Gender Issues

* The Zimmerman verdict allows us to sit back and reflect on how bad Atticus Finch really was at his job. [Criminal Defense Blog]

* In case you’d forgotten about the shenanigans at Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law, here’s your update: a former employee has been charged for promising students more scholarships than the school had. Rick Pitino needs to show the law school how to work within scholarship limits. [Courier-Journal]

* State licensing boards are trying to put the kibosh on advice columnists. Next thing you know, they’ll be trying to shut down Dr. Demento. [Lexington Herald-Leader]

* Fun with patents: Monkey Dog Saddle! [Lowering the Bar]

* Transgendered workers are successfully challenging workplace discrimination using the Civil Rights Act. These sound like cases Justice Alito will get right on overturning. [Buzzfeed]

* McDonald’s is trying to show how it provides its employees a living wage. It just requires working a second job for a total of between 62-74 hours. No biggie. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

The Socratic method is the bane of every law student. If executed through cold calling, it meant you sat there knowing that at any given moment you could be called upon to publicly humiliate yourself in front of your peers. Even if the process relied on voluntary participation, there was a sense of trepidation attached to both talking and remaining silent.

Some insufferable douches people enjoyed the “law school experience” of the Socratic method, either because they were academic superstars or otherwise possessed a massive ego and the misapprehension that anyone cared about their opinion.

Here’s how much the Socratic method sucks: it’s named after a guy that everyone thought was so much of a prick they made him kill himself for cold calling everyone in Athens.

There is an argument that the system itself disadvantages women. But “disadvantages women” at what? Being a law student or being a lawyer? Because those are two very different things…

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Patricia A. Martone

“You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit.”

– Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (affiliate link)

Take this famous line and replace “man” with “law firm partner,” and you’ve captured the gist of the lawsuit against Ropes & Gray brought by Patricia Martone, who alleges age and sex discrimination by her former firm. (Martone, a former IP litigation partner at Ropes, is now a Morrison & Foerster partner.)

When I broke the news of this lawsuit back in 2011, I expected a speedy settlement. Would Ropes really want to go toe to toe with a pair of high-powered litigatrices, namely, Martone and her formidable employment lawyer, Anne Vladeck?

But here we are, two years later, and the battle rages on. Ropes has hired a third leading litigatrix to defend itself. Let’s learn the latest news….

(Note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)

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Ed. note: Professor Anna Akbari, a fashion and image consultant, recently provided Above the Law with style tips for Biglaw summer associates. Her advice provoked strong reactions around the web. In this post, she offers additional evidence and analysis to support her views on how professional women can achieve feminine feminism in the workplace.

Successful office dress is not about sex appeal. Overt sexiness — sky-high heels, short, tight skirts, low-cut blouses — is frowned upon, and is not rewarded in more conservative work environments like law firms (Peter Glick has studied this extensively). However, looking too masculine is also not rewarded or favored. It’s about finding a balance between the two, and understanding your audience (and remember, a sexy woman could wear a potato sack and still exude sex appeal, if that’s her intention).

Law firms — and judges, in particular — demand a different style of dress than more creative industries. In professional environments, one is always attempting to strike a balance between dressing to fit into the group, and dressing to express one’s self. It’s not one or the other, and the most successful individuals execute that split with impressive nuance. I like to refer to this balancing act as “rebellious compliance”: demonstrate that you belong, but find a way to distinguish yourself. To dismiss your professional appearance as frivolous or inconsequential is simply naive. Substance and style count.

And it counts even more for women, who are held to higher standards and judged more harshly based on appearance. That is an unfortunate reality….

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Everything's more inappropriate in Texas?

I think a lot of normal men have been in this position: another guy says something horrible about your female friend or colleague, expecting that you will go along. It makes you very uncomfortable in the moment — because your knuckles stopped dragging on the pavement years ago. Then it makes you extremely uncomfortable later when you see the female friend or colleague, and you have to decide whether or not to tell her the horrible things being said about her by these other people.

It happens more than you think, and most of the times most guys just keep it to themselves. There’s no upside to telling a woman all of the things guys say, most of the time. But sometimes, ironically, especially when it happens in a professional context, you have to tell your female colleague what other professionals are saying about her, just so she’s not blindsided as she tries to go about her job.

Maybe some people would consider it a violation of the “bro code,” but one lawyer seems to think that the code is a viable defense in court. Sanctions are being sought against a divorce lawyer who has allegedly been saying horrible things about female lawyers, and when he got called out, he responded in court that he never said any of that stuff “to their faces.”

And, of course, this is going down in Texas….

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Here at Above the Law, we sometimes feel like meteorologists, if only because we often cover the legal world’s sh*t storms. Speaking of which, this morning we saw an interesting lawsuit pattern coming through on the Doppler radar all the way from California. It looks like we could be facing some gale force bitchiness, because Gloria Allred is at the eye of the storm.

It seems that her latest client, a weatherman, has been prevented from predicting precipitation and making it rain. He believes that a record heatwave over his competitions’ Grand Tetons is the cause of his unemployment. In simpler terms, Allred’s client is suing because he is not an “attractive young female”….

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Earlier this week, we wrote about Natalie Hegedus, a young Michigan mother who claims she was “humiliated” after a judge called her out for breastfeeding in court. Women across the country were outraged that a judge would find this sort of behavior in his courtroom to be inappropriate.

As we noted previously, Michigan is is one of only five states that does not have a law that would allow nursing mothers to breastfeed anytime, anywhere. But some women in Michigan apparently don’t give a damn about the law (or lack thereof).

Later this month, an advocacy group called No Injustice Against Nursing in Public (NINJA NIPs, for short) will be staging a protest outside of the courthouse where Hegedus was shamed. What kind of a protest, you ask? A nurse-in….

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We’ve written in these pages before about the wrath that breastfeeding mothers incur on a seemingly daily basis. Like it or not, for some women, breastfeeding is part and parcel of being a new mother. And whether you’ve lost your job or you’ve been prevented from taking the LSAT, sometimes the discrimination that these women face just seems downright unfair.

So what happens when you’re a breastfeeding mother but life just isn’t cooperating with you? What happens when you have to start nursing in a public place, and that place just so happens to be a courtroom?

Here’s what one judge has to say about whipping out a boob in public….

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Maybe it was the hypnotic effect Pippa Middleton’s ass had on Prince Harry? Or perhaps it was simply that Chelsy Davy didn’t want to marry into the crazy old royal family? Either way, shortly after William and Kate tied the knot in April, Harry and Chelsy split up.

And what did the Zimbabwean blonde bombshell do next? She became a lawyer. Yes, last week the ex-girlfriend of Princess Diana’s youngest son started life as a trainee with top London law firm Allen & Overy.

“Let’s watch Chelsy,” the Sun newspaper crowed on Wednesday, after snapping suit-clad Davy making her way through London’s financial district to the Magic Circle giant’s office. The article, fascinatingly, went on to note that Davy “really was legally blonde.” And that was it. End of story. In fact, according to an A&O press officer I spoke with the other day, Davy starting work at the firm is “no story at all.”

But I beg to differ….

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* “The road to this day has been long”… and hard. That’s what he said. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has finally been put to bed, and the next logical step would be to ditch DOMA. [PostPartisan / Washington Post]

* “Citizens United has been good for gay rights.” Well, at least it’s been good for something. Are we allowed to like the ruling in this case now? Bueller? Bueller? No? Okay, just checking. [New York Times]

* And another one gone, another judge bites the dust. $43K wasn’t enough to keep Justice Joseph Covello on the bench. How many more will it take to get a decent raise? [New York Law Journal]

* The First Circuit turned it around on Joel Tenenbaum, reinstating a $675K judgment against him. Charles Nesson couldn’t comment on the decision because he was crying. [Boston Globe]

* Ten-year sentence edition: Samuel Logan’s dad wishes he was still a judge on the Tenth Circuit so he could benchslap the sh*t out of his son for trying to seduce a 14-year-old. [Kansas City Star]

* John Banzhaf continues to fight for coeds’ right to party at Catholic University, but it’s not looking good because it’s hard to immaculately conceive when boys live in the same dorm. [WSJ Law Blog]

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