Ninth Circuit

* Only in Texas can a judge get paid leave after a video of him beating his daughter’s ass goes viral. Makes you wonder about the kind of crazy sh*t you’d need to do to get stuck with unpaid leave. [KRIS TV]

* A federal judge has ordered Paul Ceglia to return from Ireland to produce more of his hidden destroyed missing evidence. Oh, Facebook, always trying to steal his lucky charms. [paidContent]

* Memo to the NBA: you know you’re playing on the wrong court, right? On the bright side, at least we don’t have to worry about this happening with the WNBA. Or anyone caring about it if it did. [Bloomberg]

* Bar passage rates for first-time takers in New York were up by half a percentage point. Biggest contributing factor: I didn’t take the New York exam. Yeah, you’re welcome. [New York Law Journal]

* Joe Francis is suing over a debt dispute and vows to take the it to the Ninth Circuit if he loses. He needs to realize that no one cares about what he does unless it involves boobs. [Washington Post]

* Don’t be fat and then smush a lawyer at Shea Stadium. You’ll break her back, she’ll sue, and you might be known as the guy who got fat people banned from the upper deck. [New York Post]

Newt Gingrich

Congress can say, “All right, in the future, the Ninth Circuit can meet, but it will have no clerks. By the way, we aren’t going to pay the electric bill for two years. And since you seem to be rendering justice in the dark, you don’t seem to need your law library, either.”

Newt Gingrich, one of the Republican candidates hoping to take on Obama in Election 2012, suggesting a possible avenue that Congress could use to rein in the “pox on the western part of our country” otherwise known as the Ninth Circuit.

'But I'm too pretty to go to jail.'

* The AT&T/T-Mobile antitrust suit is so big that not even Big Government law can handle it. The DOJ is bringing in even bigger guns with a partner from Biglaw firm Munger Tolles. [Bloomberg]

* Obama has nominated former Kozinski clerk, Paul Watford, to the Ninth Circuit. Way to go, because he’s kind of cute. Isn’t that what everyone looks for in a federal judge? [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Is Paul Ceglia’s Facebook lawsuit completely doomed? His own lawyer, Jeffrey Lake, wants to defriend him. This will be the fourth firm to dump Ceglia as a client. [Wall Street Journal]

* Blind item: which Hollywood actress is suing IMDb for $1M for revealing her true age? And we say “true age” because everyone knows that Botox knocks a few years off your face. [Reuters]

* Lindsay Lohan is due in court today for a progress report hearing, and prosecutors want to throw her in jail. Hope she’s been brushing up on her acting skills. [New York Daily News]

* Cry me a river? A Florida lawyer will be arguing before the state Supreme Court this winter over his First Amendment right to blast Justin Timberlake from his car stereo. [NBC Miami]

* Now that DADT has been repealed, the Ninth Circuit has tossed the Log Cabin Republicans case. How does that Paula Abdul song go? Two steps forward, two steps back? [Los Angeles Times]

* Is this a new way of protecting taxpayers? In early 2012, Bank of America is going to start charging $5 a month for debit card purchases. Thanks Dodd-Frank, thanks a lot. [Wall Street Journal]

* Bob Morse of U.S. News wants to know if the ABA will “take more steps . . . to ensure data integrity” in light of the latest admissions data scandal. Aww, you’re so cute. [ABA Journal]

* The DOJ wants Raj Rajaratnam’s medical information, but they probably don’t need it. Just pick some of the usual fat people diseases, like diabetes and high blood pressure. [Bloomberg]

* If I only had a brain heart lower recidivism rate. A serial shoplifter is probably going to lose out on a heart transplant because her health insurance doesn’t cover inmates. [New York Daily News]

At birth.

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, explaining when he begins recruiting law clerks.

(Chief Judge Kozinski is quoted in a very interesting New York Times article on the chaotic state of the clerkship application process, which we’ll have more to say about later.)

UPDATE (9/27/11): Here is our commentary on the NYT piece.

* Police suspect that a client may have been the one to plant a bomb in attorney Erik G. Chappell’s car. Stay far away from family law, folks. [New York Daily News]

* “How come there’s not a school where people can go if they want to become trial lawyers?” How come you don’t know we already have 200 other law schools? [National Law Journal]

* I hope they signed a prenup, because AT&T and T-Mobile have added two more firms to their huge Biglaw wedding party — O’Melveny and Kellogg Huber. [Am Law Daily]

* “A lawsuit has been filed . . . by a female law clerk who alleges that [a] judge slapped her in the buttocks with a legal file.” And Lat wonders why law clerks hate their jobs. [Billings Gazette]

* LiLo may be behind on her court-ordered service hours, but surely she should be credited for the community service of wearing low-cut tops. [New York Post]

* Ninth Circuit Judge Pamela Rymer, RIP. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Law clerks aren't jumping for joy these days, especially when it comes to pay.

I spent last weekend in Portland, Oregon, where I attended the 25th judicial anniversary celebration and law clerk reunion of my former boss, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit. It was a warm and wonderful occasion, a chance to reconnect with old friends and to catch up with the O’Scannlains (Judge and Mrs. O’Scannlain were joined by all eight of their children for the festivities). Former clerks shared happy memories from their time in PDX clerking for DFO.

Most former law clerks I meet — mainly law clerks to federal judges, whether Article III or magistrate or bankruptcy — recall their clerkships fondly. They praise the excellent experience, the clerkly camaraderie, and the training and mentoring they received from their judges (for the most part; a few describe judicial clerkships from hell).

It struck me as strange, then, that “law clerk” recently came in at #7 on CNBC’s list of 10 Most Hated Jobs. I can’t help wondering whether courthouse administrative personnel with the title of “clerk” were somehow mixed in with federal judicial law clerks. The median salary of $39,780 a year suggests that this might be the case, since federal law clerks (and many state law clerks) make more than $40K these days.

Then again, people don’t clerk for the money. Sure, clerkship bonuses, especially Supreme Court clerkship bonuses, can be considerable — but in most cases, a graduate who goes straight into a law firm will do better financially than her classmate who clerks after graduation.

If you’re planning to clerk or interested in clerking for a federal judge, you should be aware of the latest news about law clerk compensation….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Federal Law Clerks: No Pay Raise for You!”

In our most recent Grammer Pole of the Weak, over two-thirds of you voted against the use of gender-neutral language, opting instead for the historic use of “he,” “him,” and “his” to cover both sexes. In the poll before that one, over 80 percent of you voted in favor of the serial comma. These results suggest that Above the Law readers are traditionalists in matters of grammar, usage, and writing style.

But back in August, 60 percent of you said that you are all right with “alright.” So perhaps ATL readers are open to the evolution of the English language and the creation of new words.

How do y’all feel about neologisms? Let’s look at two new words, coined by none other than the newly svelte Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grammer Pole of the Weak: ‘I Respectfully Dissental’”

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (in 2008 and today)

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit continues to provide us with awesome anecdotes. Back in July, for example, we related a fun story pertaining to his naturalization as an American citizen.

It was an inspiring immigrant story, but it was primarily of historical interest. Cool as it was, it did not have huge relevance to the day-to-day practice of law.

Our latest law-related tale about Chief Judge Kozinski has practical ramifications. California lawyers, you should keep reading; you never know when this knowledge might come in handy.

Also handy: diet tips from His Honor, who has dropped quite a bit of weight lately….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Heartwarming Story — Plus Diet Tips! — From Judge Alex Kozinski”

I am not a mentor!

Never have been. Never will be. Don’t care to be.

I’m a lawyer. I’m a co-worker. In some cases, I may be a friend. But I’m not a mentor; I have no time for that crap.

When I was clerking (for the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit), my judge was (and remains) a delight. She was a warm, engaging person who treated everyone as an equal. She was living proof that you don’t have to give up on human kindness just because you’ve become powerful. She taught, by example, many lessons about work-life balance and the meaning of humanity.

But a mentor? They hadn’t invented the word “mentor” (at least with its current connotation) back in 1983. I don’t think Judge Nelson gave the idea a moment’s thought….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Don’t Be A Mentor!”

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