Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

One would imagine that a law school would be prepared to manage an unimpeachable quasi-judicial proceeding. If anything, a bunch of lawyers idealistic enough to turn their backs on private practice to preach from an ivory tower would bend over to expand the bounds of fairness in some kind of hippie Bill of Rights love-in. Law school court would be like Hair with more procedural safeguards and hopefully much less nudity.

That wasn’t the case last year, when a law school convened an Honor Board to prosecute a student for cheating on her exams. Now, that student is suing the school in federal court, alleging due process violations and breach of contract arising out of the investigation and prosecution of her case.

Is she guilty of an infraction or not? We can’t pass judgment on that from the pleadings alone. We can, however, troll this law school for its pretty terrible grasp on how the justice system is supposed to work….

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A happy paralegal.

* The latest Vault 100 rankings are out, and it’s time to find out which Biglaw firm is the most prestigious in all the land. Is it Wachtell? Is it Cravath? We’ll have the answer for you, and much more analysis, later today. [Vault]

* A former office manager at Vedder Price has been accused in a $7M embezzlement scandal. She allegedly used the money to buy “lavish homes, numerous vacations” — it’s as if she were trying to live like a partner. [ABA Journal]

* Since the Redskins’ trademark was canceled by the Patent and Trademark Office, sports fans are wondering whose offensive team name is next. The Cleveland Indians might get scalped. [WSJ Law Blog]

* According to ALM Legal Intelligence, paralegal pay is on the rise, and it’s almost $80/hr in top roles. Why should new attorneys care about this? Because they’ll probably have to work as paralegals. [ALM]

* Double the deanships, double the fun: Penn State Law’s campuses have been approved by the ABA to become separately accredited locations. We’ll take bets on which one closes first. [StateCollege.com]

Law school’s tombstone?

* Federal judges still have financial allegiances to their former firms that are reported on their mandatory annual disclosures. At least one appellate judge — Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit — made a killing after confirmation. [National Law Journal]

* After “a challenging 2013,” Bingham McCutchen is leaking lawyers like a sieve. Fourteen attorneys, including nine partners, recently decided to leave the firm, and they’re all headed to different Biglaw locales. [WSJ Law Blog via Reuters]

* Just one day after Donald Sterling was declared “mentally incapacitated,” he filed a lawsuit against the NBA, seeking more than $1 billion in damages. Skadden lawyers are stripping off their warm-up suits to take it to the court. [USA Today]

* This Am Law 200 firm thinks it figured out a way to help women combine their careers and home lives — by hiring a role model/mentor with an almost six-figure salary. Good idea or bad? [Dallas Morning News]

* We’ve got some breaking news for our readers from the “no sh*t” department: Law schools are competing to cut costs based on a shrinking applicant pool, but tuition is still quite unaffordable. [Houston Chronicle]

* Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and alumnus of Dickinson Law, RIP. [Onward State]

Lat here. Tomorrow is a big day. First, April 15 is Tax Day; we hope that you’ve filed your return — and that you haven’t been taken advantage of. Second, it’s the deposit deadline at various law schools. We hope that you’ve made up your mind — and that you haven’t been taken advantage of.

Just kidding. Here at Above the Law, where we are sometimes critical of the value proposition of legal education, I’m the designated defender of law schools. I write stories with titles like In Defense Of Going To Law School and Go To Law School: What Else Are You Going To Do With Yourself? I also compile and disseminate law school success stories. We are not uniformly opposed to law school here at ATL; we just want people to make informed decisions.

Helping people make informed decisions is the goal of our popular column called The Decision. We field queries from prospective law students choosing between different schools, offer them advice, and ask ATL readers to weigh in as well.

Now, on to today’s scenarios. We’ve titled them “Jersey Boys” and “The Book of Mormon,” for reasons that will soon become apparent….

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips for law school applicants.

Law schools have been increasing their scholarship opportunities in order to lure applicants. Why? Because law school applicants are in demand. Applications are down yet again, and law schools are scrambling to fill their seats. (See TaxProf Blog for exact numbers and trends, year over year.)

As law schools compete for qualified applicants with better scholarships, it may be easier to consider criteria like debt alongside rank and prestige when choosing a law school. As part of this new trend, law schools are adding on scholarship programs to make attending law school more affordable. Villanova Law recently announced an initiative to add 50 full-tuition scholarships for three years, and in-state students at Penn State are being offered $20,000 per year as part of a new scholarship program.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

I really don’t want to be that guy at the dinner table who points out that the mashed potatoes are lumpy and the turkey is a bit dry. A law school is cutting tuition by half for some students, and for that we should be thankful. This follows a trend, seen here and there, in which law schools are starting to respond to the low interest in legal education by competing on price.

Except it also follows the trend of not really being a tuition “cut.” Instead it’s a tuition scholarship that is worth about half of the tuition, while the school maintains its high listed sticker price.

Well, this is Above the Law, not a Thanksgivukkah meal. Who wants a side of hater?

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HI-YA! CIVIL RIGHTS CHOP!

* Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Second Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Roberts must be happy; few will criticize a moderate. [Washington Post]

* The Department of Justice plans to hire Leslie Caldwell, Morgan Lewis partner and ex-Enron prosecutor, to fill Lanny Breuer’s shoes. Way to leak the news while she’s on vacation. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Tell us again how sequestration isn’t having an impact on the judiciary. Private federal indigent defense attorneys are going to see their already modest rates slashed due to budget cuts. [National Law Journal]

* Sixteen lawyers will receive the New York Law Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and a list like this obviously wouldn’t be complete without the names of some of Biglaw’s best and brightest. Congrats, Rodge! [New York Law Journal]

* Thomas D. Raffaele, the judge who was karate chopped in the throat by a police officer last summer, is now suing over his crushed larynx and similarly squashed constitutional rights. [Courthouse News Service]

* Future gunners, unite! If you’re set on becoming a lawyer, there are things you can do to prepare your law school application, even as a college freshman. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Here’s something to aspire to for the ongoing law school lawsuits: Career Education Corp., a system of for-profit colleges, will pay $10 million to settle a dispute over its inflated job statistics. [Wall Street Journal]

* Penn State University is starting to issue settlement offers to young men who claim they were sexually abused at the hands of Jerry Sandusky, the school’s former assistant football coach. [Legal Intelligencer]

* J.K. Rowling’s outing as The Cuckoo’s Calling (affiliate link) author Robert Galbraith has rendered print copies of the book scarce and a hot collector’s item. Now Rowling is hurling Cruciatus curses at her lawyers as the source of the revelation. [The Guardian]

* The New York Times weighs in on the worth of a law degree debate and makes Elie’s day by labeling him “indomitable.” [DealBook / New York Times]

* After the Ninth Circuit struck a tone of sanity, federal bankruptcy judges in Michigan and Tennessee remind us that law school debt is forever. [The National Law Journal]

* The hottest barristers in London. Meh. Holding out for the hottest solicitors countdown. [Legal Cheek]

* A lawyer should get suspended for smuggling stuff out of prison for a client. But shouldn’t the punishment be a tad more severe for smuggling a HIT LIST out of prison for a client? [Mercury News]

* The Ten Competencies that law schools should teach. I’d add “understanding how to order from Seamless at 4AM,” but otherwise it’s a solid list. [Associate's Mind]

* Penn State has approved a $60 million settlement in the Sandusky cases. Which is less than the football program makes in a year. [Deadspin]

* Apparently, the laws and other conditions surrounding America’s oil industry make it only the fifth friendliest place to extract petroleum in the world. Thanks a bunch you granola-eating socialists. [Breaking Energy]

* It’s not over yet, but the current projection for law school applicants this year is 59,200. My response to those fresh young go-getters after the jump…

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Bullies

Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy

We’re going to talk about a$$holes today, class. Specifically, we’re going to talk about the way in which our society exalts certain bullies — the successful ones, I guess you’d say. If you’re laboring under a mountain of garbage work at a big law firm right now, you’ve probably run into a few of these. They’re your bosses. Because, if there’s any rule more reliable than gravity, it’s that the legal profession is thick with barely-functioning sociopathic goons who are sadistic to a degree rarely seen on Animal Planet. These a$$holes are lauded for their rainmaking potential and their ability to camouflage any recognizably human trait hidden deep within themselves. They are terrible and they probably run your life. So it goes.

But another class of individuals not far removed from the Biglaw freak show are those coaches (especially football) who are recognized as geniuses. Those successful coaches who look across the human landscape and only see so much raw material. So many interactions that must be scripted and manipulated in order to win some g-danged ball games. Genius has never been so depressingly common. But it’s from this class of individual that we build great hoary temples of cliche. Management principles, warfare strategies, motivational seminars, successories, visualization and actualization. This mountain of detritus is sustained by a steady stream of manure emanating from our nation’s greatest a$$holes. This, of course, is not meant to tar all coaches with this brush. Many coaches manage to retain some shred of their humanity while navigating the make-believe combat of their chosen sport. These coaches are usually losers, of course. But still. They exist.

Mike Gundy is not one of these exceptions. Mike Gundy is an a$$hole.

Let’s talk a$$holes…

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Tax Men?

* Oh, and by the way, it’s not just Verizon that the NSA is spying on. It’s every major phone and internet provider, too. They must see an amazing amount of foreign pornography on video chat. [Guardian]

* The IRS is under siege over its conservative targeting scandal, and now a training video parodying Mad Men has surfaced with a focus on “customer service.” How incredibly ironic. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Francine Griesing, the woman who sued Greenberg Traurig for $200M over the firm’s so-called “boys’ club” (and later quietly settled), has tips for women who want to succeed in the law. [Am Law Daily]

* This ruling has to do with collecting fees following a law school clinic victory, but the key takeaway is that law students’ “time and effort still has monetary value.” Hear that, ABA? [National Law Journal]

* Rutgers Law-Camden is trying to recover from “an existential threat” after its class size unexpectedly dropped by more than 50 percent. But… that’s a good thing these days. [Philadelphia Business Journal]

* A judge dismissed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA for “fail[ing] to advance the ball.” How kind of her to entertain us with some football references. [Legal Intelligencer]