Social Networking Websites

Student loans are a real bitch, and declaring bankruptcy won’t even save you from them — unless you can prove you’ve got undue hardship and a “certainty of hopelessness” about you, which most people have too much pride to admit. Without government payment plans like Income-Based Repayment, Pay As You Earn, and Public Service Forgiveness, a much larger portion of our population would be living in a van down by the river, still drowning in educational debts, but too far off the grid for the bill collectors to come a-knocking.

This is why people absolutely lost their minds when the Daily Currant, a satirical online newspaper, published a story about President Barack Obama’s supposed bid to forgive all student loans. Given the responses, it looks like the youth of America is still in need of some change they can believe in…

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Trayvon Martin

How are you fixed for Skittles and Arizona watermelon fruitcocktail (and maybe a bottle of Robitussin, too) in your neighborhood? I am fresh out of ‘purple drank.’ So, I may come by for a visit. In a rainstorm. In the middle of the night. In a hoodie. Don’t get upset or anything if you see me looking in your window… kay?

– John Craft, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Texas, in comments referencing the Trayvon Martin case made on a Facebook page in response to a status update in support of Stand Your Ground laws. Craft separately referred to President Barack Obama as “the Dalibama” in another Facebook comment. John Malcolm Bales, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, criticized Craft’s comments, but declined to say whether Craft would face disciplinary action for his statements.

This was the Twitter of Olden Times.

Seeing as law firms are among Earth’s last enthusiasts of Lotus Notes and fax machines, they can hardly be expected to be on the cutting edge of evolving social media technologies. As social media platforms and blogs were exploding over the last decade, most law firms did not engage. Firms continued to churn out the unread white papers and ignorable client alerts as part of their traditional marketing efforts.

This reluctance or skepticism has waned some in the last couple of years and given way to a wary appreciation of the positive role that LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, and similar sites can play in marketing, recruiting, client support and internal collaboration. A 2012 survey of lawyers and legal marketers by ALM Legal Intelligence attests to this shifting attitude. The survey had some striking findings. Among them:

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My heart goes out to Trayvon Martin’s family & loved ones. Thought & prayers being sent their way #NoJustice

– Reality star Kim Kardashian, expressing her sympathies on Twitter after the George Zimmerman verdict was announced. She was slapped with a swift backlash by the public because her late father, Robert Kardashian, played a role in O.J. Simpson’s acquittal by serving on the athlete’s defense team.

“What I said was terrible, mean and downright stupid…. I wasn’t trying to scare anyone, I was trying to be witty and sarcastic. I failed and I was arrested.”

– Justin Carter, in a letter to District Judge Jack Robison

On February 14, in New Braunfels, Texas, Justin Carter was arrested on terroristic threat charges. Carter, then age 18, had been posting on a Facebook page for the game League of Legends. When a friend called Carter crazy, Carter allegedly volleyed back that, yeah, he was messed up in the head and that he was going to “shoot up a kindergarten, watch the blood rain down and eat the beating heart out of one of them.” A Canadian woman who viewed the comment reported Carter to law enforcement officials.

Carter’s father insists that his son immediately followed his first Facebook comment with “LOL” and “JK,” clear indications that Carter was . . . laughing out loud and joking when he wrote. Lest you think that explicitly stating that you are joking is enough to insulate your comments from criminal liability, Justin Carter was arrested, then charged by the Comal County Criminal District Attorney. In Comal County, txtspk cannot save you….

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We should have known that the Fisher opinion was going to be a letdown — a “great big dodge,” as my colleague Elie Mystal put it. Instead of readying herself for an historical moment, Justice Elena Kagan spent yesterday doing some window-shopping.

Where did she go, and what merchandise did she check out? Here’s an eyewitness report….

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* With a sharp focus on the Supreme Court and the legal definition of equality, only one thing’s for sure with respect to this week’s anticipated rulings: at least one group of people is probably going to get screwed. [New York Times]

* And lest we forget, thanks to our society’s near slavish obsession with social media and knowledge on demand, we’ll salivate uncontrollably as we wait for those opinions while the justices blissfully ignore new technology. [New York Times]

* The Justice Department charged NSA leaker Edward Snowden with espionage, and now he’s pursuing political asylum in Ecuador with the assistance of legal counsel representing WikiLeaks. [NBC News]

* Biglaw firms are trying to strengthen their pricing power in a post-recession world, with average rate increases of 4.8% in 2012, and hourly rates soaring in New York City. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* There were some bright spots in the otherwise dismal NALP job numbers for the class of 2012. Biglaw hiring is up, and so are median starting salaries. Sallie Mae is pleased as punch. [National Law Journal]

* If you’re considering law school, ask yourself these questions before applying. You should also ask yourself if you’re cool with unemployment. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Richard Trenk, author of the “ham-fisted” cease-and-desist letter that’s been read around the world, has been honored as the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s “Knucklehead of the Week.” Congrats! [Star-Ledger]

* There’s no solace for people who have had to pay to have their mug shot “depublished” from the internet. Sorry, the First Amendment allows people to turn a profit off your misery. [Washington Post]

* This lawsuit over unpaid internships filed against Gawker will sting any gossip girl’s heart to the core. But really, isn’t the privilege of working for Gawker enough? This fangirl thinks so. [New York Post]

Next time, brown bag it.

* The makeup of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is very homogeneous. Out of 14 judges who served this year, 12 are Republican and half are former prosecutors. Some diversity please? [Reuters]

* Dewey know how much Judge Martin Glenn shaved off of Togut Segal & Segal’s $8.8M fees and expenses in the latest D&L payout approval? Just $167.76 for subway fare and meal overages. [Am Law Daily]

* Ted Boutrous of Gibson Dunn is a very busy man, but he’s been categorized as a “Twitter freak.” The man is a self-professed news junkie, and he follows @atlblog, so you know he’s cool. #winning [Bloomberg]

* Facebook has named a new general counsel. We wish a very warm welcome to Colin Stretch, a man who’s a Harvard Law graduate, a former Kellogg Huber partner, and a former Supreme Court clerk to Justice Breyer to boot. [Facebook]

* If you’re waiting for your check to come for the BARBRI class action suit that was settled back in 2007, then keep waiting. But hey, at least the law firms are starting to get paid. [National Law Journal]

* Ariel Castro, a man you might’ve eaten ribs with, is looking at additional indictments in the kidnapping case against him. Thus far, he’s pleaded not guilty to all of the 329 charges he currently faces. [CNN]

If you’re an avid watcher of reality television and you’re a fan of Gordon “F**king” Ramsay’s charm, then you probably saw the episode of Kitchen Nightmares that featured Amy’s Baking Company. You see, their food and service didn’t suck; all the Yelpers who gave them horrible reviews were liars. If you’re not familiar with what happened, Chef Ramsay walked out on owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo — who were seen pilfering servers’ tips, physically fighting with and threatening customers, and acting in an otherwise delusional way — because they were “incapable of listening.”

But what happened after the show aired is every rabid social media addict’s dream: when they received an even greater amount of negative reviews on Yelp and Reddit, the Bouzaglos took to their Facebook page to settle the score as politely and as delicately as they could manage See e.g., “PISS OFF ALL OF YOU. F**K REDDITS, F**K YELP AND F**K ALL OF YOU.” They really are lovely people.

Apparently the couple behind the self-immolating restaurant were planning to host a news conference today to speak about their experience on the show and its aftermath (and to pimp their bistro’s reopening). More than 1,500 people tried to snag a reservation to watch the expected insanity unfold.

Enter the lawyers at Davis Wright Tremaine to wag their fingers in Mutombo-esque fashion with threats of liquidated damages…

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If you have a friend who might be interested in serving as the general counsel to a leading technology company, you might want to give that person a poke. As we mentioned earlier today, a top job is about to open up: Ted Ullyot plans to step down as GC of Facebook in the not-too-distant future.

What types of issues has Ullyot tackled in his time at Facebook? How well has he been compensated in his role? Where might he be headed next?

Let’s look at some SEC filings, as well as his departure memo….

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