Bad Ideas

Even witches must pay full price for BAR/BRI.

Law school is expensive. We get it. Preparing for the bar exam is expensive too. We know.

What’s a law student to do? Taking out more loans is the obvious answer, but at a certain point, one cries out, “!No más!”

Some have turned to, for lack of a better word, begging — like this aspiring UNC law student, and this 3L at Arizona State. But their efforts were not well-received. In these troubled times, we all have our own financial burdens to bear.

Alas, one student at Temple Law School didn’t get the “no begging” memo. She sent out a Facebook invitation to almost 800 people, requesting their attendance at an event entitled “HELP [REDACTED] RAISE MONEY FOR THE BAR EXAM IN JULY!!!!”

Yes, she’s asking her law school classmates — some of whom are probably just as cash-strapped and debt-burdened as she is — to just give her money.

Or pay her for one of her magic spells. Because she’s a witch, you see….

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(And begs her classmates for cash, too.)

What is up with state prosecutors in the Midwest? Over the past year or so, they’ve been making huge fools of themselves. See, e.g., Wisconsin’s Ken Kratz (of “I am the prize” fame); Michigan’s Andrew Shirvell (of “homophobic nut job” fame); and Indiana’s Jeff Cox (of “Use Live Ammo” fame).

Our latest Midwestern prosecutor to win Lawyer of the Day honors, Carlos Lam, also hails from Indiana. Let’s take a look at what this loser Hoosier did….

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The following tale of legal technology took place in our nation’s capital, although it seemed to draw more attention overseas.

Last December, as winter’s grip began to take hold over Washington, D.C., Rodney Knight Jr. found himself in serious need of a heavy jacket. So he did what any of us would have done in these circumstances: he broke into someone’s house and took one. Knight kicked down the back door to the home of Marc Fisher, a metro columnist for the Washington Post, where he found his new winter jacket. In addition, being in a proactive mood, Knight decided to swipe two laptops and a bunch of cash.

Knight was so proud of his little heist that he felt the need to do a little bragging. Check out what one of the greatest criminal masterminds of the early 21st century did next….

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Here’s some good news for lawyers who enjoy blogging or instant-messenger services like Gchat. It’s right in the headline of this here National Law Journal story: Smiley face, snark, don’t render law grad unfit to practice.

Many of us get snarky in our personal writing, and many of us employ emoticons in email messages or Gchat exchanges. As litigators well know, sometimes a cold transcript doesn’t adequately convey tone. For this reason, I’ve even seen federal judges use winking smiley-face emoticons in email messages.

But you shouldn’t use smiley faces in documents you file with the court — even the super-icky courts that hear traffic appeals (yes, they exist). This is a lesson that Marilyn Ringstaff, a 2006 graduate of John Marshall Law School, learned the hard way….

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When you think about it, naming the band "Massa-Bossmans" would have been more ambiguous.

On Friday we wrote about the settlement agreed to by Cure Lounge, a club in Boston that was accused of discriminating against African-American patrons. In the comments, it seemed like some of our Southern readers where all too happy to point out that this example of racist behavior took place in the North.

Lord knows I’ve never said that racism is an exclusively Southern phenomenon. But I’ve met enough Southerners to know that they sometimes feel unfairly maligned just because of their Confederate past. Sure, I could argue that only Southerners would come up with the name like “Lady Antebellum” for a band — and only Southerners would defend that name as “merely” referring to a time before the Civil War, as if I’m supposed to be the idiot who forgets what was happening in the South before the Civil War. But whatever, the point is taken, modern racism exists North and South, East and West, probably in relatively equal “amounts,” if such a thing could be quantified.

But still, you have to give the South credit. When they go for it, they always seems to have more flair. They have a — what’s the word? — one might say “cavalier” way, at least at UVA Law, of going about racial intolerance.

It would be charming, if it wasn’t so damn disgusting…

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Usually I’m happy to stand with law students against the slings and arrows of outrageous law school administration.

But not this time. This time, instead of a noble law student fighting the good fight, I see an annoying whiner who wants law school to be about teddy bears and rainbows.

A student at the University of Miami School of Law is trying to get the student body to adopt a “Student Bill of Rights.” The proposal lists a number of things that “shall not be violated.” Even though I agree with some of these points, codifying them as “rights” makes me flaccid. We’re talking about law school, not summer camp. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s not supposed to be fair.

We can condemn law schools until the cows come home for inducing students to sign up under false pretenses. But once you matriculate, law schools turn into the warden from Shawshank Redemption: “Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me.”

As a law student, you don’t have any rights….

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If you can't do this, there's no point in getting a J.D.

Well, I think we are officially at the point in the legal economy where servicing law school debts is just like servicing an expensive drug habit. The parallels between the two are too great to ignore:

  • Is it something you started because everybody else was doing it?
  • Is it something you initially thought was a harmless way to kill some time?
  • Did somebody make wild claims about how “great” it would be for you to try it?
  • Do you find yourself whoring yourself out in order to make money for it?

In the J.D. context, we usually think of “whoring” as a figurative state. But not for much longer.

We already know that many strippers do what they do in order to get money for their drugs. Now, through the wonders of Craigslist, we’re about to see strippers baring all in order to get money for their educational debts.

Sallie Mae might be just a lending institution now, but she dreams of becoming a madam…

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I love it when crazy people self-identify.

I don’t know where Ray Wolfe goes to law school, and I don’t want to know. This guy seems unhinged and dangerous. You don’t have to take my word for it; you can look at the letters this guy sent to judges in Missouri.

According to court documents, Wolfe was a law student in Massachusetts, but was home in Missouri when he was cited for traffic violations. But there were scheduling conflicts between Wolfe and the Missouri court.

That’s when Wolfe unleashed his crazy. He sent a couple of menacing responses to Missouri judges. The letters were so outrageous that he was convicted on two counts of “tampering with a judicial officer.”

Those convictions were recently upheld in an opinion by the Missouri Court of Appeals — which means we can now all be entertained (and generally horrified) by the apparently unhinged Ray Wolfe….

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Here at Above the Law, we’re still enjoying the awesomeness of 1Ls and 2Ls going to war over the appropriate use of a listserv.

Today we’ve got an email more mundane in subject matter, but no less objectionable. It’s from a 1L (of course), who is trying to “network” with fellow 1Ls.

And it’s written by a 1L at Thomas Jefferson Law School, which had a starring role in the recent, widely read New York Times article on the dangers of going to law school. So our more elitist readers are about to have a field day…

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It's a train car, not a conference room.

Here at Above the Law, we’re trying to help you. We write about lawyers who do embarrassing things so that you can learn from their examples. Heck, you should get ethics CLE credit for reading this site.

One of our most widely-used lessons — now part of new employee training at a Wall Street firm, in fact — is the cautionary tale of Acela Bob. Pillsbury Winthrop partner Robert Robbins conducted what should have been a confidential conversation about impending layoffs at his firm — in a loud voice, using his cellphone bluetooth, on a crowded Acela train. An ATL reader heard the whole thing and tipped us off; we wrote it up. Shortly thereafter, Pillsbury — which had not yet admitted to any layoffs — confessed that cuts were coming (and “apologize[d] for the unfortunate manner in which our deliberations about reductions have become public”).

Here’s one lawyer who apparently never heard about Acela Bob, or perhaps forgot the story: James J. Kirk (no relation to Captain James T. Kirk).

This James Kirk is the managing partner of Kelley Drye & Warren — and a man who has no trouble making himself heard….

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