Usually, law school finals do not produce great moral dilemmas. Most of them are open book, so you are allowed to use any information you can get your hands on. And since the whole thing is graded on a curve, “cheating” in the sense of copying from somebody else doesn’t really get you anywhere. You can use any means, fair or unfair, to get ahead.
But today we have an interesting question coming out of final exams at a top law school. A student observed another student breaking the rules of the exam. The other student was clearly breaking the letter of the law of the exam administration. But was the other student really cheating?
Our tipster didn’t report the offense, and I think that was the right call. But what would you have done?
Anytime an email ends with the lines: “Don’t submit this to ATL. It is boring and petty and nobody cares. Plus it’ll just make us sound like Columbia,” I’m intrigued. Boring, petty stories that make law students look like donkeys who take themselves too seriously (no offense, Columbia) is my specialty.
But here, we have a story that isn’t just about grade-obsessed law students taking it to a new level, we also have something that touches on issues of redistribution, unfair advantages, merit, and vigilantism. And we can talk about all of that without losing sight of the fundamental boring pettiness of the student involved.
A law student essentially stole the law review outline bank and posted it to everybody. Like Robin Hood wearing a Guy Fawkes, this kid thought “the people” should have access to the intellectual richness of notes taken by law review types over the years. Welcome to the law student version of Wikileaks…
Judy Sheindlin once told me, “don’t go to law school, the world has enough lawyers.” My response was, “that may be true, but are there enough ‘good’ lawyers.” I posit that the answer is no, there are not enough ‘good’ lawyers. We practice in a field where there is certainly of glut of licensed professionals. And unlike doctors, there is not a constant worldwide need for our services, no matter how self-important we have deluded ourselves to be. I wrote last week about attending the ACC Annual Meeting, and having an enlightened moment of how very much in this field I don’t (can’t) know. Not for want of desire, but because of the evolution of technology, and good old case law.
It made me truly feel for those folks tasked with compliance for their companies….
So, you’ve failed the MPRE. That’s horrible for you — you’ve failed a test that Saul Goodman arguably passed. It’s not your finest hour.
The only thing you can do is get right back on the horse and try again. But now you’re in for a nasty surprise, because the MPRE people have figured out how to make money off of your failure, or at the very least, they’re going to require you to jump through a needless array of hoops to be able to take the test again at a reasonable price.
Does LSAC (the organization that administers the MPRE) nickle and diming people sound “unethical”? If so, that might be why you failed the test in the first place. You see, in MPRE land, the most obviously unethical thing is the wrong answer. But the second most shady thing is usually the right answer…
Ed. note: Above the Law will be signing off early to begin the ATL/Kaplan Bar Crawl Review. Follow along on social media (Twitter and Facebook) or on the liveblog post after NS, or better yet, come out and join us!
* A Facebook “Like” is protected by the First Amendment. ATL Likes this. [The Atlantic]
* An interview with Alan Page of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and formerly a Defensive Tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Page’s hometown has a bust of him on display. Not so impressive until you realize he’s from Canton, Ohio. [Coverage Opinions]
* If you’re looking for some more legal content related to International Talk Like a Pirate Day, check out Buried Treasure: Finders, Keepers, and the Law. [ABA]
* A list of everything you should be doing with your time instead of getting a law degree. [Yahoo!]
* A warm welcome to Chris Geidner as the new legal editor of BuzzFeed. In addition to some great content, like his amazing profile of Edie Windsor (first link), stay tuned for “25 Ways Justice Alito Is Like This Cat.” [New York Observer]
* If you’ve upgraded your iPhone to iOS 7, you’re probably annoyed right now. Here are some tips to help preserve your battery life. We can do nothing about fixing how ungodly ugly it is. [Tuaw]
A deadly explosion killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno, California on September 9, 2010. The cause of the destruction was a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric that ran underneath the homes.
The subsequent investigation turned up a litany of failings on PG&E’s part that contributed to the explosion. PG&E’s regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, issued a recommendation that PG&E pay no fine, noting that the money the company was spending to modernize its pipelines to prevent future accidents was punishment enough.
This is when a number of CPUC attorneys took a stand against their boss, and their boss clumsily aired the office turmoil in public. And, yes, this all eventually involves the Taliban and a gun-toting enforcer…
Some time ago there was an attorney up for United States Attorney General, I believe, and she got stung for having hired illegal aliens as nanny and chauffeur for which she paid no taxes. She had to withdraw from consideration and was fairly embarrassed by the whole fiasco. So was the Clinton Administration. Then, a federal judicial nominee was hit with the same charges – though her employment of the nanny in question was legal at the time it occurred, the court of public opinion ruled the day. I bring up these two examples of ethical dilemmas that lawyers can find themselves in and how relatively easy they are to avoid…
Before the series of arbitrary budget cuts known as the “sequester” dropped, I made a few predictions for how this fiscal debacle would affect the legal profession. Now, a few weeks into this policy, we have a couple of real life impacts to talk about.
First, if you’re a lawyer for a government agency, surprise! You may not be able to ethically defend your agency against furlough appeals.
Second, some administrative law judges have been grounded. In the context of the Labor Department claims, that means claimants are having their trials undermined if not outright halted by the sequester….
A municipal judge in South Hackensack, New Jersey receives a mere $13,000/year in compensation. While the privilege of getting that little extra effort when making restaurant reservations under the title “Judge,” is nice, it’s not bring-my-income-up-to-the-poverty-line nice. Serving as a municipal judge is a public service, and the men and women who make this sacrifice are expected to find extra-judicial work to pay the bills.
Most are practicing lawyers. One is a stand-up comedian performing at Caroline’s and warming-up the crowd at the Colbert Report.
And somehow the ethics gatekeepers in New Jersey seem to think, of those two options, that the stand-up comedian is the one undermining the dignity of the bench.
Today’s story about a law student bound for prison has me thinking about how regular people become criminals. The story of Marc Gersen is the kind of thing books are made of; it’s big and bold and colorful.
But on the smaller scale, people are pushed into unethical decisions all the time, and it rarely comes with the stark choices of, “Should I, or should I NOT, start a meth ring?” People, especially the kind of risk-averse people who end up in law school, don’t make one big decision to “become a criminal.” It’s a bunch of little decisions that incrementally take you from “normal, law-abiding citizen” to “bad actor.”
Today, we got an email from a person who is thinking about making an unethical choice out of desperation for a job. Why don’t you read her dilemma for yourself and tell her what you think she should do….
If you think most legal technology misses the mark, LexisNexis Firm Manager® wants to change your mind. Read more about it here.
Built with input from hundreds of solo and small-firm attorneys across the country, it’s made for practitioners who’d rather build the firm of their dreams than deal with the hassles of running a business.
· Go Mobile, Stay Connected.
See all your firm’s information, wherever you are, on whatever device you’re using. Access and update client files, enter billing, search & share documents and more. It’s just like you’re in the office, only you’re not.
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!