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Why can’t we get one of these for the justices?

I have previously suggested that the members of the U.S. Supreme Court have a private jet at their disposal. The executive branch has Air Force One and Air Force Two. Isn’t the co-equal third branch of government entitled to “Air Force Three”?

I’m being quite reasonable. I’m not advocating for “one justice, one plane,” a la Reynolds v. Sims. I think it’s fine for the nine to share a single plane and divvy up the hours amongst themselves, not unlike customers of NetJets. Given the security threats faced by the justices — see, e.g., Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who has been robbed at knife point and victimized by a burglar — it would seem prudent to reduce their commercial flying.

So that’s the case in favor of “Air Force Three.” The case against: if the justices didn’t fly commercial, then we wouldn’t have fun celebrity sightings like this one….

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We give law schools a lot of grief around here for being too expensive and not recognizing the true value of their product.

I’m new here and maybe not as jaded as others (read: Elie), but in a world where more and more Biglaw practical legal work is farmed out to temp attorneys, these sky-high tuitions are simply unwarranted. And for the most part, the ABA has backed them up.

But now the ABA has joined the chorus.

The ABA created the Task Force on the Future of Legal Education last year. Its two-year mission: to seek out new models for legal education. Well, they’re trying to turn in their report a year early (damn gunners!), and based on the testimony the committee collected there are some interesting ideas out there. But forgive my pessimism in thinking that this report will boldly go where pretty much every report on law schools has gone before.

But let’s look at the ideas that are out there….

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It’s worse if junior can tote the rock.

When I decided to attend the University of Kansas (cheerfully described in its promotional material as the “UMass of the Midwest”), there was very little fanfare. There was no signing ceremony, no stage, no cameras. I dropped the envelope containing my application into the mailbox, raised the little red flag, and went back inside to find my bong or watch Saved by the Bell or just eat Cool Ranch Doritos. Such was the life of a mediocre do-nothing 17-year-old during the twilight of the 20th century.

This week, a whole passel of athletic teenagers decided on a college and their decisions were met with great applause or anger. Across this great land of ours, cameras were trained on these freaks of nature as they thanked their mommas or their daddies or Jesus Christ hisself. And then a hat was chosen, its bill purposefully unbent. The South, still butthurt about the War of Northern Aggression, greedily laid claim to every great athlete this nation has to offer. Then, after the children had signed their letters of intent, the machine built to follow and track the movements of teenage football players sighed momentarily, then trained its sights on the next crop of 6th graders who show potential.

But before we leave this year’s celebration of purely innocent amateurism, let us take stock of one young soul who had it worst of all. His name is Alex Collins and all he wanted to do was play football for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Today, his mother hired Johnny Cochran’s ghost to represent her.

Let’s talk sports…

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We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books. Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.

William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University (Maurer), commenting on the rigor mortis that’s quickly spreading now that everyone’s fantasies of fame and fortune in the once storied legal profession have died.

(Enough doom and gloom. What are law schools planning to do about it?)

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What if your law dean didn’t look like everybody else?

Have you ever noticed how law school deans are all kind of all the same guy? They’re mostly white, mostly male, mostly smart, mostly charismatic, and mostly good at getting you to part with your money.

Law school deans are usually successful academics and respected faculty members. And when they’re not, we make fun of them. The virtue of having a dean who looks and thinks like everybody else is that you don’t risk getting a weirdo who will screw up your capital campaigns. There’s a reason why guys are generally happy when they show up to a party and they’re dressed like pretty much everybody else; it means that nobody screwed up.

Of course, the downside of picking 200 people with similar backgrounds is that it’s hard to get radical change in the way law schools are run. Instead of every law school being a “laboratory” of ideas, you get every law school just trying to follow the leader — and that leader is, of course, the hated U.S. News law school rankings.

A tipster who went to a school that is looking for a new dean asked Above the Law to suggest some “outside the box” candidates. We know that the school won’t seriously consider any of our suggestions, but it’s still a fun thought experiment. Who should be dean of your law school? We’ve got some thoughts…

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So I went to the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools in New Orleans this past weekend. The place was lousy with law school deans and I had a ton of interesting, off-the-record conversations that I can’t report on. I also spent a weekend in New Orleans that involved all sorts of other things I can’t report on. It was fun and informative, you just have to trust me.

One thing I can report on was an AALS panel I attended, “The 75th Anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Looking Back, Looking Ahead.” Now… I know that doesn’t scream “drop your panties,” but the panel was moderated by Arthur Miller. Yeah, that Arthur Miller, the famous law professor who wrote Death of A Civil Procedure Rules Salesman or something. And the all-star panel he was moderating included Justice Antonin Scalia… a person Miller doesn’t really agree with when it comes to rules. I had to go. Literally, I had to.

Unfortunately, the conversation was completely over my head. I’m not embarrassed to say that. Other people in my position may pretend that they got the most out of this discussion between Miller, Scalia, Biglaw partners, district judges, and others who have advised the Rules Committee. To me it sounded like, “TWOMBLY wha wha whaa, but in IQBAL wha wha wha wha! Wha? Given TWOMBLY’s wha and IQBAL’s wha, how could you wha wha whaaa?? [Laughter]”

That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything….

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In August, New York Law School (NYLS) was hit with a class action lawsuit over the school’s allegedly deceptive post-graduate employment data. The case was filed by plaintiffs’ lawyers Jesse Strauss and David Anziska. In October, NYLS filed a motion to dismiss that claim. In March, the lawyers ventured down to the New York Supreme Court to argue the merits of the case, and a little more than one week later, we broke the news that the suit had been dismissed by Judge Melvin Schweitzer. The plaintiffs’ lawyers vowed to appeal that decision, and today, we’ve got news on whether the Gomez-Jimenez v. NYLS suit will live to see another day.

What result? The dismissal of the class action lawsuit filed by Team Strauss/Anziska against NYLS over its allegedly deceptive employment statistics has been affirmed….

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Cravath partners enjoy discounts at Subway, among other perquisites.

It’s rare for partners to leave Cravath, given the prestige, pay, and perks associated with partnership at the firm. And it’s especially rare for a Cravath partner to leave for a rival firm, as opposed to a Wall Street investment bank or major corporation.

Cravath has a very specific system for running itself, and that system has served Cravath very well over the years. As its competitors expend increasing amounts of effort to climb the prestige hierarchy and expand across the globe, Cravath remains at the top, serenely servicing its clients — and printing money for its partners. Part of the reason why Cravath so rarely loses partners to other firms is that it’s so profitable overall that even a partner being paid under Cravath’s lockstep system still does better than a “star” partner at many other firms.

So that’s why today’s news is so notable. A prominent young partner at Cravath has decided to leave Worldwide Plaza and take his talents across town.

Who is the partner in question, and where is he headed?

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* “The people who are paying us say this is what we want.” When it comes to cross-border mergers, law firms aren’t becoming behemoths for the hell of it. The end goal is to be able to edge out the rest of the competition. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* It’s been six weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, and “[e]verybody wants to go back downtown,” but some Biglaw firms in New York City — firms like Harris Beach and Cahill Gordon — are still stuck in their temporary offices. [New York Law Journal]

* Following Jeh Johnson’s adieu to the DoD, drone-loving Harold Koh will be packing up his office at the State Department and returning to Yale Law to resume his professorship next month. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector is employing 5,800 more people than it was at this time last year. We’d be in good shape if 40,000 people hadn’t graduated law school in May. [Am Law Daily]

* Another day, another wrist slap: Villanova Law has been placed on probation for by the Association of American Law Schools over its grade-inflation scandal. Does that even mean anything? [Philadelphia Inquirer]

* The Lanier Law Firm, known for its spectacular Christmas parties, hosted some country superstars at this year’s event. Guess we know where Faith Hill and Tim McGraw go for legal assistance. [Houston Chronicle]

* A slim majority of American adults think that federal government employees should just sit back, relax, and smoke a bowl instead of enforcing federal laws against marijuana use. [FiveThirtyEight / New York Times]

* “I’m sorry they are confused in the White House.” Puerto Rico’s statehood referendum received a majority of votes, but lawmakers say the results of the two-part plebiscite are too confusing to add a 51st state. [CNN]

I reported back in October that the New York Times had asked me to write an op-ed piece about the future of big law firms, but a Dealbook special unceremoniously preempted my piece.

I figured the editor at the NYT might think she owed me one, so I cranked out a replacement piece proposing to reform legal education. I’m pleased to report that this op-ed piece was not preempted! No, no, no: It was rejected on the merits. The editor said that my article made too many points and felt like a “report, rather than an opinion piece.”

But she was wrong. And, in any event, you should judge for yourself.

So here’s my recently rejected op-ed piece proposing how we should reform legal education. (I do believe this is the last in my short-lived series of “crap I wrote for the Times that the Times didn’t publish.” It’s an awful lot of work to produce 1,200-word pieces that become mere fodder for another column here at Inside Straight.) . . .

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