New York Times

I recently participated in a Room for Debate forum for the New York Times on the controversial subject of unpaid internships. Critics of these positions argue that such exploitative arrangements contribute to “constricted social and professional mobility, growing inequality, and an economy whose top tier is becoming less and less diverse” (in the words of Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy).

In my contribution, I offer a measured defense of unpaid internships — of the non-abusive variety, in which the intern receives a valuable learning experience (and doesn’t just do scut work) — and also a defense of the status quo (under which most unpaid internships are technically illegal, but enforcement isn’t super-vigorous). You can read my NYT piece here (or on page 9 of yesterday’s Sunday Review section, if you’re a print person). You can also read a piece by Camille Olson, a labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw, over here (focusing on the legal aspects of unpaid internships, and offering general guidelines to companies considering them).

Speaking of interns, Above the Law is looking for one — a paid intern, for the record. Details appear below, along with general information about our hiring needs, and our policy on guest posts or outside contributions….

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(And: ATL seeks a paid intern.)

They took on six figures of (non-dischargeable) debt to go to law school, and now they hang their laundry in the street.

Most installments of Lawyerly Lairs, our inside look at the nests of legal eagles, involve residences (and occasionally offices) of utter fabulosity. Just look at our latest Lairs: a $5.9 million apartment on Park Avenue, a $4.6 million prewar coop on the Upper East Side, and a $1.7 million penthouse on the Upper West Side.

We realize that most Americans, or even most lawyers, don’t live in such luxury. And we’re interested in learning about how the other half lives. If you’d like to have your home featured in Lawyerly Lairs, even if it isn’t a million-dollar mansion, feel free to email us, subject line “Lawyerly Lairs.” (If you’re trying to sell your home, send us the listing; exposure to Above the Law’s large audience could be beneficial.)

We’ll get the 99 percent ball rolling with a look at two current law students who braved the brutal renters’ market here in New York. What school do they attend, and how did their hunt turn out?

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I get that to lay people, the tax code seems incredibly complicated. It is complicated, and years of both parties legislating through the tax code has made it that way. I understand that the sepia-toned relief of an American being able to puzzle out his taxes on the hood of his pick-up truck before he goes fishing is a powerful image.

But honestly, the mainstream media has to stop acting like Mitt Romney is beset on all sides by byzantine forces that only our greatest theoretical physicists can understand. Taxes are governed by laws. As I’ve said before, we have professionals who deal with those laws; they are called tax lawyers. In fact, if you have modest investments and intelligence, you probably could do your taxes on the hood of your pick-up truck, provided you had a Macbook and downloaded TurboTax.

If, on the other hand, you want to make millions of dollars a year, enjoy the benefits of sophisticated investments, and keep money offshore to avoid paying American taxes on it, then you’re going to have to hire a freaking professional to help you. We’re going to cry over this? We’re going to be sad that we live in a world where people who make extraordinary amounts of money have to rely on trained professionals to help them make just a little bit more?

I guess the Times isn’t exactly crying over it (Fox News has been carrying most of the water on poor Mr. Romney and his complicated taxes), but they are smacking around one of the Biglaw professionals Romney hired. Let’s see which firm…

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Greg Kelly

* Greg Kelly stands accused of an alleged rape that supposedly took place at a “lower Manhattan law firm.” While we wait for the tips machine to fire up, who’s up for kegs and eggs and Good Day New York tomorrow morning? [Gothamist]

* Classes in space colony law coming in 3… 2… 1… [Buzzfeed]

* The Ninth Circuit isn’t paying too much attention to the drivel coming out of the Republican primaries. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Resources are available for lawyers with substance abuse problems who need help. For lawyers with substance abuse problems who don’t need any help, I’ll be at Professor Thom’s tonight. [ABA Journal]

* Megan McArdle wonders: How much does Warren Buffett pay his secretary? [Instapundit]

* Congratulations to Barney Frank. Welcome to a civil liberty you should have always had. [Huffington Post]

* Apparently New York Times writer David Segal started his jihad against law schools because of a lawyer friend he talked to at a cocktail party. Click on the jump so you can get a look at him being interviewed, just in case you see him on the subway and want to talk to someone about your troubles…

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Prosecutable hate speech in 17th-century Massachusetts included calling people “dogs,” “rogues” and even “queens” (though the last referred to prostitution); magistrates took serious umbrage at being labeled “poopes” (“dolts”).

John McWhorter, the noted linguist, in his New York Times review this past weekend of Speaking American: A History of English in the United States.

(Additional fun facts about language and the law — specifically, facts about statutes criminalizing oral sex — after the jump.)

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Scrooge McDuck: he is the 1 percent (but not a lawyer).

Lawyers are the fourth most well-represented occupational group among the nation’s top 1 percent (which, for purposes of the study, consists of households with a pretax income of $380,000, excluding capital gains).

– a New York Times analysis of data collected by the University of Minnesota Population Center.

Additional interesting facts and links — including which occupations ranked ahead of lawyers, and what percentage of lawyers belong to the 1 percent — appear after the jump.

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David Brooks

The country doesn’t want an election that is Harvard Law versus Harvard Law.

David Brooks of the New York Times, in a recent column offering praise for what he describes as “working-class candidate[s]” like Rick Santorum and Sherrod Brown (and implicitly dissing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, both graduates of Harvard Law School).

Thoreau admonished us that we cannot “kill time without injuring eternity.” But what did he know? That proto-hippie pond-fetishist could not have imagined today’s world, where our collective attention spans have shriveled to goldfish levels and so much actual productive white-collar labor can be, to an observer, indistinguishable from simply loitering in front of a computer screen. Unless someone is looking over your shoulder, nobody knows whether you’re on PACER or playing Angry Birds.

We asked you, the ATL readership, where you turn for distraction when you don’t feel like billing or studying. The results of our research poll, after the jump….

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The ABA stopped talking and started firing shots.

Well that was fast.

Over the weekend, the New York Times unleashed a feature article about the role of the American Bar Association in keeping the cost of legal education absurdly high. The school profiled in that article, which we talked about yesterday, was Duncan Law School, which was seeking provisional accreditation from the ABA.

The article, by legal academia bête noire David Segal, came out in print on Sunday. Everybody talked about it on Monday. And today, on Tuesday, the ABA denied Duncan its provisional accreditation.

Boom. Roasted.

That’ll teach these law schools to get chatty with the mainstream media about this little legal education cartel they have going here…

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[A] law school could literally burn a huge sum of money and, as long as the flames were meant to teach something to the students — the craziness of the U.S. News algorithm, perhaps? — the school would benefit in the rankings.

New York Times journalist David Segal, responding to a reader’s question in relation to his series of articles about the economics of law schools. Segal’s latest article, For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way (our coverage here), concluded the series.

(Additional excerpts from Segal’s responses, after the jump.)

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