Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

The ceiling of a Columbia dorm room collapsed on a student, giving her a herniated disk and persistent headaches. She claims the back injury compromised her ability to get a decent night’s sleep and forced her to take muscle relaxants to deal with the pain.

Now the newly minted lawyer is suing the school over her injuries, and the school’s lawyer is suggesting that the victim can’t really have this back injury because she kept getting good grades.

Brilliant legal strategy!

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For those of you who covet the intellectual and professional opportunities that come with clerking for a judge, choosing a law school that will enhance your prospects is pretty important. Make no mistake, no school is going to guarantee a clerkship. Nor will attending a school with historically low representation in clerkships automatically nuke your chances. But, a school with a high placement rate reflects the school’s reputation with judges, the influence of its professors, and the strength of its clerkship process advisors.

Bob Morse of U.S. News has released a breakdown of the schools securing the most clerkships. And more importantly, he breaks out the best schools for federal clerkships and state and local clerkships.

So which law school is the best represented? OK, it’s Yale. But who else is at the top of the list?

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A Supreme cat fight?

* Footnote fight! Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been clashing with quite a few of her fellow Supreme Court jurists lately, aside from Chief Justice John Roberts. She recently inspired the wrath of Justice RBG herself. [New York Times]

* After months of being poked and prodded for cash, 60 former Howrey equity partners have reached clawback deals with bankruptcy trustee Allan Diamond, and it looks like a few of them agreed to pay pretty hefty sums. [Am Law Daily]

* Here’s a headline we could’ve told you was coming: “The US lawyer bubble has conclusively popped.” It’s not a terribly good decision to attend now, but if you do, people who can’t pay you need your help. [Quartz]

* Cutting law school tuition may be a good idea to attract more students, but in the long run, it could hurt the schools, says Moody’s. Aww, let us shed some tears for those poor law schools. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Crim Law prof not guilty of… crime. Stephen Smith of Notre Dame Law was acquitted on a misdemeanor invasion of privacy charge, and the felony battery charge he faced was dismissed. [South Bend Tribune]

* The University of Arizona will be the first school in the U.S. to offer a bachelor’s degree in law. The degree is being marketed to people who eventually want to have lots of law-related debt. [National Law Journal]

Judge Richard Posner

From the Above the Law mailbag: “Is ATL ever going to call out Judge Posner for being so needlessly nasty to litigants?”

Ummm, no. I’m a big fan of Judge Richard Posner, who is brilliant and hilarious. (Yes, hilarious — if you doubt that, check out the awesome podcast that he and I did together, which you can download and listen to during your commute or at the gym.)

But in the interest of fairness, I will make this reader’s case. This correspondent cited the recent oral argument in Notre Dame v. Sebelius, which we alluded to yesterday, in which Judge Posner dispensed some benchslaps to Matthew Kairis, head of litigation in the Columbus office of Jones Day. The reader also mentioned the argument on remand in the Conrad Black case, alleging that Posner “was particularly nasty to Miguel Estrada, seemingly piqued that Estrada got him reversed by SCOTUS.”

Let’s focus on the Notre Dame v. Sebelius argument, since it just happened. How bad was it?

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Nothing illustrates the way religion can warp the normal function of rational thought quite like the National Jurist’s “most devout law schools” rankings. If you are a person of faith, that’s fine. Mazel tov. And if you want to find new and exciting ways to mingle your religious beliefs with our secular laws, that’s fine too. I mean, I’ll do what I can to oppose you, but in America we must be comfortable with difference.

But picking a law school based on its piety seems pretty dumb. For one thing, law schools should be teaching, you know, laws and stuff. What you do with that knowledge is your own choice, but it seems to me that people should want the best education they can get, and then apply that education to the causes and issues that move them. Why go to Regent Law if you can go to Vanderbilt Law and then advocate for your theocracy from a position of greater strength?

The second problem is that picking a law school because it has some kind of “mission” beyond helping you become a good and employed lawyer seems like a path to pain. But that will become obvious as we actually look at the National Jurist’s list.

In any event, onward Christian lawyers…

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Another day, another law school food story. I think after we do the D.C. trivia night, we should head to the Southwest and have a law school chili cook off. Loser has to eat their law dean.

This story isn’t about law students stealing food, it’s ostensibly about students giving food away. Or at least they were trying to. The law students were trying to raise money for hungry people… but they did that in the most Western, decadent way possible…

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Summer associate programs will be wrapping up soon. May the offer rates be ever in your favor.

As programs finish, we hope to hear some interesting tales of summer associate fun. This year, as in previous post-recession years, it seems that summers are playing it pretty close to the vest. Programs are smaller, and people are more terrified about not getting an offer thanks to the bleak 3L hiring market.

It looks like this year, people left their guns at home. Our biggest summer story of 2013 so far was the Cleary summer with a sex-offender past. And it’s not like he was sex-offending people in the office. Right now, even political interns are blowing away private practice summer associates.

To prime the pump a little bit, we have a summer associate story from a good firm in flyover country that shall remain nameless. It’s more humorous than scandalous, particularly as it involves summer-on-summer inappropriateness.

But there’s a detail in here that I really like….

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I don’t know what Gloria Allred does, exactly. I know she’s nominally an attorney because it says so on her Wikipedia page and also under her head when her head appears on my television screen. It says, “Attorney.” But, despite three years of law school, I have no idea what service she provides her clients. It’s always some weirdo at the periphery of a scandal she’s representing. A woman who bedded Tiger Woods, for instance. Or it’s a minor scandal that in years past would have been relegated to the Odd Stories column in your local newspaper. Like the time Roger McDowell got his gay slur on in front of some baseball fans. What connects these things is their apparent distance from anything resembling a legal issue.

Gloria Allred holds press conferences, as far as I can tell. And she talks sternly and forcefully, admonishing those bad actors who did her clients wrong. And after the microphones are turned off and the cameramen have all fled… well, I don’t know what it is she does. You can do anything with a law degree!

Which brings me to the latest in the Manti Te’o saga. The man behind Lennay has lawyered up, which thankfully allows me to write about Manti’s man in this here column.

Let’s talk Scandal Law. Scaw, Landal…

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I’m trying to figure out whether Lance Armstrong is relieved that Manti Te’o upstaged him this week. On one hand, all of the mean, finger-wagging columns on Lance’s lying, like this typically flatulent effort by Rick Reilly, have been pushed to the second page of the Internet by Te’o's (I’m not entirely sure I’m using the apostrophe correctly here) fake dead girlfriend. Although the internet defies all attempts to ascribe a finite supply of oxygen to any news story, there is a finite amount of attention that can be paid. And even though every news organization has dutifully assigned a writer (or moron) to cover the Lance debacle, no one much cares about it anymore. What happens to a scandal deferred? Does it dry up, like a craisin in this pun?

I think the overshadowing of the Lance Armstrong saga probably doesn’t help Armstrong at all. The vast majority of people who will have opinions about him have already formed them and those who may be swayed by a teary confession in front of Oprah now may not even be paying attention. But that’s all public opinion, which is the least of Lance’s worries at this point. And yet, public opinion is almost exclusively Manti Te’o's (seriously, these apostrophes are bothering me) worry at this point. Almost.

Let’s talk fake dead Samoan girlfriends….

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* After 22 years of dedicated service, William K. Suter, the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, will be retiring come August. Now don’t get too excited about that, it’s not really a job you can apply for; you have to be appointed, so keep dreaming. [Blog of Legal Times]

* A Biglaw hat trick of labor deals: if you’re looking for someone to thank for bringing a tentative ending to the management-imposed NHL lock-out, you can definitely reach out to this group of lawyers from Skadden Arps and Proskauer Rose. [Am Law Daily]

* “Thanks for helping us out, but you can go f**k yourself.” AIG, a company that was bailed out by the government, is now considering suing the government with its shareholders. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Apparently there’s such a thing as the “Nick Saban Corporate Compliance Process.” And as we saw from last night’s game, that process involves efficiency, execution, and raping the competition. [Corporate Counsel]

* Guess who’s back in court representing himself in a racketeering trial? None other than Paul Bergrin, “the baddest lawyer in the history of Jersey.” Jury duty for that could be a fun one. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Too bad last night’s football game between Alabama and Notre Dame wasn’t played by their law schools. In that case, the final score on factors like tuition, enrollment, and employment would’ve been a tie. [HusebyBuzz]

* This just in: when studying for the LSAT, you should focus on scoring the best you can. This is actual advice that the future law students of America need to hear. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]