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April 2017 Archives

Former Law Student Sues Over Sexual Harassment at University of Iowa

This is not a typical "he said, she said" case.

In a multi-faceted sexual harassment claim, this story has more cross-overs than a bar exam fact-pattern. First, Matthew Bailey sued the University of Iowa to keep the law school from suspending him. Then he sued a fellow student who allegedly harassed him. Now he is suing the law school for failing to investigate his harassment claim.

Oh, and then there's the disorderly conduct matter against Bailey. Wait, maybe this is a typical college case.

Moonlighting for Lawyers: How to Improve Your Career by Taking a Second Job

Kim Pearson, a real estate attorney, opened a hot dog stand because he wanted to do something different on the side.

Forty years and tons of hot dogs later, he's more famous for his Law Dogs than his lawyering. Los Angeles news stations, and even the Walt Disney Company, took note of Pearson's hot dog business.

Pearson said he sold Disney the rights to his story for a sitcom, but the company declined his request to cast Robert Redford to play his part.

"They said they were thinking more about Danny DeVito," he said.

If his story makes you smile, then maybe you should consider a side job, too. Sure it's about making extra money, but it can also be about doing something you really enjoy.

Why Going to the Best Law School Is Not the Best Choice

True or false? Going to the best law school is not the best choice.

Like those tricky LSAT questions, the counter-intuitive choice here is the correct answer. According to Malcolm Gladwell, the famed columnist and author on relative choices, going to the best law school actually hurts your chances of success in the real world.

Writing for the New Yorker, Gladwell said law school rankings do not tell students where they will get the best results. For example, he said, the annual U.S. News & World report is not a guide to the best teachers.

"There's no direct way to measure the quality of an institution -- how well a college manages to inform, inspire, and challenge its students," he said. "So the U.S. News algorithm relies instead on proxies for quality -- and the proxies for educational quality turn out to be flimsy at best."

Denver Lawyers Fight for Marijuana Extract in Suit Against DEA

Not all drug wars take place on the streets. Some spill over into the courts.

In the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a long-fought battle over marijuana is coming back to the forefront. The Hemp Industries Association is challenging a rule by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that outlaws the marijuana derivate "cannabidiol."

It is a feud that dates back so many administrations and generations ago, like the Hatfields and the McCoys, that some have forgotten how it started.

Berkeley Settles Sex Harassment Case Against Former Law School Dean

Ending a story that may never be told in court, UC Berkeley School of Law has settled a controversial sexual harassment case against the school and its former dean.

Sujit Choudhry, who resigned as dean last year after a former assistant sued him for sexual harassment, has settled the case. So has the university, which will pay $1.7 million to Tyann Sorrell and her attorneys.

Although the settlement agreement with the university is confidential, it has already been released on the internet. It does not admit liability and contains no details of Sorrell's allegations.

"This has been a long and challenging road for herself, her family and the campus community," said Leslie Levy, who represented Sorrell in the case. She and the university declined to comment further.

Top 1L's, Are You Getting Ready to Transfer?

Many people move in the summer time, and that includes first-year law students -- especially those who want to move up.

Michael Matta, for example, was attending George Washington University Law School in 2015. But as he was completing his first year, he took a chance and applied for a transfer to UCLA School of Law.

He succeeded, landing in a higher-ranked law school and paying less for tuition. It turned out to be the best move in his legal career, and it was easier than he expected.

"Even if it doesn't end up panning out, it's still totally worth it to try," he told the ABA Journal. "I think a lot of people would really kick themselves in the butt if they knew they could do it and didn't."

Which State Has the Worst Bar Pass Rate?

Is it harder to pass the Mississippi bar exam or to spell the state's name -- without looking or repeating that memory jingle?

If that mnemonic jumped into your head or you looked, no worries -- let's just say 50 percent of the people can't spell "Mississippi" without cheating a little. But did you know that barely 36 percent of the people who took the Mississippi bar exam in February passed?

That is just wrong. Or at least, that is the worst bar pass rate in like forever.

If you're looking to make an impact, however small, on human rights and legal education, consider checking out "The Promise" this weekend. The film, which stars Christian Bale and debuts on Friday, tells the tale of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which saw as many as 1.5 million Armenians massacred.

You won't just be watching a movie, though. You'll be helping support UCLA law school's new Promise Institute for Human Rights. The institute will be funded by $20 million in proceeds from the film and will dedicate itself to research and advocacy on genocide and human rights.

Whittier Law School Is Closing After Years of Declining Enrollment

In the wake of declining enrollments at law schools across the country, Whittier Law School will become the first ABA-accredited law school to close its doors to new students.

According to reports, Whittier trustees voted not to enroll new first-year students in the fall and to start shutting down the program. They had explored other possibilities, including merging or selling to other entities, but decided closing was their only option.

"We believe we have looked at every realistic option to continue a successful law program," said Alan Lund, the board's chairman said in a statement. "Unfortunately, these efforts did not lead to a desired outcome."

Disillusioned by Mandatory Sentences, Judge Joins Civil Rights Firm

Why would a federal judge leave a lifetime appointment, opportunities for advancement, and an excellent retirement plan to go back to the trenches of law practice?

Three words: mandatory minimum sentences.

Judge Kevin H. Sharp sentenced a young man to life because it was mandatory under sentencing guidelines, but he regretted the decision.

"If there was any way I could have not given him life in prison I would have done it," Sharp told the Tennessean.

When Should You Defer Law School Admission?

If you are thinking about deferring your law school admission, think again.

It is not much of a problem if you haven't actually been accepted because you are not technically "deferring admission." If your application has been accepted, however, then you may have a problem.

Law schools generally do not like it when applicants ask to defer admission after being accepted. Depending on your reason, a law school could say anything from "OK" to "oh no, you didn't."

The law remains one of the most homogeneous professions in America. But when it comes to efforts to bring a little more diversity into the nation's biggest law firms, you'd expect strong support from those firms' junior lawyers, right? After all, Millennials aren't just the most diverse generation today, they're significantly more likely than their elders to view diversity and inclusion as an important factor when considering a job.

Yet, when it comes to diversifying the legal profession, Millennial associates' enthusiasm for diversity is significantly lower than their firm's partners', according to a new survey.

Judge's 'Ignorance of the Law' Led to Campaign Finance Violations

How much interest can you get from campaign loans?

Too much for Judge Tara Flanagan, who won her race for the Alameda County Superior Court in 2012 but is still paying for some campaign loans. Flanagan borrowed $25,000 from her campaign treasurer to run for the job, but it's not the interest on the loans that is the problem.

It's the interest from the loans that is killing her. The state Fair Political Practices Commission fined Flanagan $4,500 in 2015 for improperly reporting the loans, and now the state Commission of Judicial Commission has publicly admonished her for the violations.

"I was a first time judicial candidate and did not understand how to properly report a personal loan that I used for campaign expenditures," Flanagan said in a statement.

One Lawyer's Mission to Stop Airline Bullying

United Airlines lost the case when Ellen Degeneres, Esq., took the stand.

Commenting on how the airlines forcibly removed one of its passengers, the comedienne told her television audience that it upset everyone on the flight. Chicago airport police literally dragged 69-year-old David Dao off the plane.

"It's crazy, they charged him a $50 removal fee," Degeneres joked. "That's not true, that's not true. No, your first forcible removal is free."

Attorneys say United acted within its rights under the company's contract of carriage. But a court of law will probably never have to decide the case.

For how difficult they are to obtain, law licenses have a ridiculously short reach. Go to law school, cram for a bar exam, jump over dozens of state bar admissions hurdles and voila, you're ready to begin your legal career -- in a single state or just a handful, depending on your original state bar's reciprocity agreements.

That means that if you want to switch from, say, lawyering in L.A. to a career in Chicago, you may need to retake the bar exam. So, just how terrible, horrible, gruesome, and horrific is taking a second state bar exam?

You can't ask for much more than having fun, getting paid, and maybe grabbing a decent slice of pizza on the side. This week's cool legal jobs hit all three of the above bases.

As part of our affiliate relationship with Indeed, we've rounded up some of the most exciting legal jobs we could find, including a spot with a major sports team, one at the cutting edge of banking, and one with, well, Papa John's.

Manhattan Law Clerk Jumps to Death, Like Lawyer Before Him

A clerk at a Manhattan law firm leapt to his death this week, a month after a lawyer at a nearby law firm committed suicide the same way.

Ken Freeling, an attorney at Covington & Burlington, plunged to his death from his ninth story apartment in March. The clerk, unidentified at the scene on April 10, jumped from the 10th floor offices of Satterlee Stephens.

The deaths appear unrelated, except for the fact that both victims worked at law firms five blocks from each other. It almost goes without saying that law firm life is notoriously stressful, as the American Bar Association acknowledges on its website.

Chad wonders whether he should mention his years at Choate when interviewing for a 2L summer associate position at Kirkland & Ellis. Bronwyn wants to include her water polo championship on her resume for K&L Gates, next to that alternative spring break work in Honduras, of course.

Should they? Yes, Chad should. But no, Bronwyn should not. Turns out that class signifiers, like boarding schools and blue-blood sports, make firms more likely to hire wealthy men for summer associates spots, while harming the chances of female applicants.

Alleged Ponzi Scheme Lawyer Finally Caught After 20 Years on the Lam

The law finally caught up with Scott J. Wolas -- and Eugene J. Grathwohl, Allen L. Hengst, Drew Prescott, Frank Amolsch, Endicott Asquith, and Cameron Sturge.

These are names Wolas used over the 20 years that he was on the lam. A former partner at Hunton & Williams, he vanished 20 years ago in the midst of an investigation into a Ponzi scheme.

Wolas has been arrested and charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in an unrelated investment fraud. And he almost got away with it -- again.

"For years, Wolas was the guy who got away," the Boston Globe reported.

To get into a good law school, you not only need a high score on the LSAT and a decent undergrad GPA, you need some recommendations. At least two letters of recommendation, to be specific, one of which should probably be from a former professor. But as you run around begging others to sing your praises, then upload those praises to LSAC, you might wonder, is any of this worth it, when schools are much more likely to make their decision based on your hard numbers?

That is, do those letters of recommendation even matter? The answer is: probably.

MBE Scores Fall to Their Lowest Ever

A picture could tell this story much better, but imagine this: a cliff with a drop-off so steep you cannot see the bottom.

That's what the latest Multi-state Bar Exam results look like. It's not just bad; it's scary bad. The drop-off is so steep, it makes President Trump's approval ratings look good.

According to reports, these are the worst test results since bar examiners started keeping track. It is the third year in a row that test scores have fallen a full point, showing a trend that suggests even more students will fail the bar exam this year.

Over five decades, Bob Dylan has left an indelible mark on American culture and music -- and even on the law. His lyrics are cited in judicial opinions more than any other writer's, winding up in everything from federal administrative law opinions (citing "Like a Rolling Stone") to state consumer fraud rulings ("It Ain't Me, Babe").

But Dylan's influence reaches beyond rhetorical flourishes and poetic asides, according to Vermont Law professor Philip N. Meyer. Dylan has had "a profound influence upon lawyers and judges, especially mid- to late-career baby boomers like myself," Meyer argued recently in the ABA Journal.

Some Law Schools Finally Offer Breastfeeding Accommodations for New Mothers

Most of the time, I try to write with some empathy, objectivity, or insight.

But when I am out of my element, I rely on the experiences of others or I default to attempts at humor. With that said, I confess I have never breastfed -- at least not since I was an infant.

I have been a law student, however, so let me share what little I learned about lactation accommodations in law school. Apparently, there are not that many, but some schools are finally beginning to add accommodations for new mothers.

It's a sad day for the legal community in Chicago. Cook County Associate Judge Raymond Myles was fatally shot outside his home in Chicago's South Side this morning. Judge Myles was killed in what appears to have been a robbery attempt gone awry. A woman he was with was shot in the leg and hospitalized.

Myles, 66, had been involved in adjudicating several high-profile cases during his years on the bench, including the trial of William Balfour, who was convicted for killing several of Jennifer Hudson's relatives.

BigLaw to Oust Partner Who Sued Firm for Gender Discrimination

Usually, workers sue their employers after they have been fired.

And sometimes, employers sue their workers after terminating them.

But these are lawyers suing lawyers, and there is nothing usual about their lawsuit. Kerrie Campbell, a partner at the 400-lawyer firm of Chadbourne & Parke, sued the firm for $100 million for underpaying women. The partnership sued back for breaching confidentiality and smearing the firm.

Now, after eight months of litigation, Chadbourne is thinking about letting the partner go. Ya think?

If you want a cool job, they're out there. The internet is virtually flooded with openings in interesting practice areas or with exciting companies.

Just take this week's batch for example. As part of our affiliate relationship with Indeed, we've rounded up legal openings at Google, in Daimler, and with a tour company that promises to "surf you to the moon" -- or just take you snorkeling in Maui.

How the Military Prepares You for Law School

Alex Frank, a second-year law student at Yale, cannot help but draw on lessons he learned in the Army.

In officer training, Frank learned about discipline, grit, and how to face adverse situations -- like the first year of law school. When he arrived in Afghanistan in 2010 to lead a platoon, he had to hit the ground running.

"The military has a very formulaic operations order process which is really important for communicating all the key information that you need," Frank said in the Yale News. "There are all these different components of moving pieces -- one second calling for fires on the radio, the next talking to your gunner and driver telling them to be somewhere else, etc. -- that you need to understand with great depth to be able to direct and switch between them with great clarity."

It was that experience -- applying discipline and taking command -- that has distinguished Frank and other veterans in law school. It is something that doesn't come naturally, but only after dedicated training.

Lawyer Wants to Marry His Laptop -- Really?

Some people love their laptops, but this guy is ridiculous -- or is he?

Chris Sevier says he wants to marry his laptop, and he has filed complaints in five different courts to prove it. But is he really in love with his machine?

According to reports, Sevier is actually trying to show that same-sex marriage is ridiculous. The former lawyer and Vanderbilt law graduate has been joined by an animal lover who wants to marry her parrot in this unusual, if not unnatural, quest.

Handling Learning Disabilities in Law School

Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind student to graduate from Harvard Law School, received international acclaim when she began her career in the law.

President Barack Obama greeted her at the White House, where she gave the opening address for the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has devoted her career to inspiring people through public speaking and non-litigation advocacy, and now she's writing a memoir about her experiences.

So how did she do it, literally? How did she make it through law school with her particular disabilities?

Want to start a New Wave cover band, performing the greatest hits from Boy George and Flock of Seagulls? Have you always wanted to stick a neckerchief and sleeveless denim jacket and do your best "Born to Run," maybe backed by the F Street Band?

Go for it. Even when you're a millionaire, that cover-band cash could keep rolling in. That was one of the revelations in the White House financial disclosures released last week, which noted that White House counsel Don McGahn made $2.4 million at Jones Day last year, with a few grand on the side coming from the '80s cover band, Scott's New Band.

Court Says Applicant, Who Didn't Go to College, May Take the Bar Exam

It takes a lot to change bar exam requirements, which figures in a profession built on a pedagogical approach that dates back to Socrates.

Times are changing, however, with things like the Uniform Bar Exam gaining traction in many states. Even California, with its feared three-day exam, is going to a two-day format this year.

But rarely in the annals of bar exam history have examiners been schooled like the Oklahoma Board of Bar Examiners. The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the board's reading of an admission requirement like a disgusted law professor throwing a test back at a surly student.

"What kind of fried okra is this anyway?!" the court could have thundered.

A judge outside of Nashville, Tennessee is accused of trading sexual favors in exchange for dismissed fees, fines, even criminal charges.

Judge Cason "Casey" Moreland, of Nashville's General Sessions Court, was arrested last week and charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering in connection to a quid-pro-quo scheme involving at least two women who obtained favorable judicial treatment after some hanky panky with Hizzoner.

Is 'Legal Technician' a New Career Path in WA?

After 15 months of training paralegal specialists, Washington's experiment produced a little more than a dozen "Limited License Legal Technicians." Not exactly a booming field, but at least it didn't blow up.

The State Supreme Court and the State Bar Association started the program to provide legal services to people who could not afford a lawyer but needed more than paralegals could provide traditionally. Unlike paralegals who work in law firms, the LLLTs were trained to provide services directly to clients without attorney supervision.

According to a new report, the limited legal technician program is a limited success. It serves an important purpose, but needs more paralegals and money.