Kids

What child is this?

Apparently not “Messiah,” regardless of his parents’ wishes.

A Tennessee judge — at least that’s what the media is calling her, she’s really a “Child Support Magistrate,” and since this whole affair is about claiming a grandiose title, it’s deliciously ironic — has ordered that the birth certificate of a 7-month-old baby named “Messiah” be “Martin DeShawn McCullough.”

Anyway, future Associate Justice Lu Ann Ballew based her name change on her religious beliefs, making her not only wrong legally, but also religiously….

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So you’re having a baby. There’s so much to do: things like preparing the nursery, shopping for a stroller, and acclimating yourself to Dinosaur Train.

There’s also the little matter of deciding upon a name. Too common of a name will leave a child identified in school as “Emma Number 4.” Go too far out there, and the kid can be teased mercilessly. It’s a tough job, but families generally figure it out and hit the sweet spot in between the two extremes. Or at least split the difference, like naming your first kid James, and your second Jacquizz.

But if you’re a corporate lawyer, you could also issue ballots to a defined class of stakeholders to vote on the name. Like this guy…

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This week, the legal world has been buzzing over the New Republic’s exposé on the troubles of Biglaw, told through the tale of the long-suffering Mayer Brown. Our managing editor David Lat wondered if being a partner was the worst job in Biglaw, prompting some raised eyebrows. “Yeah, being a partner is so much worse than being an associate,” said a sarcastic commenter.

Sure, being a Biglaw partner right now isn’t “all peaches and cream,” but for most Biglaw associates — female associates especially — it never was. In fact, in our last discussion of the New Republic piece, very little attention was paid to the plight of one Mayer Brown associate in particular: the woman who was laid off during her maternity leave after surviving two prior rounds of layoffs.

The fragile state of the Biglaw world is such that women who dare to do crazy things like get pregnant must worry about whether they’ve put their jobs on the line. But just how bad is it to be pregnant at an Am Law 200 firm? It couldn’t be worse than being a partner, could it?

It could, and it is…

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“But they aren’t all valedictorians, they weren’t all brought by their parents. For everyone who’s a valedictorian there’s another 100 out there that, they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

– Representative Steve King (R-Iowa), referring to DREAM Act beneficiaries last week.

Say what you will about Congressman King, he had the cojones to appear on the Univision show “Al Punto con Jorge Ramos” this week, an unusual move for an outspoken opponent of immigration reform.

While King was busy pointing out that kids can be drug mules, the rest of the House of Representatives has been debating proposed legislation called the KIDS Act, a variation on the Senate’s DREAM Act. “DREAM” is an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors” (not to be confused with alien miners, which could be the premise for a Ridley Scott movie). The Act and its equivalent in the House would provide eligibility for a six-year-long conditional path to citizenship for qualifying young people whose parents brought them to the United States illegally.

The basic idea enjoys some bipartisan support, even if shakily so. Let’s agree, if only for the sake of argument, that this simple goal is a good one. Nevertheless, the DREAM Act and its progeny don’t work, and they distract lawmakers from the larger, more consequential immigration debate….

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Finally, a law camp that is worth the money they are charging for it.

We’ve done several stories about “law camps” — summer experiences where law schools charge people unreasonable amounts of money to “experience” law school for a few days or weeks. They are really bad ideas that seem designed to trick people into applying to law school and shake a little money out of them in the process. “Law camp” has about as much to do with actual law school as “summer camp” has to do with living in a traditional society as a hunter-gatherer.

William and Mary Law has one of these programs, as does Cornell, and I’ve been critical of both.

Those programs are aimed at college students or mid-career professionals looking to get a “taste” of what it’s like to spend a lot of money for unmarketable skills. Now comes Marquette University Law School, which is holding a five-day “Summer Youth Institute” aimed at impressionable high-school and middle-school students.

Sounds like the worst thing ever, right? Actually, no. It’s really not that bad. For starters, it’s free….

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If there’s one thing I’m going to defend, it’s the right of American children to go out and die or injure themselves in whatever way seems best to them. Whether we’re talking about alcoholic energy drinks, or dangerous playground equipment, I’m not a fan of trying to legislate away childhood behavior. You shouldn’t sell kids a bag of glass, but we have fairly robust tort and consumer protection laws to weed that kind of stuff out.

Certainly, at the point when a child — or God forbid an adult — comes upon a giant roller coaster that does loops at 90 mph and says, “Oh, yeah, that looks perfectly safe,” I’m not sure what kind of “regulation” we’re supposed to be going for. If it crashes, you’ve got a tort action. If it doesn’t, you can thank whatever God you pray to and maybe next time take your ass to the bumper cars.

That stance puts me on the opposite of the newly elected junior Senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey…

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For all of the unnecessary pomp and circumstance associated with the British monarchy, we sure are obsessed with it in America. Perhaps it’s because their gorgeous young royals are great at generating headlines, whether reputable or repugnant. First, there was the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, an eleventy-billion-hour extravaganza of elegance that our eyes were glued to for what seemed like all eternity. The family quickly dropped nobility’s veil, and just one year later, Prince Harry’s crown jewels and Duchess Catherine’s breasts were put on display in gossip rags for all the world to see. After recovering from tabloid infamy, we are now eagerly awaiting the birth of the royal baby, which is a very, very big deal.

The young royal couple does not yet know the sex of their child, and Duchess Catherine, who wanted to have a natural birth, has been in labor for more than 11 hours. At this point, she’s likely desperate to greet His or Her Royal Highness. Typically, British royalty would be crossing their fingers for a male heir to the throne, but thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act, all of that is going to change…

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“What I said was terrible, mean and downright stupid…. I wasn’t trying to scare anyone, I was trying to be witty and sarcastic. I failed and I was arrested.”

– Justin Carter, in a letter to District Judge Jack Robison

On February 14, in New Braunfels, Texas, Justin Carter was arrested on terroristic threat charges. Carter, then age 18, had been posting on a Facebook page for the game League of Legends. When a friend called Carter crazy, Carter allegedly volleyed back that, yeah, he was messed up in the head and that he was going to “shoot up a kindergarten, watch the blood rain down and eat the beating heart out of one of them.” A Canadian woman who viewed the comment reported Carter to law enforcement officials.

Carter’s father insists that his son immediately followed his first Facebook comment with “LOL” and “JK,” clear indications that Carter was . . . laughing out loud and joking when he wrote. Lest you think that explicitly stating that you are joking is enough to insulate your comments from criminal liability, Justin Carter was arrested, then charged by the Comal County Criminal District Attorney. In Comal County, txtspk cannot save you….

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I feel the last time we talked about a family court proceeding, it was horrible. Magistrate Patricia Doninger was caught on camera ignoring the pleas of a woman who was sexually assaulted by one of her court marshals.

It appears that Doninger has finally been relieved of her duties. With that out of the way, maybe we should focus on people who take a little more pride and concern when adjudicating family disputes.

The ideal family court judge should have one primary concern, and that is what is best for the children. Today we have a judge who intrinsically understands that “going to Disneyland” is always what’s best for the children…

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Day by day, law school applications continue to tumble. As of May 31, applicants were down 13.2 percent and applications were down 18.6 percent from last year. As we’ve mentioned previously, this is the third year in a row that there’s been a double-digit percentage drop like this. Welcome to the reckoning.

Law schools are understandably scared by the precipitous drops in applications. While some are handing out admissions offers like candy, others are exploding scholarship offers to entice prospective students to join their ranks. Still others have been forced to think outside the box to come up with innovative ways to fill their incoming classes.

Have you heard of the “Just Diapers to Juris Doctors” program yet? We’ve got to hand it to this school, because it’ll be at least two decades before this new admissions program turns into “Just Debt”….

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