Minority Issues

Beat up your copier, not your clients.

* As a tipster wrote, “This judge done lost her mind.” We don’t know about that, but something is clearly wrong here. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Another brutal — yet disarmingly tender — takedown of the bros who run IsAnybodyDown. [Popehat]

* Robert Morton Duncan, the first black justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, RIP. [Times Union]

* Yes, clients can be royal pains in the behind. But you still can’t hit an obnoxious client over the head with a baseball bat. [Charleston Gazette]

* Major Kudos to McGuireWoods for the firm’s support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. We encourage other firms (and individuals) to do the same. [American Red Cross]

* “As American as the modern prison system” doesn’t have the same ring as “apple pie.” For better or worse, though, it’s equally true. [Cruel and Unusual]

* LawDingo is a new company that connects potential clients with lawyers — all from the convenience of home. It’s the way of the future! [Dow Jones]

I’d like to live in a world where the list of best law schools “for black people” was exactly the same as the list of best law schools “for people.”

I think we’re close. Black people are already conditioned to make the same stupid decisions based on the U.S. News rankings as white people have been making for a generation. And while there are still some unhelpful people who try to tell black people that the reasons for going to law school are somehow radically different for them than for everybody else, for the most part, people understand that black people go to law school for the same reason white people do: jobs.

Still, we’re not quite there, in large part because the strength and vibrancy of the black community can vary greatly between law schools. In this day and age, nobody should expect to be the “only” black student in their small section. Everybody should expect access to a diverse law school faculty. But some law schools do a better job of providing those kinds of environments than others.

Now, usually when I see a non-U.S. News law school ranking, I make fun of it. That’s because there is usually some kind of huge, methodological problem with them. And then, of course, there is the pathetic joke that is the Cooley Law School Rankings. In general, non-U.S. News rankings fail either by offering no new information than what is already captured by U.S. News, or by looking at completely stupid information that nobody cares about.

With that in mind, I opened The Black Student’s Guide To Law School with a lot of skepticism. I mean, unless they figured out how to capture the all important “racist apologist per oblivious white person” metric, I wasn’t sure there would be a lot of utility here.

But having thumbed through the guide and their ranking of the top 25 national law schools for black people, I have to say that there is a lot of good stuff in here. And I’m not just saying that because Yale Law plummets to #19….

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Courtney Horne

You can’t keep a good story down. And the case of Courtney Horne v. Donald North, currently being tried in the court of public opinion, is a good story.

We first mentioned this ugly spat between a former law student at Southern University Law Center and her former criminal law professor in passing. Readers clamored for more coverage. So we did a follow-up post, a quick Quote of the Day — which racked up thousands upon thousands of pageviews.

So let’s give you what you want: more discussion of Courtney Horne, Professor North, and Southern University Law Center (SULC)….

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FOIA requests: how do they work?

As our resident Juggalo columnist mentioned in August, the minions of crazed rednecks who worship at the altar of Violent J and Shaggy2Dope — otherwise known as the Insane Clown Posse — are not at all happy that the FBI has labelled them a gang. To defend their honor, as well as their right to get wasted and throw absurd parties in the middle of nowhere, the Juggalo nation has decided to launch a Faygo attack on the Pentagon sue the FBI.

Looks like these clowns aren’t clowning around….

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Right now is a great time to be a Supreme Court aficionado. There’s a big new book out about the Court, Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath (affiliate link). And the new SCOTUS Term starts in just a few days, on Monday, October 1.

Given the time of the year, it’s not surprising that SCOTUS preview events are as common as Ninth Circuit reversals pro se cert petitions. I attended one sponsored by the Federalist Society earlier this month, where Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly offered excellent insights into October Term 2012. Our Supreme Court correspondent here at Above the Law, Matt Kaiser, went to a preview talk sponsored by the American Constitution Society (which he turned into Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About The Supreme Court’s New Term).

That sounds like more than enough SCOTUS previews. But I couldn’t help myself from attending one more, due to the starpower of the panelists: Paul Clement, the former solicitor general who’s now a partner at Bancroft, and Tom Goldstein, the noted Supreme Court advocate and founder of the invaluable SCOTUSblog.

What did Messrs. Clement and Goldstein have to say about OT 2012?

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October first is the start of the new Supreme Court term!

If, like many readers, you’re a few years out of law school, this may strike you with a mild sense of dread. You remember the heady days of law school when you followed every argument, opinion, and cert grant from One First Street Northeast with an excitement rivaled only by your enthusiasm for the starting salaries for first-year associates.

Alas, the years since law school haven’t been kind to your pants size or your level of engagement with the Supreme Court.

Now, I suspect, you worry that soon — at a family dinner, dropping off your kids at preschool, or anywhere else you interact with non-lawyers — someone will recognize that you are a lawyer, and ask you what to make of the new Supreme Court term.

You have three options for how to deal with this, now, before the media frenzy over the new Supreme Court term starts.

First, you can admit to yourself that you’re no longer the gunner you used to be. You can tell people that just don’t follow the Supreme Court anymore, since you’ve gotten really interested in your exciting new life doing document review for a municipal bond arbitration.

But you’re not going to do that. If you were that good at being honest with yourself, you aren’t likely to be the kind of person who went to law school in the first place.

Second, perhaps, you can wade through the volume of information out there about the new term. Go through SCOTUSblog with the same passion you now spend tracking whether your friends from law school have better careers than you do. Maybe go to one of the OT 2012 preview events that clog every convention hall and small town library starting in mid-September.

That takes time and energy. Tom Goldstein sometimes uses really long paragraphs, and you really wanted to spend more time Googling for topless pictures of Kate Middleton.

Instead, you could let me to one of those events for you. For the truly efficient, follow the jump, sit back, and enjoy Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About the Supreme Court’s New Term to Non-Lawyers….

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Back in July, we brought you some news about the law firms that you should be considering if you’re in search of diversity — the latest Vault rankings for the Best Law Firms for Diversity. In an ideal world, everyone would be able to work at a firm that’s open, inclusive, and welcoming to all.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the world that we’re living in. Now that you’ve seen which Biglaw firms are the biggest on diversity, let’s head down south to the Lone Star state, where it’s anything but a small world after all.

Eighteen of the 20 largest firms in Dallas, Texas, just received failing scores for diversity in a report issued by the Dallas Diversity Task Force. The other two firms received grades of C+. Let’s see which firms made the grade….

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Talk about a pole tax…

* Dewey know if Citibank is planning to sue other former D&L partners over their capital contribution loans? According to one court document filed by Luskin Stern & Eisler, the bank’s counsel, the fun has just gotten started. [Am Law Daily]

* Unlike the voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina, the Department of Justice has approved New Hampshire’s law of the same ilk. Apparently hippies from the “Live Free or Die” state are incapable of discrimination against minorities. [CNN]

* Arizona, on the other hand, can discriminate against minorities all the live long day — for now. A federal judge ruled that the “show me your papers” provision of S.B. 1070, the state’s strict immigration law, may be enforced. [Bloomberg]

* The latest argument raised in the case over the Mongolian Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton is that the bones are actually a “Frankenstein model based on several creatures.” This movie is getting boring. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “[T]he state of New York doesn’t get to be a dance critic.” We’re sure that any man would gladly tell the New York Court of Appeals that lap dancing is a form of art, but should it enjoy a tax exemption? [Associated Press]

Investing in rims is a safer bet than investing in law school.

Occasionally, people will tell me that the calculus for attending law school is different for African-Americans than it is for any other kind of American. The proponents of this theory (and people who believe this come from all races) start with the objective fact that African-Americans are underrepresented as members of the bar. They view that as a social injustice that contributes to the fact that African-American clients are underserved by the legal community.

From those two appropriate concerns, these guys then see that the obvious solution is that more black people should apply to law school. And so they then make up reasons for why applying to law schools is somehow an especially good idea for black people. As if the fact that there’s a laudable social end magically changes the math of the law school decision.

But the social ends do not justify the economic means. Poor black people need lawyers, they don’t need more poor black people who became poor by going to law school.

Now, I’m all for racial diversity, but I fail to see the social good of encouraging black people to make ruinous financial decisions just because they are underrepresented in the group of people making this particular stupid purchase. I wouldn’t say to a bunch of white people, “You know, you really need to buy expensive rims for your car on credit. No money down!”

Sorry, that might be an inapposite analogy: rims are at least shiny and accomplish their stated goal of providing bling for your ride. A J.D. can’t even be used to adorn a car.

As I said, I’ve heard this terrible argument before, but rarely as boldly as from the associate dean for academic affairs at Penn State Law. Her version of the argument seems more like an attempt to cause active harm to the black community by taking advantage of those who don’t have enough information.

This falsehood that law school is somehow a “better” bet for African-Americans must be stopped, right here, right now….

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Angelica Cecora

Ed. note: Due to the Labor Day holiday, we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back to normal tomorrow. A restful and happy Labor Day to all!

* The lone ex-Dewey partner who was sued by Citibank for defaulting on his capital loan is fighting back, claiming that he was “fraudulently induced” into signing up for the plan even though the bank knew that the S.S. D&L was sinking. [Reuters]

* If you’re trying to avoid additional questions being raised about your alleged bad behavior, a resignation amid scandal isn’t the way to do it. Suzanne Barr, the ICE official accused of running a federal “frat house,” has quit her job. [New York Daily News]

* A federal judge taught the members of the Louisiana Supreme court that the year 1994 did, in fact, occur before the year 1995. Justice Bernette Johnson will now ascend to the rank of chief justice. [Times-Picayune]

* Because we’re all a little hopeless these days: given the bleak realities of our economic situation, perhaps it’s finally time to change the standard for a discharge of student loan debt in bankruptcy. [New York Times]

* “The groups that attempt to rank schools are involved in a lot of hogwash.” Even if that’s the case, people are still going to care about the University of Illinois’s rankings nosedive after the Paul Pless to-do. [News-Gazette]

* Don’t be scared by the absurd tuition rates or the abysmal job prospects, because law school is still a great investment for African-Americans — and for law schools in search of diversity, too. [National Law Journal]

* “[T]hat a lawyer would take this kind of case is shocking.” Sadly, it’s not. Angelica Marie Cecora, the alleged escort who filed a $5M suit against Oscar de la Hoya, now has to pay all of his legal fees. [New York Post]

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