Bad Ideas

FIRST! Assistant United States Attorney.

First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.

At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.

Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.

It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…

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It’s a tale as old as time, and perhaps — if you were desperate enough — you’ve even experienced it yourself.

A young man wanders the streets of New York City, with dreams of some day becoming a star. He waits tables and does various odd jobs to pay the bills, all the while yearning for his chance in the limelight. He lands a few soap opera and commercial roles, but in the grand scheme of things, he isn’t very successful in his theatrical endeavors. He can’t land any good parts, and in the end, he’s forced to make a decision: will he put his manhood to the test and turn to acting in adult films, or will he go to law school?

Yup. Porn or law school. Thankfully, the legal profession is such that you can do both. Or, at least it was in the 1970s. The wannabe film star that we’re referencing decided to do both, but at least he had the good sense to tend to his porn career first, and then head off to law school. And in the end, he had a very successful practice — both in terms of showing his “O” face to the world, and climbing the ladder of legal stardom to the ranks of county district attorney in upstate New York.

But until recently, his adoring public was unaware that DA also stood for Dick Adjudicator….

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It’s been quite some time since we’ve had the opportunity to openly mock Michigan law students. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true — after all, we did pass judgment on their so-so performance on their own state’s bar exam. But thankfully, these kids have given us another chance to chuckle at their expense.

Remember that not-so secret society they had? You know, the one that tried to prank the campus community by putting sheets with sloppy penmanship up on the roofs of the residential dorms? That was a total fake fraternity fail. But now we’ve got a “real” fraternity fail for you to feast your eyes upon.

It appears that students at Michigan Law are trying to re-live their college glory days of coolness (or pretend that those days existed in the first place) via one of their law fraternities. It’s actually kind of cute, because they think it should be like a real fraternity, complete with insane initiation rituals….

(Plus, check our our update with some relevant information from a current member.)

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October brought a lot of tricks for the legal community, but there were some treats, too. From death-defying deeds of dumbness to dastardly weather disasters, last month seemed to have it all as far as we’re concerned.

Which attorney allegedly dropped a joint in front of cops in a courthouse? Which attorney allegedly got so wasted that she threw herself in the garbage? And which lawyer was so sexy that he won money for it?

Check out our nominees for October’s Lawyer of the Month….

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If you’ve been fortunate enough to have power for the last couple of days, by now you’ve probably heard the one about how, if Gangnam Style is a rain dance, we brought Hurricane Sandy upon ourselves. While the identity of the joke’s creator is disputed, its premise can’t be denied.

Gangnam Style is everywhere. Even my parents know what it is, thanks to Dancing With the Stars (sorry if you’re now struggling to scrub that image of Kirstie Alley out of your brain). It’s precisely this sort of over-exposure that makes the younger generations cringe.

Why? Because of that seemingly impulsive need triggered in the middle-aged brain to imitate whatever the kids are doing these days. I guess it was only a matter of time until politicians jumped on the Gangnam Style bandwagon. We now even have our first official campaign ad featuring the dance, courtesy of a judge in Michigan.

So, in honor of the recent Halloween holiday and all things scary, and as a much-needed break from endless hurricane coverage, I give you the following clips of supposedly respectable adults dancing to K-pop. Enjoy, if you dare….

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Warning: for law degrees only, not lawyers.

After a late night out on the town, many of us have probably come up with ill-conceived plans that seemed like great ideas at the time. For example, I recently concocted a plan to move to a remote island to escape my soul-crushing student loan debt, and even started packing a suitcase. But then I fell asleep. Upon awakening from my drunken stupor slumber, I realized just how absurd that plan was. Come on, I can’t afford plane tickets.

But what if you never had the chance to sleep it off? What if you thought that your harebrained plan would actually work?

That may have been what happened this weekend to a recent Cardozo Law School graduate who was unable to get into her Chelsea apartment in New York. She cooked up a plan so convoluted, so MacGyver-esque, that 1Ls the world over would cringe if it ever appeared on a torts exam. This lawyer thought it would get her back into the comfort of her own home, but instead, she only succeeded in landing herself in the hospital — with significant damage to one of her limbs.

We suppose this must be what happens to newly minted lawyers who are used to receiving walking instructions from their law schools….

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So Harvard Law School is now conducting admission interviews — via Skype. Yaaay.

I’m all about Skype. It’s a wonderful and useful technological tool. Still, I would want to trust my hypothetical law school admission process to it as much as I would entrust my (also hypothetical) new Ferrari to a 17-year-old on a Friday night.

Let me spell it out…

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Occasionally, lawyers send us awesome music videos that they have created. Sadly, we get less appetizing ones much more frequently. It turns out being an attorney does not automatically turn you into the Lonely Island.

We’ve got two painfully funny / bad / uncomfortable lawyer-produced clips today. Normally, I wouldn’t seek out clips like this to write about, but both of these were submitted to us by their creators. So, I guess, be careful what you wish for.

After the jump, check out the mid-size California firm that hopes you’ll call them, maybe, and a war crimes lawyer turned comedienne who sings a love song to Mitt Romney — while wearing a bikini, of course…

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For years, personal injury law advertising and violent imagery have gone hand in hand. Only in this field would we get a video of an unhinged attorney smashing a pickup truck into a parked car and call it an advertisement. The more they can yell or blow things up, it seems, the better.

Keeping with the tradition of aggression, we have not one, not two, but three different personal injury lawyers who have branded themselves “The Hammer.” But in the dog-eat-dog world of personal injury law, there can only be room for one Hammer. So who should win the rights to the title?

Should it be Lowell “The Hammer” Stanley from Virginia, who compares personal injury law to making sausage? Or Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro, the personal injury attorney possibly from New York (or Canada or Florida), who claims he loves to play rough? Or our entry from down South, Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler, who is supposedly meaner than a junkyard dog?

Which Hammer should reign supreme? Let’s review the evidence….

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Now that classes are back in session, I really hope some professor at Cardozo Law School pulls Benula Bensam aside and tells her that her keeping the story about her passing notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) alive is probably not helping her chances of securing a legal job.

You’ll remember Bensam as the student who got reprimanded for passing notes to Judge Rakoff during the Rajat Gupta trial. She went on to sue federal prosecutors and marshals for a number of claims arising out of largely standard courthouse security protocols. As we’ve previously discussed, upon leaving the courthouse Bensam wanted her cell phone back and had problems getting it.

Judge Andrew L. Carter (S.D.N.Y.) kicked most of Bensam’s case today, but he did give her leave to file an amended complaint on one issue.

For her sake, I hope she doesn’t take it…

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