American Bar Association / ABA

It’s one of those Through the Wormhole moments when the camera pans back to reveal that Morgan Freeman is an insignificant spec on the Earth which is an insignificant spec in the galaxy, which itself is an insignificant point of light in the multi-verse. When you adopt the proper perspective, you see that there is an entire system at work here that dwarfs the concerns of any individual law school taking advantage of any particular class of prospective students.

Last Thursday, in totally unheralded news, a panel of regulators recommended that the Department of Education re-authorize the ABA’s accreditation authority for another three years. But hey, at least they asked a question…

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Erika Harold

* AG Eric Holder sat down and had a little chat about what’s been going on at the Justice Department. He’s not impressed with his agency’s work, but he claims he’s not stepping down just yet. [NBC News]

* “Can you hear me now?” Oh, Verizon, what an apropos slogan you’ve got considering the latest government scandal. The NSA has been spying on you through your phone records since late April. [Guardian]

* Lawyers for Matthew Martoma still want more time to comb through millions upon millions of documents in their client’s insider trading case, but it seems rather pointless after a judge’s kiss of death. [Reuters]

* Looks like she got her wish: thanks to Judge Michael Baylson, a little girl with terminal cystic fibrosis may have a better chance at getting a longer lease on life in this donor lung transplant case. [CNN]

* Being a politician didn’t really work out so well for him, so John Edwards is going to try his hand at being a lawyer again. Just think of all of the lovely ladies he’ll be able to pick up as clients. [USA Today]

* Speaking of former public servants who are getting back into the law, Ken Salazar will be opening the Denver office of WilmerHale — and when it comes to pay, he’s got a “very good package.” [Denver Post]

* And not to be forgotten, famous flip-flopper Joe Lieberman will be taking his services to Kasowitz Benson. We certainly hope the firm will appreciate his superior legal mind. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The ABA is considering law school job data collection 10 months after graduation, instead of nine, because bar exam results come out so late. Like that extra month will help… [National Law Journal]

* Erika Harold, a Harvard Law grad and ex-Sidley associate known for her reign as Miss America, is running for Congress in Illinois. What will she she do for the talent portion of the competition? [Politico]

Experience doesn’t pay the rent.

The ABA agrees that exploitation of law students and other interns is unacceptable; however, the FLSA uncertainty inhibits law firms from offering students the opportunity to work on pro bono matters in a real-life practice setting. …

Furthermore, in the current economic climate with shrunken employment opportunities for law school graduates, hindering the ability of law students and recent graduates to work side-by-side with experienced lawyers who could provide both strong mentoring and favorable substantive references unnecessarily reduces access for future employment prospects.

Laurel Bellows, president of the American Bar Association, in a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor endorsing the use by private law firms of unpaid law student and graduate labor.

(Absurd and out of touch? I’d say so. Keep reading to see the entire letter.)

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Paging the next Aquagirl! Where are you? (Click for the image for the post.)

* Obama might have found out about the IRS scandal “when it came out in the news,” but the Office of White House Counsel knew what was going on weeks ago. Hooray, a new reason for people to lose their sh*t. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through ridiculously expensive litigation: making up almost two percent of our GDP, our legal system is the most costly on earth, which isn’t exactly something we should be bragging about. [Corporate Counsel]

* “It’s no surprise these lawyers would want to get off this sinking ship.” It looks like things are going just swimmingly for Steven Donziger now that John Keker’s out as his defense attorney in the Chevron fraud case. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “Fantasy sports is usually the first and last thing I’ll do each day.” Here’s some proof that there’s such a thing as work/life balance in Biglaw… which is only applicable if you’re a partner. [Am Law Daily]

* Law school enrollment is down, and so is tuition revenue, so the legal academy is now selling new degrees. It’s only a matter of time before they market employment timeshares. [National Law Journal]

* On the bright side, if you’re still looking for a job, our own David Lat has some advice on how to get one (and how NOT to get one). We miss summer associates’ misbehavior. [U.S. News & World Report]

* Congrats are in order for this weekend’s graduates, including the first graduates of LMU’s embattled law school — they won’t let a lack of ABA accreditation rain on their parade. [Knoxville News Sentinel]

So what got that Wake Forest law student mad enough that he started calling for Wake’s accreditation?

To briefly recap, a Wake law student, Daniel Skinner, filed a defamation suit against Wake and several Wake officials over a letter he received suggesting that he’s quick to accuse folks of fraud and deceit.

Underlying this dispute is Skinner’s claim that Wake failed to meet basic accreditation standards and therefore defrauded the ABA and the federal government.

The details of this claim weren’t clear from the complaint and Skinner’s personal blog. But thankfully some folks have stepped up and provided us with more material Skinner has sent around explaining his beef with Wake Forest. So in the interest of full disclosure, let’s take a look at Skinner’s side of this story…

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Casey Anthony

* Right about now, the Second Circuit is wondering why authors are suing Google and crying infringement over the Internet company’s e-book project, especially since digitization could benefit so many of them. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* This is the end of an era of legal battles: Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s former chief executive officer, is getting a little shaved off the top of his 24-year prison sentence thanks to a deal with the Department of Justice. He’ll be out in 2017. [CNBC]

* Biglaw expected to have a slow start in 2013, but no one expected it to be this slow. The latest Citi report wasn’t exactly encouraging; on average, firms saw a 0.2% increase in revenue during the first quarter. [Am Law Daily]

* In the past decade, the American Bar Association has created six task forces to explore changing the face of legal education as we know it. Funny… nothing’s really changed. [National Law Journal]

* Bail for Ariel Castro, the accused Cleveland kidnapper, has been set at $8 million. “Just think of how many ribs and salsa albums could be bought with that, bro,” said Charles Ramsey. [Chicago Tribune]

* Casey Anthony had a bankruptcy hearing yesterday, but that news was overshadowed because everyone cared more about the girl who wasn’t going to get away with murder. [Orlando Sentinel]

Just married civil unioned!

* Underneath this jurist’s robe you’ll find a sling. Justice Stephen Breyer had to have shoulder replacement surgery this weekend thanks to his latest bike accident, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. [Associated Press]

* A Ninth Circuit judge has ruled that an assistant federal public defender and her wife are entitled to federal health benefits. Take that, DOMA. [Courthouse News Service]

* Judy Clarke, one of the nation’s best capital defense lawyers, will be joining Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s legal team. She’s pretty good at keeping people alive, but we’ll see how this one goes for her. [Bloomberg]

* The ABA may do away with faculty tenure requirements for accreditation. No security of position? It looks like there’s a storm coming, law professors, so go get your bread and milk! [National Law Journal]

* Prospective law students are being counseled to take advantage of the smaller applicant pool, but it won’t look so small when they can’t get jobs. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* “Gay marriage? Hell no, let’s make all marriages civil unions.” Minnesota senators want to put couples on an even playing field — one that isn’t recognized by the government. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

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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Party on, Justice Breyer.

* On this episode of Supreme Court Retirement Watch, we learn that for whatever reason, Justice Breyer is “having the time of his life,” and so once again, all eyes are upon Justice Ginsburg. Maybe in 2015, folks. [The Hill]

* How unusual that a federal judge would see a confirmation in less than three months. If only Chuck Grassley owed favors to all of the nominees. Congratulations to Jane Kelly, now of the Eighth Circuit. [Legal Times]

* Thanks to an unprecedented ruling from Judge Dolly Gee, mentally disabled immigrants facing deportation will receive government-paid legal representation. New law school clinics, assemble! [New York Times]

* “Among the things the ABA is working on, this may be the most important.” Too bad the Task Force on the Future of Education seems to suffer from too many cooks in kitchen. [National Law Journal]

* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against Brooklyn Law School over its allegedly phony employment statistics has been dismissed. Sad trombone. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Justin Teixeira, one of the Berkeley law students accused in the Las Vegas bird beheading, waived an evidentiary hearing so the media couldn’t squawk about video images they’d see. [Crimesider / CBS News]

No. It’s not. The answer is so easy. Not achievable. I think it’s actually a misrepresentation. Talking about work-life balance is fraud.

Laurel Bellows, President of the American Bar Association, responding to interviewer Julia Williams’s question about whether it’s possible to achieve work/life balance as a female lawyer.

(Keep reading to see additional thoughts from Bellows on women and the law.)

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