Rank Stupidity

We launched our second annual Law Revue contest earlier this month. Over 20 law schools entered the competition, including a couple from the Great White North — a special “eh” to our Canuck readers! — with each school submitting up to two videos.

Last night, your ATL editors had a special after-hours viewing. It wasn’t the most entertaining three hours of our lives, but it was funnier than White Chicks, and less painful than a second viewing of Avatar sans 3D glasses.

We watched and rated the videos, separating them into three categories: Good, Borderline, and Crap. We’ll bring you our top seven finalists — the cremé de la cremé — on Monday, when reader voting will begin.

Today, though, we bring you the sour milk entries. There are three entries we placed in the “crap” category that we felt deserved special, dishonorable mention…

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I am by no means an expert on cutting down trees. If you hand me a chainsaw, I am far more likely to injure myself than any wood in my immediate area. But if the people from Ax Men kidnapped me and forced me to chop my way out of their trailer park hideout, there are some basic mistakes I’d avoid.

First and foremost, I wouldn’t cut down anything I was leaning on at the time I started chopping. You don’t need to be a lumberjack in order to understand Newtonian physics. That knowledge puts me way ahead of an Englishman named Peter Aspinall. The Telegraph reports:

Peter Aspinall, 64, had been asked to prune a sycamore tree in the grounds of a hotel, but instead of leaning his ladder against the trunk he placed it against the branch he was hacking down.

When the branch fell it took Mr Aspinall with it, 14ft to the ground below. He broke his heel, damaged his ligaments and had to spend ten days in hospital recovering from surgery on his injuries.

When I first read the lede of the story, I thought the tipster sent it to me as another candidate for a Drinking Ban Order. But no, having been injured by his own amazing stupidity, Aspinall decided he needed to sue somebody.

His target: the employer who asked him to cut down the branch in the first place…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Man Cuts Himself Out of a Tree”

Uncle Sam Wants You if Youre Mentally Retarded.jpgMany job seekers would love to work as lawyers for the federal government but haven’t had luck landing a position. Openings for attorneys on USAJOBS attract hundreds of applicants. In light of massive law-firm layoffs and the relative stability of government employment, high demand for federal jobs is unsurprising. You have to be a positively brilliant lawyer to land a government gig these days.
Or not. If you’ve applied to the U.S. Department of Justice without success, ask yourself: Do I have a normal or above-normal IQ?
If you do, you might be… overqualified. From a Justice Department job posting (emphasis added):

The Civil Rights Division encourages qualified applicants with targeted disabilities to apply. Targeted disabilities are deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial or complete paralysis, convulsive disorder, mental retardation, mental illness, severe distortion of limbs and/or spine.

Quips former DOJ lawyer Ty Clevenger: “Having worked there, I think CRD has plenty of mentally retarded lawyers already. Mostly in supervisory positions.”
Says another tipster who brought this to our attention: “I understand how you can have a few missing limbs or be partially paralyzed and still be a trial lawyer, but someone with an IQ less than 70?!?!!?”
Recruiting mentally retarded lawyers to litigate civil rights cases for the DOJ may take the expression “good enough for government work” too far. But, in fairness, there is a caveat to all of this….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mentally Retarded? The Justice Department Wants YOU.

Southern New England School of Law logo.jpgEd. Note: We apologize for our technical difficulties. The commenting function should now be working again.
It’s official. Southern New England School of Law will be converted into the first Massachusetts public law school by the University of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reports:

The Board of Higher Education today approved the creation of Massachusetts’ first public law school, a historic vote that opens the doors for the initial class of students to enroll in the fall. Under the controversial plan, vehemently opposed by three private law schools, UMass-Dartmouth will acquire the private Southern New England School of Law, which is donating its campus and assets to the state.

Of course the plan wasn’t just opposed by private law schools. It was also opposed by a number of people who actually care about whether or not graduates from UMass Legal will be able to spin off their legal education into an actual practice.
But, it sounds better to say that only “private” interests were arrayed in an anti-competitive attempt to block the new school. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.
More spin after the jump.

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Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgI spent all day yesterday trying to summon the rage, trying to figure out a way to trumpet the cause of a sixty-something, recent law school graduate who is still having trouble discharging her student loans in a bankruptcy proceeding. The National Law Journal has the tear-jerking story:

When she graduated four years ago with a law degree at the age of 61, Denise Megan Bronsdon likely did not foresee bankruptcy court in her future. But that’s where she ended up — as a debtor.

The former farmer’s wife, who operated a tractor before going to Southern New England School of Law in 2002, convinced a Massachusetts bankruptcy court in January that repaying the more than $82,000 she owed in student debt would create an undue hardship. However, the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, considering an appeal by the lender, Educational Credit Management Corp., found on Nov. 20 that Bronsdon’s decision not to participate in a loan repayment assistance program should be part of the bankruptcy court’s undue hardship analysis.

If I was half the man I used to be, I’d take a flamethrower to this place. Hoo-Ha!
But the problem with my flamethrower is that I do not know where to point it. I could get angry at the entire system that makes student loans so difficult to discharge through bankruptcy. Or I could get mad at the law school that essentially stole this woman’s money. Or I could get angry at the woman herself — who failed the Wisconsin bar three times.
Oh, I know, let’s get pissy at all of them.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Discharging Law School Debt in Bankruptcy Doesn’t Get Any Easier When You Are Old”

Weekend Warrior.JPGIf the power to tax is the power to destroy, then shouldn’t we at least try taxing stupidity? They’re thinking about doing it in France. From Going Concern:

Our frog eating friends have decided that they will start taxing people for their stupidity:
“The French Foreign Ministry is proposing a very narrow law requiring citizens foolish enough to wander into international danger zones, regardless of public warnings, to pay at least part of the cost of their own rescue.”

If you wander up a silly mountain and get stuck, it is civilized to have somebody go and try to find you even it was your own damn fault. But that doesn’t mean society should have to foot the entire bill for your weekend warrior shenanigans. Right?
Click on the link below to read — and comment on — the full post.
The Solution to All Our Fiscal Problems [Going Concern]

dont be an asshole.JPGYesterday we introduced you to DB (not his real name — please keep it that way), formerly an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. At S&C, and in law school before that, DB became notorious for bragging about his wealth and making politically incorrect remarks.

We collected some of his impolitic quips in our prior post, and other anecdotes surfaced in the comments (e.g., here and here). For your reading pleasure, here are a few more stories:

  • In law school, at a firm reception in the Time Warner center, DB got drunk and started going on about how he was wearing crocodile shoes that cost thousands of dollars and how his brother drove a more expensive car than the partners at the host firm.
  • At an S&C firm retreat, the same one where he made his comments about the ballet, DB was placed in charge of entertainment for one evening. This included brainstorming for the “S&C Superlatives” contest, which is supposed to feature innocuous, yearbook-style items like “Miss Congeniality,” “Best Smile,” or “Most Athletic.”

    The items suggested by DB? “Sluttiest Partner” and “Partner Most Likely To Sleep With His Secretary.”

  • DB once said, to a highly attractive summer associate he encountered in the hallway, “You really aren’t that hot. Everyone thinks you are, but outside of here you really aren’t.”
  • In fairness to DB, he has his defenders and positive attributes. One tipster describes him as “a bright guy,” and another as “nice in a weird way,” as well as unusually generous and thoughtful at times. A third raves about his hotness, including “six-pack abs and amazing arms.” As for the sexist (and homophobic) quips, they may be best attributed not to malice, but to personal issues that DB is probably still working through.

    His colorful comments, however, aren’t what got DB in truly hot water. Find out what did, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How To Get Fired (or Asked To Resign) from Sullivan & Cromwell (Part 2)”

    dont be an asshole.JPGAh, Sullivan & Cromwell. It’s a top law firm — not just in prestige and profits, but also blog fodder. See, e.g., Carlos Spinelli-Noseda (partner who defrauded firm and clients of half a million dollars through expense fraud); Aaron Charney (associate who sued the firm for antigay discrimination, while still employed there).

    When people leave 125 Broad Street, they go out with a bang. Today, courtesy of several tipsters, we bring you the tale of another former SullCrom employee who departed under less than ideal circumstances. Let’s call him “DB,” short for “douchebag.”

    (To those of you who find the term offensive, we say: if it’s good enough for the Second Circuit, it’s good enough for ATL. Also, we use it affectionately.)

    During law school, DB developed a reputation “as a racist, sexist jerkoff who always flaunted the fact that he was wealthy.” Here’s why:

  • His first words upon meeting his law school roommates: “Hi, I’m DB. I’m independently wealthy.”
  • In a class discussion about price discrimination and consumer choice, he said: “Sometimes when I’m in a real hurry, I am forced to fly coach.”
  • At a law firm reception, he said to the attorneys, “Don’t you miss the good old days when there were no girls at a place like this, except for hookers and strippers?”
  • This charming lad then made his way to 125 Broad Street, where he joined GP (general practice; S&C-speak for “Corporate”) at Sullivan. Now, S&C pays well — in addition to generous base salaries and year-end bonuses, they pay supplemental bonuses to senior associates. But DB was unimpressed:

  • “My allowance used to be bigger than whatever I earn from this place. I feel so poor now that I’m working.”
  • Read more about his rudeness, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How To Get Fired from Sullivan & Cromwell (Part 1)”

    Homer Simpson Doh Above the Law AboveTheLaw blog.jpgYesterday we solicited stories from you about on-campus interview bloopers — this time by the student interviewees, rather than their law firm interrogators. We received an embarrassment of riches — or riches of embarrassment — in response.
    In terms of favorite stories, it seems the people’s choice was comment 177. Do a ctrl-F on the page for “177,” and you’ll encounter some pretty funny stuff. Comment 83 also had some crowd support, but it was completely disgusting, and some people read ATL during the lunch hour.
    Not convinced that 83 and 177 are true stories, we decided to go with these as our top tales:
    1. The People Person
    Interviewer asks inevitable, everyone-is-prepared-for-it question: What do your consider your weaknesses to be?
    Candidate (stratospheric GPA to offer and little else): Well, I don’t really like other people very much.
    Job not offered.
    2. Revenge of the Nerd?
    I heard a story here at Cleary Gottlieb from this recruiting season, not terribly exciting but a nice foot-in-mouth moment. At one of our OCI’s, during this kid’s interview, he remarked that he’s the perfect lawyer for Cleary because he’s “like, a big socially awkward nerd.” The mid-level associate interviewing him deadpanned: “So I’m a socially awkward nerd?” Ouch. I don’t think he got a callback.
    It’s unfortunate, because his assessment of Cleary lawyers was pretty spot on.
    3. “Forget it, Jake, it’s Koreatown.”
    I was conducting a callback lunch interview in Los Angeles when the interviewee starts talking about how he can’t stand living in Koreatown because Koreans were so rude and also bad drivers. I said, “Dude, my last name is Kim. You know I’m Korean, right?
    After an uncomfortable ending to the lunch I called HR and told them if they gave this kid an offer I was quitting. Needless to say, no offer for this guy.
    4. To Catch A Thief
    At an OCI reception for a mid-sized Firm X, a few students are engaging in polite conversating with partner in Firm X. The partner asks each student what they did the summer before. One student, who apparently took full advantage of the open bar, begins talking about spending his 1L summer working with general counsel for an apartment complex, often dealing with tenant evictions.
    Completely unsolicited, the student begins talking about how they used to break into the [tenants'] apartments and if they found weed/drugs in the place, they’d steal the drugs and some electronics from the apartment like it was their own personal Best Buy. He said, and I quote: “what were the tenants gonna do? They can’t tell the cops that we took their stuff or we’ll just report them for the drugs.” Partner and other students (including me) look at each other and then stare at the floor.
    5. Veggie Girl
    To an applicant with no special interests or activities listed on her resume: “So what do you do with your free time outside of school? Do you have any hobbies?”
    Applicant: “Vegetarianism.”
    No offer.
    6. What’s the difference between a law firm and a paint store?
    During a Shearman & Sterling interview, a friend once asked the interviewer, “So, how have you liked your experience at Sherwin & Williams?”
    **********************
    Vote for your favorite of these six stories, and check out seven more stories that get honorable mention, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “OCI Bloopers By Students: Selected Stories (and a Poll)”

    One of the best things about getting a law degree is that you can really help people. People in need who are being railroaded by the system. People in power who are creating jobs for the economy. And occasionally, people suffering from perma-drunk on craigslist.

    WANTED FRESH BARRED VA ATTORNEY

    just graduated college and I was charged with a bull **** drunk in public and vandalism charge in the City of Fairfax.

    What I need is an attorney to come with me on my court date Aug 27 to try to talk to the prosecutor and have him drop the charge or lessen it, since this is the first time I have ever been charged with anything and I have paid back the person and there was no way to prove I was legally drunk since I was not tested.

    I am looking for fresh attorneys or recently barred attorneys.

    I’d make a joke but I am so terrified of getting “barred.”

    Ad reprinted in full after the jump

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Somebody’s Hiring”

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