Pro Se

Muscle Milk: drink this and you’ll write awesome pro se briefs.

I’m about to share with you an awesome pro se court filing from a law student who drinks Muscle Milk — enough of the stuff to belong to a class action of Muscle Milk consumers. Please try to envision what this submission might look like.

In terms of the student, I’m imagining a real meathead. He belonged to a frat in college. He’s not a great law student, but his family has connections that will help him land a job post-graduation. His bookshelf looks like this.

As for his pro se filing, it’s probably a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury (and Bluebooking errors). The UVA Libel Show would call it a Muscle-Milk-induced “roid rage of shame.”

But no, it’s not; it’s so much better than that. It’s actually a work of genius….

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Drugs make people stupid. It’s not that they impair important mental faculties in those who ingest them. Rather, they make everyone who doesn’t do them freak the everloving fudge out about them. People will literally believe anything you have to say about drugs. Drugs are like satanism was in the 1980s or religion was in the every other decade: if you are confronted with some unexplained phenomenon, drugs will help you fill in the gaps of your embarrassing ignorance. This week, for instance, we learned that one baseball writer chose to leave Greg Maddux’s name off his Hall of Fame ballot. Why? Because steroids. Confronted with an admittedly complicated issue like steroids, the writer chose to go Simple Jack on the whole process. Drugs, man.

But the idiotic baseball writer isn’t the only one whose brain bananas were agog over drugs this week. This week, we were treated to a college player’s lame excuse and a football conference’s dumb rule. Also, OJ Simpson. And the always-fantastic handwritten musings of a pro se petitioner.

Let’s talk sports…

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As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.

Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.

After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.

Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.

Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?

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John Farren and Mary Farren

Lawyers John Michael Farren and Mary Margaret Farren were once a storybook couple. If Above the Law had been around in the nineties, they might have made the pages of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. Mary Farren practiced energy law at the high-powered firm of Skadden Arps, where she attained the rank of counsel, and John Farren’s résumé was even more impressive: he served as general counsel to Xerox, a Fortune 500 company, before going on to serve as deputy White House counsel under President George W. Bush.

Their success transcended their impressive job titles. She earned $500,000 a year at Skadden; he made millions as GC of Xerox. They had ample material wealth — $3 million in cash here, a $4.6 million mansion there — and two lovely daughters.

And then things went wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong….

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Today we have a story of a contract attorney who made good — well, a contract attorney who got a permanent position. That position was called “staff attorney” and he still had to review documents, but now with health insurance.

But what happens when that staff attorney feels like he is on the losing end of favoritism, finds himself passed over for promotions, and eventually gets fired? You get employment litigation.

Which firm finds itself defending against a document-reviewer-cum-staff attorney’s claims of age discrimination?

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Suing a school for giving you bad grades seems ludicrous. On the other hand, there’s something respectable about filing a 60-paragraph complaint in response to a law school telling you that you’ve failed Legal Writing and Civil Procedure. It’s kind of meta when you think about it.

The crux of the story is that a the law school demanded that a 3L retake CivPro II: Electric Boogaloo because he got a D the first time around. This interfered with his plans for his 3L year, so he decided to take them to court. In the process, every complaint he has about the school worked its way into the filing.

Which law school is getting sued?

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* Maker’s Mark will not get diluted after all — likely causing a shortage. Start hoarding mediocre bourbon, folks! [Wonkblog]

* If you’ve ever wondered what the Supreme Court feels like to a pro se petitioner, here’s your answer. “Simply put, the Supreme Court uses its desktop publishing and printing guidelines as a weapon against the American public.” So much for “the least dangerous branch.” [Aaron Greenspan]

* “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Russia’s taking that phrase to a whole new level by pushing forward with a criminal tax evasion trial against a dead man. This is the first case of its kind since United States v. Bernie Lomax. [Reuters]

* Is the pressure mounting on the Washington Redskins to change their name? It’s an interesting take, but overlooks one important detail: Dan Snyder is a tone deaf jerk. [Sports Law Blog]

* Computer science students realize that taking collective action to intentionally fail the test was better than trying to pass it. It’s like The Producers of education. And if this grading policy applied to 1Ls, there’d be at least one jerk who defected to ruin everyone else’s curve. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Ten points to Gryffindor if you know what “tumid” means. Because you’re going to have to know before you pass through Ohio again. [Legal Juice]

The Kardashian Sisters

It’s been more than a year since we’ve written about Jonathan Lee Riches, and in that time, the man with the most astounding litigious legacy on record was released from prison on April 30, 2012. In case you’re not familiar with him, Riches has sued thousands of people (and places, and also things) — from Eliot Spitzer to Molly Ringwald to Jared Lee Loughner.

And if you thought that the Patrick Ewing of Suing would cease and desist once he was released from prison, then you were dead wrong. According to his various Facebook pages, he intends to “flood the universe with more lawsuits.” Now that he’s out of the pokey and has computer access, you can count on many more entertaining filings from him.

One of his latest lawsuits has already hit the papers, and we don’t see why the targets of his affections would want to dismiss the case — after all, they’re some of the most fame-hungry people on the planet (sorry Gloria Allred). We’re talking about the KKK Kardashian Klan, which consists of Khloe, Kourtney, and Kim.

What kind of wild allegations has Riches made against the woman with whom he claims he’s had a “relationship off and on since 2002″?

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It’s been a week of violence here at Above the Law. Between the murder-suicide guy and the judge who beat his disabled daughter, there’s been too much disturbing sadness.

Here at Above the Law, we prefer violence that is maybe, just a little, funny. For those who appreciate the lighter side of crime, we’ve got Joshua Monson. Here’s a guy who has stabbed his way out of his right to an attorney.

How do you lose this fundamental right to representation? Well, by stabbing all of your representation….

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Gregory Berry

Kasowitz Benson comes to bury Berry, not to praise him. The firm has moved to dismiss the $77 million lawsuit filed against it by Gregory S. Berry, the former first-year associate at Kasowitz who claimed that the firm wrongfully terminated his employment due to its inability to handle his “superior legal mind.” Berry also alleged fraud, breach of contract, and a host of other claims.

On Wednesday, Kasowitz Benson filed its motion to dismiss Gregory Berry’s complaint, accompanied by a 22-page memorandum of law. The firm’s brief is fairly straightforward, advancing the arguments you’d expect it to make.

But there are a few fun tidbits here and there. Let’s have a look, shall we?

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