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October 2015 Archives

5 Ridiculous Lawyer Stock Photo Stereotypes

Many lawyers were initially drawn to the practice of law because of the sex appeal and image of it all. Think back to all those shiny law school brochures beckoning you to be part of the lawyer club. No doubt the brochures were jam packed with stock photos of lawyers exuding black-suited power.

Stock photos capture all the stereotypes of the lawyer. Here's how to be a lawyer as portrayed by stock photography:

Celebrate Pro Bono Week With the ABA

The week of October 25-31 has been designated National Celebration of Pro Bono week by the ABA; and this years' marks the seventh such celebration. Throughout the past few days, the ABA has been taking the time to recognize pro bono achievements by lawyers but has decided to push especially hard today.

It's been over 300 years since the Salem Witch Trials. Today, children parade down the street in witch costumes, Hollywood's leading actresses line up to play sorceresses, and Seattle-area high schools consider opening football games with satanic invocations.

A witch even sued a warlock in Salem District Court -- and won! Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned witch burnings?

Maybe you're looking for a career change. Maybe you've always wanted to be an attorney, but spent a few years raising a family beforehand. Perhaps you're just a glutton for punishment.

Either way, you're a bit older and thinking about going to law school. Should you? How old is too old for law school anyway?

Law Schools Are Enrolling 'At Risk' Students, Study Says

There's been a lot of attention paid to the falling pass rates of bar exam takers in the last few years. As fingers get pointed, the usual question is asked as to whether or not law schools are to blame. Are they admitting students who should not have been admitted?

Yes. At least that's the reasonable conclusion to infer from a new study by Law School Transparency.

One Attorney's Fight to End Excessive Bail for the Poor

The term 'justice is blind' is often more optimistic than realistic. Few people in the law would argue with that.

Mr. Alec Karakatsanis, an alum of Harvard Law, has been on a mission to reform bail practices in courts all around the country. So far, most of his work has been focused on the South, but his work has been receiving the praise and attention of legal scholars and jurists in other states outside of the region.

Congrats, lawyers. You're about to become TV stars. No, they're not casting an attorney-only version of American Ninja Warrior. Rather, lawyers are becoming a more common sight on the boob-tube the more traditional way: buying up advertising.

And buying we are. Spending on television advertising has grown 70 percent over the past seven years, to almost $900 million annually, according to a new report released yesterday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform.

It's the best holiday of the year, a chance to blow off steam and stuff yourself with sugar. As with so many holidays, though, Halloween often comes with an office party. Sure, you'd rather be trick-or-treating with your kids, haunting a bar downtown, or just catching up on billable hours.

But the office party is also a chance to impress your colleagues, even if it is just with your brilliant costume. Here's how to win it, because, like it or not, everything is a competition.

Northwestern University Law Renamed 'Pritzker Law School' for $100M

It looks like the latest price tag to have a law school christened after your namesake is $100 million. Northwestern University's School of Law has been officially renamed the Pritzker School of Law after a school's alumni turned venture capitalist and his wife M.K. Pritker made the $100 million donation.

According to Northwestern University School of Law -- excuse me -- Pritzker Law School, a recent donation of $100 million is the largest ever single gift to a United States law school.

13 Scariest Things You'll Encounter in Law School

Getting into law school was scary. Between the LSAT, waiting for results, and surviving the application process, the whole law school process tested your nerves. And now that you're in, you can look forward to more gray-hair inducing events in school.

But don't people like to be scared? Isn't that the whole idea behind Halloween? Sure! In the spirit of Halloween cheer, here are the 13 scariest things you'll encounter in law school.

5 Unconventional Practice Areas in the Law

Before launching their careers, many legal professionals nurtured secret ambitions to practice law in new, avant garde ways. Then they got smacked with the monotony of motion practice.

One sure fire way to break the mundane routine of the practice of law is to break into an area that is anything but routine. Obscenity law anyone?

You've got less than a week to put together the perfect, attorney-appropriate Halloween costume. Forget going as sexy Chief Justice Roberts or a blood-lusty Antonin Scalia (serving up some lethal injection cocktails). Why not try the Texas Law Hawk? All you need is a suit, a dirt bike, and a whole lot of screaming.

Bryan Wilson, the so-called "Texas Law Hawk," has quickly gained a reputation, on YouTube at least, for his screaming, flame-shooting, not-exactly-subdued approach to attorney advertising. If you were worried that dressing as a drunken lucha libre wrestler would be too subtle for your law firm office party, the Texas Law Hawk could be the perfect costume for you.

Law Firm v. 'Invisible' Halloween Costume

Halloween is here and so begins a fresh season of spooky lawsuits. The most recent Halloween lawsuit seems rather prosaic when compared to suits of previous years.

Speaking of suits, did you know that there's a kid's costume being sold that claims to make the wearer invisible?

Some of How to Get Away With Murder's least interesting characters moved from the margins to the center last night -- and at least one of them ended up coming out more interesting.

Thursday's episode of HTGAWM was full of douche-face Asher and "Bon Bon" Bonnie, a bit of day drinking, a lot of scheming, and an unfortunate amount of child porn. As is usually the case, they got much of the law wrong. Here's your spoiler-filled recap.

Nothing reignites a romance like a near death experience during an extended stay in a Nevada brothel. After Lamar Odom was found unconscious at the Love Ranch, it came out that the NBA and reality television star had never divorced his ex, Khloe Kardashian. Now, Lamar is recovering and so is their relationship -- celebrity news sources announced yesterday that the couple was calling off the divorce.

Who shepherded them through their prostitute and herbal Viagra-aided reconciliation? None other than Laura Wasser, the "queen of divorce." Here's what you need to know about the master of celebrity splits and now reconciliations.

ACLU Sues CIA Torture Program Architects

Approximately one week ago, the ACLU filed a complaint against the engineers of the CIA's notorious torture program on behalf of three men who claimed they were victimized by the CIA's brutal interrogation techniques.

It is believed to be the first legal suit that is directly related to the 2014 release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report regarding CIA torture of suspected terrorists.

An underage sex scandal quickly became a billion dollar extortion attempt involving a former federal judge, a retail magnate, and Alan Dershowitz -- at least according to Dershowitz himself. The famous lawyer testified under oath last Thursday that Paul Cassell, a former federal judge and current Utah law professor, and Brad Edwards, a Florida lawyer, tried to use him as part of a "criminal conspiracy" to extort one billion dollars.

You might remember the Dershowitz from his defense of Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, and O.J. Simpson -- or maybe from his almost 50 years teaching at Harvard Law. The current controversy stems from another controversial Dershowitz representation, this time of Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of organizing an underage sex ring.

2015 Associate Bonus Season Bucks Tradition, Confuses Everyone

There's been a bit of a tradition for the firm Cravath Swaine & Moore to be the first on the BigLaw block to come out with associate bonuses, but this year the firm Sheppard Mullin decided to pull up ahead and break that trend ... or not?

On Friday, Shepard Mullin released their 2015 bonus "announcement" that mysteriously seemed to appear out of the blue. Above the Law gave Sheppard Mullin the benefit of the doubt and called error. Close but no cigar.

Massachusetts Lawyer Accused of Double Life as a Prostitute

Suspended divorce attorney, Karen Andrade, probably would have been able to maintain her alleged secret identity had it not been for her neighbor's busy-body ways.

Perhaps it's too soon to tell. Andrade, 51, was charged with prostitution and pleaded not guilty to sexual conduct for a fee in a Northampton District Court; and she was released on her own recognizance.

There have been bank robbers, drug dealers, and even murderers who have all become lawyers. But convicted sex offenders? That might be a step too far for the Ohio bar, which is seeking to prevent a former Army officer convicted of trying to have sex with young girls from taking the state bar exam.

The Ohio Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case of John Tynes, the former sex offender seeking to become a lawyer. Tynes served 19 months in prison 17 years ago, after he was caught trying to meet a girl younger than 15 for sex.

If You Bombed 1L Midterms, Should You Drop out of Law School?

If you bombed your 1L exams, you may feel like your legal career ended before it even began.

Don't fret. A lot of people who bombed midterms have gone on to success in the legal field. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't take this chance to think very carefully about your future.

3 Lawyers Jailed for Human Rights Work

Going to jail isn't usually an occupational hazard for lawyers. At worst, lawyers in the U.S. only face the threat of being disbarred.

But if you practice human rights work, especially outside the First World, you might very well encounter threats of jail time on a daily basis. Here are three lawyers who endured persecution in the fight for human rights.

So we've made it through another week of How to Get Away With Murder, the best worst show on television, and it looks like Annalise might survive this season as well. Though the theme of this season is "who shot Annalise?" everyone's favorite Crim Law prof. might live to see season three.

This week's episode featured no sex scenes, no shots of Annalise chugging warm vodka, and only a few glaring legal errors. That doesn't sound like the HTGAWM we've come to know. Here's your spoiler-filled recap:

Law School: No Longer for Lawyers Only

Increasingly, there is talk that law school is not just for those who only want to practice law. It can also be for those who already have established careers and are looking for a shot in the arm. A number of law schools today offer one year programs for those individuals who seek a thorough introduction to the law without having to give up the expense and time of a full three-year degree.

Applicants tend to be from industries which are heavily regulated, where it is thought that a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the law will give them an edge over their peers. But there are detractors too, who bemoan that some schools "rush[] into the business" in order to balance their books.

Ah, young lawyers in love, sending each other love contracts, dating subpoenas, or demand letters for some romance. We're not sure how often amorous attorneys demand that their love interests "show cause as to why you should not be held in my arms tonight," but every once in awhile, those nerdy, legalistic entreaties make their way on to the Internet and are cruelly mocked.

But don't worry, lawyers. Those attempts at seduction are actually cute. They just need a bit of finessing.

Want to get rich quick without really trying? Build an app and hope it takes off. Want to pay off your student loans and maybe buy a house or two someday? Focus on the practice areas that are in demand now and promise to keep growing into the future.

These eight practice areas are not only bringing in the billable hours today, they have the potential to keep lawyers working and earning throughout their careers.

For $50/Hr, You Can Help This Kid Ruin His Life (or Become a Lawyer)

It turns out that if you have extra time on your hands, you can hire out your services to 0Ls who want to apply to law school. About a week ago, a law school hopeful on Craigslist advertised that he'd be willing to pay $50 per hour for consulting services to get him into ... "cunny" law school.

His name is Augustus Sol Invictus and he wants to be the next Marco Rubio. The 32-year old lawyer in Orlando, Florida, is running as a Libertarian candidate to replace U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. But it's not his Randian politics that are turning him off to voters; it's his animal sacrifices.

"I did sacrifice a goat," Invictus told the Associated Press last Friday. "I know that's probably a quibble in the mind of most Americans. I sacrificed an animal to the god of the wilderness ... Yes, I drank the goat's blood." But what's his stance on the federal deficit?

Incompetence and Beyond: 3 Surefire Ways to Get Disbarred

Lawyers get a bad rap for being scheming crooks, but that's mostly for over-zealous advocacy, which is perfectly legal. On the other hand, there are a few surefire ways to ruin a good reputation and welcome-in early retirement. For example, these three actions will basically guarantee disbarment:

Maybe you fell in love with law school or have always seen yourself as an academic. Perhaps you just want a well-paying job with easy hours and great job security. Or you could just love The Paper Chase (which inspired the career of a Harvard Law dean) and How to Get Away With Murder (which inspires us every Thursday). Whatever the motivation, you want to be a law professor.

Who can blame you? An academic career is respected, lucrative, and, of course, very, very competitive. Here are some tips on how you can pursue a glamorous life as a law school professor.

Women and Minorities Are Making Partner, Just Not Everywhere

The National Association of Law Placement (NALP) released a 2015 report that outlines the current trends of minorities and women in the law. The numbers indicate growth in both segments. In fact, the numbers have shown upward trends of both minorities, women and minority women at top law firms for a number of years now. This is welcome news to those who have called vociferously for reform to the overwhelming dominance of white males in the partner segment.

Although NALP's numbers indeed show gains for minorities and women, it's too soon to party. The gains are really only seen in certain regions.

Congratulations on surviving another episode of How to Get Away With Murder. Last night's show was filled with murder, intrigue, and, of course, sex -- not to mention a loose, not always accurate understanding of the law. The one law school scene in the episode (we almost forgot this was a show about law school) sets the mood. "What does sex have to do with criminal law [and ratings]?" Annalise asks her students. "Everything."

Here's our spoiler-filled lawyer's guide to one of the best worst legal T.V. shows on the air.

Bar Exam Gets Hate Mail From Law School Prez

"No one who graduates from an ABA-accredited law school with a strong GPA should have to take the bar exam." At least this is the opinion of the president of Brooklyn Law School, Nicholas Allard. "The test is "expensive, and not a great measure of competence to actually practice law."

Allard's opinion echoes those of many frustrated law students who regard the exam as an outmoded relic of law school mythos and are calling for it to be abolished. He is part of an increasing number of law school professors and professionals who have previously kept silent with regards to the bar exam and its monolithic presence. When bar exam passage rates have dropped to a depressingly low level, the time seems right to question the exam itself.

The Florida Supreme Court suspended Brevard County Judge John C. Murphy on Monday, sending a strong message to the state's magistrates: stop trying to beat up public defenders.

Last June, Judge Murphy got into a bit of a spat with public defender Andrew Weinstock, telling him "You know, if I had a rock I'd throw it at you right now," inviting him outside to fight, and, well, actually fighting with the attorney. Of course, the incident was caught on film.

5 Study Strategies for Your Law School Midterms

If you're a first year law student, you're probably very heavily invested in your first year exams. Although grades are generally based on a single final exam, some professors will offer also midterms.

Here are five study tips to help you prepare for exam day.

If you've been staying on top of the new fall TV season, you've probably heard about The Grinder. It's a new Fox comedy starring Rob Lowe as an actor who decides to become a lawyer after starring in a long-running legal drama. Basically, someone turned "I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on TV" into its own show. Meanwhile, his putzy younger brother, played by Fred Savage, struggles to deal with his brother's grandstanding.

In concept, however, the show isn't far from the truth. If the show's producers wanted to be even more realistic, however, they would have cast Fred Savage, once a child actor known for The Wonder Years, in the leading role. Child actors, it seems, often grow up to become lawyers.

So You Want to Argue Before SCOTUS? Get in Line

Within the legal community, a sure-fire way to boost the prestige of a firm is to argue before the Supreme Court of the United States. The legal community and general public treat the Court with hallowed reverence (although this may be changing).

Even proximity to Washington DC can do wonders for your bottom line. Many lawyers will go through the trouble of earning their license in DC simply because it will allow them to charge up to 25 percent more per hour than they otherwise could. If one earns the privilege to argue before the High Court, the hourly rate potential can reach in the thousands. The incentives to argue before SCOTUS really can't be overstated.

They're up, they're down, and they're up again. The Department of Labor's latest monthly report shows that the legal industry gained 4,700 jobs in September, a large increase following August's loss.

But even those late-summer numbers are looking better in autumnal light. The DoL also revised August's numbers, saying only 900 jobs were lost that month, rather than 2,000.

3 Lifehacks for Surviving Law School

If you finally made it into law school, take a short moment to pat yourself on the back. You should congratulate yourself -- or console yourself. Law school can be a life-changing experience, but it can also seem life-threatening -- at least in terms of your sanity.

Below is a list of tips and lifehacks to help you excel throughout your legal education.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oldest Justice on the Supreme Court, will turn 83 next March. Antonin Scalia, her BFF, will hit 80 just four days before. (They're both Pisces!) If they were practicing in many Big Law firms, both would have faced mandatory retirement policies years before.

Sorry, Ruth and Nino. When it comes to many firms, 65 is too old to practice.

Berkeley Law Segregates Its Black Students ... Really?

It seems inconceivable that Berkeley Law administrators did't see this coming: the school's current arrangement of students looks like a form of segregation.

Law schools routinely break the incoming students into smaller sections, which Boalt calls "mods." It's standard practice that mods take 1L classes together. But Berkeley's current arrangement will all but ensure that every single African American student will get funneled into two "super-mods," leaving the other mods completely free of any black presence whatsoever.

The Golden Age of Television continues, with How to Get Away With Murder at its vanguard. Yesterday's episode featured two court proceedings, as many dead bodies, and a very chemistry-free Sapphic love scene.

In typical HTGAWM fashion, they got most of the law wrong. But it made for great, if stupefying, TV. Here's your spoiler-filled recap:

We all know the legal market is in flux, still recovering from its 2007 downturn. But that recovery isn't even across the nation. As a recent ABA attorney population survey shows, some states, like Florida, have seen their legal sectors explode over the last ten years. Others are still well behind where they once were. (Sorry, Massachusetts.)

So where is the legal population increasing today? And more importantly, how far does your money go there?

It's TV season again and that means that ABC's How to Get Away With Murder is back, fresh off the heels of Viola Davis' Emmy Award. If you're not familiar with HTGAWM, it's the ridiculous story of Professor Annalise Keating's never-ending Crim Law course, where the best and the brightest student patsies are invited to help folks, well, get away with murder. Or solve murders. It's a bit ambiguous at this point.

If you're a lawyer or law student, you should be both infuriated and entertained by How to Get Away With Murder. Between all the campy, sexy drama (the show comes from Shonda Rhymes, the genius who gave us Grey's Anatomy and Scandal), HTGAWM gets pretty much everything about the law and law school wrong. Here's your lawyers' and haters' guide to our (secretly) favorite TV show.

3 Test-Taking Tips From the Harvard Grad Who Aced the SAT

October 3rd is just around the corner and it looks like the latest SAT is set to ruin the lives of a fresh legion of college hopefuls. Whether you're gearing up for the SAT, LSAT, or bar exam, there are a few universal tricks to help you excel.

According to one test-taking expert, your strategy should include sleep, proper strategy, and sugar water.