Movies

* Roger Ebert has died at the age of 70. A great critic (his audio commentary track on the Citizen Kane DVD is amazing), whose work with the late Gene Siskel basically defined film criticism for a generation. At least now we know how we will be judged when we die — a simple thumbs up, thumbs down from Gene and Roger. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Exploring the link between baseball’s antitrust exemption and Roe v. Wade. It’s more than just saying the Royals are an abortion of a team. [Concurring Opinions]

* “Bring me the head of the person who did this”: the best closing to a C & D letter ever. [Popehat]

* A Rutgers-Camden 3L breaks down the looming sh*tstorm at Rutgers over basketball coach Mike Rice’s treatment of players. [The Legal Blitz]

* If you’ve pulled off a successful robbery, don’t taunt the victim from a traceable phone. I mean, act like you’ve been there before, man. [Legal Juice]

* It is a little funny to say that a city is looking for weaker swimmers to serve as lifeguards, but ultimately this represents the simplistic nature of the anti-affirmative-action argument: no one is saying lifeguards shouldn’t be qualified, just that a system that only privileges a strong swimming résumé will always result in affluent white kids with 10 years of swim classes getting these jobs. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Lawyers are often jerks, but this is a new twist. Help out a lawyer trying to make it in the small-batch, artisan jerky business.[Kickstarter]

* Maybe there aren’t actual Commies at Harvard Law School, but the ratio of liberals to conservatives/libertarians on the faculty is still extremely high. [Nick Rosenkranz]

Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, a recurring feature that gives notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as information about their firms and themselves.

Don Lents is chair of Bryan Cave LLP. His practice focuses on M&A, corporate governance, and securities law, with particular emphasis upon multinational and domestic mergers. He has been an adjunct professor at the Washington University Law School. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard.

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Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

Just a few weeks ago, we had a story about how an awesome looking documentary about comic artists needed to hit up Kickstarter to raise more money solely to purchase licenses to some of the artwork & video clips in the film. Most of the copyright holders let them use the work for free, but a few were demanding payment — often thousands of dollars for a single image or short clip. As we’ve noted, documentary filmmakers are scared to death of relying on fair use, because they don’t want to get sued (and some insurance providers won’t give you insurance if you plan to rely on fair use).

And, now, there’s an even crazier example. Two huge fans of the cult favorite TV show, Arrested Development have made a documentary about the show, talking to a ton of people who created and acted in the show, as well as to a bunch of fans. Given that a new season (via Netflix) is quickly approaching, getting this documentary out would make sense. The film is finished according to the filmmakers. Done done done. So why are they asking Kickstarter for $20,053? Yup, you guessed it. Copyright licensing issues. And this time, it’s really crazy…

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Reed Smith’s new managing partner?

* “We are a teaching institution. We teach by not having television. We are judged by what we write.” Justices Kennedy and Breyer aren’t ready for their close-ups — they’re adamantly opposed to cameras in the courtroom. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Another thing Justices Kennedy and Breyer are adamantly opposed to is the sequester. They say that these unnecessary budget cuts will hit the criminal justice system where it hurts: its already overflowing docket. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* A liberal film critic took a shot at Justice Clarence Thomas by likening him to Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of the head house slave in Django Unchained. Methinks this is a RACEIST™ comparison, n’est–ce pas? [Reason Magazine]

* Reed Smith has a new managing partner, Edward Estrada, who plans to “aggressively recruit laterals.” No relation to Erik Estrada, but if he gets a pair of those cool sunglasses, we approve. [New York Law Journal]

* A better deal was reached in the BAR/BRI antitrust case. Say goodbye to the coupons, and hello to $9.5 million in cold hard cash… which means you’re going to get like $80 if you’re lucky. [National Law Journal]

* “This is a very disgusting case.” Why yes, yes it is. A mother is suing because she claims her son ate a used condom off the floor of a McDonald’s play area. It’s doubtful that she approved of the special sauce. [Reuters]

Our latest career alternative for attorneys is probably one that makes most people wish they had not only the funds, but also the creativity to be able to tackle. We’ve covered television screenwriters and novelists in the past, but creating a script for a visual masterpiece on the silver screen is another thing entirely.

It takes time, talent, and most perhaps importantly of all, money. The stealth lawyer profiled in today’s video had all three, and she used them to create a film that touches on social issues that public defenders face each day of their lives. Let’s find out who she is, and what she did prior to becoming a filmmaker….

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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.

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Ed. note: This is the first installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by David Carrie LLC. 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.

Peter Kalis is the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates.

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

Although I’m tempted to do a passable imitation of a legal consultant and talk about globalization, innovation and the New Normal, all of which are important, in fact the fundamental challenge facing our industry over the next five years and beyond is to preserve the Rule of Law in a world in which an increasing number of globally significant economies have no comparable tradition and in which some governments don’t respect rights of individuals and enterprises. The world, our industry and our profession would be much different if norms we associate with the Rule of Law were defined downward as a by-product of globalization. I know it’s a stretch for an audience focused during difficult times on real and immediate career challenges to shift gears and focus on a seemingly abstract concept such as the Rule of Law. The times tend to divert all of our gazes inward. But there is no one reading this who is more self-absorbed than the least self-absorbed law firm managing partner.

We all need to do a better job when it comes to talking about and vindicating the Rule of Law in our day to day lives. I know that I do. With all of the misguided talk about vocationalism in legal education, moreover, I also worry that our law schools are not pounding away sufficiently at the foundational importance of the Rule of Law or the role of U.S. lawyers, among others, as its missionaries.

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* Another year, another round-up of the year’s legal highlights from the National Law Journal. Perhaps after a year that was wracked with destruction for this supposedly noble profession, we’ll actually see some substantial change in 2013. [National Law Journal]

* Meanwhile in Iowa, failure to sleep with your horndog boss is “like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it,” so if he’s irresistibly attracted to your exotic lady parts car, you better be ready, willing, and able to find yourself a new job. [Washington Post]

* People were so pissed off about Instagram’s new terms of service that someone filed a class action suit. The app’s litigation filter must make exasperated attorneys and wasted dollars look shiny and happy. [Reuters]

* “It is not the perfect path to wealth and success that people may have envisioned.” As we’ve been stating here at Above the Law for years, being a lawyer is no longer the golden ticket that it once was. [Bloomberg]

* ASU Law will now offer a North American Law Degree that’ll prepare graduates to practice in the U.S. and Canada. Yes, ship your jobless grads north where there’s an articling crisis, great idea! [Associated Press]

* Still thinking about applying to law school? That’s a funny joke. But if you’re interested in being a punchline in three years, follow this application season timeline. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Jack Klugman, noted actor whose roles included that of Juror #5 in Twelve Angry Men, RIP. [New York Times]

* Richard Adams, a plaintiff in the first suit seeking federal recognition of gay marriage, RIP. [New York Times]

Catch Me If You Can is a fun movie. Tom Hanks has a delightful Boston accent that really captures the “Jesus Christ, I can’t believe people talk like this” aspect of the sounds. Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of teenage con-man Frank Abagnale Jr. is fun and entertaining. And there’s a Chris Walken sighting.

In the movie, Hanks’s FBI Agent, Carl Hanratty, chases after Abagnale as he forges checks, degrees, and a number of professions. One thing Hanratty can’t figure out is how Agagnale “faked” his way through the Louisiana Bar Exam and gained legal credentials. When Hanratty finally collars Abagnale (SPOILER ALERT: this movie came out in 2002), the con man revels that he didn’t “cheat” on the bar exam, he just studied “for two weeks and passed.”

For many lawyers, this was an anticlimactic end to a running joke in the movie. With all due respect to people who can’t pass the Louisiana bar, passing the Louisiana bar is not particularly hard (despite the test’s unusual length and civil-law components). I don’t know if you can do it in two weeks. But in a month? In six weeks? Even without going to law school, I’m not sure there is a bar exam in the country that is so hard that a reasonably intelligent person couldn’t pass it with intense study over a few months. Again, they’re not really teaching you what you need to do as a lawyer in law school, they’re just messing with how you think.

It turns out that the real life Frank Abagnale Jr. passed the LA Bar on his third try. But there wasn’t any deception involved, he eventually just passed the test. Once he earned the credentials, Abagnale says that pretending to be a lawyer was one of the easiest things to fake.

He’s not wrong…

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* Wait, did other people know this Casey Anthony movie was happening and not tell me? With Rob Lowe? How much would you pay to get drunk and watch it with Nancy Grace? [Lifetime]

* In America, poorly parked cars get tickets. In Soviet Russia, poorly parked cars get douches. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Sometimes you can evade consequences associated with evading taxes, and sometimes you can’t. [Going Concern]

* The George Zimmerman defense fund seems to be alive and well… unlike Trayvon Martin. [NPR]

* I feel like it would be great if the NFL took marijuana off of its banned substance list. It’s not like the drug is performance enhancing. [The Nation]

* A leading organization for in-house lawyers weighs in against the sanctions imposed on TD Bank. [Association of Corporate Counsel]

* Don’t forget to add your résumé to the flood for our open positions on Above the Law. At this point, you might want to send a picture to get our attention. Not of yourself, but you know, Twinkies, peep-toed shoes, something that we actually care about. [Above the Law]

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