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avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
With classes starting soon, another crop of 1Ls will be starting on a journey that has only one sure outcome: the accumulation of useless information devoid of any practical professional relevance.
Once you take away all of the prestige-whoring, grade-inflating shell games that allow top schools to separate you from your future earnings, can’t most law classes be reduced to an Emanuel’s outline and a BarBri lecture?
Which classes were the most irrelevant to the life of a Biglaw associate?

Today I’ll offer my worthlessness rankings on basic classes that most everyone was forced to take. Thursday I’ll open up the field and rank useless classes that ATL readers could have avoided, in a bold “Clarice Starling” attempt to save just one law school lamb from signing up for International Law.
But I’m about more than telling 1Ls that the next three years of their lives are pointless (though, really guys, totally pointless, just saying). I’ll be offering up alternative classes that might not be available at your local registrar, but that every Biglaw associate needs to take before leaving law school’s protective cocoon.
After the jump, see the classes worth sleeping through.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to School: What Is The Most Worthless Class You Had to Take?”

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Next week, Louisiana will become the last state in the union to officially ban cockfighting. The business was already on the decline in Louisiana thanks to new federal laws that make transportation of roosters across state lines for fighting, a felony.
Still, defenders of the “sport” bemoaned the new law. “The culture, the custom of the Cajun people, it’s gone,” said Chris Daughdrill, a cock breeder from Louisiana.
When Oklahoma banned cockfighting, lawmakers there tried to make the sport more humane. Oklahoma State Senator Frank Shurden suggested fighting roosters be fitted with protective vests and boxing gloves. “We want to show the nation that we’re more than trailer parks and a perceived lack of sophistication,” Shurden said at the time.
Good luck with that Oklahoma.
Back in Louisiana, Elizabeth Barras, who has fought champion cocks for years, made an insightful point about the new Louisiana statute. “They’re still going to fight, they’re still going to fight for years to come,” she said. “They’ve still got cockfighting in every state. They just hide it from the law.”
Though we have achieved John Adams’ goal of a government of laws, those laws must still be enforced by men and women. A fact Elizabeth Barras knows all too well.

avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]

Reno 911 sack inspection.jpgA man claiming to be a police detective entered a Longmont, Colo. adult store and demanded to see the X-rated videos for free.
The ponytailed man claimed he was an officer in the “age verification unit,” and he had to ensure that the performers in the porn videos weren’t underage.
“It was inventive on his part, I’ll give him that,” said the real police officer investigating the case.
Somehow, the video clerks weren’t convinced by the man’s business card, which had no name on it. Since the scheme didn’t work the first time, the man tried it a second and then a third time…at the same store. Unfortunately, Randal wasn’t there that day, and the clerks called the cops.
The man may drive a red Dodge neon, which explains why he isn’t getting laid.

Carolyn Lamm White Case ABA president.jpg* The new president-elect of the American Bar Association is Carolyn Lamm, of White & Case. [BLT]
* Another example of U.S. exceptionalism: expert witnesses. [The New York Times]
* Endangered Species Act may lose some teeth. [Washington Post]
* Name-brand retailers don’t like the sale of fake goods on eBay. Tiffany is filing an appeal in its case against the online retailer. [BBC News]
* Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Judge will decide whether he committed another bond violation… by visiting his sister. [New York Times]
* More on Texas lawyer Fred Baron’s role in the Edwards sex scandal. [American Lawyer]
* Donald Trumps sues Morrison Cohen for five million dollars. The law firm says he’s just trying to get out of paying his overdue bill. [Contact Music]

stoel.gifA Stoel tipster sent this video to us, along with the message, “My intelligence is officially insulted.”
We are confused as to whether this is a promo for Stoel Rives or for freestyle running. Apparently, if you hire a Stoel attorney, you’re basically hiring James Bond (the Daniel Craig version).

We had three take aways from this:

  • Freestyle running is cool.
  • Professional stuntman Tyson Cecka looks good in a suit.
  • Stoel attorneys run fast to get to empty conference rooms.
  • Parkour Spot sponsored by Stoel Rives LLP Shot with RED ONE, starring Tyson Cecka [YouTube]

    * The Bear Stearns implosion: a permanent employment act for lawyers? [Dealbreaker]
    * Lawsuit of the Day? Even the kickback-receiving Milberg Weiss plaintiffs could establish actual injury. [McGuireWoods (first item)]
    * Could judicial hottie Amy St. Eve (N.D. Ill.) someday warm the bench at SCOTUS? [WSJ Law Blog]
    * “Cox TV President In S&M Divorce Trial.” [Gawker]
    * Blawg Review #172 — with an Olympics theme, appropriately enough. [Ohio Employer's Law Blog via Blawg Review]
    * Old news (from March), but just to close the loop on this story: the lawyer and mother seeking a bone marrow donor has found one, thanks to Rihanna (mentioned as a possible running mate for Paris Hilton). Thanks to all the ATL readers who made efforts to donate. [People]

    Prosk Rose.gifDuring Kash’s brief foray into the world of corporate law at Covington & Burling, she was initially surprised by the party-hard culture at firm events. Once the majority of the partners left one Friday roof-deck happy hour, the event turned distinctly frat party-esque, with patio tables pushed together for rounds of beer pong.
    A tipster sends word of a Proskauer Rose firm event turned Animal House scene. The summer associate class in the Boston office of Proskauer had no problem snagging offers this year — and some Proskauer attorneys were willing to risk their coronary health to bring them on board.
    The full tale, with photographic evidence, is available after the jump. It involves lots of drinking, a lot of beef, and excessive eating — all the hallmarks of the summer associate experience.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Beefy Associates of Proskauer Rose”

    Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier today, the New York outpost of, a British publication, reported on personnel reductions at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The report was of keen interest to us because we’ve been hearing rumors — generally vague and unsubstantiated, but persistent — of “stealth layoffs” at STB.
    The folks over at The Lawyer seem to be hearing similar gossip, some of which appears in their report:

    [Simpson Thacher ] has taken the unusual step of introducing a mid-year performance review for its associates. It is understood that the benchmark for associates to reach in order to keep their jobs is significantly higher than in previous appraisals.

    Market sources have ­suggested that up to 30 associates have been asked to consider their positions as a result of the review. Simpson Thacher chairman Pete Ruegger denied the firm was making credit crunch-related layoffs.

    This report appears to be erroneous, at least in a few respects. We spoke with Simpson partner James D. Cross, co-chair of the firm’s Personnel Committee, who described it as “wildly inaccurate”:

    It’s business as usual here as far as reviews. We have not changed our standards, and we have not changed our process. We’ve always had a midyear review process. I don’t know where someone came up with the number of 30 [affected associates].

    A second STB source echoed Cross’s statement, telling us that “no new mid-year process was introduced.” The firm has long conducted midyear reviews for (1) first-year associates and (2) more senior lawyers who received negative annual reviews. According to this source, “if a more senior lawyer gets a negative annual review, that person will often be slated for a midyear review so that progress can be checked after six months, not just annually, and so that the firm makes sure it is doing all it can in terms of additional training and mentoring.”
    Additional discussion, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Correcting the Record on Simpson Thacher”

    avatar Marin ATL Idol.jpg
    [Ed. note: This is the farewell post of MARIN, who was recently eliminated from ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Marin's avatar (at right).]


    Bad news. Our plot to take over ATL and transform it into a site about celebrities and my Jewish dog has failed. Mission aborted. Repeat, mission aborted. Return to the mother ship.

    - Original Marinhead, a/k/a Mongoloid Marin, d.b.a Clay Aiken

    KFC sentence.jpgTremayne Durham has some serious food issues. In 2006, he decided he wanted to enter the ice cream business, so he ordered an $18,000 ice cream truck from a company in Oregon.
    When he changed his mind about selling popsicles, the company refused to give him a refund. Durham traveled from New York to Oregon to confront the company. Apparently, he has anger issues as well — he shot and killed an employee.
    Now he’s making headlines for his unusual plea bargain. From the Guardian:

    His craving for a decent bit of nosh was so intense that he agreed to pay a high price – a life sentence.

    Durham, 33, struck a plea bargain last month in which he was guaranteed a meal of KFC chicken, Popeye’s chicken, mashed potato, coleslaw, carrot cake and ice cream – in return for pleading guilty to murder.

    As part of the deal, and after receiving a life sentence this week in court in Portland, Oregon, Durham will also get a second feast, this time on an Italian theme, with calzone, lasagne, pizza and ice cream.

    The judge, Eric Bergstrom, is understood to have accepted the bargain because it would save the state of Oregon thousands of dollars in hosting a trial and possible subsequent appeals.

    One of the tipsters who sent this story our way was inspired:

    The next plea deal I negotiate will contain a heart wrenching narrative about my client’s woeful circumstances, a § 3553 analysis, and a demand for a footlong sub, a sack of White Castle, and a Fudgie the Whale cake. I can’t wait for Durham’s habeas petition, based on the Government’s impermissible substitution of pizza bagels and chicken fingers, in violation of the plea agreement.

    New Yorker agrees to life sentence in exchange for fast food feast [The Guardian]

    ATL Idol: The Top Two

    ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol smaller.jpgThanks to everyone who voted in Round 2 of ATL Idol, the “reality blogging” contest that will determine the next editor of Above the Law. The polls closed at noon. Once again, voter turnout was excellent, with over 2,200 votes cast (an increase from the 1,800 ballots cast in Round 1).
    The results were interesting. In Round 1, the order of finish was (1) Marin, (2) Sophist, (3) Alex, and (4) Frolic & Detour. This time around, everyone traded places:
    ATL Idol results Round 2.jpg
    You never can tell what will happen each week in ATL Idol. That’s what makes the contest so exciting and fun.
    Anyway, congratulations to SOPHIST and FROLIC AND DETOUR, your two finalists. One of them will be the ATL Idol, the next editor of Above the Law. We bid goodbye to MARIN and ALEX (who have been invited to pen farewell posts if they like, a la EXLEY).
    Here’s what to expect from your ATL Idols this week:

  • a feature — i.e., a longer piece that will span multiple posts and days — starting tomorrow, and going through the week;
  • another head-to-head round, on Wednesday, to be reviewed by our celebrity judges; and
  • two freestyle posts, on Tuesday and Thursday, at least one of which must be Biglaw-related.
    And there may also be some surprise posts — but we’re not going to tell you about them, ’cause then they wouldn’t be a surprise.
    Check back soon, to read more from your fabulous Idols, and to see how the contest will end!
    Earlier: Prior coverage of ATL Idol (scroll down)

  • justwhenuthot128520869737812500.jpgIn today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we explore the tangled web of social networking.
    Back in May, Allen & Overy made news for attempting — unsuccessfully — to block the use of Facebook in the London office.
    The firm claimed that it was just worried about staff downloading too many videos from the site, but is that really why employers are banning (or trying to ban) Facebook use?
    Odds are, at least some attorneys at any large firm will post some potentially embarassing content online. ATL commenters unearthed the youtube videos of Divljan Shatterhand Steele just eight minutes after he was named a Summer Associate of the Day.
    And other associates may use their peers’ profiles in unwelcome ways, like the guys at Skadden Insider who trolled myspace and facebook for pictures of their female colleagues for an online beauty contest — without the women’s permission.
    And, of course, you never know what kind of dangers you might expose yourself to in cyberspace. Even David Lat once poked an alleged kidnapper on facebook, and received a painful spanking for his efforts.
    So, how are you surfing the social web, and are you sharing it with your firms?
    Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

    Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

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