Old People

Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgI spent all day yesterday trying to summon the rage, trying to figure out a way to trumpet the cause of a sixty-something, recent law school graduate who is still having trouble discharging her student loans in a bankruptcy proceeding. The National Law Journal has the tear-jerking story:

When she graduated four years ago with a law degree at the age of 61, Denise Megan Bronsdon likely did not foresee bankruptcy court in her future. But that’s where she ended up — as a debtor.

The former farmer’s wife, who operated a tractor before going to Southern New England School of Law in 2002, convinced a Massachusetts bankruptcy court in January that repaying the more than $82,000 she owed in student debt would create an undue hardship. However, the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, considering an appeal by the lender, Educational Credit Management Corp., found on Nov. 20 that Bronsdon’s decision not to participate in a loan repayment assistance program should be part of the bankruptcy court’s undue hardship analysis.

If I was half the man I used to be, I’d take a flamethrower to this place. Hoo-Ha!
But the problem with my flamethrower is that I do not know where to point it. I could get angry at the entire system that makes student loans so difficult to discharge through bankruptcy. Or I could get mad at the law school that essentially stole this woman’s money. Or I could get angry at the woman herself — who failed the Wisconsin bar three times.
Oh, I know, let’s get pissy at all of them.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Discharging Law School Debt in Bankruptcy Doesn’t Get Any Easier When You Are Old”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg cancer surgery.jpgThe Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Health Watch continues. This just in, from the AP:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery earlier this year, was briefly hospitalized overnight after having a bad reaction to some medicine.

A statement from the court says Ginsburg was taken to the Washington Hospital Center Wednesday night and released Thursday morning.

Doctors say Ginsburg had an adverse reaction to a sleeping aid combined with cold medicine. She took the medicine in preparation for an overnight flight to London, but was taken off the airplane after she experienced extreme drowsiness causing her to fall from her seat.

At least she didn’t fall asleep on the bench this time. We’d wish RBG a speedy recovery, but it seems that she has already recovered.
Ginsburg Briefly Hospitalized, Released Thurs. [Associated Press]
Earlier: Breaking: Justice Ginsburg Hospitalized
Update: Justice Ginsburg Is Back on the Job

champagne glasses small.jpgCommenters often complain that we feature too many Biglaw associates in this space — uninspiring young people who’ve drifted through college and law school and are now drones at soulless firms. We’re delighted that this week, Biglaw associates make up only one-third of our couples. Rounding out the field are a soulless-drone partner and a former associate who abandoned Biglaw for the classic refuge of the disillusioned JD: law teaching. Enjoy this foray into the unexpected!
Our couples:

1. Caroline Dougherty and Marc Packer
2. Patricia Wencelblat and Richard Cooper
3. Tania Tetlow and Gordon Stewart

Get the details on these newlyweds and vote for your favorite couple, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 10.4: Meet Packer”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg cancer surgery.jpgWe’re happy to report that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was hospitalized last night after feeling lightheaded, was released from Washington Hospital Center this morning. The famously hardworking jurist “was at her desk by early afternoon, the court said.”
Welcome back, Justice Ginsburg!
Justice Ginsburg Home From Hospital [AP]
Earlier: Breaking: Justice Ginsburg Hospitalized

Ruth Bader Ginsburg cancer surgery.jpgIn February of this year, Senator Jim Bunning predicted that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be dead in nine months from pancreatic cancer. It was a horrible and tasteless prediction, for which Senator Bunning apologized.
But might he be right? Here’s the latest news about Justice Ginsburg’s health. From the Associated Press:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized Thursday after becoming ill in her office at the court following treatment for an iron deficiency.

The 76-year-old justice, who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in February, was taken to Washington Hospital Center at 7:45 p.m. EDT as a precaution, a statement from the court said.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Justice Ginsburg Hospitalized”

Notes from the Breadline Roxana St Thomas.jpgEd. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at roxanastthomas@gmail.com), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.
Welcome back from the long weekend, dear readers. I hope that, after what has been a hard year for many of us, everybody had a good time, everybody let their hair down, and everybody saw the sunshine. And anything else you can think of.
As a preliminary matter, I thank you wholeheartedly for your diligent attention to last week’s Homework Assignment from the Breadline. You answered the call with incredibly thoughtful, honest, and poignant responses to our questions about your experiences, for which I am extremely grateful. It’s good to see your faces a bit more clearly.
Well, my friends: without further ado, let’s put this thing together.
First, we wanted to hear about the experience of life in the breadline as an “older” member of the workforce, whether from readers who had been there themselves or from those who had seen a parent struggle with unemployment. Your responses reflected the particular indignities of being laid off and looking for work at a certain age, and described the sting of discovering that years of acquired wisdom and competence are, suddenly, of little consequence to the skeptical gatekeeper reviewing your résumé.
One reader, whom we’ll call “Mike,” got the phone call from human resources last July, just after his 58th birthday. “We were friendly,” he wrote, “so the ritual kiss from Al Pacino was brief and honest.” Mike was asked to sign a non-disclosure/non-disparagement agreement and given five weeks of severance in a lump sum. Of that, he said, “the USA and NY took 40%.”
So what has Mike been up to since hitting the breadline?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Notes from the Breadline: We’re All in this Thing Together (Walking the Line Between Faith and Fear) (Part II)”

Justice John Paul Stevens.jpgJust a quick follow-up to yesterday’s discussion of whether Justice John Paul Stevens’s failure to hire a full complement of law clerks for October Term 2010 might shed light upon his retirement plans. In today’s New York Times, Adam Liptak has an excellent article on the subject. It begins:

A Supreme Court clerkship is a glittering prize and the ultimate credential in American law, one coveted by the top graduates of the best law schools. Until recently, though, only connoisseurs of ambition and status followed the justices’ hiring process closely.

It turns out those hiring decisions may be a sort of early warning system for hints about the justices’ retirement plans. “We’ve started tracking Supreme Court hiring in real time,” said David Lat, the founder of Above the Law, a legal blog.

Thanks for the shout-out, Mr. Liptak! When it comes to being “connoisseurs of ambition and status,” we plead guilty.

Justice David H. Souter’s failure to hire clerks this spring accurately signaled his decision to step down. On Wednesday, the court confirmed that Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 89, has hired only one clerk, instead of the usual four, for the term starting in October 2010. That ignited speculation that Justice Stevens may be planning to step down next summer.

Some thoughts on what’s going on here, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Retirement Watch: More on Justice Stevens”

Notes from the Breadline Roxana St Thomas.jpgEd. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at roxanastthomas@gmail.com), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.
One evening after work, or at least the hours during which most people engage in employment-related activities, Lat and I sit in his office, contemplating an evening stroll. The office has the deserted feel that settles over most workplaces as the summer winds down, and I find myself waiting for a tumbleweed to blow by, rattling gently past the empty desks and rustling the leaves of the donut plant, which droop with late-season crullers. At some point, when we weren’t looking, August slipped away and turned to September, announcing its presence with cold evenings that jolted us from our summer reverie. Fall, I think, is like a cruel gym teacher, snapping our unguarded bums with a wet towel.
“How did this happen?” I wail plaintively, shivering. “I want a few more months of sunshine and warm weather.”
Lat strokes his chin thoughtfully. “Well,” he says absentmindedly, “I guess it has something to do with the tilting of the earth on its axis, relative to the sun. But I was an English major, so I’m just guessing.”
We spend a few minutes lamenting the advent of fall. No more seminude Hollister hotties, I remind Lat. No more flip-flops, he counters. Though the loss of these small luxuries is predictable, it is no less painful. We sigh glumly.
The end of summer is always wistful, like the day after Christmas or first love. One moment the world glitters with warmth and possibility, and even the air around you seems kinder. But when you look again, these pieces of ephemera — drooping stands of tinsel, the giddy thrill recorded in your diary — stare back, nothing more than frail relics of passing brightness. The most radiant instants slip away too fast, laying bare the impermanence of magic.
Usually, however, the sadness of summer’s end is offset by the renewed energy of fall. Fall is when things begin again: vacation ends, judges return from their summer travels, and cases resume. People have purpose! Having rested and loafed, they are ready to face the tasks at hand with renewed vigor, attired in new clothes. Perhaps this is why, this year, summer’s passing seems even crueler. This year, I have nothing to go back to.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Notes from the Breadline: We’re All in this Thing Together (Walking the Line Between Faith and Fear) (Part I)”

Justice John Paul Stevens.jpgA few weeks ago, we were emailing with one of our sources about an interesting fact we noticed, based on Above the Law’s real-time coverage of Supreme Court clerk hiring. The fact: thus far, Justice John Paul Stevens has hired just one law clerk for October Term 2010 (Sam Erman (Michigan 2007 / Garland)).
We didn’t write about it at the time, because OT 2010 is still a year away, and it seemed a bit speculative to make much of it so far in advance. But others noticed this fact too — and were faster on the trigger about it. Like the AP:

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual, generating speculation that the leader of the court’s liberals will retire next year.

If Stevens does step down, he would give President Barack Obama his second high court opening in two years. Obama chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the court when Justice David Souter announced his retirement in May.

Souter’s failure to hire clerks was the first signal that he was contemplating leaving the court….

Indeed. We started the speculation about Justice Souter’s retirement back in April 2009, over at Underneath Their Robes, based in part on his lack of law clerk hiring (and based in part on a sighting of him with Senator Pat Leahy).
But back to Justice Stevens:

In response to a question from The Associated Press, Stevens confirmed through a court spokeswoman Tuesday that he has hired only one clerk for the term that begins in October 2010. He is among several justices who typically have hired all four clerks for the following year by now. Information about this advance hiring is not released by the court but is regularly published by some legal blogs.

Cough cough — like Above the Law?
Commentary from expert observers, plus a reader poll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Retirement Watch: Justice Stevens?”

Senator Kennedy.jpgSenator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) passed away shortly before midnight on Tuesday, while at home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. He was 77. From CNN:

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” a family statement said. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice.”

Kennedy, nicknamed “Ted,” was the younger brother of slain President John F. Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down while seeking the White House in 1968. However, his own presidential aspirations were hobbled by the controversy around a 1969 auto accident that left a young woman dead, and a 1980 primary challenge to then-President Jimmy Carter that ended in defeat.

Senator Kennedy was a lawyer. He graduated in 1959 from the University of Virginia School of Law (where he won a moot court competition), became a member of the Massachusetts bar, and served as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County from 1961 to 1962. But he was more known for his long and distinguished political career than for his legal one.
Update: Over at True/Slant, Elie asks: “Could a 30 year old Edward Kennedy get elected to the Senate today? Would he have survived the scandals of his youth to become entrenched in the U.S. Senate?”
Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy dead [CNN]
Ted Kennedy Dies of Brain Cancer at Age 77 [ABC News]
Senator Edward Kennedy, 77, dies [Reuters via Drudge]

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