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Today is Constitution Day. Today we celebrate a group of racist, white, male landowners finalizing a brilliant document that could be changed to overcome their parochial limitations.

I’m not the kind of guy to chestily proclaim that America is the greatest country on Earth, but I’ll put our organizing legal document up there with anyone’s. I’ve read a lot of constitutions (3L Comparative Constitutional Law finally paying off), and I’m always impressed by our document’s ability to allow for so many different and fractious opinions on how the country should operate. Whether or not you believe in a “living” constitution in the Brandies sense of the word, that our constitution is still alive is damn impressive. As written, our president and our presidential front-runner couldn’t even vote. Half the country went to WAR to get out of the constitution, and when they lost, we didn’t even say, “Okay, let’s start over so this never happens again.” We fixed the constitution after the Civil War, but we didn’t bother to fix the South. Amazingballs.

One of the main strengths of our constitution lies in its amendment process. The thing can be changed, quite easily actually, so long as everybody agrees. And it turns out that we don’t agree very much.

To honor this document, some of us at Above the Law wanted to look at the surprising instances since 1787 when we all agreed. The Bill of Rights doesn’t count. And the Civil War amendments don’t count because, well, we didn’t really all “agree” so much as half of us got their asses kicked and had to eat it. So let’s go with any amendment after the first 15. You could make a compelling case that American political thought can be explained by which of those first 15 Amendments are the most important to you or to your life (and if you read that and thought “the 8th,” I feel so goddamn sorry for you).

But while the latter amendments aren’t likely to show up on a 1L’s list of “amendments I know by number,” they define our modern polity almost as much as the first ten. Let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about our moddable constitution…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Constitution Day Special: Our Favorite Unheralded Amendments”

* Law student sends naked selfie to her father. Hilarity ensues. [Inside Edition]

* “Is insider trading bad?” Asking for a friend. [The Atlantic]

* Judge catches law firm cheating on the page limit. Apparently, Judge Carl Barbier was well-versed in the “slightly less than double-spaced” trick. [NPR]

* What’s the matter with (statutory interpretation in) Kansas? [KSN]

* You may have heard that technology is going to gut the market for low-level lawyering. If not, here’s a wakeup call. [Forbes]

* This year’s MacArthur genius grant recipients. Is your name on the list? SPOILER: No. But a William Mitchell Law professor is. [New York Times]

* Steve Klepper’s fair-minded and favorable review of Lat’s forthcoming book, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). [Maryland Appellate Blog]

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As we have chronicled in these pages, technology is transforming all facets of the legal profession. It’s changing the way that litigators conduct discovery and try cases (and the way that judges decide those cases). It’s changing the way that transactional attorneys do deals.

And it’s changing the way that lawyers get hired. One new startup, Lateral.ly, provides an example of how technology could make a difference.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Transforming And Enhancing The Lateral Hiring Process”

If you’re not online, then you’re losing traction (and clients) to the professionals cultivating a strong online presence through the act of blogging. The Internet is a communication ecosystem that amplifies the effect of lucrative referrals with “word-of-mouse spread[ing] even faster than word-of-mouth,” according to a Harvard Business School study, The Economics of E-Loyalty.
An Example of Traction Through Blogging

Within six months of launching the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Dan Schwartz got the high sign that his blog was working:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “To Own Your Blog Is To ‘Control’ Your Professional Destiny”

Everybody in the Canadian legal profession knows that international firms Baker & McKenzie, Norton Rose and Dentons have set up shop in Canada. Baker & McKenzie has actually been in Toronto since 1962. Norton Rose absorbed the venerable Ogilvy Renault in 2011 before conquering the west by merging with energy powerhouse MacLeod Dixon in 2012. Dentons made its Canadian play in 2013 by merging with another long-established firm, Fraser Milner.

But how many people realize that there are several other prominent U.S./international firms working somewhat under the radar in the Canadian market? Powerhouses like Paul Weiss, Shearman & Sterling and Skadden Arps all have small Canadian offices where they service mostly American clients. Similarly, Dorsey & Whitney, Hodgson Russ, Dickinson Wright, Fragomen, and Clyde and Co. all have small Canadian presences.

By my count, that’s eleven U.S./international firms that have a real footprint in Canada, which leads to this question: why aren’t there more? Canada is a G8 nation with a strong economy. Our citizens are warm and friendly. We wear deodorant. Why have you forsaken us, international law firms?

Here’s what I dug up:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The View From Up North — Why Aren’t There More International Law Firms in Canada?”

It’s Constitution Day, or technically Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, because it’s a holiday so nice Congress named it twice. And Congress doesn’t mess around with this event: by law, all publicly funded educational institutions and all federal agencies must provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution today. So if you see someone dressed up as a Founder today, they’re probably a teacher. Or an incompetent lawyer.

In the spirit of teaching constitutional law, and generally making learning fun, I wanted to focus on the professorial stylings of Professor Josh Blackman. A couple weeks ago, I noticed Professor Josh Blackman tweeting out memes he’d created to describe Youngstown v. Sawyer. If you can inspire a chuckle (or frankly anything) over seizing steel mills, then you’ve accomplished something. He told me that he often employs memes to hammer home his lessons. And when you think about it, memes are the perfect medium for teaching constitutional jurisprudence: you take something established and scribble new stuff all over it.

Let’s look at some of his work. Maybe readers can come up with some other clever entries….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Holdings Made Simple”

I am incompetent! Anybody who thinks they are representing an innocent person and can’t convince a jury is incompetent or ineffective.

– Ira Dennis Hawver, a lawyer who showed up to his disciplinary hearing dressed as Thomas Jefferson. Hawver was… wait, what? Dressed as Thomas Jefferson? Yeah. I guess that’s the sort of thing Tea Partiers do. Anyway, Hawver was defending himself against possible disbarment after he royally botched a death penalty case with his “my client couldn’t have done it because he wouldn’t have left a witness alive” defense — making his turn at cosplay the second dumbest argument he’s made in the courtroom.

When being judged by a jury of your peers, is it necessary that some of those peers be members of your ethnic or racial group? Hold on, white people, I’m not asking you. You might talk tough on the internet, but if you were the defendant in a trial and you walked in and saw the entire Wu-Tang Clan sitting in the jury box you’d have a freaking conniption. And… it would NEVER happen to you. A white person would never have to face an “all-other” jury. Your opinions on how you’d feel about a situation that would never happen to you matters less to me.

For the rest of us, being judged by zero people from your peer racial or ethnic group is a legitimate possibility. Is that fair? Almost certainly not. Is it presumptively unfair? That’s kind of a different question. Can we presume that 12 white people can’t give a black person a fair trial? Should a judge stop a trial once he sees that a person is about to face a jury devoid of any of her racial peers?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Is An All-White Jury Not Okay?”

Since I began my job search, I have read many books and articles on how to find a job. Most of them gave the usual tried and true advice — meet people and learn new skills — with some variation. And to prove their points, they include cool and heartwarming anecdotal stories.

But I have also been given awful job search tips. They typically revolve around a story about someone who uses a gimmick to get the attention of an employer. One thing leads to another and the applicant is hired over the many others who had better grades and work experience. The success story is passed off as advice because it worked in his particular case in very unusual conditions.

After the jump, I will discuss some of the worst job advice I have been given.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Worst. Job Search. Advice. Ever.”

Ah, the easy life. For some people it is the windmill they keep tilting at, trying to find the exact right amount of effort that things work out for them, but not so much that they have to worry or stress out — about anything really, but certainly about a job. My father was like that. An unapologetic union man for over 30 years, he resisted promotions to management convinced that without union-won guaranteed yearly raises, the small bump in salary attached to the promotion would be moot in a few years and certainly not worth the extra hours and stress.

I can certainly respect that way of life (it did in fact pay for my childhood), but I never ascribed it to myself. After all, I was going to law school. I would be a professional, different and apart from unions or a real struggle for salary.

But now the struggle is real, and all I want is to not get hassled through my day.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Finding The Easy Life As A Contract Attorney”

* Uh oh! The Second Circuit is having a copy/paste problem in that it copied and pasted the wrong legal standard into twelve of its immigration opinions from 2008 to 2012. Embarrassing. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Am Law named the grand prize winners of the magazine’s Global Legal Awards for the best cross-border work in corporate, finance, disputes, and citizenship. Was your firm honored? [Am Law Daily]

* An attorney at this Louisiana law firm was apparently attacked by a co-worker’s husband who claimed that the lawyer was behind his cuckolding. We may have more on this later. [Louisiana Record]

* A computer systems engineer at Wilson Sonsini has been charged with insider trading. This is the second time in three years that an employee from the firm has been charged with this crime. [Bloomberg]

* The best way to navigate common mistakes in the LSAT logical reasoning section is to display your logical reasoning capabilities by not taking the LSAT right now. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

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