Money

Are you ready for MOAR rankings? We certainly hope so, because hot on the heels of the release of the 2015 U.S. News law school rankings, we’ve got yet another set of rankings for you to feast your eyes upon. These rankings, brought to us by Forbes, focus on one of the most-discussed areas when it comes to the value of legal education as of late: starting salaries.

Money makes the world go ’round, and that statement rings especially true today. From your ability to pay your loans to your ability to get a mortgage, your starting salary will likely determine your income over the course of your life — you better hope you start making bank as quickly as possible.

How can you get the best shot of making that happen? Not all law degrees are worth a million dollars, but you might come close to making that much if you attend one of these law schools…

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Miley Cyrus

* Dewey feel bad for Zach Warren? Totally. In the saddest revelation about his indictment, it seems D&L’s head honchos “had trouble remembering who [he] was” before arraignment. [New York Times]

* If you’re interested in going to law school (and if you want to pay off your loans), you’ll want to see the law schools where you’ll make the most bank after graduating. We’ll have more on this later. [Forbes]

* Fred Phelps Sr., founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is near death. Not for nothing, but it would probably be fitting if people picketed his funeral in SCOTUS-approved protest. [Kansas City Star]

* The widow of Dustin Friedland, the attorney who was shot and killed during the Short Hills mall carjacking, has filed a wrongful death suit against the shopping venue’s owners. [Star-Ledger]

* Elizabeth Halverson, the former judge who rolled into our lives on a motorized scooter and was removed from the bench in 2008 for her courtroom antics, died earlier this month. RIP. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

* Miley Cyrus is being sued… over her tongue. A man who helped build her tongue slide (a prop, not a sex maneuver) was injured — he claims he wasn’t warned about the potential dangers involved. [USA Today]

It’s almost mid-March, and you know what that means: broke law students are starting to freak out about the costs associated with their upcoming commencement ceremonies.

Most of them have already forked over six figures of government Monopoly money to their law schools, so why on earth are they so concerned about the cost of renting their caps and gowns for graduation?

To be honest, the loan money is starting to run out. While some schools have reasonable rental options (in the $50-$70 range), other schools are foisting very expensive graduation gear upon their graduates in some sort of a “gouge ‘em before they go” cash grab.

But how much is too much when it comes to one-day rental prices? Students at one top-tier law school have described what they’re expected to pay as jaw-droppingly “insane”…

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An anonymous lawyer in New York City

I’m not sure I’d recommend that a young person go into law.

When I was starting out, it was more of a profession, and your worth was determined by the service you provided. Now it’s become more of a business, and your worth is determined by the fee you’re able to collect.

– An honest lawyer who happened to be passing through Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan when he was photographed by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York.

(Do you agree with him? Feel free to sound off in the comments.)

Whenever the government gets involved with “helping” students suffering under crushing debt obligations, I wonder if “the government” even partially understands how students think.

There is a new proposal in the budget that would bring significant changes to the student loan forgiveness program. Specifically, the “Public Sector Loan Forgiveness” program. Currently, students with massive amounts of debt can sign up for income-based repayment of their student loans. Their payments are capped at 10% of “discretionary” income. If they work in the public sector or for a designated non-profit, the government forgives the rest of their loans after ten years. For those playing along at home, that means that taxpayers pick up the rest of the bill.

Critics on both sides of the aisle (including me) argue that the current system encourages schools to charge whatever they want for tuition, while discouraging students from making cost-conscious choices about their debt. It’s far from ideal, and this new proposal seeks to do something about it.

But since Congress is involved, the thing they want to do to “fix it” is stupid and will ultimately hurt student borrowers even more….

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* It’s apparently time to pay your fair share. Obama wants to close the pesky tax loophole that’s allowed rich professionals, like lawyers, to get away with being rich professionals for so long. [Legal Times]

* On this episode of As the Weil Turns, we take a look at the firm’s tumbling gross revenue, profits per partner, revenue per lawyer, and headcount. Don’t worry, Weil’s just “repositioning.” [Am Law Daily]

* The American Bar Association released the dirt on 1L enrollment declines at law schools nationwide, and some schools got totally massacred. Pray yours wasn’t one of them. [National Law Journal]

* “[T]hey’d probably make the school year longer and bring the cost up for each year.” We sure hope these pre-law students aren’t right about the dubious cost factor behind the two-year law degree. [The Hoya]

* Who owns the copyright to the Oscar selfie? Does it belong to Ellen DeGeneres, or Bradley Cooper? If you want to get technical about it (and you do, you’re a lawyer), check out this legal round-up. [The Wire]

Rachel Canning

My parents have rationalized their actions by blaming me for not following their rules. They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me and have redirected my college fund, indicating their refusal to afford me an education as a punishment.

Rachel Canning, the Catholic schoolgirl from New Jersey who’s suing her parents for her high school and college costs (plus her lawyer fees). Canning claims her parents abandoned her after she moved out of their home in October.

19 Recordings, the entity that enters into record deals with the recording artists who win American Idol, has sued Sony Music for allegedly stealing millions of dollars after underpaying the company in terms of royalties. The 33-page complaint, available after the jump, opens with a list of American Idol success stories and then documents in detail how Sony Music reportedly stole millions from them. 

According to the suit, Sony misclassified streaming music sales to pay 19 Recordings less than what the company was owed.  Another claim is that Sony was supposed to obtain approval from 19 Recordings after a certain ceiling cost for advertising was reached, but Sony failed to seek that approval before spending 19 Recordings’ royalties without its consent. The remaining allegations similarly claimed underpayment for royalties, improper passing of expenses on 19 Recordings, not allowing 19 Recordings to audit all of Sony’s books, and claims related to royalties for individual artists.

Interestingly, 19 Recordings filed in federal court. 19 Recordings is the little guy in this action — with the backing of name brand stars — and it seems that the company might fare better in state court.  The suit comes just after Season 13 of the show premiered on Fox.  The suit seeks $7 million in damages and $3 million in prejudgment interest.

Keep reading to see the complaint…

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Amanda Knox

* Of course there’s a gender pay gap in Biglaw, but none of the firms are going to tell you about it. We’ll be discussing the results of the annual National Association of Women Lawyers survey later today. [ABA Journal]

* In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, Texas struck down its ban on gay marriage, but stayed the ruling pending appeal. Seriously, of all places, this happened in Texas. Yeehaw! Ride ‘em, cowboys! [New York Times]

* Well, there goes that “judgment proof” argument. An insurer must defend the Temple Law student who shot a Fox Rothschild partner’s unarmed son under his parents’ homeowners insurance policy. [Legal Intelligencer]

* New Mexico Law didn’t like what it found after auditing its SBA’s off-campus bank account. FYI: the SBA apparently isn’t supposed to spend money on bars, liquor, and restaurants. Who knew? [Albequerque Journal]

* “I don’t want to pay for someone else’s peculiar behavior.” Amanda Knox’s ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, is changing his tune about his former flame as their appeal date gets closer and closer. [CNN]

File this under “Why People Hate Lawyers.”

A partner working with the Milwaukee law firm of Styles & Pumpian killed himself. That is sad and tragic news for his family. You’d think it would be sad and tragic news for his law firm colleagues, but they didn’t really see it that way. Instead, they took the “He’s dead? More for us!” angle that is more the kind of thing you’d expect from the Donner Party than a group of well-fed lawyers….

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