Charitable Donations

The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” has been wildly successful, raising more than $107 million to support the nonprofit and its great work fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The success even prompted the association to file trademark applications for “Ice Bucket Challenge” and “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” (ultimately withdrawn, so as not to stop other worthy causes from using the challenge).

As we reported last month, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been very popular within the legal profession. Even your Above the Law editors got into it. I was challenged by Travis Lenkner of Gerchen Keller Capital, the litigation finance firm, and I responded to that challenge by making a donation in lieu of icing myself. I then challenged my colleague Staci Zaretsky, who responded by dumping ice on herself (and contributing too).

We were joined by many other lawyers and law students in this endeavor. Here’s a round-up of Ice Bucket Challenges from around the legal world….

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Professor Tim Wu

* Could Columbia law professor Tim Wu become New York’s next lieutenant governor? He has a shot, according to the Times. [New York Times]

* Which same-sex-marriage case is the best vehicle for Supreme Court review? [BuzzFeed]

* A federal judge takes the wheel in steering Detroit into the future. [American Lawyer]

* Is it “shameful” of the ALS Association to attempt to trademark the phrase “ice bucket challenge”? [ABA Journal]

* Jury deliberations are expected to begin today in the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. [Washington Post]

* Voter ID laws are back on trial, this time in Texas. [New York Times]

* Speaking of Texas, the state seeks to stay a recent ruling that struck down the requirement that abortion clinics comply with standards for ambulatory surgical centers. [ABA Journal]

If you are a connoisseur of social media, you’ve seen thousands of links and updates about the situation in Ferguson. You’ve seen a number of reports about the crisis in Gaza. You’ve been kept abreast about our military operations in Iraq. It’s been a busy August for news.

Of course, you’ve ignored most of those links and instead been on a targeted hunt for Ice Bucket Challenge vines. If you are over 40, let me explain: instead of giving money to support research on Lou Gehrig’s Disease, people are dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Actually, most people are giving $100 to ALS research AND dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Awareness! It’s working, so read this before you judge.

The… whatever this is has made its way to law school campuses, thanks to the UVA Law School Office of Career Services. As our tipster put it, there is video of UVA Law CSO “getting ice buckets dumped on them by a row of bros.” Does that sound like something you would like to see?

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(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

With the snow melting in Sochi, “On Remand” looks back to one of the greatest moments in Olympic history. Tomorrow is the 34th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice.”

In February 1980, the XIII Olympic Winter Games were underway in Lake Placid, New York. But a little-known group of hockey players had been practicing together for months, skating themselves to exhaustion learning coach Herb Brooks’s new, fast, and grueling style of play. Most of the players on Team USA were barely old enough to order a beer, and hardly any had played hockey professionally. In a few months, several would be playing in the NHL. But on February 22, they were underdogs against a Soviet team that had won the gold in every Olympic contest since 1956 — except for 1960, when the Americans stood atop the podium. A week before the 1980 games started, the Soviets had trounced the Americans, 10-3, in an exhibition game.

“Unless the ice melts” or some team “performs a miracle,” a sports writer quipped, the Soviets would win the gold medal again in 1980. And, for most of the U.S.S.R. versus U.S. game, that prediction appeared accurate. But with 10 minutes left in the game, Mike Eruzione, Team USA’s captain, scored a goal from thirty feet, putting the Americans up 4-3. They never relinquished the lead. As the clock ran out, ABC broadcaster Al Michaels delivered his now iconic play-by-play

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The ruins of a house on the outskirts of Tacloban, capital of Leyte.

Law firms and the legal profession have a long and distinguished tradition of contributing to the public interest. Earlier today, we highlighted five Biglaw firms that are pro bono all-stars.

Most pro bono cases involve clients and causes here in the United States. But in today’s increasingly global world, law firms look beyond borders when it comes to helping the needy.

Yesterday we commended Skadden for its generous support of Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in my ancestral homeland of the Philippines. And today we recognize several other law firms that have joined in this worthy cause….

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The Empire State Building, lit up with the colors of the Philippine flag to show support for Typhoon Haiyan victims. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Navarrete.)

When disaster strikes, lawyers are there (and not just to hand out their business cards). Lawyers and their law firms have responded swiftly and generously in the wake of natural disasters, giving of their time and treasure to help the victims of calamities around the world.

Lawyers and their law firms, especially Biglaw firms, have come to the aid of people affected by Hurricane Sandy, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and earthquakes in Haiti and China. We have chronicled and commended these efforts in Above the Law over the years.

In light of this track record, it should come as no surprise that one of the world’s top law firms is giving generously to support relief efforts in the Philippines, my ancestral homeland, where thousands have died due to Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda). Which firm, and how much is it giving?

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Reasonable minds can disagree on how to reform law school, but here’s one thing that almost everyone can agree upon: the tuition is too darn high. In an ideal world, legal education would be much more affordable. Not everyone has wealthy parents who insist on paying for college and graduate school.

Alas, we’re probably not going to see major change on that front anytime soon. As long as the federal government keeps the loan money flowing, law schools have little incentive to lower tuition.

So, at least for now, we’ll have to settle for more modest measures at controlling cost. For example, law schools can and should devote greater resources to scholarships, which lower the effective price tag of a J.D. degree.

One leading law school just received a gigantic gift — which it’s putting towards scholarships, to its credit. Which law school is on the receiving end of this largesse, and how much is it getting?

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Whenever a law school solicits money from its recent graduates, it ends badly. Almost always. The best a law school can hope for is for the recipient to throw away the solicitation or delete the email. More often, the mere request can bring up bad memories and harden the ill will that recent graduates have toward their law schools (unless the request for donations happens to hit the inboxes of the few financially secure recent law grads).

Law schools aren’t even playing the long game anymore. If law schools keep their tuition manageable and help their students find jobs, then they will produce happy graduates who might feel lifelong allegiance to their schools. But instead of cultivating golden little eggs, law schools are all too happy to slay their gaggle of students with unreasonable costs and poor post-graduate options. Schools take the short-term money even while souring their students on the law school experience.

Of course, “sour” law graduates make for some funny emails. Check out how this class of 2010 graduate responded to his school’s alumni giving request. And if you want to copy and paste it into an email to your law school, I don’t think anybody would object….

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Ed. note: Your Above the Law editors are busy celebrating their freedom today (and we hope that you are, too). We will return to our regular publication schedule on Thursday, July 5.

* At this point, the Supreme Court’s dramatic deliberations on the Affordable Care Act are like a leaking sieve. Now we’ve got dueling narratives on Chief Justice Roberts’s behind-the-scenes flip-flopping. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Life, liberty, and the pursuit of fabulosity! The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to grant cert on two DOMA cases, contending that Section 3 of the statute is unconstitutional. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* A famous fabulist: according to California’s State Bar, disgraced journalist Stephen Glass is a “pervasive and documented liar,” but that’s not stopping him from trying to get his license to practice law. [Los Angeles Times]

* Clayton Osbon, the JetBlue pilot who had an epic mid-flight nutty and started ranting about religion and terrorists, was found not guilty by reason of insanity by a federal judge during a bench trial. [New York Post]

* After a month of bizarre legal filings, Charles Carreon has dropped his lawsuit against Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. We’re hoping that there will be an awesome victory cartoon drawn up soon. [Digital Life / Today]

* Northwestern Law is the only American law school to have joined a 17-member global justice league geared toward legal teaching and research collaborations. But do they get cool costumes? [National Law Journal]

* UNC Law received two charitable gifts totaling $2.7M that will be used to fund tuition scholarships for current and future students. Maybe their students won’t have to create tuition donation sites anymore. [Herald-Sun]

* This law is for the birds (literally and figuratively). California’s ban on the sale of foie gras had only been in effect for one day before the first lawsuit was filed to overturn it as unconstitutional. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce recently announced that mermaids do not exist. Not to worry — it’s still legal to believe that Ariel is a babe. [New York Daily News]

Tucker Max

We recently wrote about world-renowned d-bag Tucker Max, and his attempt to donate $500,000 to Planned Parenthood of Texas. The organization’s executives snubbed their noses at Max’s half-million because they didn’t “feel it would be appropriate, given . . . [his] body of work.” This happened in August of 2011, but rejection hurts, even when you’re a hardcore bro. Max was unable to abort his frustration with the situation, and almost fittingly, he waited just about the length of a full-term pregnancy to reveal the dirty details of what went down.

But why did he wait so long to start spreading the news about this injustice? Wouldn’t the women of Texas have wanted to know about this sooner? Maybe it’s because he was scamming us all along….

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