Pro Bono

* One of the reasons that members of Congress are so filthy rich is because they’re only technically breaking the law, but Scott Brown wants to try to curb Congressional “insider trading.” [CBS News]

* In other Congressional news, pizza is now considered a vegetable. And fat people the world over rejoiced by stuffing their faces and continuing to clog their arteries. But not me, because goddamn do I hate pizza. [MSNBC]

* MMA fighters sue, saying the ban on fighting in the state of New York is unconstitutional. If beating someone’s face in is an art form, then Anderson Silva is this generation’s Picasso. [New York Daily News]

Find out whose face the Spider should beat next, after the jump….

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When doing research for my columns, I spend a lot of time thinking about how small-firm attorneys can get the right kind of attention. I can easily find examples of getting the wrong kind of attention: Kim Kardashian, Conrad Murray, and that child-bride who married the guy from Lost. Then, I received an email from a young small-firm lawyer practicing in Winston-Salem who provided me with a positive counter-example.

Michael Wells, Jr. practices personal injury law, litigation, and estate planning at Wells Jenkins Lucas & Jenkins PLLC. Wells is the youngest lawyer at this ten attorney firm. One of the other ten is his father, Michael Wells, Sr. Early on in his career, Wells set out to distinguish himself from his highly successful father and he has succeeded. The lessons he learned along the way can provide a useful road map for young attorneys….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Get Attention for the Right Reasons”

With the departure of Jay Shepherd, I am now (at least temporarily) filling the role of small firm chica (Val) and small firm expert (Jay). Let me tell you, it is exhausting.

So, I am going to do what any smart, small-firm partner would do in this situation, and I am going to delegate. And, by delegate, I mean push the work off on you.

I have a few new features that I would like to unveil (and I swear, it will be better than the new Facebook)…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Announcements and RFPs”

A week or two ago, someone asked us why we use Fordham Law as our personal punching bag. We don’t. The school just provides us with great fodder to write about. Yeah, we might joke about graduates of Fordham being homeless, but some law students at the school are actually trying to help the less fortunate. You know, the thing that lawyers are supposed to do?

Take, for example, Michael Zimmerman. He’s a current 3L at Fordham Law who founded a farm-share program called Farm to Fordham. Amazingly, we’re not talking about a Facebook program. Zimmerman did this in real life. For a small fee each semester, students, faculty, and staff were able to purchase a share of fresh produce from a farm in central New York. Nearly 100 pounds of vegetables were donated to a local soup kitchen with every delivery. The program was so successful that even Michael Martin, the dean of Fordham Law, had enrolled as a member.

This sounds like a wonderful program, right? A future lawyer was supporting his community with a laudable service project. That’s probably why Fordham University decided to shut it down….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fordham University: Teaching Kids How to Ignore the Homeless, One Beet or Carrot at a Time”

Judge Sam Sparks

* Remember the “kindergarten party” that Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.) was planning to hold? His Honor has canceled the festivities. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Althouse Cohen — yes, son of La Althouse — discusses one way in which Texas might be emulating… Europe? [Jaltcoh]

* Professor Paul Campos opens up a can of whoop-ass on people who say students go to law school — and take on six figures of debt — “for the chance to make a difference.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Musical Chairs: Mr. Quinn Goes To Washington (with the help of three Alston & Bird partners). [ABA Journal]

* The latest news on Stephen McDaniel / Lauren Giddings: if the blue gloves don’t fit, you must acquit? [Macon Telegraph]

* Above the Law — of animal cruelty? Steven Seagal, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a dead dog, and a rooster massacre. [TPM Muckraker]

Steven Seagal

* After a judge shot down the effort by NBA star Gilbert Arenas to stop “Basketball Wives: Los Angeles” from airing, Arenas’s ex-fiancee, Laura Govan, was allowed to strut her stuff on television — and it wasn’t pretty. [Sister2Sister]

* Congratulations to super-mensch Stanley Levy, senior counsel at Manatt, on winning Am Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011. [American Lawyer]

* And congrats to Masimba Mutamba, a 3L at Miami Law, who has just been awarded an apprenticeship with Waller Lansden’s innovative Schola2Juris program. [University of Miami School of Law]

* Some thoughts from our colleague Matt Levine on the Justice Department’s opposition to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. [Dealbreaker]

* Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.), king of the benchslap — yes, we already covered his latest handiwork, so no need to email the “kindergarten party” order to us again — has blocked key parts of the Texas sonogram-before-abortion law. [How Appealing]

* Meanwhile, Allen E. Parker Jr., the lawyer on the receiving end of a recent Sam Sparks special in the abortion case, had this to say about His Honor’s saucy order. [Tex Parte Blog]

* Nice work if you can get it: a pair of incoming DLA Piper associates will get paid $145,000 to $160,000 to do pro bono work for a year. [Am Law Daily]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

* Think you’re tough, NYC lawyers? “A D.C. attorney attacked a man with a live power line — downed by Hurricane Irene — during an altercation in which the lawyer used his car as a battering ram against his alleged victim, police said.” [Georgetown DC Patch]

* The ABA and Senator Chuck Grassley continue to be pen pals. Here is law librarian Mark Giangrande’s take on the ABA’s latest response. [Law Librarian Blog]

* Interesting analysis: “How the Media Treated Mexico’s Mass Murder.” [The Awl]

* I agree with Professor Eugene Volokh: “people are constitutionally entitled to speak the truth about others, even with the goal of trying to get them fired.” [Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit]

* I found a special friend on OkCupid, but the site wasn’t as helpful to Alyssa Bereznak, who had an unfortunate experience dating a world champion of Magic: The Gathering. [Gizmodo]

* If you’d like to check out Billable Hours: The Movie, here’s your chance (until September 10). [NexTV]

* And if you prefer live entertainment, tomorrow night check out the September 1 showcase of Comedians-at-Law (bios here; maybe you know some of these guys). [Comedians-at-Law]

[A] rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution [to the justice gap]. This would cause grave harm to clients. Even matters that appear simple, such as uncontested divorces, involve myriad legal rights and responsibilities. If the case is not handled by a professional with appropriate legal training, a person can suffer serious long-term consequences affecting loved ones or financial security.

William T. “Bill” Robinson III, president of the American Bar Association (ABA), in a letter to the editor of the New York Times. Robinson’s letter responds to an NYT staff editorial arguing that “allow[ing] nonlawyers into the mix” could help address the justice gap, i.e., low-income Americans’ need for legal services.

Lawyers like to complain about the billable hours requirements at their firms. A common question seems to be what will count and what won’t. In this line of work, time is money, and many associates want to know if they’re wasting their time.

If the firm makes you go to a professional development event, are you losing out on hours? If you get wrangled into doing pro bono work, are your weekly billables for paid clients going to plummet? And will that ultimately get reflected in your bonus check?

Yesterday, we lamented the fact that we often report on depressing news about the state of the legal profession in this country. Today, we actually have some good news. Jenner & Block realized that their lawyers shouldn’t be toiling away in their dungeons offices and forgoing pro bono opportunities in order to meet their billable hours requirements.

The firm remembered that this profession is supposed to be about helping the less fortunate, and it has adjusted its policies accordingly….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “And the Associates Rejoiced: Now Almost Everything Is Billable at Jenner & Block”

State bar associations could help address [low-income Americans' need for legal services] by requiring lawyers to report their pro bono service — such disclosure would likely increase many lawyers’ service to the recommended 3 percent to 5 percent of their paid work. Another step is to allow nonlawyers into the mix. The American Bar Association has insisted that only lawyers can provide legal services, but there are many things nonlawyers should be able to handle, like processing uncontested divorces.

– a New York Times staff editorial entitled Addressing the Justice Gap, which offers several proposals for reform of the legal profession. You can read the full piece here.

Is this guy loving Citizens United or what?

* Is a Ropes & Gray attorney behind a shell company that gave $1 million to the Romney campaign? [The Docket / Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly]

* Working on the matter pro bono, Skadden wants greater cooperation from the NYPD in the case of a missing eight-year-old boy. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Breaking down the Alex Rodriguez poker scandal. [Legal Blitz]

* Can’t the ABA and NALP just get along? [Law School Transparency]

* How is that we have more lawyers than we can shake a stick at, but not nearly enough judges? Ian Millhiser looks at the numbers. [Think Progress]

Know who this guy is? Click on the picture to find out.

* Can’t all the people in same-sex marriages facing deportation just move to New York? [Stop the Deportations]

* Who is “the most important American you’ve never heard of”? Read a well-reviewed new book, Michael Toth’s Founding Federalist (affiliate link), to find out. [Ricochet]

* Great job Tea Party, no really. You guys sure you won’t want any social spending when you are living in the wonderful economy you’ve wrought for us? [Huffington Post]

* Don’t forget to sign up for our chess set giveaway. Or join us on Linked In. [Above the Law]

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