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Barack Obama's purported birth certificate - click to enlarge.

Orly Taitz and the Birthers aren’t the only people obsessed with Hawaiian birth certificates. A young lawyer by the name of Adam Gustafson — a 2009 graduate of the Yale Law School and former vice president of the Yale Federalist Society, who’s currently clerking in Hawaii for Judge Richard Clifton (9th Cir.) — is making a federal case over them.

And Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway, the district court judge who wound up with the case, is not impressed. She recently dismissed Gustafson’s complaint — in forceful fashion:

This case is an example of why people who overreact to situations are accused of “making a federal case out of nothing.”

Plaintiff Adam Gustafson and his wife… proceed pro se against various state officials. The Gustafsons complain about having been asked to state their race and any Spanish origin on a birth certificate registration form submitted in October 2009 for their Hawaii-born daughter. The Gustafsons articulated to the State their objection to a birth certificate identifying their races.

The court has no quarrel with the Gustafsons’ wish for a birth certificate devoid of such information. What follows, though, shows questionable judgment.

Ouch — quite the benchslap. Gustafson’s boss, Judge Clifton, should keep Gustafson far away from any appeals of decisions by Judge Mollway.

Filing a federal lawsuit in Hawaii, while clerking in Hawaii for a federal judge? It’s gutsy of Gustafson. At least he won’t have to travel far for any appearances.

So what about Gustafson’s case reflects “questionable judgment”?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Fun With Hawaii Birth Certificates”

* Would you vote for a candidate if all you knew about her was that she was “not the whiteman’s bitch”? I think I would not. But if she said “makes the whiteman my bitch,” we might be onto something. [Gawker]

* ACLU goes after the immigration policy of one Nebraska town. [WSJ Law Blog]

* While she won’t shift the ideological balance of power on the Court, Elena Kagan does shift the gender politics of the high court. [Washington Post]

* Remember the judge that allegedly slashed somebody’s tires? He received his punishment: a whopping five-day suspension. [Underdog]

* National transportation reform couldn’t possibly be more complicated than health care reform. Right? [Alt Transport]

* The fake Lindsay Lohan jailhouse twitter feed has been pretty hilarious so far. [Twitter]

In my day (circa 2003), to be discouraged from going to law school, you had to make the effort to apply to a Biglaw firm for a paralegal job. After a year or two of working with disgruntled corporate lawyers, there was a good chance that your desire to become one of them would wither like a houseplant watered regularly with bleach.

These days, getting dissuading from going to law school is much faster and easier. Everywhere you look, people are saying that law school is a lost cause. Even Gawker — and if that’s not an expert source on the worth of a law degree, what is?

But, hey, we are law groupies here at ATL. We love and respect The Esquire. We also love debates. We will keep offering arguments for and against law school. (A big argument in the “for” category: If people don’t go to law school, who will read us?)

We are, however, frequently amused by those naysayers who lampoon the law school experience. One such law school regretter recently sent us an “unofficial law school orientation” memo that she had prepared for entering 1Ls. What caustic pearls of wisdom does this rising 2L have for law school newbies?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law School Orientation According to a Jaded 2L”


Usually, we find conversations with lawyers to be very engaging. But in this video short, Ron Livingston does not:

The Responsibility Project

The video was produced as part of a corporate undertaking — The Responsibility Project — devoted to “exploring what it means to do the right thing.” So, what is it trying to say exactly?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Public and Private Defense Lawyers Shouldn’t Date Each Other”

If he doesn't get you in court, he'll get you in the ring.

Have you ever clerked and wanted to beat the stuffing out of your judge? In Texas, you might just get that opportunity. But be careful — some Texas judges have skills.

The Supreme Court of Texas Blog has the story of one of them: Texas State Supreme Court Justice, David Medina:

Justice David Medina’s biography notes that “in college he competed on the university’s karate . . . team.”…

Turns out, he recently participated in a match — with a law clerk. Thanks to the power of YouTube, you can watch from the comfort and relative safety of your office.

Does the opportunity to beat up a state supreme court justice outweigh the possibility of getting your ass handed to you on a plate by a 51-year-old man?

Let’s get ready to rumble…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ever Wanted to Kickbox the Judge You Work For? You Can, In Texas”

America thrives on competition; Barbie, the all-American girl, will too.

– Alex Kozinski in a Ninth Circuit opinion [PDF] throwing out the Mattel victory in Barbie v. Bratz.

Gavel bang: FedCourtJunkie.

Earlier this week, Locke Lord’s Larry Gray — managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office, and a lawyer at the firm for more than 35 years — passed away. He suffered a heart attack on Monday at the office. The firm was informed via an email from firm-wide managing partner Jerry Clements, on Monday night:

Dear LLBL Friends:

I am terribly sorry to report that our good friend and Managing Partner of our Chicago office, Larry Gray, passed away this morning after suffering a heart attack at the office.

More information regarding arrangements will follow when we have them. Please keep Larry’s wife, Sheri, and their children in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you,
Jerry

Condolences to the Gray family and to the entire Locke Lord community. A statement from the firm about Larry Gray appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Locke Lord’s Chicago Managing Partner Dies of Heart Attack at Work”

In today’s post, we are highlighting how the summers at this week’s five most popular firms feel about their summer programs. We are also still collecting responses for our 2010 Summer Associate Survey and encourage current summer associates to please take our short survey.

  • You won’t have to explain the impact that this well-known law firm has had on the legal employment market to your classmates. Don’t expect 5-star lunches everyday as a summer associate, but don’t be surprised if it happens a couple of times throughout the summer. 
  • All summer associates at this international law firm received full-time offers last year. Even more impressive, none of them were deferred. But be sure to have your passport handy, though; it is not uncommon for summer associates to work part of the summer in an overseas office or two.
  • Summer associates attend litigation or transactional training institutes and experience a free-market work environment at this Chicago-based law firm. Anticipate a lot of flexibility in your assignments, but don’t except any hand-holding.
  • Associates at this Texas-based law firm can afford to buy more than a 3500 sq ft house and a Lexus with its top-of-the-market salary levels. Summer associates will also have plenty of time to get a nice tan as folks here leave the office before 6 p.m., and weekend work is as rare as the steaks you’ll be eating at a firm-sponsored BBQ.
  • Southern hospitality and decent work hours will greet you at this Georgia big law firm. But there will be more to your summer experience here than buckets of sweet tea and peaches. Summer associates select a department rotation and will experience a very structured and substantive summer program.

Want to know more about the summer program at other Big Law firms, or see the feedback left by former summer associates at the firm you are currently summering at or hoping to interview with in fall recruiting? Please visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, for the inside track on each leading law firm.

After CNN editor Octavia Nasr got the boot for an indiscreet tweet, Fast Company was inspired to do a series of stories on companies’ social media policies: “guidelines about how its employees (and freelancers and interns) should represent themselves on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media destinations.”

In the most recent piece in the series, Fast Company looked at Harvard Law’s guidelines for its bloggers. It approved of Harvard’s straightforward approach:

Think this one is going to be dense and chock-full of legalese? Though it’s not exactly written in plain English, the one page document titled “Terms of Use” is a straightforward take on how to blog under Harvard’s domain. Not surprisingly, the first point deals with copyrights, but goes on to include:

“As a general matter, you may post content freely to your blog and to those of others, so long as the content is not illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, infringing of intellectual property rights, invasive of privacy or otherwise injurious or objectionable.

Well, that takes all the fun out of it, doesn’t it?

You may not use the Harvard name to endorse or promote any product, opinion, cause or political candidate. Representation of your personal opinions as institutionally endorsed by Harvard University or any of its Schools or organizations is strictly prohibited.”

So no endorsement of Elena Kagan allowed over there?

There’s a burgeoning awareness of social media in the law firm world. When we were in Chicago for an in-house counsel conference, we met a lawyer who had chucked the practice of law to advise law firms on how to use social media. We asked him about guidelines for law firms and lawyers when it comes to Facebooking, blogging, and celebrity endorsements via Twitter…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Social Media Policies for Legal Types”

If you are superstitious, then the house shown at right (click to enlarge) — 1509 Swann Street NW, Washington, DC — is not the house for you. It is the house in which promising young lawyer Robert Wone — a former associate at Covington & Burling, and general counsel for Radio Free Asia at the time of his death — was murdered.

The murder took place almost four years ago, on August 2, 2006. Three former residents of 1509 Swann — former Arent Fox partner Joseph Price, his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky, and their lover, Dylan Ward — were recently found not guilty, after a bench on trial on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges (but not murder).

Their former house is currently on the market. Says our source:

Get a peek inside the house. For $1.6 million, I would expect my home to not have been the scene of a murder — but then again, nothing surprises me in DC real estate.

The house’s history may be troubled, but there’s a lot to like about it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Haunted House”

I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often. A student is demanding that his law school admit to scamming him out of money in open court.

And why? The student isn’t trying to recover tuition dollars directly from the school. Instead, the student is involved in the arduous process of trying to get his debts discharged through bankruptcy. As we’ve mentioned repeatedly, you can’t discharge student loans through the bankruptcy process absent a showing of undue hardship.

The student is named Kenneth Desormes. The school is Charlotte School of Law. And he wants Charlotte to admit what they did to him…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Student v. School: Charlotte School of Law Sued by Student Seeking Admissions for Bankruptcy Proceeding”

Constance McMillen

HELP WANTED: We are looking for a writer to take over Morning Docket duties from the three of us. To learn more and apply, please see this post (a prior solicitation for MD writer applications). The only difference is that now the post comes with a modest monthly stipend.

* No criminal charges will be filed in connection with the removal of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* Constance McMillen, the lesbian who wasn’t allowed to bring her girlfriend to her high school prom, has settled her suit with the school. [ABA Journal]

* A New York State appellate court will let a model’s malpractice claims against Boies Schiller walk the runway. [Am Law Daily]

* Former media mogul Conrad Black is released on bail, courtesy of a SCOTUS ruling. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A closer look at Rod Blagojevich’s decision not to testify at his trial. [New York Times]

* Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, author of the majority opinion in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (aka the MA gay marriage case), is retiring from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. [How Appealing]

* BP is generating work for transactional attorneys as well as litigators. [Am Law Daily]

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