American Bar Association

Back in October, we informed our readers that law school litigators Jesse Strauss and David Anziska intended to file class action lawsuits against 15 additional schools, on top of the two they’d already filed against Cooley Law and New York Law School. In mid-December, we brought you an update on the status of those potential filings after Anziska told us that at least three named plaintiffs had been secured for 11 out of the 15 law schools on October’s target list. And now, about a month and a half later, have we got some news for you.

Anziska quipped in an interview with us last year that he hoped to turn 2012 into the year of “law school litigation.” Well, the class action crusader is off to a great start, because today, Team Strauss/Anziska partnered up with six other law firms and filed lawsuits against 12 law schools around the country. According to Anziska, “these lawsuits will define a generation.”

Which law firms have joined in their mighty quest, and which law schools have been sued? Find out all of this information, plus additional details that we learned during today’s media conference call, after the jump….

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* Occupy Wall Street supporters, please take note: this is how you stage a protest. Yesterday’s internet blackout definitely made lawmakers think twice. SOPA bill backers dropped like flies. [New York Times]

* The American Bar Association may be taking baby steps toward improving the way law schools report graduate employment and salary statistics, but progress is progress. [National Law Journal]

* A judge has nixed Duncan Law’s request for injunctive relief against the ABA. Because really, what’s the harm in a memo about a lack of accreditation when you never had it in the first place? [ABA Journal]

* Proskauer Rose is down to get dirty with Edwards Wildman. Gregory Rasin, a labor and employment partner, will be representing the firm in its love triangle lawsuit. [Am Law Daily]

* New Jersey needs nugs now! A civil lawsuit against the Garden State’s health department is in the works due to an alleged delay in implementing its medical marijuana program. [Star-Ledger]

When I saw the abysmal bar passage rate posted by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on the July 2011 administration of the California bar exam, I opined that TJSL should lose its American Bar Association accreditation. Of course, that won’t happen. The ABA standards on accreditation are so lax that law schools can lie to the ABA and still not get kicked out.

Much to the ABA’s embarrassment, TJSL released some papers to reassure students that even with a 33% first time bar passage rate (and an incomprehensible 13% pass rate for returning test takers), Thomas Jefferson Law was still well within ABA parameters. TJSL sent out an email that reiterated ABA Standard 301, which sets forth bar passage requirements for accredited schools:

Standard 301

Standard 301 (A): A law school’s bar passage rate shall be sufficient, for purposes of Standard 301(a), if the school demonstrates that it meets any one of the following tests:

(1) That for students who graduated from the law school within the five most recently completed calendar years:

(a) 75 percent or more of these graduates who sat for the bar passed a bar examination, or

(b) in at least three of these calendar years, 75 percent of the students graduating in those years and sitting for the bar have passed a bar examination.

2) That in three or more of the five most recently completed calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in the jurisdictions reported by the school is no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in these same jurisdictions.

TJSL representatives say that they are in compliance with the two out of the three possible methods of compliance. They even produce a graph that shows how the class of 2011 was an outlier result — not that this graph is really something TJSL administrators should be proud of.

The solution? Blame Bar/Bri, and the students themselves….

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At the start of this new year, what is the outlook like for legal employment? There’s certainly a fair amount of bad news out there, particularly for recent law school graduates.

But what about for denizens of Biglaw, the lawyers fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to work at the nation’s largest law firms? What does 2012 hold for them?

Earlier this month, my colleague Elie made some predictions for the legal profession. I will follow in his footsteps and venture some prophecies of my own for the year….

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* Is the Roberts court really as pro-First Amendment as we’ve been led to believe? Lawyers aren’t really that good at math, but they’ve done studies, you know. And 34.5% of the time, it works every time. [New York Times]

* The people at the ABA aren’t concerned that William Robinson’s remarks made him seem like a tactless tool. Instead, they’re concerned that his “quotes were used out of context.” [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Duncan Law wants the ABA to remove a memo denying the school’s provisional accreditation from its website. Why? So students will keep applying and paying them tuition money. At least they’re being honest. [Knoxville News Sentinel]

* Montgomery Sibley, whose license to practice is suspended, is running for president and suing “Barrack” Obama. Well, that’s a unique way to establish standing in a birther lawsuit. [Huffington Post]

Prof. Hans Smit

* Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy your way out of jail. Just ask Floyd Mayweather. Thanks to this judge, he’ll be fighting someone other than his ex on Cinco de Drinko. [Washington Post]

* Hans Smit, beloved Columbia Law professor (and owner of a $29 million mansion), RIP. [Columbia Law School]

* The actress suing IMDb has finally been unmasked. I’ve never heard of her, but she’s probably suing for more than she’s ever made in her B-movie Z-movie career. [New York Daily News]

William Robinson III (a.k.a. the guy who needs to explain how he afforded his Corvair in the first place).

So earlier this week, the president of the American Bar Association, William Robinson, gave a ridiculous interview to Thomson Reuters News & Insight. You might have heard about it.

Robinson had the grace and the courage to tell law students it was their own fault for the rampant price gouging that happens as a result of the ABA’s ineffective oversight of law schools. It took real strength of character for Robinson to share this anecdote: “When I was going to law school . . . I sold my Corvair to make first-semester tuition and books for $330.” I mean, how many people in Robinson’s position would be so out of touch that they think prospective law students are driving automobiles that can cover a whole semester of tuition at an American law school!

That’s right, future 1Ls, don’t get too used to your Jaguar XKR. Don’t become too attached to your Lexus hybrid. You’ll need to sell your luxury automobile to pay for law school. D’uh!

Sorry, I’m still flabbergasted that the president of the American Bar Association openly admitted to being a complete joke.

When the story broke the other day, I had the good fortune of being in Washington, D.C., at the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). The law school at the University of California – Irvine invited me to speak to law school professionals and deans about how law schools could better use (or avoid) social media.

And let me tell you, law school professionals — the people who have to deal with the perception of general ABA incompetence on a day-to-day basis — were not at all happy with William Robinson’s comments….

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Watch this before Sunday.

* Is New Jersey’s Senator Robert Menendez blocking Patty Shwartz, Obama’s Third Circuit nominee, out of resentment? Time to build yourself a bridge and GTF over it. [New York Times]

* Sullivan & Cromwell took the top spot among law firms in M&A transactions in 2011, with $325.7 billion in deals. You better believe they’re giving out huge spring bonuses. [Bloomberg]

* “No one wants to pay for something that doesn’t pay off.” At least those at the annual meeting of the AALS realize this applies to law school. When will the ABA sign on? [National Law Journal]

* In his first move after being appointed to the CFPB — a so-called valid appointment, mind you — Richard Cordray has launched a program for oversight of non-banks. [Legal Times]

* You can’t bill clients for hookers and porn and then try to get out of it by blaming your mental disorder. Or you can, but it will come back to bite you in the ass. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The Firm: from the best sellers list, to the silver screen, and now to the small screen. Look out for Mitch McDeere in his two-hour, television premiere this Sunday on NBC. [Wall Street Journal]

As we mentioned today in Morning Docket, William Robinson, the newly appointed president of the American Bar Association, is taking a stand on the status quo of legal education in our country.

But instead of combating 2011′s annus horribilis for law schools by calling for reform, Robinson is defending the ABA’s role, stating that young lawyers “should have known what they were getting into.”

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the man in charge of the ABA is essentially playing the “blame the victim” card when it comes to debt-saddled and unemployed law school graduates?

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Puppy is sad because you think he has no soul.

* Rick Santorum and the Sweater Vests can join Rick Perry’s ballot access lawsuit in Virginia. It’s funny, because at this rate, Perry will have dropped out before the first hearing. [Washington Post]

* If you’re an unemployed law grad drowning in debt, you should’ve known that you’d be screwed. Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! Opinion does not compute! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Scott Rothstein claims that his firm kept a condo across the street so that partners could bang hookers. If real firms were like this, there would be less partner defections. [Orlando Sentinel]

* One robo-signer to rule them all: David J. Stern, Florida’s dethroned foreclosure king, is being sued by his own company for fraudulent conduct. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. [Bloomberg]

* Do cute, little doggies have souls? Of course they do, but the law doesn’t really conform to animated children’s movies from the eighties. This lawsuit hopes to reveal the truth. [Gothamist]

It woud be nice if the Senate could have actually given this guy a vote instead of forcing the present ugliness.

* The recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB could get tricky — not because Republicans are outraged by recess appointments (much like Democrats are outraged by obstructionist filibusters), but because Congress isn’t technically in recess, due to the sham sessions Congress has been running. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Milbank, if you’re going to brag about being the only major Wall Street firm to have an Orthodox Jewish woman as a partner, you better be telling the truth, you meshuganas. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The ABA responded to the Duncan Law antitrust suit. Its basic response is that the ABA doesn’t arbitrarily keep bad schools out, it only arbitrarily lets bad schools in. [Law School Transparency]

* But Duncan probably isn’t just in it for the legal fight. The school wants to bring media attention to the ABA’s random oversight of legal education. [Law Librarian Blog]

* Does Obama need to endorse gay marriage before the election? Or does he just tell the gay community “Santorum” until they get on board? [The Root]

* Is it really that surprising that the unemployed are NOT on drugs? Aren’t Republicans the ones who are supposed to understand that in a market, desirable goods cost money? If you want to drug test a constituency, do a random raid at a white-shoe law firm, and don’t forget your chemistry set. [Huffington Post]

* It’s nice to ask permission before you appropriate somebody’s song as your campaign theme. [Fox News]

* Thanks to everybody who voted for us as their favorite legal blog for news in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 poll. You’ve given us the strength to keep reporting on spring bonuses, even though they don’t technically exist yet. [ABA Journal]

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