* Crim Law exam features Fifty Shades of Grey prequel as fact pattern. [Legal Cheek]
* You’d think being in jail would be a pretty good alibi. But that’s not the Chicago Way! [Overlawyered]
* How many law professors have wished they could say this before? “Don’t give me any of your s**tty papers and you get an A.” [Critical-Theory via TaxProf Blog]
* Lawyer powerlifting to raise money for mentoring programs. Because donating to charity is more fun when it comes with the risk of severe groin injuries. [Chicago Tribune]
* U.S. News has a list of ways being a paralegal first can help with law school. It’s dumb. There’s only one reason paralegal experience helps and that’s to meet practicing lawyers and figure out whether or not law school is even worth it. [U.S. News]
* Regulating imports could drastically improve labor conditions around the world (and potentially bring more jobs back home). But that could curtail profits by a smidgeon so let’s table that discussion. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* A former AUSA on the Phil Mickelson/Carl Icahn insider trading case and wiretaps. [mitchellepner]
* John Oliver made a powerful appeal to the Internet to take action in defense of Net Neutrality. If you want to know what you can do (or don’t even understand the issue) and laugh at the same time, the video is embedded below… [Huffington Post]
Ed. note: Please welcome Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.
Spring exams are right around the corner, and for most law students, that probably means trying to figure out what went wrong first semester and how to do better this time around. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who got all As your first semester, hopefully this conversation will give you a better road map for the upcoming exams, or at the very least, make you feel a little better about yourself.
Ed. note: Please welcome Above the Law’s new poet-in-residence, Qui Tam.
Qui Tam. Short for a Latin phrase that means, more or less, self-righteously suing alongside the King, and keeping a little on the side for yourself. More commonly known today as a whistleblower action, where a private individual with knowledge of fraud gets sheltered by the feds and a nice cut of the penalties imposed for said fraud. So basically the same idea in Latin and common parlance.
For purposes of this column — which will be a collection of observational “poems,” chronicling experiences the writer may or may not have had during a pretty vanilla T1 law school and corporate legal career — what I am going for is the “whistleblower” allusion (quite self-flattering, not to mention self-righteous). Oh, and the pretentious use of Latin is designed to create a sense of sophistication where one probably doesn’t exist (sorry Bryan Garner, but it is true).
If law students want one thing in their grading system, it’s clarity. This is especially true for first-year law students; 1L grades are too important for future job prospects to have a confusing and muddled set of rules.
Well, maybe not Yale law students. Famously, Yale doesn’t have traditional letter grading. A few top schools have followed Yale’s lead in recent years, but Yale is the OG of meaningless grading systems. (Berkeley students to start bitching in 3, 2, 1….) The meaningless of Yale’s Honors/Pass grading system doesn’t matter because all Yale students get jobs. No grades + Good jobs = “I don’t understand why humans cry.”
Yale students have such good job prospects that they can get jobs as law professors at other Ivy League law schools right after they graduate from Yale. But bringing happy-clappy Yale concepts of grading to “normal” law schools is not without its problems….
Despite my consistent exhortations that people should do as well as possible on the LSAT, I don’t think the LSAT is a particularly useful test. The LSAT, like all other standardized tests, is really an examination of past performance and learned ability to take the test. It doesn’t measure “raw” intelligence, however you want to define that term. It measures your ability to take the LSAT.
I had thought that your ability to do well on the LSAT would be predict your ability to do well on the bar exam. Again, not because of any intelligence measuring, but just because people who are good at standardized tests tend to continue to be good at standardized tests.
But perhaps I’ve been wrong. A new study suggests that LSAT performance isn’t the best indicator of future bar passage. Instead, passing the bar has a more direct correlation with your law school grades…
Suing a school for giving you bad grades seems ludicrous. On the other hand, there’s something respectable about filing a 60-paragraph complaint in response to a law school telling you that you’ve failed Legal Writing and Civil Procedure. It’s kind of meta when you think about it.
The crux of the story is that a the law school demanded that a 3L retake CivPro II: Electric Boogaloo because he got a D the first time around. This interfered with his plans for his 3L year, so he decided to take them to court. In the process, every complaint he has about the school worked its way into the filing.
Whenever we talk about law school grading around here, it usually involves a law professor being incredibly lazy when it comes time to perform his or her most important function regarding a student’s likely job prospects. Or it involves a law school trying to arbitrarily inflate its grades in a desperate attempt to enhance its employment stats.
Sadly, these stories don’t reflect any effort on the part of legal academia to actually come up with a grading system that is fundamentally fair and useful to the students who rely on it. That law school grades are somewhat arbitrary is just a feature of the system that we all kind of accept, even as we know that employers place significant weight on law school grades when handing out scarce legal jobs.
Given all that, I wanted to take some time on a Friday afternoon to consider the proposals of one law professor who has actually thought through some modest ways to make grading exams something less of a random crapshoot…
* As we noted last week (third item), Judge Rosenbaum recognized that the government was bound to have phone records of the defendant since they were dragnetting the whole friggin’ country. Now the government has responded and predictably claims that this is all classified. [Southern District of Florida Blog]
* Speaking of follow-ups, remember how NYU Law was using non-profit slush funds to pay for housing for professors? Well, they also provided sweetheart loans for summer houses. [New York Times]
* The battle rages over the admissibility of audio expert witness testimony in the George Zimmerman trial. At least Howard Greenberg isn’t going to be there to call them all whores. [The Expert Institute]
* With the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy about to get smacked down in federal court, it’s important to remember there’s nothing wrong with “stop and frisk” — just every single way that it’s been applied for over a decade. [Vocativ]
* For our law professor readers, cognitive psychology says you get more fair results if you grade exams by question rather than grading the whole exam at once. It also means you’re not as likely to find 15 whole exams missing and fail to grade one student’s exam for weeks on end (in fairness, I ran into Professor Winkler and he assures me he eventually graded that exam). [Concurring Opinions]
* Communications between Superman and a minister in Man of Steel would likely be shielded by Kansas law. A better question is what law are we going to use to prosecute Superman for wontonly demolishing a city? [The Legal Geeks]
* If you’re living the Bitcoin lifestyle, you’re probably about to get taxed. [TaxProf Blog]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.