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The old ball and chain, dischargeable in bankruptcy only in the most limited of cases. Go ahead, try and prove you’ve got a ‘substantial hardship’ preventing you from paying. We dare you.

* Now that a federal judge has classified California’s death penalty as unconstitutional, it’s only a matter of time before the issue reaches the Supreme Court. We have a feeling the justices will likely roll their eyes. [National Law Journal]

* Word on the street is that Bingham McCutchen has got the urge to merge, and has apparently spoken to a handful of potential partners over the course of the past three months. We’ll have more on these developments later. [Reuters]

* As it turns out, it was neither Wachtell Lipton nor Jenner & Block that managed to snag the coveted GM litigation oversight job. Nice work, Quinn Emanuel — you’re considered a “well-respected outside law firm.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* Congrats, Flori-duh, you did something right. A state court judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution in the latest post-Windsor victory for equality. Yay! [Bloomberg]

* Thanks to their hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school debt, many graduates are considering declaring bankruptcy. Too bad most won’t be able to get their loans discharged. [Connecticut Law Tribune]

On Tuesday evening, I returned to the offices of Wachtell Lipton, the law firm where I toiled as an associate years ago. Luckily, I wasn’t there to bill hours; instead, I attended a reception marking the launch of a delightful new book, The Mother Court: Tales of Cases that Mattered in America’s Greatest Trial Court (affiliate link).

“The Mother Court” is the nickname for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, regarded by many as the preeminent federal trial court in the nation. In the book of the same name, James Zirin, a leading litigator who’s now senior counsel in the New York office of Sidley Austin, shares with readers the fascinating history of this top tribunal.

In a review that ran yesterday in the New York Law Journal, Thomas E.L. Dewey hailed the book as a “richly textured, immensely readable overview of the modern history of the Southern District of New York.” Last month, in the New York Review of Books, Judge Jed Rakoff praised Zirin’s “fluid prose and eye for detail.”

What fun tidbits and interesting opinions did James Zirin share in his remarks on Tuesday night?

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Hurry up, you don’t have much time.

* A company has limited bathroom breaks to 6 minutes daily. Well, gutting pensions and suppressing wages hasn’t caused a revolution, why not let it ride? [Slate]

* A Florida town has imposed criminal sanctions against sagging pants. But Chief Justice Roberts told me racism was over in the South… [Fashionista]

* Who says crime doesn’t pay? [CBS News]

* Mayer Brown wants you to think the Supreme Court wasn’t tilted toward business interests this Term. Yes, we all know how Homer City turned out, but maybe it’s worth evaluating this based on how important the cases were. Is Petrella really equivalent to Noel Canning? [Mayer Brown]

* Not one, but two former Utah Attorneys General charged with corruption. [Deseret News]

* The CFPB brought suit against a debt collection lawsuit mill. A working CFPB. One more great thing we used to get from recess appointments. Thanks Breyer. [CFPB]

* Oh no. A law school tuition Kickstarter. [Kickstarter]

* New York tried to help homeowners facing foreclosure. Unfortunately, the law didn’t create a remedy if the banks refused to follow the law. Well, it was our fault for thinking Albany could do something right. [WiseLaw NY]

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit released the latest opinion in UT v. Fisher, the ongoing battle over the role of race-based preferences in the University of Texas at Austin’s undergraduate admissions policy. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Circuit had failed to apply the proper strict scrutiny standard to its earlier review of UT’s admissions scheme. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court “must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” He cautioned that, if a non-race-discriminatory approach could bring about UT’s stated goal of a “critical mass” of campus diversity, “then the university may not consider race.” The Court remanded the case back to the Fifth Circuit. This week, two of the three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel concluded that the use of race was, indeed, necessary.

Judge Emilio Garza’s dissent (beginning on page 44) criticizes the majority opinion for deferring impermissibly to UT’s claims, despite the Supreme Court’s instruction. He writes, “Although the University has articulated its diversity goal as a ‘critical mass,’ surprisingly, it has failed to define this term in any objective manner.” He later writes, “The majority entirely overlooks the University’s failure to define its ‘critical mass’ objective for the purposes of assessing narrow tailoring. This is the crux of this case — absent a meaningful explanation of its desired ends, the University cannot prove narrow tailoring under its strict scrutiny burden.”

How much diversity is a critical mass of diversity? Is this a unit of measure like a team of oxen or a murder of crows? How can a court possibly determine whether a given policy is necessary to achieve critical mass if we don’t know what that is? UT isn’t exactly the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, but a little bit more precision would be helpful.

The concept of critical mass is problematic for many reasons. Its vagueness provides a poor measure for reviewing courts. It packs in several dubious assumptions about the meaning of race. Here’s one more reason why “critical mass” is such a critical mess . . . .

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What’s more stressful: working in-house, or working at a law firm? Conventional wisdom might say that law firm life is more stressful — but that’s not the case for everyone, as recently explained by one of our in-house columnists, Susan Moon.

So in-house lawyers might be more stressed than many people think. But at least they’re getting paid a pretty penny to put up with all these headaches — mo’ problems, mo’ money?

That’s one conclusion to be drawn from Corporate Counsel’s new rankings of the nation’s best-paid general counsel. Conventional wisdom holds that in-house lawyers earn less than their Biglaw counterparts — but top in-house lawyers, the GCs of the nation’s largest companies, earn sums that meet or even exceed Biglaw partner pay….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Michael Allen is Managing Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

As long as it has been around, the Am Law 200 list has been seen as what separates the best from the rest. It seems simple, transparent, and concise with each firm ranked in ascending order. However, many misconstrue Am Law ranks to mean overall value and assume that the firms at the top of the list are indubitably the best.

Some partners with books of business larger than War & Peace assume that the biggest firm will be the one with the best platform and financial flexibility to absorb their practice. In reality, many firms towards the middle of the Am Law 200 can better accommodate these lawyers (although many just as likely cannot).

When looking at the compensation average for partners, the gross profits of a firm are a relatively poor predictor compared to the other available metrics. Among the best indicators of firm health and the compensation is the profitability index…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of the ATL Tech Interrogatories. This recurring feature will give notable tech leaders an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal technology industry.

Drew Lewis serves as eDiscovery Counsel at Recommind. His unique experiences at Recommind coupled with prior experience as a commercial litigator handling all aspects of pretrial and trial practice allows Drew to bring practical solutions to lawyers who are struggling to understand the current and future role of technology in the practice and business of law. Drew continuously fights against inefficiencies in the law and encourages lawyers to shape their own future. Drew believes that the future of the law belongs to lawyers who broaden their world view and see there is much to learn from other disciplines. His goal is to help them not just survive, but thrive as the practice continues to evolve.

1. What is the greatest technological challenge to the legal industry over the next 5 years?

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Where’s my money?

For the most part, law firms realize it’s not a debatable question so most law firms pay.

– Attorney Mitchell Schley, who represents Jason Barros, a paralegal at the New Jersey firm of Pasricha & Patel. Barros and four other paralegals there are suing the firm for its alleged failure to pay time-and-a-half for overtime work.

Danica McKellar

If you watched The Wonder Years when you were younger, Winnie Cooper was probably one of your first crushes. If you’re too young to remember that much about this television show, think of Topanga Lawrence from Boy Meets World. If you’re too young to remember that television show, then we’re dating ourselves, but sorry, but we can’t help you. Google it!

It seems that Danica McKellar, the actress who played Winnie Cooper many moons ago, is still a heartbreaker. Yesterday afternoon, she announced to the world that she was engaged to a very handsome Biglaw partner.

Who is he? Let’s find out…

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These days, when someone announces that they’re going to law school, there’s a cacophony of groans from law school graduates pleading, nay, begging that the prospective law student do something else with their lives. “There aren’t any jobs!” they shout. “You’ll be drowning in debt!” they scream. Some people listen and don’t enroll, but others forge ahead to become future members of the exponentially growing army of law school naysayers.

But what if we told you that there’s some evidence that the jobs are coming back? What if we told you that there are some law schools that have seen more than 20 percent improvement in their employment rates?

If you think we’re crazy, keep reading, because we’ve got some hard data for you…

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No one has getting indicted on their bucket list. No one sends word of their indictment to their alumni magazine.

That said, if you’re going to get indicted, it’s a whole lot better to be charged in state court in New York than in federal court anywhere else in the country, in at least one way.

The criminal case about the implosion of Dewey & LeBoeuf shows why. Last week, the folks charged in the Dewey meltdown filed a number of motions to dismiss the indictment. Everyone but Zachary Warren filed an omnibus motion to dismiss. Steve DiCarmine filed his own motion that was so, well, something that it contained Above the Law’s quote of the day. Zachary Warren filed a separate motion. There’s some great stuff in all of the pleadings about the government’s case.

What’s perhaps less obvious to those of us who do white-collar criminal defense but don’t normally practice in state court in New York is that, according to the law as set out in these papers, New York state is a magical Shangri-la of due process compared to federal court.

How?

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