Pro Bono

We don’t hear often enough about attorneys trying to do good for the world. Sex scandals, violence, and dirty politics are much more common to hear about than attorneys working to advance the public interest.

So it’s particularly unfortunate that we have to write about an Australian defense lawyer at the International Criminal cCourt in the context of her involuntary detainment in Libya, that fun little African country known for its leader’s kooky costumes.

Without further ado, let’s learn more about the detained Australian, Melinda Taylor (and see a photo of the beautiful young attorney)…

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* Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized before a Senate panel for his agency’s prostitution scandal. We bet that you’d be “deeply disappointed” too if your employees were caught stiffing a hooker on her bill. [Miami Herald]

* Day four of jury deliberations in the John Edwards campaign finance trial closed yesterday without a verdict. The former presidential candidate is probably just waiting to pack it in, get this jury declared hung, and call it a day. [CNN]

* “This case is maybe something like a near disaster for Oracle.” A jury ruled unanimously that Google didn’t infringe Oracle’s Java patents in developing its Android software. Maybe they weren’t evil after all. [Bloomberg]

* A record low of 41% of Americans call themselves “pro choice” when it comes to abortions, and only a little more than half think it should be legal under “certain circumstances.” What is this, Roe v. World? [Reuters]

* Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman put together a task force to make recommendations on how to implement New York’s new pro bono prerequisite. Please let them take law school clinic hours. [Corporate Counsel]

* Remember the lawyer who sued his posh fitness club over its failure to provide free breakfast? Not only is his suit now toast, but he also has to fork over some cash to the club’s lawyers. [New York Daily News]

April showers are supposed bring May flowers, but in the law world, April just showered us with a bunch of ridiculous lawyers acting like complete a-holes. One can only hope that May’s crop of nominees for the Lawyer of the Month contest brings us some more worthy competitors.

Drunken hotties? We’ve got ‘em. Nasty note writers? We’ve got those, too.

Let’s check out our nominees for April’s Lawyer of the Month competition….

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... except when it's forced upon us.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman of the New York Court of Appeals announced yesterday that a new bar admission hurdle would be foisted upon would-be lawyers in the state, in the form of a 50-hour pro bono requirement.

Apparently poor people in the Empire State have been having trouble securing legal services, so what better way to assist them than to force similarly situated people to come to their aid? Instead of relying upon existing attorneys to lend a helping hand to those in need, Judge Lippman has chosen to force the task upon those who have no choice but to obey.

Chief Judge Lippman had a good idea, but it’s a bit misplaced. Let’s discuss what the new pro bono requirement means for you, and delve into what others are saying about it….

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Adriana Ferreyr

* Starting next year, if you want to be a lawyer in New York, you’re going to have to work for free. Because nothing says “we care” like indentured servitude. Thank God for law school clinic hours… maybe. [New York Times]

* Mo’ law schools, mo’ problems? That’s what Dean Wu thinks. Here’s a new trend to watch: UC Hastings, like other law schools, will be reducing its incoming class sizes. [USA Today]

* MOAR TRANSPARENCY! Support has been shown for the ABA’s proposed changes to law school disclosure requirements. All the better for those “sophisticated consumers,” eh, Judge Schweitzer? [ABA Journal]

* “Dogs are always happy to see you, no matter how you do on your Evidence exam.” Only real bitches would throw shade. Emory has joined the therapy dog pack for finals. [11 Alive News]

* In trying to dismiss a $50M suit against billionaire George Soros, his lawyer claimed that his ex would have had to suffer an “unconscionable injury.” Dude, she did. She banged an octogenarian. [New York Daily News]

* Ann Richardson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the UDC School of Law, RIP. [Washington Post]

Depending on which state you’re licensed in, you may have to do a certain number of pro bono service hours in order to keep up with your ethical obligations. In general, doing pro bono work is a great way to get that happy feeling deep down inside.

But one lawyer in Georgia may have a different idea about how to achieve that sense of inner nirvana. He’s allegedly more interested in getting serviced pro boner than offering pro bono services.

That being said, let’s meet our Lawyer of the Day, a man who stands accused of trading contraband for peep shows from prisoners at the local jail….

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In late February, bonuses were announced at Jenner & Block. The firm has an individualized bonus system, so there’s no table to pass along.

And it’s harder to assess associate reactions to bonuses in a non-lockstep system. But we’ll give it a shot, and we’ll also share with you some information provided by the firm itself….

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People have really given Mitt Romney hell for saying he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” But really, it’s not just wealthy Republican Mormons who lack compassion for the very poor in this country. Ronald Reagan’s greatest legacy to the Republican Party was that he made it okay for them to categorically disregard the plight of the structurally poor and blame them for their own suffering. And for the most part Democrats have decided that in order to win they must show a similar callousness towards the poor. The poor don’t vote, and so both parties conspire to ignore the impoverished — or worse, talk down to those who were stupid enough to be born to the wrong parents.

At an individual level, nearly all of us are complicit as well. Well, I’ll just speak for me: I do my part to not care about the permanent underclass that lives in the richest society on Earth. I won’t even give money to homeless people on the street unless they sing or dance or perform some sort of talent. One time I gave “James,” a blind man who panhandles on the 4/5/6, line at the same times I head into the office, $20 — not because I wanted to be kind but because I got so sick of his spiel (“I’m legally blind, I get a little bit of disability but that only leaves me $18 a month for food.”). I thought he might leave me alone for the rest of the month.

I don’t think I’m the only one who sometimes wants poor people to just go away….

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David Otunga

If you’re a longtime reader of Above the Law, then you’ll remember Harvard Law School graduate and former Sidley associate, David Otunga. We’ve previously written about Otunga’s adventures in reality television on VH1′s I Love New York, his engagement to singer-actress Jennifer Hudson, and his foray into the wonderful world of “professional” wrestling with World Wrestling Entertainment.

Otunga’s been flexing his muscles in the ring since 2008, but our tipsters were unimpressed, noting, “From Harvard Law School to I Love New York to the WWE. Unfortunately the next stop is probably porn.” Well, sorry to disappoint you, but Otunga hasn’t signed up for his porn industry debut just yet. Instead, he took a momentary break from wrestling to make his return to the courtroom.

Was he able to lay down either of his finishing moves (the Verdict and the Case Closed) to pull out a win?

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Tomorrow, associates at Goodwin Procter will receive individualized news of their bonuses. You may recall that last month, when ATL’s new director of research, Brian Dalton, compiled a list of Biglaw’s ten most generous firms — i.e., the ten firms that pay the best bonuses, when measured against their profits per partner — Goodwin did good, winning fourth place. (The firm fares well in rankings; last month, it made Crain’s list of best places to work in New York.)

Will this year’s bonuses preserve Goodwin’s good standing? Let’s find out. Although the individual amounts are being communicated tomorrow, the firm has outlined its overall approach in a memo….

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