Even people inside the Ivory Tower can tell that legal education needs serious reform.
I just got back from the International Legal Ethics Conference in Banff, Alberta. I feel like I literally just got back, since WestJet made an atrocious decision to detour a direct Calgary to Newark flight — full of people who had already cleared U.S. Customs — to Toronto, where we were trapped on the tarmac for six hours.
In any event, the ILEC conference was full of law professors from just about everywhere. I enjoyed many discussions about how the next generation of lawyers are being trained. I’m happy to report that a lot of the professors I talked to understood that one of the big problems facing American law students is the out-of-control cost of legal education. And I spoke to many American professors who understood that high professorial salaries are partially responsible for the runaway cost of tuition. There were lots of innovative ideas about how to make legal education cheaper for students, and more useful for clients.
Unfortunately, while there are many great ideas out there, the 800-pound gorilla is the restrictive American Bar Association, and it didn’t even have to bother being in the room for everybody to feel its weight. The ABA is perhaps the only organization in the world that doesn’t understand that the American legal education system is horribly flawed.
If the ABA could get a clue, there are a lot of people willing to go into the laboratory and experiment with new ideas. I was at ILEC on a panel about whether or not law should be an undergraduate degree. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but the ABA needs to realize that almost anything is better than the current system.
You don’t have to listen to me, you can listen to the New York Times….
* Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one Supreme Court justice thinks that things will be back to normal at One First Street come the start of the next term, despite his colleagues’ loose lips. [National Law Journal]
* Hourly billing rates for associate are on the rise nationwide, while partner and counsel billing rates only saw modest bumps. Is Biglaw back in business, or is this just another “retention strategy”? [New York Law Journal]
* This is a really hard to believe newspaper headline: “Law firm recognizes employees have life outside of work.” Carlton Fields, what kind of gypsy voodoo magic spells are you casting? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
* Another day, another editorial about the “irretrievably broken” state of legal education in our country. But the ABA admins needn’t worry their oblivious little heads, because people will keep applying. [New York Times]
* And in today’s disturbing law school debtor news, Jason Bohn’s charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after a DA announced via indictment that Bohn allegedly intended to torture his victim. [New York Post]
* “Quite frankly, these are the actions of a dirty old man.” You can look, but never lick: it’s not really a good thing when a judge uses a sentence like this to describe an attorney’s alleged client relations skills. [CBS News]
* For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball fraud game. Lenny Dykstra pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud among a potpourri of other felony counts, and he’ll now face up to 20 years in prison. [CNN]
* Roger Clemens was found not guilty on charges of lying to Congress about using steroids. [New York Times]
* Why did the ABA Journal kill a feature story on mentoring by Dan Hull and Scott Greenfield? The world may never know, and the world may never see the story. [Simple Justice]
* Q: What does a male lawyer do when his female secretary gives him a nice little Father’s Day gift? A: Freak out because random acts of kindness are so unusual, and then write a letter to a New York Times advice columnist. [New York Times]
* If you’ll be in D.C. this Thursday, June 21, check out this battle of the law firm bands — a fun event that we’ve covered before, as well as a fundraiser for a worthy cause. [Banding Together 2012]
* ATL readers are awesome. You guys have already been a huge help to this court reporter who almost died when he fell into the Chicago River. The family is still taking donations, and now there’s a PayPal link, so it’s even easier to lend a hand to Andrew Pitts and his family. [Kruse Reporters Blog]
* A closer look at the continuing rapid progress of predictive coding (or, as skeptics would say, our new computer overlords) in legal discovery. [WSJ Law Blog]
* New York’s “hot dog hooker,” Ms. Catherine Scalia (no, not that Scalia), was sentenced to jail. Maybe she should have deigned to sell chocolate milkshakes instead. [Gothamist]
* Arizona’s immigration law is heading to the Supreme Court today. Meanwhile, former Senator Dennis DeConcini lobbed the worst insult ever against his state. How embarrassing for you, Arizona. [New York Times]
* Will Wal-Mart regret not disclosing its bribery investigation sooner? Not when the delay saved millions in criminal fines. What Wal-Mart will regret is being forced into disclosure by the NYT narcs. [Corporate Counsel]
* Delete all the oil from ocean, and then maybe we’ll care about this. A former BP employee was charged with obstruction of justice for deleting texts having to do with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. [Bloomberg]
* “Once you cross the six-figure mark, you think, what’s a few thousand dollars more?” You’re doing it wrong: you’re supposed to be bragging about a six-figure salary, not a six-figure debt obligation. [Baltimore Sun]
* New Jersey residents don’t always have the great pleasure of nearly being killed by two high-speed Lamborghinis, but when they do, they prefer that police officers be suspended and sue over it. [ABC News]
* Low prices. Every day. On everything. Except bribes. The NYT handed the feds an FCPA case against Wal-Mart on a platter, but the discount superstore might soon have a SOX problem to worry about. [Reuters]
* The John Edwards campaign finance trial is already off to a dramatic start. It seems that the prosecution’s key witness is just as shady as the former presidential candidate is alleged to be. [Boston Herald]
* An “abuse of process”? Looks like it’s time to #OccupyTwitter. A New York judge has approved a subpoena for tweets belonging to an Occupy Wall Street protester. [Bloomberg]
* And I am telling you, I’m not going — to help your case. Yesterday, Jennifer Hudson testified at the trial of the man accused of killing her relatives. Wonder if she took some tips from her fiancé, David Otunga. [CNN]
* “I decided to become a kidney donor to my boss, and she took my heart.” A lesson in why you should reconsider donating organs to your boss: you might get fired before the wound heals. [New York Post]
[T]he fact that it is constitutional and commonplace does not quiet the nagging sense that hate crime legislation resembles something from an Orwell dystopia. Horrific crimes deserve stern justice, but don’t we want to be careful about criminalizing a defect of character? Because our founders believed that democracy requires great latitude for dissent, America, virtually alone in the developed world, protects the right to speak or publish the most odious points of view. And yet the government is authorized to punish you for thinking those vile things, if you think them in the course of committing a crime.
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