Screw-Ups

Sometimes students who enroll in law school very quickly realize that it’s not the right career path for them. Rather than lay out additional loan dollars, they happily withdraw from school and frolic to their next destination. Others “withdraw,” forget that lawyers want important decisions recorded in writing, and wind up accidentally failing out of law school. When they decide that they want to go back to school, this obviously causes problems.

In the case we’ll be discussing today, the former law student happened to file suit against the law school he once attended. He apparently decided that he really did want to be a lawyer, seven years after he initially quit. Alas, he needs a letter of good standing to apply to the school of his choice, and his old school won’t supply him with one.

Did we mention that he wants a letter of good standing so he can apply to Cooley Law?

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‘Would you like fries with that, Your Honor?’

* With OT 2013 drawing to a close, here’s a nifty chart that shows which Supreme Court justices vote together most and least often. The division is real, people. [The Upshot / New York Times]

* “Not only do they have unique interpretations of the Constitution but they can’t even agree on how to pronounce words.” Listen to our SCOTUS justices flub the word “certiorari.” [Legal Times]

* Quinn Emanuel and Samsung must now pay more than $2M in sanctions to Nokia and Apple after leaking confidential, “attorneys’ eyes only” information in a discovery blunder. Oopsie! [Legal Week]

* “Why can’t you get a real job?” This judge — the same one who sentenced a rapist to just 30 days in prison — told a fast-food worker to get a better job to pay off his restitution more quickly. [Billings Gazette]

* If you think you’ve seen the best of the “Law and ______” classes, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Say hello to some newcomers, like Video Game Law and Law of Robots. Justice Scalia is pissed. [WSJ Law Blog]

Keith Lee

One of the great, unspoken realities of being a new lawyer that is never mentioned in law school is that you are going to screw up – badly. And then you’re going to have to explain it to your client or supervising attorney.

You’re going to miss a deadline, not file an objection, miss some case law, or not contact an attorney involved in the case on a hearing. A mistake is going to be made and it will be your fault.

You may be tempted to try and shift the blame. Come up with excuses as to why something outside of your control caused the problem. That you were swamped with work and had too much on your plate. He said, she said. But if it was a task assigned to you, it is your personal responsibility to make sure it was completed on time and specification.

As the task, and subsequent mistake, are your responsibility – you must own it….

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Over the course of the past few years, law school personnel have found it especially difficult to keep their students’ personal information private. In April 2012, someone at Baylor Law School sent out an email containing a trove of admissions data — from names, to grades, to LSAT scores — to every student admitted to the Class of 2015. In March 2014, Loyola Law School in Los Angeles sent out an email with a heap of financial information for the entire graduating class — up to and including Social Security numbers and loan amounts — to some members of the Class of 2014.

Today, we’ve got another email screw-up for you, and this is one of the juiciest and most prestigious accidental data dumps we’ve seen yet. Someone at a T14 law school “inadvertently” sent out every piece of vital information possible about its clerkship applicants — from GPA, to class rank, to work experience, to recommenders, right down to where their girlfriends live — to everyone on its clerkship listserv.

If you’d like to see how you stack up against elite law students, now you can. We’ve got all the data…

Please note the UPDATES at the end of this post.

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Justice Scalia made what’s being called “a hugely embarrassing mistake” and an “epic blunder” after he wrote one of his characteristically dismissive and belittling dissents. Unfortunately it seems Justice Scalia (or his clerks) failed to do proper research and based an entire section of his dissent on a past decision that he completely mischaracterized.

A past decision that he wrote himself. Cue effect.

Maybe if he spent more time focusing on the law instead of fomenting revolution he could have avoided this….

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In the wake of the Heartbleed incident, everyone is understandably concerned about their online privacy.

If you’ve applied to law school with the assistance of the good folks at LSAC, you probably appreciated the opportunity to have your law school application process entirely automated. But you also placed your personal information at risk, up to and including your Social Security number, due to some serious (but easily remedied) security flaws.

Thankfully, they know about the problem and are working on it.

Maybe. Eventually. It’s not really clear.

Which, considering the gravity of the risk, is just as discomforting an answer as blowing it off completely….

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Congratulations to everyone who passed the February bar exam. As we recently learned from several late-night texts from readers, results just came out in New York (which tends to be one of the last states to post). Private look-up for New Yorkers is available here, and results should be posted publicly soon.

Judging from the timing of the texts we received, New York results were available sometime after midnight today (Thursday). But one candidate found out his results on Wednesday afternoon. How?

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(And how one New Yorker got early results.)

Yesterday, Florida released the results of the February 2014 Bar Exam. At least they thought they did. Many people were disappointed when they learned that they failed.

Then, a few hours later, Florida told people to “double-check” their exam results. Some of the people who thought they failed actually passed. Isn’t that a dream of every failed test taker? “Oh, the graders must have made a mistake, I’m sure I passed.”

See, Florida really is a place where dreams come true. It’s the Incompetent Kingdom…

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Most days, I’m proud of owning my own small law firm. And while technically, I’m not a solo — I’ve had an assistant for over eight years now as well as a revolving crew of of counsel, part-time associates and independent contractors — many of my colleagues lump me and most very small law firms into that category nonetheless. So when other solos act foolishly or unprofessionally, it reflects poorly on the rest of us.

Understand, I’m not picking on solos.  Let’s face it — large law firms are hardly paragons of upstanding conduct; one needn’t look further than the recent Dewey & LeBoeuf scandal as proof. But for whatever reason, when Biglaw behaves badly, that conduct doesn’t diminish the reputation of Biglaw in the eyes of judges and other lawyers as it does for solos.  

So that’s why it bugs me when solos do stupid — and often avoidable — things. Here are my top three peeves:

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Could this be the bar exam bandit?

Bar exam applications suck (believe me, I know — I’ve had to fill out quite a few of them). Bar applicants need to supply every single piece of personal information imaginable, from their birthday and Social Security number to their 10-year work history. If anyone with criminal intent ever got their hands on that information, we can’t even begin to describe how screwed those poor bar applicants would be.

As it turns out, some bar applicants are getting a taste of what it feels like to be violated by a state bar outside of a timed test-taking situation.

Which state bar just exposed an untold number of exam applicants to identity theft due to a break-in?

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