Pro Se Litigants

Muscle Milk: drink this and you’ll write awesome pro se briefs.

I’m about to share with you an awesome pro se court filing from a law student who drinks Muscle Milk — enough of the stuff to belong to a class action of Muscle Milk consumers. Please try to envision what this submission might look like.

In terms of the student, I’m imagining a real meathead. He belonged to a frat in college. He’s not a great law student, but his family has connections that will help him land a job post-graduation. His bookshelf looks like this.

As for his pro se filing, it’s probably a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury (and Bluebooking errors). The UVA Libel Show would call it a Muscle-Milk-induced “roid rage of shame.”

But no, it’s not; it’s so much better than that. It’s actually a work of genius….

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Dude, I thought a graduate of Duke University would have more to offer… maybe you should ask for a refund.

Chance Addison, the owner of Addison E-Cigarette LLC, in an email sent to William M. Bryner of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Bryner is representing a subsidiary of Reynolds American in a product marketing suit against Addison.

Addison’s communications with Bryner “have become increasingly profane, menacing and harassing, and include veiled threats to court personnel,” and a temporary no-contact order was issued after Addison randomly showed up at the firm’s office, unannounced and uninvited.

(Want to see more of Chance Addison’s entertaining emails? We’ve got ‘em.)

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As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.

Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.

After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.

Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.

Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?

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Ed. note: Merry Christmas! We will resume our normal publication schedule on Boxing Day. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we thank you for your readership.

* Adoption, probate, and Elf. You know what child welfare really needs to look into is leaving kids to be raised in a sweatshop; that seems like a much bigger problem than an intestate parent. [The Legal Geeks]

* Were you looking for analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision in Kansas v. Cheever, but don’t have time to commit to a full article? Here it is in Haiku. [Supreme Court Haiku]

* Man declared a “quarrelsome litigant.” What’s the threshold for that moniker? Well, he filed a case against the Dominican Republic for “bad weather.” [Lowering the Bar]

* The Top 5 arrests of guys dressed as Santa. [Legally Weird]

* Professor Barry Sullivan of Loyola-Chicago explains how A Christmas Carol shaped his legal philosophy. And yet, if one were to pick one Dickens book to prepare a young lawyer for the profession, a better bet would be Bleak House (affiliate link). [TaxProf Blog]

* Happy anniversary to the Curt Flood case! [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

John Farren and Mary Farren

Lawyers John Michael Farren and Mary Margaret Farren were once a storybook couple. If Above the Law had been around in the nineties, they might have made the pages of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. Mary Farren practiced energy law at the high-powered firm of Skadden Arps, where she attained the rank of counsel, and John Farren’s résumé was even more impressive: he served as general counsel to Xerox, a Fortune 500 company, before going on to serve as deputy White House counsel under President George W. Bush.

Their success transcended their impressive job titles. She earned $500,000 a year at Skadden; he made millions as GC of Xerox. They had ample material wealth — $3 million in cash here, a $4.6 million mansion there — and two lovely daughters.

And then things went wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong….

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Nose candy for pimps.

* An NSA review panel thinks the Chief Justice of the United States shouldn’t be the only one appointing judges to the FISA Court. We imagine John Roberts is pulling a Stuart Smalley. Don’t worry, you’re good enough. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Sadly, Amy Schulman, one of America’s most influential lawyers and best-paid general counsel, is out at Pfizer. After leading the charge against outside counsel’s hourly billing, we doubt she’ll head back to DLA Piper. [Corporate Counsel]

* Scott Bloch, former head of the Office of Special Counsel in the GWB administration, allegedly hated gay staffers so much he shipped them to Detroit. That settles it: he really hated them. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a bill that would ban all private employers — except the government — from running credit checks on new hires. Let’s go rack up some credit card debt! [National Law Journal]

* Law schools are facing enrollment problems, but Boalt Hall and Santa Clara Law saw the size of their entering classes rise. Flooding the entry-level job market continues to be celebrated. [The Recorder]

* “Yes — I do share nose candy with these girls. For free. For my personal use, OK?” Pro se litigants say the darndest things. Good thing this guy got an attorney before things got worse. [Albany Times Union]

Today we have a story of a contract attorney who made good — well, a contract attorney who got a permanent position. That position was called “staff attorney” and he still had to review documents, but now with health insurance.

But what happens when that staff attorney feels like he is on the losing end of favoritism, finds himself passed over for promotions, and eventually gets fired? You get employment litigation.

Which firm finds itself defending against a document-reviewer-cum-staff attorney’s claims of age discrimination?

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If you’ve ever wondered what a difference your $150K+ legal education makes, watch a pro se litigant. If you’ve ever wondered what a difference your $150K+ legal education and a clean bill of mental health makes, watch this pro se litigant.

Pro se litigants are often entertaining with their hare-brained theories about law and fervent yet unwarranted conviction that everyone is out to get them. Ironically, pro se litigants tend to hate the judge most of all, even though the most frustrating part of litigating against a wingnut is the way judges bend over backward to help out — prolonging the inevitable while slowly bleeding your patience and your client’s wallet. But it’s rare to have video of one launching into a full tirade against a judge before storming out of the courtroom.

So what’s this guy’s deal?

(Be careful — on some computers the video just starts automatically so be prepared)

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When people in the legal profession screw up in major ways, we are there to chronicle the action, providing entertainment and education (in terms of what not to do). For example, sometimes lawyers volunteer to enlarge the size of opposing counsel’s a-holes — and get canned. Sometimes lawyers bill for 29 hours in a day and get taken to task. Sometimes lawyers blush when they accidentally request a trial “on all the c**ts”.

These things do happen, but they’re usually one-time occurrences that would otherwise be missed by the members of the legal community, if not for our coverage here at Above the Law.

On the other side of the coin, when you screw up so many times that a federal judge feels the need to publicly excoriate you with the ultimate insult — by comparing your work to that of a pro se litigant — maybe it’s time to hang your head in shame for the rest of your days…

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Remember Ecce Homo?

* Apple gave the iPhone 5 fingerprint database to the NSA. This would be a gross invasion of privacy but Tim Cook masterminded this, so the NSA got the Ecce Homo of fingerprint image captures. [Hackers News Bulletin]

* Charlie Sheen got dismissed from jury duty after only one day. #winning [TMZ]

* Gordon from Sesame Street lost his palimony case. That’s because he was trying to duck out on the woman who mothered his “1… 2… 3… 4 kids! [thunderclap] Ah… ah… ah!” [Jezebel]

* Remember the early days of Twitter? Legal Cheek went back and found some of the earliest Tweets from British legal luminaries. It’s just funnier when you imagine an English accent saying, “I appear to be on Twitter… why, I have no idea.” [Legal Cheek]

* If you saw last week’s post on crazy people who claim that no court can try them because of maritime law, check out this epic opinion from Canada. Identifying those folks, like the maritime gang from last week, as Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (“OPCA”) litigants, the opinion is 180 pages seeking “to uncover, expose, collate, and publish the tactics employed by the OPCA community.” [Alberta Courts]

* Police crack down on a motorized bar stool. That’s fair, because if there’s one motor vehicle that you’re likely to fall off… [Lowering the Bar]

* Professor Ilya Somin is touring the country and coming to a law school near you promoting his new book Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (affiliate link). Small government does usually smart, as in “cause a sharp, stinging pain.” [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* An HLS grad working for the World Bank was rescued from the Kenyan mall hostage crisis. We wish her the best. [Daily Mail]

* Senator Elizabeth Warren and Professor Lawrence Lessig are going to be speaking at an event called “The Founders v. The Roberts Court: Corruption, Campaign Finance, and McCutcheon v. FEC” tomorrow at noon Eastern. The event will be livestreamed at the link. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Craigslist is suing Craigstruck, a company that specializes in delivering items ordered off of Craigslist. It’s how all those $5/hour attorneys get from place to place. Anyway, the owner of Craigstruck proposed to settle the legal dispute via football wager with Craigslist. If only all disputes could be settled this way. Video wager after the jump…

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