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April 2012 Archives

Wikipedia and Other Unreliable Sources Attorneys Can Cite To

Wikipedia is an unreliable source. Or so says the Fourth Circuit.

If you happen to read our Fourth Circuit blog, you'd know that the court recently tossed a conviction due to a juror's use of Wikipedia. The panel just couldn't get behind the "open-access" site. But other appellate courts? They're all about Wikipedia.

Judge Richard Posner recently cited the crowdsourced encyclopedia when explaining that anal fissures are "no fun at all." This was only one of the court's 36 citations. And the Ninth Circuit? They've used the site 17 times since 2004.

These numbers got us thinking. What other unreliable sources can you cite and possibly get away with?

A New York attorney must pay $10,000 in sanctions for his brutish behavior at a deposition -- including verbal insults that were so abusive, the court reporter walked out and refused to return.

"This is absolutely shocking," the sanctioned lawyer, Joseph R. Sahid, told Reuters. "I've been a lawyer for 40 years. I have never been sanctioned for anything."

But the court sided with Sahid's opposing counsel, who complained about Sahid's antics at a depo in 2010. A lower court judge -- who's since retired -- declined to sanction Sahid, but an appellate judge felt differently.

5 Ways to Become a Partner by 40

You've just landed a fancy pants associate position in a big downtown law firm. Pay is great, hours suck. The only problem now is how to become a law partner?

That's where all the real money (and vacation time) is after all. But the competition is tough. Much like in law school, every associate at your firm is probably gunning for the same goal.

Fortunately, if you keep these tips in mind, you might just edge out the pack before you hit the Big 4-Oh.

Newly released law school job-placement data is sparking renewed debate about postgraduate employment rates: Many schools report hiring their own graduates for jobs, straight out of law school.

Data from the American Bar Association's annual law-school questionnaire shows about three-fourths of ABA-accredited law schools hired their own grads, or funded their first jobs after commencement.

In fact, 24 law schools bankrolled jobs for at least 10% of their graduating class in 2010, a FindLaw analysis of the data shows. The Top 10 schools that hired the greatest proportion of their own graduates were:

Top 5 Spots Where Lawyers Close the Deal

Wait, you didn't think this post was about something else did you? We're talking business deals here, people. C'mon now focus. You've likely heard that the golf course is the best place to close a business deal. You take a prospective client or partner out to the course, play a round of golf and close the deal over drinks or lunch afterwards.

But this can't be the only place to close a deal, can it? What about attorneys who don't play golf? Surely, they must be closing some deals elsewhere.

We took to some informal polling and came up with our top 5 places to close a deal:

There's a new kind of "sexy" for the digital age, and you may be part of the trend: "Datasexuals" get turned on by recording data about themselves, and then sharing that information with the world.

Datasexuals "think that data is sexy. In fact, the bigger the data, the sexier it becomes," the website BigThink.com explained in introducing the phrase.

With little actual data available about datasexuals, BigThink's article describes the history and future of the trend. So how do you know if you're datasexual? Take our quiz to find out:

Are Marijuana Lawyers Mainstream?

With marijuana dispensary busts lighting up the news and 4/20 (the semi-official April 20 pot holiday) coming up, cannabis appears to be on the public's radar. Not everyone may like it, but for marijuana lawyers, this might signal that becoming mainstream might not be far off for them.

There are whole organizations dedicated to marijuana law reform and defense strategies -- some even hold seminars on the subjects.

But for attorneys looking to specialize, is marijuana litigation big enough to encompass an entire practice or is the mainstream still a ways off?

Introducing our Ex-Lawyer of the Week: Randy Lint.

Lint earned his law degree from the University of Montana School of Law in 1995, and then became a successful small-town lawyer with a wife, kids, and a comfortable life.

But one thing really irked him about his rural location, he told the local Ravalli Republic: He just couldn't find a decent cup of coffee.

"People have become conditioned to stale coffee," Lint lamented, "because the national brands ship their coffee to supermarkets, and that's what people are used to."

3 Ways 'The Hunger Games' Can Make You a Better Trial Lawyer

With "The Hunger Games" currently tearing up the box office, it's easy to pass the movie off as a simple teenage popcorn thriller. But lawyers can actually learn some choice practice lessons from the film.

The movie takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world and centers around a young girl named Katniss Everdeen. She volunteers to take her sister's place in the annual "Hunger Games," a competition where teenage children fight to the death until only one remains.

Sounds a lot like life as a trial lawyer already, huh? Surprisingly, the film sheds a lot insight on how to deal with opposing counsel.

Top 5 Apps for When You're Bored at the Courthouse

Have you ever been stuck sitting in the courthouse with absolutely nothing to do? Or well, absolutely nothing you want to do? It can make you so stir crazy that you start contemplating a conversation with your neighbor.

Human interaction. Gross.

Enter the smart phone and tablet. They're great time wasting -- and people avoiding -- tools. You just need to know how to get the most bang for your bored buck. We're here to help. So download these apps and waste away.

Law Firm Kelley Drye Settles EEOC Age Discrimination Case

Kelley Drye & Warren has just settled its age discrimination case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Seems they were discriminating against aged partner attorneys.

As part of the settlement, Kelley Drye has agreed to drop an internal policy that allegedly required partners who reached age 70 to release any ownership in the firm and take a pay cut, Reuters reports.

All you aging lawyers can sleep a little more soundly tonight. You might just be able to squeeze a few more years of money out of the firms that took your youthful optimism away.

But that's not all.

A Nigerian lawyer in Michigan now holds a rather unique distinction: He's been disbarred before he even got a full-fledged license to practice law in the state.

Gbenga Anjorin, a 1992 graduate of a Nigerian law school, handled hundreds of cases -- many as a court-appointed attorney -- and even attended hearings in the so-called "Underwear Bomber's" terrorism trial, the Detroit Free Press reports.

But Anjorin's courtroom antics in a case involving five crates of nuts led to an ethics complaint, and eventually his downfall.

Law School Applications Drop 14%. Will Tuition Follow Suit?

The bad news keeps on rolling in for law schools. Applications are down 14 percent this year, leading some to speculate that tuition drops may be in the future.

The total number of applicants at accredited law schools was down to 59,983 as of March 16, the Law School Admission Council reports. By comparison, the number was 78,500 in 2011, which was still down 10.7 percent from 2010.

Law school is a business. And it's the fresh crop of bright-eyed 1Ls that keep these institutions running. However, grim future projections from insiders could spell doom if law schools don't adapt by lowering tuition.

Lawyer's $2,500 Minimum Fee Earns Him 30-Day Suspension

Attorney William Vilmont has gumption. Either that, or he simply doesn't know when to cut his losses and repent.

The Iowa attorney has earned himself a 30-day suspension and all because he decided to charge his client a $2,500 minimum fee. For your average criminal representation, this wouldn't be an outlandish amount. However, Vilmont only spent 3.7 hours on the case -- one hour of which was used to provide an accounting.

Still, he adamantly maintained that he did not charge an unreasonable fee.

A suspended lawyer-turned-rabbi pleaded guilty Monday in what prosecutors say may be the largest immigration fraud scheme in U.S. history.

Earl Seth David, 48, charged illegal immigrants up to $30,000 for his legal services, in which he filed fraudulent letters that claimed the immigrants were sponsored by U.S. employers, the New York Daily News reports.

Some 25,000 illegal immigrants paid David for his fraudulent services over a 13-year period, according to the Daily News. David now has to forfeit his profits -- about $2.5 million. And that's not all.

Introvert attorneys and BigLaw may not seem like the perfect match. But personality tests suggest introvert lawyers are more common than you may think, and their voices are increasingly being heard.

BigLaw attorneys are often stereotyped as extroverts: outspoken go-getters who thrive on trial work, contentious negotiations, and arguments that require them to think on their feet.

By contrast, being an introvert is generally considered "a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology," Susan Cain, a former Wall Street lawyer and admitted introvert, told Reuters.

Introducing our Ex-Lawyer of the Week: Esther Kang.

Kang walked away from a cushy gig as an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles to pursue her true passion: baking. It's not that she couldn't stand the heat of a demanding legal job. She just wanted to follow her heart into the kitchen.

Coincidentally, as Kang considered quitting the law, Fox began airing an American version of the reality/game show "MasterChef." Kang was torn:

"I watched it," ex-lawyer Esther Kang told Examiner.com, "but I couldn't watch it because I couldn't watch other people doing what I wanted to do."

Law School's ABA Antitrust Lawsuit is Dying a Slow Death

It looks like the ABA antitrust lawsuit is dying a slow, yet inevitable, death.

For those not in the know, Lincoln Memorial University's Duncan School of Law filed an antitrust suit against the American Bar Association after being denied accreditation in December. The Tennessee school, which has been accredited by a regional body, claims the ABA is trying to limit the number of law schools and attorneys in the country.

On Monday, a federal judge stayed all litigation.

Ethics Tip No. 156: Don't Take Client's Money for Your Strip Club

One has to wonder whether Glenn McGogney of Harrisburg, Penn. actually ever read the state's attorney ethics rules. The longtime attorney was disbarred late last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after the justices learned of his less than savory behavior.

Besides letting deadlines lapse, he convinced two clients to invest in his failing side business. He also conveniently forgot to tell them that the money was for a strip club.

U.S. News, the magazine known for its annual rankings of the best law schools and firms, has come out with a new list for lawyers in a struggling economy: five non-legal career options "in which you can leverage your law degree."

There's no special issue or controversial tiers with this list, however. U.S. News'  "5 Unique Career Paths for Law School Grads" is a guest blog post, written by an attorney who started his own test-prep and admissions-counseling business. (Not surprisingly, he uses his guest post on the U.S. News blog to plug said business.)

With that caveat in mind, here are the five non-legal career paths suggested by U.S. News -- along with some of our own thoughts:

A Lot of NY Judges Are Unhappy About 17 Percent Pay Raise

Attention New York attorneys. The judges you practice in front of are getting a raise. But they're not all that thrilled about it.

New York will be instituting a 17 percent judge pay raise this fiscal year. The planned pay hikes are part of a three-year initiative by the state to raise state judge salaries 27 percent in total.

However, many New York judges aren't too happy with the changes.

Many state judges see it as "too little too late," the ABA Journal reports.

Hipster eyeglasses are increasingly the focus of criticism in some courthouses, as defendants don non-prescription spectacles to make a statement for jurors.

But it's not so much a fashion statement, The Washington Post reports: It's strategy.

"Those glasses are influencing the jury, trying to make them think they're Boy Scouts or something," one woman complained to the Post, after all five of her grandson's accused killers showed up at trial wearing spectacles. Before trial, only one defendant was known to have worn glasses to court.