Above the Law

Recent Headlines from Above the Law

 

It’s Halloween tonight, don’t forget to wear a condom.

I know, that advice comes too late for most people. Most people had their Halloween parties over the weekend, tonight is for the kids. And it’s Christmas Day for dentists.

In fact, we’ve received reports that one Midwestern law school had quite a smashing little Halloween shindig. According to a tipster: “The front entrance to the law school was a minefield of vomit puddles.”

A spooky minefield of vomit and puddles?

In response, the law school is now banning alcohol. Which wouldn’t sound so ridiculous if it didn’t expose the intense hypocrisy of the “business” of legal education…

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That sounds awesome! A bank robbery with a sawed-off shotgun, a high-speed chase, and shooting blindly at the authorities. Best GTA mission ever. Way to go Trevor!

Wait… that wasn’t a GTA mission? You’re telling me the crazy bastard in this story wasn’t Trevor, but a 64-year-old attorney turned amateur bank robber? I’d heard of bank robbers becoming lawyers, but the other way around is a new twist. Maybe Spencer Mazyck can make a new “Stealth Lawyer” video about it. Except I guess this guy wasn’t all that stealth since he got caught. He probably didn’t realize there were no more Pay ‘n’ Sprays.

Armed bank robbery. Man, those “million-dollar law degree” guys are really working hard to prove how much you can make with a J.D., aren’t they?

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Lady Gaga

* You skip over the footnotes when you’re reading for class, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t think you should. She’s a proponent of the most important footnote in all of constitutional law. [New Yorker]

* New York will modify its pro bono requirement for LL.M. students to allow public service completed outside the country. Well, so much for closing the state’s justice gap. [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the government-initiated trademark infringement actions over “Don’t Mess With Texas.” Like “I <3 NY," the Lone Star State's slogans are off limits. [New York Times]

* WUSTL Law Dean Kent Syverud didn’t mind advocating for halving professors’ salaries. He just stepped down to become Syracuse University’s president — for much higher pay. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* You can sue Lady Gaga for overtime pay all you want, but you do not want to face her wrath. The pop star is due in court in early November where she’ll tell a judge “exactly what f**king happened.” [Daily Mail]

* After three years on top, Baker & McKenzie has lost its place as the top grossing firm in the Global 100. But which firm dethroned the once king? None other than… [Am Law Daily]

* Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, and yet some of the things he sought to change still remain the same in 2013. [Washington Post]

* The house always wins: Navin Kumar Aggarwal, the ex-K&L Gates partner who stole client funds to pay gambling debts, was jailed after receiving a 12-year sentence. [Am Law Daily]

* “This is like a triple-overtime win.” Merrill Lynch is making a huge $160 million payout in a racial bias case that’s been stuck in the courts for nearly a decade. Congrats, plaintiffs! [DealBook / New York Times]

* As eager young law students return to school, maybe it’s time for you to consider brushing up on the basics. Now is an excellent time to take care of those pesky CLE requirements. [Corporate Counsel]

* Husch Blackwell is teaming up with WUSTL Law to launch a training program for… partners. Take this for what is is, law students: a great opportunity to résumé bomb the hell out of them. [National Law Journal]

* Career alternatives for attorneys: judicial drug mule. Following an investigation by the DEA, a former Utah judge pleaded guilty to the possession of enough Oxycodone to kill a small horse. [Salt Lake Tribune]

* Don’t even think about texting anyone, ever again, in the state of New Jersey, especially if they might be driving, because the appeals court says you could be held liable for negligence. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild has been sentenced to 270 days in jail and three years’ probation after being convicted of assault and false imprisonment by a jury of “stupid, stupid idiots.” [Los Angeles Times]

325 West 52nd Street: modest on the outside, fabulous on the inside.

These are challenging times for print journalism. The Boston Globe, which the New York Times acquired in 1993 for $1.1 billion, recently sold for $70 million (or perhaps negative $40 million, as Matt Yglesias suggests). Jeff Bezos just bought the Washington Post for $250 million, a fraction of its former worth (and he may have paid four times its true value).

But print journalism was good to many people for many years. In the glory days of magazine writing, publications would pay several dollars a word for features that were thousands of words long. These generous fees might explain how a prominent magazine journalist amassed enough cash to buy a four-bedroom apartment Manhattan, which he recently sold to a law firm associate for just under $2 million.

That’s a sizable chunk of change for a young lawyer. How many sixth-year associates can afford $2 million apartments? Let’s learn more of the facts….

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Won’t be long before law schools are getting this guy to sell you legal education.

It really bothers me when law schools resort to “used car salesmen” tactics to try to induce law students to sign up for school. Say what you will about the value of legal education, but it’s not like buying a Sham-Wow. Students can’t be influenced by “special, limited time” offers when trying to decide if and where to invest three years of their time. If nothing else, you’re entering into the lottery to win a legal career, not an iPad Mini.

Law schools that try to exploit “impulse buy” reactions to fill their seats should be ashamed of themselves. They are taking advantage of kids — twenty-somethings who don’t have lawyers or accountants or appraisers representing their interests. Law schools are at a huge informational advantage concerning the true value of their services, value that they try to hide at every turn from independent third parties. Law students are trying to cobble together what they can based on word of mouth, Google, and some published rankings. Turning the screws on these prospective students with offers that “expire in 24 hours” is a good business strategy if you are trying to sell them a toaster, but it’s a disgraceful thing to do for a place that claims to be an “institution of higher learning.”

I can only hope that anybody who received this “hard-sell” email from this law school did the smart thing and just walked away…

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The task of keeping cranky, nervous, and potentially mutinous law grads on task and learning requires a lecturer being memorable enough to hold the audience’s attention. There are many paths to being memorable.

This video “trailer” for a film by one BARBRI professor takes a very particular route to memorability, and that route is a balls-to-the-wall crazy collection of hallucinogenic images.

As far as I can tell through the psychedelic fog of the production embedded below, a piece of African art in his living room convinced the instructor to kill a bunch of people and then take off his shirt in front of the jury. African art… why does it always have to be a black guy’s fault?

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Hello again from the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). People here are very friendly — although, as noted earlier, the law firm folks tend to be more welcoming to us than the law school crew.

That’s to be expected, given our sometimes critical coverage of law schools. We seek to promote consumer awareness when it comes to legal education, but some schools — especially those schools with weaker job outcomes for their graduates — perceive this as an attack.

Yesterday I attended a NALP panel discussion about law school transparency. In the course of discussing what we talk about when we talk about transparency, the panelists provided five defenses that law schools can use when faced with criticism over unemployed or underemployed graduates….

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Today, April 15, is Tax Day. But it’s an important day for another reason as well: it happens to be the day that some law schools want to hear back from applicants — and collect their deposit checks, of course.

Let’s close out our series of posts soliciting advice on picking a law school with three fact patterns. All of them involve at least two members of the so-called “T14,” the nation’s 14 leading law schools according to the U.S. News rankings….

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Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, a recurring feature that gives notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as information about their firms and themselves.

Don Lents is chair of Bryan Cave LLP. His practice focuses on M&A, corporate governance, and securities law, with particular emphasis upon multinational and domestic mergers. He has been an adjunct professor at the Washington University Law School. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard.

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