Interns

But, oh... those sum-mer... totally appropriate work-related NIIIIIIGHTS!

Beware the employer who doesn’t want you to post on Above the Law.

More to the point: beware the employer who advertises on Craigslist and asks to see a picture of you, and also doesn’t want you to post on Above the Law.

Last June, we did a story about Philadelphia attorney who was looking for a sharp dresser to join his law practice. This June we’ve got a California guy looking for a summer intern who isn’t “uptight.” Both of them want to see a picture along with your other “credentials.”

And he doesn’t even want you to be licensed….

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* The fact that this guy got so drunk off of beer pong means he’s probably the best pong competitor who has ever lived. [New York Post]

* This is the best document review job ever. I’m not joking. Does $85/hour sound like a joke? You might need to learn Japanese, though. [Constitutional Daily]

* I wonder how this will affect the inevitable occasions on which I accidentally post drunken political rants on Above the Law’s Twitter feed. [Corporate Counsel]

* New York Times reporter David Segal has made major waves for criticizing law schools. Can other people make waves for criticizing David Segal? [Blueprint LSAT Preparation]

* Lat was on Minnesota Public Radio today giving a measured defense of unpaid internships. Kids at my high school were unpaid interns all the time. It was no big deal. (By the way, ATL is seeking a paid intern.) [Minnesota Public Radio]

* Baker Botts just elected a new managing partner. Congratulations to Andrew M. Baker! [Tex Parte Blog]

* Earlier today, the internet temporarily exploded when the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. Here are comments from David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyer heavyweights who argued the case. [Metro Weekly]

I recently participated in a Room for Debate forum for the New York Times on the controversial subject of unpaid internships. Critics of these positions argue that such exploitative arrangements contribute to “constricted social and professional mobility, growing inequality, and an economy whose top tier is becoming less and less diverse” (in the words of Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy).

In my contribution, I offer a measured defense of unpaid internships — of the non-abusive variety, in which the intern receives a valuable learning experience (and doesn’t just do scut work) — and also a defense of the status quo (under which most unpaid internships are technically illegal, but enforcement isn’t super-vigorous). You can read my NYT piece here (or on page 9 of yesterday’s Sunday Review section, if you’re a print person). You can also read a piece by Camille Olson, a labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw, over here (focusing on the legal aspects of unpaid internships, and offering general guidelines to companies considering them).

Speaking of interns, Above the Law is looking for one — a paid intern, for the record. Details appear below, along with general information about our hiring needs, and our policy on guest posts or outside contributions….

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(And: ATL seeks a paid intern.)

Last week a student worked through the night on a document for a big international arbitration. She willingly stayed and worked with a female colleague and did a great job, but she was ­actually asked to do so and that shouldn’t have ­happened.

In future we’ll stick to our policy so this doesn’t happen again.

Nicola Bridge, graduate recruitment partner at the U.K. law firm SJ Berwin, admitting fault on behalf of the firm after a summer associate was asked to work until five o’clock in the morning.

It sounds like something firms would try to keep on the down low, through anonymous postings on Craigslist. But in the new economy, it’s apparently no big deal for law firms to ask career services offices to send over students who are so desperate they’re willing to work for free. The ABA Journal reports:

Law schools in Florida have gotten a flood of requests from small and midsize law firms seeking summer associates willing to work for free — but career officials are not pleased…

Robert Levine, assistant dean for career development at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center, tells the Daily Business Review that the U.S. Department of Labor encourages unpaid internships to be coordinated through the school’s clinical program.

“It’s a big problem because the students want the experience and the firms need the help,” Levine told the publication. “All of the law schools throughout the state are dealing with this issue.”

Please tell me this is some kind of weird Florida problem, and this kind of behavior will be limited to the Sunshine State…

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Every now and then, we like to offer our readers some career alternatives — things you can do with your law degree and legal training that don’t involve, say, working in a large law firm or as a contract lawyer. We’ve profiled a wide range of individuals, from lawyers who have left the law for everything from football coaching to CEO-ing to therapy (giving, not receiving).

A number of past profiles have involved attorneys turned entrepreneurs. We’ve looked at lawyers who have started restaurants and gone into college admissions consulting. We’ve profiled a lawyer who makes hot tamales, and a lawyer who is a hot tamale.

Today we continue down the path of attorneys who have gone from representing companies to launching them. Our latest interviewee has started a company, Urban Interns, that might be of interest to any ATL readers who are looking to hire interns — or any ATL readers who are looking for internships, which can provide valuable experience and/or a paycheck (of great value during these times of still-high unemployment).

Meet Cari Sommer, a Biglaw alum who last year launched Urban Interns….

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Over the weekend, the New York Times took employers to task for taking advantage of university kids eager to get work experience. Unpaid internships abound, and the recession has made it easier for corporate employers to cry poor, and bring on free labor.

However, there are strict federal guidelines [PDF] around unpaid internships, and many are breaking the law by giving their eager little beavers noneducational menial work. The folks at the Labor Department are on to this devious scheme:

Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner, ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.

While most of the abusive internships are in the exciting worlds of fashion, film, media, and music, there was at least one poor NYU student suckered into cleaning out bathrooms for free at a law firm…

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