Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

A lot of ink is spilled over whether or not law schools are failing to produce “practice ready” lawyers. What does it mean to be practice ready? There really isn’t a great definition. I mean, do we want law students to walk out prepared to run their own firms? Argue before the Supreme Court? Draft a credit-default swap agreement from memory? Serve as a bankruptcy trustee? How much practical know-how should we demand our law schools instill?

That doesn’t really matter, “practice ready” looks great on a bumper sticker.

For my money, the phrase means lawyers prepared enough not to drool on their desks when a partner (or supervisor or judge) starts showing them the way they want their young lawyers to practice law. Because make no mistake, lawyers are always practice unready in the eyes of their employers until they do the job exactly the employers’ way. This is why clinics serve an important role in law schools. Not that 6 months of being a glorified paralegal builds a wealth of practical legal know-how, but because 6 months of trying to figure out how to deploy what you do happen to know to satisfy a demanding legal boss is the soul of being a junior lawyer.

To that end, there’s a new ranking of the top clinical programs in law schools with some surprising (or not, depending on your point of view) results….

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Wasn’t this thing invented by Gutenberg?

Maybe it took the snowstorm. I really felt like law students were keeping it together even in the face of impending finals. But it snowed over the weekend, and was very cold in other places, and maybe that wintery snap reminded law students and professors that finals are here and it’s time to go nuts.

This week, we’ve had our share of final exam stories, but they’ve been of the legitimate mistake or concern variety. Today… we’ve just got some weird crap that happens around campus during finals period…

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* As a public service, here’s a very good guide about what criminal activities should NOT be talked about on Facebook. [Slate]

* It’s getting to that time of year when law students’ minds turn from finals preparation and towards the violent overthrow of the government. [McSweeney's]

* Finally, the full story on how reporter T.J. Quinn eavesdropped on Barry Bonds’s grand jury testimony without violating any laws. Go New York Daily News lawyers! [Deadspin]

* There allegedly was a female soldier prostitution ring at Fort Hood, lead by the unit’s sexual assault prevention officer. Now watch as somebody uses this to argue that women shouldn’t be in the military. [Gawker]

* Winners from Detroit’s bankruptcy filing include lawyers, don’t really include Detroit. [Am Law Daily]

* Here we go — proof that the internet is racist is coming. [Forbes]

* Rutgers-Camden Law has been fined and censured for allowing applicants to use something other than the LSAT without asking the ABA nicely if it could do so first. This is what the ABA cares about. Those are the questions they had for Rutgers. What was left off the list of ABA inquiries: Rutgers-Camden’s favorite color? [ABA Journal]

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]

If it is Urban Dictionary or hire some linguistic expert to do a survey, it seems like a pretty cheap, pretty good alternative for the court.

Greg Lastowka, an intellectual property professor at Rutgers Law-Camden, suggesting that the trend of using Urban Dictionary as a tool in litigation may accelerate due to the site’s relative ease of use.

* Roger Ebert has died at the age of 70. A great critic (his audio commentary track on the Citizen Kane DVD is amazing), whose work with the late Gene Siskel basically defined film criticism for a generation. At least now we know how we will be judged when we die — a simple thumbs up, thumbs down from Gene and Roger. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Exploring the link between baseball’s antitrust exemption and Roe v. Wade. It’s more than just saying the Royals are an abortion of a team. [Concurring Opinions]

* “Bring me the head of the person who did this”: the best closing to a C & D letter ever. [Popehat]

* A Rutgers-Camden 3L breaks down the looming sh*tstorm at Rutgers over basketball coach Mike Rice’s treatment of players. [The Legal Blitz]

* If you’ve pulled off a successful robbery, don’t taunt the victim from a traceable phone. I mean, act like you’ve been there before, man. [Legal Juice]

* It is a little funny to say that a city is looking for weaker swimmers to serve as lifeguards, but ultimately this represents the simplistic nature of the anti-affirmative-action argument: no one is saying lifeguards shouldn’t be qualified, just that a system that only privileges a strong swimming résumé will always result in affluent white kids with 10 years of swim classes getting these jobs. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Lawyers are often jerks, but this is a new twist. Help out a lawyer trying to make it in the small-batch, artisan jerky business.[Kickstarter]

* Maybe there aren’t actual Commies at Harvard Law School, but the ratio of liberals to conservatives/libertarians on the faculty is still extremely high. [Nick Rosenkranz]

* Michigan will assume control of Detroit pursuant to the state’s controversial “Emergency Manager Law.” How controversial? Michigan voters went to the polls to repeal the law last year… and the legislature said no. There’s a fitting symmetry that a law that denies the democratic rights of the people exists only because the legislature trampled on the democratic rights of the people. [WXYZ]

* A Harvard Law grad opens an e-commerce lingerie startup. The hook for her bra business is in-home fittings. Perfect for the cross-dresser who hates prying eyes. [Forbes]

* Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden have announced that they will merge into a single law school named “Rutgers School of Law” effective Fall 2014. The new school accomplishes the important goal of removing the words “Newark” and “Camden” from promotional materials. [TaxProf Blog]

* Professor Eugene Kontorovich explains how Chief Judge Kozinski’s piracy ruling actually advanced the liberal causes of the Law of the Sea and expanding the scope of the Alien Tort Statute. Yeah, but it also doomed us to destruction if Captain Kirk can’t get his act together in this new timeline. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* The producers of The Bachelor may need better lawyers. After they settled a claim with blogger Reality Steve, barring him from contacting cast and crew for spoilers, he’s publishing spoilers again. Reality Steve’s defense? The settlement agreement was silent on the matter of cast and crew contacting him. Touché. Reality Steve wins a one-on-one this week. [IT-Lex.org]

* Sometimes you just need to call the other player’s bluff. Right-wing legislators in Utah loudly parroted talk-radio scripts calling for Utah to reject federal grant money. Democrats in Utah agreed and voted to reject federal grants. Then Republicans started to panic. [Utah Political Report]

* Jon Stewart calls for the drowning of legal journalist Peter Lattman for being a wizard. Video after the jump….

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* While Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts made a plea to keep funding for the federal judiciary intact, we learned that student loan default cases have fallen since 2011. You really gotta love that income-based repayment. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Introducing the Asia 50, a list of the largest firms in the Asia-Pacific region. When it comes to the firms with the biggest footprints, only one American Biglaw shop made the cut. Go ahead and take a wild guess on which one it was. [Asian Lawyer]

* Congratulations are in order, because after almost a year of stalling, Arnold & Porter partner William Baer was finally confirmed by the Senate as the chief of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. [Bloomberg]

* Our elected officials might not have allowed the country to fall off the fiscal cliff, but the American Invents Act was put on hold, so if you’re a patent nerd, you can still be mad about something. [National Law Journal]

* Remember when Rutgers-Camden Law said “many top students” were making bank after graduation? Yeah, about that: Law School Transparency just filed an ABA complaint. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Here are some law school trends to look out for in 2013. FYI, the applicant pool is smaller because no one wants to foolishly gamble on their careers anymore. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* In the latest NYC subway shoving death, a woman was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, and allegedly bragged about other hate crimes she’s committed to police. Lovely. [New York Times]

* Next time you’re trapped on a plane that’s literally filled with other people’s crap for 11 hours, don’t bother suing over your hellish experience — you’re going to be preempted by federal law. [New York Law Journal]

We know how much our readers love rankings, so for your viewing pleasure, we present to you the National Jurist’s sixth annual list of the Best Value Law Schools. This year’s Best Value ranking system takes into account the following criteria: tuition (25% of study), cost of living expenses (10%), average indebtedness upon graduation (15%), the percentage of graduates who got a job (35%), and bar passage rates (15%).

We’ve covered these rankings before. As in years past, National Jurist ranked only the top 20 schools, and has given letter grades to the rest of the schools on the list, ranging from A- to F. But this year, because of the uproar about transparency in employment statistics, the National Jurist’s rankings include adjusted weights for employment percentages based on 12 different categories.

National Jurist also paid special attention to average graduate indebtedness this year — and by “paid special attention to,” we mean that the publication hasn’t been following the news about the incorrect debt figures that were being used by law schools to pimp their programs like low-rent street walkers.

Check and see if your school made the grade this year….

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Law school graduates both young and old are living under the heavy weight of student loan debt, but we don’t need to tell our readers that law school costs a pretty penny — they already know. The people who do need to know are those who are thinking of applying to law school. Those people need all of the information that they can get their hands on so that they’re able to make an intelligent decision when choosing a law school.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to discern the actual debt loads that recent law school graduates are carrying, if only because law schools have been misreporting the average indebtedness of graduating students to both the American Bar Association and U.S. News and World Report.

Which law schools are guilty of this committing practice? The ABA claims that administrators from “a number” of schools have contacted the organization in order to correct their information about loan debt….

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