Media and Journalism

Jodi Arias: too happy for murder?

This trial has lasted much longer than we ever anticipated, and it’s been richer and deeper than we would have ever imagined.

Scot Safon, the executive in charge of HLN, commenting on the news channel’s intense coverage of the Jodi Arias trial.

(If you haven’t been watching all of the Casey Anthony-esque reporting on the Arias trial, she’s accused of killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, who was stabbed 27 times, shot in the head, and had his throat slit. Arias claims she killed him in self defense.)

Law school deans, are you ready for your report card?

The U.S. News law school rankings are due out in a couple of hours. But Above the Law sources have given us a sneak peek at the Top 25, this time in order. And not just from anonymous sources. Mike Spivey of the Spivey Consulting Group claims he’s laid eyes on the list, confirmed what our tipsters reported, and has been tweeting about the thing for the past few hours.

Every year, law school deans and professors tells us how the rankings are flawed, and every year, we find out that prospective law students care more about the U.S. News law school rankings than any other factor.

But this year, U.S. News claims it will be taking into account the employment figures of recent graduates nine months after graduation. Is that going to be a big substantive change, or have law schools already mastered the art of self-reporting their own employment outcomes in a way that hides the truth?

Let’s take a look. These notes will be UNOFFICIAL until U.S. News confirms the news with their midnight publication, but we’re confident this is the new top 25.

UPDATE (10:10 p.m.): U.S. News just confirmed our report by moving up their publication schedule. These rankings are now OFFICIAL….

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Lawyers are supposed to read. The best lawyers are usually the most voracious readers. One of the tragic consequences of life as an associate is the loss of time for leisure reading. Except for that hard-earned four-day vacation around Thanksgiving time. Or that quick beach jaunt in late August when you realize that not only are all the partners gone for their yearly family vacations, they are not even bothering to answer emails or calls. So you may as well take a long weekend yourself. Pretend you have a life. Endure your friends talking about how their corporate “Summer Fridays” are already tired out, and how they long to get back to a regular schedule after Labor Day. Admit it — you are not doing any serious reading on the beach, or in the airport, or sitting on someone’s pool deck with a homemade margarita. More likely, your brain is fried, and the appropriate level of reading material for you at that stage is a “men’s periodical” or some celebrity rag.

Partners have it a little better. The intellectual ones rekindle their loves for serious fiction, or Ulysses Grant biographies, or even high-priced gardening books so they can converse semi-intelligently with their illiterate (but highly skilled and inexpensive) landscaper. Other partners read junk, or choose not to read at all, only buying glossy magazines for the pictures of high-priced items they are thrilled they can now afford. Or for the cocktail recipes, now that the liquor on their “drink rack” is of better quality, all while their need for a nightly drink or two or three goes up. Leisure reading, or not, however you like.

But there is another kind of Biglaw reading. The type that all partners really should engage in. Daily if possible. It is accessible. Via browser. That’s right — legal blogs. Biglaw partners (and ambitious associates) need to be on top of what is going on in our industry. You know, the one that is changing rapidly. Where there is a battle for survival going on, even between firms that would normally be considered extremely successful, and that in and of themselves are many times larger and more successful than at any point in their own histories. Information is power on this battlefield. Get reading. Some suggestions….

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Professor Paul Campos isn’t going anywhere. But as we mentioned last night, his blog is.

Last night, Campos announced that he is going to stop writing his blog, Inside the Law School Scam. There are a number of so-called “scam blogs” by law school graduates that are devoted to exposing the high cost and low return of going to law school. But Campos is one of the few law school professors who has chosen to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

But after 499 posts, there wasn’t a lot more to say…

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Say what you will about the Cooley Law School Rankings, but at least they are internally consistent and objectively applied.

We’ve written before about the ridiculous National Jurist Best Law School Rankings. Many law bloggers have written about this list that looks like it was put together by getting the Sorting Hat drunk on goblets of fire water and forcing it to name law schools until it passed out.

We’ve all tried to reason with the National Jurist, but it turns out that effort was not unlike trying to convince an infant not to poop while you’re eating. We’d have been better off just ignoring it and cleaning it up later.

The publication came out with an “edit” yesterday, and while its revisions did a good job of highlighting how stupid these rankings were in the first place, I’m compelled to write about them just so nobody is fooled into thinking their “updates” have actually fixed anything….

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Ed. note: This is the second installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give a notable law firm partner an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Theodore Boutrous, Jr. is co-chair of Gibson Dunn‘s appellate and constitutional law groups. He is also a member of the firm’s executive and management committees.

1. What is the greatest challenge to the legal industry over the next five years?

For law firms to maintain strong, lasting bonds with clients and distinctive brands and cultures rather than transforming into large, largely fungible, faceless, bottom-line business enterprises.

2. What has been the biggest positive change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

Technology has revolutionized the legal profession, enhancing productivity, and improving the quality of work, life and client-service capabilities.

3. What has been the biggest negative change to the legal profession since the start of your career?

The demise of law libraries as special sanctuaries for thinking and contemplating and generating ideas.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The ATL Interrogatories: 10 Questions with Theodore Boutrous of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher”

These days, it seems like every media outlet that has any remote connection to the law is making an effort to dispel the allure of the esteemed U.S. News law school rankings. U.S. News encourages law school administrators to attempt to game the rankings, they say. The U.S. News rankings are too focused on the test scores of incoming students, they say. And while we agree that some of the U.S. News methodology could be changed for the better, others have only offered up absurdities in their alternative ranking systems.

National Jurist recently came out with its own set of rankings which measure much lauded criteria like the number of Super Lawyers each law school produces, and the quality of each law school’s faculty, as measured by the oft revered website, RateMyProfessors.com. And as with the glorious Cooley rankings, any traction that the new National Jurist rankings might have received went totally out the window when the powers that be at the magazine decided to rank Alabama higher than both Harvard and Yale. Come on, everyone knows that the only place ‘Bama should be ranked ahead of Harvard is on a football field!

As far as we’re concerned, this serves only as an exercise in how not to make a new rankings system….

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The late, great James Stockdale put it best: Who am I? Why am I here?

You’re probably wondering the same thing as you read a Monday post from the heretofore “Thursday morning guy.” Well, I’m pleased to announce that I am your new ATL assistant editor. Moving on up from humble contributor to a spot on the masthead.

I will cover all manner of subjects, but with a particular eye on legal tech. Basically I’m the Kreiger of the ISIS operation that is ATL.

And yes, I’m going to be upping the Archer references at this publication because Archer is awesome.

More about me, including a real picture and my résumé for your crippling judgment, after the jump.

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At a bachelor party a few weeks ago, traveling around the city, my friends and I discussed in detail various survival strategies should someone fall onto the subway tracks. We all agreed that trying to climb back up onto the platform was the most dangerous move. You want to go into that middle area so trains are rushing past you on either side. Or you want to book it down the track, because just inside the tunnel there are stairs for workers.

Of course, in the heat of the moment, if I actually were pushed in front of an oncoming train, I’d probably turn and yell at it and be very surprised when it didn’t stop to listen to what I had to say.

It’s really not an uncommon conversation for New Yorkers, because falling onto the tracks is kind of a persistent nightmare in this city. Much more real than getting hit by a falling air conditioner or being hit by a taxi cab. The reason why jumping back up onto the platform is a bad idea is because the track is much deeper than it appears, so you can’t standing-jump that. And so then you’re in a situation where you need to do a half-pull up and… not everybody can do that.

It’s hard to pull yourself back up without help. And in NYC, you can’t count on help. Which of course brings us to Tuesday’s tragedy on the tracks….

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To be honest, I don’t know if this is a Formula 1 car or an Indy car. Now ask me if I care.

* Judicial benchslap catfight over administrative orders. Man, I didn’t think I could make the word “catfight” sound so unsexy, but there you go. [The Chief Jester]

* Is it a federal crime to read Above the Law at work? If so, download the app. [Workplace Law Prof Blog]

* Speaking of apps, te “App from Hell” would be more interesting if it were actually an app. But hiring Professor Dan Solove to teach your colleagues about privacy is still a good idea. [Teach Privacy]

* A dean of the University of Ottawa Law School wrote an op-ed defending Canadian law schools (which aren’t even as bad as U.S. law schools). Remember when deans didn’t have to defend law schools because there were “jobs” for “new attorneys”? [Canadian Lawyer]

* Here’s an article about Formula 1 racing that you don’t need Google translator to read. [Dealbook]

* Bonus podcast! I mean, Lat did a podcast with the ABA Journal about bonuses, not that there’s a podcast you can listen to in order to get a bonus. [ABA Journal]

* Bonus Lat! I mean, here’s a story about David Lat and the changing coverage of law firms and the legal profession. [Details]

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