Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

January 2017 Archives

Poor Mike Wood. He never wanted to be known as 'the Anna Nicole Smith judge.' But that's exactly what he became after a dispute over the estate of Anna Nicole's late husband landed in his probate court -- a dispute that's lasted for 20 years and counting.

Now Wood is begging, literally begging, to be recused from the case.

Food Drive Kicks off for Charlotte Law School's Starving Students

Charlotte School of Law's food drive brings new meaning to the phrase, "starving students."

The embattled law school is in fact holding a food drive for its own students. Since the Department of Education cut off student funds to the school last month, some students literally cannot afford to buy food.

"How can we be prepared for class when we can't feed ourselves?" said third-year student Margaret Kocaj. "How can we study when we have headaches because we can't afford to eat? This is our reality now. There are no words."

Debt-to-Salary Report Shows Which Law Schools Are Worth the Investment

Raise a glass to higher salaries and lower law school debt!

Or if you're a glass-half-full kinda person, you might want to just skip it -- like skip law school altogether because maybe it's not worth the investment.

There's good news and bad news for prospective law students who are worried about the cost of a legal education. Based on a new report by SoFi, the good news is that more law schools are proving their worth when it comes to debt-to-salary ratios. The bad news is that there are still plenty of schools graduating students with large debts and comparatively low salaries. that can't say the same.

Thousands descended on America's airports this weekend, protesting an executive order signed by President Trump on Friday that banned immigrants and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Protesters came equipped with bullhorns, signs, and even, in San Francisco, a brass band.

Amid the calls of "No ban, no walls, sanctuary for all!" a remarkable chant broke out: "Thank you, lawyers!"

Who will win next weekend's Super Bowl showdown, the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons? Who cares! (It's the Falcons.) What matters is that you win -- win in the career game, that is. And, if you're a lawyer with a passion for pig skin, you can.

In honor of Super Bowl LI, and as part of our affiliate relationship with Indeed, we're bringing you the three coolest, football-related legal jobs we could find this week.

President Trump has pledged to announce his Supreme Court nomination next Thursday, setting up another major battle over the Supreme Court seat that has sat vacant for nearly a year now. But the Supreme Court is just one spot Trump has to fill -- one spot out of 114.

That's right, there are more than 100 current vacancies in the federal courts, and it now falls to Trump to fill them.

Saturday Night Live is having a bit of a renaissance these days, fueled largely by its nearly endless mockery of Donald Trump -- mockery that really seems to get under the president's skin, regularly sending him on early-morning tweet rampages. Not since Sarah Palin ran for vice president has the show been so politically relevant.

But Trump isn't SNL's only target. On their most recent episode, the sketch comedy show skewered lawyers, telling the tale of one struggling, kidney-less, and possibly unlicensed fictional attorney, Jeremy Ganz.

Victim Tells Her Story of Lawyer Who Hypnotized Clients for Sex

You are not getting sleepy as you read this story.

This is the twisted tale of a lawyer who hypnotized clients for sex, and a judge who said she was victimized by a man who hypnotized women for sex. They are actually two separate stories, but they intersect in a town, as Rod Serling would have said, somewhere in the Twilight Zone. Unlike the television show, however, these stories are true.

Michael Fine, an Ohio divorce attorney, was caught on video attempting to seduce a client through hypnonsis. In the newly released video, Fine says:

LSAT Takers Surge: Are Law Schools Making a Comeback?

In the biggest jump up in seven years, nearly 8 percent more students took the Law School Admission Test last year than the previous year.

The Law School Admission Council reported that LSAT numbers increased 7.6 percent over last December, which represents the largest year-over-year growth in testing since December 2009. It was the third year in a row with an increase, after a 53.2 percent drop over the previous four years.

It may signal better weather ahead for law schools, where enrollments fell precipitously during the same time. Nationwide, law school enrollment dropped about 30 percent. Some law schools saw more than 50 percent decreases.

Feds Sue for Bad Student Loan Servicing

A federal consumer protection agency has sued the nation's largest student-loan servicing company for cheating borrowers, allegedly pushing them into higher interest rates and payments on federally backed loans.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Navient, which services more than $300 billion in loans, for failing to advise borrowers of programs that would have saved them money. Instead, the agency said, Navient gave student borrowers inaccurate information, processed payments incorrectly, and steered them toward higher-cost repayment options.

"At every stage of repayment, Navient chose to shortcut and deceive consumers to save on operating costs," said agency Director Richard Cordray. "Too many borrowers paid more for their loans because Navient illegally cheated them, and today's action seeks to hold them accountable."

All the talk about the Emoluments Clause you've been hearing lately may be soon put to the test. A group of high-profile legal scholars filed a lawsuit yesterday, alleging that the Trump administration is in violation of this once-obscure constitutional provision.

The Emoluments Clause, neighbor to the Nobility Clause, prohibits members of the government from receiving emoluments, or payments, from foreign governments. The Trump administration, with the president's vast business holdings, is already in violation of that clause, according to the suit. The government of China, Saudi Arabia, or, say, Russia, for example, could seek to influence the president by renting a room at the new Trump hotel in Washington, D.C. -- rooms that top out at $25,000 a night.

Judicial precedent is one of the foundations of the American legal system. That's why law students spend years reading old cases, why you pass hours researching past opinions on Westlaw, why you search for ways to apply or differentiate cases. Understanding precedent, and the role it plays in the law, is key to becoming a good lawyer. Yet, the doctrine of precedent is rarely addressed directly and systematically in law school curriculum.

Despite precedent's prominence, more than a century has passed since the last hornbook-style treatise on the doctrine. That is, until now. Bryan Garner, along with 12 distinguished appellate judges, recently published "The Law of Judicial Precedent," a survey of centuries of law and thousands of cases. Garner recently spoke with FindLaw about the book and the role of precedent in the law. Here are some highlights.

Why Lawyers Shouldn't Handle Their Own Divorce Cases

A New York patent attorney made the classic mistake of representing himself in an emotional divorce case, where he quickly found himself in over his head. He was in deep water, as in the Titanic-going-down deep. Here's just the tip of the iceberg at the end of a custody hearing:

The court: "Is there anything else"

Lawyer: "Yeah, your Honor. I am tired of these lies coming from you on the record."

Few Asian-Americans in Top Legal Jobs, National Survey Reveals

After leading a national survey of Asian-Americans in the legal profession, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu saw that he serves in a uniquely rare position.

Liu is one of three Asian-Americans serving on the high court. With a seven-member panel, the court is 42 percent Asian-American.

And there is no place like it in the country, where Asian Americans comprise more than five percent of the general population but less than two percent of the judicial population. Liu, with a team of Yale students, found that Asian-Americans are well-represented in legal jobs but under-represented in the top positions.

"They have a foot in the door in virtually every sector of the legal profession," Liu told the Associated Press. "The question now is how wide that door's going to swing open for them."

If you feel like your career needs a jolt, maybe a switch to the energy sector is what you're looking for.

This week, as part of our affiliate relationship with Indeed, we're looking at openings in companies that handle everything from major dams to nuclear research. These gigs combine typical transactional law with a warren of government regulations and cutting-edge technology. They could be just what you need to give your work some spark.

Former Hastings Dean Says Struggling Law Schools Should Merge to Survive

A former Hastings law school dean says that struggling law schools need to make big changes to survive, and mergers may be their solution in a difficult economy.

Frank H. Wu, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law who served as dean from 2010-2015, knows the trouble they've seen. Facing financial pressures from falling enrollments that rocked law schools across the country, many schools lowered their admissions standards and then saw their students' bar pass rates fall.

In 2016, Hastings' pass rate dropped to an embarrassing low of 51 percent. Hastings dean David Faigman called upon the law school to improve, but also blasted California's bar examiners for making the test too hard. "This is outrageous and constitutes unconscionable conduct on the part of a trade association that masquerades as a state agency," he said.

At the same time, the job market shrank for lawyers and fewer students enrolled for law school. Wu says the problem is economic.

When Adam MacLeod got a traffic-cam ticket, he wasn't about to just cut a check and call it a day. Being an associate professor of law, MacLeod decided to fight the ticket. Or rather, as he describes it, to turn "a routine traffic ticket into the constitutional trial of the century."

Not one to toot his own horn, MacLeod says he's recounting his tale of legal terror and triumph "only to show how our ruling elites have corrupted the rule of law and to suggest why this matters for the American experiment in self-governance." Plus, he got out of the ticket.

Sober Lawyer Regains License to Practice

Three years ago, attorney Frank Barnwell McMaster woke up from the worst hangover in his life.

It was not the pain in his brain that floored him, it was his mug shot in the media after he was arrested for his second alcohol-related crime. McMaster, the brother of South Carolina's former attorney general, was now the poster boy for alcoholic lawyers. An irreverent website took a swipe at McMaster and his famous brother, posting the mug shot with the lead-in:

"What would former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster look like if they made a Palmetto political version of 'The Hangover' films?" FitNews posed.

"Probably something like his younger brother Frank McMaster of Lexington, S.C. -- who was busted late last month on charges of illegally tampering with a vehicle, discharging a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and disorderly conduct."

For the first time ever, there are more women in law school than men, and women continue to make up an increasing percentage of the lawyers. But when it comes to making partner at many BigLaw firms, well, it's still very much a boys' club.

But some firms bucked that trend in 2016. According to an analysis by Bloomberg Big Law Business, 21 BigLaw firms had 2016 partnership classes that were 50 percent female or higher. Indeed, three firms promoted only women to partnership in 2016.

Law Grad Argues to Take Bar Exam After Failing to Disclose Traffic Violations

Shamir L. Coll may have felt he had a fool for a client in his first case before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Coll, representing himself in the case, faced tough questions from the justices about his failure to disclose traffic convictions on an application to take the bar exam. Coll said that his traffic record wasn't material to his bar admission, and that the First Amendment protected his right to say the police who cited him were racially motivated.

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said that Coll's case was not about his opinion, but about his respect for the rules of the court. The bar application asked whether he had any traffic convictions.

"You were asked to respond to these questions," she said. "You were given multiple opportunities to respond to the question, and you pretty much took it upon yourself to be non-responsive."

Career Advice for Millennial Lawyers From Vince Lombardi

As the Super Bowl approaches, it is fitting to review a few lessons from Vince Lombardi, the greatest coach in NFL history.

After his team lost the title one year, he took his players back to training camp to teach them the fundamentals. He held up a pigskin and said: "Gentlemen, this is a football."

Lombardi, who won five NFL championships in seven years, taught players how to win on the field and his teachings have inspired people in all walks of life. Applied to law students and new lawyers trying to hone their skills in the workplace, here are some Lombardi quotes concerning consider:

Are you interested in the ways the law impacts non-human animals? Are you fascinated about the rights of primates, or the implications of biomedical science? Do you just want to hug every cat?

Well, then you might be interested in animal law -- and luckily, there are a few openings in this niche practice area. So, push your cat off your keyboard and load up your resume. This week, as part of our affiliate relationship with Indeed, we're bringing you the coolest three legal jobs we could find dealing with animals and the law.

Education Dept. Puts For-Profit Law Schools on Notice for Student-Debt Ratios

Being 'in the zone' is a good thing for basketball players. It means they are in a Michael Jordan-like zone where every shot seems to go in the basket.

For students at for-profit law schools, not so much. It means their law schools are failing education department standards or are "in the zone" for failure.

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education, virtually every for-profit law school in the country has failed debt-to-earnings ratios or is "in the zone" for failure. That means the schools are at risk of losing federal student loans because their students are not making enough money to repay them.

The legal twitterverse is an interesting place. Every day, you've got top lawyers, legal scholars, and even judges tweeting their thoughts and insights. And FindLaw is right there beside them.

Over the past year, our FindLaw for Legal Professionals account sent out more than 2,000 tweets. They were smart, helpful, funny, and, since this is the internet, occasionally filled with gifs of cats. Here are our top six of the past year.

We're probably a long ways away from colonizing Mars, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of people out there giving space exploration their best efforts. And unlike the Space Race, a lot of our extraterrestrial adventures now involve private actors.

Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley billionaire behind Tesla and SpaceX, wants to send humans to the Red Planet ASAP. Virgin Galactic is planning on flying you to space -- some day. Tickets should be just a few hundred thousand dollars. And last summer, a private company earned federal approval for travel to a celestial body. Moon Express became the first company to make it through the government's space regulatory scheme in August, earning the right to follow in Neil Armstrong's footsteps.

What do these businesses need? Not astronauts. Lawyers. And that means your dreams of a Space Law career might take off, someday soon.

Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Trump's nominee for attorney general, went before his colleagues today in a marathon confirmation hearing -- now on its fifth hour and still ongoing. (You can watch the live stream here.)

If confirmed, and so far it looks like Sessions will be confirmed, the Republican Senator from Alabama will become the head of the Department of Justice and the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer in the federal government. Here are some of the highlights from the hearings thus far.

Attorney Translates Online Terms for Teens

Jenny Afia, a privacy lawyer and partner at Schillings law firm in London, speaks at least three languages: English, lawyerese, and teen.

English helps her with clients on both sides of the Pond, but it is her command of lawyerspeak and teen talk that is making headlines on the World Wide Web. Afia translated Instagram's "terms of use" into language that teens can understand.

In a new report titled "Growing Up Digital," Afia says that most people don't read the terms of use on websites they visit. It is especially true with teens, who comprise about one-third of all internet users.

"The situation is serious," Afia said. "Young people are unwittingly giving away personal information, with no real understanding of who is holding that information, where they are holding it and what they are going to do with it."

What should you wear to the cocktail party? What should you drink at the cocktail party? How much should you try to schmooze partners at the cocktail party? When can you leave the cocktail party and get back to finishing that memo?

If you're a new lawyer just starting out, getting by in the legal world involves a seemingly endless series of daunting questions -- and not just about legal minutia. To help you out, here are some of our best lifestyle and practice tips, taken from the FindLaw archives.

Hollywood 'Talent Attorney' Joins Arnold on Celebrity Apprentice

After all, maybe it is who you know.

Patrick Knapp Schwarzenegger, the boardroom lawyer for the New Celebrity Apprentice, happens to know the boss on the popular television show. What are the odds?

The governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is taking over the show for Donald Trump. But if you want to become an entertainment lawyer, it is all about connections or "networking." Just ask. The Hollywood Reporter did:

The American Association of Law Schools is having its annual meeting in San Francisco this week, not far from FindLaw's West Coast offices. That means law professors, everywhere. Law professors pitching books. Law professors arguing with panelists. Law professors eating burritos.

Want to join them? You can. Despite the rumors, you don't have to be a Yale Law School grad to become a law professor. So, if academia is in your future, we've got some jobs you should check out. As part of our affiliate relationship with Indeed, this week we're bringing you the coolest law school jobs we could find.

Harvard Law Dean Steps Down to Teach

When Elena Kagan left Harvard to become a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Martha Minow had a tough act to follow as the new dean at Harvard Law School.

That was eight years ago, longer than Minow expected to serve as dean. Now, after weathering financial and enrollment problems that challenged many law schools, Minow is returning to her duties as a professor.

"Leading this institution for the last eight years has been an extraordinary honor and opportunity for daily learning (inspiring me to serve well beyond my initial intention of five years!)," she wrote to her friends and colleagues on Tuesday.

Law Grads Greatly Favor Uniform Bar Exam

In a difficult job market, a vast majority of prospective attorneys want states to adopt a uniform bar exam.

According to a new Kaplan survey, ninety-one percent of law students favor a bar exam that is the same across the board. Virtually all of them say it's because they want more options about where they can practice law.

Half the states have adopted a national test. Four of the largest states -- California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas -- have not. Part of the reason for the difference between the states is the difference in their test standards.

Arizona Summit Law School Escapes Fraud Claims

'Follow the money.'

That's a holdover quote from the Watergate scandal that bought down the President of the United States, and it means that the money trail leads to a motive. In the case of Arizona Summit Law School, the trail leads to InfiLaw Systems, a for-profit consortium of three law schools.

They won a legal battle this week, when a federal judge dismissed a fraud claim by a former employee and student alleging the Arizona law school misrepresented incoming students' grades and admission test scores. However, the judge said the plaintiff may continue her suit against the school for wrongful discharge and other claims.

While the case will proceed without further allegations about the law school's admission policies, they are central to a much bigger war for InfiLaw. All of its law schools -- Arizona, Charlotte School of Law, and Florida Coastal School of Law -- are fighting for their lives based on similar claims.

If you're a law school grad, but you can't find or don't want a job as a lawyer, there are plenty of alternatives: president, talk show host, Cuban revolutionary, or whiskey maker. Consider, too, the cybersecurity field. Cybersecurity, or "the cyber" as some have taken to calling it, is one of the fastest growing tech sectors, with the market predicted to be worth over $200 billion in a few years. The industry is adding millions of jobs and the unemployment rate for those with cybersecurity experience is zero, according to some reports. Zero. That's way better than the unemployment rate of law school grads.

And you don't have to be a computer sciences major to end up in cybersecurity. In a recent interview with Forbes, law school grad and former attorney Shelly Westman talked about her journey from law school to tech. Here's how she got from crim law to Senior VP of Alliances and Field Operations at the data security company Protegrity.

Rural Midwest Has Epic Lawyer Shortage

About midway across the United States, you hit a 72-mile length of I-80 in Nebraska that is the longest stretch of straight road in the United States. A dozen businesses along that route call it "the crossroads."

Nebraska is also a crossroad for some attorneys deciding where to go in their careers. It offers plenty of opportunities because there are no lawyers for miles and miles. If there were any place left for a country lawyer to settle on the American plains, this could be it.