The Atlantic

I’ll be the first to admit that there are some problems with the legal system in America. I’ll allow that some of those problems are inherent to any common law system. But it gets really tiring when people claim that the common law system is inherently “unethical,” or suggest that our system isn’t concerned with “finding the truth.”

Obviously, the American system is concerned with the truth. It’s just that our system acknowledges and understands that sometimes “truth” is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes there are two truths. Sometimes people lie or allow their personal agendas to cloud the truth. And thus the American system focuses on a process, instead of flapping about like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men arguing about what its entitled to.

Essentially, the American system is for adults, not children like award-winning Australian journalist Evan Whitton who wrote a silly piece on The Atlantic, supposedly about the history and the weakness of the common law system of jurisprudence….

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Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. I bring tidings of woe not because I’m trying to rob you of your right to pursue a legal education; I’m trying to help you. Call me Elie Stormcrow.

Actually, today The Atlantic is the messenger reminding you of the serious financial peril involved in starting a legal career. The recession might be over but the recovery hasn’t happened for all. And we’re not just talking about the Occupy Wall Street people. No, no, things remain pretty bad for lawyers and bankers. Here’s the money quote from the Atlantic: “In 2011, finance, insurance, and law were the three primarily white-collar professions that managed to shed workers, even as the rest of the economy trudged forward through a slow recovery.”

Yeah folks, even in 2011, the legal economy was still shedding jobs. But it’s not like law schools were spitting out fewer graduates, so… you do the math.

Here, the Atlantic has put things in a fancy chart. Pictures people, it’ll be like an LSAT game: how many people made a terrible investment in higher education?

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Let’s say that instead of taking on huge debts while I was in law school, I had taken up a wicked cocaine habit. Let’s say I had done loads and loads of blow from 2000 to 2007 and then went into a 12-step program. If I had been lucky enough to avoid an overdose or jail, you could argue that things would be better for me right now — even if I had a really serious cocaine problem where I spent my all my disposable income on the drug, and even if I put a good job and a good marriage straight up my nose. If I had been through all that and then wrote an essay about the highs and the lows of doing cocaine throughout my legal career, if I was telling kids that they could overcome a wicked cocaine habit even though the consequences were severe, if I was truthfully telling people that even though I’m trying to stay clean and sober now I’m not “ashamed” of my past life, I’d have nearly everybody in my corner.

Instead, I didn’t have a cocaine habit in law school and beyond. I defaulted on my student debts.

Really, the smart thing to do would have been to default on all my loans, then blame it on the cocaine that I was “powerless” to stop. But instead of playing the victim, I marshaled what autonomous power I had and chose not to pay back my loans in a timely manner. I decided to go down on my own terms, not the terms set out for me in a promissory note.

That seems to be what has really pissed everybody off…

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What is not thought of or talked about relative to these threats and follow-up protection is the effect on a judge’s ability to think about the cases and the law. With gun toting Deputy Marshals, good people all, within arm’s reach, it’s pretty hard to think about anything other than security. The whole experience is very distracting and the public suffers in the sense that the judge can’t do his/her best in such circumstances.

— a federal trial judge, commenting to Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic about how judges have been affected by the recent killing of Chief Judge John Roll (D. Ariz.).

* Wow — and OW. There is actually a body of case law about “broken penises.” [Legal Satyricon]

* Remember the claim of witness coaching through footsies? It’s going to an evidentiary hearing. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic responds to Elie’s critical commentary on Friedersdorf’s takedown of entitled attorneys. [The Daily Dish / The Atlantic]

* Eddie Huang, lawyer turned (successful) restaurateur — New Yorkers, check out his BaoHaus, which Kash and I adore — appears to have won the race to the courthouse USPTO for the “Chairman Bao” mark. [Eater; Fresh Off the Boat]

* This headline needs a correction — add “Since 1865.” [Huffington Post]

* Cutesy names for LLCs show that the bar for humor among lawyers is low (and we’re grateful for that every day). [New York Times]

* Gail Koff — the Skadden Arps alumna who co-founded Jacoby & Meyers, the personal-injury firm that became (in)famous for its television ads — R.I.P. [Am Law Daily]

* Seven lessons from a post-traffic stop conviction. [Underdog]

Earlier this week, Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic, poured a big bottle of haterade all over the legal profession. More specifically, he criticized the way “Ivy League” lawyers are recruited, and the “palpable sense of entitlement” they exhibit even when they don’t take Biglaw bucks and instead work for the government. Here’s the set up:

The details of how elite law and business consulting firms recruit astonish me every time I hear them. Even getting an interview often requires attending an Ivy League professional school or a very few top tier equivalents. Folks who succeed in that round are invited to spend a summer working at the firm, the most sane aspect of the process.

But subsequently, they participate in sell events where they’re plied with food and alcohol in the most lavish settings imaginable: five star resort hotels, fine cigar bars, the priciest restaurants.

And here’s the money shot, one that is careening around the legal blogosphere like Billy Joel trying to get back from the Hamptons before the hurricane hits:

Though it isn’t defensible, it is unsurprising that a lot of people who eschew offers to work at these firms, favoring public sector work instead, imagine that they are making an enormous personal sacrifice by taking government work. The palpable sense of entitlement some of these public sector folks exude is owed partly to how few of “our best and brightest” do eschew the big firm route (due partly to increasing debt levels among today’s graduates, no doubt).

Really? You want to do this now? You want to talk smack about the people on the bottom rung of this totem pole, while willfully ignoring the clients, partners, law schools, and state governments that generate huge sums of wealth off the backs of the palpably entitled?

Fine. Let me take off my glasses, and we’ll step outside…

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