New York Times

This law dean is hoping you’re wearing Bad Idea Jeans when you read his NYT op-ed.

You know that you are selling a substandard product when you start trying to blame “bloggers” as the reason people are refusing purchase your bill of goods.

Lawrence E. Mitchell, the dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, took to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times to defend the value proposition of going to law school. Mitchell would have you believe that the media — which only recently started asking law schools to provide evidence that legal education was worth the exorbitant prices schools charge for it — has unfairly and “irrationally” dissuaded the brightest students from attending law school. He writes: “The hysteria has masked some important realities and created an environment in which some of the brightest potential lawyers are, largely irrationally, forgoing the possibility of a rich, rewarding and, yes, profitable, career.”

To be clear, the argument here is that some of the BRIGHTEST potential lawyers are acting “irrationally” by not going to law school, which I suppose leaves only some of the not-brightest potential lawyers as the ones who still believe op-eds from law school deans touting the value of law school.

Mitchell’s problem is actually quite common among law school deans. In fact, Mitchell unintentionally captures the basic disconnect between law students and the deans that take their money: the facts Mitchell wants people to focus on when they are considering going to law school are not the facts that matter to people when they graduate from law school.

And the reason law school applications are on the way down is that the brightest potential lawyers are starting to understand the difference….

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Behind door number one, an actress turned lawyer.

When I receive the sections of the Sunday New York Times that get delivered on Saturday, the first one I reach for is Real Estate. And one of the first features I read is The Hunt, Joyce Cohen’s delightful column chronicling the victories and defeats of those who dare to take on the New York City real estate market.

A recent installment of The Hunt featured a lawyer who was previously a movie star. With two daughters and a penchant for entertaining, she and her husband had outgrown their three-bedroom condominium on the Upper East Side. They wanted a townhouse. But with a budget of no more than $2 million, they had their work cut out for them.

Who is the actress turned attorney — a star of one of the most iconic films of the 1990s, in fact — and where is her new home?

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(Or: An actress turned lawyer’s uptown abode.)”

Twitter for us is like a parliament, but not the kind of parliament that exists in this region. It’s a true parliament, where people from all political sides meet and speak freely.

– Faisal Abdullah, a Saudi Arabian lawyer, explaining to the New York Times how Twitter has created a revolution of sorts in his country.

Out west, we’re in the middle of a gold rush. Programmers, marketers, and young business school grads are flocking to the Bay Area all with big dreams of striking start-up gold.

If you wander down Market Street, you’ll hear people mumbling a mantra: “Internet business. Internet business. Internet business.” Or perhaps, “Please let Google buy me. Please let Google buy me.”

Lawyers don’t usually play too much into this equation, except for the unfortunate in-house counsel tasked with explaining to a start-up’s management why playing beer pong in the conference room during work hours may be an unwise decision.

Or are attorneys much more relevant here than the layman might realize? Yesterday, the New York Times profiled a storied Biglaw firm that’s playing quite a part in the current tech bubble boom. It’s not this firm’s first time at the rodeo, but other firms smell dollars in the air, too, and there’s a battle brewing over who will represent the next Google, Facebook, what have you.

Which Biglaw firm is leading the charge?

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Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a blood pressure raising article about hundreds of District Attorneys offices that allow debt collectors to use their stationery to chase down folks who write bad checks.

Why does anyone give a damn about prosecutors who help businesses to bully people into ponying up cash under threat of prosecution, before a lawyer ever looks over the case? Well, for starters, the DAs get a little somethin’-somethin’ from the deal, too….

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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….

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* 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]

Former spouses are often required to pay alimony; former cohabiting partners may have to pay palimony; why not ask men who conceive with a woman to whom they are not married to pay “preglimony”?

– Professor Shari Motro, of the University of Richmond School of Law, commenting in a New York Times op-ed piece on the need for preglimony, a way for unmarried partners to share the economic consequences of pregnancy.

* 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]

Chen Guangcheng

The fundamental question the Chinese government must face is lawlessness. China does not lack laws, but the rule of law.

– Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, in an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times. Guangcheng is currently studying law at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law School.

(Keep reading to see how Guangcheng describes the lawless conduct he and his family have allegedly faced — at the hands of law enforcement — in his homeland.)

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