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January 2015 Archives

'How To Get Away With Murder' Review: Season 1, Episode 10

Believe it or not, "HTGAWM" hasn't been on since November, when it had its "winter finale" where we learned #WhoKilledSam. The show came back last night, and true to the title, Professor Keating showed us just how one does manage to get away with murder, in spite of a prosecutor who seems to have a smirk permanently tattooed on her face.

Blame the Other Guy

In the very first episode of "How To Get Away With Murder," Professor Keating taught her class that the key to getting your client acquitted of murder is to find someone else to blame. Goth Girl was going to be tried for Lila's murder -- unless they could get the charges dismissed.

S.F. Public Defender Arrested for 'Simply Doing Her Job'

You may have the right to have an attorney present at your questioning -- until the attorney gets arrested for being present at your questioning.

Believe it or not, a San Francisco deputy public defender was arrested yesterday for allegedly interfering with police questioning. Or, as those of us in the criminal defense field call it, "Doing your job."

Meet Ted Wells, Lawyer-Turned-NFL 'Deflategate' Investigator

Who is Ted Wells Jr., and why are blogging about him?

By now, you've either never heard of "Deflategate" or you're sick of hearing about it. Here's the short, short version: In the AFC championship game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots on January 18, it was discovered that 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots were underinflated. This could allow a quarterback to get a better grip on the ball. The Patriots won 45 to 7.

The controversy was sufficient to make headlines and earn its own "-gate" suffix. Of late, when major sports teams need to "investigate" things, what do they do? Hire a lawyer!

10 Things Lawyers, Law Students Can Do on a Snow Day

Well, it's "Snowmageddon" on the East Coast as a nor'easter batters much of the region with high winds and heavy snowfall. Though blizzard warnings have now been lifted for New York and New Jersey, according to CNN, many schools and offices throughout New England are closed.

For many people, it's looking more and more like a "snow day." What are you expected to do on this rare occasion, a "day off"? Here are a few suggestions:

Need a Fake Boyfriend or Girlfriend? This Ex-Lawyer Can Help

From the "here's what you can do when you don't want to be a lawyer anymore" files, have you tried becoming an Internet entrepreneur? Of course you have, but you aren't as inventive as Matthew Homann.

Among his many projects, Homann created a website where people can create fake profiles for significant others they don't have in order to convince their family and friends that they have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Sheldon Silver's Arrest: Law Firm Referrals Part of Alleged Scheme

Ah, good old (alleged) bribery. When lawyers behave badly and someone gets hurt or killed, we kind of feel bad about it. But when lawyers get arrested for bribery? No one gets hurt, and we can bask in the awesomeness.

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver found himself on the pointy end of the law after he surrendered to the FBI Thursday morning, accused of using his office to get bribes and kickbacks. What's the legal angle? Turns out a lot of his wheel-greasing money was funneled through a law firm for legal services that, mysteriously, were never rendered.

Which Is Better for Law Students: E-Textbooks or Paper Textbooks?

The new semester has just started, and if you haven't bought or rented your casebooks by now ... well, what's wrong with you? (Except 3Ls: Everyone knows that you've totally checked out at this point.)

In the year 2015, we have plenty of e-books (some available even from our sister company, West Publishing!), but are e-textbooks really the way to go? Sure, they save precious space in your backpack, meaning you won't look like Richard III by the end of law school, but is the trade-off really worth it?

Here are a few factors to consider:

Drunk Lawyer Who Groped Cabbie Convicted of Criminal Mischief

I don't even know where to start. Maybe at the end? On January 16, Louisiana lawyer Jennifer Gaubert was convicted of misdemeanor criminal mischief for filing a false police report.

Gaubert is scheduled to be sentenced on February 13 and faces up to six months in jail -- quite a difference from the felony she could have been convicted of. Let's all take a trip down memory lane and remember how we got here...

Which Legal Practice Areas Make Associates the Happiest?

The results from Vault's 2014 Law Firm Associate Survey are in, reports TaxProf Blog. Wait, why is TaxProf Blog reporting on this? Probably because "Tax" is the practice area with the highest associate satisfaction. Take that, antitrust!

So what makes tax law so interesting? "Tax law may be satisfying work because it is often described as solving a puzzle, allowing lawyers to find creative solutions to their clients' problems," Vault opines on its website. I read that to mean "finding ever-more creative ways around the tax code." But hey, everyone needs to find fulfillment at work.

So in which other practice areas are associates happy, according to this survey?

5 Things Law Students Can Improve Upon This Semester

It's a new year, and a new semester. Whether you're a 3L trying to knock out some credits by taking "Shakespearean legal theory" or a 1L wondering how you'll make it through another semester of contracts, there are always things you can improve upon.

Here are a few ideas for things law students can improve upon in the new year:

Lawyers: 5 Ways to Jazz Up Your Drab Office Wardrobe

Even if you're not in court, your office may have a suit-and-tie dress code. These are recipes for blandness; basically, you've got three possible colors of suit, unless you want to get into plaids, stripes, and windowpanes (which you should).

In the absence of awesome suit patterns, though, there are some cheap and easy ways to add a little bit of flair, color, and personality to an otherwise suffocating "Mad Men"-esque dress code. Here are five fashionable suggestions:

What's the 'State of the Legal Market'? It's Not Pretty: Report

How's the legal market doing? Georgetown Law's Center for the Study of the Legal Profession released a report Tuesday entitled "Report on the State of the Legal Market" in conjunction with Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor. (FindLaw is also part of Thomson Reuters.)

To put it bluntly, things aren't good for the old guard. The traditional law firm model seems to be working for the toniest of the tony firms, but that's only because they make so much money. The Top 100 firms as a whole, however, are still facing the results of the 2008 recession, as the legal marketing becomes more fragmented, work moves in-house, and basically, the "10 jillion practice area corporate law firm" looks like its once-guaranteed fortunes are in question.

The LLLTs Are Coming: Should Lawyers Be Afraid?

"They're terkin' 'er jerbs!" That's ostensibly the sound of lawyers, angry that non-lawyers are muscling in on our "profession." The latest target of our collective outrage is the Limited License Legal Technician, a type of legal job that as yet exists only in Washington state.

Once just an idea on paper, the first generation of LLLTs is ready to take its licensing exam in March. Should lawyers be afraid of LLLTs?

Looking for Civil Litigation Experience? Try Criminal Law

If you're a law student, a recent graduate, or even a new associate, here's a tip: Consider a career in criminal law with the District Attorney's office or the Public Defender.

"But," you say, "I couldn't care less about criminal law. I went to law school so I could become a civil litigator!" That might be true, but what will you do after you inevitably leave this job, downtrodden and depressed? A career of only a few years in criminal law could do you some good and give your resume some valuable litigation credibility.

Harvard Law Plagiarist Loses Defamation Claim Against School

Megon Walker is a Harvard Law graduate and was on a journal. One would imagine that those two notes on her resume alone would guarantee her a high-paying position in BigLaw.

Except there's a little note on her transcript: a reprimand for plagiarism.

In 2009, she submitted a journal article for editing that, according to the school, had significant portions of previously published articles included without proper citations.

The school investigated and issued a formal reprimand on her file and transcripts, yet allowed her to graduate with her class. Walker then sued, alleging that the notation was defamatory and cost her job opportunities with prestigious firms, reports the National Law Journal. Unsurprisingly, she lost.

So, Why Is Alan Dershowitz Accused of Underage Sex?

Wait, famed criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz is being accused of having sex with underage girls? And Prince Andrew, too? The legal community has been salivating over news that this might be the case, but the procedural posture of all of this is not only equally strange, but equally tantalizing.

As a public service, let us explain just what's going on here.

#DearFindLaw: Fall Grades Are In. Now What?

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

It's the moment law students have been waiting for (and dreading): grades.

All that work, all that studying, all those tests are long-since past and your all-important grades lie before you on the screen -- teasing, taunting, rewarding, and punishing you for the past few months.

Your grades are here. Now what?

5 Reasons 2015 Will Be a Better Year for Lawyers

So you've been hearing a lot about how lawyers are all unemployed and make no money, how law school is expensive, and how there are no jobs for graduates. We can see how you would reasonably infer that the legal profession is having a bit of a hiccup.

Cheer up! No, seriously! This year, 2015, promises to be a good year for lawyers and law graduates, thanks in part to some good stuff that happened in 2014. See? It wasn't all bad!

Here are five reasons to be optimistic:

Brain Drain: Are Law Schools Taking Less Qualified Students?

We know that law school demand is down. We know that fewer people are taking the LSAT, applying to law school, and actually going. The trend is inarguable at this point, with schools enrolling the fewest number of 1Ls since 1974 -- when there were 53 fewer ABA-accredited law schools.

One might think that the smallest class sizes in decades would mean that most law schools' admissions standards are holding steady. One would be terribly wrong, it seems.

Alaska Lawyers, Pot, and Ethics: Here's What You Need to Know

Quit harshing my mellow! Now that recreational marijuana will soon be legal (under state law) in The Last Frontier, can attorneys advise clients on getting into the pot business? After all, it's still illegal under federal law.

Yeah, that's great. But the thing that lawyers really want to know is: Can I smoke, too?

Title IX Report for Harvard Law Follows Sex Harassment Policy Changes

Harvard Law School botched two sexual assault complaint investigations, according to a Department of Education report released last week. In one, the school took more than a year to resolve a complaint, did not allow the complainant to participate, and ultimately reversed a decision to dismiss the accused from the law school, reports Boston.com.

The DOE report follows a controversial change in Harvard University's sexual assault policy that was enacted over the summer, despite a strongly worded open letter objecting to the changes by 28 members of the Harvard Law faculty. According to Boston.com, despite those objections, Harvard Law will now follow the university's policy as part of an agreement resolving the DOE investigation.

The investigation, interestingly, was prompted by a report to the DOE from a member of the New England School of Law's faculty that Harvard Law's policies might have violated Title IX.

5 Books Lawyers Should Be Reading in 2015

Yeah, yeah, you've been saying "I should read more" for years, but you never do. Well, here's the utility argument: Reading good writing makes your writing better. That's right, regular old fiction and non-fiction can make your legal writing better.

Of course, that's not why you should be reading. You should be reading because it's fun, you learn things, and you get insight into the human condition. Stuff like that. So here are five books that lawyers should have been reading in 2014 (or that you can put on your list for 2015):