Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

April 2016 Archives

Top 3 Cool Legal Jobs This Week: Gay Rights and Civil Liberties

There is a lot of focus lately on the rather amorphous state of gay rights and transgender peoples’ civil liberties in this country as of late. Between religious freedom laws and the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with one’s chosen gender identity, political sentiment is fraught with controversy.

That’s why we decided to focus on gay and transgender rights this week. But the overall aim ought to be a renewed focus on civil rights in general. Where there is controversy and social upheaval, there is a place for lawyers.

Marvin Castellanos' attorney spent more than 100 hours toiling on Castellanos' workers' comp claim. And after defeating numerous defenses from Castellanos' employer and its insurer, the attorney was victorious.

But when it came time to collect attorney's fees, his reward was only $164, or $1.53 an hour. That's because Florida law sets a mandatory fee schedule based on the amount won -- without allowing consideration of whether those awards are reasonable. And that rate is so "absurdly low" that it's unconstitutional, the Florida Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

Yesterday, we wrote about a former Squire Patton Boggs associate who took to the Internet to decry the gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and "a very clear glass ceiling" found at major law firms. At many firms, the mother of two claimed, "having a baby apparently makes you worth less as a lawyer."

Her complaints line up with what many others have said: the male-dominated legal industry can be a horrible place for mothers. And it's a pretty terrible place to be a father as well, according to the experience of male lawyers who've sought to take paternity leave.

As Law School Applications Fall, the Whitest Profession Gets More Diverse

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the legal profession is the one of the least (if not the least) racially diverse professions in the nation -- 88 percent of lawyers are white. By contrast, 72 percent of surgeons and physicians are white.

But it looks like these numbers might shift in time. There's evidence to suggest that as law school applications fell in the last few years, the number of Latinos and Blacks rose by proportion.

Widener Law School Offers Online Higher Ed Master's Degree

Widener University will be another law school to offer online non-J.D. education -- this time, a master's degree in higher education compliance. The school is reticent to take credit in pioneering the program, though it did say it was unaware of any other school who offered this degree.

It looks like Widener could be a little late to the game as non-J.D. sign ups have been on the rise for some time now.

A disgruntled ex-BigLaw associate took to Reddit yesterday to call out her old firm and explain why she left the law. Kristen Jarvis Johnson says she was a partner-track associate for nine years with Squire Patton Boggs. While at the firm, she experienced "blatant gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and a very clear glass ceiling," she wrote on Reddit.

So Johnson quit her job, walked away from her a nearly $400,000-a-year income, and now wants everyone to know just how awful her time in BigLaw was. Spoiler alert: it was pretty awful.

Syracuse Law Considers Online J.D. Program

It wasn't too long ago when people regarded online classes for higher education to be something that rested between "passing fad" and the "real thing." But as time passes, the inevitable creep of technology has moved more permanently into the classroom -- this time, into Syracuse Law.

The only other school to be ABA approval for an online J.D. program is Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota. But there are plenty of other non-ABA approved offerings out there. But watch that step with taking the bar exam.

Here's a story to pull at your heart strings. A North Carolina judge recently made headlines after he sent a Special Forces veteran to jail for parole violations -- then joined him in the cell to serve the full sentence alongside him.

Joseph Serna did three combat tours in Afghanistan before returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder. Soon after his return, he was charged with a DWI and found himself in District Court Judge Lou Olivera's court. When Judge Olivera, himself a veteran of the Gulf War, later sentenced Serna for parole violations, he worried that a night alone in a cell would trigger the soldier's PTSD, so he arranged to serve the sentence with him.

Beware of Misleading Student Loan Debt Figures

If you are a prospective law student who is currently weighing her options between schools, no doubt estimated debt figures have entered into your analysis. But how much can you rely on these figures?

According to the opinion of Shannon Achimalbe at Above the Law, you'd be prudent to watch your step. Those numbers could be double or even triple when reality hits.

You've done your outlines. You've met with your study groups. You've reviewed past exams. But you still don't feel confident. Or, maybe you didn't do much prep and you need to cram all your studying in to exam week.

Don't worry -- there's still a chance to learn what you need in time for your law school final exams. Here are our best, last-minute cramming strategies from the FindLaw archives.

Top 3 Cool Legal Jobs This Week: Hug the Trees, Save the Whales

As the bulk of world leaders convene today at the United Nations to sign broad and sweeping climate reforms agreed to last year, global climate change and the environment are back on the minds of the public. The final hammering out of the "Paris Agreement" talks will likely be remembered as a highlight in President Obama's career.

New environmental policies are not only shaping the future of business, they're also opening doors in the legal job market. Here are three cool legal jobs this week for the tree huggers and whale savers.

The world lost another great performer today when Prince died at the age of 57. Prince was a master of pop music, whose infectious, prodigious creations brought him dozens of top hits, from "When Doves Cry," to "Little Red Corvette," to the highly-underrated "Batdance." Prince was also a cultural force, creating a public persona almost as influential as his music.

But, while much of the media today will focus on Prince's contributions to music and culture, we lawyers are reminded of another major facet of Prince's history: his very long, very public, and very frequent contractual disputes with his record labels and sometimes even his fans.

Harvard Law School Activists Call for End of Tuition

After their recent victory to have Harvard's controversial seal removed, the group Reclaim Harvard has focused its attention on another controversial issue: ending tuition at Harvard Law.

The push is the main thrust of the "Fees Must Fall" campaign which began several weeks ago during the law school's Admitted Students weekend. But is tuition really a thing of the past for the nation's top law school?

Can a Tutor Help You in Law School?

Perhaps you're in law school now and you can feel the inevitable slide of your enthusiasm and progress in class. If you're in your first year, this can be especially troubling. Should you stick it out? Or maybe you've considered quitting law school?

Maybe you should consider another option: getting a tutor for law school. And although a lot of your law school contemporaries might be unwilling to reveal whether or not they've considered this line of action, don't be too quick to disregard it for fear of bruising your ego. Just make sure you look around first.

Among marijuana enthusiasts, April 20th is one of the most important holidays of the year -- a day to celebrate "420," or the semi-mythical code for marijuana. But marijuana isn't just for dirty hippies and shiftless college students these days. With the spread of legalization and decriminalization, weed is becoming big business and weed law is becoming a significant practice area.

So, what better way to celebrate 420 this 4/20 than by catching up to the latest weed-related legal developments with some dank CLEs?

U. of Denver Law School Trains Grads for 'More-for-Less' Market

University of Denver's Law School will be getting a new dean this July, Mr. Bruce P. Smith. Mr. Smith will be moving to Sturm from U. of Illinois where he served a dean from 2009 to 2016 and has much private sector business experience as a lawyer for the NFL.

On the top of Smith's to-do list will be to push the school's current project to get new grads ready for the current "more-for-less" legal market.

If you're a law student or a recent grad, the job hunt can be daunting. Sure, you've got your legal smarts. You can go head to head on civil procedure with the best of them. You were at the top of your class on complex litigation. (Or, if not top, you at least passed.)

But do you have the qualities (besides just a J.D. behind your name) that law firms or prospective clients are looking for when hiring new lawyers?

Top 3 Cool Legal Jobs This Week: The Need for Speed

Feeling a little restless? Do you have a wild side that yearns for speed or the wind in your face? Is this whole lawyer thing really cramping your highway loving style? Don't quit the law yet: there might be a way to compromise.

This week, as part of our affiliate program with Indeed, we went out to where the rubber meets the road in order to bring you these cool road-related legal jobs.

Man Accepted by 10 Law Schools Sues for Age Bias

An unusual law school controversy is taking place in Connecticut. Sixty-eight-year-old Geoffrey Akers, highly accomplished both academically and professionally, has sued the University of Connecticut Law School over the school's denying him twice into its 2012 and 2013 classes.

Akers applied to 11 law schools over the past several years. U. Conn Law School was the only school that didn't accept him.

National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day is approaching. That's the day when dozens of Americans declare, "Hey, I'm showing up for work, but I'm sure not going to dress for it." Even some celebrities have worn pajamas on the job, including the queen of decorum, Martha Stewart.

So, attorneys, is it ever okay to wear pajamas to your work?

Lawyer Suspended for Using Illicitly Obtained Privileged Info

In the lawyer game, you may be tempted to use every single advantage you can get your hands on. But if you break the rules, you'd better be willing to face the consequences.

Case in point: Joel Eisenstein of Missouri. This experienced lawyer was suspended by the state's supreme court after using confidential information obtained by his client of the opposing side. He got caught because he sent that information back to opposing counsel.

Law School Offers: Can You Commit to Multiple Schools?

Applying to law school just keeps on getting more complicated. Law schools these days started trying out a new requirement of applicants: commit or walk.

In the past, students who were flush with cash or who desperately wanted to hedge their bets would sign an "intent to enroll" letter or make a cash deposit on a seat. But doing that overzealously could cost you.

Law Clerk Murdered in Tragic Case of Mistaken Identity

Tragedy struck the city of St. Paul, Minnesota last week. Chase Passauer worked as a law clerk at the small criminal defense firm, North Star Criminal Defense, until he was shot dead last Thursday when a disgruntled client mistook him for his lawyer. The young clerk was considering eventually becoming a lawyer.

This is a reminder to all attorneys that they must practice vigilance, particularly when practicing law in emotionally-charged legal areas like criminal and family law.

When Dave DeFazio graduated from law school in 1996, he planned on moving to San Francisco to start his legal career. Instead, he spent his summer working as a river guide in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And he never made it to San Francisco, staying in Jackson Hole to work as a lawyer and ranch hand before starting up his own practice.

Now, twenty years into his legal career, DeFazio and his lawyer colleagues have started up the perfect side project: whiskey production.

Be a Better Lawyer by Handwriting Your Notes

If you're a millennial lawyer, you most likely spent your entire academic career taking notes in class using your computer. But according to research conducted by UCLA and Princeton, you weren't doing yourself any favors. Looks like new news is old news.

The research suggested that those students who took notes by longhand actually learned material better and retained the information longer than their laptop typing counterparts. It's no secret that writing effectively and learning quickly are essential tasks for lawyers. Can writing notes by hand make you a better lawyer?

The legal industry isn't winning any awards for diversity. After all, law is one of the whitest, malest professions in America. And the industry has been stubbornly slow to evolve. The number of women and minorities in the law has barely changed over the past 15 years, for example. That's probably why law firms have the worst reputation in the country for commitment to diversity, according to a recent survey.

But it's not all bad news! There are places in the law where diversity has persisted and even thrived. With that in mind, here are FindLaw's top seven posts on the legal industry's diversity successes.

Cornell's New Tech LLM Is Generating a Lot of Buzz

Cornell Law School announced late October the launch of a LL.M in Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship. According to Cornell, the primary impetus behind this move is to help fresh law grads and practicing attorneys learn the legal and business considerations that technologists and entrepreneurs need to operate in an increasingly technology driven world. The new program already seems to be generating a lot of interest ... from employers.

Although the first LLM class is slated to have between 10 and 15 students, the number is expected to increase over time. We're thinking that those first few will have decent opportunities upon graduation.

Are you a Bernie Bro? A Hillary Hugger? A Trumpeteer? If this election season has fired up your passion for civic engagement, you can turn that electioneering spirit into a successful career. So take a second to cool it with the Facebook posts and start updating your resume instead.

This week, as part of our affiliate program with Indeed, we're bringing you the three coolest politically-related jobs we could find.

You graduated from law school when not a single firm was hiring. You've sent out hundreds of resumes but can't get anyone to call you back. Or you've been stuck in a series of short-term, dead-end doc review and non-legal gigs. Our condolences. You're part of the long-term unemployed, and you're not alone.

But long-term unemployment or under-employment doesn't mean you have to give up on your legal dreams. It's not easy, but you can recover from long-term unemployment.

When Netflix's 'Making a Murderer' took over pop culture this winter, Dean Strang was one of the few lawyers featured who ended up looking not awful. Indeed, Strang, the defense attorney fighting on behalf of accused (falsely?) killer Steven Avery, became a bit of a cult hero, to lawyers and the public alike.

Now, the soft-spoken but strong-willed attorney is getting his own reality T.V. show, focused on exposing failings in the criminal justice system, Deadline reports. Strang fans, get ready for 'Dean Strang: Road to Justice.'

U. of Mich. Law Produces Most Influential Federal Judges

It looks like the University of Michigan Law School produces the most influential federal judges -- by a large percentage. A recent study conducted by the legal analytics firm Ravel Law shows that the graduates of the law school wrote more opinions and were cited more times than any other law school in the nation.

Even the co-founder of the company who conducted the study said it was "a bit of a surprise."

When the Panama Papers were released this week, promising to expose “politicians, criminals, and the rogue industry that hides their cash,” let’s say we weren’t surprised to see FIFA’s name pop up. FIFA, the world’s governing body for soccer, has long faced accusations of endemic corruption. FIFA’s past “President for Life,” Sepp Blatter, only recently fell from grace and is now facing criminal charges for mismanagement and misappropriation.

But it’s not just the familiar FIFA names that are being accused of corruption. In a most ironic twist, FIFA’s ethics lawyer is now facing a corruption investigation over links revealed by the Panama Papers.

Bankruptcy Judge Offers You Hope: Discharge Your Bar Study Loan

Law students know the refrain all too well: you can't discharge your law school loans. But a recent ruling out of New York Bankruptcy court suggests that at least some bar related debts might be discharged successfully in a Chapter 7. Is that a ray of light on on the horizon?

Actually, now that we mention law school loans, this would be an excellent time to refer readers to our earlier piece on student debt forgiveness.

MBE Scores Lowest in 33 Years: When Will the Pain Stop?

Unfortunately, nobody was expecting good news to come out of the last administration of the bar exams, but when word got out that the MBE scores slipped to a 33-year low, we had to ask: when will the pain stop?

The average scaled score for the February administration of the MBE notched down again to 135, down from 136.2 from last year and the lowest it has been since 1983. This is also despite a somewhat counterintuitive increase in the number of test-takers this year -- a four percent jump, in fact.

The Panama Papers: Money Laundering and the World's Elite

Panic hit in the upper crust over the weekend after 11 million documents were leaked from the secretive Panama law firm of Mossack Fonseca. The documents revealed just how some of the world's most influential people launder their assets away from prying governmental eyes.

World governments, for their part, have reacted with predictable urgency. Will this revelation mark the beginning of the end of legal tax-loopholes? Unlikely.

Forget what Hollywood says; law school (and legal practice) isn't full of betrayal and mystery, romance and revenge. This isn't 'How to Get Away With Murder,' after all. It isn't even 'The Paper Chase.'

Except, of course, when it is. For, while the vast majority of us spent law school stressed-out, studying, and trying to land the best internship, others were busy with prostitution, murder, and (of course) litigation. Just in time for finals, here are FindLaw's nine favorite law school scandals from the recent past.

Judge Will Take Anger Management Classes for Ordering Man to Be Shocked

Judge Robert Nalley, the judge who pleaded guilty to civil rights violations after ordering the shocking of a non-violent defendant was sentenced to a year of probation and anger management classes. The incident took place in 2014 when Robert Nalley, then sitting judge, asked the defendant during voir dire if he had any questions for the prospective jury.

The defendant refused to answer the judge's questions and instead attempted to read from a prepared statement. The judge grew impatient and signaled for the deputy to remotely send 50,000 volts through the defendant's body.

Tired of your current gig? Looking for something a bit more inspiring? There are plenty of cool jobs out there. Sure, you could be an in-house attorney for the NBA or a litigation director for a major Hollywood studio -- if you've got a decade or two of experience.

But why wait till you're old and gray before you get an awesome job? This week, we're focusing in on those of you just starting out. As part of our affiliate partnership with Indeed, we're bringing you the three coolest entry-level jobs we can find.

The George Mason School of Law announced yesterday that it will be renaming itself in honor of the late Justice Scalia. The name change comes after a $30 million donation, according to The Washington Post -- $20 million from an anonymous donor (the International Order of St. Hubertus, perhaps?) and $10 million from the arch-conservative Charles Koch Foundation.

The school will now be known as the Antonin Scalia School of Law, giving it the regrettable acronym of ASS Law or ASSoL. And no, this is not an April Fool's joke.