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Just as the Egyptians marked the passage of time by the flooding of the Nile Delta, Above the Law can mark time by the release of the annual law school rankings by U.S. News. Or, more precisely, to the deluge of “get off my lawn” complaints from crusty old deans complaining that the rankings are useless and should be entirely ignored. Unless their school made a significant leap. Culling the public statements of these “butthurt deans” is such a joyous task we’ve labeled it a parade.

They proclaim that the rankings are “not accurate” and unreliable because they constantly shift and that students can receive an excellent education regardless of a dismal ranking. Every time a law school drops, a Communications grad toiling in an administrative office gets his wings.

Some people work really hard explaining how no ranking of this kind could have any value. After all, no one gets as worked up about the rankings for undergraduate institutions. Or B-schools, or even med schools. Isn’t that proof that all these rankings are arbitrary?

Well, it turns out you really, really, should be paying attention to law school rankings, and here’s the evidence to prove it….

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Judge Mark Fuller

Earlier this week, we brought our readers the sordid tale of Judge Mark fuller, a federal jurist facing allegations of domestic violence brought by his wife, Kelli Fuller. The good judge is also accused of having an affair with one of his law clerks, according to details from the police report that was viewed by the Associated Press.

Today, we’ve got some additional details about Judge Fuller’s history as an alleged lawyerly Lothario, as well as some updates in the case against him, including the transcript of the 911 call made by his wife during the course of the alleged assault…

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Keith Lee

One of the first realities that new lawyers come to confront as they graduate law school — whether it be on their own or within a firm — is that clients are the life blood of practice. No clients, no practice.

This often comes as a surprise to new lawyers. Despite the the glut of lawyers, declining legal industry, and overall economic malaise, many new lawyers still think that clients will magically appear once they have received their J.D. and passed the bar. A few months into practice, they are quickly dissuaded of this notion.

Instead, they learn that clients must be developed or found.

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The Supreme Court’s recent finding that warrantless cell phone searches are unconstitutional is already generating some pretty interesting arguments in ongoing cases. The government obviously wishes to mitigate the “damage” done by this decision by still doggedly pursuing data through warrantless methods.

In this particular case, the government is arguing that it has every right to access cell site location information (CSLI) without a warrant, claiming that the Riley decision solely pertains to the contents of cell phones. Obtaining CSLI without a warrant is still Constitutionally-dubious, however. One state court and a federal court have held that this information should only be obtained with a warrant. In the prior case, it was found that the state’s Constitution provided more protection than the US Constitution and in the latter, the finding was very narrowly tailoredto the case at hand, making it very difficult to apply to others cases, even under the same jurisdiction.

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In early July, we broke the news that Cooley Law School would stop accepting first-year students at its Ann Arbor campus and would begin conducting faculty and staff layoffs due to continuing declines in both enrollment and revenue. At the time, the school had “no plans” to completely close the campus.

At the end of July, however, Cooley Law notified its Ann Arbor students there may be a “possible consolidation” of that campus with other Cooley campuses, three of which exist in Michigan.

It’s now mid-August, and the foreboding promise of layoffs has finally come to fruition. How many heads will roll thanks to this law school’s “right-sizing” plan? Our sources say the damage is “massive”…

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

* President Obama suggested he may be able to nominate a new SCOTUS justice before he leaves office in 2017. When reached for comment, Justice Ginsburg noted: “Bitch, please.” [POLITICO]

* Chief Justice John Roberts has been asked to stay the Fourth Circuit’s decision as to Virginia’s same-sex marriage case, lest the state truly become a place for all lovers. [National Law Journal]

* Whitey Bulger is appealing his conviction, claiming he didn’t receive a fair trial because he wasn’t allowed to testify that a prosecutor who had since died once promised him immunity. Aww. [WSJ Law Blog]

* On the whole, school rankings matter generally, but law school rankings can be truly meaningful when it comes to getting a job after graduation. Don’t believe me? Check out these graphs. [Forbes]

* “They’re not the one if this fails will have a law degree that we cant do anything with.” Students at Concordia Law are starting to feel the pain of attending a yet-to-be accredited law school. [KBOI 2]

Good luck to all of our readers who are now going through the on-campus interview process for 2015 summer associate positions. We’re sure that, armed with Anonymous Recruitment Director’s 8 tips for OCI, you are racking up offers left and right.

Once you have the offers, how do you decide between them? How do you weigh, for example, overall prestige versus strength in a specific practice area?

To this question we now turn….

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* A murder suspect grabbed his phone and asked Siri to help him dispose of a dead body. I’ll bet Siri gave him s**tty directions on doing that, too. [USA Today] UPDATE 8/14/14 5:16 p.m.: Hey what do you know, USA Today is overselling the story a tad! Still, someone performed this search and he seemed to approve enough to have the photo.

* Criminal defeated by the same dastardly device that plagued a famous Far Side cartoon. [Lowering the Bar]

* Congratulations to Brooklyn Law School’s BLIP clinic for successfully fighting off a patent troll. How’s that for practical law school experience! [Medium]

* “As long as there is demonstrated interest and commitment by sufficiently financed local owners and a dedicated, passionate local fan base, leagues prefer not to move teams.” So says Buffalo Law professor Nellie Drew. Shhh. Don’t tell her about where the Baltimore Ravens came from, it would break her heart. [University of Buffalo]

* We get more worked up about law students charged with crimes. Like murder and arson. I mean, obviously Above the Law does because that’s part of our beat, but I mean “we” as in everybody. Why is that? [Law and More]

* Avvo just released a new iPhone app for lawyers. Among the new features is an opportunity to be alerted as soon as a question in your practice area is asked. [Avvo]

* Ha. This cartoon. [Twitter]

* After a two-year absence, we welcome VC Deal Lawyer back to blogging! [VC Deal Lawyer]

This week, a Texas campaign ad and a Pennsylvania death penalty appeal each illustrate what happens when lawyers lose sight of for what — and whom — they claim to be working.
Wendy Davis, in the final throes of her Texas gubernatorial race against Attorney General Greg Abbott, launched a controversial campaign ad a few days ago. The ad accuses Abbott of “siding with a corporation over a rape victim,” spotlighting a 1998 Supreme Court of Texas case brought by a woman seeking damages from a vacuum manufacturer after a door-to-door salesman of the vacuums allegedly raped her in her home. A background check should have revealed that the man had a criminal history. Abbott was then a justice on the Texas court. He dissented from the majority’s decision in favor of the woman. Davis’s ad ignited heated debate, with even her supporters questioning the propriety of the ad. Abbott’s campaign called the ad “despicable.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the United States Supreme Court on Monday issued a highly unusual order in a Pennsylvania death penalty case. The Court asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board to investigate and take appropriate actions against Marc Bookman, an attorney who filed a petition for review of Michael Eric Ballard’s death sentence. Ballard slaughtered four people in 2010: his former girlfriend, her father, her grandfather, and a neighbor who tried to help the family when he heard screams coming from the home. Ballard was sentenced to death in 2011. In November 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the sentence. On June 23 of this year, SCOTUS denied Bookman’s petition to review Ballard’s case, but the Court then ordered Bookman to file additional responses about his relationship to Ballard. Apparently not satisfied by Bookman’s replies, the Court referred the case to the state disciplinary authority.

So, what’s the problem in either of these situations? Why the controversy? And what do they have in common?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Michael Allen is Managing Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

There are some common ethical issues every partner should know, or at least be able to identify what they don’t know, when planning for a lateral transition.

Most partners do not give ethical considerations enough attention in the process. Without proper planning, partners may breach fiduciary duties to their prior firms and create unnecessary conflicts between their former and new firms.

I asked Trisha Rich, a professional responsibility attorney who practices with Holland & Knight’s Lawyer Ethics, Risk Management and Regulation team, to respond to some of the most common ethical questions I have come across while moving partners and groups between law firms…

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A year ago, in writing about how major law firms performed in the first half of 2013, I wondered whether Biglaw might be the proverbial frog in boiling water. I now wonder whether the analogy might still hold, but in a good way: could we be witnessing a quiet boom for Biglaw, happening so gradually that we don’t even realize it’s here?

In the past few weeks, a slew of mega-mergers have made headlines — which will hopefully turn into contributions to law firm coffers. But even if you focus just on the first six months of 2014, excluding the busy months of July and August, there’s good news to report.

Our friends at Citi Private Bank, a leading law firm lender, just released their report on how Biglaw fared in the first half of 2014. What are the key findings?

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