Too Clever By Half

It was only a matter of time.

SMU Dedman School of Law is now officially willing to pay law firms to hire its graduates. The school is calling its new program “Test Drive,” which adds a nice layer of hilarity: Toyota wouldn’t pay me to test drive a Camry.

Even the logo for this program screams sadness:

Let’s look at the blast email from SMU career services…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SMU Will Pay You To Hire Their Graduates”

DePaul Law School De Paul University College of Law Above the Law blog.jpgIf you’re looking to buy someone a belated holiday gift, and have $100,000 to spare — perhaps you’re a senior associate in New York who just earned $110,000 or $115,000 in year-end and special bonuses — check out this item, currently up for bids on eBay:

So America… just how much is an education worth? Let’s find out. Up for sale is my law degree. Yes, you read correctly. Three years and $100,000 plus of debt for your pleasure. Please note that I am in no way claiming that by purchasing this degree you will be given credit for having attended an accredited law school and completing its course of study nor will it give you the necessary credentials to take the bar exam. You will not be able to become a lawyer by purchasing this degree. However this would make a great collectible if your name happens to be [redacted].

Why am I selling this great item? Because it has been nothing but a curse and aggrevation in my life. Going to school for this degree has been a joke, and has only brought me stress and misery. This degree has been a great invitation to work at least 60 hours a week at a place where I don’t want to be for people that I don’t care about. It has helped me develop great relationships with bill collectors as I can’t afford the cost this great privilege has afforded me. It has limited my abiltity to pursue other work options as people just can’t understand why someone with a law degree wouldn’t want to be a lawyer. Believe it or not, the extensive job dissatisfaction amongst lawyers, high suicide rates, and failed personal relationships that lawyers have isn’t enough to convince others that it’s not a healthy, worthy pursuit. And of course even if I would be happier as a bartender, I couldn’t afford to pay back the loans needed to earn this degree. Though that’s true of many that I graduated with. Individuals that wanted to practice law for the benefit of the poor or impoverished or those who can’t afford legal counsel are having a hard time too because they aren’t paid enough. But that’s justice.

And that’s just the start of it. Read the full lament cum listing by clicking here.
But why should you buy this law degree for $100,000? Justice Clarence Thomas might sell you his Yale Law School degree for fifteen cents.
As for what motivated the seller to put up this listing, it appears to be an attempt to promote an adult entertainment site that he’s launched. We won’t include a link to it here because obviously it is NSFW (and the woman splashed all over the site is no Kumari Fulbright).
The conventional wisdom is true: there are a million things you can do with a law degree.
My Law Degree [eBay]
Justice Says Law Degree ‘Worth 15 Cents’ [AP via Huffington Post]

Brian Valery Brian T Valery Bryan Valery Bryan T Valery Brian Valerie.JPGBack in November, we named Brian Valery an ATL Lawyer Paralegal of the Day. The enterprising and ingenious Mr. Valery, who had neither attended law school nor taken the bar exam, successfully posed as a lawyer for two years. He “practiced” at Anderson Kill in New York.
Here’s the latest news about Brian Valery:

A man who prosecutors said had been representing clients of a prominent New York law firm for two years was arrested here on Wednesday and charged with impersonating a lawyer, state prosecutors said.

The man, Brian T. Valery, 32, of Massapequa Park, N.Y., surrendered to the authorities and was charged with perjury, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and practicing law without being a lawyer, a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of two months, according to David I. Cohen, the state’s attorney for the judicial district.

Some people say that bar admission is just a racket designed to keep the number of practicing lawyers down (and the salaries of those lawyers up). If so, then admitted lawyers should take comfort in the fact that this racket is supported by criminal sanctions. Have fun in prison, Brian!
(A jailhouse grooming tip: You have a boyish face, Brian, so keep that beard. Then maybe you won’t be picked as someone’s bitch.)
Law Firm Employee Is Accused of Posing as Lawyer in Court [New York Times via WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Lawyer Paralegal of the Day: Brian T. Valery

stack of bills cash money.jpgYesterday we requested tips from you about associate bonuses: leaked bonus memos, juicy rumors, etc. Please send this information to us by email, to tips AT abovethelaw DOT com (subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch”).
Please send us tips that you believe in good faith to be true. Because if you send us stuff that’s fake, we’ll find that out when we do our fact-checking.
Take the supposed “bonus memo” of Milbank Tweed. It was purportedly sent out by Christine Wagner, Milbank’s director of legal personnel.
We contacted Ms. Wagner by email. Here’s her response:

From: Wagner, Christine
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 10:27 PM
To: David Lat
Subject: RE: Milbank “bonus memo”

It is not authentic. No such memo has been issued.

Don’t f*** with us, fellas. This ain’t our first time at the rodeo.
Update: Looking for the REAL Milbank Tweed bonus memo, issued on Friday, December 8? To view it, click here.
Memorable Quotes from Mommie Dearest [IMDb]
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: The Milbank Memo Is Fake
Welcome to ATL Associate Bonus Watch

stack of bills cash money.jpgWe tend to think that fact-checking is overrated. But sometimes it pays dividends.
This afternoon, a document purporting to be a Milbank Tweed bonus memo appeared on the oh-so-reliable message board of, aka xoxohth. It sparked frenzied discussion at both AutoAdmit and Greedy Associates.
We checked with our sources at Milbank. The “bonus memo” is phony. But we give the prankster credit for decent execution.
Update: Looking for the REAL Milbank Tweed bonus memo, issued on Friday, December 8? To view it, click here.
In case you’d like to see the fake “bonus memo,” in all of its fraudulent glory, we reprint it for you after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: The Milbank Memo Is Fake”

dan markel and wendi adelson.jpg–Ah, so Goulston & Storrs is going to China.* [WSJ Law Blog]
–Our Legal Eagle Wedding Watch is already generating controversy — see this post (and the comments). But Dan Markel — at right, with Wendi Adelson, his lovely wife — isn’t impartial when it comes to the NYT wedding pages.** [PrawfsBlawg]
–Yes, ATL will weigh in at some point on the controversy over diversity, Supreme Court clerks, and the relatively small number of women in this Term’s group of SCOTUS clerks. [Slate and Concurring Opinions, via SCOTUSblog]
But not on the Friday before Labor Day. Enjoy the holiday, everyone!
* We can make this lame, insensitive, politically incorrect pun, ’cause we’re Asian ourselves. And it’s hard out here for an Asian male. We’re the one demographic group that’s never en vogue — unlike, say, Asian women, or African-American men. So please, allow us the small pleasures.
** Disclosure: We went to college with Dan, worked on the school newspaper with him, and are friends with him. Hell, we’re pals with like three-quarters of the people we link to, write about, etc. The law: it’s a small world after all.
So please assume that everything you read here is potentially tainted with some kind of undisclosed conflict. Actual mileage may vary. Personal-injury lawyers in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are. Thank you.

above the law logo.JPGBack when we practiced law, and we’d tell people what we did for a living, they’d have different reactions. Sometimes they’d say “Oh, really?”, in an impressed, you-must-make-six-figures sort of way. But sometimes their eyes would glaze over — and they’d excuse themselves to go refill their drinks.

Why? Because many people think that lawyers are boring. And sometimes it seems that the more lawyers people know, the more likely they are to think this.

It’s true that many areas of law — and yes, many lawyers — are painfully boring. But the legal profession can also be gossipy, wacky, frivolous, and fun. And this is where we come in. We are Above the Law, and we’re here to make the law entertaining — or get RSI tryin’.

Above the Law will be defined less by specific subjects within the law and more by tone or worldview (Weltanschauung, if you will; and you will, ’cause you’re pretentious). We’ll write about all things legal — law firms, judges, law schools, cases — as long as we have something mildly amusing, or at least obnoxious,* to say about them.

Blog ipsa loquitur. Here are some features you’ll find in these pages (and our extensive archives):

1. Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. We review the New York Times wedding announcements each week, pick out some couples with lawyers, and score them — on their résumés, families, balance, and beauty (if pictured). Then we calculate overall scores and declare a winner. FUN! (We’ve been at this for a few weeks now; click here and scroll down for the Wedding Watch archives.)

2. Lawyerly Lairs. Real estate and shelter porn for the J.D. set. We take you inside the lavish homes and resplendent offices of America’s top lawyers and judges. Don’t blame us if your keyboard ends up covered in drool. (Previously covered: Greta Van Susteren and John Coale’s New York digs.)

3. The Eyes of the Law: Legal Celebrity Sightings. When you called your sister from Starbucks, in a tizzy after seeing Ted Olson, she asked: “What about Mary-Kate and Ashley?” But don’t despair; we understand.

4. Advice for the Lawlame. We take the painfully earnest questions submitted to the popular career advice columns at — and offer up responses of our own (examples here and here).

5. Hotties Contests. And lots of ‘em. You get to vote on the hottest judges, law professors, and legal journalists — among many others. (First up: ERISA lawyers. Don’t say we didn’t warn you — NSFW!!!)

This is just the beginning. But we can’t do it all on our own; we need your help. Please send us juicy gossip, salacious rumors, and brilliant story ideas, by email (to tips AT abovethelaw DOT com).

We may reprint or write about what you send us, but we’ll keep you anonymous. If we’d like to attribute anything to you by name, we’ll obtain your consent. If you’d like to tell us something completely off the record, that’s fine too — just make that clear when you contact us.

Enough lawyerly caveats; billable time is a wastin’. How long will it take before somebody sues us? Let’s find out!**

* Back when we were in the third grade, a classmate’s parent — who was chaperoning us on a field trip — told us we were “obnoxious.” We should have known, right then and there, that we were destined for the blogosphere.

** This is a joke. We would never publish anything with knowledge of its falsity, or with reckless disregard as to its truth.

kweku b hanson mugshot.jpgWe’ve already named William DiSalvatore our Lawyer of the Day, so that award is off the table. But if DiSalvatore hadn’t already grabbed the laurels, Kweku Hanson, of Hartford, Connecticut, would have been a deserving winner. Here’s why:

Sexual assault and child pornography charges pending against Hartford attorney Kweku J. Hanson aren’t enough to warrant the interim suspension of his law license. At least not in Hartford Superior Court Judge Lois B. Tanzer’s view.

Okay, fine, Hanson has only been charged, not convicted. Innocent until proven guilty, blah blah blah. But we couldn’t help noticing certain salacious details. Check ‘em out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s a Little Kiddie Porn Between Friends?”

road rage.jpgLawyers aren’t that different from the rest of the country — or, for that matter, from characters on Melrose Place (may it rest in peace). When their hearts get broken, they do some pretty crazy and stupid things.
We recently reported on a former New York litigator who forged a judge’s signature after a messy divorce. And now a Baltimore litigator, to avoid getting served with divorce papers, rammed his car into the process server:

Barron Stroud Jr., a commercial litigator, had just dropped off his daughter at a Clarksville, Md., daycare center last Aug. 11 when process server James Benjamin approached his car. Benjamin told police he knocked on the driver’s window, but Stroud ignored him. Benjamin said he then moved in front of the car and banged on the hood, when Stroud drove forward, hitting him in the legs. Benjamin said he took a step back, and Stroud drove into him again before fleeing the scene.

According to The Sun of Baltimore, Howard County Circuit Court Judge Lenore Gelfman said that because Stroud was in the midst of a breakup with his wife at the time, he must have known why someone was so aggressively seeking his attention; otherwise, he would have called police or stopped to find out why a man was banging on his car. He will be sentenced in October.

While we obviously can’t condone such violence, we can’t help but admire Stroud’s lawyerly chutzpah. Trying to avoid service of process by running over the process server is kinda awful, but kinda brilliant.
Inadmissible [New Jersey Law Journal]