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January 2012 Archives

With January's arguments completed, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has embarked on a legal "listening" tour of Egypt and Tunisia, one year after the "Arab Spring" uprisings began.

The Supreme Court's elder jurist landed in Egypt on Friday, the start of a politically significant weekend there. Justice Ginsburg, 78, is traveling with her daughter, Columbia law professor Jane Ginsburg, according to the State Department.

Justice Ginsburg's visit to Egypt will be followed by a stop in Tunisia where the Arab Spring uprisings began, the State Department reports. Perhaps due to security concerns, just a few scant details about the associate justice's trip have been released:

Law Firm Associate Hiring is Down, Even as Firms Recover

Law firms are starting to recover from the economic recession. Profits are up and the legal industry only shed 2,700 jobs last year. That's nothing when compared to the 41,900 jobs lost in 2009.

But recent graduates and young associates are still feeling the strain of the failing economy. Clients -- corporations in particular -- continue to look for ways to cut legal costs. Some have brought more work in-house, and others refuse to pay for junior associate work.

Will this trend continue? Are large associate classes a thing of the past?

Ex-Prosecutor Fired 'Barbie Gun' to Scare Neighborhood Prankster

Ex-Bronx prosecutor Bernadette Greenwald has a penchant for pink guns. She also seems to like shooting them at neighborhood kids.

The strange story started on an idyllic Sunday afternoon. Well, it was idyllic until somebody decided it would be fun to play a game of "ding-dong ditch" on Greenwald.

Greenwald's doorbell rang twice that afternoon. Whoever was at the door ran before she answered. The third time someone rang the doorbell, Greenwald got a little peeved.

Stubborn Law Students Insist They Would Do It All Over Again

The 2011 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) is out, and it appears as though law students are as masochistic as ever.

More than 33,000 law students at 95 Canadian and American law schools responded to the web-based survey, which is curated by Indiana University's Center for Postsecondary Research. Researchers asked about on-campus engagement, career services, and overall satisfaction.

And guess what? Eighty percent of respondents said they would definitely or probably do it all over again.

Should Sarah Palin's accused stalkers be forced to pay her lawyer's firm for lost billable hours? You betcha!

That's what the firm that represents former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is requesting, after two men pleaded guilty to placing hundreds of harassing phone calls to the firm. The total cost in lost billables: More than $15,000, the Associated Press reports.

An attorney for one of the men calls the law firm's restitution claim excessive. But others may disagree, considering the extent of the pair's harassment:

A former Florida prosecutor is set to serve three years in prison, after he accepted more than 200 oxycodone pills as payment for legal services from an undercover informant.

Aaron Slavin, 34, pleaded guilty to trafficking oxycodone, a narcotic painkiller. His wife and office manager, Eryn, agreed to enter a pretrial diversion program to avoid drug-possession charges, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Aaron Slavin's oxycodone conviction is ironic for the former state's attorney who touted himself as an expert on prescription-drug trafficking. "It's an enormous problem throughout the Tampa Bay area," Slavin said on a local talk-radio show in June.

It's a tough market out there for unemployed lawyers. If you're one of them, you may be considering a job outside the legal field. You may be thinking about "dumbing down" your legal resume to make yourself more marketable.

Career experts have mixed feelings on this move. On one hand, a "dumbed down" resume may help get your foot in the door. But it may also raise questions and concerns about your veracity for the truth.

Here are three ways to be smart about "dumbing down" your legal resume:

Akin Gump Sues Over Kevin Spacey Comedy 'Father of Invention' Funding

BigLaw firm Akin Gump and Kevin Spacey are somewhat strange bedfellows. Yet here they are, at the center of a legal dispute. Spacey isn't involved himself. His newest film, Father of Invention, is.

Akin Gump alleges that film exec Mark Manuel owes it some money. Manuel helped secure millions of dollars in studio loans for the film.

He was only able to do so because of Akin Gump. A lawyer at the firm assisted him with arranging the loans. Manuel even agreed to pay the firm a finder's fee, which isn't too common in the big bad legal world.

Employment Law Firm Fired Secretary for Jury Duty Service?

Marla Osorio was a secretary at workplace-discrimination law firm. The last thing she probably expected was to be terminated -- for serving on a jury.

Oh, the irony.

The California Labor Commission has now sued Martin & Martin, based in Los Angeles. They claim that the firm violated state labor laws when they dismissed Osorio.

Forget Cameras in Court. The Supreme Court Just Needs Puppets

Imagine the Supreme Court as puppets.

No -- not political puppets. Actual puppets -- felt, fur and a hand up the... Okay, you get the point. A Clarence Thomas puppet would be amazing -- all sour-faced and half-asleep. And with a sassy Elena Kagan puppet on the bench, the dialogue would be pretty great, too.

Our videos are unfortunately stuck in pre-pre-pre-production, so we don't have any to share. While you wait, you should check out The Puppet's Court, a great new show out of the Northern District of Ohio.

How Conservative is Too Conservative for a Law Professor?

New year, same problem. The issue of political diversity amongst law professors has come up yet again -- this time thanks to Teresa Wagner and the 8th Circuit.

The appellate court has unanimously agreed to reinstate her lawsuit against the University of Iowa College of Law. A conservative Republican, she claims that she was denied employment because of her political beliefs.

The suit even names professor Randall Bezanson as her "primary, vocal opponent." He clerked for Justice Blackmun during Roe v. Wade while she's actively involved with the National Right to Life Committee.

Ex-Partner Sues Law Firm: Another Partner Had Affair with Wife

Two former partners of Edwards Wildman Palmer, a law firm based in Boston, have sued its managing partner Walter Reed.

The allegations are racy -- and sexy.

The two partners who sued are Jay Rosenbaum and Lawrence Cohen. Cohen is married to Laurie Hall, who is also a partner at Edwards Wildman. Cohen says his wife was having an affair with Reed.

Law Firm Claims to 'Go the Extra Inch' for Man with Penis Injury

We get it, we really do. Some jokes are begging to be told. They're absolutely inappropriate, yet they need to be shared.

If you're with your friends, go ahead and tell them. But if you're talking to the Wall Street Journal, you might want to reconsider. Especially if it concerns a client's mangled penis.

San Diego's Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP unfortunately did not heed this advice.

Should Law Grads Have to Complete Residencies to Practice Law?

Residencies for lawyers may be the wave of the future, according to the California bar.

Don't worry too much yet. The idea is still in that ethereal initial stage. A task force has simply been assembled to analyze the issue.

So it will take some time. After all, the legal profession is a lumbering beast. It's not exactly prone to changing its old habits. The Socratic method? It's still there. The lack of teaching practical skills? Yeah, that's still there too.

Still, let's mull over the idea of residencies for a few moments.

Attorney Jets to Paris or Actually Sick During Missed Trial Date?

Minneapolis lawyer M. Tayari Garrett had a good reason for not showing up in court last spring. She claimed she was sick.

Except, an investigation into the issue found that Garrett may have actually jetted off to Paris.

Judge William Howard was not amused. Garrett now faces a fine of $1,000 and a jail term after being charged with criminal contempt.

Lawyers Should Delete LL.M.s from Resume, Legal Recruiters Say

We all have at least one friend who stuck around for an LL.M. degree. Some of them really wanted that extra knowledge, but most of them were just trying to delay the inevitable:

A demoralizing job search in a disastrous economy.

And paying off student loans.

Turns out such avoidance may not have been a good thing. In fact, legal recruiters are now advising some attorneys to remove LL.M. degrees from their resumes.

What's up in the Bronx? For the second time in two years, another Bronx prosecutor's drunken driving arrest is making headlines around New York.

In the latest incident, New York City police stopped assistant prosecutor Rafael Urena at a checkpoint in Manhattan about 3:40 a.m. Saturday, the New York Post reports.

When officers explained to Urena they wanted to use a Breathalyzer, the 26-year-old attorney allegedly retorted, "Yeah, I know what it is. I'm a Bronx assistant district attorney," sources told the Post.

Unemployed Lawyers Have No One to Blame But Themselves: ABA President

If you're unemployed and saddled with debt, it's your own fault -- just ask William Robinson, the president of the American Bar Association.

Robinson sat down with Reuters to address rising tuition costs and the unrealistic expectations held by today's law students. Congress, the media and the profession have accused the trade group of contributing to both problems.

Robinson's response is anything but what you want to hear.

Judges, Law Professors Among Jobs that Pay the Most with Most Time Off

Everybody wants a career that has a great work-life balance. Most attorneys fail to achieve this goal. After all, when you think high-paying jobs that have the most time off, does "lawyer" come to mind?

Well, magistrates, judges, and law professors all make it onto a new list compiled by AOL Jobs. The list goes through the highest paying jobs where workers work the least amount of time.

Surprised? Here are the statistics used to back up AOL Jobs' claims:

NY Law Firm Associate Billed Clients for Escort Services, Porn, Limos

You can't bill prostitutes, hotel rooms, porn and limos to your clients -- unless they were there, too.

Unaware of this little caveat, James Hazen charged $21,000 in "personal services" to his corporate credit card. He then tried to bill his clients at New York's Hill Betts & Nash.

He claimed he was bipolar. They fired him anyway.

Cardozo Law Student Becomes Homeless on Purpose

Homelessness is a major problem in many major U.S. cities. It's such a major problem that one Cardozo law student decided to -- well -- "immerse" himself into it.

He became homeless by choice.

The student, who went by the pseudonym of "David" in an interview with the Yeshiva University Observer, wasn't facing financial problems. He wasn't forced out of his home. He decided to become homeless last spring because he "experienced the ultimate problem" of having no problems.

Makes sense, right?

Woman Cheated on NY Bar Exam, Court Rules

A woman accused of cheating on the New York bar exam has lost the battle to overturn her misconduct charges.

Rose DeWitt sat for the bar exam in July 2009. The New York State Board of Law Examiners charged her with misconduct. They claimed she tried to copy other student's answers on the multiple choice portion of the test.

Specifically, a proctor saw her "craning her neck," according to Thomson Reuters News & Insight. They saw her make this strange neck movement more than once. They saw her do it on both days of the exam.

Lawyers at a lucrative Washington, D.C., law firm have a new reason to celebrate this New Year's Day. That's when a new policy kicks in for their practice group, bidding bye-bye to the billable hour.

And it's not just billables. Members of Holland & Knight's public policy and regulation group -- i.e., lobbyists -- will no longer have to keep track of their time at all, The Washington Post reports.

"We'll be the first national firm that will have decided not to use the billable hour framework for a major practice group," an H&K manager told the website Politico. "I think if you look out 10 years, this will be a very large trend ... and we could either lead or follow."