Women’s Issues

From earthquakes to power outages to going into labor, we’ve written about almost every kind of bar exam horror story that exists on this earth. But we’ve never seen or heard of one that has been motivated by alleged religious bias — until today.

Everyone knows that things like hats, hoods, scarves, and visors are not allowed to be worn during the bar exam. But religious headgear, like Sikh dastars and Jewish yarmulkes, is permitted, as long as special written approval has been obtained before the test from a state’s board of bar examiners.

When there’s a miscommunication somewhere along the line, things don’t always go as planned. Yesterday, a proctor in Massachusetts passed a distasteful note to a Michigan Law graduate of Muslim faith during the morning essay session. We have a copy of that note…

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I could have gone with a picture of the other thing in the title.

Tuesday was the first day of the bar exam. That means now we get to share “stupid bar exam stories.” Yay!

Our first batch of bar exam adventures can be summed up by the student who hired a guy on TaskRabbit to sit in a café all morning and save her a seat for lunch near the Jacob Javits Center. It sounds extreme, but that bar exam is all about extremes.

Anyway, the girl was trying to get other students to go in with her on her bar exam “valet,” and she described TaskRabbit this way: “Task Rabbit is also available to run any emergency errands (if you need advil, tampons, or extra pencils from the store) during the lunch hour and while we are in the exam.”

As it turns out, at other testing centers, we had people who kind of needed emergency tampons and pencils….

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Brian Zulberti

* The number of women arguing before the Supreme Court is still small, but most of its appellate practitioners follow sage advice like this: “Clerk, work, and don’t be a jerk.” [National Law Journal]

* If you were curious about whether gays and lesbians could be excluded from juries on the basis of their sexual orientation, the Ninth Circuit is about to lay down the law. [New York Times]

* Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in Windsor, Cozen O’Connor will be forced to give a deceased partner’s profit-sharing benefits to her wife, and not her parents. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Who are Biglaw’s top innovators of the last 50 years? There are many familiar names, but one of them is near and dear to our own hearts at Above the Law: It’s our managing editor, David Lat. Congratulations! [Am Law Daily]

* If you’re making a career change to go to law school, you should think about why the the hell you’d do such a thing right now — or try to leverage it in applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* In a surprise move, Wendi Murdoch, better known as Rupert Murdoch’s soon-to-be ex-wife, has hired William Zabel to represent her in the divorce. This is going to get very, very messy. [New York Times]

* “Why you mad, bro?” Brian Zulberti, the man with the muscles, is trying to make the most of his 15 minutes of fame. He’s lined up several job interviews, so wish him good luck. [Delaware News Journal]

‘Do I still want to be a babe?’

From the court’s perspective, the term ‘babe’ is at best undignified and at worst degrading. Regardless, there are people in our society who view ‘babe’ as playful flattery … To the chagrin of those in our society hoping to leave sexual stereotypes behind, some of those people are female. And some of those people may be among the plaintiffs.

– Judge Nelson Johnson, granting the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s motion for summary judgment in an underlying dispute in which female cocktail servers, known as the Borgata Babes, were prohibited from gaining more than seven percent of their body weight after they were hired.

Biglaw better call Saul!

It was an interesting week in the law. Our interest was captured by beefcake lawyers seeking work and allegations of defecating attorneys.

But, at the end of the day, the story that lorded over the legal week was Noam Scheiber’s piece in The New Republic about the decline of Biglaw. So let’s talk about why most lawyers drink themselves asleep in dark rooms and how attorneys are a lot like professional athletes.

Oh, and Justice Scalia called people Nazis, and the royal baby proved how awful punditry can be…

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This week, the legal world has been buzzing over the New Republic’s exposé on the troubles of Biglaw, told through the tale of the long-suffering Mayer Brown. Our managing editor David Lat wondered if being a partner was the worst job in Biglaw, prompting some raised eyebrows. “Yeah, being a partner is so much worse than being an associate,” said a sarcastic commenter.

Sure, being a Biglaw partner right now isn’t “all peaches and cream,” but for most Biglaw associates — female associates especially — it never was. In fact, in our last discussion of the New Republic piece, very little attention was paid to the plight of one Mayer Brown associate in particular: the woman who was laid off during her maternity leave after surviving two prior rounds of layoffs.

The fragile state of the Biglaw world is such that women who dare to do crazy things like get pregnant must worry about whether they’ve put their jobs on the line. But just how bad is it to be pregnant at an Am Law 200 firm? It couldn’t be worse than being a partner, could it?

It could, and it is…

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* This afternoon, O.J. Simpson pleaded with the parole board in Nevada. For now, the Juice is still on ice. [USA Today]

* Four South Korean firms allegedly fixed the price of ramen noodles for over a decade. You mean that s**t can be cheaper? [Courthouse News Service]

* Do you want to make sure the NSA can’t read your email? Join the NSA! [Lowering the Bar]

* Eric Holder is going forward with efforts to halt the new Texas voting requirements pursuant to the bail-in procedure. But how will he ever prove a substantial history of constitutional violations in Texas? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The Ninth Circuit has affirmed Judge Dolly Gee’s earlier denial of Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction against Dish Network over its special, ad-skipping DVR. It’s a testament to how much power the networks have thrown around that this is treated like an amazing new technology — I bought an ad-skipping DVR from ReplayTV in 2001. [The Verge]

* Chicagoland preacher facing federal fraud charges announces: “Because of Judge Sharon Coleman’s continual mocking of God’s ecclesiastical order and the sanctity of family/marriage, the wrath of God almighty shall soon visit her home.” Federal authorities were not amused. [Chicago Tribune]

* A NJ state judge declares that Atlantic City casinos can control the weight of its waitresses. Because overweight waitresses are the reason no one goes to Atlantic City anymore. [My Fox NY]

* Noam Scheiber of The New Republic interviewed about his article The Last Days of Big Law, as discussed here. Video after the jump… [Bloomberg Law via YouTube]

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We often write about women’s woes when it comes to their representation in the legal profession. Not enough of them are being promoted to partner. Too many of them are being shoved into the pink ghetto of staff attorney hell. Far too few of them being admitted entry into the Biglaw Boys’ Club.

One law firm took special notice of the disparity, and decided to use it to its advantage in legal advertisements. The end result kind of looks like a cross between an ad for a high-class escort service and an ad for Charlie’s Angels LLP.

How does this firm measure up to its competition? Well, let’s start with 36-26-36…

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Okay. It finally happened. Our colleague Tamara Tabo finally wrote something that required a response from one of your faithful regular editors.

Tamara makes some excellent points about the incidence of rape not necessarily being higher in the military than in civilian institutions (at least as reported).

Fine.

But the problem is not so much what she says, but why? What’s to be gained by taking to the pulpit and saying that the incidence of military rape is on par with civilian rape and that the concern of policymakers is misplaced?

The only answer is to suggest that military rape is not a problem because it’s in line with the rest of society. And that’s not a good argument.

But not as bad as the argument that drunk women are the real problem in rape cases…

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On Tuesday, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul joined Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in her push to pass new legislation that would remove the chain of command from military sexual assault cases. Senator Gillibrand argues that women in the military are afraid to report rapes, and when they do report them, the crimes are not always prosecuted.

People of conscience want sexual assault victims to report. We want sexual offenders to be duly processed and punished. We want individuals wrongly accused to suffer as little harm as possible as they clear their names. We share these broad goals, though we may differ about specific means of achieving them.

I respect Senator Gillibrand for formulating a proposal. I respect Senators Cruz and Paul for crossing the aisle to support legislation they believe in. I am unpersuaded, however, that this bill would adequately and fairly address the problem.

Legislation like Gillibrand’s treats as unique a problem that is not. Relevant statistics suggest that young women may be at no greater risk of being sexually assaulted in the military than being sexually assaulted on a college or university campus. Why propagate a message of fear that sending our daughters (or ourselves) into the service amounts to handing them over to an unpatrolled, unrepentant rape culture, but shipping off young women to college is relatively safe? Why send the message that our women are more likely to be raped by a fellow Marine than by a frat brother from Sigma Chi?

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