Cardozo Law School

Apologies to the Saul Steinberg Foundation.

New York City is the logical starting point for this occasional series highlighting law schools in specific locales. New Yorkers’ self-regard is bloated enough to believe they are at the Center of the Universe and that everything that happens there is naturally interesting to everyone, everywhere. The ATL Insider Survey asks, among other things, current law students to rate how their schools are doing in terms of academics, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life.

After the jump, check out how the students at Columbia, NYU, NYLS, Hofstra, Fordham, St. John’s, CUNY, Seton Hall, Rutgers-Newark, and Brooklyn rate their institutions. Somehow we don’t have sufficient survey responses from Pace or Touro….

UPDATE (5:45 p.m.): Apologies to Cardozo Law School. You were mistakenly left out of the initial version of this post and we have revised it to include you.

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The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. Come on, people, we still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2012.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, in the comments or via email. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of nine (although you’ll see only eight options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.

And the nominees are….

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There is so much to fix in modern legal education. Are student-edited law journals really so bad?

Brian Farkas, editor-in-chief of the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, writing in defense of student-edited law journals in light of critiques published over the years in online and print media like Inside Higher Ed, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and Legal Affairs magazine.


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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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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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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It’s time to announce the winner of July’s Lawyer of the Month competition. Last month, we had a potpourri of lawyers allegedly behaving badly for readers to choose from. In the end, there was one clear winner, who stole more than 50 percent of the total vote.

Let’s find out who took home the honorific of Lawyer of the Month — and while we’re at it, let’s pray that she doesn’t sue us. Noticing a trend here, readers? Our LOTM winners sure are overly litigious….

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There are wiser career moves than suing the U.S. Marshals.

Do you remember Benula Bensam? You probably don’t. She was the student at Cardozo Law School who spent part of her summer watching the Rajat Gupta trial. She was reprimanded for sending notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.), including some that questioned Rakoff’s rulings. Such behavior could be seen as an attempt to improperly influence a judge, and so Rakoff had the U.S. Marshals bring her before him, and he told her to cut it out.

Yeah, you remember her now. It was a humorous story about a law student who was maybe a little bit overzealous.

But now Bensam is taking things to the next level. Instead of quietly learning her lesson and getting ready for next semester, the Cardozo student has decided to sue a whole slew of people. She claims that U.S. Marshals didn’t return her cell phone — before they returned her cell phone — and so she’s suing the Marshals, courthouse security, the U.S. Attorney for the S.D.N.Y., and several other defendants. In the process of suing, she’s also revealing how she had what I’d call a bit of a nutty outside the courthouse.

This complaint is just going to do wonders for her Google footprint….

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One of the nice things about gunners is that they can’t help themselves. You never wonder, “Oh, is that dude a self-important gunner or a reasonable person?” Gunners like to out themselves. That’s why you can play Bingo with them.

Earlier this week, a tipster sent us in the Facebook status of a law student who feels undervalued by his school’s system of class rank. The school will tell you if you are in the top 10%, but won’t go higher than that (i.e., if you’re actually in the top 5%, it’ll still just say top 10% on your transcript).

You can imagine that fact bothering a number of people in the fiercely competitive environment of law school. But bitching about it on Facebook has that fun head-up-your-ass aroma that makes gunners so special….

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Last week, I headed downtown to meet with Stephen A. Weiss and Eric Jaso, partners at the Seeger Weiss litigation boutique. Weiss co-founded the firm with Christopher Seeger in 1999. Jaso, who just joined the firm from Stone & Magnanini, is a friend and former colleague of mine from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They kindly agreed to be interviewed about what it’s like to work at an elite, plaintiff-side litigation firm.

Here at Above the Law, we’ve always had strong coverage of the large, defense-oriented firms that collectively constitute Biglaw. In the past few years, however, we have dramatically expanded our offerings related to smaller law firms. We currently have three columnists — Brian Tannebaum, Tom Wallerstein, and Valerie Katz — writing in this space, in addition to the small-firm coverage generated by our other writers.

Consistent with this editorial expansion, I was eager to meet with Weiss and Jaso and hear about Seeger Weiss (which is relatively large for a plaintiffs’ firm, but small compared to a Biglaw firm). I’ve always wondered why more law school graduates don’t go into plaintiffs’ work and why we don’t hear about this side of practice as much. It can represent a chance to do well while also doing good, by vindicating victims’ rights or blowing the whistle on misconduct — especially in the qui tam practice area, a focus of Seeger Weiss.

Here’s what Weiss and Jaso had to say….

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