Bad Parents

I think we’ve long known that law is a refuge for people who are afraid of numbers. People who are good at math don’t borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for a shot at winning the bi-modal salary distribution lottery and a job that they’ll most likely hate. I don’t think we needed a longitudinal survey to show that.

But the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth also found that lawyers are more likely to come from relatively rich families, which does surprise me.

Studying law is hard, and your financial success is somewhat directly tied to the amount of hours you work. A banker can earn money in his sleep. A lawyer has only 24 hours in a day to bill. If your family makes a lot of money, aren’t you supposed to get an anthropology degree and work for an NGO? Why would you slum it with the social climbers trying to get into the upper middle class, one deal sheet at a time?

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Rachel Canning

My parents have rationalized their actions by blaming me for not following their rules. They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me and have redirected my college fund, indicating their refusal to afford me an education as a punishment.

Rachel Canning, the Catholic schoolgirl from New Jersey who’s suing her parents for her high school and college costs (plus her lawyer fees). Canning claims her parents abandoned her after she moved out of their home in October.

(A stock photo of a teen driver — not actually Ethan Couch.)

I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard the story about the wealthy white teenager who killed four people while drunk driving. As we mentioned in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs, 16-year-old Ethan Couch got off — sentenced to therapy — because the judge agreed that the kid was a victim of “affluenza”: his parents gave him everything he wanted, and he believed that being rich meant that he wouldn’t have to face consequences for his actions.

The kid’s not wrong; the fact that he’s not facing incarceration for killing four people kind of proves the point. A poor white kid would be in jail right now. A rich black kid would be in jail right now. A poor black kid would be picking out items for his last supper right now. Anybody who thinks that this kind of lenience would be given to anybody other than a wealthy white dauphin is wrong and stupid (and probably racist). The rich kid isn’t in jail because rich people don’t suffer the full force of consequences for their actions.

That said… the judge isn’t wrong either. When you have a jerk-off prick of a 16-year-old, as this kid appears to be, it’s probably not his fault. Not really. My outrage isn’t that Couch is getting off, it’s that so many other teens and young people are being incarcerated without this kind of compassion.

Not that there aren’t people who deserve jail time behind this. It’s just that those people are Couch’s parents….

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The kids here only look this happy because there are strippers off camera.

A mom reportedly hired strippers to show up at her 16-year-old’s birthday party, and she’s being charged with a crime. This is why we can’t have nice things. Shouldn’t kids learn how to objectify women in a controlled and safe environment with adult supervision, or do you really want them learning that stuff out on the street from Hannah Montana?

New York mom Judy H. Viger allegedly hired strippers to perform at the bowling alley where her son was having his party. The strippers allegedly performed lap dances. Viger was charged with child endangerment; her lawyer claims that she will cop to a plea. Child endangerment!

Like “I’m going to beat you with this switch” endangerment, only instead of a switch the kids got hit with fake stripper boobs….

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If there’s one thing I’m going to defend, it’s the right of American children to go out and die or injure themselves in whatever way seems best to them. Whether we’re talking about alcoholic energy drinks, or dangerous playground equipment, I’m not a fan of trying to legislate away childhood behavior. You shouldn’t sell kids a bag of glass, but we have fairly robust tort and consumer protection laws to weed that kind of stuff out.

Certainly, at the point when a child — or God forbid an adult — comes upon a giant roller coaster that does loops at 90 mph and says, “Oh, yeah, that looks perfectly safe,” I’m not sure what kind of “regulation” we’re supposed to be going for. If it crashes, you’ve got a tort action. If it doesn’t, you can thank whatever God you pray to and maybe next time take your ass to the bumper cars.

That stance puts me on the opposite of the newly elected junior Senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey…

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Are you thinking about going to law school — and being encouraged to go, or even pressured to go, by your parents? Let’s start with the probably reasonable premise that your parents want the best for you. (Sure, your parents might be sociopaths who are trying to destroy your life, but why would you listen to them at all, if that’s the case?)

Not infrequently, the parental conception of “what’s best for you” involves a stint in law school. If you don’t want to go, how can you convince your parents that law school is a terrible, awful, very bad idea?

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* Looks like someone skipped professional responsibility class during bar prep: the Ninth Circuit denied attorney fees to McGuireWoods in light of an “egregious” ethics violation made in the BAR/BRI antitrust settlement. [National Law Journal]

* Apple rested its patent-infringement case against Samsung yesterday, making way for the rival tech company to begin presenting its case. Jurors must be thrilled that the end is in sight, with just 25 more hours of arguments to go. [Bloomberg]

* Remember the mom-and-dad law grads accused of planting a potpourri of drugs on an elementary school volunteer? Their alleged victim is suing. We’ll have more on this hot mess later. [Orange County Register]

* “The facts don’t seem to support a ‘stand your ground’ defense.” That’s what George Zimmerman’s attorney said yesterday, but the defense team is going to try to get the case dismissed on those grounds anyway. [AP]

* When applying to law school, it’s usually helpful to demonstrate in your application that you actually want to go to law school. Gah, people seriously need to be told these things. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* “[T]he plaintiff’s tampon was never forcibly removed by any deputy.” First of all, yuck. Second of all, you know that a crazy lawsuit must have been filed when the cops are making public statements like this. [NBC News]

Yesterday we received a fairly provocative question in the Above the Law inbox. A reader asked us to assess the role that parents play — or should play — in their children’s decision to go to law school:

With all the talk about the perils of going to [law school], I wonder what role people’s parents play (or should play) in the decision…. While there are some older, more independent law students, I think the vast majority of matriculating students have had or still receive some form of parental support. How could a parent tell their child not to follow their dreams? Seems like that would never happen in my generation of helicopter-parented children. Yet that discouragement is exactly what could prevent a lot of poor decisions to go to low-ranked schools.

I think it cuts the other way. I don’t think that parents are allowing their kids to go to law school because they want to be supportive of their kids’ dreams. I think that more parents are forcing their kids to go to law school, especially lower-ranked law schools, as they vicariously relive their lives through their children.

Absent parental meddling, there wouldn’t be nearly as many people applying to law school….

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As we mentioned in Morning Docket yesterday, two adult children in Illinois have sued their own mother on the grounds of “bad mothering.” You must be wondering how one qualifies to be a bad enough mother to warrant such a lawsuit. Well, apparently, failing to completely spoil your children will do the trick — especially if your ex-husband, an attorney, has it out for you and is representing the kids.

The lawsuit has since been dismissed, but it was so ridiculous that we thought it deserved its own showcase here on Above the Law. Find out what these snotty little brats alleged against their mother, after the jump….

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I’ve said before that I think that parents need to teach their kids coping mechanisms to deal with bullying from their peers. But it might be foolhardy to expect Baby Boomer parents to instill any kind of internal strength in their children.

Instead, it’s much more likely that the only thing kids these days will learn from their parents will be how to sue those who annoy them. At least, that’s the message one Houston man is teaching his daughter. After a group of middle-school girls apparently posted some nasty comments about his daughter on YouTube, the father — who is also an attorney — sent the girls a cease-and-desist letter. When he didn’t receive a response to the letter, he sued the mean girls for defamation.

For those playing along at home: mean middle-school girls bully other girl, so father uses the law to bully middle-school girls. The only satisfactory ending to this story would be if the fathers of the three defendant girls went over to the lawyer’s house and hoisted him on a flagpole by his underwear….

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