Unpaid Internships

Experience doesn’t pay the rent.

The ABA agrees that exploitation of law students and other interns is unacceptable; however, the FLSA uncertainty inhibits law firms from offering students the opportunity to work on pro bono matters in a real-life practice setting. …

Furthermore, in the current economic climate with shrunken employment opportunities for law school graduates, hindering the ability of law students and recent graduates to work side-by-side with experienced lawyers who could provide both strong mentoring and favorable substantive references unnecessarily reduces access for future employment prospects.

Laurel Bellows, president of the American Bar Association, in a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor endorsing the use by private law firms of unpaid law student and graduate labor.

(Absurd and out of touch? I’d say so. Keep reading to see the entire letter.)

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* Texas law student/international small-arms dealer Cody Wilson got shot down (pun!) days after revealing a fully security-proof 3D printable gun. The State Department pointed out that Wilson seems to be violating all manner of international arms agreements, which was pretty obvious when he went on video boasting about how his weapons were being used in hotbeds of civil strife. [Foreign Policy: Passport]

* The Juice may soon be loose! But probably not. O.J. Simpson has a hearing seeking a new trial in Las Vegas and blaming his former lawyer, Yale Galanter. Best part? Simpson claims Galanter approved the whole “armed, threatening confrontation” plan beforehand. Oops. [FOX News]

* Michael Arrington, a lawyer and “one of the most powerful people on the Internet,” is suing his ex-girlfriend for defamation. The complaint compiles some pretty salacious claims that she made via social media. [Valleywag]

* Just when you thought being an unpaid intern couldn’t be sadder, Judge Baer makes it sadder. [Fashionista]

* The “Thug’s Lawyer” got a reprieve when a judge tossed his indictment for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, theft, and perjury. [The Advocate]

* The EEOC filed suit against a Miami company that required its employees to become Scientologists. In other news, someone actually thought they could get away with making all their employees join the Church of Scientology. [Lowering the Bar]

* The history of the Madison Avenue IPOs alluded to in last week’s Mad Men. [DealBook]

* As President Barack Obama’s position on gay marriage continues to “evolve,” we’re left wondering what exactly Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will say come Supreme Court oral arguments showtime in late March. [New York Times]

* “This is a chilling document.” The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived: the DOJ memo about the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial policy, the legal justification of drone strikes against American citizens, was leaked. [NBC News]

* In the litigation blame game, the Department of Justice has a lawsuit cooking against Standard & Poor’s, the supposed “key enablers of the financial meltdown,” over the agency’s mortgage bond ratings. [Reuters]

* Many pieces from Dewey & LeBoeuf’s massive art collection were auctioned off on Friday for $528,120. The failed firm’s creditors must be chomping at the bit as they wait to receive the proceeds. [Blog of Legal Times]

* You must remember Cynthia Brim, the Chicago judge who was declared “legally insane.” She’s too insane to be found guilty of a battery charge, but not quite insane enough to lose her reelection bid. [Chicago Tribune]

* Apologies to those with disabilities in California, but this ruling has given the Law School Admissions Council free reign to continue to flag your applications if you got extra time on the LSAT. [National Law Journal]

* GW Law School is adding a new question to its application to gauge the LGBT status its applicants. Not sure how this will affect cratering applications, but drink more of the Kool Aid if it makes you feel better. [GW Hatchet]

* Here’s some sage advice from our managing editor: “If you’re not okay with working for free, don’t take the internship.” Or, in the alternative, you can sue, and win a fat settlement check. [International Business Times]

Ed. note: Happy Thanksgiving! We will resume our normal publication schedule on Monday, November 26. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we thank you for your readership.

* We’ve discussed this trend before, and it continues: administrations of the LSAT plunge further, reaching their lowest level since 1999. [Economix / New York Times]

* We’ve discussed this trend before, and it continues: judges are still offering unpaid clerkships (even though the days of law firm deferrals are behind us). [Salon]

* We’ve discussed this trend before, and it continues: law schools sometimes discriminate against conservatives, as jurors from the Teresa Wagner trial told Iowa’s leading newspaper. [Des Moines Register]

* Are you mooching off of someone else’s wireless internet? If so, consider yourself warned. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Are you a lover of Twinkies? If so, consider yourself warned (although it’s possible that a buyer might snap up the Twinkies brand). [DealBook / New York Times]

* Seven Am Law 200 firms are saying YES to work on a billion-dollar deal. [Am Law Daily]

Georgetown University Law Center (known for its great gym).

I feel very fortunate to have had an idea of what I wanted to do from such a young age, and even more fortunate that it involved graduate school. What can you do with a bachelor’s degree anymore? I’m hoping that the job market will pick up in the three years I spend at law school, because a lot of lawyers are getting laid off. The American Bar Association is even encouraging college students not to apply to law school, citing the bleak job market.

– Noah Rich, a Georgetown 1L who was interviewed by the New York Times as part of the newspaper’s survey of the class of 2011 at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

(It’s hard out there for a class of 2011 college graduate. More findings, and additional law-related tidbits, after the jump.)

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Last week, we brought you the “weirdest job ad” of all time. Today, we’ve got a job ad that isn’t nearly as strange, but as our tipster put it, it’s “a bit off.” And our tipster is right. This might not be the weirdest job ad of all time, but it’s probably the most boastful.

With all of the hubbub about unpaid internships, you’d think that legal employers would start showing law students the money — but you’d be wrong. Because when you freely admit that you don’t have any cash, it’s hard to spread it around. Maybe that’s why this law firm is sacrificing applicants’ credentials for free labor.

Let’s check out a “unique posting” straight out of a law school in Flori-duh….

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* The fact that this guy got so drunk off of beer pong means he’s probably the best pong competitor who has ever lived. [New York Post]

* This is the best document review job ever. I’m not joking. Does $85/hour sound like a joke? You might need to learn Japanese, though. [Constitutional Daily]

* I wonder how this will affect the inevitable occasions on which I accidentally post drunken political rants on Above the Law’s Twitter feed. [Corporate Counsel]

* New York Times reporter David Segal has made major waves for criticizing law schools. Can other people make waves for criticizing David Segal? [Blueprint LSAT Preparation]

* Lat was on Minnesota Public Radio today giving a measured defense of unpaid internships. Kids at my high school were unpaid interns all the time. It was no big deal. (By the way, ATL is seeking a paid intern.) [Minnesota Public Radio]

* Baker Botts just elected a new managing partner. Congratulations to Andrew M. Baker! [Tex Parte Blog]

* Earlier today, the internet temporarily exploded when the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. Here are comments from David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyer heavyweights who argued the case. [Metro Weekly]

I recently participated in a Room for Debate forum for the New York Times on the controversial subject of unpaid internships. Critics of these positions argue that such exploitative arrangements contribute to “constricted social and professional mobility, growing inequality, and an economy whose top tier is becoming less and less diverse” (in the words of Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy).

In my contribution, I offer a measured defense of unpaid internships — of the non-abusive variety, in which the intern receives a valuable learning experience (and doesn’t just do scut work) — and also a defense of the status quo (under which most unpaid internships are technically illegal, but enforcement isn’t super-vigorous). You can read my NYT piece here (or on page 9 of yesterday’s Sunday Review section, if you’re a print person). You can also read a piece by Camille Olson, a labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw, over here (focusing on the legal aspects of unpaid internships, and offering general guidelines to companies considering them).

Speaking of interns, Above the Law is looking for one — a paid intern, for the record. Details appear below, along with general information about our hiring needs, and our policy on guest posts or outside contributions….

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(And: ATL seeks a paid intern.)

* How many friend requests did these firms just get? Fenwick & West and Simpson Thacher are the Biglaw stars of Facebook’s S-1 filing for its $5B initial public offering. Like. [Am Law Daily]

* The prosecution is expected to make its arguments today in Julian Assange’s appeal of his extradition from the U.K. to Sweden. Hope it won’t affect his role on The Simpsons. [CNN]

* Adventures in fourth-tier second-tier law school marketing: go to the University of Dayton School of Law, take a tour, and get your first-year textbooks for free. Mmm, the sweet smell of bribery. [National Law Journal]

* The little hybrid that could: Heather Peters, the former lawyer who decided to sue Honda in small claims court, has won her case. Maybe she should reconsider her career options? [Los Angeles Times]

* Looking for a way to shield your assets during a wrongful death suit? Just adopt your adult girlfriend. It has “nothing to do with the lawsuit” — dude just wants to bang his daughter. No big deal. [Palm Beach Post]

* Unpaid internships are so last season. A former intern for fashion mag Harper’s Bazaar wants class action certification for a lawsuit claiming that her free labor violated wage and hour laws. [New York Times]

Really? You're still suing?

* Sorry Missouri, but your reign as the “Show Me” state is over. Thanks to its immigration law, Alabama is going to be taking over as the “Show Me Your Papers” state. [CNN]

* Time to review the footage. Irving Picard stands to lose the game for the Investors if he can’t get an instant replay on Judge Rakoff’s home run decision for the Mets. [Bloomberg]

* Reebok has to pay out $25M in refunds because contrary to popular opinion, wearing a pair of sneakers won’t give you a nicer butt. Dammit, foiled again. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The EEOC is suing because a 680-pound man was allegedly fired for being too fat. Everything really is bigger in Texas, and now it’s considered a disability. [Houston Chronicle]

* Unpaid interns who worked on “Black Swan” are suing because they didn’t benefit from the job. Seriously? They should be sued for not appreciating all the film’s HLA. [New York Times]

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