Tomorrow is the first day for clerkship interviews under the official Law Clerk Hiring Plan (which some judges follow, and some judges don’t). So it’s fitting and proper that our next interview anecdote relates to a clerkship interview with a federal judge:
I clerked for a federal court of appeals judge. The judge’s chambers were located in a converted local post office in a suburb, so the judge permitted us to dress casually. (Very casually, including the judge — sweatshirts and tee shirts were not out of the question, especially given the antiquated HVAC system). This was usually a big selling point among clerkship applicants, who of course arrived for their interviews dressed in business suits.
One day, after a nicely dressed, well-credentialed law student came through on an interview, the judge came out of her office with a rather amused look on her face. She recounted that, sitting in her office during the private interview, the applicant asked about the dress code. She gave her usual spiel that casual dress was fine, joking about the poor ventilation.
The student then asked her earnestly if it would be ok if he wore a suit to work if he were hired. Puzzled, she said sure, but asked why. He said, with a straight face, that he thought it was “more professional.”
In September 2002, Martha Louise Piggee, who was then a part-time instructor of cosmetology at Carl Sandburg College, gave a gay student two religious pamphlets on the sinfulness of homosexuality. The student was offended and complained to college officials. After the college looked into the matter, it found that Piggee had sexually harassed the student. It admonished her in a letter to cease such behavior, and the following semester it chose not to retain her.
Thereafter, Piggee filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the college, the members of its board of trustees, and various college administrators (including one person who directed the mortuary science program, whose offense was to clean out Piggee’s refrigerator and throw away her noodles at some point during the spring of 2003) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Question Presented: Can throwing away someone’s old noodles constitute a civil rights violation? Answer: No, unless they’re cold sesame noodles. Those things are like crack!
It’s also worth noting that Ms. Piggee — no, we won’t make the Muppets joke — is an instructor in COSMETOLOGY. If she has something against gay people, she sure picked the wrong field.
More excerpts from this delightful opinion, after the jump.
In response to our repeatedrequests for summer associate stories, a few have started trickling in. But we need more. So please email them to us, at tips AT abovethelaw DOT com.
We’ll kick things off with this tale of a summer associate at an intellectual property firm. It’s amusing, but not scandalous. (We’re saving the more scandalous ones for later.)
One summer associate in this year’s was particularly socially inept — he’d always complain about the food (because nothing met his preferences), had no problem asking senior partners about bonuses, payscales, and the like during his first week, and brought his girlfriend (who worked for a competing IP firm) to every firm event that she could make.
About three weeks into the summer, this summer associate forgot which of the partners had given him an assignment… so he emailed ALL the partners, asking which of them gave him the assignment. Brilliant.
Okay, we went to law school.* And then we practiced for several years. But we must confess that this lawsuit left us puzzled:
The owner of Kitson, the Robertson Boulevard clothing store favored by young celebs such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Denise Richards, says [in a lawsuit] that Us Weekly magazine is intentionally omitting any mention of the store in its issues because of a nasty legal feud.
Kitson founder Fraser Ross claims the magazine reneged on a settlement in which it agreed not to disrupt the business or disparage the reputation of the store.
The lawsuit [against US Weekly] alleges the magazine now refuses to name or show the Kitson brand in credits, captions or celebrity photographs. As an example, the suit cited the magazine’s cropping of a picture in such a way that its blue shopping bags, “generally known to readers, did not display the name Kitson on it.”
And you thought the American legal system was out of control:
Passengers on a flight from France to Mauritius have filed suit against Air France after musician Bonnie Tyler performed a song at the request of the co-pilot.
The passengers, believed to be Belgian, complained to the airline after the Welsh singer performed part of her 1983 hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at the request of the co-pilot, who retired after the flight, The Mail on Sunday reported.
Oh, those wacky Belgians! How were they harmed by the performance?
The complaining passengers reportedly claimed they were traumatized by the experience and had feared for their safety during the celebration.
Okay, kids, it’s official. We’ve reached Labor Day weekend, and summer is pretty much over. Officially summer doesn’t end until next month (September 23, to be exact). But at law firms, the summer fun is done.
Summer associates are heading back to law school (if they’re not back already). For permanent associates, who got to tag along on lavish meals with the summers, the conventional wisdom is back in force: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
To commemorate the change of the season in the world of Biglaw, we’d like to bring you stories of some of the most stupid, funny, or embarrassing things that summer associates did while at your law firm this summer. As usual, we need your help. Please send us such tales by email, to tips(AT)abovethelaw.com (subject line: “Summer Associate Stories”).
Please send us stories from this summer. We know all about the summer associate stories from years past, the ones that have become the stuff of legend. Like the Sullivan & Cromwell summer who got rip-roaringly drunk and started hitting on the hiring partner’s wife, before puking his guts out all over the restaurant. Or the summer who, without authorization, blew his firm’s cash on round-trip business class travel to London (and a pair of snazzy sunglasses). Or the summer caught having sex with his girlfriend late at night in the ladies’ bathroom. (That guy probably got an offer — the partners love it if you can satisfy all your needs without leaving the building.)
So send us your craziest summer associate stories. We’ll read through your submissions, pick out the best ones, and share them in these pages. If we get enough good ones, maybe we’ll even have a contest in which you can vote on your favorites.
It’s the Friday afternoon before Labor Day weekend. What the heck are we still doing here?
Earlier this month, we gave Nevada attorney William Caramagno a Lawyer of the Day award. What did he do to merit this honor? He showed up to court late — and, even better, drunk — to defend a client facing a kidnapping charge. A charge with a potential life sentence.
How was the lawyer’s drunkenness detected? By a breathalyzer test, ordered by the judge, and administered in open court. Caramagno tried to get out of it, protesting that there was “no probable cause for me to blow.” But Judge Michelle Leavitt stood her ground, ordering him to “just go ahead and blow.”
Which he did. The result? A blood alcohol level of 0.075 — just shy of the legal limit for driving while intoxicated (0.080).
When we wrote about this incident previously, we had only read news accounts of it. But now we have audiovisual evidence of the encounter. Judge Leavitt sounds a lot like a high school guidance counselor, her voice full of concern mixed with toughness. Just listen to the way she says this line (at around 3:45 in the video): “You gotta blow good… You gotta blow good, I’m confident you know that…”
Here’s the video. Check it out for yourself:
Thank God for the rule of law. It’s great that we have courts and judges to resolve disputes like this one:
How many meows does it take to make a misdemeanor? Jeannette District Judge Joseph R. DeMarchis will make that determination in 90 days.
He heard testimony Tuesday in the case of a city teenager who allegedly said “meow” repeatedly to a neighbor. Michael Loughner, 14, of 108 Harrison Ave., was charged with harassment by Jeannette police after a July 23 incident.
And what was the alleged harassment?
Alexandria Carasia, 78, of 106 Harrison Ave., said that was the day she finally called police.
“I’ve had to put up with this for three years,” Carasia said. “As I walk by, I see Michael and his mother. He got on the porch and hid behind the bamboo screen and starts meowing. If I don’t make this stop now, they’re going to keep doing this to me. I shouldn’t have to worry about walking out of the house and being harassed by this young kid.
“Every time he sees me, he meows,” Carasia testified.
Here at ATL, we love ourselves a good tempest in a teapot. And one’s brewing right now over at the EPA:
[S]everal 1930s murals of the Old West [in the EPA headquarters] have become a flash point in a debate over negative stereotypes and artistic censorship.
The mural that’s sparking the most debate depicts Indians brutally scalping and murdering white settlers. All the women are naked, including one who’s on all fours as a male Indian stands behind her, seizing her hair.
Called “Dangers of the Mail,” the 1937 mural was painted by Frank Mechau, a prominent Western artist.
Lawyers representing EPA employees have made their concerns about the murals known to the agency. For the time being, the EPA has decided to cover ‘em up, a la John Ashcroft and Breastgate:
For now, screens block the EPA’s Mechau mural and partially obscure a few others. The search for a permanent solution has been slowed by the fact that the General Services Administration is the EPA building’s landlord, and the GSA is hamstrung by rules that govern changes to historic buildings such as the EPA’s headquarters.
Here’s our take on the situation. Regardless of the political incorrectness of the mural, it’s just not up-to-date. It should reflect Native American communities as they are today.
GSA: Please replace the controversial mural with one showing Indians driving around in brand new Cadillacs, purchased with profits from their lucrative casinos. Murals in Federal Building Spark Debate Over Censorship [McClatchy] Ariel Rios Murals [GSA]
One of our favorite features over at NYLawyer.com are the advice columns. There’s Advice for the Lawlorn, a column by Ann Israel, a legal recruiter based in New York. And there’s Crossroads, in which job consultant Linda Laufer offers insights on career direction and job transition.
In a typical column, some clueless correspondent writes in to Ann Israel, says that he has a 2.3 GPA from a fourth-tier law school, and asks if he can land a job at Davis Polk. Sensibly enough, Ann tells him he has a better chance of being in a three-way with Petra Nemcova and Madeleine Albright. She then suggests that he hire a well-regarded headhunter — someone like herself, say — to help him get a paralegal position at a personal-injury firm somewhere on Long Island.
Ann’s advice is often sound, especially when it relates to her area of expertise: how to land a Biglaw job. But sometimes she’s off the mark — and sometimes she seems more interested in shilling for legal recruiters than offering actual insight.
So we’ve decided to offer our own version of an advice column here at Above the Law. We’ll take questions submitted to “Advice for the Lawlorn” or “Crossroads,” then offer our own unique take on them.
Here’s this week’s request for advice:
While on an interview with a BigLaw firm, the question came up about whether I was an attorney and passed the California Bar in July. The truth is that I passed in February; but I just agreed that I passed in July. The interview went really well otherwise and I expect an offer any day. I had no intention to not tell the truth – I just got caught up in the heat of the moment. What do I do if I am hired? I really need this job!
Our reponse to this legal Pinocchio, after the jump.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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