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June 2017 Archives

Law Dean Resigns Over Hostile Work Environment Allegations

Maybe Eric Dannenmaier, former dean at Northern Illinois University College of Law, saw the writing on the wall.

Two women alleged that he created a "hostile work environment" when they worked for the dean as temporary staff at the law school last summer. An investigation found he violated university policy, but did not confirm the hostile workplace claims.

Before school trustees could act on the report, Dannenmaier resigned. He said he was "highly shocked" by the allegations, but chose to resign rather than distract the law school.

Overcoming Age Bias Against Older Lawyers

Winston Churchill, the British prime minister who inspired world-wide resistance against a raging Adolph Hitler, gave his most famous speech when he was 67 years old.

"Give us the tools, and we will finish the job," he said, responding to a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt after Germany bombed London.

Even though people sometimes dismiss the words of an older generation, that rally cry changed the world. In the law, especially for younger lawyers, it is important to recognize that age may in fact be the source of wisdom.

Continuing legal education is just one of those facts of life for lawyers. However, some lawyers know how to really work those pesky credit requirements to their own personal advantage. It's no secret, some CLE conferences blatantly appeal to special interests or activities, for example, the annual "CLE and Ski" in January.

After all, CLE is a legitimate expense related to maintaining one's professional license. As such, there's a good chance your CLE costs will be tax deductible. You may be wondering: Can I take a tax-deductible CLE summer vacation?

Women Lawyers and Alcohol Abuse: How Stress Is to Blame

Despite crashing into a parked car, the lawyer was not going to miss her court appearance.

Layne C. Savage had represented many criminal clients, only this time she was appearing for her own crime: driving under the influence. Savage, who allegedly had five times the legal limit of alcohol in her system, pleaded no contest.

Her case, unfortunately, is too common in the legal profession. But it is also surprising because it reveals a little-known fact about alcoholic lawyers -- more women than men have drinking problems.

Summer School Tips for Pre-Law Students

If you've been thinking about going to law school and stumbled onto this website, you've come to the right place.

We're all lawyers here, been there and done that -- stumbled, that is. We can tell you where the potholes are on this road to becoming a lawyer.

Just follow the rules and you'll be fine. Here are some summer school directions:

Weigh Work-Life Balance Before Law School

In a law school orientation class, the administrator warned that half of the student marriages would not survive law school.

One student told his wife about it later, saying the law would take time away from family then and in the future. Law is a jealous mistress, he explained.

"Good, you can handle your own divorce!" she exclaimed.

It's only funny because it's true. Everybody knows that work-life balance is a tightrope act in the law. Better figure out your act in advance.

What to Do If You Didn't Get a Summer Job

What ever happened to those lazy summer days, when we basked in the sun of our parents' labors and didn't worry about work?

For most of us, the answer is we got jobs. It's that thing we do 9 to 5 and often longer, rain or shine, sunrise, sunset, and all summer long.

But for those law students caught in between semesters, here are some ideas about what to do if you didn't get that summer job:

Law Grad Sues Her Law School and Twitter

If at first you don't succeed, file an amended complaint.

It may sound like first-year civil procedure, but that's what law school graduate Tiffany Dehen knows so far. She sued her law school in February for defamation after someone there created a fake Twitter account to mock her.

Bloggers mocked her more for a "rambling lawsuit," so, well, she did it again. This time, she's really serious.

What's on Your Summer Reading List?

Reading is the laboratory of the mind.

It is where we experiment with ideas, played out on an inner stage set by a writer against the background of another place and time. And when we choose a book for leisure reading, it should be for the adventure of that world more than to escape our own.

So you want to know how this ends? For law students and lawyers, try reading one of these books this summer:

First Openly Gay Judge Named to NY's Highest Court

Judge Paul G. Feinman will change New York's highest court at a time when change is sometimes uncomfortable.

Filling a vacancy created by the apparent suicide of his predecessor, Feinman will become the first openly gay member of the New York Court of Appeals. Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated Feinman and sent his name to the state senate for confirmation.

"He is a talented jurist who has dedicated his career to public service and standing up for a fairer and more just New York," Cuomo said. "While we continue to mourn the untimely passing of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Justice Feinman will help ensure that the Court of Appeals upholds the highest principles of law and fairness that embody the very best of New York."

Law School Lab 'LawX' Wants to Close Justice Gap

If you ever thought about a better way to provide legal services, but didn't have the time to develop it, then your time may have come.

BYU Law School is offering a legal design lab to create products and other ways to improve access to legal services. The brainchild of the dean and a startup attorney, LawX will be offered to students at the law school.

"LawX will tackle some of the most challenging issues facing our legal system today," said Gordon Smith, dean of BYU Law School.

Woman Claims Bar Exam Was Flawed, Files Court Complaint

What causes of action, if any, does a law student have against bar examiners for failing her?

No, this is not a cruel bar exam question. It is a question in a lawsuit pending in a Mississippi court, where Zundria Crawford has filed a complaint over her failed bar exam results.

Crawford claims she didn't fail the bar, rather the bar failed her. Her complaint looks like a Hail Mary, but many other examinees who have failed may be praying it flies.

Top Hollywood Lawyer Takes Case in 'Bachelor in Paradise' Scandal

As everybody who is anybody knows, Marty Singer is the go-to lawyer in Hollywood.

That's why reality TV contestant Corinne Olympios has hired him in a scandal that recently shut down "Bachelor in Paradise." Olympios was referred to Singer because, well, everybody in Hollywood goes to him.

"Marty Singer, Marty Singer ... you lifesaver, you!" movie star Scarlett Johansson gushed at a bar association tribute to the entertainment lawyer. "You are a real-life superhero."

Alcatraz Swimmer Helps Man Pass the California Bar

Alcatraz, a haunting island prison in San Francisco Bay, closed after three prisoners escaped and plunged into the treacherous waters in 1962.

It is a true story that became legend because the men were never found. It was made even more famous by the movie, "Escape from Alcatraz," starring Clint Eastwood.

Alcatraz also presents a challenge for swimmers, like young James Savage, who attempt the same "escape" each year. But little did Savage know that he would inspire an older man to take another perilous plunge -- the California bar exam.

LSAT Scores Down: Where Are Top Performers Going?

What's that giant sucking sound coming from law schools?

Is it the sound of fewer students enrolling? No, that alarm has been ringing for seven years now.

This is more like a whoosh from a vacuum of top students leaving for other graduate programs. At least, that's a conclusion from statistics showing a big drop in law school applicants with the highest law school admission test scores.

Yale Law Student Turned Best-Selling Hillbilly Author

J.D. Vance came from ‘hillbillies, rednecks, white trash, choose your epithet,’ wrote the New York Times reviewer.

Reviewers say that Vance, who rose from Appalachian poverty to New York Times best-selling author, wrote the only book to make sense out of the election of President Donald Trump. Vance, a Yale Law School graduate, put it together in “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.”

“Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election,” the Times said.

New Associate Tips: How to Prepare for the First Day on the Job

'Let's do this! Let's do this!'

You gotta love the little guy's attitude in that Kia commercial, when he strides into the office like he's an NBA player walking onto the court. He reaches out to slap hands with his co-workers before he slaps the boss's butt.

So maybe that's a little over the top, but it's the attitude we love. It's not the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog. This is about getting ready for the big game -- your first day on the new job as a lawyer.

Affordable Law School in Dallas Gets ABA Approval

The American Bar Association is accrediting another law school, even as the organization is suspending others in an era of declining law school enrollments.

The ABA gave provisional approval to the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law, reviving hopes that the lower-cost law school will break a disturbing mold in legal education. Some law schools are in jeopardy of losing their accreditation, largely due to low admission standards and poor bar pass rates.

"Our goal has always been to equip graduates with practice-ready competencies and the practical knowledge to pass the Texas Bar Exam," said Royal Furgeson, UNT's founding law school dean. "We now have a clear path to demonstrate that the innovative curriculum and the resources we've established will support exactly that kind of success."

Trump Names Attorney to Head FBI in Heat of Russia Investigation

As former FBI director James Comey prepared to testify about the Russia investigation, President Trump briefly turned the spotlight away from the controversy to name a new FBI director.

After a month-long search that seemed to frustrate the president, Trump named attorney Christopher Wray to the head the FBI. Trump tweeted his choice even as Comey told the Senate the president lied when he fired him over the investigation into Trump's contacts with Russian officials during his run for the White House.

Wray, a veteran of Washington and defending clients against charges of white-collar crimes and political scandal, will step into a job that apparently nobody wanted in the heat of the month-long moment.

New Book on RBG's Workout -- With Illustrations

When the U.S. Supreme Court begins its next session in October, the first question from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to her colleagues could be: "Did you read my new book?"

"The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong ... And You Can Too!" hits the bookstores Oct. 3. The 84-year-old justice did not write the book, but she is the star. Her trainer put it together with her permission, of course.

"A very important part of my life is my personal trainer," Ginsburg said.

NY Judge Arrested for DUI Non-Appearance, Shows 'Air of Arrogance'

What's wrong with this picture?

Literally, take a look at this video of Judge Leticia Astacio being led through the courthouse in handcuffs. The judicial procession was captured at the Monroe County Hall of Justice, where police and reporters were waiting for her.

If you didn't notice, the judge is smiling. That's unusual for a judge anytime, but unprecedented for one in handcuffs!

Lawyers with Low Bar Scores More Likely to Face Discipline, Study Says

If the bar exam weren't tough enough, now you can add a shot of stress from the ethics committee.

According to a new study, lawyers who perform poorly on the bar exam are more likely to have disciplinary problems. Unlike fine wine, it gets worse with age as attorneys have more bar complaints as they get older.

In other words, by the time you figure out how to practice law you will be in jeopardy of losing your license. No wonder so many lawyers have drinking problems...

'Flight Risk' Lawyer Disappears After $550M Fraud Arrest

Attorney Eric Christopher Conn said he would flee to Cuba or Ecuador if he ever got caught.

Conn, awaiting sentencing in a $550 million fraud on the federal government, apparently has made good on his word. It was no surprise to those who knew him best, but a big surprise to those who only knew his public persona.

"He's not one to walk away from a fight," the narrator says in one of Conn's many advertisements.

Can Trump's Lawyers Testify Against Him?

President Trump's personal attorney reportedly has been subpoenaed for information about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 campaign, bringing into focus the reaches of an attorney's privileges against a subpoena.

Can Michael Cohen assert a Fifth Amendment privilege? Can the president's lawyer testify against him? Can the president keep his lawyer from testifying?

Unlike bar exam questions, these are real-life questions. But like the bar exam, the pressure is on for some serious answers. So forget about IRAC and Iran; this is about Russia.

Lawyer Arrested for Witness Intimidation in Rape Case

Attorney Christos Vasiliades apparently thought street justice would work better than criminal justice.

Vasiliades was defending an alleged rapist, and he told the victim's husband that they should settle the case out of court. He offered to pay $3,000 if the victim didn't testify, and said they should take it out on his client later in the street.

"I think you should find him and kick his ass, personally." Vasiliades was recorded saying.

What Are 'Excess Attorneys' and Why Does New York Have So Many?

Figures don't lie, but lawyers figure.

Apologies to the author of the original phrase, but we're lawyers here so just go with it. We're talking about a report that shows -- by the numbers -- how many "excess attorneys" there are throughout the country.

"Excess attorneys," in the statistical report, means lawyers who are not employed as attorneys. Here's how it breaks down:

Japanese Man Admitted to Bar 63 Years After His Death to Repudiate Injustice

If there are lawyers in the afterlife, Sei Fujii is one of them now.

The California Supreme Court granted Fujii a law license 63 years after he died, acknowledging that he was wrongfully denied during his lifetime. The justices praised him for his contributions to society in the face of discrimination and disadvantage.

"Despite his unjust exclusion from the legal profession, Fujii undertook extraordinary efforts to apply his education and talents to advancing the rule of law in California," the court said.

Mea Culpa, Supreme Court Suspends Wrong Lawyer

It was a cringe-worthy moment, nearly on the scale of Steve Harvey announcing the wrong winner of the Miss Universe contest or Faye Dunaway declaring the wrong Oscar-winner for Best Picture.

Only it took the U.S. Supreme Court a little longer to fix its mistake after announcing the suspension and intent to disbar the wrong lawyer two weeks ago. Poor Christopher P. Sullivan.

"Due to mistaken identity, the order suspending Christopher Patrick Sullivan of Boston, Massachusetts from the practice of law in this Court, dated May 15, 2017, is vacated," the court said in an unsigned order.