Texas

For a couple months now, we’ve run an occasional series, drawing on the ATL Insider Survey, comparing firms and law schools in various geographic locales. Thus far, we looked at Boston, Chicago, New York, and “the South.”

Today, we turn toward Texas. Texas is beloved here at ATL as an apparently bottomless source of colorful legal news. The state is a frequent battleground for high profile constitutional fights while also generating a steady stream of tabloid fodder, from “judges behaving badly” to “tragic homicidal mayhem.” (Of course, there’s also the running joke among the ATL commentariat that, for what a New York Biglaw associate pays for his cramped studio apartment, one can buy a 3,500-square-foot wife house in Texas.)

But of course this is a limited, distorted view of the legal industry in Texas. Texas is a huge, diverse state with a relatively strong economy and a unique legal culture. Biglaw firms thrive in all three major cities, both local outposts of national firms, or more significantly, Texas-bred firms such as Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins. Our ATL Insider Survey (13,000+ responses and going strong, thanks), asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Texas stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…

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* This gem of a listing just showed up in the “legal/paralegal jobs” section of Craigslist. Be sure to send a “nude picture” with your résumé! Perhaps someone has been watching too many Maggie Gyllenhaal films. If it gets taken down a screenshot is here, and the klassy alternative picture in the listing is here. [Craigslist]

* From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department, Georgetown Law has figured out how to bilk taxpayers into covering the costs of increasing tuition. The federal government forgives law school debt for those in the public sector if they agree to make an income-based payment. Georgetown is covering those costs, passing it on to future students (who also won’t be paying it back), and then encouraging students to shelter income to guarantee the school comes out ahead. This is why we can’t have nice things. [Wonkblog / Washington Post]

* The always outspoken Judge Kopf shares his thoughts on Shon Hopwood’s selection as a clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Kopf sentenced Hopwood to 147 months in the 90s. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* A delightful “man bites dog” story: a bank didn’t read a customer’s amendments to a credit card application before issuing him a card and went to court whining about how hard it is to pay attention to the fine print. Boo hoo hoo. [The Telegraph]

* How to deal with your mistakes. This only applies to associates, though. Partners have two steps: (1) find an associate; (2) blame the associate. [Associate's Mind]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including their misreading of the Supreme Court’s precedent. [Election Law Blog]

* China is way serious about prosecuting corruption. [Legal Juice]

* The Mets muscle man whose comic inability to open a water bottle went viral on YouTube is actually a lawyer from White Plains. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, it’s after the jump. Watching the water bottle battle is the only excuse for subjecting yourself to a Royals-Mets game…

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On July 31, Above the Law hosted a well-attended panel discussion and networking reception in Houston at the St. Regis Hotel.

Katie Slater, founder of Career Infusion Coaching LLC, moderated a lively and thought-provoking discussion about what it takes to be a successful in-house attorney. Joining Katie:

  • Beth Walker, VP Business Development at Newhouse + Noblin
  • Michol Ecklund, Assistant General Counsel – International at Marathon Oil
  • Bruce Tatten, former General Counsel at Eaton Corporation
  • Michelle Grace, Associate General Counsel at Invesco Ltd.

This event, sponsored by Recommind, was a great opportunity for attendees to hear from legal leaders sharing their insights on legal success. Among the evening’s top takeaways:

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Why do law firms have a tendency to partake in racism despite — theoretically — understanding the laws that should discourage such behavior? Like “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop,” the world may never know.

In the meantime, ATL will be there to talk about it.

Like a law firm whose white management might hold an event for their black associates and serve fried chicken because… you know.

Racism. It’s a thing…

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As bar exam week wraps up, we have some delightful stories about how people celebrated the completion of what could be the last test they’ll ever take.

None of these stories are coming out of Massachusetts, which means that none of these people finished the bar while being harassed about their fundamental religious rights. Instead, we have stories about beer and (unrelated) car accidents.

But we’re going to start with the guy who left the bar exam in a limo, because clearly that’s the right thing to do…

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Howard Dean

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the legal wrangling: Eric Holder’s use of the VRA’s “bail in” provision to circumvent the SCOTUS ruling in Shelby may prove to be trouble. [National Law Journal]

* The Fifth Circuit upheld warrantless cellphone tracking yesterday, noting that it was “not per se unconstitutional.” We suppose that a per se victory for law enforcement is better than nothing. [New York Times]

* The pretty people at Davis Polk are fighting a $1.4 million suit over a headhunter’s fee with some pretty ugly words, alleging that the filing “fails both as a matter of law and common sense.” [Am Law Daily]

* Howard Dean is rather annoyed that he’s had to go on the defensive about his work for McKenna Long & Aldridge after railing against Obamacare. Ideally, he’d just like to scream and shout about it. [TIME]

* The ABA is concerned about Florida A&M, and sent a second warning about the school’s imminent failure to meet accreditation standards. Well, I’ll be damned, the ABA actually cares. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is suing to prevent a clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. A silly little lawsuit won’t stop this guy from doing what he thinks is right. [Legal Intelligencer]

Anthony Weiner, surprisingly not nude.

* Bernard Knight Jr., general counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be taking his intellectual property talents to McDermott Will & Emery as a new — and rather cute — partner. Congratulations! [Corporate Counsel]

* The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas man in a Monopoly money Bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately for him, the associated jail time for the crime isn’t virtual. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* When applying to law school, it’s wise to have a unique personal statement topic. But considering the application cycle, you could probably get away with writing “LOL” and still get into the school of your choice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Russia has granted NSA leaker Edward Snowden a pass to leave the Moscow airport’s transit zone. Be prepared to welcome borscht into your life, and be sure to always say spasibo. [Associated Press]

* Sorry folks, but Carlos Danger, more popularly known as Anthony Weiner, won’t be pulling out of the New York City mayoral race. I, for one, would love to see his AMAs on Reddit. [New York Times]

* It looks like Aaron Hernandez shot himself in the foot when lawyering up for a civil suit where he’s accused of shooting someone in the eye. His attorney specializes in banking litigation. [USA Today]

There are legitimate arguments that bar exams have a deleterious effect on the delivery of legal services. The presence of bar exams certainly artificially limits the supply of licensed attorneys, which is partially responsible for the lack of attorneys servicing low-income and impoverished clients. Certainly, the bar exam creates barriers to entry, which raises the cost of lawyer services. And, in conjunction with the ABA’s restrictive requirements, the fact that bar exam eligibility in many states is tied to ABA accreditation is one factor that allow law schools to charge exorbitant costs.

I’m generally a fan of bar exams, but there are reasonable arguments against them. But this guy who seems to be preparing to fail his second bar exam is not making one. He’s saying the bar exam in an unconstitutional restriction on his free speech.

I might have been more sympathetic if he called the bar an unconstitutional infliction of cruel and unusual punishment…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Texan Claims Bar Exam Is Unconstitutional — Which Kind Of Proves Why We Need Bar Exams”

See ya, professor!

* Since summer’s start, Patton Boggs has been leaking lawyers like a sieve. Thus far, 22 partners and 11 associates have defected from the firm to Holland & Knight, Jackson Lewis, Arent Fox, and WilmerHale. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Considering the deadly force choke American health care reform legislation has supposedly put on employers, perhaps more lawyers ought to consider becoming Jedi masters of the Affordable Care Act. [Daily Business Review]

* The new normal for the ivory tower: Law schools are tackling falling applications by “voluntarily” decreasing their class sizes, or by “voluntarily” offering faculty and staff buyouts. [Wall Street Journal]

* But look on the bright side, professors, the ABA wants to amend its accreditation standards to save your jobs and offer greater protections. Too bad its unwilling to do the same for students. [ABA Journal]

* If you’ve been swindling clients for long enough, the law school you donated money to will try to scrub your name off its walls. That is what’s happening now at IU-McKinney Law. [National Law Journal]

* If you want to go to law school, you should base your ultimate decision on your financial future and job prospects. You may be very sorry if you don’t. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Judge Tom Greenwell, the Texas jurist found dead in his chambers, RIP. [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]

* Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is leaving the cabinet to head the University of California system. That’s a natural transition because UC already treats its students like threats to national security. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Texas banning tampons from the Texas Capitol building in advance of abortion vote. Guns are still fine though. In the words of the inimitable Spencer Hall, “But what about a gun that FIRES tampons, Texas?” [Huffington Post]

* A lot of folks are anticipating Noel Canning, but if Harry Reid invokes the so-called “nuclear option” (fifth item), does that render the whole case moot? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Three years for stealing an iPhone from a child. I guess it’s like taking Candy (Crush) from a baby. [Law and More]

* If you stop to think about it, someone should totally have sued the camp from The Parent Trap (affiliate link). If for no other reason than the likelihood Lohan was dealing to all the other campers. [Crushable]

* An iOS app for creating semi-bespoke contracts. That’s cool, but I’ll stick to Temple Run, thanks. [Associate's Mind]

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