Law Students

William Tell

On a Wednesday evening in January, William Tell, a 33-year-old 3L at USC Gould School of Law, was sitting in the backyard of the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, a few blocks away from his apartment, sipping a scotch and munching on a bowl of pasta. At the moment, Tell is the only law student in America who goes home to the woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan — he’s engaged to Lauren Conrad, the reality TV star-turned-lifestyle entrepreneur who is regarded by many, including Martha Stewart, as being something like the next Martha Stewart.

More than a decade before his stint as a figure of tabloid fascination, Tell’s first act was as a guitarist in early ’00s pop-rock band Something Corporate, a band that was playing stadiums, arenas, and late night television shows by the time he was 22.

Clean-cut and wearing a simple grey sweater and skateboarding shoes, Tell laughs a lot but speaks with a hint of careful distance. He makes clear that he guards his privacy and would not have consented to an interview with a publication whose focus was his romantic life. But I wanted to ask Tell mostly about his unique experience as a law student, so I connected with him on LinkedIn, emailed him to explain myself, and now here we are….

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Courtney Love

* Parties in Utah’s gay marriage case are boosting their legal backbones. Utah picked up Gene Schaerr, of Winston & Strawn, who is leaving the firm to serve as lead outside counsel. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called upon Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn to assist with Bridgegate’s fallout. Because messing with people’s commutes into New York City is that big of a deal. [Am Law Daily]

* Come next year, Yale Law School will be joining the majority of law schools located on this planet by holding its fall finals before winter break. They’ll still be studying anyway… just for fun! [Yale Daily News]

* “Being in Portland … is hard to facilitate when you are based in Eugene.” Oregon Law, sadly unable to master the fine art of teleportation, will allow students to take their 3L classes in Portland as soon as in 2015. [National Law Journal]

* Courtney Love was in court this week testifying in the first “Twibel” (Twitter + libel) trial in the nation. Oh, that’s so interesting, but what America really wants to know is what she was wearing. [Businessweek]

It’s Harvard Law School’s world, and the rest of us are just living in it.

1999: ARLO DEVLIN-BROWN writes that you never know where you’ll run into a classmate. He is prosecuting MATHEW MARTOMA (née Ajai Mathew Thomas) on insider trading charges in Lower Manhattan. Devlin-Brown has asked U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe (unfortunately Penn ’79, Columbia ’82) for permission to talk about Matt’s expulsion from Harvard for doctoring his transcript, so get ready for fireworks! The trial is expected to last several weeks, so for anyone who missed WILLIAM PULLMAN and Lisa Frank’s (Yale ’03, NYU Law ’08, NYU Stern ’08) Christmas Eve nuptials, it would be a great opportunity for a mini-reunion!

That is Bess Levin’s imagined entry for the next edition of Harvard Law School alumni news, offered over at our sister site Dealbreaker. It’s based on a New York Times piece marveling at the many HLS folks involved in this major insider trading trial (which also include Martoma’s lawyer, Richard Strassberg of Goodwin Procter, and Lorin Reisner, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office).

A takeaway from the Martoma matter: HLS students are the best! At forgery and fraud, that is.

Years before he allegedly cheated on Wall Street, Mathew Martoma, then known as “Ajai Mathew Thomas,” cheated at Harvard Law School by fabricating his transcript when applying for clerkships. It was a sophisticated effort that fooled multiple jurists. Which D.C. Circuit judges came thisclose to hiring him as a law clerk?

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Last week, we looked at which Biglaw firms were the highest rated in 2013 by their own lawyers, according to the ATL Insider Survey. As we noted, we’ve amassed in excess of 15,500 responses to our survey from practicing lawyers and law students. The information from our survey provides our readers with a deep resource for comparing and evaluating schools and firms, particularly in the form of our Law Firm and Law School Directories.

Today, we continue to milk the “it’s a New Year/here’s a list” format and present 2013’s highest-rated law schools. Please note this is not to be confused with the ATL Law School Rankings, which assess schools based on a range of employment outcomes (and which are coming out later this year). These ratings are a pure function of how schools were rated by current students in the areas of academics, financial aid advising, career services, practical/clinical training, and social life.

More clues that these are not the ATL Law School Rankings: Northeastern beats Northwestern, while Yale and Harvard do not even make the cut…

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Ed. note: This post is written by Adam Gropper, author of Making Partner: The Essential Guide to Negotiating the Law School Path and Beyond, a recent release by the American Bar Association. Making Partner provides guidance for maximizing performance while in law school, securing the dream law firm job, excelling as an associate, and moving on the fast track to making partner. Adam Gropper is also the founder of www.LegalJob.com, a blog that provides practical advice for current law school students and law firm associates.

Other than attending a top ten law school and being in the top ten percent of your class, there is not just one way or one big secret to obtaining a dream legal job. Many people, for example, especially top law students, just fall into their practice area, and are doing what they are doing by accident. Accordingly, for this group, focus and planning ahead are not as crucial.

This post speaks to all others who are not quite sure what they will do when they graduate law school and are interested in planning ahead. For these folks, it may be helpful to have a practical plan with specific, mechanical steps.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center….

Linear extrapolations are widely suspected of being unreliable, but maybe not widely enough. Stated differently, it’s a category error to engage in static, not dynamic, analysis. Stated yet differently, the interesting challenge is almost never to ask, “What can we do to solve this problem?” but instead, “What happens after we take this approach to solving the problem?”

Here’s an example. A long-running contributor to structural disequilibrium in the metropolitan New York traffic congestion pattern is that bridges across the East River are toll-free, whereas almost all other bridges and tunnels in the area carry tolls as high as $12 one-way. Not surprisingly, the East River bridges are chronically congested and “over capacity.” (The experts’ knowing diagnosis that they’re “over capacity” always amuses me; drivers are paying in time, not money: The “capacity” of the bridges is what it always has been.) So periodically proposals are floated to impose tolls on these bridges, with seemingly reliable projections of how much revenue would be collected based on today’s vehicle traffic multiplied by the average toll.

This is a linear extrapolation, a static analysis, and it’s wrong. It overlooks the question, “How will people alter their behavior in light of the tolls?” Obviously, the answer is that some will carpool, some will take mass transit, some will telecommute more often, some will use different combinations of bridges and tunnels. Whatever happens, toll revenue will fall short of {[today's traffic volume] x [proposed toll]}.

Now, in law school land, we have a stunning example of market dynamics at work….

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Roommate disputes with normal people are distressing. There are fights and recriminations, there are passive-aggressive maneuvers, there are stolen Cheerios and girlfriends.

Roommate disputes with lawyer people can include all of the above, but they almost always include dense, pedantic arguing. It’s like how in the wild, all the little cubs will play-fight each other to prepare for adulthood, only much, much less cool. It’s very annoying, not just because you have to fight about everything (“Sunday is your day to take out that trash”), but also because law students will drop legal-sounding terms into their arguments (“Yes, but pursuant to our agreement, my duty only vests if you have executed trash removal on Saturday night, which you did not, in the instant case.”). You think I’m joking, but live with other law students for a couple of months and tell me how long it takes before you attempt to murder them.

God forbid multiple law roommates end up disputing the correct interpretation or application of a lease agreement. Honestly, I’d rather wrestle for food with a bear than fight with a bunch of law roomies over something in the lease. Don’t believe me? Check out this seven-page email thread about the legal and metaphysical consequences of taking care of a friend’s rabbit….

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I always tell law students to do as much research as possible before applying to law school, but this might be taking it too far.

A law student joined the school’s new student Facebook page and started going to all the usual 1L social events. The problem is that the law student wasn’t a law student at all. A TA figured out that the student was an imposter and now he’s disappeared.

What kind of person is so hard up for social contact that he’s got to willingly hang out with law students?

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Wasn’t this thing invented by Gutenberg?

Maybe it took the snowstorm. I really felt like law students were keeping it together even in the face of impending finals. But it snowed over the weekend, and was very cold in other places, and maybe that wintery snap reminded law students and professors that finals are here and it’s time to go nuts.

This week, we’ve had our share of final exam stories, but they’ve been of the legitimate mistake or concern variety. Today… we’ve just got some weird crap that happens around campus during finals period…

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Give a hand for the law’s lack of diversity.

* When it comes to the air pollution case that’s currently before the Supreme Court, it seems like the justices had absolutely no difficulty at all in evaluating the type of problem at hand. It’s apparently a “tough” one and a “hard” one. [New York Times]

* Thanks to the historic new Senate rules put into action last month, Patricia Ann Millett, the co-head of Akin Gump’s Supreme Court and national appellate practice group, has been confirmed to the D.C. Circuit. You go girl! [Post Politics / Washington Post]

* The Senate showdown isn’t quite over yet, folks. We could see another confirmation vote on Georgetown Law professor Nina Pillard’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit sometime today. [Blog of Legal Times]

* “We risk failure in having a profession that is as diverse as the country we serve.” OMG guys, the legal profession is bad at diversity. This is new information that no one’s heard before. [National Law Journal]

* Now that the recession is over, women are gaining their jobs back faster than all their male counterparts. Not to worry, guys — they’re still being paid 77 cents to every dollar a man earns. [Corporate Counsel]

* Here are the top five social media mishaps by lawyers and law students of 2013. If you value your career, you should really try not to do any of these embarrassing things during the new year. [Strategist / FindLaw]

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