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October 2013 Archives

5 Ways To Stay Awake In Class (That You Might Not Know About)

Let's be real -- law school classes are not as scintillating as TV and movies make them seem. In fact, sometimes they're the exact opposite and have the wonderful effect of, well, putting you to sleep. Long gone are the days when you feared cold-calling, eh?

While many choose to treat class time as an occasion to g-chat and window shop (to the girl in the second row, at least move to the back of the room) in an effort to stay awake and make the time go by faster, there is also the option of paying attention and trying to learn -- even if it is an area of law you know you'll never practice in. Here are 5 ways to stay awake in class.

So You Failed The Bar: 5 Things To Keep In Mind

So, you failed the bar and life sucks right now. As bar results continue to trickle in, with New York's bar results just coming in a couple days ago and California's about to roll out next month, many anxious new grads are awaiting (read: dreading) their fate.

Unfortunately, someone's going to fail. Statistically, this is impossible to avoid. Actually, it's just impossible to avoid in general because the bar is a beast. As they say, if it was easy, everyone would do it. So, for those of you who already got the bad news, or for those of you bracing for it, here are 5 things to keep in mind.

The now-infamous Clifford Chance memo entitled "Presentation Tips for Women," shared by Above the Law, has had the Internet goin' nuts for the past few days. And for good reason. One quick glimpse at the memo, and there are some examples of sexism at its ripest. The problem? The memo was drafted and released by the firm's Women's Committee only to women attorneys at the firm.

As Madeleine Albright said, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." Sadly, the problem here is the kind of help.

Latham's Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Proceeds After Pruning

Former Latham & Watkins legal secretary Demetria Peart was fired in January 2008, right around the spark point of the housing bubble collapse and recession. The culling of staff over the next few years, including 440 layoffs at Latham one year later, are the stuff of BigLaw nightmares.

But she wasn't fired because of the recession, nor was she "laid off." She claims that she was fired because the firm didn't want to accommodate her pregnancy-related medical issues. The firm claimed that she was terminated due to a lack of communication, a claim substantiated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Now, after a judge refused to toss the lawsuit, the firm will have to defend itself in court, absent a settlement.

Did Legal Job Market Cause This Woman to Lose Child Custody?

We often lament the consequences of the barren job market for recent law graduates, such as defaulted student loans and minimal hope of home ownership, but did the barren job market just cost a woman custody of her child?

Above the Law reported on the story of Michelle V., a Cornell Law School graduate, who took the only job offered, four and a half hours away from her child's father, and subsequently lost custody of the child.

But if one examines the appellate decision, the story wasn't quite that simple.

This weekend we lost one of the most influential musicians of modern history -- Lou Reed. His lifelong collaborations with other artists -- the likes of Andy Warhol, Nico, John Cale, and David Bowie -- are a testament to surrounding yourself with talented, interesting people.

As we remember his music and his contribution to pop culture history, we came up with five lessons that young lawyers can take away from Reed's colorful life.

Does Proposed TWU Canadian Law School Discriminate Against Gays?

Trinity Western University is a Christian university in Canada. If their accreditation process is successful, they'll soon have a law school as well. That may be a big "if" however, as lawyers and protestors are lining up to oppose the accreditation bid.

Why the fuss? TWU requires its students to abstain from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman," and many are arguing that this pledge closes the doors (and the sixty law school seats) to homosexual applicants.

Maybe you were unlucky enough to graduate the past few years (or lucky depending who you ask) and have had trouble finding a legal job, or maybe you've actually worked as an attorney and realized how much it sucked. Whatever your particular circumstances, know one thing: you are not alone.

I personally took the leap out of the legal industry, and then found a middle ground as a legal blogger which had all of what I considered fun as a lawyer (research and writing) without all the stuff I hated about the practice (partners, clients and billable hours).

Making a huge change, especially after taking on so much student debt, can be daunting, but totally doable. I'm not going to list specifics for you here -- instead, I'm going to focus on the incredible skills you've attained as a law student and attorney, and how to apply them elsewhere.

How to Apply to Law School: A (Nearly) Complete Checklist

So, you've decided to, or are in the process of, applying to law school. Congratulations. Though many will provide lots of reasons why you should not pursue a legal career, we're sure you've already weighed the relevant factors and are now pursuing your dream.

If you need a guide, or would like to make sure you haven't missed a step, here is a link-ridden guide to (nearly) everything you need to know about applying. And if you have any questions, tweet us @FindLawLP.

Lawyer Gets Disbarred For Letting Non-lawyer Operate Law Firm

A now former-lawyer based in San Diego, California, is agreeing to a disbarment for allowing a non-lawyer to engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Ernest George Georggin, who was placed on inactive status as of Monday this week, according to the California State Bar website, allowed a non-attorney, Eric Phillips to open up a law firm under his name, reports the American Bar Association (ABA).

Georggin, 68, has agreed to surrender his law license and additionally to pay $90,000 in restitution fines, plus interest, to former clients who were scammed under this scheme. And you thought filling out your moral character application would be expensive.

What happened, exactly?

The Revolution is Upon Us: BigLaw Starts 'Residencies'

Finally.

It has always seemed, to this practical descendant of Midwestern farmers, that BigLaw's hiring model was odd. Get recent grads with shiny resumes. Give them $160,000, even though they know little to nothing about practice. Bill the client for the training of these associates.

In a way, you could justify it: sometimes you have to overpay for free agent prospects. But in a buyer's market for firms seeking associates, you'd think they would've caught on sooner.

Better late than never, right?

This Lawyer is Orange and Has a Lambo. Do You Want to Be Him?

It's easy to mock the orange-tinted, double-parking, Tom Ford-wearing, real life incarnations of the flashy Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. With neon ties, and poor tans, they can often look like clowns, and to the more "white shoe" elements of our profession, they exist as a parody.

Then again, after laughing at Stuart V. Goldberg, and enjoying the Internet's mockery of his appearance, we read about him. And if his autobiographical narrative is even close to reality, perhaps we can learn to admire him, sans the tan.

The debate on the necessity and relevance of law review articles is not a new one. But an article in The New York Times, has brought that issue front and center as debates now rage on in the Twitterverse (fyi search #LawReviews).

I should be clear up front: I was on law review, was a notes editor and was published. That I'm a proponent of law reviews is no secret around here. And it's for a reason: every legal job opportunity that I've had has no doubt been bolstered by the appearance of law review on my resume.

I read The Times article that's causing a fuss online and I have to say that I'm not a believer. Perhaps you read it, perhaps you didn't, here's my breakdown of the article, and while great at stirring controversy, I find it unconvincing.

Halloween is one of those holidays that isn't just fun for kids; it evolves and changes with you as you get older. And while adults should let loose too and have fun on All Hallows' Eve, it's probably best to leave the festivities out of the office.

That said, we know some firms are a bit more festive than others so here's a little primer on getting through Halloween, and keeping your job.

Brooklyn Law School Has its Own Debt Crisis

The nation as a whole may have avoided a debt default, but Brooklyn Law School's outlook isn't quite as rosy. Though the school is far from default, Standard & Poor's warned the school on Tuesday that it needed to stop the fiscal bleeding or face higher borrowing costs and a change from its current BBB+ debt rating. (The ratings system can be found here).

The credit ratings agency also lowered its outlook on the school's debt, from stable, to negative, with a one in three chance it could downgrade the debt, reports Crain's New York.

The school noted that Moody's Investors Service gave Brooklyn Law School a stable debt outlook only two months ago.

Berkeley Law Grad Gets Prison Boot Camp for Bird Beheading

A Berkeley law graduate was taken to "prison boot camp" on Wednesday as part of a guilty plea to felony charges for killing an exotic bird.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Justin Teixeira, 25, began his 190 days in "regimental discipline" with the Nevada Department of Corrections as punishment for beheading a bird at the Flamingo's Wildlife Habitat in October 2012.

Teixeira's eligibility to practice law is already on the bubble, and things may get much worse if the bird de-brainer fails his prison boot camp program.

Stop Me if You've Heard this Before: A Plan to Fix Law Schools!

Everybody has an idea of how to fix law schools. Tuition is too high. Student loan debt is crippling recent graduates. There are no jobs for recent graduates. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

Today's visionary is Mark Chandler, the senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary and chief compliance officer of Cisco. On the ABA Legal Rebels blog, Chandler outlined a few ideas that he found particularly compelling, and which tech company Cisco has already implemented in a sort-of pilot program.

What if Washington Lawyers Want to Toke, Advise Clients on Pot?

As lawyers, we can't advise our clients on the best way to break the law. We also aren't supposed to break the law ourselves. It's that ethics stuff that you slept through in law school.

In Washington (and Colorado), it is perfectly legal to toke up. Recreational use of marijuana, thanks to state initiatives, does not violate state law. It does, however, violate federal law to buy, sell, smoke, snort, chew, or to do pretty much anything with weed. So, when a Seattle lawyer wants to partake in a state-legal substance, or advise a client on the best way to structure her pot dispensary corporation, he may just be violating the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Drat.

LSATs, GPAs, Class Sizes: Latest Declining Numbers and Your Apps

It's now general knowledge that law school applications are down. Demand has fallen as the expected return on investment has decreased (drastically). How is that demand vacum affecting schools?

As you might expect, admissions numbers are dropping a bit, even at some of the top fifteen schools. Class sizes are shrinking somewhat as well, but not at all schools. And for applicants with good numbers, you may be able to capitalize by applying to the right schools.

If you're lucky enough to still call yourself "young" then we envy you. Not only is your skin and waistline still probably intact, but you get to be part of the nifty Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association.

The Young Lawyers Division is actually meeting at its annual conference in Phoenix -- right now as we write. If you didn't participate this year, then try to put it on your calendar for next year as it's a great way to network, take a mini-vacation and get all your CLE credits in one weekend.

Law Student Charged With Felony Hit-and-Run

A Hastings law student is now facing two felony charges after an alleged hit-and-run occurred over the weekend in Oakland. Meghan Anne Zato, according to the police, struck an innocent man after fleeing an attack from a group of vandals, reports the Contra Costa Times.

The 25-year-old man from Oakland, James Roda, who was struck was apparently not a part of the initial attack. What happened, exactly?

Lawyer Breaks Etiquette Rule #1, Talks Smack About Judge to Judge

Here's a good, old-fashioned lesson in etiquette for you -- don't talk smack about someone. Especially to the actual subject. The email version of this happened recently when lawyer and former state bar president Warren Whitted Jr. emailed some of his associates after an oral argument, the ABA Journal reports.

"You did a great job and dealt with some ill-conceived and uninformed questions very well," Whitted wrote.

Earlier this week we talked about what types of legal issues make for great, publication worthy note topics. Today, we'll discuss how to find note topics, and important factors to consider when deciding on a note topic.

How to Find a Note Topic

Though finding a great note topic is difficult and time consuming, there are lots of great resources out there to help you find a note worth devoting a year of your life to.

California Allows Undocumented Immigrants to Practice Law

With a few signatures from Governor Jerry Brown, California may have just become the most immigrant-friendly state in the country. On Saturday, Gov. Brown signed a package of bills reducing the state's cooperation with federal deportation programs, giving undocumented immigrants the right to obtain driver's licenses, and most important for our purposes, allowing undocumented immigrants to practice law, so long as the other requirements of bar admission are met.

While the legislation should have far-reaching effects across the state, it will be especially good news for one 36-year-old man, who has been waiting for a green card since the age of 17, and who passed the bar in 2009, yet is still waiting to practice law. Sergio Garcia's case ended up in the California Supreme Court last month, but with the new legislation, the case may be moot.

As a 2L on a journal, your entire year will be consumed by writing your note -- classes are secondary -- especially if you are determined to get published. But, before you get caught up in the note writing process, you have to settle on a note topic. It may come as a surprise, but the most difficult aspect of writing a note is finding a topic.

Since you'll be devoting a year to this topic, we've decided to let you in on what topics make a note publication worthy.

How to Get Sworn In to the U.S. Supreme Court

There may be no pragmatic reason for you to be sworn in to the Supreme Court. After all, how many of us will ever actually argue a case in those hallowed chambers? Still, for most of us, the Supreme Court represents the epitome of our legal system.

It may be the Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park of American law, home of some of the greatest legal minds in history, the playing field for countless others, but gaining admission is simply a matter of applying, after meeting a few prerequisites.

In honor of Supreme Court Week here at FindLaw, here are the rules of the game:

The legal industry is not what it once was. Once upon a time, if you got hired by BigLaw, paid your dues and put your time in, you would likely make partner. Now, getting an associate position is hard enough, and making partner that much more.

So what's an associate to do?

Lawyer Takes a Bite Out of Crime? No, His Son

Biting on the playground among kids -- somewhat expected, right? Or at least more so than a lawyer biting his own son. Ah, yes. Another day that ends in "y," can only mean another problematic lawyer to report to you all.

This one comes to us from Albuquerque, reports Santa Fe's KRQE News. An attorney (of course), Geoffrey Scovil has been charged with a number of things, including child abuse for biting his own 3-year-old son's cheek.

No, seriously. Also, that's not all, folks.

Not sure about you, but I specifically remember the day in torts when I learned that historically, women were regarded as chattel -- either their father's or their husband's -- and that's where we can trace the tradition of a woman taking her husband's name. I had my doubts about taking a man's name before then, but that day sealed the deal for me.

My husband (then boyfriend) at the time couldn't understand. He likened it to a basketball team where one of the players didn't want to wear the team jersey. He didn't convince me, though he did make me laugh. Fast forward a few years, we got married and I decided to hyphenate. I will admit I really took my time changing my name and it probably took two years before I changed my name on (most) of my accounts.

Survey Says: Supply of Law School Seats is Correcting for Demand

And the market begins to correct ...

Our friends at Kaplan Test Prep did another survey related to law school admissions, this time polling admissions officers, and for some of you, this won't be surprising: law schools are cutting incoming seats. Now, we're a little shocked, as this is an example of schools doing the right thing (well, the right thing would be to reverse the trend of ever-increasing, historically-high tuition, but we digress), but we've bourne witness to plummeting application rates for years with little to no reaction from schools.

Until now, that is.