* President Obama apologized to Kamala Harris after referring to her as the “best-looking attorney general in the country.” We’re guessing the First Lady was none too pleased with her husband’s behavior. [New York Times]
* If you’re unemployed (or were the victim of a recent layoff), try to keep your head up, because there’s still hope for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector added 2,000 jobs last month. [Am Law Daily]
* The 10 percent vacancy rate on the nation’s federal courts is unacceptable and the New York Times is ON IT. Perhaps D.C. Circuit hopeful Sri Srinivasan will have some luck at this week’s judicial confirmation hearing. [New York Times]
* Shine bright like A. Diamond: Howrey’s bankruptcy trustee is still trying to get “unfinished business” settlements from several Biglaw firms, but managed to secure funds from ALAS. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* Contrary to what law deans tell you in the op-ed pages, if you want to work as a real lawyer, it actually matters where you go to law school. We’ll probably have more on this later today. [National Law Journal]
First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.
At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.
Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.
It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…
On the list of those whom you may feel some measure of sympathy for, convicted sexual offenders rank somewhere between National Socialists and those who key cars. Perhaps lower. And yet, this is precisely why they are often the first against the wall when it comes to needless regulation and harassment. Like the bespectacled little spazz on the playground, sex offenders make for an easy mark.
And so it was that the state of California passed a ballot initiative that requires those already on the sex offender registry in that state to further register all of their internet activities. They must register their e-mail addresses and their impossibly witty usernames and handles. The cloak of anonymity on the internet, vital to its snark, nihilism, and generally poor table manners, has been denied to sexual deviants in California with this new law.
Well, not if the ACLU can help it. Continue reading after the jump, but only if your state allows you to…
Ed. note: A sizable chunk of the Above the Law readership consists of partners at large law firms. Please welcome our newest writer, Anonymous Partner, who will write a candid column speaking to this demographic.
It’s about time. Time for someone like me to offer some perspective on what being a partner is, can, and should be all about. Time to leverage Above the Law’s bully pulpit to give a voice to current and future senior-level legal industry players (in addition to the valuable but inherently distanced insights of former partners, consultants, and law professors). Where a managing partner, or a general counsel, or even a newly-minted partner can let me, and by extension you, know what is really going on in this centaur-like hybrid of a business/profession. Where we can discuss what works, what is broken, and whether buying in to Biglaw is something to celebrate or to pity.
Now, Biglaw has signed all my paychecks, and it is where I have cast my lot until now, so Biglaw is what this column will discuss. And because my name does not stare back at me in gold-plated glory when I step off the elevator in the morning, this column will have to be anonymous, at least for the initial stages. Being anonymous will allow me to be as candid as possible when sharing my thoughts with you.
That said, you deserve to know at least a little about me….
A large portion of the strenuous life of bloggers consists of cruising various news sites, looking for some tidbit ridiculous interesting enough to merit a couple hundred words. You do this long enough, and you wind up getting picky pretty quickly. So, last night, when I clicked over to Wired, it was surprising in and of itself that when I saw the following story I literally stared at the screen, slack jawed, for close to a minute.
That’s how ridiculous this proposed legislation coming out of New York is. The only thing I can say is that if this bill somehow managed to become law, the Above the Law commentariat would not be happy at all…
People always ask the Above the Law editors, “What kinds of people leave such horrible comments on your website?” And we always say, “Regular people, the ones you work with or socialize with.”
Most internet commenters are regular people who, under the Invisibility Cloak of cyberspace, feel free to say whatever disgusting/ridiculous/illogical thing that pops into their heads.
Lest anyone think the phenomenon is unique to our website, please think again. For better or worse, trolling is an inevitable part of online media. Most of the time, it’s best to just ignore it. Once a while, however, anonymous online commenting may signify something larger and more pernicious.
Case in point: our inbox was flooded over the weekend with the emerging scandal of a prosecommenter (yeah, you read that right) in New Orleans. This is what happens when a federal prosecutor takes his case to the interwebs instead of the court. Bad times…
Well, last Friday was interesting. When I decided to close the comments for last week’s installment of Moonlighting, Lat responded, “I’m glad at least someone is willing to try deactivation.” As expected, undeterred from the fact that they couldn’t comment directly on my post, the usual group of ATL commenters uniformly hijacked Kashmir Hill’s “revenge porn” post which followed mine on ATL to provide me with their usual thoughtful and highly encouraging feedback.
Later, an anonymous 2L tweeted as follows: And @susanmoon has the dubious distinction of being the first @atlblog writer to close off comments. When I joked to the 2L that my feelings get hurt every week, the 2L (taking me seriously, I presume) told me that instead of hiding, I should “rise above it” because even a SCOTUS justice would get flamed on ATL. This invited Brian Tannebaum (an ATL small-firm columnist) and some others to rush to my defense. What ensued was a flurry of debate on Twitter — infused with an abundance of insults — mainly between Brian and the 2L. I’m actually not quite sure why Brian got so involved, as I’m not even sure he likes me (that’s the real reason I cry every week). I think he just likes to pick on poor souls every once in a while (read: several times a day) for his own sadistic pleasure.
In any case, in addition to the entertainment value that the Brian v. 2L debates offered on Twitterverse Legal last weekend, there were definitely some interesting points made on both sides about the value of anonymous feedback….
The executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson — who once worked as a legal journalist, for Steve Brill at the American Lawyer — recently issued A Note to Our Readers About Comments, in which she explained various changes to the Times’s commenting system. We thought we’d follow in the Gray Lady’s footsteps and announce a tweak of our own to the Above the Law comments.
Comments and online anonymity are hot topics right now, both here and abroad (e.g., India). Writer Katie Roiphe just mused about the angry anonymous commenter. Privacy lawyer Christopher Wolf recently argued, in the New York Times, that websites should “consider requiring either the use of real names (or registration with the online service) in circumstances, such as the comments section for news articles, where the benefits of anonymous posting are outweighed by the need for greater online civility.” Many Times readers disagreed, defending the value and importance of anonymous speech online.
In light of these conflicting concerns — civility, privacy, free expression — let’s turn our attention to the ATL comments….
The 'scamblogging' law professor has revealed himself.
Earlier this month, we wrote about an anonymous law professor — a tenured professor, at a top-tier school — essentially joining the ranks of the law school scambloggers. Writing over at a site entitled Inside the Law School Scam, under the pseudonym LawProf, the author offered a harsh indictment of legal education, purportedly from within the ivory tower.
I believed that the author was who he said he was, but others did not. Professor Ann Althouse, for example, opined that the blogger was a student, “uncharitably projecting thoughts onto [a] professor” (who talked about how little he, and his colleagues, prepared for teaching). Professor Althouse explained that she thought was student-written, “because it had some bad writing and simplistic thinking.”
Well, as it turns out, LawProf is an actual tenured law professor, at a top 50 law school. Who is he, and where does he teach?
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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