Graduation speakers

If I told you that a first-term Massachusetts Congressman, Joseph P. Kennedy III, was delivering the commencement address at a law school, where would you think that would be?

Certainly not Harvard Law. Kennedys start at Harvard, but they don’t finish.

Let’s see, first-termers haven’t done much, but Kennedy does have an impressive last name. He hadn’t done much as a lawyer before being elected to Congress. My guess would have been that Kennedy would be perfect to speak at something in the Suffolk Law to Northeastern Law band (or maybe UMass Law if he was desperate for exposure).

So I was pretty surprised to find out he’d be speaking at the UVA Law commencement — but not nearly as surprised as some UVA Law alums….

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Jodi Arias

* Growth was “steady” for New York’s top firms, with Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps leading the pack in terms of gross revenue — which wasn’t surprising, considering their Am Law 100 gross revenue ranking. [New York Law Journal]

* Dewey know when we’ll be able to stop using this pun? Hmm, at this rate, probably never. Steve Otillar and Citi recently settled their dueling suits over the ex-D&L partner’s capital contribution loan to the failed firm. [Am Law Daily]

* Cahill Gordon was supposed to investigate the Rutgers basketball scandal, but the firm cited a conflict of interest, so Skadden Arps stepped in. [Insert the joke of your choice here. I don't like or watch this sport.] [Reuters]

* Surely you’ve heard about Justice Orie Melvin’s sentence by now. As it turns out, shaming a judge like you’d shame your dog online might not be enforceable… which is too bad. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* When we last spoke about “controversial” commencement speakers, we didn’t bring up the fact that Nancy Pelosi would be pulling double duty at UC Davis and Baltimore. Thoughts? [National Law Journal]

* She’s got a death wish: the aggravation phase of the Jodi Arias trial was postponed at the last minute yesterday, and some think it’s because of the interview she gave after the verdict was announced. [CNN]

With finals underway and graduation just a few weeks ahead, law students are left with only two things to bitch and moan about: their job/debt situations, and their commencement speakers. Law school graduation is supposed to be a day that will forever be etched in people’s memories; they don’t want to remember that they were seething with rage or slumping their shoulders in disappointment. They just want to be happy.

But apparently the lawyers of the future are incapable of that emotion. In the past, soon-to-be law grads have gotten so pissy about their law school’s selection of speaker that they’ve written open letters, donned protest buttons, and even organized commencement walkouts.

We’ve heard from several of our readers regarding their schools’ speaker picks, and students from a certain high-ranking law school (but not T14, at least in our own rankings) are REALLY unhappy….

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* “I’ve been a restaurant waitress, a hotel hostess, a car parker, a nurse’s aide, a maid in a motel, a bookkeeper and a researcher.” This SCOTUS wife was well-prepared to give a graduation speech at New England Law. [Huffington Post]

* Sniffling over lost profits is the best way to get a court to take your side. Biglaw firms have asked the Second Circuit to consider reversing a decision in the Coudert Brothers “unfinished business” clawback case. [Legal Intelligencer]

* James Holmes, the alleged Aurora movie theater gunman, is being evicted from his apartment. Guess he didn’t know — or care — that booby-trapping the place with bombs would be against the terms of his lease. [Denver Post]

* The ABA has created a task force to study the future of legal education, and its work is expected to completed in 2014. ::rolleyes:: Oh, good thing they’re not in any kind of a hurry — there’s no need to rush. [ABA Journal]

* Indiana Tech, the little law school that nobody wants could, has hired its first faculty members. Thus far, the school has poached law professors from from West Virginia, Florida A&M, and Northern Illinois. [JD Journal]

* When divorces get weird: is this lawyer’s soon-to-be ex-wife hacking into his law firm email account and planning to publish privileged communications online? Yep, this is in Texas. [Unfair Park / Dallas Observer]

* Breast-feeding porn: yup, that’s a thing, so start Googling. A New Jersey mother is suing an Iowa production company after an instructional video she appeared in was spliced to create pornography. [Boston Globe]

* If someone from your school newspaper asks you for a quote about oral sex, and then you’re quoted in the subsequent article, you’re probably not going to win your invasion of privacy lawsuit. [National Law Journal]

It’s not every day that the student selected to speak at a law school commencement admits that he went to law school because he watched the movie My Cousin Vinny. You certainly don’t often hear Mr. Cousin Vinny admit that he thought going to law school would be the key to a job with a top salary.

But then again, you don’t often watch the valedictorian’s speech for the class of 2012 at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

The thing is… instructive. I’ve heard a bunch of commencement speeches, but mainly from Ivy League types. The student speaker at a school like Cooley is, well, different.

Take a look, and a listen….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How The Other Half Graduates: A Cooley Commencement Speech Inspired By ‘My Cousin Vinny’”

So far this year, we haven’t had any huge commencement kerfuffles over graduation speakers at law schools. Last year, you’ll remember that Michigan Law was in a tizzy over Dean Evan Caminker’s pick of Ohio Senator Rob Portman as a commencement speaker. Portman is one of those anti-marriage equality types, and Michigan Law students actually organized a walkout to protest his divisive views.

This year, Michigan has gone with a much more conservative choice.

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog has published his annual list of law school commencement speakers. Michigan Law’s choice is boring, but let’s see if we can’t find somebody else on this list to get excited about…

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It may be true that all happy families are alike while each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Based on my experience going undercover as V. Katz, I have come to learn that this is also true for associates (Biglaw and small).

Based on the comments on the salary survey, there are many small-firm associates with grievances regarding transparency, salary, benefits, hours, etc. Based on conversations with Biglaw associates, there are many who are burnt out and looking to make a “lifestyle” change by moving to a small firm, in-house position, or government job (although hopefully they saw the results that showed many small-firm associates work similar hours to Biglaw). In my conversations with unemployed or underemployed associates, they bemoan their law school loans and hope for a job before they become “obsolete and unable to re-enter the work force at the same level they were at when they lost their jobs.”

For some reason, these associates reach out to me for comfort and guidance. So, I offer them my version of a pep talk, after the jump….

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Here are a couple of things I learned last week:

1) Above the Law readers love commencement train wreck stories.
2) Emory Law students feel picked on.

Armed with this new information, I bring you stories of commencement ridiculousness at schools with student bodies mature enough to take a little scrutiny.

Graduation has come and gone at Yale Law School and Harvard Law School. And while most Yale and Harvard graduates have jobs lined up for this fall, the transition from student to graduate did not go as smoothly as possible. At one school, a Supreme Court justice essentially had to crash the ceremonies. At another school, it seems the smart people organizing the event were totally flummoxed by the naturally occurring phenomenon of rain.

You’d think that with 380-plus years of combined experience, these two law schools could figure out how to run a graduation ceremony. But apparently there’s no accounting for common sense….

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Professor Sara Stadler

Yesterday I wrote about the Emory Law School commencement address delivered by Professor Sara Stadler. In it, she told graduating law student that their own “sense of entitlement” was standing in the way of their happiness.

I’ve got nothing against Professor Stadler or Emory Law, but I personally thought this was the wrong note to strike at a commencement address — and so did some Emory Law students, who contacted us about this in the first place.

But other Emory Law students disagreed. And after yesterday’s post went up, some students emailed Above the Law to express support for Professor Stadler and her message. They stated that she is an excellent teacher and was speaking at commencement by popular demand — Emory students voted on which faculty member they wanted to hear from.

Nobody raised a factual issue about what she said, and you can experience the full speech on YouTube. It’s just that some of the students really liked her address.

Fair enough. Professor Stadler’s critics have already had their say. Now let’s hear from some readers who appreciated and enjoyed her graduation remarks…

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Honestly, I think it’s time to feel sorry for the Emory Law class of 2011. Things are tough for a lot of graduating law students, but the way the Emory administration and faculty have treated the class of ’11 is simply shocking. If you ranked ABA-accredited law schools based on how the administration reacts to student concerns, Emory would have to rate near the bottom.

We can’t know how Emory has been treating the class of ’11 internally, but the ridiculous public behavior started when U.S. News released its most recent law school rankings. Emory plummeted eight spots, one of the biggest drops within the first tier. Since then, the Emory administration has gone to such lengths to cover its ass that there’s been a run on butt plugs in Georgia.

All of the self-serving rhetoric and “blame the students” mentality crested during commencement, where the class of 2011 couldn’t even receive their diplomas without being scolded and condescended to…

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