American Bar Association / ABA

Hope you enjoyed your small summer classes.

* “[J]ust because something is constitutional doesn’t mean it’s the best idea, or even a good one.” Perhaps we’ve given Chief Justice John Roberts a little too much to do. No wonder he’s gotten cranky. [Opinionator / New York Times]

* “It’s raining lawsuits.” As Justice Scalia predicted, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Windsor case, gay couples across the nation have banded together to challenge bans on same-sex marriage. [NBC News]

* The Fourth Circuit ruled that state authorities in Maryland can’t arrest and detain people just because they look like they might be illegal immigrants. They can only do that in Arizona. [Baltimore Sun]

* No more fun during sequestration, ever! Judges, get ready to kiss your “lavish accommodations” at judicial conferences goodbye, because Senator Tom Coburn is on the case. [National Law Journal]

* For all of the talk that Biglaw is in recovery, summer associate hiring just isn’t what it used to be. Summer class sizes shrank since last year. We’ll have more on this later today. [Am Law Daily]

* On Friday, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will consider making changes to its law school accreditation standards. Yes, the ABA does have standards. [ABA Journal]

* Open wide and suck this down: A film on the life and times of porn star Linda Lovelace may be lost to the cutting room floor because Deep Throat’s rights holders are seeking an injunction. [The Guardian]

The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education released a 34-page draft report today about its findings. Essentially, the document says, “Wow, the scam blogs were totally right, we suck.”

Just kidding. I mean, it does finally get to the point of identifying a problem with legal education that law school reformers have been screaming about for years. But, in the immortal words of Sam Seaborn, “Let’s forget the fact that you’re coming a little late to the party and embrace the fact that you showed up at all.”

The top-line findings of the ABA draft report hit on pretty much all of the problems with legal education. But it’s still an open question whether the ABA will actually do anything about this report. I’ll tell you what I find out while I’m at their annual meeting next week, assuming I make it back alive…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ABA Finally States The Problem: Now, Will They Do Anything About It?”

Law school’s epitaph?

* Hiring a Supreme Court clerk might not be worth a $500,000 gamble for some Biglaw firms. Some will take that sweet sign-on bonus and remove their golden handcuffs before a year is out. [Capital Comment / Washingtonian]

* Akin Gump partner and D.C. Circuit nominee Patricia Millett won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee by a margin of 10-8 along party lines, and now her nomination will head to the full Senate for a vote. [Huffington Post]

* President Obama nominated Michelle Friedland and John Owens, two young Munger Tolles & Olson partners, for seats on the Ninth Circuit. If confirmed, that’ll make three partners from the same firm on the bench. [The Recorder]

* Sorry, law firms, but it’s no longer cool to inflate hourly billing rates for contract attorneys when you pay them substantially less. You can thank Ted Frank for this judicial revelation. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education thinks that just about everything having to do with law schools is “deeply flawed” and needs “serious re-engineering.” How comforting. [ABA Journal]

* Law School Transparency is willing to assist schools with the reporting of their ABA post-graduation job placement statistics, for a price. How much is integrity worth these days? [National Law Journal]

* For $25K, Casey Anthony’s bankruptcy trustee won’t make her sell the worldwide rights to her story — like her theory of the crime she was acquitted of, it “exists solely within [her] mind.” [Sun-Sentinel]

Howard Dean

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the legal wrangling: Eric Holder’s use of the VRA’s “bail in” provision to circumvent the SCOTUS ruling in Shelby may prove to be trouble. [National Law Journal]

* The Fifth Circuit upheld warrantless cellphone tracking yesterday, noting that it was “not per se unconstitutional.” We suppose that a per se victory for law enforcement is better than nothing. [New York Times]

* The pretty people at Davis Polk are fighting a $1.4 million suit over a headhunter’s fee with some pretty ugly words, alleging that the filing “fails both as a matter of law and common sense.” [Am Law Daily]

* Howard Dean is rather annoyed that he’s had to go on the defensive about his work for McKenna Long & Aldridge after railing against Obamacare. Ideally, he’d just like to scream and shout about it. [TIME]

* The ABA is concerned about Florida A&M, and sent a second warning about the school’s imminent failure to meet accreditation standards. Well, I’ll be damned, the ABA actually cares. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is suing to prevent a clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. A silly little lawsuit won’t stop this guy from doing what he thinks is right. [Legal Intelligencer]

This needs to be required reading before the next ABA meeting.

If there was ever an argument for laissez-faire market forces over bad and unhelpful regulation, it’s here where the American Bar Association seems hell-bent on preventing law schools from balancing their budgets in any way other than price-gouging students who are getting too smart to pay.

There’s a trend piece in the Wall Street Journal today, covering something that we’ve talked about on a more granular level, regarding law schools firing staff and sometimes law professors to cope with the declining number of law school applications.

But the ABA, ever tone-deaf to the concerns of the actual law students who have to pay or borrow money to support the broken system of American legal education, is actually in the process of trying to make it harder for accredited law schools to fire professors and control their costs. In a world where the market is saying “we no longer want to pay this much for these services,” the ABA is trying further regulate exactly what kinds of services law schools provide.

It’s madness, but that’s legal education in the 21st century…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Professors Enter A Time Of Consequences As ABA Fights To Preserve Their Status Quo”

See ya, professor!

* Since summer’s start, Patton Boggs has been leaking lawyers like a sieve. Thus far, 22 partners and 11 associates have defected from the firm to Holland & Knight, Jackson Lewis, Arent Fox, and WilmerHale. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Considering the deadly force choke American health care reform legislation has supposedly put on employers, perhaps more lawyers ought to consider becoming Jedi masters of the Affordable Care Act. [Daily Business Review]

* The new normal for the ivory tower: Law schools are tackling falling applications by “voluntarily” decreasing their class sizes, or by “voluntarily” offering faculty and staff buyouts. [Wall Street Journal]

* But look on the bright side, professors, the ABA wants to amend its accreditation standards to save your jobs and offer greater protections. Too bad its unwilling to do the same for students. [ABA Journal]

* If you’ve been swindling clients for long enough, the law school you donated money to will try to scrub your name off its walls. That is what’s happening now at IU-McKinney Law. [National Law Journal]

* If you want to go to law school, you should base your ultimate decision on your financial future and job prospects. You may be very sorry if you don’t. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Judge Tom Greenwell, the Texas jurist found dead in his chambers, RIP. [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]

Does the amount of money a law school spends necessarily have an effect on the quality of its legal education?

Here at Above the Law, we say no. Our Law School Rankings take a look at the outcomes law schools provide for their graduates, not the inputs law schools cast into the pot.

But U.S. News still looks at many input factors in evaluating law schools. One of the most notorious factors U.S. News cares about is faculty resources. U.S. News rewards schools for spending a lot of money on the faculty per admitted student. You can kind of see the thought process there: good schools hire good professors and good professors command higher salaries.

Unfortunately, this U.S. News factor creates perverse incentives. Schools with unreasonably high tuition are rewarded for overpaying faculty, at the expense of the debt burden loaded upon their students and recent graduates. Ranking one school better than another because it engages in profligate spending is a cruel joke in this economy.

We don’t know if U.S. News will stop this madness, but yesterday the American Bar Association decided to stop asking schools to report the figure…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The ABA Does Something Right! Will U.S. News Follow And End One Perverse Incentive For Law Schools?”

* The Obama administration has decided to delay the employer health care mandate until 2015. What does that mean for you? Well, since you’re not a business, you still have to purchase health insurance by 2014. Yay. [Economix / New York Times]

* Untying the knot is harder than it looks: Gay couples stuck in loveless marriages they’ve been unable to dissolve due to changing state residency may be able to find new hope in the Supreme Court’s recent DOMA decision. [New York Times]

* Clinical professors are pushing the ABA to amend its accreditation standards to require practical skills coursework. Amid faculty purges, they’re committed to do whatever it takes for additional job security. [National Law Journal]

* If you’re heading to a law school recruitment forum and want to get ahead in the applications process, make your mark by acting professionally, not by dressing like a d-bag. [U.S. News & World Report]

* “As a parent we’re not always proud of everything they do.” Of course there’s a prosecution inquiry being made into the Don West ice cream cone picture that ended up on Instagram. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Lawyerly lothario Zenas Zelotes has been suspended from practicing law for five months. He should take his own advice, find an ethics attorney, and make her his girlfriend. [Connecticut Law Journal]

* When you’re arguing about a video game — online or anywhere — you should probably leave talk of murdering children out of the conversation. You could wind up in jail for months like this guy. [CNN]

* John Tiley, one of the United Kingdom’s most preeminent tax law professors, RIP. [The Telegraph]

* J. Lo has apologized for singing Happy Birthday to a repressive dictator. Many are questioning the decision to serenade an alleged violator of international human rights law, but I’m just confused why J. Lo didn’t opt for the new, copyright-free birthday song? But people are being way too tough on the President of Turkmenistan. Don’t be fooled by the rocks that he got, he’s still Gurbanguly from the block. [Breaking Energy]

* NYU Law Professor Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick wonder if the progressives have another liberal agenda item to push after marriage equality. The authors cite issues like voting rights and opposition to the death penalty as traditionally liberal causes marginalized by progressives. It strikes me this article makes a lot more sense if you replace the word “progressive” with “Justice Kennedy.” [Slate]

* DLA Piper’s decision to hire Lee Smolen has raised more than a few eyebrows given the firm’s commitment to ethical billing policies. [Hellerman Baretz]

* Did the ABA just recommend an ethical violation? [New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog]

* After a week of landmark rulings and Biglaw layoffs, the importance of clerking cannot be understated. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* The Supreme Court Term feels like a distant memory, but now’s a good time to look back on it with added perspective. Courtesy of MoloLamken, here’s a great guide to the big business cases of the Supreme Court Term just ended. Download or print it, then read it at your leisure. [MoloLamken]

* An attorney left the rat race to open a pea company. But these don’t look like the peas you tried to hide under your mashed potatoes, they look like serious snack food. [Kickstarter]

Stand with Wendy.

* “Screw all these other cases, man, we’re ready for the real stuff — you know… the gay stuff.” Damn, a satirical article that perfectly captures our thoughts. Don’t worry, it’s coming today. [The Onion]

* On a more serious note, this is obviously a really big day for gay marriage at the Supreme Court. Will the justices settle the score, or leave this movement’s supporters high and dry? [Wall Street Journal]

* Big Tech has always been a proponent of gay rights, and some of the most respected brands in America are hoping same-sex marriage doesn’t get the blue screen of death from SCOTUS. [Politico]

* Everyone else loses, but Scalia always wins. He couldn’t have asked for more after Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was struck down. So long, “racial entitlements.” [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

* “No, we’re not going to do layoffs. We’d never do layoffs. Everything is just fine. Seriously, we won’t do stealth layoffs either. Promise! Believe us, pretty please,” said the managing partner of every peer Biglaw firm after the Weil winnowing. [Am Law Daily]

* Law schools are freaking out about a new American Bar Association proposal to tighten their bar passage requirements, and they’re blaming all of their alarm on diversity issues. [National Law Journal]

* This state senator wins the award for most unique filibuster attempt ever. To block new abortion regulations in Texas, Sen. Wendy Davis spoke endlessly for 11 hours straight. You go girl! [CNN]

* Pop star Chris Brown was charged in a hit-and-run, and surprisingly, Rihanna had nothing to do with it. The new charges may affect his probation, and he might even go to jail. [Arts Beat / New York Times]

* Breaking news: Aaron Hernandez was just taken into custody at his home. Discuss. [USA Today]

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