Midwest

If you build it, will clients come?

Ed. note: This is a new column from a person who didn’t just go from Biglaw to a smaller office, he went from big bad New York City to someplace where they care about the Big Ten network. It’s a different client roster and a different life.

Hello. I live in the middle of the country and I do smal(ler) law than most of you, so you can call me the Middle Man.

I am one of the few friends of ATL who had the courage to leave the quagmire that is New York Biglaw, and the stupidity tenacity to continue practicing law.

A little about myself: I was born in the Midwest, went to college out west, law School in the south, and worked at a Vault top-15 firm in New York City for four years before fleeing for greener (read: smaller) pastures at a regional firm with a few offices scattered about the heartland here in the middle of the country.

I this space, I will be covering such topics as:

1. How the hell I got this job in the first place.
2. The difference between client service here at a smaller firm in a mid-sized city and New York.
3. The difference in my practice here and New York.
4. Dealing with partners and fellow associates in a smaller firm as an associate from a biglaw firm.
5. Why Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell is one of the most prolific Americans of the late 20th century.
My hope is that these posts will give you an idea of what you can expect if you leave your biglaw job and head back toward Real America.

To get us started, let me tackle our first topic: how I scored this job…

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A not-so-little house on the prairie. It looks like a Wright, right?

Are you having a difficult time finding a position in the depressed legal job market? Maybe you need to think about relocating. Have you considered moving to Iowa? As noted by Vivia Chen over at The Careerist, the “Life Changing” state is experiencing a lawyer shortage.

Lawyer jobs and husks of corn aren’t all that Iowa has to offer. The state also has a reasonable cost of living, including some very well-priced real estate.

Take the Iowa home of a former partner Biglaw partner and former general counsel to a major media company. This lovely residence is currently on the market for a surprisingly modest sum….

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Maybe it’s because I come from a writing background, as opposed to a legal background, but there’s almost nothing better about my job than reading legal opinions where a judge drops the usual formality and format. To my mind, judicial opinions are best when they include passion or empathy or even simple frustration.

And once in a wonderful blue moon, I stumble across something even better: an opinion that reads like a the product of too much whiskey and night terrors.

We have come across a recent Midwestern state court opinion that reads more like Hunter Thompson than Learned Hand. It doesn’t hurt the metaphor that the defendant, convicted of multiple theft charges, is also a long-term abuser of methamphetamine, marijuana, and alcohol.

I would call this a benchslap, but that might be too nice a word…

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Proposed new law school at Indiana Tech. Not shown, the solitary confinment chamber for students who call professors obtuse.

Honestly, how many law schools does Indiana need? Two? Five? 317? I just want to know. I just want somebody — Peyton Manning, Mitch Daniels — to tell me how many freaking law schools are required in the great state of Indiana before its legal needs are met.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Indiana Tech is moving ahead with plans to open a new law school. Why? Because it can. The school allegedly did a feasibility study that found Indiana was “underserved” by lawyers. No intelligent person can believe it. Asking a university that wants to open a law school whether there is a need for a new law school is like asking a fat person if there is a need for more pie. Indy Tech will be the fifth law school in Indiana and the seventh within a three-hour drive of Fort Wayne. If Fort Wayne needs more access to legal education than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway needs more access to fast cars.

Oh, but Indy Tech has an ingenious way of getting use out of its soon-to-be unemployed law students. Slave legal labor for everybody at Indy Tech…

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On a nice, lazy, summer Friday, it’s good to know that rudeness still exists this world.

Today’s example of questionable behavior comes from a midsized Midwestern law firm. Yeah, apparently Midwestern manners don’t extend to how you treat people while you are rejecting them. This firm decided to use its rejection letters as an opportunity to market its new iPhone/iPad application.

It’s an app for people looking for work, of course…

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Are you a recent law school graduate searching for a job in a down economy? Do you hope to find a nontraditional position in the Great Midwest? Do you have an unconditional love for breakfast foods? If so, you need look no further, because Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis may be able to assist you with all of your employment needs.

As we know, IU Indy Law likes to keep it real — so real, in fact, that Dean Gary Roberts has preached that law students are idiots if they believe their salaries will be $140,000 right out of school. At odds with this tradition of realness, the second tier law school is offering its recent graduates what seems to be a prestigious, in-house opportunity.

The job listing in question touts: “It’s a good feeling to know someone is paying you for what you’re worth.” But unfortunately, at this law school, your J.D. is worth jack squat and a stack of waffles….

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In March, we ran a story about how the justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court had basically devolved into caricatures of themselves worthy of MTV reality show fame.

Apparently, in the midst of a heated debate, Justice David Prosser fell into the role of the hothead. He called a female justice a “bitch” “total bitch,” and threatened to “destroy” her. I guess this is what happens when members of the judiciary stop being polite, and start getting real –- The Real Prize World.

Anyway, you know what usually happens on the next episode of the show. We find out that the hothead isn’t just abusive with his words, but also with his fists. And that is exactly what allegedly happened earlier this month behind closed doors.

Did Prosser need to choke a bitch?

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Does somebody have to die? Does somebody have to commit suicide? Does somebody have to leave a suicide note that reads, “I just couldn’t go on paying off the debts I incurred from going to this law school”? What is it going to take before somebody, some organization, some kind of regulatory authority steps in and prevents universities from opening up debt-generation shops under the guise of providing legal education?

There have been some recent successes in the fight to get people to think before they open a new law school. Plans to further saturate the legal market with expensive J.D.s have been tabled in North Texas and Delaware.

But this is a game of whack-a-mole that can’t be won without regulatory control. The Indiana Institute of Technology is going forward with its law school plan, because nobody will stop them….

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Andrew Shirvell (far right) and Chris Armstrong

Here’s a quick update on a past Lawsuit of the Day. Last month, Chris Armstrong, the openly gay ex-president of the University of Michigan student body, sued Andrew Shirvell, the former Michigan assistant attorney general and outspoken opponent of homosexuality. As you may recall, Shirvell criticized Armstrong in a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch, making allegations that according to Armstrong were false, and Shirvell also followed Armstrong around Ann Arbor. So Armstrong sued Shirvell for stalking, invasion of privacy, and defamation (among other claims).

Now Andrew Shirvell is firing back. Last week, Shirvell, proceeding pro se [FN1], moved to dismiss Chris Armstrong’s lawsuit.

Not surprisingly, Shirvell claimed in his motion to be a victim: “Plaintiff’s course of conduct was politically motivated and intended to make an example out of Defendant in order to deter others from criticizing Plaintiff’s homosexual activist agenda.” More specifically, Shirvell argued that certain counts of the Armstrong complaint fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted, that Shirvell’s criticism of Armstrong was protected by the First Amendment, and that Shirvell never had direct contact with Armstrong (e.g., by email or by phone).

In addition, Shirvell lodged some counterclaims against Armstrong. What is the basis for Shirvell suing Armstrong?

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Judge Philip Kirk

On Monday, Judge Philip Kirk of Wisconsin sentenced Delton D. Gorges, a 71-year-old former bus driver, to seven years in prison. Gorges was convicted on charges of sexually assaulting boys, after pleading no contest.

Judge Kirk had some odd words for the defendant at sentencing. Most notably, he told Gorges: “I think you were born gayer than a sweet-smelling jock strap.”

(I’m sorry, but is anyone else finding this transcript a little titillating? Maybe even Judge Kirk?)

Judge Kirk — today’s Judge of the Day, naturally — also expressed skepticism toward Gorges’s claim of heterosexuality: “I think that if anyone believes that in the last 10 years or 15 years all of a sudden you developed an interest in homosexuality and young boys, then I must have looked ravishing in my prom dress this year.”

(Well, Your Honor, you do wear a little black dress — well before the start of cocktail hour.)

Okay. Can we get some context up in here?

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