Tenure

Won’t somebody please think of the children?

That quote comes from the contemptible Helen Lovejoy and probably a bunch of other sanctimonious folks trying to dupe the public into backing some BS agenda armed with the logical fallacy of an emotional appeal. The devil of it is these empty emotional pleas are so convincing to a lot of people. Sadly, lawyers aren’t above pulling this card to snowjob judges and the media.[1]

After the Vergara v. California decision there was a brief volley of commentary before everyone moved on to the next big event. The decision struck California’s teacher tenure law as unconstitutional because granting tenure to experienced teachers could possibly, maybe mean that a “bad” teacher couldn’t be fired fast enough. The decision earned the praise of a bi-partisan peanut gallery from the dwindling posse of Republicans in California to Secretary of Education and NBA Celebrity All-Star MVP Arne Duncan.

Everyone seems to want in on the “education would be peachy if it weren’t for the teachers” movement — including a metric s**t ton of Biglaw bigwigs. Gibson Dunn’s Ted Boutrous and Randy Mastro spearheaded the Vergara case. Ted Olson advised. David Boies is the chair of the Partnership for Educational Justice, a group fronted by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown bringing a similar lawsuit in New York fronted by Kirkland’s Jay Lefkowitzpro bono, of course. Now even Professor Larry Tribe is in the mix.

Stop the sanctimonious love-in. They aren’t championing children, they’re either starstruck or shilling or both. I mean, the Republicans have always wanted to kill unions because it’s easier to gut public schools for fun and profit. Democrats have jumped on board more recently because they want to suck up to tech billionaires like Bill Gates who preach that fixing the public education system that they never really participated in themselves is as simple as building an internet browser (which it is, if you want Internet Explorer).[2]

And all these legal luminaries throwing their reputations behind this effort just highlights how flimsy it is, as a matter of law and policy….

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* Suit filed questioning the parentage of Blue Ivy Carter. Plaintiff claims to be the real… mother? Hm. You’d think that would be pretty easy for everyone to remember. [International Business Times]

* The Washington D.C.-area NFL team has filed suit to get its trademark back. They think the USPTO are Indian Givers. [DCist]

* The ACLU is asking courts to define “freedom of the press” in the wake of Ferguson. I understand their impulse, I just don’t think they’re gonna like the answer. [Fox2Now]

* A 71-year-old lawyer allegedly called two escorts over to his house and they asked for more money. Even for rich lawyers it’s the principle of the thing. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Sad to see Professor Larry Tribe join the “let’s blame the teachers instead of funding public schools” parade. But now that he’s become a high-profile supporter of ending tenure for those teaching the young, perhaps he’ll renounce his own tenure. Or at least fight to revoke it from all his colleagues. [National Law Journal]

* A Colombian lawyer is suing FIFA for $1.3 billion over bad officiating. Of all the things FIFA deserves to get sued over, this isn’t making the list. [Washington Post]

* Congratulations to Rob Manfred, a Harvard Law grad formerly of Morgan Lewis, on his promotion to MLB Commissioner. He will continue the proud tradition of keeping us bored all summer long while we wait for football to come back. [New York Times]

* New lawsuit says Google kept records of plans to infringe intellectual property… on Post-Its. Unwise. Office supplies are for back-to-school shopping, not writing down wrongful acts. [Valleywag]

* If you’re a current 3L or a law grad about to come off a clerkship, NOAA has a job opportunity for you. Imagine how exciting it will be when the next Sharknado happens! [USAJobs via NOAA]

This week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court found that five of California’s laws governing teacher retention violated the rights of schoolchildren under the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. Judge Rolf Treu issued a tentative decision in Vergara v. California, agreeing with plaintiffs that the provisions on firing public-school educators resulted “in grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment, and that these teachers are disproportionately situated in schools serving predominantly low-income and minority students.”

 

The United States Constitution, of course, provides no fundamental right to education. (Franklin Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights” doesn’t count.) For example, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to apply strict scrutiny to a claim that the Texas funding scheme for public schools violated the equal protection rights of poor and minority students. The Court did so in part because it found no federal fundamental right to education.

 

The California Constitution, though, does provide for a fundamental right to education in its Article 9, Sections 1 and 5. In light of that, Judge Treu applied a strict scrutiny standard to the laws in Vergara. He concluded that the laws caused a violation of California children’s right to equality of education…

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Puff, puff, pass those voter initiatives.

* This failed firm’s drama is the Biglaw gift that keeps on giving: Dewey & LeBoeuf’s bankruptcy trustee filed an amended complaint against Steve DiCarmine and Joel Sanders seeking the return of more than $21.8 million. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Norton Rose Fulbright elected someone who “love, love, love[s] the law firm” as U.S. managing partner, and she’s the first woman to ever serve as U.S. chair of its management committee. We love, love, love this news! [National Law Journal]

* According to a California judge, tenure laws are unconstitutional and are depriving students of the high quality of education they deserve. The end is nigh, law professors. Enjoy it while it lasts. [New York Times]

* Not all states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, but it’d be a lot cooler if they did. The tide is turning across the United States, and we’ll soon see which states’ drug laws go up in smoke. [Slate]

* “Document review attorneys are in demand now but the demand will gradually decrease.” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the one job you were able to get soon won’t need or want you. [InsideCounsel]

Jordan Graham and Cody Johnson

* Scared of an audit, were we? With the unsealing of the case against Dewey’s former finance director comes greater insight into what was really going on behind the scenes at the failed firm. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The American Bar Association is willing pay up to $15,000 to organizations that match unemployed law grads with jobs to serve the legal needs of the poor. So, how much do the poor law grads get paid? [National Law Journal]

* Tenure may be “under fire,” but law professors are fighting back — and hard — because law school deans seem unwilling to speak up on their behalf. Let’s face facts though, tenure isn’t going anywhere. [Forbes]

* It figures one of the faces of America’s $1 trillion of outstanding student loan debt is a lawyer. Hey, heavily indebted lawyers make great headlines and even better first paragraphs. [Big Story / Associated Press]

* Jordan Graham, the newlywed who pushed her husband of eight days off a cliff, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison. Protip: an annulment would’ve been a better option than second-degree murder. [CNN]

* Justice Elena Kagan is looking forward to hunting a new kind of game next year with Justice Antonin Scalia. Gobble gobble, bitches. They’re going after wild turkeys, and not the whiskey. [Legal Times]

* If you’ve been wondering why Morrison & Foerster is referred to as MoFo, the backstory isn’t as cool as we were led to believe. It was the firm’s teletype address. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* Don’t worry, law profs, your precious tenure protections aren’t going anywhere yet. The ABA has officially given up on its quest to remove tenure as an accreditation requirement. [National Law Journal]

* Nicholas Spaeth, the former state attorney general of North Dakota who sued a slew of law schools for age discrimination after being passed over for a job after AALS, was found dead yesterday. RIP. [Inforum]

* If you’ve been waitlisted, send a letter of continuing interest. Convince them you’ll be employed within 10 months of graduation, and watch the acceptance letters roll on in. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

As more and more people discover that law school is not the “get rich quick” scheme that they once thought it was, applications continue to plummet. As of late January, law school applications were down 13.7 percent from where they were in 2013. The loss of student revenue is killing the bottom line at some law schools, and members of their administrations don’t like it one bit.

These ivory tower inhabitants seem terrified and are reacting accordingly, having been forced to deal with the dearth of applicants and enrollees in all sorts of ways. Some law schools are doing the right thing and lowering tuition in the hopes of luring students to their once hallowed halls.

Others are hacking and slashing away at their faculty and staff, just like law firms. First came news of the potential purge of junior faculty at Seton Hall (which was fortunately averted). Next came the staff massacre at McGeorge. Then Thomas Jefferson started handing out pink slips, and all hell broke loose.

Which law school is the latest to announce a possible pruning of its ranks? We’ll give you a hint. This law school is located in New York, a state with 15 law schools to choose from, several of which have been sued over their allegedly deceptive employment statistics…

(Please note the multiple UPDATES added to this post.)

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* A Supreme Court whose members are still afraid of using email will most likely have the final say on the NSA case, one of the biggest technology and privacy rulings in ages. Well, that’s comforting. [Talking Points Memo]

* Pittsburgh firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is reportedly in merger talks with Tampa firm Fowler White Boggs. Boy, a merger between two firms from lackluster cities sure sounds promising. [Daily Business Review]

* Law professors are completely outraged by the ABA’s proposal to cut tenure from its law school accreditation requirements. Quick, somebody write a law review article no one will read about it! [National Law Journal]

* Struggling to find a topic for your law school personal statement? You should ask someone who knows next to nothing about you and your life for advice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Michael E. Schmidt, the lawyer killed in a police firefight, had some interesting things in his apartment, including a “green leafy substance,” a “white powdery substance,” and lots of pills. [Dallas Morning News]

* Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is definitely one of our favorite judicial divas. When asked if she thought the Supreme Court’s work was art or theater, she mused, “It’s both, with a healthy dose of real life mixed in.” [New York Times]

* According to the Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group report on the first half of the year, the legal industry should count itself lucky if it manages to meet last year’s single-digit profit growth. This “new normal” thing sucks. [Am Law Daily]

* Howrey going to celebrate these “monumental” settlements with Baker & Hostetler and Citibank? The failed firm’s trustee might throw a party when he’s finally able to file a liquidation plan. [Am Law Daily]

* Uncommon law marriage? A man stuck in an inheritance battle who lived with his late partner since 1995 now asks the District of Columbia to declare him common-law husband. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar proposed a major overhaul to its accreditation standards. Action, of course, likely won’t be taken until next year. [National Law Journal]

* Despite the fact that these measures could help struggling graduates, law deans are at odds over the ABA’s proposed changes to tenure requirements for professors. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “Sooner or later you’ve got to make a choice, because you need enough revenue to cover what your expenses are.” Cooley will weather the storm by introducing a massive tuition hike. [Lansing State Journal]

* “How would you feel if you spent well over $100,000 on law school, only to have to spend an extra couple of thousand dollars on a course to get you to pass the bar?” You’d probably feel like everyone else. [CNBC]

* Requiring porn stars to wear condoms might not be sexy, but a federal judge says it’s constitutional. Don’t worry, unlike its actresses, the adult film industry won’t go down without a fight. [Los Angeles Times]

You can download the notes, or not. I don’t care. I have to write a law review article that nobody will ever read.

Of course it does. That question has such an obvious answer that it’s kind of dumb to ask. Of course a system that rewards “teachers” with lifetime jobs for focusing on esoteric research that has little or no applicability to the challenges their students will face in the real world is of limited value to the students who pay their salaries.

So why would a professor get in trouble for saying that? Why would a professor get in trouble for saying it to other professors? If there are people who think the job of a big-time legal academic is to service students, they are sadly mistaken.

Why should anybody have a problem with a Harvard Law professor who says that?

Please note the UPDATE added after the jump.

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