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lawyer walks into bar 2 Above the Law blog.jpgOver the past few months, a number of you have written to us about A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar. It’s a critically acclaimed, independent documentary film about lawyers and the legal profession.
The movie made the rounds on the film festival circuit earlier this year, and now it’s out on DVD. Here’s a brief synopsis:

A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar… is a celebration of the law and triumph over adversity that follows 6 future lawyers of all ages and backgrounds as they undertake the rigorous and excruciating California Bar Exam while also dealing thematically with certain hot button issues in our profession. The [themes of the film] include, among other things, stress, big firm economics, substance abuse, law as a calling, frivolous litigation, bar exam economics, women in the law and other threads that you can likely intuit.

These subjects are all near and dear to the hearts of ATL readers. And there’s stuff in the film that ties into this week’s special theme, non-top-tier law school graduates:

The cast members run the gamut, from a former Marine who has taken and failed the California Bar Exam 41 times, to top and middle graduates of the Loyola and UCLA Law Schools, to a Latina activist from East L.A. who attended a non-accredited law school, to other diverse and interesting people.

Sadly, the film was produced before the rise to fame of Loyola 2L. But it features other legal celebrities, such as Alan Dershowitz, Scott Turow, and Nancy Grace — all of whom appear in this short clip:

Some of our favorite films are documentaries — e.g., Spellbound, Capturing the Friedmans — and some of our favorite people are lawyers. We haven’t seen A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar yet, but we intend to; it looks like it’s right up our alley. Exciting stuff!
A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar [official website]
A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar [trailer]
A Lawyer Walks Into A Bar [Amazon]

Gone Fishing Gone Fishin Above the Law blog.jpgOooh boy. What is it about jurists with the surname “Thomas”?
More lurid allegations are being made against Judge Herman Thomas, the Alabama state court judge who allegedly likes to spank male prisoners. From the Mobile Press-Register:

In affidavits filed in support of Michael Dewayne Anderson’s 2003 federal suit against Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas, three men made similar accusations about Thomas.

John Richardson said he saw Thomas “constantly” driving up his block to pick up a neighbor. That neighbor, Richardson said, “told me that as long as he plays the sex game with Judge Thomas, he wouldn’t have to worry about staying in jail.”

Nathaniel Agee said Thomas “inflicted burden and humiliation in my life.”

“Herman and I started off going fishing together, hanging out together. He would even drop by my house early some morning(s), and say he wanted to talk.”

Brokeback Pond? Apparently so:

Thomas increased the visits to his home, Agee said, “but when he found out my children were there, he started to become angry because we couldn’t be alone with each other. I tried to explain to Judge Thomas that it was all right to be friends and hang out, but I’m not into sexual relationships with a man.”

The funny and talented Jolene Roxbury, the ex-paralegal turned comedian and singer, has dedicated another song to Judge Thomas: You Bring the Paddle.
Check it out here. For more about Jolene, see her website. Delightful stuff — thanks, Jolene!
Claims Against Judge Thomas [Mobile Press-Register]
Jolene Roxbury: Certified Verbal Conversationalist
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Herman Thomas (scroll down)

Johnnie Cochran Johnnie L Cochran Jr Loyola Law School Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, so you didn’t graduate (1) from a top-tier law school or (2) at the top of your class from a non-top-tier law school. Please don’t get discouraged, even in the face of depressing news articles.
Before you leave the law to become an electrician, consider this inspirational tale, from an ATL reader:

Finding a job after graduating from a lower tier law school might be harder, but it is certainly possible. A lot of it depends on what type of job you wish to pursue. Knowing I wanted to practice in a law firm who actually tried cases, throughout law school I worked for several small firms and solo practices and gained experience.

The summer studying for the bar I found a part time clerkship with an attorney who practices business litigation. After the bar exam he offered me a position full time. I don’t make anywhere near the big firms in terms of salary. But I make plenty for my first year out, and I get a percentage of our contingent fee cases (which will actually put me a little less than big firm salary if all goes well).

Also, I get great experience. My first week I attended two hearings on motions for summary judgment in court, and a month after I pass the bar (hopefully!) I already have an assignment to participate directly in a trial. The salary is not “equal”, but I feel I am gaining better experience and enjoying my quality of life much more than if I was in a mega firm.

Good stuff — and a reminder that Biglaw isn’t the be all and end all of legal practice.
Also, we have a question about working as a paralegal, from a different reader. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Attention Non-Top-Tier Grads: Some Advice, and a Question”

pubic hair coke Above the Law blog.jpgWe previously wrote about the mysterious leave of absence taken by Judge Samuel B. Kent (S.D. Tex.). It now appears that part of the mystery has been revealed. From the Galveston Daily News:

In the months before U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent was temporarily relieved of his duties, an employee of the court filed a sexual harassment complaint against him, sources have told The Daily News. The sources refused to be identified in speaking about a complaint that court officials have ordered to be kept confidential.

A sexual harassment complaint? You know what that means: elevation. Hello, Justice Thomas!
If you have any details about the allegations against Judge Kent, please email us. Thanks.
Sources: Judge took leave after complaint [Galveston Daily News]
Earlier: Musical Chairs: Federal Judges Fleeing the Bench?

Martin Lipton Marty Lipton Wachtell Lipton WLRK Above the Law blog.jpgWe should have written about this earlier — in fact, weeks earlier, since it has been up since early August. But sometimes things fall through the cracks, emails get caught in our spam filter, etc. Anyway, better late than never.
From a helpful reader:

check out this blog. it’s sort of a one trick pony, but its good for a laugh and is pretty out there. as a wlrk alum, figured you would get a kick out of it. thanks.

We agree — it’s funny and bizarre. From the inaugural post of The Poison Pill:

This blog is devoted to our hero and idol, corporate law phenom Martin Lipton. Mr. Lipton, name partner in the prestigious and venerable firm Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, has been practicing law since the mid-1960′s after he graduated from NYU law school, and is considered by most in the industry to be the “dean” of the M&A bar. This legendary advocate is most famous in legal circles for inventing the “poison pill,” a takeover defense now used by virtually all public companies to delay and deter hostile tender offers and other solicited acquisitions.

That’s right, you heard me–not only is Mr. Lipton a skilled and accomplished lawyer, he is an inventor as well. We also hear that he is a marvelous ballroom dancer, but have yet to receive confirmation on this point.

You can read the rest of the post over here.
Could this blog turn into the Biglaw equivalent of the Fake Steve Jobs blog, which developed into a sensation of the business world? Stay tuned.
The Poison Pill

contract attorney temp temporary attorney lawyer work.jpgOur recent post about contract attorney work, part of Non-Top-Tier Law School Week here at ATL, generated almost 200 comments. We’re happy to report that we have more for you on that front.
Here’s a question from a contract attorney reader:

I’ve done some contract attorney work (doc review, ick) in the past and have been offered jobs that pay a flat fee of $35-$45 an hour, but want 60 to 80 hours a week.

The Fair Labor Standards Act seems to say that professionals (attorneys) are only exempt from OT pay when they’re salaried. We contract attorneys, obviously, don’t fall within that category. It also seems to say that it’s illegal for an employer to make an employee waive that right to overtime pay.

Any idea why it is that so many major law firms can hire contract staff for flat rates and make them work overtime without OT pay?

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Contract Attorney Work and Overtime Pay: What’s the Deal With That?”

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFollowing up on our recent coverage of changes to the salary and benefit schemes for federal law clerks, here’s an interesting article from the Daily Business Review:

Federal judges around the country will feel the belt-tightening that has cut into other areas of the judiciary in a rule change that limits their ability to hire permanent, career law clerks, rather than cheaper, fresh from school, term clerks.

The cost-containment move, approved Sept. 18 by the judiciary’s 27-member policy body, the Judicial Conference of the United States, is predicted to save tens of millions of dollars in salary costs over the next decade, according to an internal report by the Committee on Judicial Resources.

Discussion picks up after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Clerk Salaries and Benefits: More Details About Recent Changes”

Chelsea Clinton Osso Bucco Nino Selimaj Above the Law blog.jpgWe met Chelsea Clinton at a wedding once. She wasn’t super-friendly; in fact, she was downright standoffish. She gave off this aloof, “stay away starf**kers” sort of vibe.
Chilly Chelsea couldn’t be more different from her gregarious parents, whom we’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Bill and Hillary Clinton are friendly and down-to-earth, despite being far more recognizable than even their famous daughter.
(Yeah, we know, they’re politicians and she’s an ordinary citizen. But that doesn’t means she can’t be nice to people.)
Based on our firsthand experience with Chelsea Clinton — and it was an overseas wedding, so we were actually in her presence for several days — we weren’t that surprised to read this story. From WCBSTV:

A celebrity photo has led a former president to send a threatening letter to a Manhattan restaurant owner.

President Bill Clinton has demanded that the owner of Greenwich Village restaurant Osso Buco remove a picture of his daughter Chelsea that’s been gracing the walls of the family-style Italian eatery, alongside other celebrity photographs.

Owner Nino Selimaj tells CBS 2 that the picture has been up for years and has never posed a problem until now.

What’s the big deal? Such pictures are commonplace in restaurants of a certain type, and they’re all over the place at Osso Buco — placing Chelsea on notice, when she posed for the photo, that it might be hung on the wall.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “(Threatened) Lawsuit of the Day: Chelsea Clinton Sics Dad on Italian Eatery”

Patton Boggs LLP Above the Law blog.jpgWe received this information from a tipster last night, and a firm spokesperson confirmed it for us this morning. Here it is:

Patton Boggs just raised starting salaries to 160,000 for first years for 1950 billable hours. This is a 50 hour bump and a $15,000 bump. They also introduced a new 1800 billable track that is full-time, but paid on a lower scale (obviously).

No memo yet. The full scale closely approximates the Hogan & Hartson scale and caps out at $280,000. Still a 100 hour/year pro bono requirement.

So does anyone know what the DC List of Shame now looks like? Feel free to post it in the comments.
Also, are you aware of any recent pay raise news that we haven’t covered in these pages? If so, please email us. Thanks.

* Secret search provisions of Patriot Act ruled unconstitutional violations of 4th Amendment, in the case of an Oregon attorney who was mistakenly linked to bombings. [NYT; CNN]
* Larry Craig will remain in Senate until judge rules on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. [WP; NYT]
* Mistrial for Spector after jury deadlock. [CNN]
* Bro tasered her. [CNN]
* Ohio and Florida pass voting laws that could make vote caging easier in 2008. [McClatchy]
* Royal Bank of Canada sues Michael Vick over $2.5m loan. [MSNBC]
* Harvard med student gets extra exam time for nursing. [WSJ Law Blog]

gay porn do not file Above the Law blog.jpgWhen it comes to knowing how to make proper court filings, don’t bother with the FRCP, or even the local rules. Just read ATL.
We tell you everything you need to know. E.g., don’t file an egg with Judge James Muirhead (D.N.H.).
And don’t file gay pornography with Judge Adalberto Jordan (S.D. Fla.). From

That gurgling sound you hear could be Jack Thompson’s legal career swirling down the ‘loo.

The frequent video game critic, already facing professional misconduct charges from the Florida Bar which could see him stripped of his license to practice law, has outraged a U.S. District Court judge by including images of men having sex in a document filed with the court last week.

What was he thinking? And no, the gay porn was not essential to the case (as it might have been in, say, an obscenity prosecution arising out of said porn).
More details — if you want them — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Practice Pointers: Do Not File Gay Porn With Judge Jordan”

St Johns University Law School emergency information gunman Above the Law blog.jpgThis story is a few hours old, but we heard about it just now. From a tipster at St. John’s University Law School, in Jamaica, Queens:

If you haven’t already heard — nearly the entire law school has been stuck in the school since a gunman was apprehended at 2:30 this afternoon. Seeing as how you are dedicating this week to second-tier law schools, we thought you could highlight the incident for us.

Sure! In light of how we covered the recent, mysterious passing of a Yale Law School student, of course we’ll cover an incident presenting a serious public safety issue at St. John’s.
So consider this post a shout-out to all ATL readers at St. John’s — especially the hotties. We hope that you are safe and doing well (and not too bored, despite being trapped inside the school building).
It appears that the situation is under control. From our tipster:

I think the law school staff has been doing a superb job of keeping everyone calm and providing us with information as it becomes available.

Update (6:10 PM): From a second source at the school:

They caught one person on the way to the school president’s office wearing a black mask and carrying a rifle in a duffel bag, and are still looking for a second gunman. No shots were fired and no one was hurt from what I have heard. The whole campus has been on lockdown for the last few hours, but I think they are evacuating the campus as we speak.

You can read about the latest developments in this story over at WABC.
St. John’s University student found with weapon []

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