Politics

I think he’s done a terrible job with Organizing for America and for his base, and with the recognition of the people who worked for him. I frankly think the staff, the reelection staff, are incompetent fools.

Willard Taylor, former partner (and current of counsel) at Sullivan & Cromwell, commenting to Politico on the reelection effort of President Barack Obama. Taylor served as a fundraiser for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

(Gavel bang: David Ingram.)

About a week ago, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to the American Bar Association, essentially asking the organization to explain its lack of institutional control over law schools.

Well, the ABA has now responded. If you’ve been following the ABA closely, you’re not going to be surprised by the response. It’s the usual ABA combination of whining that they can’t do better while arguing that they don’t need to do better, because the market will magically provide jobs for everybody. Not the current market, of course — it’d just be silly to expect that people will have jobs before their loans go into default — but a magical future market that they provide no evidence will actually exist.

All one can really hope for is that people like Senator Grassley take the ABA at its word — and take regulatory authority away from the ABA, to give it to some organization with the will to use it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ABA Claims It Lacks Authority To Stop Proliferation Of Law Schools. And Claims It Doesn’t Matter Anyway.”

As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge, he will be a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades. And importantly, he will give hope to many talented young lawyers who until now thought their paths might be limited because of their sexual orientation. When Paul becomes Judge Oetken, he will be living proof to all those young lawyers that it really does get better.

– Senator Chuck Schumer, commenting on the confirmation yesterday of Paul Oetken to serve as a judge on the Southern District of New York, by a Senate vote of 80-13.

(Because we are fair and balanced here at Above the Law, we offer a decidedly different perspective on the Oetken confirmation, after the jump.)

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* To be clear, hiring a legal secretary who doubles as a personal prostitute is not okay. Yes, we finally have a punishment for Samir Zia Chowhan’s “adult gigs” legal secretary ad. [Legal Profession Blog]

* Is it time to start getting civilly disobedient with the TSA? [WSJ Law Blog]

* It’s possible that the House Ethics Committee screwed up the Maxine Waters investigation. That Committee is so incompetent that if it was an elected official it’d be called “Maxine Waters.” [Politico]

* The court awards $47K in damages over a stolen laptop. I wish I owned something that was worth nearly $50K if it was stolen. [Legal Skills Prof Blog]

* Indiana man prevented from donating blood because he “seemed gay.” You know, Indiana is starting to “seem dumb” to me. [Hip Hop Wired]

* As the economy heats up, there will probably more people quitting their jobs, so here is a quick refresher course on how to quit appropriately. [The Awl]

* It’s Nelson Mandela’s birthday. I call him “Nelson Mandela” and not “Madiba,” because I don’t think watching Invictus qualifies me for that level of familiarity. [Blawg Review]

I’m always amazed when people aren’t afraid to let everybody know their prejudices. Even a little impressed. In most situations, people try to their disguise their disgust at an entire class of people, or at least try to express their viewpoints from behind a cloak of anonymity. But when people just come balls out with their prejudices, well, it’s a sight to see.

And when people who serve in official government positions reveal their contempt for the separation of church and state, that just makes it so much better.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that a person like Laura Fotusky fascinates me. She’s the former town clerk in Barker, New York, who chose to resign rather than sign a gay marriage license. Apparently the new New York gay marriage law conflicted with Fotusky’s interpretation of God’s law. Or, put another way, Fotusky thought she was teaching Sunday school, and then woke up one day as the town clerk of Barker, New York.

At least she corrected the problem, and for that she should be applauded….

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When Republicans start asking an organization to make more use of its regulatory authority, you know that organization has grossly failed its mandate.

We’ve documented the pressure Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has been putting on the ABA. Yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) decided to join the party. He also wrote a letter to the ABA asking it to “account for its work on behalf of both law students and taxpayers.”

Grassley’s on the Senate Judiciary committee. I bet the ABA will want to stay on his good side….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “And Now The ABA Has Bi-Partisan Pressure To Actually Regulate Law Schools”

In Above the Law’s last film review, we spoke about Hot Coffee, a documentary film about the evils of tort reform in America. The film, which received rave reviews from publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post, was produced by former trial lawyer Susan Saladoff.

Now, just two weeks later, InJustice, a documentary film that is being hailed as the “anti Hot Coffee,” made its small screen debut on the ReelzChannel — a channel I’d never heard of and do not receive. Luckily enough, in the two weeks since we reviewed Hot Coffee, I had earned enough street cred to get an advance copy of the film.

While Hot Coffee presented the plaintiff’s side of the tort reform debate, InJustice attempts to present the defendant’s side in a more favorable light by exposing the evils of lawsuit abuse and the greed of attorneys involved in “America’s lawsuit industry.” Those are some pretty high aspirations for the film’s producer, non-lawyer Brian Kelly.

All that being said, I have no idea why I waited to release my review of InJustice until after the film had aired, because I’m not sure if anyone was even able to watch it. And if they had been able to do so, I’m pretty sure they would have changed the channel pretty quickly….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading InJustice: Tort Reform’s High Cost Documentary Infomercial”

If you want to run for president in this country, you best have quality legal counsel.

It doesn’t matter which party you are from. It doesn’t matter what your political platform is. It doesn’t matter if you believe Obamacare is exactly like your own health care plan or if you think marriage is a sacred vow shared by a man, a woman, and millions of viewers on The Bachelor. It turns out you still need competent legal counsel.

Biglaw legal counsel, as it happens. Check out the law firms that are advising the 2012 presidential candidates…

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Anyone who has spent a swampy June/July/August in D.C. knows that it’s not the ideal setting for a sizzling summer romance. So it is time to shift locations for the Courtship Connection, Above the Law’s dating service for legal eagles. 

Given my miserable less-than-perfect matchmaking track record, I was surprised by the number of emails from single lawyers and law students begging for Courtship to come to their city. I guess desperate times call for really desperate measures?

Since the only pleasure Courtship Connection tends to bring is to the readers, we shall let you choose the next city. Which metropolis of lawyers offers the greatest potential for throw-downs, of both the clashing and clicking variety? After the jump, you can vote for one of the nominees — Atlanta, Montreal, Miami, L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, or Orange County, CA — and hear about the latest D.C. “cage match” of a date….

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Jeh Johnson

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fate of Guantanamo Bay. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The rise of WikiLeaks. The raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. The conflict in Libya.

On these and many other critical national security legal issues, one of the most important advisers to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama’s White House has been Jeh C. Johnson, General Counsel of the Department of Defense. In light of his role as senior legal adviser to the largest government agency in the world, responsible for the work of over 10,000 lawyers, it is no understatement to describe Johnson as one of the powerful and influential lawyers in the entire federal government.

I recently went down to Washington to interview Johnson in his office at the Pentagon. If you think security at your law firm is tight, visit the Pentagon. I had to pass through a metal detector and multiple security checkpoints before arriving at Johnson’s office, located on the E Ring within the mammoth structure — the world’s largest office building by floor area, with over 6.5 million square feet housing over 25,000 employees. (I was accompanied at all times by a member of Johnson’s staff, which prevented me from getting lost inside the maze-like complex.)

Before entering Johnson’s private office, I had to surrender my Blackberry – the office is a SCIF (pronounced “skiff”), or “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.” This means that it is specially designed to prevent eavesdropping, thanks to walls and doors of specified thickness and the use of jamming technologies. The windows of Johnson’s office, tinted a yellowish green, are blast-resistant and designed to preclude visual surveillance.

Once I made it to the inner sanctum, I was in for a treat. My wide-ranging discussion with Jeh Johnson covered his remarkable career path, which has included service as a federal prosecutor, partnership at a top law firm (Paul Weiss), and his current post as GC of the Defense Department; the virtues of public service, as well as the growing challenges for lawyers interested in it; and Johnson’s advice for law students and lawyers who aspire to careers in government (hint: keep your nanny on the books)….

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