Women’s Issues

An LGBT group at a top law school is having a “neon party” this weekend. Posters promoting the event featured a scantily clad black woman with a pleasing backside. This poster has caused a kerfuffle… and I bet you can guess the law school.

Now, it doesn’t escape the notice of the black community when white gay men appropriate black female culture (or white women who have appropriated black culture) as “mascots.” But black people are pretty used to white people “stealing” their culture. White culture is like the Borg.

That said, there are real, honest-to-God racial issues in this country that need to be addressed. Gay men twerking is not one of them

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Judge Mark Fuller

* Judge Mark Fuller is back in the news, with Senator Richard Shelby leading a chorus of legislators calling for the judge to resign in light of his domestic violence arrest. [All In with Chris Hayes / MSNBC]

* Further fallout from Hobby Lobby: suborning child labor is free exercise. Hurray! [Time]

* It’s not just that female partners aren’t getting ahead of their male counterparts, they’re falling further behind. Probably not leaning in enough or whatever the latest insulting sound byte is. [The Careerist]

* After learning that Yale is going to start teaching basic financial literacy, more advice on managing student debt is cropping up. [Boston.com]

* A Nevada state judge checks out the other side of the bench, pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy rap. [Las Vegas Sun]

* Well there’s something I hadn’t thought of: classifying spankers as pedophiles for the purpose of custody hearings. [Law and More]

* This is an important life lesson kids: when you’re in a car, don’t light the driver on fire. [KTVB]

* Walking down the (very short) memory lane of Justice Scalia’s liberal moments. [Slate]

* More on Lateral.ly and its effort to replace headhunters. Basically it’s the Tinder of job hunting. [Washington Post]

* Suffolk seems to have given up on advertising to appeal to a false sense of local pride. So now a new law school has taken up that same banner…

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Today is Constitution Day. Today we celebrate a group of racist, white, male landowners finalizing a brilliant document that could be changed to overcome their parochial limitations.

I’m not the kind of guy to chestily proclaim that America is the greatest country on Earth, but I’ll put our organizing legal document up there with anyone’s. I’ve read a lot of constitutions (3L Comparative Constitutional Law finally paying off), and I’m always impressed by our document’s ability to allow for so many different and fractious opinions on how the country should operate. Whether or not you believe in a “living” constitution in the Brandies sense of the word, that our constitution is still alive is damn impressive. As written, our president and our presidential front-runner couldn’t even vote. Half the country went to WAR to get out of the constitution, and when they lost, we didn’t even say, “Okay, let’s start over so this never happens again.” We fixed the constitution after the Civil War, but we didn’t bother to fix the South. Amazingballs.

One of the main strengths of our constitution lies in its amendment process. The thing can be changed, quite easily actually, so long as everybody agrees. And it turns out that we don’t agree very much.

To honor this document, some of us at Above the Law wanted to look at the surprising instances since 1787 when we all agreed. The Bill of Rights doesn’t count. And the Civil War amendments don’t count because, well, we didn’t really all “agree” so much as half of us got their asses kicked and had to eat it. So let’s go with any amendment after the first 15. You could make a compelling case that American political thought can be explained by which of those first 15 Amendments are the most important to you or to your life (and if you read that and thought “the 8th,” I feel so goddamn sorry for you).

But while the latter amendments aren’t likely to show up on a 1L’s list of “amendments I know by number,” they define our modern polity almost as much as the first ten. Let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about our moddable constitution…

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Last year, St. Martin’s Press published The Partner Track, the debut novel of lawyer Helen Wan. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, I praised the book for being engaging, suspenseful, and — unlike so many legal novels — realistic. The paperback edition of The Partner Track became available last week.

I enjoy fiction about lawyers, as both a reader and writer — my own first novel comes out in a few weeks — and I’m deeply interested in how other writers work. So I interviewed Helen Wan about her book, her approach to writing, and how she managed to write a novel while holding down a demanding job as an in-house lawyer for Time Warner. I also asked for her advice on how women and minority lawyers can succeed in Biglaw.

Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.

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* Our columnist Steve Dykstra opines that Roger Goodell is not going to get fired over the Ray Rice investigation/non-investigation. But what we really want to know from Dykstra is his opinion on how badly the West is going to beat the East in this year’s Grey Cup. [Steven Dykstra]

* Apparently, we’ve been banned by Reddit. I think as editors we’ve posted on Reddit maybe 3 times in the last year, so it certainly isn’t our fault. Reddit notes “above the law will no longer be receiving traffic or page views from here,” which I guess is supposed to be a threat. Hey, don’t fault us just because our content is so good. *cue unimaginative trolling* [Reddit]

* A discussion of gutless women. [The Careerist / The American Lawyer]

* MGM might lose the rights to a pair of Clint Eastwood classics. Specifically, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, and Last Tango in Paris. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

* The winner of the Hofstra Law School Mystery Short Story Contest is “A Prisoner of Time” by Lucian E. Dervan. That sounds like a 1980s Doctor Who episode. [Mulholland Books]

* Beau Brindley pleads not guilty to telling a witness to lie. So, that case is moving right along. [My Fox Chicago]

* Vermont Law School cites children’s story books. [Law School Lemmings]

* D.C. lawyer Jacob McDermott is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for LiveStrong. Check out his donation site. [LiveStrong]

I get it, Uber can be sketchy. There would seem to be a market opportunity for the new car service called “SheRides” (in New York City) or “SheTaxis” (in Westchester). The company will offer all female drivers for only female clients…

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Ed note: Stat of the Week is a new feature that pulls custom data points from ATL Research as well as noteworthy sources across the web.

Which Am Law 50 firm has the highest percentage of women partners?

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The statistics don’t lie. There is approximately a 50/50 split between men and women who graduate from law school and obtain entry-level associate positions at firms. However, many more women end up leaving after a few years and either never return to the firm environment or return to practicing law at all. We can point to a myriad of reasons, both personal to each woman and systemic of the general firm structure, but the bottom line is that women lawyers are a group that could use assistance in getting back into law.

Enter the OnRamp Fellowship. Founded by Caren Ulrich Stacey, the Fellowship is a re-entry platform that allows experienced, talented lawyers to return to the work force through a one-year, paid training contract. This platform allows lawyers to renew and increase their legal skills, while getting a resume boost that will help transition them to the next position at the same or different law firm. The Fellowship also provides lawyers with the opportunity to make valuable networking contacts and obtain professional references.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

* Robert Manfred Jr., formerly a partner of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, is now the commissioner of Major League Baseball, and he beat out another former Biglaw buddy from Kelley Drye & Warren to snag the job. [Am Law Daily]

* “My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.” Michele Roberts is the first lady to lead the NBAPU, and you don’t want to mess with her. [New York Times]

* In case you haven’t heard by now, Governor Rick Perry was indicted on Friday on felony charges of abusing his power in office. Aww, poor guy. Not for nothing, but we can’t wait to see his mug shot. [New York Times]

* Quinnipiac Law has a new building that cost $50 million, and it’s designed to hold between 400 and 500 students. With only 292 students currently enrolled, that’s a lot of wishful thinking. [New Haven Register]

* “This is a lawsuit against the lawyers for being lawyers, for doing what lawyers do.” It also seems to be a lawsuit that’s allegedly about sex, lies, illegal video tapes… and Waffle House. [Daily Report (reg. req.)]

This week, a Texas campaign ad and a Pennsylvania death penalty appeal each illustrate what happens when lawyers lose sight of for what — and whom — they claim to be working.
Wendy Davis, in the final throes of her Texas gubernatorial race against Attorney General Greg Abbott, launched a controversial campaign ad a few days ago. The ad accuses Abbott of “siding with a corporation over a rape victim,” spotlighting a 1998 Supreme Court of Texas case brought by a woman seeking damages from a vacuum manufacturer after a door-to-door salesman of the vacuums allegedly raped her in her home. A background check should have revealed that the man had a criminal history. Abbott was then a justice on the Texas court. He dissented from the majority’s decision in favor of the woman. Davis’s ad ignited heated debate, with even her supporters questioning the propriety of the ad. Abbott’s campaign called the ad “despicable.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the United States Supreme Court on Monday issued a highly unusual order in a Pennsylvania death penalty case. The Court asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board to investigate and take appropriate actions against Marc Bookman, an attorney who filed a petition for review of Michael Eric Ballard’s death sentence. Ballard slaughtered four people in 2010: his former girlfriend, her father, her grandfather, and a neighbor who tried to help the family when he heard screams coming from the home. Ballard was sentenced to death in 2011. In November 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the sentence. On June 23 of this year, SCOTUS denied Bookman’s petition to review Ballard’s case, but the Court then ordered Bookman to file additional responses about his relationship to Ballard. Apparently not satisfied by Bookman’s replies, the Court referred the case to the state disciplinary authority.

So, what’s the problem in either of these situations? Why the controversy? And what do they have in common?

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