Frank H. Wu

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the association to file trademark applications for “Ice Bucket Challenge” and “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” (ultimately withdrawn, so as not to stop other worthy causes from using the challenge).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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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He shares some of his thoughts about legal education and the legal profession here on Above the Law from time to time.

I was talking to a reporter the other day about changes within the legal profession. She had called me to ask what types of jobs were opening up. I disappointed her. She wanted specialties offering positions that were sexy, new, and numerous.

I explained there were indeed more jobs. But I did not know any of them that satisfied all of her criteria.

There were many possibilities for her article. None of them were everything she was looking for.

That would be true for the individuals obtaining those roles as well. I recall a former colleague who used to say in response to the extravagant expectations that young people express about their careers: “That’s why we call it ‘work.’” She meant that there isn’t any reason to believe it will be fun. It is more likely to be boring, stressful, or both boring and stressful by turns if not simultaneously.

By the journalist’s standards, unless it is sexy, new and numerous, it does not register at all. That isn’t the best understanding of the universe of possibilities. Law is not intrinsically sexy….

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

Whether teaching is an art or a science, it requires much more than knowledge of the substantive subject. An understanding of the material is necessary but not sufficient. Effective teaching also demands that the teacher and the students as a group develop a relationship of mutual respect and trust. The classroom dynamic is paramount.

This semester, I co-taught a class with Professor Roger Park. I mean a single class session, not the whole course.

It was terrific to be back in the classroom. That is the point of the entire enterprise in which we are engaged. A law school exists to train people to become advocates and counselors.

The experience reminded me of the importance of rapport based on the implicit pledge that the teacher is on the same side as the students. I have an opinion about effective pedagogy that may seem radical but is not really upon reflection. My hypothesis is that there is not much correlation between knowledge of a subject and success in communicating it to others…

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

People ask me all the time, “Isn’t it all a cycle?” They want to know if the legal marketplace will come back, with legal education then following.

My answer is, “No.”

A better answer, like most law professor’s answers to simple questions, would be, “It depends on what you mean.”

Yes, law as a business will rebound. It has already done so by some measures. However, it won’t come back in the same form. Nothing ever does.

We all are the products of our backgrounds. For me, that means Detroit.

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‘So when we look at Section 3, Subsection (d), we see that…’

Layoffs, mergers, bankruptcies, and more and more work is transitioning to contractors. Amid all the news that Biglaw firms are losing their once-secure place as consummate power brokers, it’s good to hear that some observers out there still believe that Biglaw has the power to change the world.

Those observers happen to be the sort of people you see on Ancient Aliens, but hey, you’ve got to take what you can get.

So how exactly will Cravath open up Area 51?

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

I was recently befuddled about some information I had been given. That happens. I was inspired by my own momentary confusion to write this blog post. It made me realize how much raw data has to be sorted through to achieve transparency.

Perhaps the most important aspect of training in argumentation, which constitutes the bulk of the first year of law school, is learning how to frame issues. A skilled advocate comes to understand early on that the party who is able to define the question to be asked has already determined the answer that will be given. It is more than mere semantics.

Laypeople tend to regard lawyers as sophists, because they — the lawyers — are so concerned about accuracy and precision. Lawyers may even distinguish between “accuracy” and “precision.” Lawyers do not assume that everyone has exactly the same concepts in mind even if they are participating in a single conversation together, because the essential “meeting of the minds” is elusive. They also appreciate the consequences of sloppiness.

Allow me to offer an example…

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’s currently sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

In the modern economy, we are trying to achieve with people what we have done with machines. We want individual workers to be “plug and play.” The term refers to computer equipment that can function immediately, without the need for elaborate set-up; you merely plug it into a power supply and it starts to play what it’s supposed to.

I have thought about, and startups are implementing, the delivery of legal services equivalent to ride-sharing services. Imagine a database that offered a list of lawyers whom you could meet in your area (if you even wanted to see them face to face), during a specific time period, with searchable specializations. If they were pre-cleared for conflicts and had set prices for particular tasks, the user would click to reserve an appointment and be all set.

Call it “Ziplawyer.” Apologies to Zipcar.

Maybe combine it with a ratings service. Behold: a new structure for the profession.

The model is great for consumers. It gives them information and options. The access to the marketplace fosters competition.

But the model also is advantageous for members of the bar. It allows solo practitioners who are tech-savvy to punch above their weight, as the saying goes. They can reach many more people than they could by traditional means, who need exactly what they have to offer.

Yet I am enthusiastic about these possibilities only to a point. I am reminded of Robocop 2….

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He’ll be sharing some of his thoughts about legal education and other topics here on Above the Law.

For a long time, I was young. Now, however, I am old enough to have contempt for the young. It turns out I am not alone. Anyone approximately my age laughs when I inform them I have reached this milestone.

Despite their desire that we all lighten up and their conviction we are peers, youth today — like youth of any era — take umbrage at this remark. What can I say. They have no sense of humor.

When I participate in the blogosphere, I wonder if the world is about to end. The lament about internet discourse has become cliched. It is angry, communicating hardly anything more than grunting. Even those who wish to be meaningfully provocative cannot compete.

Yet maturity is all about realizing one is wrong. I take it all back. I realize I am not understanding the norms…

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* The Mars Curiosity rover played “Happy Birthday to You” to itself on the first anniversary of its landing on the Red Planet. It takes about 13 minutes for transmissions from Mars to reach the Earth. Time Warner sued NASA 14 minutes after Curiosity’s performance. [io9]

* Fans of the Colorado Rockies… fans? Huh, okay! Anyway, the case posits that Rockies ticket holders should be allowed to sell them on the secondary market. If they can’t unload Rockies tickets, they may be forced to watch a team 11 games out of first place flounder. [Forbes]

* Paul Rampell, Donald Trump’s lawyer, advocates for replacing marriages with leases with defined terms. It gives new meaning to “trading in for a new model.” The thrice married Trump nods approvingly. [Washington Post]

* The Rumpus interviews Dean Frank H. Wu of UC Hastings. Turns out he’s writing “a bad trashy novel.” So it probably won’t make the 25 Greatest Law Novels ever list. But then again, they put The Fountainhead on that list, so don’t give up hope, Dean Wu! [The Rumpus]

* Poetry Corner: Kenneth Branagh Prepares Evidence For Trial. So long as he’s not preparing to direct another awful Thor movie, I’m fine. [Poetic Justice]

* Just what do Americans even want from an energy policy? That Cuisinart fusion reactor from Back to the Future, that’s what. [Breaking Energy]

* A defendant called a judge “Hon,” and it did not go well. I wonder what Judge Montes gets called at the club? [Sun Sentinel]

* Anthony Weiner once explained that he was “inspired” by a book about a lawyer who wants to cheat on his wife. Indeed. [BuzzFeed]

‘That’s just our special sauce!’

* Six Supreme Court justices attended last night’s State of the Union address, and although it was all hugs and kisses and handshakes to start off with, some looked as if they were due for naptime by its end (coughRBGcough). [Blog of Legal Times]

* It’s a clash of the Biglaw titans! In a face off between legal heavyweights, the Second Circuit has set aside time to hear arguments from Ted Olson and David Boies in the Argentine bondholder case. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Dewey know if this document specialist’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act lawsuit has got any legs to it? It certainly must, because Judge Martin Glenn very recently denied the failed firm’s motion to dismiss it. [Am Law Daily]

* Congratulations to Paulette Brown of Edwards Wildman Palmer. This Jersey girl is the uncontested nominee for ABA president in 2015, making her the first minority woman to hold the title. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* Send in the clowns (or loads of O’Melveny and Akin lawyers): Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has a low opinion of David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital lawsuit, referring to it as nothing more than a “silly sideshow.” [Reuters]

* “It is up to us in the academy to prepare our students for the future no matter what it holds.” Dean Frank Wu of UC Hastings seems to be on the right track when it comes to necessary law firm reforms. [Huffington Post]

* Poor, poor Teresa Wagner. She was allegedly denied a job because of her conservative views, and her case ended in a mistrial. That kind of a thing could drive a woman to drink… and drive. [Iowa City Press Citizen]

* Not only does Lehigh University ruin every college basketball bracket in the nation, but it also provides great “I’m suing you because of my crappy grades” fodder. Oh my God, I really miss you, Lehigh! [Morning Call]

* Thanks to the wisdom of the Ninth Circuit, we now know that, at least in Washington, a spit-laden hamburger from Burger King is grounds for emotional distress damages. Ugh, that’s nasty! [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

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