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US News World Report law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgCourtesy of Professor Dan Solove, “a sneak peak at this year’s rankings, as well as some amazing secrets about how US News ranks law schools.”
The Official Leaked US News Law School Rankings, Plus Ranking Secrets Revealed! [Concurring Opinions]

not so fresh feeling Massengill douche douchebag Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s an interesting factoid. According to a quick search we ran over at the Public Library of Law (powered by Fastcase), the word “douchebag” has yet to appear in the pages of F.3d. [FN1]
That may be about to change, if the Second Circuit decides to publish in a case that was just argued. From the AP:

A teen who used vulgar slang in an Internet blog to complain about school administrators shouldn’t have been punished by the school, her lawyer told a federal appeals court…. [Ed. note: an "Internet blog" -- not to be confused with all those Non-Internet blogs.]

Avery Doninger, 17, claims officials at Lewis S. Mills High School violated her free speech rights when they barred her from serving on the student council because of what she wrote from her home computer.

In her Internet journal, Doninger said officials were canceling the school’s annual Jamfest, which is similar to a battle of the bands contest. The event, which she helped coordinate, was rescheduled.

According to the lawsuit, she wrote: “‘Jamfest’ is canceled due to douchebags in central office,” and also referred to an administrator who was “pissed off.”

In the district court proceedings, there was some extensive discussion of the whole d-bag remark:

When [the school board's lawyer] pressed [student council treasurer Pat] Abate on whether he had ever seen the famous douchebag posting, Abate’s responses included: “I haven’t seen it on my computer monitor, I haven’t seen it in my dreams.”

Guess he isn’t very imaginative.

[A lawyer] asked Abate and [senior class vice president Jackie] Evans to define douchebag.

“Stupid, moron, idiot, Abate said.

“Jerks,” Evans said.

Hmm…. They’re in the vicinity, but haven’t hit the definitional g-spot. We respectfully submit that the term “douchebag” carries a stronger sense of condemnation than the terms proffered by Abate and Evans. See UrbanDictionary.com (defining “douchebag” as “[s]omeone who has surpassed the levels of jerk and a**hole, however not yet reached f**ker or motherf**ker”). [FN2]
[FN1] Maybe someone with free Westlaw or Lexis access can confirm for us that F.3d is douchebag-free.
[FN2] Alternate definition of “douchebag” from Urban Dictionary: “A student or instructor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.” Well, as long as it’s not the law school….
Update: Thanks, commenters — F.3d is certifiably douchebag-free.
Further Update: Oh wait… As this commenter notes, if you expand the search to include “douche bag” and “douche-bag,” you’ll see that F.3d has been thoroughly defiled.
Appeals Court Weighs Teen’s Web Speech [AP]
Defense Crumbles as Students Weather Cross-Examination [CT News Junkie]
douchebag [Urban Dictionary]
douche commercial [YouTube]

Southern Appeal Feddie AboveTheLaw legal blog.jpg* Just like the Hillary Clinton campaign, one of our favorite legal blogs, Southern Appeal, has resurrected itself. Welcome back to the blogosphere, Feddie! [Southern Appeal]
* If Loyola 2L were still around, we’d direct him to this link, about a Loyola alum who has made good — very good. [LawCrossing]
* A pressing question in defamation law: “What is the standard for someone to accurately and factually be described as a slut?” [The Legal Satyricon]
* Getting into a public spat with a blogger is usually a bad idea. As John McCain once quipped when asked about Mitt Romney, “Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” [Fire George Karl via WSJ Law Blog]
* A little bit more about our recent Facebook exile. [New York Observer]


associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgYes, it’s March already. Guess what that means? No, we’re not talking about March Madness. We’re thinking of… bonus news from Paul Hastings!
A tipster in a non-New York office summarizes:

It looks like we matched Latham’s base levels. I’ve also been told that NYC matched the special bonuses there.

Better late than never!

We got our grubby paws on the memo sent to associates in California, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Here’s the money (hehe) quote:

This year’s associate bonus pool of $23.3 million is the largest in Firm history – a 20% increase over last year’s pool – with approximately 81% of participating associates receiving a bonus. Additionally, bonus awards for your offices are higher than last year at virtually all levels.

Performance expectations are steep, thus receipt of a bonus is a significant achievement. Top level bonuses are the exception and are awarded to associates distinguishing themselves by consistently demonstrating exceptional performance that far surpasses the Firm’s standards. Approximately 10% of all bonus recipients distinguished themselves at this level and were awarded the top bonus.

We haven’t seen memos for other PH offices. A source in Atlanta, though, claims that the firm cut ATL bonuses by 50 percent. Perhaps that’s their way of balancing out the recent pay raise.
We also haven’t seen the New York numbers. But at a meeting “a while back,” Barry Brooks, the firm’s New York managing partner, effectively told associates they’d match shops like Latham and Gibson.
The full memo for California / Chicago / D.C. — plus additional discussion about Paul Hastings, including complaints about the timing of their class-year raises and bonus payments — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Hastings – California, Chicago, DC
(Plus a complaint about timing of PH’s raises and bonuses.)”

From today’s AM New York:
Tom Hanks Hates Lawyers Above the Law blog.jpg
Well, Tom, we don’t like you that much either. It’s pretty ridiculous that you’re a two-time Oscar winner. You have to be one of the most overrated actors working today.

Speaking of Penn Law School… Penn grad Anthony Ciolli, the former AutoAdmit.com executive, has gone from being a defendant to a plaintiff. He’s filed a civil action in Pennsylvania state court against the two Yale Law School “Jane Does” from the AutoAdmit case, their lawyers, and various other parties.
We just got our hands on his Complaint, filed earlier today in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. We’re still reviewing it, but we didn’t want to delay in breaking the news and sharing the pleading with you. You can access the Complaint by clicking here (PDF).
Update (2:30 PM): You’ve done our job for us. There are lots of interesting observations, on both sides of the debate, in the comments. The WSJ Law Blog has also put up a post, which you can access over here.
To give you the flavor of it, here’s the caption and first page:
Anthony Ciolli Heide Iravani AutoAdmit xoxohth Above the Law blog.jpg
Ciolli v. Iravani [PDF]
Ciolli Sues Yale Law Students in AutoAdmit Scandal [WSJ Law Blog]

  • 05 Mar 2008 at 1:05 PM
  • Uncategorized

An Update on the Penn Law Situation

University of Pennsylvania Law School Penn Law Above the Law blog.jpgA bit of follow-up on goings-on at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. First, in yesterday’s post, we predicted: “[E]xpect Dean Fitts to send out some vague email offering blanket reassurances, but declining to say more due to federal privacy law. That seems to be par for the course for these incidents.”
Our prediction has been vindicated:

Sent: Wed 3/5/2008 12:01 PM
To: [U. Penn. community]
Subject: A Message from Dean Fitts

To the Law School Community,

As you may know, there was increased Public Safety presence at the Law School for a few days. Like most institutions, the University varies security on campus in response to changing situations and often does so out of an extra sense of precaution. We usually do not discuss these measures publicly. In this case, we did not do so out of respect for the privacy of a member of our community. Let me assure you that there were never any threats made nor were there any “incidents” at Penn Law. Our decisions in this case, as in others, are made and evaluated constantly with the intent of serving the best interests of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to stop by
my office.

Have a great spring break,

Mike

Second, check out comment #7 on the Daily Pennsylvanian article, posted today at 12:04 AM. It purports to be from the student in question (who identifies himself by name). This individual writes:

Unless there was yet another mishap by Penn or Penn Law, I am the student who was placed on this leave of absence. This is nothing more than a staged proceeding to force me to make precedent in the third circuit by tarnishing my reputation.

I am not on any psychiatric medication nor have I taken any. If the University actually believes that I pose a threat to your safety, then it should protect you by requiring me to seek mental health treatment instead of invoking this policy. I am now alone and upset and near a campus full of bright and happy students.

Very curious. We do wonder whether some law schools, out of an entirely legitimate concern for the safety of their students, overreact to reports of unusual behavior. History is full of examples of mass hysteria, from the Salem witch trials to the day care sex abuse scare, that turned out to be unfounded.
We’re not disputing the need for law school administrators to be vigilant, especially in light of the horrific school shootings of the past few years. And we completely understand their concern: if, God forbid, something were to happen on their campuses, they would be held responsible.
We’re just playing devil’s advocate and tossing out some fodder for discussion. That’s all.
Comments: Student prompts security increase [Daily Pennsylvanian]
Earlier: What’s Going on at Penn Law?

Greenberg Traurig lawyers blackout Miami Above the Law Blog.jpg
Some of you may be tired of our little Miami blackout caption contest. But we agree with the commenters who suggested that a contest with 20 entries was unwieldy. We’d like to get it right this time.
Here’s what we’ve done. We’ve taken the top five vote getters — there was a clear drop-off after #5, with all other choices polling under 10 percent — and pitted them against each other in a final round.
If you feel like it, you can review the contenders, and vote for your favorite, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest: The South Florida Blackout (Final Round)”

bored no work law firm Above the Law blog.jpgLast year, we asked you whether work was busy at your firms, and found that patent attorneys were particularly busy nationwide, while associates in real estate and structured finance were pretty slow in many markets. In last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we revisited the topic, and asked which practice areas are hottest (or nottest) at your firm. We received about 550 responses.
Not surprisingly, real estate and structured finance remain slow, but the malaise appears to be spreading to other transactional practices as well. Nationally, sixteen percent of respondents said real estate was the slowest practice at their firm. Corporate and structured finance were declared the slowest practice groups by twelve percent each. Capital markets and M&A were next, with approximately eight and one-half percent each. (While law firms may be slowing, in-house positions in these practices abound.)
While deals are slowing down, disputes are speeding up. About seventeen percent of respondents said that commercial litigation was the busiest practice area in their firm, while another eleven percent said patent litigation was hottest. Bankruptcy was declared the busiest group by fourteen percent of respondents. Corporate, while slow at many firms, was still going strong according to five percent of respondents.
Check out some market by market results after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Survey Results: Got Work? (Part Deux)”

foot in mouth.gif“That’s Wider, W-I-D-E-R. Got it, f**k face? You’re welcome.”
We thought that this deposition was one of the more colorful ones out there. But it pales in comparison to the deposition described by Shannon Duffy in today’s Legal Intelligencer:

A federal judge has levied sanctions of more than $29,000 on a lawyer and his client after finding that a deposition was a “spectacular failure” because of the client’s constant use of vulgar language and insults and dodging or refusing to answer questions, and his lawyer’s failure to rein him in.

In his 44-page opinion in GMAC Bank v. HTFC Corp. (PDF), U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno found that Aaron Wider, the CEO of HTFC, engaged in “hostile, uncivil, and vulgar conduct, which persisted throughout the nearly 12 hours of deposition testimony.”

Robreno noted that Wider used the “F word” or variations of it 73 times during the deposition and that the video shows that his lawyer, Joseph R. Ziccardi of Chicago, at one point “snickered” at his client’s conduct. Ziccardi was also to blame, Robreno found, because he failed to stop his client’s tirades and persuade him to answer questions.

The F-word does indeed have many variants. See Sterling Johnson, English as a Second F*cking Language; Jesse Sheidlower, The F Word: Second Edition.
Read more about the deposition’s dirty details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Joseph Ziccardi
(And Client of the Day: Aaron F**king Wider)”

dry cleaning store 2 Judge Roy Pearson Above the Law.JPG* The battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, between two of the world’s most famous lawyers, will go on — perhaps all the way to the convention. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Could a Clinton-Obama ticket avoid the otherwise inevitable train wreck? [Politico]
* Meanwhile, John McCain sews it up on the Republican side. But conservatives vow to press forward with their court challenges to McCain-Feingold. [Washington Post]
* Time to bone up on your Delaware corporate law. More maneuvering is likely in the Yahoo-Microsoft takeover battle. [New York Times]
* The $54 million pants case inspires proposed legislation in Maryland that would require dry cleaners to pay customers for clothing they damage. [Washington Post via WSJ Law Blog]
* Elsewhere in state legislative developments, Arizona reverts to the Wild West, contemplating a law to allow concealed weapons on campus. The sponsoring lawmaker “initially wanted her bill to cover all public schools, kindergarten and up, but other lawmakers convinced her it stood a better chance of passing if it were limited to higher education.” [New York Times]
* Global kiddie porn bust snares 14 Americans. [CNN]
* Debevoise makes headway in its internal investigation of Siemens. To all the beleaguered junior associates working on this matter: Hang in there! [WSJ Law Blog]

Serena Kozakura bra breast boob tit Above the Law blog.jpgWe tend to focus more on domestic legal news, but every now and then, we’ll make an exception. From the AFP:

A Japanese pin-up model says that her big breasts have not only boosted her career — they also helped her overturn a court verdict.

The bikini model, who goes by her professional name Serena Kozakura, was cleared after a court decided she was too well-endowed to squeeze into a room through a hole, as she had been found guilty of earlier…. Kozakura, 38, was convicted last year of property destruction after a man said she kicked in the wooden door of his room and crawled inside, apparently because he was with another woman. Kozakura had said the man made the hole himself.

In her appeal, the defence counsel held up a plate showing the size of the hole and said that she could not squeeze through with her 110-centimetre (44-inch) bust….Tokyo High Court presiding judge Kunio Harada agreed and threw out the guilty verdict on Monday, saying there was reasonable doubt over the man’s account.

In the words of one headline writer, “The Best Defense is a Breast Defense”

“The judges were very good-mannered as they showed no expressions on their faces. I guess they’re well-trained,” Kozakura said.

Or maybe they were just… distracted. Do appellate judges have a weakness for well-endowed women? See also the late Anna Nicole Smith, who prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in Marshall v. Marshall (unanimous decision).
You can access a video of Ms. Kozakura demonstrating her inability to fit through the hole via Weird Asia News. The video appears at the end of the post (but before the comments); scroll to around the 3:40 mark.
Big breasts win verdict for Japanese pin-up [AFP]
Court Finds Model Innocent Based on Breast Size [Weird Asia News]

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