Old People

There is a 64 percent probability that at least one Supreme Court justice will die in the next four years….

– The ABA Journal, offering a rather grim assessment of the health and wellness of the justices of the nation’s highest court, based on Slate’s Supreme Court Justice Death Calculator. (You may want to start taking bets.)

How you come down on a case of alleged “age discrimination” probably depends on whether you view the issue as age discrimination in the first place, or if you see it more like trying to pry control of the country from the cold dead hands of the Baby Boomers.

This issue came to a head on Capitol Hill yesterday when Luke Russert “irritated” Nancy Pelosi by asking if her decision to stay on as Minority Leader “prohibits the party from having a younger leadership.” Pelosi snapped at him as if the question was inappropriate and ageist. And it probably was. But at the same time, the three top ranking House Democrats are 72, 73, and 72… which is freaking ancient. And their presence is clearly choking off opportunities for younger people with newer ideas.

The issue is also coming up in Pennsylvania where six old-ass judges are suing to overturn a state law that requires them to retire by the age of 70….

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‘I’m coming for you, SCOTUS.’

Legal elites fared well on election night. For example, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren is now Senatrix-elect Elizabeth Warren, after expertly landing Langdell Hall on top of Scott Brown (“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little pickup truck too!”). As a Divacrat — I support strong, strident, brilliant (sorry Sarah Palin) women, regardless of their political party — I’m already fantasizing about Clinton/Warren in 2016.

Joining Warren on the Senate floor will be another great legal mind who spent some time in Cambridge, Harvard law grad and former SCOTUS clerk Ted Cruz. The Morgan Lewis partner is one of several current or former Biglaw attorneys who won office on Tuesday. (For more, see Am Law Daily.)

The biggest winner of the evening, of course, is also a legal elite: President Barack Obama. He’s a former law professor, like Warren; an HLS grad, like Cruz; and the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Things don’t get much more elite than that.

And in the legal world, things don’t get much more elite than the United States Supreme Court. This brings us to today’s question: What will a second Obama term mean for the Supreme Court?

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‘OMG, you’re totally a fertile octogenarian!’

When surveying an average law school class, among every other stereotypical type of law student — from the gunners right down to the kids you didn’t know were in the class until they showed up for the final — you’ll typically see a nontraditional student, or, in less polite terms, an old fart. Almost every law school class has at least one of them, and they’re usually more than a bit annoying.

These mature law students tend to favor old-fashioned notebooks over laptops for note-taking during class, and they like to rub elbows with their professors, if only because they’re the same damn age. You may even hear a story or two about how one time, they had to walk uphill, both ways, IN THE SNOW, just to get to school. Ahh, memories — but in truth, most of their classmates would prefer that they just STFU about the good ol’ days.

So what happens when you’ve got an older law student in your midst who also happens to be a well-known author and technology journalist, complete with his very own Wikipedia page? Of course, the most logical course of action for budding lawyers would be to hack it….

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Not one single ‘F’ from the Class of 2012.

* “Whether or not the law is dictating it right now, the people are dictating it.” In light of First and Second Circuit DOMA decisions, in-house counsel are considering benefits for same-sex spouses and domestic partners. [Corporate Counsel]

* “I’m a woman of integrity. My emotions got the best of me.” A Dish Network executive had to publicly apologize for accosting a Gibson Dunn litigation partner’s elderly father outside of a courtroom after the Cablevision trial. [Am Law Daily]

* A potential farewell to the typical liberal bias in education: at the end of the day, Teresa Wagner’s political bias case against Iowa Law could alter hiring nationwide in higher education. [Iowa City Press-Citizen]

* Not prepared for the bar exam, and currently without a law job? Let’s give that school a “B” rating. The results of this survey pretty much conclude that recent law school graduates are out of their minds. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A soon-to-be high school graduate wants to know if he can “go into a creative career” with a law degree. You silly little boy, the law is where creativity goes to die. Hope that helps! [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* There’s a lot going on here: an Iowa Law prof suing over alleged discrimination for her conservative views, inexplicable sexual noises at work, strange unnamed health problems… just read the damn article. [ABC News]

* An 80-year-old woman was arrested for taking down posters comparing Obama to Hitler, because she lived through WWII and was “angry that someone would portray the president as a Nazi.” What a great use of law enforcement resources. [Yahoo!]

* I am never buying soda again. Ever. [Kansas City Star via Legal Blog Watch]

* Could the secret to upholding the Defense of Marriage Act lie in… the Obamacare ruling? Paul Clement, are you listening? [Tumblr / John Carney]

* A former district attorney in Texas (who is now a judge) could get disbarred for intentionally withholding favorable evidence from a man who spent 25 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Errbody in the club put your hands up and scream, “Brady violation!” [Austin American-Statesman]

* A Malaysian law student is in trouble for putting his sexy times on a public blog. I strongly recommend you resist the urge to look up the NSFW blog on Google. If you just can’t help yourself, don’t say I didn’t warn you. And you will probably need this, too. [Roll On Friday]

I just read Susan Beck’s piece at the American Lawyer reflecting back on 25 years of legal journalism. That prompts this odd post.

The year is 1987. There’s a hearing in a court in San Francisco that will likely affect the price of a publicly traded security. An arbitrage house retains us: “We must know the result of that hearing first — the instant the information becomes public. We want to be able to trade before our competitors can act on the news.”

What do you do?

You and a colleague arrive at the courthouse an hour before the hearing will begin. One of you goes to the pay phone on the second floor of the courthouse — down the hall from where the hearing will be held — and gets on the line to New York. That person is about to hold an open line to New York for three hours.

The other of you goes into the hearing room, elbowing your way to a seat in the back, near the door. (It’s like the sign outside the country church: “Services 9 am Sunday. Come early for a seat in the rear.”) The hearing lasts a couple of hours, and the judge announces the ruling. All of the lawyers and arbitrageurs push through the door and run down the hallway.

Ha! All of those other guys curse as they run past your guy, who’s holding the open line to New York! You get on the phone and explain the decision. The guy in New York says: “Repeat that.” You repeat it. The guy in New York shouts: “Buy!!!”

And all of the other lawyers and arbs are just now jostling out of the courthouse doors downstairs, heading to the Greyhound Station across the street, where there’s a bunch of pay phones.

So your arbitrageur-client is a happy man, and he retains you again several months later . . .

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* Now they’re telling people NOT to go the highest-ranked law school possible? Does not compute… [The Careerist]

* If Thelma and Louise had made it to their 70′s, they might look like this. By that I mean, running men over with their car for insurance money. [FindLaw]

* “Hello, 911? Someone stole all my marijuana plants. Mm-hmm, yes, yes I do. You’ll send an officer over to help? Great, thank you!” [The Consumerist]

* Buying a judge a bottle of wine and offering to settle your dispute privately doesn’t mean what this lawyer thought it meant. What does it actually mean? Sanctions. [South Florida Lawyer]

* The overall SCOTUS docket is decreasing in size, but the number of IP cases is going up. I am smartphone, hear me roar. [SCOTUSblog]

Competitive wife-carrying. Seriously.

* SCOTUS decided not to hear the case about telecoms allegedly warrantlessly letting the NSA listen to your calls. So, does this mean we’re all on Candid Cellphone? [Threat Level / Wired]

* We mentioned the Harvard Law grad turned alleged scam artist, John Donald Cody (a.k.a. Mr. X), last week. Check out this cool story about how the feds tracked him down after years of searching. [Arizona Republic]

* A Finnish lawyer recently won the World Wife Carrying Championship, which is, I guess, exactly what it sounds like. Scandinavians are strange. [The Irreverent Lawyer]

* Everyone loves stories about old people accidentally growing drugs because they didn’t know what marijuana looks or smells like. Harkens back to simpler time! [Legal Juice]

* Now the TSA is apparently mistreating and humiliating terminal leukemia patients. Pardon the bluntness, but f**k you. Seriously. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* At least U.S.Customs Enforcement agents can still get their jobs done without disrespecting the sick and the old. Kudos for nabbing this dude flying in from Asia wearing body armor and carrying luggage full of weapons. The TSA folks should take notes. [ABC News]

Here’s a sad tale that I’ve heard repeatedly recently from senior partners at major law firms.

When these partners were associates, they were superstars. They did great work, were in high demand, and sailed through the ranks.

These folks were invited into the partnership along with (or even before) their peers.

As junior partners, these folks remained superstars. Senior partners were anxious to delegate responsibility to these people, and the then-junior partners were flattered to be asked. The junior partners were doing interesting work, being paid handsomely (if not royally) for their efforts, and were contentedly busy.

But a funny thing happened on the way to retirement. My correspondents became senior partners, and this crippled them (professionally). They had aged out of utility to their firms. . . .

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