Blind! Drunk! Justice!

Posted in Blind Drunk Justice, News on August 23rd, 2010 by bl1y

Welcome to the pilot episode of America’s newest and greatest legal news, gossip, and commentary podcast, Blind Drunk Justice, starring The Namby Pamby and yours truly.

Blind Drunk Justice – Test Show

This week (well, technically last Thursday) we discuss whether young lawyers are useless, the best value law schools, ABA plans to accredit foreign law schools, the greatest fictional lawyers (snubbed by the ABA Journal), and the boilerplate crap you put in client e-mails.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the show, I may actually read them.  And also, for more updates be sure to follow the show on Twitter.

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Noon-Thirty News 08/19/10

Posted in News on August 19th, 2010 by bl1y

ABA Want Moar Fail!
[Law.com]

The ABA’s Council of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will be considering whether the ABA ought to expand accreditation to foreign law schools.  While this will certainly increase competition for American lawyers and make the employment situation here a lot worse, the capitalist in me says if the schools are up to snuff, they should be accredited.

But, the realist in me says that the ABA has done such a piss-poor job of ensuring quality among accredited schools that they ought not to be organization doing it, abroad or at home.

Breaking Up is Harder to Do, But What About Flaking on the First Date?
[Law.com]

Sarah Martinez, a class of 2008 grad who was supposed to start at Howard Rice before the recession hit found herself with an offer deferred, and now rescinded.  Unlike most people who just packed up their bindle and hit the rails, she’s decided to sue.

The first reaction to a breach of contract claim would be that she’s an at will employee, and the firm can dump her whenever they want.  But, then what does an offer mean?  She wasn’t fired at will, the offer of employment was rescinded after it had been accepted.  Classic breach of contract. Trouble is proving damages for an at will employee. Can’t really argue lost wages, though there’s probably some legitimate damages based on a reasonable failure to seek other employment and perhaps moving expenses.  Hopefully the case will go to trial, because this could create a really interesting opinion.

Oh, and also she’s suing because after she was deferred the firm allegedly went on to hire several other white male associates. Martinez is a latina.

10 Greatest Overlooked Fictional Lawyers
[Bitter Lawyer]

This month’s ABA Journal featured the top 25 fictional attorneys who are not Atticus Finch.  I thought the list was a little lacking, so jog on over to Bitter Lawyer and read my top 10 fictional attorneys overlooked by the ABA.  I mean come on, She Hulk is better than Ally McBeal, right?

And just to turn this in to a teachable moment, the ABA’s list of 25 included only 2 women and no racial minorities.  My list of 10 managed to squeeze in 2 black men, and 2 women (one of whom is green), without trying to stack the deck and without including Claire Huxtable (Uncle Phil bumped her from the list, call it a Gen Y thing).

Dr. Laura v. Mr. Nigga

[CNN]

Just as a sign of solidarity with the now defunct Dr. Laura, yes, if you turn on an HBO comedy special with a black male comic, you will hear a lot of “nigger, nigger, nigger.”  If you have a problem with that, complain about the comics, not Dr. Laura.

NSFW

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Noon-Thirty News 08/05/10

Posted in News on August 5th, 2010 by bl1y

How Not to Respond to Racial Discrimination

[Associated Press]

The family of Omar Thornton, the man who went on a shooting spree at Hartford Distributors (a beer distribution facility), is claiming that racial bias caused Omar to snap.

Thornton had said he found a picture of a noose and a racial epithet written on a bathroom wall [...]

Brett Hollander, whose family owns the distributor, denied any racial bias. And a union official said Thornton had not filed a complaint of racism with the union or any government agency.

The more immediate cause of the murders seems to be that Omar Thornton was confronted with video of him stealing beer. He pulled the gun after being forced to sign a letter of resignation.

Before turning the gun on himself after being cornered by the police, Thornton said:

I killed the five racists that was there that was bothering me. The cops are going to come in so I am going to take care of myself.

Thornton’s shooting spree left 8 dead and two others injured.

For those of you who want to have one (or eight) in memory of the victims, Hartford Distributors handles Heineken (but not Grolsch), Amstel Light, Bohemia, Sol, Carta Blanca, Tecate, and Dos Equis.

Harvard Grad King of Nail Fungus

[Hunterdon Democrat]

Harvard Law graduate Jeff Treut has found a very unusual alternative career path.  He’s in the process of launching a home-made foot fungus remedy.

Pretty soon law school admissions offices will be telling 0Ls that you can do anything with a law degree, including becoming a chemist or pharmaceutical mogul.

Breaking: Lawyer Retires

[Chicago Tribune]

Well respected Cook County prosecutor Colin Simpson is calling it quits after 40 years of service, which included lawyerly tasks such as answering the offices phones, making coffee, and fixing the copy machine.

Though unconfirmed, this is perhaps the first legitimate retirement of a lawyer in the last decade, not counting dismissals and being shoved out the door.  There may be hope for the younger generation yet.

Just kidding, you’ll probably work until you die.

Supreme Court Blah Blah Blah

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Congress looks like it may pass a law requiring the Supreme Court to let in video cameras.  But, the Supreme Court is likely to strike down the law on a separation of powers doctrine.  End of story.

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Noon-Thirty News 08/04/10

Posted in News on August 4th, 2010 by bl1y

You’ve Got Quite a Treasure in that Horadric Lawsuit

[Los Angeles Times]

Back in 2007, Cynthia Madvig filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bobby Kotick, CEO of the video game empire Activision Blizzard, creator of immensely popular titles such as Warcraft, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo.  She stated early on she was willing to settle the case for $200,000-400,000.  Kotick wanted to fight.  And, he got stuck with a legal bill for over $1 million, and didn’t want to pay.

He ended up in arbitration over the bill and lost, with the arbitrator awarding attorney Patricia Glaser $938,458 in legal fees.  But, the arbitrator didn’t stop there, awarding an additional $479,898 in fees to Glaser for expenses related to the arbitration, even though the arbitrator found that Kotick owed 10-15% less than what Glaser had billed.

lolwut?  This could create a whole new model for legal billing.  Either pray your clients dispute the bill, or pad it enough that they have to.  Then, go into arbitration, and any amount that your bill is reduced will be more than offset by the fees the client has to pay for arbitrating.  Freaking genius.

Sex on Car = Two Month Suspension

[ABA Journal]

Wisconsin attorneys Stephan Addison and Benjamin Butler were given respectively 60 and 30 day suspicions resulting from their plea arrangements that landed them in jail for reckless endangerment and sexual gratification in public.

The two men had been at a bar late one night where they met a woman who offered to drive them home, they had sex on the roof of the car out at a dock, yadda yadda yadda, they’re being prosecuted for rape.  There’s not a lot of information about the investigation, but it appears the prosecutor had little to go on other than he said – she said.

Assuming the suspensions were based on what the two men actually plead to, and not merely the accusations (the rape accusation is not mentioned in the disciplinary report), this seems pretty steep.  They basically got a 1 and 2 month suspension for having sex in a public, though secluded place at night.

I’ve done that.  Don’t really see how it would affect my fitness as an attorney.

Paralegal Sues Lover-Boss for Sexual Harassment, Loses $1.55MM

[Law.com]

Attorney Thomas Ostley was accused of sexual harassment by Allison Moreno, a paralegal he had a sexual relationship with that went awry.  In return, Ostley sued Moreno for defamation and won a $1.55 million award and the jury is still out on awarding punitive damages against Moreno.

Oh snap!

One tiny little detail though… Where is a paralegal going to find $1.55 million?  Ostley had better hire her back and give her a raise if he ever wants to see a dime of that money.

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Noon-Thirty News 08/03/10

Posted in News on August 3rd, 2010 by bl1y

Bike Stealing Burglar Sues Victim

[St. Petersburg Times]

For those of you suffering Bar Exam Withdrawal:

One October day in 2007, a homeless man broke into a car and stole a bike. He didn’t get very far. Within minutes, that man, Michael Dupree, was caught trying to sell the bike down the street.

[...] Anthony McKoy and the other men jumped him, pointed a gun at him, placed a knee painfully on his spine and handcuffed him. Dupree claims in his suit, which he filed without a lawyer, that the take-down “resulted in permanent disabilities and psychological disorders which the Plaintiff continues to suffer.”

Discuss.

100% Offer Rates, 0% Reliable Good News

[Above the Law]

ATL is reporting that 5 big law firms have given 100% offer rates to their summer classes.  Sounds like good news, but I wouldn’t be jumping up and down just yet.

First, the 5 firms represent only a total of 150 offers, with most of them coming from a single firm, Ropes and Gray, which gave 82 offers.  It’s really no surprise that offer rates are so high; law firms scaled back their summer programs in anticipation of not having many spots available.  All this means is that firms believe they have scaled back to the right amount, or possibly less than what they need.

But, the bigger reason to not break out the bubbly just yet is remembering what happened the last time law firms gave out offers in the 90-100% range.  They ended up rescinding offers, deferring incoming associates, and laying people off in their first year.  Law firm managers are not particularly great at predicting economic trends, and there’s little reason to think optimistic law firm hiring will really mean there’s more legal work on the horizon.  Douple dip recession and those 100% offer rates will mean bubkes.

FBI vs. Wikipedia

[New York Times]

The FBI sent a letter to Wikipedia demanding that it take down the image of the FBI logo that appears on the FBI wiki entry.  The FBI cited a law that prohibits the use of the the seal, but Wikipedia contends that the law is aimed only at preventing people from committing fraud or impersonating an FBI officer.  The use of the image on the Wikipedia article is clearly not intended to make it look like the page is endorsed by the FBI or an official FBI website.

The New York times agrees, displaying the image alongside their coverage of the story, and I think they’re right.  If you’re bored, feel free to discuss whether the FBI could bring a copyright infringement suit for use of the official government logo.

You Know When It’s Steal

[St. Louis Today via Dumb as a Blog]

Robbing a fast food restaurant through the drive-thru seems like a pretty decent plan, as far as robberies go.  You’re already in the get away vehicle.

But, calling back to complain about your measly haul ($586) is pretty dumb.  Especially when you call to complain twice.  The article didn’t specify if the man was caught (and no name appears, so he probably wasn’t), but hasn’t this guy ever heard of caller ID?  Even if he used a payphone or other untraceable number, do you really want to make sure the employees know exactly what your voice sounds like?  Take your $586, buy yourself 2930 cripsy chicken nuggets, and call it a day.

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Noon-Thirty News 08/02/10

Posted in News on August 2nd, 2010 by bl1y

Bar exam is done, hangover has subsided, all that’s left is the MPRE (lol) and getting your daily news fix restored.

Breaking: Junior Associates Not That Valuable

[ABA Journal]

A new podcast from the ABA Journal discusses the value of junior associates in large law firms.  No surprise, their billing rates are too high and their skill levels too low.  Everyone who is feeling the pressure of the recession (ie: everyone) is looking at ways to get more bang for their buck, and that’s going to mean much less demand for junior associate work:

I was at a group of general counsel oh about a month ago and the question was asked how many of you give instructions to reduce or eliminate the use of junior associates and about half the people raised their hand in the room.

Recession, meet Longevity.

Philadelphia Lawyer Busted for Growing Pot

[420 Magazine]

Attorney Richard K. Creamer was busted for conspiracy to manufacture and sell marijuana after police raided a 1600-plant indoor farm in Philadelphia that produced 15-22 pounds of high quality marijuana a month, with an estimated retail price of $5000-$5500 per pound.

Now, by “Philadelphia Lawyer” I don’t mean THE Philadelphia Lawyer of Happy Hour is for Amateurs fame.  But…I mean…come on.  It’s him, right?

This Little Piggy Went to Law School

[The Careerist]

The Careerist asks whether women professionals risk losing credibility and respect by exposing their toes in the office.

Perhaps the best advice comes from my law school bud, Jennifer, who says it’s the “overall presentation” that counts. “If the whole outfit is too casual or provocative, then that translates to ‘unprofessional,’” she says. “If the clothing is tasteful and the shoes match, then I think it’s acceptable.” Her caution: “Keep those feet well-groomed!”  And remember: “No one wears sandal-foot panty hose anymore–the horror!”

Hey, wow, a female law grad with some good sense when it comes to fashion.  No doubt she is married and has either “opted out” or is on “flex time” by now.  Good for her.

And the the answer is correct.  If you’re otherwise dressed professionally, no one is going to notice your shoes.  But, if your skirt is four inches too short and your cleavage is bursting out, likewise, no one is going to notice your shoes.

They See Me Deposin’, They Hatin’, They Try to Catch Me Lawyerin’ Dirty

[ABA Journal]

In a deposition with DuPont’s lawyers in a case involving something about harm to crops and fungicide or something that’s only interesting if you sit in a law office all day and are starved for entertainment, attorney Robert Joseph Ratiner made a display of how one ought not to behave.

According to an opinion from the Florida Supreme Court:

During the course of the deposition, [opposing counsel] attempted to place an exhibit sticker on the Respondent’s laptop computer.

Just prior to [opposing counsel’s] attempting to place the exhibit sticker on the computer, the Respondent was standing up and speaking forcefully towards [opposing counsel].

As soon as [opposing counsel] attempted to place the exhibit sticker on the computer, the Respondent very briefly touched [opposing counsel’s] hand, then attempted to run around the table towards [him].

Additionally, the [deponent] expressed that she was very scared as a result of the Respondent’s conduct. The Respondent’s own consultant had to attempt to calm the Respondent down and specifically told the Respondent to ―take a Xanax.

Further, while the Respondent was acting as described above, the court reporter stated, ―I can’t work like this!

Respondent then proceeded to forcefully lean over the deposition table, lambast [opposing counsel] in a tirade while proceeding to tear up the evidence sticker, wad it up and flick or toss it in the direction of [opposing counsel].

The Florida Supreme Court dropped the boot on Ratiner, giving him a 60 day suspension, and requiring him to write letters of apology to those present at the deposition and attend mental health counseling.

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Noon-Thirty News 07/14/10

Posted in News on July 14th, 2010 by bl1y

Breaking: Fruit Roll-Ups are Made of Sugar
[Reuters]

Payton McClure, some random nutcase, is suing General Mills, claiming that Fruit Roll-Ups are unhealthy and that the advertisements for them are “false and misleading” because the products contain partially hydrogenated oil.

‘Nuff said.

Land of a Thousand Resumes
[Huffington Post]

After graduating from an unnamed “top tier” law school and working in the business for 23 years, Laurie-Ellen Shumaker has found herself laid off, and after sending over 1000 resumes, including applications for positions as a secretary or day care worker, she has failed to receive a single interview.

Interviews are like seeking unicorns. I’ve even gotten a status update on two different jobs saying I’m the best qualified, but then I never hear anything after that.

Shit like this makes you want to pair your lunch with a couple stiff drinks.  …Don’t mind if I do, actually.

Former Judge Lays Into Law Schools
[Bitter Lawyer]

A former judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has laid into the legal education industry:

I attended a top-25 law school (Boston University) and graduated in 1977. My third-year tuition was $7500, and most law jobs paid around $35-40000 per year at that time. BigLaw paid, if I recall, around $60000. Thirty years later, tuition is around $40000, roughly a 550% increase. BigLaw jobs now pay around $160000, a 250% increase, but most law jobs outside BigLaw, pay around $60000, a less than 75% increase.

Cold, hard numbers, and pretty hard to argue with.  Should be something good for law school administrators to plan a meeting contemplating the implementation of action steps refrigerator.

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Noon-Thirty News 07/13/10

Posted in News on July 13th, 2010 by bl1y

If a Gauntlet is Thrown in the Middle of a Forest, Does it Make a Sound?

[Law School Transparency Blog]

Law School Transparency, a non-profit created by two attorneys in Tennessee, has issued a demand to every ABA accredited and provisionally accredited school:

Starting with the Class of 2010, we request that your school report to LST two lists with data about every graduate as of February 15, 2011.

[...] If you decide not to commit to disclosing according to the LST Standard, we respectfully request that you provide your reasons for declining to disclose. We recognize that not all schools will share our view that there is a need for greater transparency. If your school disagrees with our position, we would like to have an open, on-the-record dialogue to debate the merits of our respective positions.

Nice to see people taking real efforts to get better information out to law school hopefuls, rather than the endless committees and water cooler talk that seems to be all the ABA or law professors can muster.  But, it’s doubtful many law schools will respond at all, and I’m guessing most of the responses will be in the form of “We are not participating.”

Free For All in Oakland

[NBC Bay Area]

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts has announced that barring a last minute deal, he will have to lay off 80 police officers and the reduction in force will require police to stop responding to certain types of calls.  Among the crimes the police will no longer be responding to are Grand Theft: Dog, Embezzlement, Unauthorized Cable Television Connection, Burglary, and Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.

Most of these make sense for what to cut.  They’re crimes that can be dealt with after the police force is restored and don’t need immediate attention.  (If you’re reporting a burglary in progress, police could still respond to the crime the burglar intends to commit inside.)  What’s most surprising is that police will not be responding to vehicle collisions.

I assume emergency medical responders would still show up if there was an injury reported.  But, you still need police reports for insurance purposes, and police to direct traffic around the accident.  Hopefully Oakland will get its shit together, but in the meantime, use this opportunity to commit crimes and hope that enough evidence will be lost before police get around to investigating.

Bow Chicka Wow Wow

[TMZ]

If you filmed a porno where at any point you lip-synced along with a song, expect the record labels to crack down on you for copyright infringement.  Warner Bros., Eleketra, Atlantic, Bad Boy and others have filed a lawsuit against RK Netmedia and RealityKings.com for unlicensed use of their songs, with Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack at the forefront of the legal challenges.

I’ll be sure to warn the cam whores I watch on a daily basis.

Wilmer Fail

[Above the Law]

Wilmer Hale has announced a new compensation scheme that puts more of an associate’s potential earnings into bonuses rather than base salary.  This effectively accomplishes three things.  First, it makes attorney income less secure, which sucks when you have loans to pay.  Second, it delays payment, meaning you accrue more interest on your loans before getting to pay them down, and can’t accumulate interest if you would have banked the money.  And third, it allows Wilmer Hale to disguise an overall drop in compensation.

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Noon-Thirty News 07/12/10

Posted in News on July 12th, 2010 by bl1y

Applications Up, Applicant IQs Down

[Law.com]

Despite the legal sector shedding 22,000 jobs in the last year, perhaps the same number the year before, and showing no sign of recovery, law school applications are up.

The total number of applicants has risen 3% with the number of applications up 7%.  So, not are only the 0Ls incapable of reading the writing on the wall and recognizing that a law degree is a terrible idea, they seem more desperate to get in wherever will take them.  Hopefully, though, the increase in how many schools people are applying to may just mean more students are looking for scholarships from lower ranked schools.  But, the 13% rise in applications to Yale suggests otherwise.

You May Masturbate to this Picture

[NY Daily News]

Model Irina Krupnik wasn’t happy when one of her pictures made its way into the film Couple’s Retreat.  In the film, her picture is used by a character as a masturbatory aid.  She sued NBC Universal for using her picture in a vulgar context, and lost, because that’s what happens when you sign a release and give up control over how your pictures are going to be used.

Also, what does she think usually happens to her pictures?  You can’t sue because a movie acknowledges what we all know.  Just be happy you make a lot of money for being pretty.

FMMBE

[New York Times via ABA Journal]

So…apparently a lot of states have been striking down the Rule Against Perpetuities.  Boston College Law Professor Ray Madoff explains:

Now any wealthy American can set property aside for his heirs forever, simply by hiring a trustee from one of these states. The change has fueled the growth in dynasty trusts that benefit generations in perpetuity, “truly creating an American aristocracy.

An ordinary trust dissipates as money is distributed to the beneficiaries.  But a dynasty trust can avoid this by discouraging outright distributions and instead encouraging trustees to buy, for the use of the beneficiaries, things like houses, artwork, airplanes and even businesses. Because the trust retains ownership, the assets can pass tax-free and creditor-proof to the next generation.

One question…how will this affect the multistate portion of the bar exam?

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Noon-And-Three-Quarters News 07/08/10

Posted in News on July 8th, 2010 by bl1y

“You have my sword.” “And my bow.” “And my book of business.”
[National Law Journal via ABA Journal]

Gregory Evans, a partner at Milbank, is leaving over a growing distaste for the firm’s “profit model” (which likely means he was non-equity partner doing a lot of work, but not sharing in profits), but he won’t be going alone:

Greg can pretty much go anywhere to practice law and we will follow him. It’s all about Greg and his abilities, not the fancy firm and its high prices. In our environmental cases, we need people like Greg who put us first and get us the best results. Often, big firms just seem to get in the way of this kind of extremely valuable relationship.

Who’s the client Evans is taking with him in his Jerry McGuire like departure?  Sherwin-Williams.  Not a bad book of business for a one-man shop.

AbovetheLaw.com has a similar story, with a laid off associate seeking revenge by aggressively going after his old firm’s clients, and winning several of them by offering much cheaper rates, Michael Scott Paper Company style.

SEC Tries to Recruit LeBron James
[TMZ]

No, the Southeastern Conference isn’t trying to give James some sort of administrative position.  A former attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission suing for a paternity test, claiming LeBron is his son.  Or, more specifically, Leicester Bryce Stovell is suing his mother for fraud in tampering with an earlier paternity test and lying to LeBron about his father.

John McCain to Oppose Kagan Nomination
[USA Today]

John McCain has laid out his reasons for opposing Elana Kagan’s nomination to he Supreme Court:

In 1987 [...] I stated that the qualifications essential for evaluating a nominee for the bench included “integrity, character, legal competence and ability, experience, and philosophy and judicial temperament.” On that test, Elena Kagan fails.

[...] During her confirmation hearing last week, Kagan asserted that Harvard Law School was “never out of compliance with the law … in fact, the veterans association did a fabulous job of letting all our students know that the military recruiters were going to be at Harvard.” She went on to assert, “The military at all times during my deanship had full and good access.” The facts are otherwise.

[...] And perhaps most importantly, I will use my vote against Ms. Kagan to remind people vote McCain in the Arizona Senate primary on August 24th.  I’m John McCain, and I approve this message.

Whine Woot
[Work Bench]

The Associated Press has a long history of protecting its content, and not allowing reprint without permission (and, of course, compensation).  Unfortunately, they don’t have a history of respecting the news content other people create.

Woot CEO Matt Rutledge had some strong (and funny) words for the AP when they covered the sale of his company to Amazon:

The AP, we can’t thank you enough for looking our way. You see, when we showed off our good news on Wednesday afternoon, we expected we’d get a little bit of attention. But when we found your little newsy thing you do, we couldn’t help but notice something important. And that something is this: you printed our web content in your article! The web content that came from our blog! Why, isn’t that the very thing you’ve previously told nu-media bloggers they’re not supposed to do?

So, The AP, here we are. Just to be fair about this, we’ve used your very own pricing scheme to calculate how much you owe us. By looking through the link above, and comparing your post with our original letter, we’ve figured you owe us roughly $17.50 for the content you borrowed from our blog post, which, by the way, we worked very very hard to create. …

We’re major digital players now. Don’t force us to pass this matter to a collection agency.

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