Earlier this week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this photo:
Let’s have a look at what our readers came up with, and then vote on the finalists….
You know what’s the mark of a good lawsuit against a law firm? The ability to polarize. Sure, it’s fun to laugh at the wacky ones, like Berry v. Kasowitz Benson or Morisseau v. DLA Piper. But the true classics are cases in which half the people think the plaintiff is a crusader for justice, and half the people think the plaintiff is an extortionist.
Take the 2007 lawsuit of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, brought by a young M&A lawyer claiming anti-gay discrimination. That was a great lawsuit. Some readers saw it as a Philadelphia for the 21st century, while others saw it as a shameless shakedown of a top law firm.
By this standard, Levinson v. WilmerHale is a good lawsuit. Readers can’t seem to agree on this one. Let’s check out the sharply divided opinions — and also hear more about Pamela Levinson, from former colleagues at the firm….
“One of the well-known facts about law school is it never took three years to do what we are doing; it took maybe two years at most, maybe a year-and-a-half,” Larry Kramer, the former dean of Stanford Law, said in a 2010 speech. The continuing existence of the third year of law school is generally held to be one of the basic structural defects in our current legal education model, alongside the contracted job market and soaring tuition. There have been efforts to address the problem, the latest being NYU’s announced overhaul of its third year curriculum.
Yet these attempts to redefine what the 3L year means appear to many like half-measures at best, “lipstick on a pig” at worst. As we noted back in November, Professor Bill Henderson of Indiana/Maurer has made a sweeping proposal that calls for a special new program for 3Ls by a coalition of willing law schools. The 3Ls would embark on a skills-based, teamwork-heavy course of study in partnership with law firms who agree to employ the students, albeit at a reduced rate. Also, there is a proposal currently before the New York Bar that would allow students to take the bar exam after two years. These students would not obtain a J.D. unless they return for their third year, but would be eligible for a bar card.
In assessing the NYU proposal (basically an increase in study abroad and specialty courses), Professor Kenneth Anderson argues that law schools have allowed educational incentives (i.e., learning to how to be a lawyer) and credentialing incentives (i.e., becoming an attractive job candidate) to drift apart: “The problem lies in how very, very unattractive we’ve institutionally made [students’] incentives – and the price tag attached to what is essentially a bet rather than investment. It’s a bet with many more bad payoffs than good ones.”
All the discussion and debate about the three-year law school model focuses, understandably, on the utility of that third year. We thought it would be interesting to have a look at our survey data to get a sense of how the experience of law students changes over time. The ATL Insider Survey asks law students and alumni to rate their schools in academic instruction, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life. We wondered how, if at all, these perceptions differ between 1Ls and 3Ls….
Looking for some feedback on this one:
Should judges be allowed to impose fines for the benefit of unrelated third parties outside the jurisdiction?
I touched on this tangentially in my earlier story about Pennsylvania’s pending lawsuit against the NCAA because one of the claims against the NCAA challenged the provision of the settlement that ordered Penn State University, as an institution supported by Pennsylvania taxpayers, to pay a fine that would partially benefit victims of sexual abuse outside Pennsylvania.
But settlements provide more flexibility than judicially imposed fines.
Who could possibly object to forcing criminals to send money to charity? Oh, we can find a guy….
What’s the most exciting way to die? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most men would enjoy death by sex, because meeting your maker in one last blaze of sexual glory is probably more satisfying than any Biglaw bonus you’ll ever get. In second place on that fantasy death list for men would probably be death by motorboating, because getting a stiffy while going stiff from rigor mortis is surely the
breast best way to die.
But if you were an unwilling participant in this kind of macabre motorboating, it wouldn’t be a very pleasurable experience. That’s what supposedly happened when a woman in Washington allegedly smothered her boyfriend to death with her ample bosom, and I am shocked — shocked, I tell you! — that this all went down in a trailer park.
Talk about a deadly booby trap….
Lawyers turn into ex-lawyers for a host of reasons. The transition can be voluntary or not. We all know that erstwhile attorneys have successfully gone on to become, among thousands of other things, consultants, teachers, writers, and entrepreneurs. Late last year, in partnership with our friends at Adam Smith Esq., we reached out to lapsed lawyers to ask them their personal stories. Why did they choose the law in the first place? Why did they leave? What are they up to now? Do they regret leaving the practice of law? (A whopping 93% said “no” to that last question.)
We were quite pleased with the level of response to our survey: 430 former (or “recovering”) lawyers shared their stories with us. The tales they told us bring to mind a sort of inversion of Tolstoy’s line about happy and unhappy families. Those who were positive about their time spent practicing had a diverse range of experiences; those who were unhappy mostly tell the same story.
Read on for the details.
The horrors of student loans are much discussed here at Above the Law, if only because law school tuition is so damn high, and housing expenses are so damn costly, that financing a legal education usually requires taking out about six figures of non-dischargeable debt. That’s quite a heavy load to carry. If only there were some way to pay the bills without going to the poorhouse in the process.
Apparently there’s a new way to deal with the rising costs associated with higher education in this country, and you don’t even have to lose your dignity to participate. You see, Seeking Arrangement, the leading “sugar dating” website, recently released statistics showing that more and more college co-eds are turning to “sugar daddy” and “sugar mama” arrangements to pay for their school-related expenses.
And hey, if all the college kids are doing it, why can’t law students fall in line with the latest trend?
What does 2013 hold for the world of large law firms? Let’s look into our crystal ball.
Actually, scratch that. Making predictions is a tricky business. Sometimes we’re right — like when we predicted robust bonuses out of Cravath, based on their large partner class — but sometimes we’re wrong.
For now, let’s keep our powder dry, and instead check out historical data about hours, billing rates, and corporate legal spending. Can we gain any insight into the future by looking back over the past?
Above the Law’s 2012 Lawyer of the Year contest is now over. Thanks to everyone who nominated a lawyer; thanks to our finalists, for being such accomplished and interesting individuals; and thanks to all our readers, who picked our victor after two weeks of voting over the holiday season.
Here are ATL’s past Lawyers of the Year:
For 2012, who will join their distinguished ranks? Let’s find out….