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That’s the question the Supreme Court answered in the negative today, in Graham v. Florida. The Court’s opinion was by Justice Kennedy, whose vote usually controls on Eighth Amendment issues, and it was joined by the four liberal justices.

The case generated oodles and oodles of pages and a welter of separate opinions. Thankfully, the AP has a fairly clear and concise summary:

The Supreme Court has ruled that teenagers may not be locked up for life without chance of parole if they haven’t killed anyone.

By a 5-4 vote Monday, the court says the Constitution requires that young people serving life sentences must at least be considered for release.

The court ruled in the case of Terrance Graham, who was implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17. Graham, now 22, is in prison in Florida, which holds more than 70 percent of juvenile defendants locked up for life for crimes other than homicide.

Florida: where it’s good to be an old person.

Interestingly enough, Chief Justice John Roberts — not known as a bleeding heart — agreed with the majority as to Terrance Graham specifically. Because he concurred in the judgment, the vote on the disposition of the case was actually 6-3.

The back-and-forth between the majority and the dissent gets quite heated at times. Justice Thomas wrote the main dissent, which Robert Barnes of the Washington Post described as “stinging.” But given the power that Justice Kennedy wields at One First Street, it’s generally unwise to attack him too harshly.

So the most snarky exchange did not involve Justice Kennedy, but took place between Justice Thomas and his soon-to-be-former colleague, Justice Stevens….

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* If your sandwich is a “footlong,” come up with something else to call it. [WSJ Law Journal]

* Orin Kerr’s heading to the Hill to help Senator John Cornyn come up with some questions for Elena Kagan. [Volokh Conspiracy; Politico]

* BLT has posted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire for Kagan, while Slate has the version of the questionnaire they’d really like her to fill out. [Slate]

* Poor 3Ls are not the only ones who get confused by companies with names that make them sound like law firms. Judges get tripped up sometimes too. [Going Concern]

* Cute bags lead to ugly lawsuit. [Fashionista]

* A round-up of last week’s legal news, including fights over the Internet and our genes. [A Clatter of the Law via Blawg Review]

* The generation that wants to own what they do has issues with Biglaw. [Bar and Bench]

Back in February, we wrote about various compensation developments over at Pillsbury Winthrop. At the time, the firm said it was considering moving away from a lockstep model in favor of a more performance-based compensation system.

The firm has not yet killed killed lockstep — a move that has historically generated mixed to negative reviews from associates at other firms. Instead, it has done something that has proven much more popular.

Last month, the Pillsbury dough boy baked up some delicious-smelling pay raises. Nothin’ says lovin’ like money from the oven!

So, what are the details?

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When I was an academic, I’d sometimes get a little feeling of excitement when I had an idea that was, I hoped, fresh…. [W]hether anyone should act on that idea is a very different question.

Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor now heading the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

We don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who hurt themselves in stupid ways. When we’ve featured personal injury firms in our lawyer advertising feature before, it’s usually been to make fun of them.

In this case, the personal injury firm, Trolman, Glaser & Lichtman, is in on the joke:

Their commercials got picked up by the New York Times earlier this year. The firm’s other humorous commercial can be found over at Copyranter.

Apparently, humor pays dividends. According to its advertising agency, the Levinson Trachtenberg Group, the commercials and the buzz around them have increased client leads by 25 percent.

When lawyers advertise: NYC edition [Copyranter]
Lawyers Use Humor to Plead Case [New York Times]

Summer is just around the corner, with Memorial Day just a few weeks away. Summer associates are starting to arrive at law firms. Meanwhile, in government, many law clerks are getting ready to leave chambers. Summer is traditionally the season when clerkships turn over. (At the Supreme Court, July is the magic month for the changing of the guard.)

What does this mean? Well, it means that clerks need to start thinking about their post-clerkship plans. Many will return to law firms where they summered or worked full-time before clerking. But others — such as clerks who got no-offered as summer associates, or who weren’t happy with their prior firms — are looking for new opportunities.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the job market for law clerks is improving. One friend of mine, who took a second clerkship last year after having a tough time finding a position with a law firm (despite excellent credentials), went back on the job market a few weeks ago — and promptly wound up with three offers.

But not all clerks are sitting pretty….

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There’s a long tradition of seeking Supreme Court love via Craigslist (see here and here). And the tradition continues.

From a Craigslist posting entitled 40-something SJM ISO Elena Kagan (we’ve added some links to clarify various references):

I’ve had a crush on you for almost twenty years (and you deservedly made fun of me when I got tongue-tied in front of you), but it never seemed appropriate to move on it. Either I was dating someone, or you were in another city…

But now! Our careers seem to have settled in DC. I’m single. Politico and Eliot Spitzer tell me you’re single. We have so much in common: I love the law (even civil procedure!) and can’t get enough of it. I like books and baseball and poker and New York City and Medici pizza. I admire Thurgood Marshall. Like you, I love the Federalist Society. My mother was the first bas mitzvah in her Orthodox synagogue, but I’m relatively non-observant. We disagree on some First Amendment issues, to be sure, but I’ll never ask you to watch a dogfighting video. Ok, you’re smarter than me, but I’m no slouch (like you, I turned down Yale Law), and I’m cool being Mr. Ginsburg to your Ruth Bader if you are.

This is not a joke. I am gaga for Lady KaGa. I understand you have other priorities in the next few weeks, and Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald would be scandalized if we started dating, but I’ve waited for you this long, I can wait until after the inevitable investiture. Just send me a signal: mention your love of the Mets in your opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I’ll know to send you a dinner date invitation for the first Friday in October. We’ll go for Chinese food at a restaurant better than City Lights.

Finally, some suspense for the Kagan hearings: Will she mention the Mets? Tune in and find out.

We interviewed the Craigslist poster about his wacky plan….

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Judge Jed Rakoff: A bank's nightmare?

Since Judge Denny Chin is moving on up to the Second Circuit, the S.D.N.Y. cases pending before him have to be redistributed. Lawyers for Bank of America, which has 15 civil shareholder lawsuits on Chin’s docket, sent the chief judge a letter requesting that the cases be reassigned using a lottery system. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell Lipton all signed the letter.

Why did they need to send this special letter? Because they were scared of B of A landing again in the lap of Judge Jed Rakoff, says the Wall Street Journal:

Judge Rakoff disappointed bank executives last year when he rejected a $30 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had charged the bank with misleading shareholders about bonuses paid prior to the Merrill merger. The New York judge reluctantly approved a new $150 million agreement in February but called it “half-baked justice at best.”

One of the pending shareholder cases accuses the bank of failing to “disclose billions in Merrill losses before shareholders approved the deal in December 2008.”

Apparently, the lawyers debated whether or not to name Judge Rakoff in their letter, thus making it clear that he was the particular judge they hoped to avoid. They ultimately decided to name names.

They were successful in steering their cases clear of Rakoff, though the chief judge claims the letter wasn’t a factor in her decision to assign the cases to Judge Kevin Castel (aka the John Gotti judge). How did she decide?

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From 'Alaska in Pictures': A beaver

Moving from sunny California to cold, rainy, snowy Anchorage might make a person a little crazy. A man who went to law school in San Diego might miss lying on the beach, walking the boardwalk, and seeing the city’s good-looking population in skimpy summer clothes. Such a man might find another way to see people in a state of undress, perhaps by planting a hidden camera in his bathroom.

That’s what a federal law clerk, Daniel Eisman, is accused of doing. The UCLA and University of San Diego School of Law grad was clerking for Judge Timothy Burgess (D. Alaska). According to the Anchorage Daily News, Eisman was arrested on May 6, after allegedly shooting video of his co-workers undressing and using the bathroom at his home and a family cabin.

How was his scheme uncovered? A fellow clerk was at his house babysitting. When she went on to his computer, she noticed a file with her name on it…

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Who the f**k says my personality is not like Rahm Emanuel’s?

Cass Sunstein, the University of Chicago Harvard law professor now heading the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

* An unnamed lawyer with a grudge helps Warner Brothers bring a suit against Superman’s lawyer, Marc Toberoff. [THR, Esq.; New York Times; WSJ Law Blog]

* Will throwing a bunch of lawsuits at the oil spill help plug that leak? [UPI]

* More than 70 plaintiffs’ lawyers wanted leadership positions in the federal lawsuits against Toyota over its sudden-acceleration problems. Twenty one were chosen. [Tennessean]

* “Only 10 of 875 active federal judges are Asian-American” — One of the many reasons Goodwin Liu’s confirmation process is getting so much attention. [Associated Press]

* Lawyers at Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell representing Bank of America are scared of Judge Jed Rakoff. [Wall Street Journal]

* The civil fraud case against Goldman Sachs will be presided over by Judge Barbara Jones, a Robert Morgenthau disciple who sports a red Santa hat at office holiday parties and who set a tough white-collar crime precedent with a 25-year sentence for WorldCom’s former chief, Bernard Ebbers. [Associated Press]

* Citizen journalists lead the media coverage of the murder of D.C. lawyer Robert Wone. [Washington Post]

Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, BigLaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.

May is normally a slow month for BigLaw. There’s generally no recruiting going on, as firms prepare for summer associates’ arrivals.

The highlight is Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the start of summer and ends a long drought of holidays. Partners start thinking about readying their summer retreats over the long weekend.

It’s also a pretty tame time of year for most clients. It’s the middle of the second quarter, and there aren’t a whole lot of seasonal businesses that spike during the period. Annual reports and proxy statements have gone out, and most companies have held their annual shareholder meetings.

This is as close as it gets to "routine."

For BigLaw, routine means malpractice allegations, billion-dollar deals, bailing out Superman, and acting like lawyers are trained to run businesses….

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