Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

August 2015 Archives

Two years ago, the Pew Research Center announced that lawyers were the most hated professionals in America. No surprise there -- very few people think their ex's divorce attorney was just a committed professional doing the best for her client.

But for all the hate, there are plenty of lawyers that are deeply loved. And it's not just the usual suspects like politicians and judges. A good handful of movie stars, singers, and comedians can tack on a JD after their name.

The law might finally be catching up to some of the Internet's least favorite lawyers. An attorney from the infamous Prenda Law firm is currently facing disciplinary action in Illinois. That lawyer, John Steele, and his partner Paul Hansmeier, are thought to be the "masterminds" behind Prenda Law's long running copyright trolling shakedown scheme, according to Arstechnica.

After being hit with sanction, upon sanction, upon sanction, at least one Prenda Law lawyer might finally end up disbarred.

So it begins. Another school year starts, another cadre of new law students sit down to learn about the law -- only to quickly realize they have no idea what they're doing. If you're a new 1L, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the new things you're just supposed to know how to do.

You've probably heard everyone talk about briefing (or outlining) cases. Good outlining and note taking are definitely skills that take some time to perfect, but they're ones that are indispensable. A strong case brief will help you survive the worst cold call grilling. Solid notes can carry you through your exams.

A Chicago defense attorney has found himself on trial last week, facing allegations that he illegally coached witnesses to lie on the stand. Defense attorney Beau Brindley is accused of a host of violations, from scripting witness answers to making illegal fee arraignments and interfering with grand jury investigations.

Brindley was considered an "up-and-coming" criminal defense attorney, according to the Chicago Tribune. But he doesn't seem to have been very good at his own criminality. An FBI raid on his law firm last year turned up a trove of written evidence of Brindley's alleged wrongdoing, including emails outlining the exact answers witnesses should give on the stand. Brindley's trial is particularly bizarre, since its taking place in the Chicago courthouse where Brindley still regularly represents criminal defendants.

Does the Donald having you itching for a career in politics? Does litigating poorly designed laws make you wish you had a hand in writing better ones? Don't worry, you don't have to become a politician in order to change the law -- working as a lobbyist can be a much more lucrative alternative. How lucrative? Eleven thousand lobbyists spent over $3 billion last year to influence the political process.

And lawyers are well situated to pursue a career as lobbyists. From their ability to understand laws, to their dedication to their clients' needs, to their sometimes questionable moral compasses, attorneys can be the influence peddlers.

An Ohio lawyer has surrendered his law license and will never practice again after police accused him of hypnotizing clients -- yes, hypnotizing-- for dirty talk and sexual assault. Ex-attorney Michael William Fine allegedly coupled his family law practice with hypnosis, putting female clients under a trance for his own sexual pleasure and extra billable hours.

Fine is currently facing civil and criminal proceedings along with disciplinary action from the state bar. Court filings in the criminal case, according local news station WKYC, read "like a graphic sex novel."

Thousands of unprepared new law students will be heading off to law school in the next week or two, ready to give three years of life and thousands of dollars over for the chance of becoming a lawyer. The first stop on that journey? Law school orientation -- that weird, week-long introduction to law school.

If you're stressed about orientation, don't worry. If you're extremely excited, maybe bring your expectations down a bit. Orientation isn't great and it isn't terrible -- it's simply a chance to familiarize yourself with the law school and your classmates. Here are some tips to help you do orientation right.

Defense attorneys do more than represent criminals. Apparently, they also make friends with them when there are nefarious deeds to be done. This seems to be the case with Frank Carson, a defense attorney in Modesto, California who allegedly used his criminal connections to mastermind a murder-to-hire plot.

In jail since last Friday, Carson is currently held without bail. If all goes well for the prosecutors, Carson may indeed be able to continue developing his relationships with criminals -- as he spends quality time with them behind bars.

An enemy can be a motivator. Many public defenders can fight harder for their clients because they believe that most prosecutors are awful. Corporate counsel can try to destroy employment discrimination lawyers -- in court, of course -- because they think they're pesky opportunists. Viewing the other side as the other side isn't always the worst thing. The law is an adversarial system, after all.

But of course, no one wants adversaries on their own side. No one needs them outside of the courtroom. As competitive as lawyers can be, especially when they're just starting out, it's entirely possible to move up ranks in your firm without making enemies.

Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig is pondering a run for president, with the intention of resigning soon after he takes office. Lessig is thinking of running for one reason: electoral reform. Should he win, he'll work to pass a single set of electoral reforms and then immediately resign. He promises.

Why doesn't he just announce his candidacy? This anti-big money, anti-gerrymandering, anti-Citizens United pseudo-candidate wants to makes sure there's enough support. So get ready to hand over a million dollars by Labor Day if you want him to throw his hat into the Democratic primaries.

Congrats future 1L's! You should be starting your new career as a law student any day now. You should be especially happy with your choice, now that legal hiring is finally starting to rebound. Three years from now and you should be living it up as a greedy associate -- or maybe one of those happy lawyers.

But let's not look too far into the future. What should you expect right at the beginning, when you first show up on campus? Here's a quick overview of what to expect as you start out as a law student:

OCI is here and there's plenty to fear. If you're a rising 2L gunning for a high paying, high profile job, this can be your make it or break it moment. That means, don't stress about your 2L classes, the end of your summer internship, or the future of the Supreme Court: right now, you should be devoting yourself fully to OCI prep.

Of course, prep means knowing not just what to do, but what not to do. With that in mind, here are five disastrous mistakes we beg you not to make during OCI:

I can still remember when Party of the First Part and I fell in love. Our eyes met across the court room aisle and I knew he would be mine -- so I drafted a dating contract and got ready to negotiate. Let me tell you, there was some very valid consideration.

Of course, none of that is true because I'm not a sociopath. We can't say the same thing for all lawyers. One struggling Don Juan, Esq., was unfortunate enough to have his three page dating contract passed along to Above the Law. Apparently, the lawyer's lover didn't take the confidentiality clause very seriously.

A note to all the J.D.'s who just sat for the California bar exam: you're chumps. The State Bar Board of Trustees has unanimously approved dropping the bar exam's notorious third day. That brings California in line with pretty much every other state bar exam. Had you waited just two more years, you would have had a third less to do.

But don't worry, the future, shorter exam won't be any easier.

How to Prepare for OCI

It's already August. For law students, that means on campus interviews, more commonly known as "OCI." OCI is where fledgling, soon-to-be-lawyers take some of the very first steps down their career path.

You've sent out your resume and been matched for interviews. You have your suit pressed and a haircut scheduled for the day before. Now what? Here are five tips for preparing for OCI, whether you've got two days until your first interview or two weeks.

Legal ethics and musical theater, a match made in heaven? Well, not exactly, but at least one troupe of lawyers is looking to make legal ethics CLE programs a little less monotonous and a lot more entertaining by taking a note from Broadway.

A group of Texas lawyers calling themselves the Ethics Follies has been putting on musical legal ethics performances for years. Their most recently production was a riff off Monty Python's Spamalot, entitled, appropriately, Scamalot.

File this one to "lawyers behaving really, really badly." A recently disbarred San Francisco lawyer and Harvard Law grad has been arrested for robbing a Bay Area home and kidnapping one of its residents. Matthew Muller, the alleged crimson kidnapper then attempted to ransom the woman for $15,000.

That is, if the kidnapping took place at all. Before arresting Muller, police had been convinced that the entire robbery-abduction was a hoax.