LexisNexis / Lexis-Nexis

Mahbod Moghadam of Rap Genius

F. Scott Fitzgerald once opined that there were “no second acts in American lives.” Similarly, Biz Markie once opined “’cause we all pick our boogers sometime every day.” If you’re already lost, allow me to explain. This is the story of a former Biglaw attorney and his second act. He and his friends started a website devoted to rap lyrics. The website annotates rap lyrics, and it’s this system of annotation that the founders of the website hope will take over the web (including legal research). The website was recently funded by venture capitalists, and the resulting hype has ping-ponged across the web at a pace so rapid that you’d be excused if you made like Steinski and wondered, “What does it all mean?” (affiliate link).

The interviews that have fed the myriad profiles of the site’s founders have been nothing short of entertaining. Just last week, Gawker was prompted to write a guide to the site, rapgenius.com, which managed to sound both condescending and wildly equivocating and which did nothing but illuminate the author’s squeamishness. This promises to not be like that. I don’t know if Rap Genius is going to be Wikipedia or Pets.com.

What I do know is that a Biglaw dropout just ganked $15 million from Marc Andreessen and wants to edge out Westlaw and Lexis (good luck with that).

Keep reading to find out where he went to law school and what firm he worked at. And if you want to see his shirtless YouTube diss track (no homo)….

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In my humble opinion, there is nothing worse than billing time. Just think of the feeling you get when you’ve spent a day doing a million random tasks in your sad beige office, and you have no ten-minute entries to account for that day (i.e., you get no credit for a day spent at work doing work things). Not only is billing a pain, the practice of accounting for your time is even worse. While I was no better at it when I was at my Biglaw firm than at the small firm, the former had some software that would send me mean emails if I did not get my hours in on time. Oh, and there were scarier partners that would come after if me if I had a delinquent time report.

At the small firm, on the other hand, I was instructed to fill out time entries by hand, give them to my assistant to type into a billing program, review the print-out of the hours inputted by my assistant, and then send them off to the partner to review and approve.

I was less efficient at billing at the small firm than at my Biglaw firm. Not only did I lose precious ten-minute increments working with my assistant to bill hours, but I also worked on a minimum of four matters, and switching between matters meant less efficiency. And I suppose there are other things people do at small firms that they cannot bill for — like go get business or something?

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* Paul Clement is a beast, is basically what it comes down to. [The Daily Beast]

* This is probably the grossest, most pornographic employment discrimination/sexual harassment/defamation lawsuit I’ve seen. Maybe fans of 50 Shades of Grey (affiliate link) might find it compelling. The writing in the lawsuit is probably better… [Courthouse News]

* Predictive coding is good. Now it’s bad. Now it’s good. Make up your mind! [Law Technology News]

* A touching obituary about a first-year Reed Smith associate who recently took his own life. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* Elie was on Fox News late last night (video embed after the jump). He brought the funny. [Red Eye]

* If you ever get in trouble for tweeting or blogging about jury duty, Davis Oscar Markus is the guy to call. [Miami Herald]

* LexisNexis recently unveiled its new, ginormous legal e-book library. It’s just like a normal law library, except you don’t have to ask the pesky law librarian for help. [LexisNexis]

(Embedded Elie, after the jump.)

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Where would lawyers be without open (and absurdly expensive) access to Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis for legal research? They’d have to trudge down to the closest law library and read real books made of paper. They’d have to head over to the courthouse and pull actual files with non-electronic documents inside of them. In a time where legal texts are used solely for decorative bookshelf purposes, that is just too much to ask.

But that is the behavior that two lawyers would expect of their professional colleagues. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, they claim that the legal database providers have been engaging in “unabashed wholesale copying of thousands of copyright-protected works created by, and owned by, the attorneys and law firms who authored them.”

Do they have any chance of winning their class action copyright suit?

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Casey Anthony is pissed.

* And now another reason for lawyers to hate other lawyers (even more than they already do): Westlaw and LexisNexis are being sued for copyright infringement for selling access to publicly filed legal documents. [WSJ Law Blog]

* MGA Entertainment’s antitrust suit against Mattel has been dismissed. In celebration, attorneys from Quinn Emanuel will buy themselves hot pink convertibles while singing that “Barbie Girl” song. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Yesterday in the Golinski case, a federal judge ruled that the definition of marriage under DOMA is unconstitutional. Come on, even a Bush II appointee knows what’s up. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* After finally realizing that he was a lawyer and not an agent — and that his most infamous client wasn’t worth as much as he thought — Jose Baez dropped Casey Anthony like a bad habit. [Miami Herald]

* Former University of Virginia lax player George W. Huguely V was found guilty of second degree murder in the death of Yeardley Love. UVA students are instructed to pop their collars at half-staff. [Bloomberg]

So, I’ve been in New York for a few days now. I’ve eaten pizza the way you are supposed to, I’ve spent a lot of time underground, and I’ve stayed out drinking until 4 a.m. Just the usual stuff people do here.

But I didn’t fly 3,000 miles just for Fat Sal’s. I’m spending this week at LegalTech, a seriously huge conference centered around, you guessed it, legal technology.

On Monday afternoon, everyone was caffeinated, and the halls of the New York Hilton were crowded. I attended my first panel yesterday morning: “Global Trends in Law and Technology.” The panelists covered some familiar topics, and the discussion revealed an important shift in the way attorneys relate to technology.

The times they are a-changin’….

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The great thing about free stuff is that it is free. Nobody cares what kind of plastic junk they’re getting as long as it’s free. Why do sports fans go nuts over t-shirt cannons, even though the shirts are ugly as hell and always XXL? Duh, because they’re free.

To me, it seems logical that no one has any right to complain when free stuff is taken away, or when it turns out to be a major letdown.

If you want a crummy T-shirt so badly, go buy one. If you want to go to Starbucks, don’t complain that your aunt Maggie didn’t give you a big enough gift card for Christmas. Just go buy your coffee.

Judging from a recent LexisNexis online promotion geared toward law students, though, it seems I might be in the minority. On its Facebook page, Lexis has been advertising “challenges” for law students. Supposedly, the first 1,000 students to complete each challenge win 1,000 “Lexis points,” which are similar to credit card rewards points.

Tragically, some computer problems caused students to have trouble accessing and submitting their answers earlier this week. A tidal wave of law school students became enraged and took to Lexis’s Facebook with their fury. Woe to he who angers law students….

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'How do I get these stupid marks to disappear from my document?'

Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about some über expensive and embarrassing examples of lawyers making technological mistakes.

Those stories involved sexily scandalous blunders, but they were relatively extreme scenarios. (If turning over thousands of privileged documents happens regularly at your firm, may God help you.)

More frequently, firm employees deal with little technological snafus that are just annoying, pointless, and a waste of time. In a world where attorneys might literally be working themselves to death, every second of the day counts. It’s when people can’t handle mundane, seriously easy computer tasks that daily tasks become inefficient and infuriating.

Keep reading for some true stories of the technologically challenged….

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Above the Law’s coverage of small law firms is about to ramp up. We will soon be announcing our two new writers on the small firm beat.

(If you responded to our open call for new columnists, we thank you for your interest. We received a slew of excellent applications, which made the selection process very difficult.)

Also on the topic of small firms, I recently had the pleasure of judging the LexisNexis Ultimate Law Firm Marketing Makeover contest, open to solo practitioners and small law firms across the country. I was joined on the judging panel by legal marketing guru Larry Bodine; Carolyn Elefant, of MyShingle.com; and David Palmieri and Carol Eversen, both vice presidents at LexisNexis.

So who won the grand prize — a suite of LexisNexis law firm marketing services, valued at $50,000?

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To borrow a line from Sharon Nichols, I judge you when you have a poor website.

Like it or not, we live in a superficial world where your website is judged on a daily basis — and not just by me. Friends, colleagues, potential employees and most importantly potentially paying clients are all looking at you — watching, judging.

Of course, there’s the old adage that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but do you know why that’s an old adage? Because we all judge books by their cover, and by “book” I mean “your law firm.” But fear not, you of the static, monochromatic firm website that still lists now-departed associates. Your salvation lies in the hands of your beloved managing editor, David Lat — at least partially….

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