Information is power on this battlefield. Get reading. Some suggestions….

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Professor Paul Campos isn’t going anywhere. But as we mentioned last night, his blog is.

Last night, Campos announced that he is going to stop writing his blog, Inside the Law School Scam. There are a number of so-called “scam blogs” by law school graduates that are devoted to exposing the high cost and low return of going to law school. But Campos is one of the few law school professors who has chosen to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

But after 499 posts, there wasn’t a lot more to say…

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Say what you will about the Cooley Law School Rankings, but at least they are internally consistent and objectively applied.

We’ve written before about the ridiculous National Jurist Best Law School Rankings. Many law bloggers have written about this list that looks like it was put together by getting the Sorting Hat drunk on goblets of fire water and forcing it to name law schools until it passed out.

We’ve all tried to reason with the National Jurist, but it turns out that effort was not unlike trying to convince an infant not to poop while you’re eating. We’d have been better off just ignoring it and cleaning it up later.

The publication came out with an “edit” yesterday, and while its revisions did a good job of highlighting how stupid these rankings were in the first place, I’m compelled to write about them just so nobody is fooled into thinking their “updates” have actually fixed anything….

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Ed. note: This is the second installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give a notable law firm partner an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Theodore Boutrous, Jr. is co-chair of Gibson Dunn‘s appellate and constitutional law groups. He is also a member of the firm’s executive and management committees.

1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next five years?

For law firms to maintain strong, lasting bonds with clients and distinctive brands and cultures rather than transforming into large, largely fungible, faceless, bottom-line business enterprises.

2. What has been the biggest positive change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

Technology has revolutionized the legal profession, enhancing productivity, and improving the quality of work, life and client-service capabilities.

3. What has been the biggest negative change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

The demise of law libraries as special sanctuaries for thinking and contemplating and generating ideas.

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These days, it seems like every media outlet that has any remote connection to the law is making an effort to dispel the allure of the esteemed U.S. News law school rankings. U.S. News encourages law school administrators to attempt to game the rankings, they say. The U.S. News rankings are too focused on the test scores of incoming students, they say. And while we agree that some of the U.S. News methodology could be changed for the better, others have only offered up absurdities in their alternative ranking systems.

National Jurist recently came out with its own set of rankings which measure much lauded criteria like the number of Super Lawyers each law school produces, and the quality of each law school’s faculty, as measured by the oft revered website, RateMyProfessors.com. And as with the glorious Cooley rankings, any traction that the new National Jurist rankings might have received went totally out the window when the powers that be at the magazine decided to rank Alabama higher than both Harvard and Yale. Come on, everyone knows that the only place ‘Bama should be ranked ahead of Harvard is on a football field!

As far as we’re concerned, this serves only as an exercise in how not to make a new rankings system….

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