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I talk a lot about what legal education doesn’t prepare you for. You know what it does prepare you for? Any future interaction with police officers. By the time I finished 1L year, I knew the golden rule for dealing with officers of the law: keep your mouth shut. Knowing the law and knowing your rights helps. But whenever you deal with a cop, you should say as little as possible.

Look, as a black man that lesson probably increases my life expectancy. But every person with legal training can benefit from simplicity of silence when cops are around. If I was the victim of a home break-in and called the cops myself, I wouldn’t say anything to them when they showed up. I’d just kind of point at things and shake my head.

You don’t even have to be a practicing lawyer to reap the benefit of these skills. On his blog, Concurrent Sentences (gavel bang: Volokh Conspiracy), a Michigan area law student explains how he masterfully handled a recent traffic stop. It’s a skill all lawyers should have…

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Around this time last year, we ran a story about a person at Wake Forest going ballistic at the school’s Career Services Office.

There must be something about springtime weather that brings out the crazies at Wake. A tipster reports that this year a student once again has lost his mind because of the challenging job market:

[J]ust wanted to let you guys know that another lame student at Wake Forest Law has had a meltdown because he/she could not find a job. Earlier today, this student sent out a school-wide email that threatens career services and slams the dean, the library, those in charge of LLM program, etc. Unlike last year, this year’s message was sent under an anonymous gmail account instead of an actual student account…

This latest email is both funny and pathetic — the author threatens to release information about career services’ coffee breaks unless the career services department resigns. Apparently these breaks have been observed by a group of secret agent students over the course of the year. Why does this always happen at this school? This kid should seriously concentrate on studying for finals.

Honestly, how many times do we need to tell law students that threatening people will get you nowhere? Every lawyer knows that you can threaten laypeople with impunity. But lawyers and legal professionals don’t take well to bullying because they know the law.

In any event, let’s take a look at the student’s ravings and the fairly measured response from the Wake Forest Dean…

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That’s the question posed by Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, in an extremely interesting post on the Opinionator blog. In attempting to address “why other countries [don't] suffer from the same toxic confirmation battles that we do,” she first notes that other nations don’t give their judges life tenure:

High-court judges [in other countries] typically serve for a single nonrenewable term of 9 to 12 years — a period during which Supreme Court justices in the United States are just getting warmed up. These shorter terms ensure frequent turnover and allay fears about a party in power being able to lock up the court for decades through the fortuity of a large number of vacancies; each vacancy naturally carries less weight.

But we’re guessing that Greenhouse, whose politics tend to fall on the left side of the aisle, actually likes having life-tenured judges who are completely unaccountable insulated from the political process. So she tosses out another idea….

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Last June, we reported that Howrey decided to make a big change to the law firm business model. The firm cut first year starting salaries to $100,000. In exchange, the first year program would involve a heavy emphasis on training. Associate billables would be capped at 700 hours and Howrey reduced the rates charged to clients for first year work. The low-salary/training emphasis carried on into the second year.

As we mentioned this morning, the Washington Post took a closer look at Howrey’s new program.

How is it going? Well, it seems great, unless you like money…

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* Law enforcement is getting involved in Apple v. Gizmodo and the leak of the supersecret iPhone. The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office will determine whether there’s enough evidence to pursue criminal charges. [CNet]

* Minnesota lawyer Jeff Anderson has found an interesting niche: lawsuits against the Catholic Church on behalf of abuse victims. [CNN]

* Former SEC lawyer gets eight years in prison for pushing penny stocks. [Reuters]

* Arizona state law criminalizing the act of being an immigrant roils the state and the nation. [New York Times]

* Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm jumps on the don’t-nominate-a-judge-for-SCOTUS bandwagon. [Washington Post]

* Does Obama still care about “empathy”? [New York Times]

* Taking another look at Howrey’s apprenticeship program. [Washington Post]

If I say I’m a clean lawyer, I’ll be a hypocrite, that’s all I can say. And if other lawyers say they are clean, they will go to jail, they’ll go to hell.

– Indonesian lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea

Greetings from the great (albeit foggy) city of Chicago. We’ve arrived a little early, so we can enjoy the city in advance of our event on Monday with the fabulous Judge Diane Sykes (7th Cir.).

Our talk, taking place at the University of Chicago Law School, is free and open to the public. For more details, click here.

While walking through Midway Airport last night, we came across an unusual advertisement — for a law school, as it turns out….

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On Wednesday, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first NFL player never charged or convicted of any crime to be suspended  under the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.  According to Commissioner Roger Goodell, the decision to suspend Roethlisberger was the result of  “some bad decisions” that Roethlisberger made in recent weeks, which emerged during the Georgia police’s investigation of him for sexual assault.

Allegations of sexual assault are not to be taken lightly.  However, not all such allegations are true.  See, e.g., the Duke Lacrosse scandal.  And whether Roger Goodell even has the power to suspend a player where no criminal wrongdoing is found is questionable. The issue depends entirely upon how one interprets a few important clauses in the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement

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* A Cal State Northridge professor has some helpful advice for scoring a hooker in Thailand. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Apparently the person who made this “pitch perfect” film is a 1L at U.C. Irvine Law. I guess one has time for such pursuits when attending law school for free. [New York Times]

* Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minnow offers her take on the future of legal education. [Harvard Law School]

* You know how a gaggle of moderately attractive women will invariably have one hideous friend whose function is to make all the other girls feel better about themselves? I think that’s why the other Western states hang out with Utah. [WSJ Law Blog]

* File this under “More Totally Inappropriate Uses for Twitter.” [Bad Lawyer]

* While New York City is busy making cutbacks, let’s hope they don’t cut back on the constitutional right to a defense. [New York County Lawyer's Association]

Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold

Ohio judge Shirley Strickland Saffold got Judge of the Day honors here last month for nasty comments made anonymously on the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s website by someone with the handle “Lawmiss.” After Lawmiss made a comment about the mental state of a relative of a reporter, the reporter decided to find out who the person behind the account was. The AOL email address associated with the account was Judge Saffold’s. The Dealer outed her, running a story about all the things Lawmiss had said about trials Saffold had overseen and about specific attorneys, defendants, and other judges.

Saffold denied making the comments. Instead, Judge’s Saffold’s 23-year-old daughter claimed she was the one snipping about the antics in her mom’s courtroom, saying that she shares the AOL email address with her mother. The Plain Dealer got a hold of the browser history from Saffold’s courtroom computer, though, and discovered that she had accessed certain articles at the same time that Lawmiss made comments on them, which made her denials seem a bit dubious.

One of the attorneys described by Lawmiss as a “buffoon” with an “Amos and Andy mouth” is currently appearing before Judge Saffold, defending Anthony Sowell, an alleged serial killer. He has filed multiple motions that Saffold recuse herself from the case. She both refused to step down and sued the Plain Dealer for $50 million for invasion of her, ahem, daughter’s privacy. Saffold wrote to the court yesterday arguing that she not be removed from the case.

The Ohio Supreme Court was not convinced, though…

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Life outside of lockstep is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. A lockstep system for compensating and promoting associates has its drawbacks, to be sure. But at least it offers the virtues of transparency and predictability.

Earlier this week, we covered the arguably amorphous definition of “merit” at WilmerHale, one of several leading law firms to abandon lockstep. Today we turn our attention to Winston & Strawn, another prominent firm that has moved to a more “merit-based” system of compensation.

Back in February, we described Winston’s compensation scheme not as a box of chocolates — that would be sweet and delicious! — but as a black box. Among associates, nobody really knows what anyone else is making. As stated in the firm memo, “Individual associate salaries will be determined on a case by case basis based on seniority, performance and productivity factors and will be communicated separately to each associate.”

We now have a better sense of what’s going on at Winston, thanks to the recent release of individualized salary info (and some comparing of notes among Winston associates). And not everyone is happy….

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And additional info on stealth layoffs.

While the economy was in freefall, an attorney at the SEC had a crisis of a different kind: his work computer had run out of room for his porn stash.

Thankfully, this was more easily solved than the mystery of Madoff’s returns. The SEC headquarters senior attorney, who spent up to eight hours a day surfing porn sites at work according to a recent SEC inspector general report, is a problem solver. He started downloading his porn directly to CDs and DVDs that he kept stored in boxes in his office. SEC attorneys know how to get the job done!

He was not the only SEC employee obsessing over porn while the economy was being raped. Bess Levin has a whole collection of anecdotes from the Office of the Inspector General report, over at sister site Dealbreaker.

Can you blame them for turning to sites like “,,, and”? They weren’t having much luck nailing economic criminals after all…

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