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February 2012 Archives

'Anonymous' Hacks Virginia Law Firm's Website, Posts KRS-One Rap Video

You know who -- or what -- Anonymous is, right? It's that international hacktivist collective that's been in the news a lot lately. Its members hacked the Justice Department website in response to the Megaupload raid; they allegedly stole Symantec's source code; and they hate the Man.

Anonymous is kind of a big deal. But for some reason, lawyers at Puckett & Faraj had never heard of the group.

That is, until the firm got hacked recently.

Introducing our ex-lawyer of the week: Jodana Serebrenik

Serebrenik once thrived in the dog-eat-dog world of litigation. She's now gaining fame in a new career, as New York City's only for-hire cat catcher.

"I just got to a point where I didn't enjoy the work," Serebrenik told The Wall Street Journal about her former legal career. "I had turned 40, and I was like, 'I paid off my student loans. I had a good run, but I'm not happy with it anymore.'"

A six-week trip to Africa, and volunteer work with animal-rescue groups, convinced Serebrenik to pursue a new calling after 10 years as a lawyer. In 2006, she started catching cats as her full-time job.

Bet You $20 Your Law School Will Be the Next to Be Sued

David Anziska, the lawyer leading the charge against faulty law school employment data, has big plans. Earlier this month, he announced 12 new law school lawsuits, bringing the total number of suits to 15. But he's not done.

He and his cohorts at law firms in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., plan to sue twenty more law schools in the next few months. And it probably won't end there.

I bet you're wondering if your school will be one of them.

How Not to Leave the Firm: Put Your Face on Tombstone in Adios Email

Have you ever quit a job and felt compelled to send a company-wide resignation letter? Did you want to insult your former boss? How about incite your ex-colleagues into a full blown rebellion?  Or did you just want to humorously say goodbye?

Eh, we've all wanted to do something similar at one time or another. Most of us don't -- and for good reason.  The few who do live on in infamy, ultimately becoming fodder for posts like these. So if you value your reputation, it's best to keep your goodbye emails to yourself.

A Tennessee law school was negligent in allowing a student to enroll when she hadn't yet completed her undergraduate degree, a lawsuit claims.

Morgan Crutchfield, a part-time student at Lincoln Memorial University's John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law, seeks as much as $750,000 in her suit against the school, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

Crutchfield was 12 credits shy of completing her undergraduate degree in 2009. The law school admitted Crutchfield, telling her she could finish her undergrad requirements during law school, her lawsuit claims.

But when Crutchfield applied to sit for the bar exam, she found that wasn't the case.

Lawyers Packing Heat: TX Lawyer, 65, Arrested with Gun On Plane

Authorities arrested 65-year-old attorney Judith Kenney after she brought a gun onto an American Airlines plane in Texas recently.

Her attorney claims that it was all a simple error. Kenney carries a gun in her computer bag for her own protection.

That's normal, right? All lawyers tote guns! You never know when you might run into trouble. Lawyers aren't exactly short on enemies. Let's see, who could possibly hate you?

NJ Judge Was Full of 'Holiday Spirit,' Alcohol When Groped Court Staff

Holiday party debauchery is nothing new for the scores of BigLaw associates out there. In fact, it's practically a rite of passage. But judges? They've got reputations to uphold.

Except when they're drinking, that is. New Jersey Superior Court Judge Marquis Jones, Jr. would be proof of this fact. He's been accused of groping female probation officers at a 2010 party.

He blames all the alcohol he consumed as a result of the "Holiday spirit."

Cleveland rocks. And young lawyers who want their work-life balance to rock should seriously consider moving there, Justice Antonin Scalia recently advised.

Justice Scalia made that comment about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame city in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Scalia was a UC law professor before being assigned to the federal bench.

The associate justice, of course, is known for his strident conservative views. But his arguably liberal advice to law students: Don't work so hard, and chill out.

Ex-Partner Remotely Accesed His Old Firm's Files

Attorneys at Pennsylvania law firm Elliott Greenleaf & Siedzikowski are not pleased. Turns out, one of their own tried to pull a fast one.

Ex-partner William Balaban is accused of installing software on his firm computer before he left the firm in January. Balaban ended up joining a new law firm.

But not before he remotely accessed his old files.

Now Elliott Greenleaf & Siedzikowski have filed suit. They filed a motion to stop the computer hacking last week.

College Student Banned for 'Hot for Teacher' Essay Loses Appeal

Brian Vincent is one lucky attorney. Or maybe not.

The Michigan litigator recently signed on to represent Joseph Corlett, a 56-year-old student at Oakland University. Corlett was suspended for 3 semesters after writing a "Hot for Teacher" essay about the female instructor overseeing his critical writing class.

And yes, it was based on the Van Halen Song.

Why Lawyers Head Oversees to Find Attorney Work

There was a not so distant time when few U.S. attorneys went abroad. Overseas firms were so desperate for talent that American associates could choose from multiple offers.

But things have changed. More attorneys -- and law students -- are leaving the country. And they're not just going to London, either.

Why? What is driving American lawyers abroad?

Do You Want to Limit Your Valentine's Date Liability?

Sometimes you just want a date on Valentine's Day. You don't want the relationship or the emotional attachment. A hot make-out session and a little company are just enough to take your mind off work (and make you feel like less of a loser).

The problem with this scenario is that it never works. Someone inevitably gets attached and parlays the one-time date into something else. But what if you could change that? What if there was a Valentine's contract that limited your dating liability?

Attorney Tossed From Her Own Arraignment for Talking Too Much

Oklahoma attorney Amy McTeer, 40, just doesn't know when to stop. Talking, that is.

Court employees in Logan County had to forcibly remove the litigator last week when she refused to keep quiet during her own arraignment hearing. McTeer is facing felony drug charges and felt the need to interject her opinion into the proceedings.

Proceedings that also happen to mark her fourth set of criminal charges in the past seven months.

Justice Stephen Breyer's Caribbean vacation took a scary turn last week. Breyer was robbed by a man armed with a machete, who took about $1,000 in cash, Reuters reports.

No one was hurt in the Feb. 9 robbery at Breyer's vacation home on the island of Nevis, and the robber is still on the loose, according to Reuters. An FBI agent arrived in Nevis on Friday, but his role in the investigation was not immediately clear, The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer reports.

While U.S. laws don't apply in Nevis, Nevisian law does -- and Justice Stephen Breyer's robber could get a lashing in court. Literally.

Bored Court Clerk Watched Porn During Rape Trial

Add this to the list of things you shouldn't do if you're bored at work: watch porn.

You'd think this is common sense. But apparently it isn't. A veteran London court clerk was caught looking at some racy images -- during a rape trial.

The 54-year-old clerk, Debasish Majumder, had worked at the court for years. He claimed he only looked at the pornography because he was "bored."

Yes, because a victim's emotional testimony about her attack is just so "dull"? Most would probably agree that is simply absurd.

Law Grads Filing for Bankruptcy with $150,000 in Student Loans

Recent law grads filing for bankruptcy seems to make sense. After all, look at the high six-figure cost of law school. Then just read some news about the dismal state of the economy.

Unless you managed to snag a BigLaw job -- or any job, really -- you might be out of luck.

Diana Valle, 26, graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law. She incurred more than $150,000 in student loan debt. Shortly before her commencement, she commenced a legal action. She filed for bankruptcy.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Goes to Sesame Street

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

Justice Sonia Sotomayor can. Earlier this week, the first Latina on the nation's highest court took a trip to the make-believe Street to have a cup of cafe with her friend Maria -- and to adjudicate a spat between Baby Bear and the trespassing Goldilocks.

She even donned one of her "impwessive" black robes.

Ex Law Students Sue Over 'Arbitrary and Capricious' D in Contracts

Welcome Karla Ford and Jonathan Chan to the worldwide web of ridicule. They're going to need all the support they can get.

The pair was kicked out of law school after earning "D" grades in a first-year contracts course. They've since filed a federal lawsuit against Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law and the instructor, claiming the grades were "arbitrary and capricious."

The school is also accused of assigning grades "in order to 'curve them out' of law school." Um, duh?

More Firms Are (Cautiously) Hiring Summer Associates

Law firms are hiring more summer associates now.

Remember the blissful law school days before the financial meltdown in 2008? When you were a wee little 1L? When your hopes and dreams of landing that summer associate gig were actually within your reach?

If you do, you probably also remember the ensuing collapse of the economy. And the reduced hiring that followed. Perhaps you were even no-offered at the end of your summer. Or, maybe the firm you worked at went under.

So, the recent hiring uptick is good news for those still in school. But it's mediocre news for those outside of school. OCI for you is long over.

Law School Offers Free Semester if Students Postpone July Bar Exam

Besides the obvious reasons -- avoiding real life, student loans and the terrible job market -- why would anyone want to spend a seventh semester in law school?

They wouldn't, right? Even so, administrators at City University of New York Law School think some of their graduating 3Ls should. Those students are being offered an additional semester of "intensive, structured, Bar-oriented coursework" -- for free!

As long as they skip the July 2012 bar exam, that is.

'Beautiful Mass. Lawyer of 2009' Suspended for Posing as Physician

Susan Friery was a partner at Kreindler & Kreindler, a plaintiff's law firm in New York. She was an attorney, and a doctor.

At least that's what she told people.

Turns out, she's not a doctor. And her law license has been suspended as a result of her untruthful assertions. Though that doesn't mean she doesn't look great. Friery was previously named as one of the most beautiful lawyers in Massachusetts in 2009.

Legal networking events can be intimidating, especially if you're looking to land your first job -- or if you've been out of the job market for a while.

What should you say? How should you say it? And how many drinks will it take before you feel comfortable enough to approach anyone for some serious self-marketing?

We're certainly not encouraging alcohol intake as a way to prepare for legal networking. But as a metaphor, you may want to drink in some of these tips to help you stand out at your next networking event:

Law schools' job-placement data for recent graduates is often incomplete or self-serving, and "raise a red flag" about whether law schools can be trusted to change their reporting practices, a new report says.

This report comes as a dozen or so law schools have been sued or going to be sued this week, counsel for the plaintiffs say.

The attorneys say in a press release that new litigation is being brought against law schools in California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois and New York. They concern allegations that many schools hire their own graduates for temporary jobs and count law grads working in non-legal jobs as employed.

The law schools being targeted include:

Facebook's IPO is one step closer, thanks to the company's in-house lawyers and two large law firms with Silicon Valley offices.

Facebook filed its Registration Statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, naming the attorneys and firms who've been working on its much-anticipated IPO. You can read Facebook's S-1 filing in its entirety at FindLaw's Courtside blog.

The firms and attorneys named in Facebook's filing are:

Texas Law Firm Sues Over Negative Online Review

Lenahan Law Firm of Dallas has sued an anonymous "Ben Doe" defendant over a negative review. They want the faceless reviewer to pony up $50,000 in damages.

The review blasted the law firm with harsh comments. Ben Doe wrote he had a "bad experience" with the firm.

The Internet is useful. Reviewers can easily hide behind usernames and pseudonyms and blast companies, restaurants, and now even law firms. But Mr. Doe may have forgotten something important. You don't necessarily want to anger a group of attorneys. They might -- and often will -- sue you.

From Harvard Law to WWE Wrestler: David Otunga Uses JD in the Ring

David Otunga has had an uh, interesting career since leaving Sidley Austin in 2007.

He first took a turn as "Punk," a man trying to woo the star of VH1's I Love New York. He then joined the WWE, where he ditched the lame nickname for something even worse.

But when his "A-List" personality couldn't quite cut it, he fell back on his J.D. He was drafted as legal counsel to RAW general manager, John Laurinaitis.

He's now a lawyer, playing a wrestler, playing a lawyer on TV.