Public Interest

With unemployment rates still high for new law school grads, incubator programs sponsored by law schools and bar associations are gaining traction. Not to be confused with the profit-generating incubators common in the business and start-up world, the law school incubator concept, conceived by Fred Rooney at CUNY Law School, subsidizes new law school grads to start their own practices to  provide “low bono” legal services.

In exchange for deeply discounting their fees, grads receive low-cost rent and training from more experienced attorneys. After 12-18 months in the incubator, these now practice-ready lawyers can move on to a position at a non-profit or continue to operate their firms on their own. Since the first law school incubator launched back in 2007, nearly two dozen others have cropped up at law schools and bar associations across the country.

What should we make of this trend?

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* According to the latest Citi report, Biglaw was looking pretty good during the first quarter of 2014. Revenue was up by 4.3 percent — the best first quarter results since 2008. Hooray! [Am Law Daily]

* Nice work if you can get it: Gibson Dunn, the firm hired to handle New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” investigation, billed about $1.1 million for roughly two weeks of work. [NJ.com]

* A “perfect storm” of too many grads and not enough jobs caused the decline in law school enrollment. The solution is obviously online learning instead of lowering tuition. Yep. [New Hampshire Public Radio]

* Spend your summer in a “nontraditional” job setting. This is some great advice to prepare yourself for not being able to get a job at a firm after graduation. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Our congratulations go out to Catherine Wauters of George Mason Law, winner of BARBRI’s inaugural public interest fellowship! (Our very own managing editor, David Lat, served as one of the judges.) [CNBC]

* The latest football franchise to face the wrath of underpaid cheerleaders is the New York Jets. Members of the team’s “Flight Crew” say they make less than minimum wage to shake their pom poms. [Bloomberg]

Aasif Mandvi accepting his Justice in Action Award last night at the AALDEF 40th anniversary celebration.

Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the 40th anniversary celebration of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). Forty years is a remarkable milestone, so everyone was in a celebratory spirit. Here’s my account of the evening, which also honored several leaders within the Asian-American community….

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At last night’s LeGaL dinner: Alex Levy (a 3L at NYU), Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and David Lat. (Photo by Jeff Trachtman.)

Last night, I had the great pleasure of attending the LeGaL Foundation Annual Dinner, which took place at Capitale here in New York. The mood was festive — which wasn’t surprising, given the successes of both LeGaL and the broader LGBT rights movement over the past year.

Here’s my account of the evening, a celebration of the Foundation’s 30th anniversary and an opportunity to honor some pioneers of the gay rights movement….

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Whenever the government gets involved with “helping” students suffering under crushing debt obligations, I wonder if “the government” even partially understands how students think.

There is a new proposal in the budget that would bring significant changes to the student loan forgiveness program. Specifically, the “Public Sector Loan Forgiveness” program. Currently, students with massive amounts of debt can sign up for income-based repayment of their student loans. Their payments are capped at 10% of “discretionary” income. If they work in the public sector or for a designated non-profit, the government forgives the rest of their loans after ten years. For those playing along at home, that means that taxpayers pick up the rest of the bill.

Critics on both sides of the aisle (including me) argue that the current system encourages schools to charge whatever they want for tuition, while discouraging students from making cost-conscious choices about their debt. It’s far from ideal, and this new proposal seeks to do something about it.

But since Congress is involved, the thing they want to do to “fix it” is stupid and will ultimately hurt student borrowers even more….

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My weekend was ruined because I was worried about being arrested.

Michael Courtney, chief public defender in Danbury, Connecticut, having second thoughts about contacting someone in witness protection to be a witness for his client, convicted triple murderer Richard Roszkowski. Courtney requested that he be excused from representing Roszkowski, but a judge denied his pleas.

Keith Lee

As I’m sure many of you heard, the southern part of the United States was blanketed with snow this past week. In particular, Georgia and Alabama (where I live) were hit particularly hard. This being the Deep South, people and municipalities were not prepared for the quantity of snow and ice that came down so quickly. This led to widespread disaster and lots of Walking Dead jokes.

Some people have attempted to explain why 2-3 inches of snow was capable of crippling cities. While many people have scoffed at such explanations, they are true to some extent. But of course, that doesn’t relieve people of responsibility of behaving and driving like morons. As things settle down and return to normal, finger pointing and blaming will likely continue to go on for sometime.

But the most interesting aspect of the “Southern Snowpocalypse” is the reaction of people in the aftermath of the storm….

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Jodi Arias

* Which Supreme Court justices missed out on the State of the Union address last night? Three of the usual suspects (Scalia, Thomas, and Alito), plus Justice Sonia Sotomayor. RBG was there most of the time, except for nap time. [Legal Times]

* You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma O.K.! The Tenth Circuit announced it’s going to fast-track Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage appeal, and it’ll be heard by the same panel of judges presiding over a very similar appeal from Utah. [News OK]

* The American Legal Institute just named Ricky Revesz, the former dean of NYU Law School, as its new director. He’ll be “clarifying, modernizing and improving the law,” just like he kind of / sort of did with NYU’s 3L curriculum, but not really. [National Law Journal]

* Law students, say hello to the Immigrant Justice Corps, a job opportunity brought to you by Chief Justice Robert Katzmann of the Second Circuit. Hey, the pay is pretty decent for public interest. [New York Times]

* The results of the latest Law School Survey of Student Engagement reveal to us 1Ls are morons. Seventy percent of them are thrilled with career services, but only 45% of 3Ls feel the same way. [WSJ Law Blog]

* She’s no George Zimmerman: Jodi Arias has a racked up a legal tab of more than $2 million, but because her artwork isn’t as hot as she is, the bill will be footed by Arizona taxpayers. [Associated Press]

Some of you are working feverishly right now. But most of you are clock-watching until the dictates of face time allow you to get out of the office. With Christmas and New Year’s falling awkwardly on Wednesdays, very little work is getting done next week or the week after. For some lucky lawyers, this is your last day of work for a week or even two.

To help you waste what’s left of the day, especially for those of you not on Eastern Standard Time, here’s a collection of funny tidbits from around the legal world.

Oh, and Professor Brian Leiter decided to rip Above the Law, so we’re going to talk about that…

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The law firm of Skadden Arps might be a follower when it comes to bonuses, but it’s a leader when it comes to public interest. For example, Skadden was one of the first firms to support Philippine typhoon relief efforts. Over the years, Skadden has given generously to address a variety of humanitarian crises around the world. Its public-spirited nature is one of the reasons Skadden enjoys a perfect score for industry reputation in our Career Center.

Skadden’s most famous contribution to the world of public interest law is surely the Skadden Fellowship program, which has been described as “a legal Peace Corps.” It was established in 1988, in honor of Skadden’s 40th anniversary as a law firm, and it supports graduating law students committed to public interest work as they embark upon specific projects at sponsoring organizations.

How many fellowships were awarded this year? Which law schools do the fellows come from?

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