Latest Stories

Cocaine addiction* He stuck all that cocaine, where? [Legal Juice]

* We saw the list of the Most Impressive, but what can you really tell about a law school from its building? [PrawfsBlawg]

* A musical about Thomas Jefferson’s moose skeleton and what it means for Internet regulation. It makes more sense than it sounds. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Virginia’s Supreme Court to hear the Case of the Annoying Yelpers. [WTOP]

* SLU law professor Justin Hansford writes about his experience as a legal observer to the protests following the Michael Brown killing. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Interesting piece on the “multiple jeopardy” faced by patentees. [Patently-O]

Hacker with laptopSomehow, it’s not murder. Somehow, the crime people are most worried about does not include death. Or rape. I don’t believe in gun ownership, and I live out in the all-too-quiet suburbs, which means I’ve got a very expensive security system, motion sensor lights, a dog, and baseball bats and other blunt force trauma weapons strategically placed around my home, ALL for the prevention of murder and rape.

Apparently, I’m not normal. Apparently my fears, while ancient and steeped in evolutionary development, are not what scare Americans the most.

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline….

Supreme Court SCOTUS photo by David LatLast night, in the beautiful D.C. offices of Arnold & Porter, Above the Law held its second annual Supreme Court round-up event. I discussed October Term 2014 with two of the most distinguished advocates practicing before the Court today, Lisa Blatt of Arnold & Porter and Tom Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell (and SCOTUSblog fame too). Although this Term is not the most thrilling Term ever — which could change, based on the cases that get granted certiorari over the next few weeks — Blatt and Goldstein produced a sparkling conversation full of ample insight and laughter.

Thanks to Lisa Blatt and to Tom Goldstein for participating, to our readers for attending, to Arnold & Porter for hosting, and to Special Counsel eQ for sponsoring. Keep reading to check out photos….

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empty-pocketAt the risk of stating the obvious to this audience, the American middle class is in serious trouble. But why am I taking the time to state the obvious? Because it isn’t what we know, it’s what we do with what we know to reposition our solo/small firm practices for survival that matters most. Most solo/small firms are consumer-law driven. Since so much of the success of many a lawyer has been predicated on a stable middle class with disposable income, how a solo/small firm responds to their disappearing wealth is intimately tied to their professional success.

The middle-class share of national income has fallen and continues to fall, dropping many who were normally categorized as such into the lower middle class, even upper lower class. Middle-class wages are stagnant even though productivity time has increased dramatically, and we no longer have the world’s wealthiest middle class. I don’t even have to quote any sources on this information because you just have to Google it and you’ll get hundreds if not thousands of pages and articles on this alarming topic.

As painful as this squeeze is individually, multiply this by millions of families (your potential clients). Then aggregate this demand across all areas of the economy (obviously, the law), and you see why this will inevitably trickle down to cripple the following generations (also your potential clients).

But the story is much bigger than this and has another very important side….

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ShockedI want to continue practicing law.

– Connecticut attorney Ira Mayo, making a plea to avoid a five-year disbarment before disciplinary officials at a hearing last week.

This summer, as punishment for allegedly making “inappropriate sexual overtures” to his female clients and pressuring them for sex, Mayo accepted a lifetime ban on representing women, as well as a four-month suspension. Mayo was previously ordered to stop representing women in family law and domestic violence cases in 2010, but continued to do so in violation of that order. Mayo now claims he thought there would be a grace period for him to wind up his cases with women clients.

Key to successI just read Shannon’s article from last week about solo practice (and the comments, which got pretty weird pretty fast). It was a familiar story. I have been a solo for a little over three years now. There certainly are lawyers who make more money than I make, but for most of the last three years, I have been so busy that I refer away most of the cases that come my way. I have watched a lot of my lawyer friends who have different personalities and different skills meet the legal market with varied success. Here’s what I have learned as a solo, as someone who has worked in a firm, and as an employer:

Understand That No One Owes You Anything

I went to a top-ranked university for undergrad. I got into the highest-ranked law school in my area so that I could keep my part-time job at a 200-lawyer law firm. I felt poised to make good money as a lawyer. After law school, I went to work for a small but successful business litigation firm. It was successful because my boss understood that the practice of law is still a business. When I passed the bar, I came into the office Monday morning and had a talk with my boss about how much more money he was going to have to pay me now. His response was that he was not going to pay me anything more at all because my value to him had not changed. I quit a few weeks later and opened up my own practice, using that talk as one of the foundations of my practice.

Let me explain….

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Businessman has lost moneyNo offense to $8 an hour document review jobs, but this listing probably takes the crown as the worst job in the legal profession.

It’s not that the pay is necessarily worse — though when all is said and done, it almost assuredly is — it’s that the job is a delicious cocktail of overwhelming responsibility and bad public policy. Every day on this job would require the lawyer to struggle to uphold the basic ethical obligations owed to a client while incrementally undermining the justice system as a whole. For peanuts. And no benefits.

Sounds like fun!

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depressed head in handsSometimes, lawyers struggling with difficult cases resort to the worst when unable to conquer their legal challenges.

Late last week, Calogero Gambino, a 41-year-old associate general counsel at Deutsche Bank, was found dead in his home, hanging from a stairway bannister with a rope around his neck.

Gambino is the second Deutsche Bank executive to commit suicide this year…

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New York State Board of Law Examiners NYBOLEThe New York Board of Law Examiners has been releasing bar exam results earlier and earlier every year. Last year, for example, bar candidates received their results on October 30. Once again, it’s not even November, and some nervous test takers received emails from the New York BOLE before midnight on October 27 with their results from the July 2014 administration of the exam.

This news bears repeating: it’s not even November, and we have the New York bar exam results. As one of the most-taken exams in the country — about 12,000 people took the test last July — this is big news. It’s almost like the BOLE wants recent law school graduates to be able to start working as attorneys sooner — or trying to, at least. We’re living in crazy times, folks.

So much for that mid-November release date everyone was talking about, huh?

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thumbs-upWe are living in a feedback culture. Traveled lately? Uber wants to know how your ride to the airport was. Your airline? An emailed survey is waiting for you on arrival at your destination. Checking out of your hotel? Have a goodbye survey on the house. Had a meal? Make sure you take the opportunity to complain (on Google, Yelp, etc.) about the server who accidentally brushed your shoulder while pouring your overpriced Malbec. Or rave about the innovative creme brulee and brioche hybrid that is the heir apparent to the cronut as a worthy “queue them up” for hours artery-clogger. It’s easy. Just a few clicks, and the world will be enlightened with your opinion. And your service provider can “improve the experience” for the legions of satisfied customers to follow.

In fact, service providers in multiple industries are quite busy turning your technological toys into “review generation machines” — because they can. Purchase an item online, and be prepared to answer questions about the item, the purchasing experience, and even the process of returning “crappier in real life than it looked on my Retina Display iMac/iPhone/iPad” item as well. While you are at it, maybe you have some thoughts on the packaging too. If so, the good folks who supply online retailers with corrugated cartons of all shapes and sizes would sure appreciate hearing about it.

There is no doubt that technology has fostered this “connectivity” between consumer and service provider in a quite mind-boggling way. And that those service providers are not shy about exploiting it. Many times, we do not even realize just how much our thinking has changed on this issue….

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