American Bar Association / ABA

This punishment is more harsh than anything the ABA will do to a law school.

Jokes about basketball aside, the ABA’s decision to censure and fine the University of Kansas School of Law is bewildering. I mean, I get why the ABA would want to punish Kansas; the school did something that is kind of obviously wrong. But what’s confusing is that KU’s infraction is just a different form of what law schools do every day.

Why is the ABA singling out Kansas Law as opposed to 50 or 100 other schools? Well, as clear as I can tell, it’s because KU didn’t ask permission before it bamboozled foreign students.

Of course, luckily for Kansas, the penalties from the ABA are so toothless that KU will probably barely notice the hypocrisy….

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* Stan Stallworth, the Sidley partner accused of sexual assault, has hired a prominent criminal defense attorney to represent him in the case while the firm stands by its man. [Am Law Daily]

* Wall Street regulators are considering approval of a formidable version of the Volcker Rule that would ban banks from proprietary trading. Voting occurs later today. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Skadden Arps has asked a judge to toss an FLSA lawsuit filed against the firm by one of its document reviewers. Aww, silly contract attorney — there’s no way you’re getting overtime pay. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Weil Gotshal is still leaking like a sieve. This time, Bruce Colbath, a partner from the firm’s New York office, defected to the Antitrust and Trade Regulation practice group at Sheppard Mullin. [Market Wired]

* Lawyerly Lairs, China Edition: Raymond Li, chair of the Greater China practice at Paul Hastings, just purchased a townhouse for about $95 million — and paid “mostly in cash,” homie. [Wall Street Journal]

* They’re extremely tardy to the party, but if the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar gets its way, law schools will be subject to random audits of their employment stats. [ABA Journal]

* It’s a tough job that “can really beat you down,” but an organization called Gideon’s Promise just made it a whole lot easier for law students to secure jobs as public defenders in the South. [National Law Journal]

* Judge Richard Posner is the latest judge to have admitted to making a possible error (which he later endlessly recanted), but hey, if he was wrong, at least he was wrong in a “responsible, informed, and fair-minded way.” [National Law Journal]

* After being unceremoniously tossed off New York’s stop and frisk case by the Second Circuit for her supposed “partiality,” Judge Shira Scheindlin has been replaced by Judge Analisa Torres. Best of luck — you might need it. [New York Law Journal]

* Will Judge Scheindlin’s removal have a chilling effect on judicial speech? Lat thinks it would cause judges to “hide underneath their robes” even more than they already do. [Room for Debate / New York Times]

* The Biglaw gay gross-up marches on: it’s funny that the most conservative industry is outpacing others in terms of progressive benefits for LGBT employees and families. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “The U.S. is facing a paradox surrounding access to justice,” says ABA President James Silkenat, who is trying to kill two birds with one stone by pairing unemployed lawyers with poor clients. [Am Law Daily]

* Bernie Goetz (aka the New York subway vigilante) was arrested on pot charges after allegedly offering to get an undercover cop high. We’ve got a feeling his new nickname will be “Burnie.” [New York Daily News]

Over the summer, the American Bar Assocation announced that it would stop collecting data on law school expenditures. Ignoring law school expenditures is (counterintuitively perhaps) an important legal education reform. Law schools should be spending, and charging, as little as possible. The fact that a law school spends a lot of money on its professors really doesn’t seem to have a great effect on the quality of legal education, especially if that quality is at all measured by job placement rates.

Of course, getting the ABA on board is only part of the battle. In June, we noted that the real prize is for U.S. News to stop rewarding law schools for spending as much as possible. A law school shouldn’t be able to improve its ranking by tricking out its library or giving its faculty fat raises in a market where law school tuition is far too high.

I had expected U.S. News to follow the ABA’s lead. Law schools might not be the most transparent institutions, but they generally try to avoid lying to the ABA (at least some of them do). But without an ABA check, there’s nothing to prevent schools from lying to U.S. News to inflate their expenditure figures in an attempt to game the rankings. Reasonable people can disagree about what factors should be important in a set of law school rankings, but I had assumed U.S. News would at least want their data to be tied to reality, instead of made-up statistics offered up by law schools without any independent auditing or fact-checking.

It turns out, I was wrong…

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Any time you can shut down the entire government because you still really don’t like a law that helps uninsured Americans that was passed five years ago, you’ve got to do it. Well, at least if you want to be a regional party that can only be competitive in elections by gerrymandering and suppressing voter turnout.

The Republicans have shut down the government, the President doesn’t give a s**t and can’t be held hostage because he doesn’t have to run for anything anymore, and the federal courts will take a beating. The courts have already been operating on a shoestring thanks to the sequester (that other total failure of government), and now this.

The courts can stay open for ten days, and then things get ugly. Even the ABA is not impressed…

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* Congress could throttle tech innovation with two words. Thankfully, I don’t think Congress knows any two words beyond “defund Obamacare.” [Slate]

* The University of Washington was slapped with a $720,000 fine for withholding documents from a professor suing the school for gender discrimination. Every time something bad happens to the University of Washington, an angel gets its wings. Go Ducks! [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* The ABA has issued its draft report on the future of legal education. Highlights include recommending a 50% tuition cut. Ha! Just kidding. [Associate's Mind]

* Congress is targeting the people who are really making off like bandits: poor people on food stamps. But there’s another link in the federal agriculture spending chain that might make more sense to target if you really wanted to save the government money. Silly me, budgetary discipline has nothing to do with budget cuts. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Here are 15 things wrong with the criminal justice system. Only 15? [Boston Review]

* Lessons on the defense of others from Back to the Future. I’m still waiting for a legal analysis of buying plutonium from Libyans. Is that legal? I’m kind of fuzzy on that one. [The Legal Geeks]

The American Bar Association is out there, fighting for the rights of law students to labor without pay. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Maybe that sentence should go, “The American Bar Association is out there, fighting for the rights of legal employers to not pay their laborers.” Yes, that makes much more sense.

The Department of Labor sent a letter to the ABA, assuring the organization that hiring unpaid law students to do pro bono work is totally fine. This news makes the ABA happy for some reason. The ABA applauds the Labor Department declaration because of something about “service” and “experience” and other things that sound really nice when you can already pay your bills…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Good News Law Students, You Are Still Allowed To Work For Free! Happy?”

Were you part of that email catastrophe this past Friday? It seems that the American Bar Association added the world to one of its email listservs, and the crowd went wild.

No? You weren’t? Here’s what happened.

An email arrived from a 2007 John Marshall Law School graduate (that’s how we’re supposed to refer to lawyers here because when and from where they graduated means everything in the world, right?), via an ABA listserv:

Just as a reminder, the YLD Antitrust Law Committee, the Section’s Joint Conduct Committee and Distribution and Franchising Committee will host a live webinar entitled “Antitrust Fundamentals for Distribution and Franchise Practitioners” this coming Monday, September 9th.

It had one of those typical endings about how to get off the list — email or call the ABA. Or, of course, email the whole list…

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The third year of law school?

* Biglaw’s billing bonanza: at least 12 firms are advising on the multi-billion dollar deals going on between Microsoft / Nokia and Verizon / Vodafone, and Simpson Thacher landed a seat on both. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Standard & Poor’s is now accusing the Department of Justice of filing its $5 billion fraud lawsuit in retaliation for downgrading the country’s credit rating. Aww, we liked the “mere puffery” defense much better. [Reuters]

* The new ABA prez doesn’t think Obama meant what he said about two-year law degrees. He thinks it’s about cost. Gee, the ABA should probably do something about that. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Meanwhile, New York Law School wants to condense its offerings into a two-year honors program that comes complete with a $50,000 scholarship. Sweet deal if you can get it, but it sounds like most people won’t. [Crain's New York Business]

* Stewart Schwab, the dean of Cornell Law School, will be stepping down at the end of the academic year. The search for someone new to oversee the filming of amateur porn in the library is on. [Cornell Daily Sun]

* Crisis? What crisis? Nothing is f**ked here, dude. Amid plummeting applications, GW Law increased the size of its entering class by about 22 percent. The more lawyers, the better, right? /sarcasm [GW Hatchet]

* Jacked up! Attorneys for NFL player Aaron Hernandez got a stay in the civil suit accusing the athlete of shooting a man in the face until after the athlete’s murder charges have been worked out. [USA Today]

Did you know that the ABA maintains a listerv for all of the law deans at ABA accredited and provisionally accredited schools? I did. And I’ve always thought that it would be great to hack into that listserv. As far as I can recall, we’ve had just one story (although a great story) come from that listserv. I assumed it was because law deans were just really disciplined about not forwarding me threads from their private discussions.

Now I realize that their listserv is just boring as all hell.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the WSJ Law Blog obtained a copy of the “rules” for the listserv that the ABA circulated to all the law deans recently. I’ve seen law review notes that inspire more interest and discussion….

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