Family

Yesterday we received a fairly provocative question in the Above the Law inbox. A reader asked us to assess the role that parents play — or should play — in their children’s decision to go to law school:

With all the talk about the perils of going to [law school], I wonder what role people’s parents play (or should play) in the decision…. While there are some older, more independent law students, I think the vast majority of matriculating students have had or still receive some form of parental support. How could a parent tell their child not to follow their dreams? Seems like that would never happen in my generation of helicopter-parented children. Yet that discouragement is exactly what could prevent a lot of poor decisions to go to low-ranked schools.

I think it cuts the other way. I don’t think that parents are allowing their kids to go to law school because they want to be supportive of their kids’ dreams. I think that more parents are forcing their kids to go to law school, especially lower-ranked law schools, as they vicariously relive their lives through their children.

Absent parental meddling, there wouldn’t be nearly as many people applying to law school….

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Nepotism is not a new concept. I would bet that anyone reading this article can imagine an example where nepotism played a role in one’s obtaining a legal job, rising to prominence at a law firm, or securing a client. Some people, including myself, used to scoff at those people. I thought that one should rise or fall based solely on his merit. I was wrong (and naive).

What made me change my tune? Two things. First, I recently came across a study that concluded that ants practice nepotism. The ants can distinguish who their closest relatives are and kill their more distant relations. If ants practice nepotism, that means that we should, too. As the saying goes, if birds do it and bees do it (and even educated fleas do it), we should do it, too.

Second, I recently became a part of a new ant colony. For the next three months, I will be working with my dad. After two days of working together, I can now say that nepotism rules. Screw meritocracy….

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Dads, please don't set yourselves on fire.

I’ve said before that the word “literally” is overused and misused in our culture. I’m guilty of it, and so are many others. It’s not a big deal, except for the fact that when you really need the word, its meaning has been diminished.

But guys, today we have a story about a man who literally and successfully set himself on fire on the courthouse steps and died. To quote a tipster: “If burning yourself alive to protest the court system isn’t sensational enough to merit a mention on ATL, I don’t know what is.”

No doubt.

But why self-immolation? Well, let’s take a look at the man’s 10,000 word suicide note….

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There’s a very interesting debate coming out of Washington State: Should universities do more to provide child care for students with children? On Monday, parents across the University of Washington system brought their kids to class to protest the lack of child care options in the area.

It’s an important question. According to the Seattle Times, child care is the third-greatest barrier to completing a college degree.

It’s a problem for law students too. The University of Washington School of Law has been taking an aggressive approach to finding family-friendly options for its students.

But is this something that law schools should be concerning themselves with? It’s time to fire up the old ATL Debate Machine….

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If you already know what I’m talking about, I’m sorry — I don’t have very much to add. The deposition is so damn short, the transcript doesn’t contain case-identifying information, and the pdf has been stripped of its metadata. Really, I only know what you know: a hilarious deposition took place earlier this month.

For those who are in the loop, there’s been this deposition making the rounds on various lawyer listserves. From what we can tell, it’s a real deposition in what appears to be a divorce or some other type of family-law proceeding. The deponent is named Kevin Phillip Gartner; of all the Kevin Gartners in Google, we can’t be sure of which one. The lawyer taking the deposition appears to be Denise Watson, a Jacksonville area lawyer. When I tried to contact her, I was told she is “unavailable, this week.” The lawyer valiantly trying to represent Kevin Gartner and defend the deposition is known only as “Mr. Dorsey.”

That’s all I got: a name, a no-comment, and the mysterious Mr. Dorsey. Normally, that wouldn’t be enough for a full post. But you’re going to want to see the depo transcript for yourself….

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Family friendly firms are fun!

At the begining of 2011, there were a bunch of stories about Biglaw women and their struggles to have (or produce) a family while hanging onto their jobs. We saw some important information about the rampant sexism in the legal profession. And there were the familiar cries from women who professed to “have it all” (because there always have to be some women who make all the other women feel bad).

But yeah, from the prospective of January 2011, it looked like Biglaw women were really ready to think critically about what they wanted both professionally and domestically, and how they were going to force some change onto the system.

Then, ostensibly the holiday hangover wore off and everybody got back to work grinding away the hours. Spring bonuses showed up, the masses were placated and the machine kept rolling on.

Well today, the day before spring bonuses actually hit the bank accounts of most of the people lucky enough to get them, the Yale Law Women are out with their annual list of top family-friendly firms. You’ll note that most of the firms on this year’s list are not exactly “market leaders” when it comes to total compensation. In fact, most of the firms on this list had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the spring bonus party, if they are paying bonuses at all.

And so ladies (and gentlemen who want children that have the ability to spot “daddy” in a lineup), here’s a pretty interesting choice. Do you have a preference for these family friendly firms? Or do you just want to go to whatever place pays you the most amount of money at all times?

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Lat’s at NALP – 2011. If you don’t believe me, see Above the Law, April 26, 2011.

If he was here, maybe we’d have the resources to give each of these entertaining lawsuits the full posts they deserve. Instead, it’s just me, and I’m a little pressed for time now that Harvard has decided to release the transcripts of every black person ever admitted so it can prove that we were all more deserving than George W. Bush.

So we’re going to have to tackle three fun lawsuits in one post. Breathe deep and smell of funny, my friends…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

Like everyone, I enjoy me a Bush’s Baked Beans commercial. Jay and Duke’s witty banter over the secret family recipe highlights the joy of working with family. Unfortunately, not many of us can work with their talking family dog. (I mean, who else is there, besides Scooby Doo and Jake?)

Luckily, some can work with their two-legged family members. Working with family has been a key to the success of Melendres, Melendres & Harrigan P.C. Four of the five attorneys of this firm are related either by blood, through marriage, or through friendship. Paul Melendres and his wife Paige founded the firm in 2005 after leaving Biglaw in New York City to set up shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A year ago, Paul’s brother, Fred, and friend, Ryan Harrigan, left Biglaw to open the San Diego, California office.

Find out more about the firm, after the jump….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Every guy with a family feels the urge to pack a bag, get in the car, and drive. At least, sometimes.

A client told me that – a straight guy with kids. I don’t think it’s a straight thing, though. It might not be a guy thing, either. It can be a lawyer thing. Any lawyer with loans experiences the impulse to hit the highway.

When you’re “The Provider,” you do constant battle with the itch to hightail it out of town.

Who’s “The Provider”? It’s someone you morph into. A character from an Updike novel… or maybe it’s Cheever. Maybe it’s Mad Men. You become a cliché from 1950′s or early 60′s tv shows: Dad, who arrives home, pecks the wife on the cheek, tousles the kids’ hair, then collapses into a La-Z-Boy and reads the paper while the golden retriever fetches the bedroom slippers.

Except it sucks bad enough that you’re feeling the urge to pack a bag, get in the car and drive….

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I don’t like talking about incest, ever. But apparently some people out there need to be reminded that they shouldn’t have sex with their children.

There are a couple of absolutely disgusting stories floating around about some horribly depraved people. I hope you haven’t had breakfast yet…

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