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* “The top is eroding and the bottom is growing.” Even as class sizes get smaller and tuition gets lower, the law school brain drain continues. America’s best and brightest won’t be fooled into studying law when the job market is still so unstable, but others have been. [Bloomberg]
* Attorneys for California’s sex workers have filed suit to overturn the state’s ban on prostitution, claiming that “[t]he rights of adults to engage in consensual, private sexual activity (even for compensation) is a fundamental liberty interest.” Yeah, okay. [AP]
* “The simple story is that $160,000 as a starting salary at large law firms is less prevalent than it was immediately prior to the recession.” You can scream “NY TO 190K!” all you want, but starting salaries have remained flat. Sowwy. [DealBook / New York Times]
* U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York has involved himself in an “escalating war of words” with members of the federal judiciary that he may come to regret. Will this “petulant rooster” be able to kiss and make up? [New York Times]
* Per a recently filed lawsuit, Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees still hasn’t paid a single law firm for their representation in the Biogenesis case. He allegedly owes Gordon & Rees $380,059 in unpaid fees. Come on, A-Rod. You’ve got the cash. [New York Daily News]
* Infamous plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger of the $9.5 billion Chevron / Ecuador kerfuffle decided that if he can’t win his case in a court of law, he might as well try to win it in the court of public opinion. Check out his side of the story. [Law360 (sub. req.)]
Although we’re dealing with just a proposed opinion, it’s no less of a warning sign for those of you who don’t know enough about e-discovery, as legal technology columnist Jeff Bennion explains.
* “He said what he wanted people to hear and he didn’t fully answer questions.” St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch of Ferguson infamy spoke at Missouri Law yesterday. We understand there was some sort of an “incident” with the SBA as well. We may have more on this later. [KBIA]
* “Don’t panic; you’re bound to get something eventually.” California had some of the worst employment statistics for law graduates after the recession. If you’re a member of the Lost Generation, these stories may resonate with you. [California Lawyer]
* New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez was federally indicted on corruption charges yesterday for allegedly accepting more than $1 million worth of gifts and campaign contributions in exchange for political favors. Way to do Jersey lawyers proud. [AP]
* Jury selection begins on April 27 for the criminal trial against the former members of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s top brass. The prosecution dropped three counts, but Joel Sanders and the Steves must still defend themselves against 100 others. Yikes! [New York Law Journal]
* Gordon Smith, one of the writers for Better Call Saul, doesn’t think the show’s portrayal of lawyer life will inspire young people to “run out to become attorneys.” After all, Jimmy McGill’s home and office haven’t exactly been depicted as “glamorous.” [WSJ Law Blog]
* If you thought Squire Patton Boggs would be able to meet its projection of $1 billion in combined revenue after its merger, you’d be wrong. If you thought the firm would be able to meet its projection of having more than 1,500 lawyers after its merger, you’d also be wrong. [National Law Journal]
* Use this slideshow to compare how California law schools are doing in terms of job placement. Stanford was on top, and Golden Gate was dead last. Bonus: If you strip out school-funded jobs, the numbers look even worse. [Sacramento Business Journal]
* Uh… oops? Keila Ravelo, the ex-Willkie Farr partner who was accused of stealing millions of dollars from two of her former firms, is now at the center of questions over settlements in credit-card cases she worked on. [New York Law Journal via ABA Journal]
* “Please help us heal.” David Messerschmitt’s widow is begging for information about the DLA Piper associate’s death. The case is being actively investigated, and police believe the person of interest who was seen on surveillance footage is a woman. [Legal Times]
* In case you missed it yesterday, U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The first charge could result in up to five years in jail, while the second could result in a life sentence. Yikes! [WSJ Law Blog]
Depending on what you’re selling, driving traffic to your website might not be a very good goal, as Cara McDonald of LexBlog explains.
* Last week in court, a murder suspect in Louisiana apparently pooped his pants during a case status hearing, wiped said poop all over his face, and muttered to himself that “life is like a box of chocolates.” Sorry about that crappy candy, dude. [New Orleans Advocate]
* According to early Am Law 100 data, New York’s most elite and prestigious firms have once again broken away from the rest of the pack when it comes to both revenue and partner profits. Biglaw’s best may be back to models and bottles. [Am Law Daily]
* Michelle Lee, the first woman to ever serve as director of the USPTO, was sworn in on stage at SXSW Interactive. Michelle Lee, who worked with the Girl Scouts to issue a patent patch (instead of more makeup and sewing patches), is pretty damn awesome. [Mashable]
* The federal judiciary has plans to decrease the word limit of appellate briefs from 14,000 to 12,500, and lawyers are pissed. Lawyers from Brown Rudnick say it could result in more acronyms, confusing construction, and less “punctilious citation,” oh my! [WSJ Law Blog]
* Lee Smolen, the ex-Sidley Austin partner who faked $69,000 in travel expenses while at the firm (and possibly $379K more), has been suspended from practice for one year and will have to undergo psychiatric treatment. [Legal Profession Blog via ABA Journal]
* Taking New York’s lead, California is considering requiring all would-be attorneys in the state to complete 50 hours of pro bono work within one year of being admitted. Leave it to people who don’t know what they’re doing yet to close the justice gap. [Los Angeles Times]
* “Taking the bar is like riding a bike. A bike that’s on fire.” Never before has there been a better way to describe what it’s like to take the bar exam. Here’s how some recent examinees were able to survive. Miraculously, no one preemptively sent a letter like this. [California Lawyer]
* DLA Piper is entering into happily married bliss with Davis, a 260-lawyer firm from the Great White North. An April wedding is planned. The couple is registered with American Lawyer and Vault. Give them a few loads of loonies! [Am Law Daily]
* Attorney General Eric Holder took to the op-ed pages to announce the Department of Justice’s official take on the constitutionality of marriage equality in America: “Nothing justifies excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage.” [USA Today]
* Speaking of Eric Holder, the attorney general released another official announcement yesterday. Ben Mizer will take over as chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. (For what it’s worth, people are making a huge deal over the fact that he’s gay.) [Metro Weekly]
* If you’ve missed a law school application deadline, don’t worry, because there are ways you can boost your chances of getting in. Having a pulse is only 98 percent of the battle — you’ll also need a tuition check. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]
Besides their good looks and fame, they’re also increasing their focus on data security. In the wake of “Celebgate,” the Sony Pictures hack, and nearly daily data breaches targeting massive corporations to individuals, law firms are finally recognizing the importance of bringing their cybersecurity policies up to speed.
* On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to evaluate the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, and this is perhaps the definitive article on how the justices have been preparing the nation for marriage equality. Get ready for some big gay weddings this summer. [BuzzFeed]
* Smile for the camera! Kent and Jill Easter, the infamous helicopter-parenting lawyers who went to jail for attempting to frame a volunteer at their son’s school on drug charges, found themselves at the center of a 20/20 story. [ABC News]
* With it being highly likely that the Supreme Court will declare bans on same-sex marriage by the states unconstitutional, people are wondering which justice will be the one the vote hinges upon. Could it be Chief Justice Roberts? [New Republic]
* Come on now, the swing vote in the same-sex marriage cases will obviously be Justice Kennedy. The legal tea leaves have been read, and with his majority opinions in Romer, Lawrence, and Windsor, the future has been foretold. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Steven Metro, the former managing clerk of Simpson Thacher’s New York office, was finally indicted after being charged with insider trading almost one year ago. If you’re interested, flip to the next page to see the juicy indictment. [Am Law Daily]
* In a new report, the Texas attorney general’s office concluded the forgivable faculty loan program at UT Law not only violated school rules, but also “set into motion a lack of transparency that ultimately led to a lack of accountability.” [Texas Tribune]
What do these trends mean for lawyers in different specialties and at different seniority levels?
* Fewer people are applying to law school. According to LSAC, the number of would-be lawyers who submitted applications is down by 8.5 percent compared to last year. Serious question: How low can we go before all schools are officially in crisis mode? [WSJ Law Blog]
* You’ll never believe how this guy paid off his law school debt. His parents got a home refi loan, and with the money ($210,000), their son got rid of his student loans. Now he’ll pay his parents’ loan for 30 years. Wow. [Business Insider]
* Justice Samuel Alito took a break from the SCOTUS docket to receive an award named for the late Judge Edward Becker of the Third Circuit, a man who he said “tried to get federal judges to act in a more sensible way. That’s a real task.” [Legal Times]
* “[T]hings are getting back to where they were before the recession,” so naturally, state judges — like those in California — are suing over the salary increases they were denied while the recession was in progress. Bless their hearts. [National Law Journal]
* Hey lawyers, want to seem like you’re smart? Stop sprinkling your briefs with SAT vocabulary words. Just put on a pair of glasses and start using your middle initial more often. For the record, speaking in a pleasant voice is also helpful. [ABA Journal]
* In May 2014, we told our readers about the sad state of financial affairs for assistant district attorneys in Massachusetts — they make less money than courthouse janitors. Now is the state finally being encouraged to do something about it. [Boston Globe]
* The University of Maine School of Law is one of 74 law schools to drop its application fee in the hope of enticing more students to apply. Do these schools legitimately believe it’s the fee that’s keeping students away? [Bangor Daily News]
* Partners at Bingham McCutchen, the latest Biglaw firm to flop, claim they knew that the end was near about one year ago, when their managing partner informed them that the firm would “active[ly] wait” for money to appear. Yeah… [American Lawyer]
* The fraud trial for former members of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s top brass was pushed back to April because Joel Sanders hired a new defense attorney. Apparently he had some “irreconcilable differences” with his former counsel. [New York Law Journal]
* The California Commission on Access to Justice plans to launch a legal incubator program. This will help low-income individuals in need of legal services, and the low-income law grads struggling to put their degrees to work. [National Law Journal]
What do these trends mean for lawyers in different specialties and at different seniority levels?
* Per New York City’s gossip rag of record, an alleged “bed-pooping, cokehead” banker and his “alcoholic” wife were called out by the judge in their divorce case for involving their kids in a “horrible fiasco.” [New York Post]
* For time infinitum, the structure of Wachtell Lipton’s billing was “cloaked in mystery.” Thanks to an errant fee agreement, however, we have an idea of what the prestigious firm charges for its “distinctive service.” [Am Law Daily]
* Hey guys, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and there’s a newly single Bachelorette on the prowl. The lovely Andi Dorfman called off her reality TV stunt engagement. Perhaps the ADA will return to prosecuting cases? [E! Online via TODAY]
* “We are in the end game on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.” Later today, we may find out whether the Supreme Court intends to take up any of the same-sex marriage disputes that have been presented to it this Term. [Bloomberg]
* It looks like the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law is starting an LL.M. program in gambling law. Step right up, because we’re now taking bets to see whether this degree will be advantageous for its graduates in the job market. [National Law Journal]
* California’s foie gras ban was recently struck down by a judge as an illegal encroachment upon the federal government’s regulatory domain. Please remember that while it’s delicious… it’s supposedly only “for assholes.” [San Francisco Chronicle]