Screw-Ups

Some etiquette tips for law school deans:

peanut Mr Peanut warning contains peanuts you will die Above the Law blog.jpg1. If you send one of your students to another law school, for a year-long stint as a visiting student, don’t “apologize” for it — even if that student has a severe peanut allergy, requiring the receiving school to “peanut-proof” itself for the year.

2. If you really must issue an “apology,” do so by phone or in person, not by email.

3. If you really must issue an “apology” by email, send it to the individual dean. Do not send it to a listserv consisting of the deans of ABA-accredited law schools.

Because it might get leaked to ATL:
peanut allergy email snafu Above the Law blog.jpg
ATL readers: Please take this opportunity to engage in a spirited debate over whether schools, airlines, and other institutions go too far — or not far enough — in accommodating people with extreme food allergies. Thank you.Peanut Girl Dean Mark Sargent Villanova University School of Law.jpg

laptop pink girl woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgBased on your recent comments, it’s clear that many of you want to talk about New York bar exam results, which should be announced later this month. Many of you are wondering whether the scandal we dubbed “Laptopgate,” concerning problems with the software used by candidates who took the test on their computers, might delay the announcement of the results.
There’s nothing up about the subject over at the website of the New York State Board of Law Examiners. But in recent years, the results were released in mid-November. Archived press releases show that results for the last two July exams were announced on or about November 15, 2006, and November 18, 2005. So they’re not late yet, based on past practice.
But there are reasons for concern. From a reader::

I was one of those who had an answer overwritten during the July 2007 NY Bar examination. I received an email from NYBoLE in the end of August stating “this will confirm that we are in receipt of all of your printed (and/or handwritten) answers to essay questions 1 through 5 and the MPT.” [But then] I received another email from NYBoLE stating that they need me to upload my exam again to “verify that we have your complete essays” and that I “may have inadvertently received an email from us confirming that we are in receipt of your essays.”

Heard of this happening to anyone else?

Why yes, we have. In fact, we received several emails from ATL readers who sat for the New York bar exam in July 2007, describing similar situations.
A little more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Going on with the New York Bar Exam Results?”

gay football 2 Abercrombie Ftich Above the Law blog.jpgActually, as it turns out, Judge Jeffrey Levenson DID say he was sorry — immediately after making the ill-considered gay football / “wide receiver” crack that made him our Judge of the Day. And he apologized repeatedly during the course of the hearing, too.
But that hasn’t stopped the hue and cry. From the Daily Business Review:

Bar leaders and the public defender issued new calls Thursday for sensitivity training for Broward judges after Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson made an off-color joke in his courtroom about a teenage boy who allegedly had sex with an adult male defendant.

“If this incident doesn’t scream loudly how desperately we need diversity and sensitivity training in this circuit, then I don’t know what will,” said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. “In a matter of a year or two years, we had a judge insult Haitian-Americans, another insult African-Americans, had a third judge insulting blacks, Hispanics and Catholics, and a fourth judge insulting gay people.”

Maybe Judge Levenson should skip the sensitivity training and become a television judge. After all, TV judges get PAID to insult the litigants.
Food for thought: Why does Florida produce so many TV judges? It is because of their penchant, noted by PD Howard Finkelstein, for being rude and abusive?
The following are former Floridian jurists who left the state bench for the boob tube: Marilyn Milian, of the People’s Court (previously discussed here); Alex Ferrer, a/k/a “Judge Alex”; David Young, the gay TV judge; and the notorious Anna Nicole Smith judge, Larry Seidlin (not on air yet, but rumored to arrive in fall 2008).
Broward Courts: New chief’s honeymoon over [Daily Business Review]
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Jeffrey Levenson

gay football Above the Law blog.jpgOne of the perks of being a judge is that everyone has to laugh at your jokes. Except when they’re in poor taste and arguably offensive.
If you’re going to make an attempt at humor in the courtroom, proceed with caution — even if you’re the one wearing the robe. From Rumpole (via S.D. Fla. Blog):

Well, those fine folks North Of the Border have done it again.

This time it is Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Levenson, who put his robed foot in his mouth by making an inappropriate joke about the Defendant in a sexual battery case during the charge conference….

To summarize, apparently the Defendant is a high school football player, and the case involved the allegation of illegal sexual contact with another male. Judge Levenson asked what position the defendant played. He was told “linebacker” and another person in the courtroom said “Tight End” at which point Judge Levenson said “Wide Receiver?”

A little bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Jeffrey Levenson”

rejected rejection letter Above the Law blog.jpgGetting rejected by a law firm and having lots of your classmates learn about it: embarrassing.
Getting rejected by a firm you didn’t even apply to: priceless.
I’m afraid I must reject your rejection [TJ's Double Play]
Earlier: Public Humiliation, Courtesy of Your Friends at Wilson Sonsini

Tomorrow is a very big day for almost 20 California lawyers. From Blogonaut:

Qualcomm Qualcom Above the Law blog.jpgA federal district court has ordered 14 California lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned for their “exceptional misconduct” on behalf of Qualcomm in a lawsuit that the San Diego wireless company lost. All of the lawyers subject to the order were from the Cupertino law firm of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder or the Heller Ehrman law firm’s offices in Menlo Park and San Diego, the San Diego Tribune is reporting.

Five additional lawyers have been drawn into the proceedings since the order was issued, so the fate of 19 attorneys rests on the outcome of an October 12, 2007, 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. Magistrate Barbara Major, the newspaper reports.

We previously wrote about the underlying discovery snafu over here.
Both Heller Ehrman and Day Casebeer have been the subject of gossip recently. Last month, Heller Ehrman was rumored to be carrying out staff layoffs in California (believed to affect up to 90 people). If you know anything about this, please email us.
Update: Oops, sorry, don’t know how we missed this article from The Recorder, reporting on Heller axing 65 administrative staff positions nationwide. No attorneys were laid off.
As for Day Casebeer, rumor had it that they were rescinding offers to incoming associates. But it appears that this was inaccurate, as rumors sometimes are. When we contacted the firm, they had this comment:

We are delighted that eight new associates will join us this Fall and that two have already started work. It’s a record class for us. Far from rescinding any offers, we remain very interested in resumes from others interested in joining our practice.

Especially if you’re experienced in electronic data discovery.
Federal Court Brings Written Charges of “Exceptional Misconduct” Against 14 Lawyers [Blogonaut]
19 lawyers face sanction hearing [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Recovered Emails Bedevil Qualcomm in Court [Wall Street Journal]
Heller Says Slowdown Not Behind Layoffs [The Recorder via Law.com]
Earlier: Benchslap of the Day: The Qualcomm Debacle

Robert Birmingham Professor Robert L Birmingham Above the Law blog.jpg* Check it out: the Los Angeles Daily Journal has a brand new blog. Welcome to the blogosphere, Mr. Hurley! [Washington Briefs]
* Don’t you wish you had attended a non-top-tier non-T14 law school? At U. Conn. Law, Professor Robert Birmingham (at right) screens prostitution training films in class. [TaxProf Blog]
* ESPN’s Stephen Smith lawyers up, retaining Willie Gary — a/k/a the “$22,000 an Hour Man.” [FishBowl NY]
* Fake Lawyer of the Day. [AP]
* Dubious Lawsuit of the Day. [Orlando Sentinel]
* Another interesting interview with Jeffrey Toobin, author of the bestselling Supreme Court book, The Nine. [On the Media / NPR]

E Duncan Getchell Jr Fourth Circuit Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s tough being a federal judicial nominee. Your entire legal career is gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and every mistake or misstep is brought to light, no matter how minor.
From the ABA Journal:

A lawyer nominated to a federal appeals court was lead attorney on an $8 million appeal that got tossed because the trial transcript was not filed by the deadline.

E. Duncan Getchell Jr. of McGuireWoods asked the Virginia Supreme Court to hear the appeal anyway, but the judges refused, the Virginian-Pilot reports. Getchell’s five-page brief did not explain the reason for the failure, except to say there was a “miscommunication or misunderstanding.”

Perhaps there was a misunderstanding about whether trial counsel or appellate counsel (Getchell) should have filed the transcript. From the Virginian-Pilot:

The fact that Getchell’s firm filed the post-trial motions three weeks after the verdict “kind of suggests the baton was passed,” said William S. Geimer, a professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University Law School who teaches civil procedure.

“It’s definitely the law firm’s responsibility,” Geimer said. “I don’t see any way for the law firm to escape responsibility if it was even partly or jointly responsible for the failure.”

Getchell did not return repeated calls to his office.

The Fourth Circuit has been shorthanded for a while now. And with the nomination of Duncan Getchell, that probably won’t be changing anytime soon.
(Not necessarily because of this procedural snafu, but because Getchell’s two home-state senators — John Warner (R) and Jim Webb (D) — don’t seem to be backing his nomination.)
Costly Error Linked to 4th Circuit Nominee [ABA Journal via Blogonaut]
Error in major case tied to federal judge nominee [Virginian-Pilot via How Appealing]
E. Duncan Getchell Jr. bio [McGuire Woods]

laptop pink girl woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSo whatever happened to people caught up in the recent, ill-fated administration of the New York bar exam? One test taker wrote us:

“I imagine you’re getting a slew of forwards on these cold-comfort NYBOLE [New York Board of Law Examiners] emails, but just the same, here you go. I didn’t have laptop problems myself (knock on wood), but for those applicants who claimed to have their essay answers swapped or overwritten, this might just be salt in the wound.”

And the message:

From: New York Bar Exam Administration
Date: 23 Aug 2007 13:05:43 -0400
Subject: Your July 2007 Bar Exam Essays have all been received.
To: [redacted]

BOLE ID:B1000xxxx

This will confirm that we are in receipt of all of your printed (and/or handwritten) answers to essay questions 1 through 5 and the MPT

Sincerely

New York State Board of Law Examiners

But apparently some exam takers weren’t so lucky. From a second source:

Any updates on Laptopgate? A friend of mine that took the NY bar at the Javitz got an email yesterday saying that additional information is needed from their computer. That doesn’t sound promising.

We haven’t seen one of these “more information please” emails. Have you? If so, we’d be grateful if you could send it to us by email. If we get one, we’ll post it here. Thanks.
Update: The text of the cryptic email appears after the jump.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of bar exams (scroll down)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Latest on Laptopgate”

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati WSGR Above the Law blog.JPGHere’s a tale from the fall recruiting trenches, from a 2L at Columbia Law School:

I got my first rejection yesterday, from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. It was not through your typical form letter; it came via mass email.

And by “mass email,” I mean “the email address of everyone who got rejected is listed in the ‘to:’ field.”

CLASSY. Maybe WSGR wanted all the “rejects” to know each others’ identities, so they can from a support group?
To its credit, the firm realized that it screwed up:

They then left a voicemail apologizing and explaining that it was an “honest mistake,” and they hope it doesn’t affect my opinion of the firm. Personally, it doesn’t bother me — we all had lots of interviews, which lead to lots of rejections (and lots of callbacks).

But I can see why other people would be bothered by it, and I think the firm deserves some attention for (1) not putting in the effort to send actual rejection letters (this was even signed by “Attorney Recruiting Department”) and (2) not knowing the difference between “to:” and “bcc:.”

We concur. Hence this shout-out to Wilson Sonsini — and the reject-o-bots in its “Attorney Recruiting Department.”

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