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If you are a connoisseur of social media, you’ve seen thousands of links and updates about the situation in Ferguson. You’ve seen a number of reports about the crisis in Gaza. You’ve been kept abreast about our military operations in Iraq. It’s been a busy August for news.

Of course, you’ve ignored most of those links and instead been on a targeted hunt for Ice Bucket Challenge vines. If you are over 40, let me explain: instead of giving money to support research on Lou Gehrig’s Disease, people are dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Actually, most people are giving $100 to ALS research AND dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Awareness! It’s working, so read this before you judge.

The… whatever this is has made its way to law school campuses thanks the UVA Law School Office of Career Services. As our tipster put it, there is video of UVA Law CSO “getting ice buckets dumped on them by a row of bros.” Does that sound like something you would like to see?

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Relief usually connotes relaxation and release of stress. Not so for a lawyer seeking or challenging a preliminary injunction. Especially when your filing deadline is the day after a holiday you had hoped to spend doing anything, literally anything, other than working….

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Last week’s column discussed the underappreciated role that second chairs play in modern litigation practice. But how best to fill the role, once it is earned?

The easy answer is fanatical preparation. Meaning you will need to prepare for every hearing, no matter how minor, as if you were going to be handling the argument yourself. Or if you are at trial, and supporting another lawyer on the testimony (be it direct or cross) of a witness, preparing as if you were conducting the examination. Apply the “laryngitis test” if you need motivation, as in what would you do if the first chair woke up that morning without a voice? Knowing that you could be thrust into the spotlight on short notice should be motivation enough for thorough preparation.

But you also need to put that preparation to good use. Arguing in open court is difficult, for even the most seasoned advocates. If you are being asked to sit at counsel table, the idea is not for you to admire the wood paneling in the courtroom. The expectation is that you will put your knowledge of the case to work, by anticipating the flow of the argument, and making sure that whoever is arguing has any needed information readily available for immediate use. When your partner is speaking, that means keeping track of whether they will need to refer to a document along the way. Or whether they have forgotten to raise an important point. For that latter reason, working out a non-intrusive note passing system in advance can be worthwhile. The key is not to disturb the flow of the argument, but to enhance its effectiveness. If you have nothing to contribute, you should not be sitting there wasting the client’s money. The need to be “active” does not give license to hijack the hearing or cause distraction, of course. Engaged listening at all times and sparing active participation are the better approach in almost all cases.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond Biglaw: Warming the Chair (Part 2)”

* In this summer’s Biglaw lawsuitpalooza, real estate and conflicts took the lead as headliners. Poor Boies Schiller had double the trouble when it came to ethics complaints. Ouch. [Am Law Daily]

* New Jersey taxpayers owe Gibson Dunn & Crutcher about $6.5 million thanks to Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal. Thanks for the pain in our pocketbooks, chief. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]

* “It’s been a minor inconvenience to us, but of course I don’t like somebody hijacking my name and using it to hurt someone else.” Two Florida law firms are investigating why someone sent out 42 anonymous state bar complaints against one firm using the other firm’s mailing address. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Charleston School of Law is starting a new academic year with even more confusion than it was in last year, considering that its InfiLaw buyout is in a state of flux. Maybe that’s a good thing. [Post and Courier]

* Three ex-Lingerie Football League players have filed class action suits against the club, alleging minimum wage law violations. Come on, pay these half-naked athletes a living wage. [National Law Journal]

Now we’ll unmask this superhero.

Longtime readers of Above the Law will recall the tale of Aquagirl. She’s the former Cleary Gottlieb summer associate who, while in a state of inebriation, stripped down to her underwear at a Chelsea Piers charity benefit and jumped into the Hudson River. This might have been an effort to demonstrate her swimming prowess (she was on the swim team in college), but ultimately she had to be rescued in a boat by either the Coast Guard or the NYPD. Her exploits are now the stuff of legend, the bar by which summer associate misadventures are measured.

In these pages, we’ve referred to Aquagirl simply by her nickname, in keeping with our general policy of anonymizing summer associate stories. But that policy admits of exceptions. We will now unmask Aquagirl because she’s back in the headlines for newsworthy conduct — this time heroic rather than scandalous….

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* 7 tips for surviving the first week of law school. Apparently tip #7 is “proofread numbered lists better.” [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Lost in the controversy over Trinity Western Law School and bigotry is the fact that it may not really be a good law school. [The Province]

* A conservative UChicago Law student explains why The Book of Mormon signals the fall of society. The essay is almost as funny as the show itself. [Red State]

* A crowdsourcing call for help in getting a “vexatious litigant” order against a particularly troublesome individual. If you’re interested in helping out, check this out. [Popehat]

* Not only is NYC routinely sued, but the city releases helpful reports containing “a bevy of settlement data.” [LFC360 / Legal Funding Central]

* Here are the five jobs that can ruin your social life. I wonder if lawyers are on here…. [Yahoo! Education]

On Friday, special prosecutor Michael McCrum secured an indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry, whose 2012 campaign is the first abortion Republicans have celebrated in years, is accused of coercion and abusing his office when he threatened to, and subsequently did, revoke funding for the Public Integrity Unit. That unit is charged with rooting out government corruption, and Perry took away its budget because the district attorney in charge of the unit — a Texas Democrat — was convicted of drunk driving and wouldn’t step down. Perry thought she should leave her post because she had lost the public trust over her conviction and not at all because she had been investigating possible corruption related to Perry’s signature project, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

If you don’t think this is shady and improper, you’re a hyperpartisan for Perry. Entirely obliterating the agency charged with protecting citizens from official corruption because you don’t like the person in charge — for whatever reason — smacks of overreach. Imagine Congress and the President zero-funding the Supreme Court because they wanted one justice to resign. It’s just cockroach hunting with a bazooka.

Still, is it criminal as opposed to just shady? That’s a different question. Law professors weigh in….

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I would like to throw a brick at a cop in Ferguson. Any cop. All the cops. As a black male, I would like to fight back, violently, against the forces that have hunted me all my life, and will hunt my son all his life.

I’m not going to, but that is because history is not on my side. I no longer give a damn about the moral virtues of non-violence, but recorded history tells us that an oppressed minority population cannot succeed through violence. I don’t have a magic staff that can bring locusts and selectively drain or flood rivers, and without such a weapon, being peaceful out there is the only effective and reasonable option. I have just enough education to understand that, and just enough restraint to practice it. I believe in non-violence because it’s the only thing that works.

Thomas Jefferson has a famous quote about slavery. He was talking about the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state (a fact way more relevant to the current situation than Mike Brown’s alleged shoplifting). On the slavery question, Jefferson offered: “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.” Everybody remembers that part, but here’s the next line: “Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Jefferson is talking about justice for the slave, and self-preservation for America.

What America has done since 1820 is to gain self-preservation for itself without granting justice to those it oppressed. It’s been a neat trick. Go ahead, name any “justice” statistic: incarceration rates, conviction rates, homicides, homicides by cop, death penalty rates, drug prosecutions, forced plea bargains, diversity in the police force, diversity on the bench, name ANY JUSTICE STAT YOU CARE ABOUT. You have just named a statistic that illustrates how African-Americans are denied equal justice as compared to white Americans.

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

A great many of our most polarizing political discussions involve deciding what we should be able to sell. Pot legalization, for instance, is oftentimes framed as a debate over whether we should be able to smoke marijuana cigarettes at our leisure. But that debate’s over. It’s been won by the High Times crowd a thousand times over, no matter how many times a kid gets popped on a possession rap. No, the schism involves the sale of weed. The business of it. News articles about Colorado are less interested in doofuses smoking pot and more interested in the brave, new world of pot dispensaries. The business of America is business and all that.

This weekend brought news of a burgeoning overseas market in human organs. And gay eyeballs. If you can’t see the connection, allow me…

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Looking into the crystal ball.

Last week, at Minnesota’s Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small Firms Conference, I shared a panel with Lawyerist’s Sam Glover and an innovational speaker, Matt Homann. The panel focused on the future of solo and small-firm practice over the next ten years. Although we all agreed that the solos and smalls — and, indeed, lawyers in general — will face challenges over the next decade, I still believe that opportunities remain for solos who understand these challenges and figure out ways to overcome them.

So, no great surprise there. But all of us on the panel agreed that technology is changing the face of law practice in a way that may expand access to justice but that may also take work from solos and smalls….

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Everyone knows that making law review is a major accomplishment in law school. When faced with a dismal job market, it’s a résumé line that may get your foot in the door. Being published on law review is an entirely different ball game. You’ll get offers everywhere you apply, and your grandma will be able to tell all of her friends you wrote part of a book. Everyone loves you and the world is good. Hooray!

Making and being published in a law journal outside of your law school’s flagship law review is still pretty cool. It’s still kind of a big deal, but not as big of a deal as this law student would have you think…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Caption Contest: The Height Of Law School Toolishness”

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