Emails

If you’re a law student, you probably checked your email first thing this morning for one reason or another. Maybe you were waiting to hear back from a professor. Maybe you were praying for a snow day and hoping that classes were canceled. Either way, you probably weren’t expecting to see something like this from your law school:

What the hell? If the proposed war on gunners started today, Above the Law didn’t get the memo. Which law school sponsored a “Killing Spree”?

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I am a maverick and a reformer so I started a new program for U of I undergrads to apply in their junior year and we don’t require the LSAT. We have additional essays and an interview instead. That way, I can trap about 20 of the little bastards with high GPA’s that count and no LSAT score to count against my median. It is quite ingenious.

Paul Pless, former dean of admissions at the University of Illinois College of Law, in a 2008 email about iLEAP, a program that offered early admission to University of Illinois undergraduates with high GPAs (and no LSAT scores).

(The reaction of the other party to the correspondence, after the jump.)

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Those blinking lights are important. Seriously.

I’ve been writing about electronic discovery for almost three years now. I’ve learned that most of the time, it’s not worth trying to interest non-attorneys in the subject. My friends’, family’s, and girlfriend’s eyes glaze over pretty quickly when I started mentioning the EDRM model or document review.

So when I saw the story early this morning about big e-discovery news in the litigation following a tragic plane crash, at first I thought I had misread something.

On February 12, 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York, killing 50 people. Later that year, authorities blamed pilot error for the crash. Unsurprisingly, families of the victims have sued the airline for failing to provide trained, capable, and rested pilots. This week, attorneys for the families released internal company e-mails that appear to show Colgan knew the pilot of the doomed flight was having serious problems.

What do the e-mails have to say?

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We’ve been talking a lot recently about the secretly authorized stuff our government does to us — like killing us, or molesting us at airports.

Here’s another one for the list: digging through our emails or Twitter feeds or cell phone data, without probable cause, our permission, or our knowledge. This isn’t necessarily shocking in and of itself; back in April, Kashmir Hill wrote about how often the government requests information about private individuals from tech companies.

What’s shocking is the ease with which the government gets that information and the secrecy with which it does so. Somehow it’s all based on a law that is older than the Internet. The policy recently came to light when authorities ordered a small Internet provider, as well as Twitter and Google, to turn over information about Jacob Appelbaum, an American who volunteers with WikiLeaks.

How does the U.S. government circumvent basic probable cause and search warrant requirements when it wants electronic information? Let’s see….

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I feel like we have this story every fall. Every year, new 1Ls get to law school campuses and invariably, some of them quickly look around to see which boots are most in need of licking. The first few weeks they kiss so much faculty ass they look like they’re applying for tenure. And right around now, they start looking for fellow students to suck up to.

Well, there’s a way to suck up to fellow students, and usually kissing butt requires you to be in the same room as your betters. Cold, unsolicited emailing — while fine for general networking — is almost always the wrong way to approach your peers. We’ve explained this to you before.

If you find yourself sending out cold, unsolicited, mass emails, well, welcome to Above the Law, little 1Ls….

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Yesterday we received an email with the following subject line: “the problem with tenure.” Now, I actually think that this tip illustrates the problem with law students and the classic awesomeness of tenure, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

What we can at least agree on is that we have a story about a law professor executing a stern, verbal smackdown of a law student who tried to go over the professor’s head to complain.

Let this just be a reminder to everybody that they need to respect the chain of command….

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With offer season well under way, some law students may be wondering how to tell the world that they’ve landed summer associate jobs without sounding like complete braggarts. These law students must have read a Miss Manners book or two, because thinking about the feelings of others is the polite thing to do.

Other law students just don’t care about trampling on the self-esteem of classmates. “Sorry about your tiny pink feelings, but I got an offer.” That was way harsh, Tai.

There is just one more category of law student: the law student who feels only slightly guilty bragging about a job offer, so he thinks up a creative way to broach the subject with peers. And one law student at a leading law school has got this method of breaking the news about offers on lock….

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There’s one guy in your outfit who understands the need not to write stupid e-mails: That’s the guy who just spent all day in deposition being tortured with the stupid e-mails that he wrote three years ago.

That guy will control himself. He’ll write fewer and more carefully phrased e-mails for the next couple of weeks. Then he’ll go back to writing stupid stuff again, just like everyone else.

You can’t win this game; no matter what you say, people will revert to informality and write troublesome e-mails. But you’re not allowed to give up. What’s an in-house lawyer to do?

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A partner at Morrison & Foerster accidentally “replied all” to an email on which “List/Attorney/All” was cc’d. Emails sent to “List/Attorney/All” go out to all 1,000-plus MoFo lawyers around the world.

What the partner wrote in the email was probably not something that should have been shared with the rest of the firm….

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How much do other people have to know?

This question comes up in many different contexts, and answering it always requires a little judgment.

At law firms, the questions often involve what the partner or the client needs to know. These people are supposed to be kept in the loop, but that task may be trickier than it seems. You want people to be fully informed, but you don’t want to become a pest, constantly alerting people to irrelevant trifles. What’s a person to do?

The answer varies by many things, including the nature of the matter you’re working on, the compulsiveness of the person you’re working with, the degree of trust established between you and the person you’re working with, time pressure, and the like. To the extent it’s possible, though, let’s establish some general rules….

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