American Bar Association / ABA

‘They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said… sure, it’s better than going to jail!’

* President Obama nominated Thomas Perez, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, to be the next secretary of labor. Republicans, of course, are all butthurtt, calling this a “needlessly divisive nomination.” [New York Times]

* Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Be prepared to see some legal heavyweights next week when the Prop 8 and DOMA cases are argued before the Supreme Court, including Paul Clement and Ted Olson. [National Law Journal]

* How appropriate that Justice Scalia should break out the Spanglish for an Arizona voter registration law that requires proof of U.S. citizenship. Our beloved Wise Latina probably wasn’t too thrilled by this. [New York Times]

* To promote pay equity in law firms, the ABA is encouraging bar groups to hold conferences on the topic. The question on everyone’s minds, of course, is whether those conferences are billable. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Law schools aren’t the only places where transparency is lacking. Jeh Johnson, the DOD’s former general counsel, thinks the secrecy swirling around drone strikes is bad for the government. [At War / New York Times]

* The members of Debevoise’s displaced trusts and estates practice team have been picked up by Loeb & Loeb. Enjoy your new home, and your new — presumably lower — compensation package. [Am Law Daily]

* Lindsay Lohan took a plea deal yesterday, and instead of going to jail, she’ll be going to rehab to be kept under lock and key for 90 days. I’d say this is bad for her career, but who are we kidding? [Los Angeles Times]

* Casey Anthony’s trustee just answered my prayers. He wants the ex-MILF to sell her story to pay off her debts. I demand that LiLo be cast in the role! She’s the only one broken enough to pull it off. [Washington Post]

‘What, no power rings for the Law School Avengers?’

* In case you didn’t catch this yesterday when it was announced, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is currently being held for trial in New York City. This will be the most unbiased jury in the world. /sarcasm [New York Times]

* According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, democracies shouldn’t depend “on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.” Well then! I suppose we should look forward to the uprising. [The Big Story / Associated Press]

* Cooley and Winston & Strawn are working on the $600 million sale of everyone’s favorite store for slutty Halloween costumes, Hot Topic. Apparently that store still exists. I had no idea. Good to know! [Am Law Daily]

* Proskauer Rose is now the most powerful Biglaw firm in the sports world. It just goes to show that even if you’re too awkward to play ball, it doesn’t mean you can’t hit it out of the park in court. [Sports Illustrated]

* “I would love to blink and wake up in 10 years and see where all this ends.” Unemployed law grads are probably saying the same thing, but hopefully these law school law firms will be beneficial. [New York Times]

* A group of legal heavy hitters — “The Coalition of Concerned Colleagues” — submitted a cutting letter to the Task ABA Force on Legal Education. Next time, try “The Law School Avengers.” [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* If it’s proven that enough Native Americans find the Redskins team name offensive, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board may cancel the mark. Would it be offensive to call the TTAB Indian givers? [National Law Journal]

* An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but benchslaps are another thing entirely. Sorry, Gibson Dunn, but your document production “mistake” was “unacceptable” in Judge Paul Grewal’s courtroom. [Bloomberg]

Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of The Dean’s Office, a series of posts on legal education by Dean David Yellen of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

The American Bar Association plays an important, but often misunderstood, role in legal education. Overall, I believe the ABA deserves mixed grades for its response to the current crisis. It did not cause the crisis, and it is implementing some valuable improvements. But its resistance to change stands in the way of a number of needed reforms.

First, some background. The Council and Accreditation Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education, not the ABA itself, is authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit law schools. DOE rules require an accrediting agency to be separate and independent from a trade association, so the Section operates essentially autonomously from the main ABA. ABA accreditation is critical to law schools because all states authorize graduates of ABA accredited schools to take the bar examination. Recently, the President of the ABA itself created the Task Force on the Future of Legal Education (on which I serve). The Task Force is an advisory group, though, with no accreditation authority.

Two key features of the ABA process are voluntarism and self-regulation….

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Much credit has been given to the American Bar Association of late for its efforts to rein in law schools and their wily ways as far as employment statistics are concerned. Once upon a time, it was just fine for law schools to publish completely nonsensical data and herald it to the world as if it were true. Prospective (and extremely gullible) applicants were made to believe that it was possible for 98 percent of a class to be employed nine months after graduation during the height of the recession, and they applied in droves.

These days, now that word has gotten out that employment in the entry-level legal sector has run dry, law school applications are on pace to hit a 30-year low. You’d think that given the gravity of the situation — not to mention the ebb and flow of class action lawsuits having to do with job statistics — law schools do their best to comply with the ABA’s standards, but apparently even that’s too hard to do.

Perhaps the ABA’s reporting requirements are too tough in that they require not one, but Dear Lord, two charts to be published, along with consumer information that’s “complete, accurate, and not misleading.” That’s a pretty high bar to reach, amirite? Considering the state of the job market, providing accurate employment information about law schools must be really embarrassing rough for administrators to have to endure.

In fact, some law schools in the T14 can’t even bring themselves to adhere to these stringent requirements….

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PPP at one top law firm?

* Law School Transparency? Nay, Biglaw Transparency! Peter Kalis, global managing partner of K&L Gates, just opened the kimono wide on his firm’s financial performance in an “unusually detailed” fashion. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Talk about a pain in the pocketbook: although profits per partner and revenues are up overall, one firm saw shrinkage of 16 percent in PPP. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The ABA is just now thinking of trying to find someone who will audit the graduate employment data that law schools release each year. Gee, it only took 15 fraud lawsuits to get the ball rolling. [National Law Journal]

* Oh my God, you guys, carrying six figures of law school debt on your shoulders is “unsustainable” in the long run, especially when your salary sucks. This is new information that no one’s heard before. [News-Gazette]

* Former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten is now Tulane Law’s new assistant dean for experiential learning. For the school’s sake, hopefully he’ll be able to control his students better than he did his AUSAs. [Tulane Hullabaloo]

* “You’re a cold-blooded murderer and I’ll stare you down until I die.” Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife. A sequel to the Lifetime movie is likely forthcoming. [Reuters]

‘They stole [accreditation] from us. Sneaky little ABA. Wicked, tricksy, false!’ — FAMU Law

Ed. note: Due to the Presidents’ Day holiday, we will be on a reduced publication schedule today. We will be back in full swing tomorrow. We hope you enjoy your day off (or feel free to lament your lack thereof in the comments).

* “[T]hey don’t want to hear nothing.” Vedel Browne, the man accused of robbing Stephen Breyer at machete-point while the justice was vacationing in his home in the Caribbean, now claims that he’s innocent, mon. [St. Kitts-Nevis Observer]

* You know what, the farmer in the Super Bowl commercial probably didn’t have to deal with bullsh*t like Monsanto’s seed patents, but today’s farmers do, and they’ll argue their case before the Supreme Court this week. [New York Times]

* “I’m a betting man. And I would bet and give odds that Sullivan & Cromwell has never said that publicly.” Who dares question S&C’s stance in the hot mess that is Herbalife? None other than Carl Icahn. [Am Law Daily]

* Here’s an important Biglaw math lesson that’s been provided to us via California-based firms like Irell & Manella, Munger Tolles, and Orrick: a little revenue minus a lot of partners equals profitability. [Recorder]

* Amid a flurry of filings on Valentine’s Day, love must’ve been a battlefield for the embattled Dewey & LeBoeuf refugees who were in desperate search of their once promised 2011 bonuses. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* From the department of things that suck: having to defend your office’s alleged “underhanded tactics” in a $150 million wrongful conviction case while you’re trying to get re-elected as district attorney. [New York Times]

* We got bitches in the office lawyerin’ on, and they ain’t leavin’ till six in the mornin’ — unless they want to be fired. An ex-Travers Smith trainee claims she was canned for leaving the firm “early”… at 6:30 a.m. [Telegraph]

* If it weren’t for Cosmo, this woman wouldn’t have known her landlord was an alleged creeper. A Maryland lawyer now faces criminal charges for allegedly filming his female tenants in the nude. [Washington Post]

* “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious!” The ABA officially put Florida A&M on notice that its law school accreditation may be in jeopardy if they don’t shape up in terms of bar passage. [Orlando Sentinel]

* What do you do the second you step off a cruise ship that’s been described as “a floating toilet, a floating petri dish, a floating hell”? You grab the very first lawyers you see, and sue! [Nation Now / Los Angeles Times]

‘That’s just our special sauce!’

* Six Supreme Court justices attended last night’s State of the Union address, and although it was all hugs and kisses and handshakes to start off with, some looked as if they were due for naptime by its end (coughRBGcough). [Blog of Legal Times]

* It’s a clash of the Biglaw titans! In a face off between legal heavyweights, the Second Circuit has set aside time to hear arguments from Ted Olson and David Boies in the Argentine bondholder case. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Dewey know if this document specialist’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act lawsuit has got any legs to it? It certainly must, because Judge Martin Glenn very recently denied the failed firm’s motion to dismiss it. [Am Law Daily]

* Congratulations to Paulette Brown of Edwards Wildman Palmer. This Jersey girl is the uncontested nominee for ABA president in 2015, making her the first minority woman to hold the title. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* Send in the clowns (or loads of O’Melveny and Akin lawyers): Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has a low opinion of David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital lawsuit, referring to it as nothing more than a “silly sideshow.” [Reuters]

* “It is up to us in the academy to prepare our students for the future no matter what it holds.” Dean Frank Wu of UC Hastings seems to be on the right track when it comes to necessary law firm reforms. [Huffington Post]

* Poor, poor Teresa Wagner. She was allegedly denied a job because of her conservative views, and her case ended in a mistrial. That kind of a thing could drive a woman to drink… and drive. [Iowa City Press Citizen]

* Not only does Lehigh University ruin every college basketball bracket in the nation, but it also provides great “I’m suing you because of my crappy grades” fodder. Oh my God, I really miss you, Lehigh! [Morning Call]

* Thanks to the wisdom of the Ninth Circuit, we now know that, at least in Washington, a spit-laden hamburger from Burger King is grounds for emotional distress damages. Ugh, that’s nasty! [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

We give law schools a lot of grief around here for being too expensive and not recognizing the true value of their product.

I’m new here and maybe not as jaded as others (read: Elie), but in a world where more and more Biglaw practical legal work is farmed out to temp attorneys, these sky-high tuitions are simply unwarranted. And for the most part, the ABA has backed them up.

But now the ABA has joined the chorus.

The ABA created the Task Force on the Future of Legal Education last year. Its two-year mission: to seek out new models for legal education. Well, they’re trying to turn in their report a year early (damn gunners!), and based on the testimony the committee collected there are some interesting ideas out there. But forgive my pessimism in thinking that this report will boldly go where pretty much every report on law schools has gone before.

But let’s look at the ideas that are out there….

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Some law schools want the bar to be so low they can crawl over it.

Whenever we ask the American Bar Association to make regulations with teeth that would actually improve the quality of legal education, the organization claims that law schools will sue them if they try.

The ABA has no stomach to seriously regulate its member institutions, but individual state bars also have authority to regulate the law schools in their jurisdictions. A new rule in California holds schools to a higher standard than the ABA is willing to impose.

So, of course, a California law school is suing 22 members of the State Committee of Bar Examiners over the new rule. They want to keep their rubber stamp of accreditation from the CBE, since they don’t yet have accreditation with the ABA.

If you think people running accredited law schools are willing to make spurious arguments to justify the value of legal education, wait till you see the stuff they try to pull at unaccredited law schools…

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‘If only I had an eDiscovery solution for compliance and discovery requests to efficiently manage, identify, analyze, and produce potentially responsive information from a single, unified platform. Of course, it would be hosted in a private, cloud-based environment.’

While technology has reduced costs for many areas of legal practice (e.g., research), the centrality of electronically stored information to complex civil litigation has sent discovery costs skyrocketing. Hence the rapid proliferation of e-discovery vendors like so many remoras on the Biglaw shark. Nobody seems to know how large the e-discovery market is — estimates range from 1.2 to 2.8 billion dollars — but everyone agree it’s not going anywhere. We’re never going back to sorting through those boxes of documents in that proverbial warehouse. New amendments to the FRCP specifically dealing with e-discovery became effective way back in December 2006, but if the e-discovery vendors (evangelists?) at this week’s LegalTech tradeshow are to be believed, we are only in the technology’s infancy in terms of its development and impact on the legal profession.

At LegalTech, we attended a “supersession” presented by e-discovery provider Planet Data, promising to present “judicial, industry, legal, and media perspectives on where legal technology is taking litigation and how it affects you.” Don’t be jealous….

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