Movies

The Wolf of Wall Street, by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is out, and is the story of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who, if the movie is to be believed (and maybe it mainly should be, including the dwarf tossing) built a fabulously successful and fundamentally corrupt trading firm, then was indicted, then went to federal prison and cooperated against two dozen of his friends and co-conspirators.

The film has been criticized for glorifying fraud and being dangerous — a “reckless attempt at continuing to pretend that these sorts of schemes are entertaining” — in a letter by the daughter of someone who went to prison for the stuff in the movie. Apparently traders love it in a creepy and not good way.

DiCaprio responded, saying that Scorsese’s vision is to show characters as they really are and ask “Who am I to judge anybody?” Apparently Pope Francis is contagious.

I don’t think the movie glorifies fraud any more than, say, Macbeth glorifies ambition. It seems like there are some pretty awesome parts to fraud, like you can use fraud to get a lot of money, which you can use to buy cool things. The movie is also frank that there are some serious downsides, like you can go to prison for committing it.

The film is also a largely accurate portrayal of the reality of a lot of white-collar practice.

Here’s how . . 

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Ed. note: Happy New Year! We will resume our normal publication schedule on January 2nd. See you next year.

* A guy got pantsed twice. He then secured a six-figure judgment! And now he’s appealing that judgment!?!? God, this is exactly the kind of guy who deserves a wedgie. [Lowering the Bar]

* Professor Campos takes on George Will’s claim that the team name Redskins isn’t offensive because “Oklahoma” basically translates to “Redskin” too. Hey, I could get behind banning Oklahoma. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* A pro se inmate sues the state. The reporter tries really hard to treat the complaint seriously until the very end. [Times-Picayune]

* A Las Vegas judge (and son of a former mayor) suffered head wounds indicative of an assault. When asked about why LVMPD didn’t tell marshals that a judge had been attacked, they basically said, “Why would we?” Yeah, why alert a judge’s security team about a possible, persistent threat related to his job. [Las Vegas Law Blog]

* With Netflix about to purge a number of movies off its system, this is an interesting look back at a time when Hollywood tried to ban home movie rental because they generally adhere to the “cut off your nose to spite your face” business model. [Tech Crunch]

* More on the phenomenon of judges speaking out publicly. I don’t know about all these critics, but we’re sure big fans of these judges. [Wall Street Journal]

Does your school offer Law and Finger Painting? I bet they would if you asked.

Don’t look now, but spring is right around the corner. Spring semester, that is. For 3Ls around the country, just a few classes stand between them and graduation into one of the worst legal job markets.

Ever since President Obama suggested that the third year of law school could be cut, we’ve heard a lot of law professors talk about how essential the third year of law school is. You can take clinics! You can become “practice ready”!

Sure, you can do those things. But it’s unlikely that you are going to take any course in your last semester of school that will help you get a job when you graduate. Why would you do that? You can be unemployed just as easily taking small, low-stress classes that won’t screw up your GPA on your way out of the door.

Every school has its own selection of ridiculous upper-class electives, but I’d like to focus on how the big boys do it. The Ivy League law schools have been setting the standard for legal education for generations. Their students (for the most part) have jobs waiting for them on the other side of graduation. I’ve put together a full course schedule for an Ivy-educated 3L. Please feel free to send this to any professor who thinks that the third year is too important to lose…

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A sterner talking-to than Lanny Breuer gave HSBC.

* You can go to jail for possession, but if you actively aid and abet drug cartels, you can walk away with a fine worth 5 weeks of your income. It also helps if instead of “poor” you’re a bank. Hooray for “Too Big To Hold Accountable For Anything!!! [Rolling Stone]

* Disney has gotten fed up with “mockbusters,” films that jack the studio’s logo to confuse people into buying a different DVD. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been itching to check out this new flick September: Osage County. [Jezebel]

* Dahlia Lithwick explains that too many schools feel the cure for the trauma of school shootings is… creating more trauma. [Slate]

* Chief Judge Theodore McKee of the Third Circuit rules that the government can detain you for carrying Arabic flashcards. This doesn’t even make racist profiling sense: “bad guys” would already know how to speak Arabic, right? [The Raw Story]

* Defendants need to understand that getting an acquittal requires them to expend some personal effort, too. [Katz Justice]

* Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s warrantless spying program is legal, noting that — if it had existed — the government could have predicted the 9/11 attacks. Good point, because intelligence agencies were in no position to figure out that there was an attack brewing without a Big Brother initiative. Oh… wait. [Huffington Post]

* On a related note, a cartoon from 1994 that predicted the NSA’s controversial programs. It’s really kind of scary…. [Slate]

* Britain’s clowns are furious that people are dressing up as clowns and trying to scare people. For their sake, let’s make sure they never hear about Pennywise. [Lowering the Bar]

* Professor Dave Hoffman evaluates the case for flat-rate tuition. [Concurring Opinions]

* The Wolf of Wall Street is about a criminal ripping off poor people. Bankers cheered at a recent showing. There is a lesson to be had there about what bankers would do if given an opportunity. [Business Insider]

* “Knockout,” a game where young boys cold-cock unsuspecting victims, is a serious issue. Nah, just kidding, it’s a crypto-racist overreaction. But at least one kid was stupid enough to try it and then tell a cop about it. Seriously. [Gawker]

Ed. note: Merry Christmas! We will resume our normal publication schedule on Boxing Day. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we thank you for your readership.

* Adoption, probate, and Elf. You know what child welfare really needs to look into is leaving kids to be raised in a sweatshop; that seems like a much bigger problem than an intestate parent. [The Legal Geeks]

* Were you looking for analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision in Kansas v. Cheever, but don’t have time to commit to a full article? Here it is in Haiku. [Supreme Court Haiku]

* Man declared a “quarrelsome litigant.” What’s the threshold for that moniker? Well, he filed a case against the Dominican Republic for “bad weather.” [Lowering the Bar]

* The Top 5 arrests of guys dressed as Santa. [Legally Weird]

* Professor Barry Sullivan of Loyola-Chicago explains how A Christmas Carol shaped his legal philosophy. And yet, if one were to pick one Dickens book to prepare a young lawyer for the profession, a better bet would be Bleak House (affiliate link). [TaxProf Blog]

* Happy anniversary to the Curt Flood case! [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

The word fat, I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes, and sex, and cuss words, because of the effect it has on our younger generations, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?

Jennifer Lawrence. The Oscar-winning actress took time away from discussing her “copious amount of butt plugs” to tell Barbara Walters that the word “fat” should be illegal. At first blush, the quote sounds like something a naïve 23-year-old might say, but her argument that the media should hold itself to a higher standard given its immense power to craft and reinforce the beauty myth for kids — in particular young girls — is much more complex than the sound byte suggests. But that’s easy for a shapeshifter to say.

(Video of J. Law’s interview embedded after the jump….)

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The Warhol maxim about media celebrity has worked its way into litigation with a pair of high-profile legal disputes over the late artist’s work. Fittingly for Warhol-related news, the cases both glitter with celebrity and elevate the most mundane items to the altar of contention.

In one case, world-famous pop culture icons are pitted in a case involving sex, betrayal, higher education, and art appraisal. In the other, parties duke it out over a frigging box. An ordinary, cardboard box. They say it’s worth $250,000 because… why not?

Warhol once said, “making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art,” and he’s now nodding approvingly as millionaires are running to courthouses to fight over pictures he drew half a century ago…

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The last time someone willingly entered New Jersey.

* New Jersey continues to mint lawyers despite terrible market conditions. Lat told me I should come up with a good Jersey joke. I said that was fairly well-worn territory and I would feel a bit like #498 at the Houston 500. Lat said, “            ” [Newark Star-Ledger]

* The Obama uncle we mentioned earlier this week? Obama’s roommate before Harvard Law. Why won’t Obama produce his rent deposit!? [CNN]

* The men who stole parts of the Porsche Paul Walker died in were arrested yesterday. They will be charged with felony grand theft, tampering with evidence, and living perhaps too fast… too curious? [TMZ]

* Regulators are having a tough time figuring out what to do with the burgeoning Bitcoin market. Numismatists are equally puzzled by this rarest of rare coin markets. [New York Times]

* Jos. A. Bank, the most prestigious clothier in the United States and/or Canada, has been subpoenaed by the Ohio Attorney General. If the Ohio AG deposes one executive, he gets to depose three additional executives for free. [Washington Post]

* A Q&A with Nelson Mandela’s lawyer. Very cool story, indeed, bro. [Al Jazeera America]

And as an added bonus, after the jump are pictures from last night’s ATL holiday party…

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It’s December, a big month for movies. This is the time of year when studios trot out some of their most prestigious pictures, hunting for Oscar gold, and when they release their holiday blockbusters, in the hunt for cold hard cash. With Christmas and New Year’s falling on Wednesdays this year (yay!), there should be ample time for moviegoing.

But some lawyers want to do more than just watch movies; they want to make them. Over the years, many lawyers have entered the film world, some on the business side and some on the creative side.

Interested in having some adventures in the screen trade? Let’s meet a Harvard Law School graduate who is now an award-winning writer and filmmaker….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Harvard Law School To A Career In Film”

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