Pro Bono

It’s that time of the year again. No, we’re not talking about the Above the Law holiday party, which happened already. Or the ATL holiday card contest, which is now underway.

It’s time for celebration of a different sort — time to celebrate, and congratulate, the latest class of Skadden Fellows. The winners of these prestigious public interest fellowships were just announced, as they are every December.

As explained in the Skadden Fellowship Foundation’s press release, the 28 new fellows are graduating law students or judicial law clerks who are devoting their careers to public interest work. They’ll be working for organizations located in nine states and the District of Columbia, “focusing on issues ranging from the health and safety of low-wage immigrant workers in California to representing Russian-speaking victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking in New York.”

(Baby Jesus would be proud of what they do. Unless they work for the ACLU and try to ruin his birthday.)

Who are the Skadden fellows for 2012? Which law schools produced the most fellows? And what’s different about this year’s program compared to past years?

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For most of us, the holidays are synonymous with family, fun, and fruitcake. Work, at least for a few days, drops off our radar. However, the down time received during the holidays is the perfect time to break out the old résumé and, in fact, improve it. Whether or not you are looking for a new job, keeping your résumé current will help you avoid headaches in the coming months should you decide to make a move.

Here are three ways the holidays can help update your résumé, provided by the recruiters at Lateral Link….

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Cristina Fierro: not of age.

* Here’s something that’s actually worth crying over instead of your “meh” bonuses. Much like this year’s Cravath scale, Biglaw pro bono hours will likely be stagnant or cut altogether. [Fortune]

* What’s the point of fleeing if you’re just going to let yourself get extradited? Ex-Crowell & Moring counsel, Douglas Arntsen, will return to New York to face grand larceny charges. [New York Law Journal]

* Knock it off: the feds took down 150 sites selling counterfeit goods yesterday, alleging willful copyright infringement. So much for all of those too-good-to-be-true Cyber Monday deals. [Blog of Legal Times]

* It’s pretty much impossible for Gloria Allred to take a client who doesn’t have a vagina. Her latest litigant, 16-year-old Cristina Fierro, is suing Lawrence Taylor for sex trafficking. [New York Post]

* Finally, some Spider-Man drama that we can get behind, unlike that Turn Off the Dark crap. Tobey Maguire has settled his illegal poker lawsuit, and he didn’t even have to go all in. [CNN]

* Sorry, Chick-Fil-A, but no one is going to be confusing your “chikin” trademark with kale. Maybe like 3% of your customers even know what kale is. And that’s being generous. [Huffington Post]

* One of the reasons that members of Congress are so filthy rich is because they’re only technically breaking the law, but Scott Brown wants to try to curb Congressional “insider trading.” [CBS News]

* In other Congressional news, pizza is now considered a vegetable. And fat people the world over rejoiced by stuffing their faces and continuing to clog their arteries. But not me, because goddamn do I hate pizza. [MSNBC]

* MMA fighters sue, saying the ban on fighting in the state of New York is unconstitutional. If beating someone’s face in is an art form, then Anderson Silva is this generation’s Picasso. [New York Daily News]

Find out whose face the Spider should beat next, after the jump….

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When doing research for my columns, I spend a lot of time thinking about how small-firm attorneys can get the right kind of attention. I can easily find examples of getting the wrong kind of attention: Kim Kardashian, Conrad Murray, and that child-bride who married the guy from Lost. Then, I received an email from a young small-firm lawyer practicing in Winston-Salem who provided me with a positive counter-example.

Michael Wells, Jr. practices personal injury law, litigation, and estate planning at Wells Jenkins Lucas & Jenkins PLLC. Wells is the youngest lawyer at this ten attorney firm. One of the other ten is his father, Michael Wells, Sr. Early on in his career, Wells set out to distinguish himself from his highly successful father and he has succeeded. The lessons he learned along the way can provide a useful road map for young attorneys….

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With the departure of Jay Shepherd, I am now (at least temporarily) filling the role of small firm chica (Val) and small firm expert (Jay). Let me tell you, it is exhausting.

So, I am going to do what any smart, small-firm partner would do in this situation, and I am going to delegate. And, by delegate, I mean push the work off on you.

I have a few new features that I would like to unveil (and I swear, it will be better than the new Facebook)…

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A week or two ago, someone asked us why we use Fordham Law as our personal punching bag. We don’t. The school just provides us with great fodder to write about. Yeah, we might joke about graduates of Fordham being homeless, but some law students at the school are actually trying to help the less fortunate. You know, the thing that lawyers are supposed to do?

Take, for example, Michael Zimmerman. He’s a current 3L at Fordham Law who founded a farm-share program called Farm to Fordham. Amazingly, we’re not talking about a Facebook program. Zimmerman did this in real life. For a small fee each semester, students, faculty, and staff were able to purchase a share of fresh produce from a farm in central New York. Nearly 100 pounds of vegetables were donated to a local soup kitchen with every delivery. The program was so successful that even Michael Martin, the dean of Fordham Law, had enrolled as a member.

This sounds like a wonderful program, right? A future lawyer was supporting his community with a laudable service project. That’s probably why Fordham University decided to shut it down….

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* Some thoughts from our colleague Matt Levine on the Justice Department’s opposition to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. [Dealbreaker]

* Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.), king of the benchslap — yes, we already covered his latest handiwork, so no need to email the “kindergarten party” order to us again — has blocked key parts of the Texas sonogram-before-abortion law. [How Appealing]

* Meanwhile, Allen E. Parker Jr., the lawyer on the receiving end of a recent Sam Sparks special in the abortion case, had this to say about His Honor’s saucy order. [Tex Parte Blog]

* Nice work if you can get it: a pair of incoming DLA Piper associates will get paid $145,000 to $160,000 to do pro bono work for a year. [Am Law Daily]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

* Think you’re tough, NYC lawyers? “A D.C. attorney attacked a man with a live power line — downed by Hurricane Irene — during an altercation in which the lawyer used his car as a battering ram against his alleged victim, police said.” [Georgetown DC Patch]

* The ABA and Senator Chuck Grassley continue to be pen pals. Here is law librarian Mark Giangrande’s take on the ABA’s latest response. [Law Librarian Blog]

* Interesting analysis: “How the Media Treated Mexico’s Mass Murder.” [The Awl]

* I agree with Professor Eugene Volokh: “people are constitutionally entitled to speak the truth about others, even with the goal of trying to get them fired.” [Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit]

* I found a special friend on OkCupid, but the site wasn’t as helpful to Alyssa Bereznak, who had an unfortunate experience dating a world champion of Magic: The Gathering. [Gizmodo]

* If you’d like to check out Billable Hours: The Movie, here’s your chance (until September 10). [NexTV]

* And if you prefer live entertainment, tomorrow night check out the September 1 showcase of Comedians-at-Law (bios here; maybe you know some of these guys). [Comedians-at-Law]

[A] rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution [to the justice gap]. This would cause grave harm to clients. Even matters that appear simple, such as uncontested divorces, involve myriad legal rights and responsibilities. If the case is not handled by a professional with appropriate legal training, a person can suffer serious long-term consequences affecting loved ones or financial security.

William T. “Bill” Robinson III, president of the American Bar Association (ABA), in a letter to the editor of the New York Times. Robinson’s letter responds to an NYT staff editorial arguing that “allow[ing] nonlawyers into the mix” could help address the justice gap, i.e., low-income Americans’ need for legal services.

Lawyers like to complain about the billable hours requirements at their firms. A common question seems to be what will count and what won’t. In this line of work, time is money, and many associates want to know if they’re wasting their time.

If the firm makes you go to a professional development event, are you losing out on hours? If you get wrangled into doing pro bono work, are your weekly billables for paid clients going to plummet? And will that ultimately get reflected in your bonus check?

Yesterday, we lamented the fact that we often report on depressing news about the state of the legal profession in this country. Today, we actually have some good news. Jenner & Block realized that their lawyers shouldn’t be toiling away in their dungeons offices and forgoing pro bono opportunities in order to meet their billable hours requirements.

The firm remembered that this profession is supposed to be about helping the less fortunate, and it has adjusted its policies accordingly….

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