Texas

While at the AALS conference this weekend, talking about law school rankings, I joked: “The average man on the street would rank Princeton Law School as a top-five institution.” I was making the point that “prestige” rankings exist in the eyes of the public, whether or not they are memorialized by U.S. News.

Law schools that lack prestige are always willing to tell prospective law students that their school is very “well respected” in its market. Failing that, they try to tell law students that prestige doesn’t matter. And from the perspective of a twenty-something who has never worked in the legal community, it makes sense that prestige is overrated. It makes sense that people would value the skills you have over the law school you graduated from.

But in the real world, employers are not obligated to make sense. Students learn the hard way that the prestige (or stigma) of your law degree has real-world effects on your employment prospects, probably for the rest of your career.

A group of law school graduates would like to do something about their own stigmatized degrees. Since their school has gotten a prestige upgrade since their graduation, these alumni now want new diplomas to reflect that prestige bump…

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In a sad yet crazy story, a law firm partner was shot and killed after barricading himself in his luxury condo’s lobby and opening fire on the police. Very few details are available at the time. Indeed, what remotely comprehensible motive could there be for building a mini-fortress in your lobby and baiting the police into a firefight.

Making matters worse, the partner’s young daughter was in the lobby the whole time while he embarked on the strange behavior that ultimately led to his death….

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The federal judiciary thanks you.

* Barack Obama is trailing George W. Bush when it comes to leaving his mark on the federal courts, but that’s probably because Senate Democrats didn’t go nuclear quickly enough. [Blog of Legal Times]

* When it comes to 2013, one thing’s for sure: it wasn’t boring. Many of this year’s movers and shakers hailed from top Am Law 100 law firms — like Ted Cruz (formerly of Morgan Lewis). [American Lawyer]

* John Ray III isn’t going to sit back and allow a jury to shut down his discrimination and retaliation case against Ropes & Gray. He filed a notice of appeal last week, and he’s pissed off. [National Law Journal]

* Utah has until the end of January to figure out how it’s going to go about defending its same-sex marriage ban before the Tenth Circuit. Just a thought: the “it’s still gay, even if the balls don’t touch” theory of law isn’t going to cut it. [Deseret News]

* A lawyer for the Texas judge accused of strangling his girlfriend is offering media outlets a superb defense story on behalf of his client. He wasn’t trying to kill her, he was trying to save her! [New York Daily News]

* Here’s some advice on how to submit your law school application on time. If you don’t know how to meet a deadline, you’re going to make a great lawyer. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

Limited discovery: NOW!

* Exciting news: Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be leading the countdown on the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square. She’ll be the first SCOTUS justice to perform the task. You go girl! [New York Times]

* Blank Rome and Nixon Peabody are reportedly in merger talks, but one firm’s managing partner says he “talk[s] to firms all the time,” it’s no big deal. No word on what guys from his high school do. [Reuters]

* Sorry, Quinn Emanuel, but this limited discovery thing is going to happen. Judge Ronnie Abrams recently slapped down the firm’s attempt to appeal her MTD denial in this contract attorney’s suit. [Am Law Daily]

* A state court judge from Texas stands accused of strangling his girlfriend over the balcony of his apartment and threatening to “f**king kill [her].” Romance in Texas has certainly got some of that je ne sais quoi. [Dallas Morning News]

* A legal soap opera? An ex-prosecutor whose relationship with a judge landed her lover in hot water was found dead in her home hours after a judicial misconduct ruling came down. R.I.P. [Reno Gazette-Journal]

* Take a look back at the legal profession’s year that was: from the highest of highs in gay marriages to the lowest of lows in law school enrollment, 2013 was a year for the record books. [National Law Journal]

* The Tenth Circuit will not be blocking same-sex marriages from occurring in Utah, so the next stop will be Supreme Court intervention. Sorry, but we have a feeling that Justice Sonia Sotomayor isn’t going to be too helpful with that. [MSNBC]

* Winston & Strawn, if you’re overbilling on pro bono motions and you want fees, you might want to be more descriptive. Please tell this judge what “preparation for filing” even means, and why you spent more than four hours doing it. [New York Law Journal]

* This judge felt she was “being played with,” so she took a man’s kid away from him during Christmas. Now a judicial ethics commission is showing her that it’s not one to be played with. [Texas Lawyer]

* Yay, happy news! Chapman Law’s associate dean for student affairs really takes her job responsibilities to heart. She’s performed several wedding ceremonies for both students and alumni. [National Law Journal]

* The Indian diplomat who got strip-searched was arrested over a silly mistake, says her lawyer. It’s too bad that a lack of reading comprehension can result in having to bend over and spread ‘em. [Bloomberg]

Keith Lee

Ed. note: Please welcome Keith Lee of Associate’s Mind, one of our new columnists covering the world of small law firms.

If you are a new lawyer in a small firm, you need to be prepared to have fear as a companion at times. Fear of missing deadlines, screwing up a discovery response, pissing off a partner. Fear of not having enough clients, being unable to make payroll, disappointing your family. From substantive case matters to interpersonal relationships, a dozen different challenges arise daily in a small firm that can cause stress, anxiety, and fear.

If you’re not careful, it can be crippling. Everyone is going to be afraid at times. Whether it is fear of a cranky old judge or looking like an idiot in front of your clients. What matters is how you deal with that fear.

Fear can also be fuel. Fear can motivate you to research an issue to exhaustion in order to ensure that you are absolutely correct in your position. Fear can cause you to to beat the streets, get in front of people, and land new clients. Fear encourages hard work, due diligence, and skill development.

Perhaps most importantly for new lawyers, fear should beget caution. As a new lawyer, you need to know what you don’t know. That some clients are too much for you to handle, no matter how much you try to research and learn about the issues. Experience matters. As a new lawyer, you don’t have it. And fear can help you check yourself and reflect on whether or not you are prepared to handle certain matters. But whether it be through hubris or ignorance, young lawyers continue to bite off more than they can chew….

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Over the summer, the Texas Legislature passed the “Merry Christmas Law.” With the first Yuletide under the new law now upon us, folks are revisiting the law’s wisdom or lack thereof. The law provides that a “school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations, including: (1) “Merry Christmas”; (2) “Happy Hanukkah”; and (3) “happy holidays” [ . . . ] A school district may display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a menorah or a Christmas image such as a nativity scene or Christmas tree, if the display includes a scene or symbol of: (1) more than one religion; or (2) one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.” The law also provides that any displays may not include “a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.”

Admittedly, this sort of law at first sounds a bit like a legislative resolution saying, “Can we all just agree once and for all that America is seriously the greatest country ever and Jesus totally loves us best?” There’s a problem, though, with commentators who “find it hard to believe any Christmas-observing child feels deprived of the holiday spirit in school, especially in Texas.” The problem is that some Texas schoolchildren have, indeed, had their rights infringed upon by school officials. Many liberals respond as though laws like this and the outrage that inspires them are silly. But ask Jonathan Morgan, and he’ll tell you that it’s not so silly…

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Sorry, Patton Boggs…

* The right to choose… to drive out of state? SCOTUS rejected an application to block Texas from enforcing a law requiring abortion doctors to have privileges at nearby hospitals. [New York Times]

* Patton Boggs should prepare for the day when Locke Lord is too busy washing its hair to go on a date. The would-be merger is just one of many “interesting opportunities” the firm is considering. [Am Law Daily]

* In case you were wondering about the type of people who are accepted into Greenberg Traurig’s residency program, the recent law grad profiled in this article went to Nova Southeastern. [Sun Sentinel]

* Law firm merger mania, mid-size Midwest edition: Chi-Town law firm Shefsky & Froelich merges with Cincinnati-based Taft Stettinius & Hollister. [Crain's Chicago Business]

* When it comes to law faculty hiring, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is or what you’ve got between your legs, so long as your résumé is covered in Ivy and you’re dripping with prestige. [National Law Journal]

* Ave Maria School of Law is in need of a new dean. It seems the man who created the school’s “Advanced Critical Thinking Department” engaged in deep thought before deciding to call it quits. [Naples Daily News]

* The Supreme Court might have dismissed the Oklahoma abortion case as improvidently granted, but not to worry, because the high court may yet get the chance to abort a woman’s right to choose in this new case from Texas. [New York Times]

* Wherein Justice Scalia seems highly concerned about toupees: yesterday, Supreme Court justices put their fashion sense to the test when trying to determine what ought to count as clothing under the Fair Labor Standards Act. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The Senate is forging ahead with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but the bill will likely fail in the House because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is still cool with John Boehner. [CBS News]

* Wherefore art thou, ladness? According to the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, profits per partner at top firms in the U.K. are behind profits per partner in the U.S. America, f**k yeah! [Businessweek]

* Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate in the NYC mayoral race, apparently has “deep ties” to Gibson Dunn, the firm behind Citizens United. Gather round, conspiracy theorists. [International Business Times]

* An InfiLaw school is changing its name to Arizona Summit Law. How kind to tip law students off to the fact that even if they climb all the way to the top, there’s nowhere to go but down. [National Law Journal]

As the days roll on, more and more bar exam results from the July 2013 administration of the test are being released.

We’ve actually reached the point where just about every state in the country has unleashed its exam results except for Maryland (expected by end of business today), New Jersey, and California. Those folks still have some time to wait on pins and needles, but for now, we’ve got confirmed news about results from states that came out on Halloween, just in time for festive holiday celebrations.

So it’s time for a round-up of all of the results that went live yesterday, including Texas and Virginia, and some rumors we’ve heard about Maryland. Here’s an open thread for you to discuss your thoughts…

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Maryland (Kind Of?), Texas, Virginia — any others?

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