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Over the past few months, it’s seemed like the legal economy was picking back up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May saw job gains in the legal sector.

June was not so kind. Am Law Daily reports that the legal economy isn’t out of the toilet just yet:

After what initially seemed like a promising month in May, the legal sector saw its employment numbers drop by 3,900 in June, according to the latest economic report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Thanks a lot, Bureau of Labor Statistics. You just ruined the iced coffee I was enjoying here at the Breaking Media cooling center…

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staff attorney contract attorney doc review.jpgThe recession has forced Biglaw firms to lay off some of the best and the brightest in the legal field. Many of these Biglaw refugees have wound up seeking out contract work (despite the long-term risks), and that means the pool of contract attorneys is mighty pretty right now. In-house legal departments have noticed and are taking advantage, reports the Legal Intelligencer (in an article we mentioned in the Holiday Docket yesterday).

In an ACC survey about the effects of the recession that we wrote about last week, 51% of in-house folks reported an increased workload last year. And staffing firms say that general counsel are looking to them to help out. Gina Passarella writes:

Project attorneys are a more viable answer to the budget problem in part because there are so many skilled lawyers out of work due to layoffs at AmLaw 200 firms and the consolidation of legal departments prior to the economic downturn, which led to cuts in those departments as well, [staffing firm owner James] LaRosa said.

“The pool of contract attorneys right now is exceptional,” he said.

A typical candidate right now would have experience at either an AmLaw 200 firm or a specialized boutique, and oftentimes will have law department experience as well.

The pool may be exceptional, but the pay is not. Will contract attorneys be as appealing once the economy bounces back and Harvard grads can get big-paying, Biglaw jobs again?

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In today’s Career Center post, we’ve decided to take a short break from the updates on the results of our Associate Satisfaction Survey to share with you the latest career development article featured in the Associate Resources section of the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.  This article, along with the others in this section, provides practical advice on advancing your career.

The last several weeks have seen a surge of new lateral associate openings at law firms across the country.  Even with the surge in openings, however, competition remains fierce for associate positions. In fact, employers have reported receiving upwards of 100 résumés for a single position. That means that it is more important than ever for your résumé to stand out from the competition. Fair or not, often the best résumés – and not the best candidates – generate interviews.

How can you develop a convincing legal résumé? Here are five tips….

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In Morning Docket we mentioned that the new public law school at UMass is off to a flying start. Let’s check back in with those students in three years when they are in massive debt and have no job prospects.

We’ve slammed UMass Law quite a bit. But there are other university systems that are looking to fleece those interested in a legal education. Last year, we reported that the University of North Texas was going forward with its plans to start a public law school.

Over the weekend, a tipster sent us the pitch North Texas is using on Texans who don’t know any better. Here’s the school’s headline:

Opening a public law school at the right time in the right place

You have got to be freaking kidding me…

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It’s good to be gay at Google — or a “Gaygler,” as they call themselves. And not just because the company sometimes has a float in the San Francisco Pride parade.

The New York Times recently reported:

[Last] Thursday, Google [began] covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.

“It’s a fairly cutting edge thing to do,” said Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm in Chicago, and author of “Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide.”

Why do gay and lesbian employees pay more in taxes to begin with?

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* In its review of the 2009/2010 term of the Supreme Court, the New York Times editorial board gives it a thumbs down. [New York Times]

* Illinois woman files a RICO complaint against Jersey Shore for organized criminal activity to promote profits. [Courthouse News Service; Asbury Park Press]

* The Ninth Circuit will not abort a whistleblower suit against Planned Parenthood for birth control over-billing. [Catholic News Agency]

* Troy Davis, the Georgia death row inmate granted a hearing by the Supreme Court to prove his innocence to a federal judge, is swimming in uncharted legal waters. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

* 1Ls rush in at UMass Law. [Boston Globe]

* A case of possible voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party is causing discord at the DOJ. [Fox News]

Ed. note: Your Above the Law editors are still celebrating their freedom today. We will get back to our regular publishing schedule on Tuesday, July 6.

* The paper of political record gives Elena Kagan a thumbs up. [The Washington Post]

* States try to figure out what to do about cyberbullies. (And what kind of middle schooler has a Blackberry Tour?) [New York Times]

* An Oregon attorney got way too friendly with opposing counsel at an anniversary party. [Oregonian]

* The rise of the contract attorney. [The Legal Intelligencer]

* Joran van der Sloot sues the lawyer who represented him during his confession to Peruvian police. [Associated Press]

* Fourth of July eating contest sends Japanese champ to jail. [Associated Press]

Earlier this week, we solicited funny captions for this photo (a great image for the July 4th weekend, given all the American flags):

You responded with around 70 comments. This was a smaller-than-usual number of nominees, but they were of high quality. There were about 25 or so that we saw as worthy contenders. Alas, to make the contest workable, we winnowed the entries down to a shortlist of eight.

Check them out and vote — warning: some crude / juvenile humor ahead (if you can’t handle it, stop reading now) — after the jump.

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* A moving eyewitness account of the last day of the Supreme Court’s October Term 2009, by Mike Sacks of First One @ One First. [ABA Journal]

* Summer associates, please tell us about the fun things your firm is doing with you, for you, or to you. [Above the Law]

* The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel is disappointed in the grades that its senators earned from Professor Elie. [Proof and Hearsay / Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel]

* Solo practitioners are afraid of becoming the Lewis & Clark Law School of the U.S. News rankings. [Smallfirmville]

* They’ve got a whole different definition of expert testimony in Vietnam. [MSNBC]

* Social media networking tips for lawyers: “Consider calling instead.” [New York Law Journal]

* “There’s always a place for cute shoes in the courtroom.” [Flashionista]

* “The primary misconception about ex-lawyers is that we remember any law.” [The Ex-Lawyers Club]

It has been a while since we last wrote about Gerald Ung, the Temple Law student who was arrested in January for shooting Edward “Eddie” DiDonato Jr. (a former college lacrosse star who also has a legal connection — his father is a partner at Fox Rothschild, the prominent Philadelphia firm). Today we have two updates.

First, a reader alerted us to some updates in the criminal case against Ung, who faces five charges, including attempted murder. According to the docket, it appears that a scheduling took place last week, on June 24, and a trial date was set.

The trial date: February 7, 2011. Wondered our reader: “Huh? Do they usually wait that long for an attempted murder trial?”

We have some thoughts on this, plus an update on Eddie DiDonato….

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And the victim, Eddie DiDonato, continues to recover.

The Wisconsin State Supreme Court

There’s a simple rule in Wisconsin regarding judicial elections. You can’t make a campaign ad that knowingly misrepresents your opponent. While you’d imagine that reasonable people might disagree about what constitutes misrepresentation, one expects that judges wouldn’t really get anywhere close to the line.

But not so in the election between Justice Michael Gableman and Louis Butler. Gabelman made a controversial ad and won the election, and then all hell broke loose. People argued he violated judicial codes of conduct, it went to the State Supreme Court, Gabelman had to recuse himself, and then the court split 3 -3 and issued two different decisions. So, you know, all the trappings of anarchy.

Of course race is involved. Because people don’t generally lose their minds and start acting like idiots in this country unless race is involved somehow…

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A little over a year ago, law firms came up with a unique plan to deal with the problem of too many associates and not enough work to go around: the deferral. It did not apply just to incoming associates; it was also offered up to those already at the firm who were open to a year-long sabbatical.

We know that many of you decided (or had to) seek out work in the public sector. But when the mainstream media picked up on the fact that law firms were paying their employees to go away from a year, they focused on those doing fun things, like the Skadden Sidebar associate planning a trip around the world. How many other deferred dreamers have taken the opportunity to do something offbeat?

Or something about beats. Rap Genius, a website that analyzes rap lyrics (called ingenious by Nick Antosca of the Huffington Post for its breakdown of Empire State of Mind), is the creation of a DL Pursuer. The site is now nine months old, and Mahbod Moghadam (Stanford Law ’08) is hoping it’s his escape out of law. Which would be a good thing, since Dewey & LeBeouf is having a hard time reabsorbing its DL Pursuits associates.

Moghadam is quite a character: he sent us a bizarre photo involving a carrot, he’s the ex-boyfriend of Victoria of Downtown Girls, and he convinced two Yale friends to quit their jobs (at Google and D. E. Shaw) to work with him on Rap Genius. What kind of Jedi mind tricks is this guy using?

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