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Hello, West Coast readers! How’s it hangin’ out there past the Rockies? Here at Above the Law, we try to overcome any suggestion of East Coast bias by consistently publishing a post later in the day for our readers in the Pacific time zone. And we try to be generally aware of West Coast firms and schools.

We’ve even heard of Stanford Law School. It’s like the Harvard of the West, right? We hear it’s wonderful. It’s not Yale, but hey, neither is the Harvard of the East (a.k.a. Harvard).

Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer wants that to change. He’s already pushed through grade reform, so now Stanford copies Yale’s grading methods. (Berkeley kids, just be quiet. Nobody wants to hear about how everybody copied it from you.)

But apparently grade reform was just step one of Kramer’s grand plan to oust Yale from its position as the nation’s best law school…

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* Lawyer of the Day: Chicago attorney Matthew Campobasso (pictured) catches a foul ball in one hand — while holding his seven-month-old son in the other. [Hammervision]

* Speaking of foul things in Chicago, guess how much Rod Blagojevich spent on clothes over a six-year period. [Chicago News Cooperative]

* A Colorado woman by the name of Jan Schill has set up a website to oppose the bid of her father, John Mantooth, for an Oklahoma judgeship. The website’s catchy title: Do Not Vote for My Dad. []

* Are CEOs obligated to maximize shareholder value? Professor Todd Henderson explains why this is a myth. [Truth on the Market]

* Kissing Cozens? Cozen O’Connor embraces Sher & Blackwell of D.C. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* If you’re interested in possibly working in Korea or Singapore, here is some info you need to know. [Asia Chronicles (sponsored content)]

Court clerks in Virginia may be shaking their fists at the Fourth Circuit today. In an interesting ruling on free speech, privacy, and public records, the court ruled that an angry blogger has the right to publish public officials’ and court clerks’ Social Security numbers in order to protest the fact that Virginia puts records online that publish citizens’ social security numbers. We skimmed the opinion, but didn’t see a citation to Hammurabi.

B.J. Ostergren has been writing since 2003 to bring attention to the fact that state governments play fast and loose with people’s Social Security numbers when putting land records online. Her advocacy got many of them to actually start attempting to redact SSNs from the documents before putting them online, but the system was still imperfect.

She started posting land records containing unredacted SSNs, which led the state to pass a law in 2008 to make what she was doing illegal. She sued and the courts supports her, though the Fourth Circuit eliminated some conditions imposed by the district court…

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When you apply for a job, your potential employer gets to check you out — running background checks and credit checks, calling up past employers, asking for your measurements and a demonstration of your sexual prowess… What? Is that not normal?

But what do you find out about your potential boss? You get a sense of their style and their curiosity during the interview. (Do they talk about themselves? Or ask you questions? Or just kind of stare at you malevolently?) You can tentatively reach out to your future co-workers and delicately ask whether said boss has any psychoses. You can Google them, of course, and try to stalk their Facebook pages (though most people are savvy enough these days to turn up those privacy settings). Or you can check them out on eBossWatch, a site that’s been around since 2007 that allows employees to anonymously review their bosses.

We’re not sure how useful it is for lawyers, though. We searched for some Biglaw firms in there, but struck gold for only a few.

But perhaps there will be more soon. The site recently instituted a “National Sexual Harassment Registry” (kind of like the Sex Offender Registry, but with more executives and less violence). But the Connecticut Employment Law Blog calls foul…

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If you’re a new grad or a laid-off attorney, you have my prayers and condolences.

– Joe Ankus, a legal recruiter quoted in the Miami Herald. (Ankus helpfully adds that “if you’ve got a book of business of over $1 million, there is a fever pitch to hire you.”)

We’re taking a break from our march through the Vault prestige rankings to look at another way of pitting law firms against each other: practice group strength.

It’s an approach that’s favored by groups such as Chambers and Partners. Instead of focusing on overall firm prestige, these rankings focus on which firms are great at their chosen specialties.

Of course, there’s a limitation to ranking firms this way. It’s more helpful for lateral hires and clients than to law students or young lawyers choosing between firms (who are often the consumers of Vault guides). Sure, young 2L, you might want to go to the top capital markets law firm in all the land — if you knew what capital markets practice entailed. Which you don’t. Specialization usually comes after you’ve been working for a couple of years, not before you even graduate from law school.

With that disclaimer, it’s still pretty interesting to see which well-known firms rose to the top in some interesting practice groups…

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J. Michael ("Mike") LuttigIn May 2006, then-Judge J. Michael Luttig made major news in the legal world by resigning from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to become senior vice president and general counsel of aerospace giant Boeing. Luttig served as a Fourth Circuit judge for almost 15 years, during which time he reigned as the #1 feeder judge, sending almost all of his clerks into Supreme Court clerkships, and came extremely close to becoming a justice himself.

Luttig’s resignation from his life-tenured Fourth Circuit judgeship came as a shock to many (and was viewed by some as “taking his toys and going home,” after he got passed over for the SCOTUS seats that ultimately went to John Roberts and Samuel Alito). But Luttig, who’s only 56 — he was appointed to the Fourth Circuit at the tender age of 37 — seems to be enjoying the new challenges of serving as GC of a large public company.

During his four years at Boeing, Luttig has given its in-house ranks a major makeover. He has brought in some top talent, including at least four Supreme Court clerks: John Demers (OT 2005/Scalia), Grant Dixton (OT 2000/Kennedy), Brett Gerry (OT 2000/Kennedy), and Jake Phillips (OT 2004/Scalia). Is there any in-house legal department with more former Supreme Court clerks than Boeing? Don’t forget to count Luttig himself, who clerked for Chief Justice Burger (OT 1983), after clerking for then-Judge Scalia on the D.C. Circuit.

UPDATE: Boeing boasts at least eight (8) SCOTUS clerks. Here are three who were inadvertently omitted from the original version of this post: Bertrand-Marc Allen (OT 2003/Kennedy), Lynda Guild Simpson (OT 1984/Powell), and Eric Wolff (OT 2000/Scalia).

And Luttig has given his net worth a makeover, too. At the time of his May 2006 resignation, federal circuit judges earned $175,100 a year. As executive vice president and general counsel of Boeing — the country’s largest aerospace and defense company, #28 on the Fortune 500 — he makes millions.

Luttig no longer has to worry about covering college expenses for his two kids (which he cited in his resignation letter as a reason for leaving the bench). And this past May, he and his wife, Elizabeth Luttig, bought a fabulous second home in beautiful Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

How much did Mike Luttig pay for his new place? And how does the price tag compare to his in-house compensation at Boeing?

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It’s about time a group of summer associates grew a backbone and showed some personality. At Akin Gump, a group of summers decided to “ice” some of the full-time associates at the firm.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, BrosIcingBros is was a website devoted to friends forcing friends to chug a gawd-awful Smirnoff Ice. It’s a pretty simple concept: if someone presents you with a Smirnoff Ice, you have to drink it — unless you happen to be carrying your own Smirnoff Ice, to pull off an Icing Deflection. In my humble opinion, there are few things worse than being forced to drink a Smirnoff Ice, and it is because of the horrible penalty that this phenomenon caught on and went viral.

Sadly, the site that started it all,, has been stopped. Apparently the people at Smirnoff don’t understand that there is no other reasonable use for their product. From AdAge:

“[Smirnoff Ice parent] Diageo has taken measures to stop this misuse of its Smirnoff Ice brand and marks, and to make it clear that ‘icing’ does not comply with our marketing code, and was not created or promoted by Diageo, Smirnoff Ice, or anyone associated with Diageo,” the company said in a statement.

Whatever. Icing will live on as the most appropriate use for your product no matter how many websites you try to kill.

Luckily, Smirnoff can’t stop the Akin Gump summer class…

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The courtroom lends itself to dramatization. A trial has a natural story arc: The adversarial system makes for a clear conflict between characters. There’s a natural end point when both sides rest their cases and the verdict comes down. Plus, lawyers are such loveable characters.

And so there are many great movies and TV shows about lawyers. (Along with some not so great ones.) They can amuse, inspire, terrify, or convince you to go to law school.

The ABA Journal has made a list of the 25 greatest fictional lawyers of all time:

In our survey of this literature of lawyers, however, we feel obliged to recognize a great divide—ante-Atticus and post-Atticus.

From Dick the Butcher’s famous pronouncement to Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2 — “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” — through Dickens’ Mr. Tulkinghorn and Galsworthy’s Soames Forsyte, literature (with a few exceptions) treated lawyers poorly.

That all changed with Harper Lee’s unflappable, unforgettable Atticus Finch. With Atticus, the lawyer — once the criminal mouthpiece, the country club charlatan, the ambulance-chasing buffoon — was now an instrument of truth, an advocate of justice, the epitome of reason.

Since Finch is a literary lawyer on steroids, they have cut him from the competition. The list is the 25 greatest who are not Atticus Finch. Did your favorite make the list?

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Is the American Bar Association going to deal with the unmitigated proliferation of law schools? No. Will the ABA deal with overflow of lawyers entering the profession at a time when few well-paying legal jobs seem to be available? No. Will the organization seriously address the rising cost of legal education? Not really.

Instead, the ABA committee on law school accreditation wants to take a look at tenure. The National Law Journal reports:

Should the American Bar Association require law schools to maintain a tenure system?

The committee reviewing the ABA’s accreditation standards doesn’t think so. It has floated a proposal that would eliminate the term “tenure” from the ABA standards covering job security and academic freedom. The committee also wants to kill a requirement that law schools provide clinical faculty members with job protections similar to those enjoyed by full-time professors.

Excuse me, I’m gonna need to throw my coffee cup at something…

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* The Tennessee Titans sue USC and football coach Lane Kiffin over offensive move. [CBS News]

* Congrats to non-AT&T subscribers. The Library of Congress has issued a “Get Out of Jail” card for the iPhone. You may now pass Go and pay $200 at your local Apple store. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Blago’s defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. may spend some time in prison with his client. [Associated Press]

* Arizona immigration law set to go into effect on Thursday. Jan Brewer wants to see the federal lawsuit thrown out (along with any illegal immigrants in her state). [KVOA]

* McDonald won his Supreme Court case; now he wants his gun permit. [Chicago Tribune]

* Law professors give this ABA proposal on tenure a failing grade. [USA Today]

* Goldman Sachs is feeling secure. [Dealbook/New York Times]

Bar exam: fingers crossed!

The bar exam begins tomorrow for many of you (e.g., those of you in Above the Law’s home jurisdiction of New York). To those of you sitting for the test tomorrow, we wish you the best of luck. To quote the Facebook status update of a lawyer who has been through the ordeal (and survived):

Good luck, bar takers!! If you get nervous, remember that the bar exam is nothing compared to the crippling debt you will be saddled with for the next 20 years and the meager job prospects you will face!

Cheery, right? Many of you still need to find jobs. But first things first; take one day at a time.

We’d reassure you and say, “Don’t worry, you’re not going to fail.” And, statistically, this is true for many of you — e.g., July first-time bar takers in New York.

But we won’t say that, because we know how some bar exam candidates hate it when people tell them they’re going to pass….

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