Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

August 2016 Archives

If you need legal information, you can find it at FindLaw, no matter who you are. Seriously, among FindLaw's millions of pages of content there's something for everyone. There are legal professional blogs for legal professionals, consumer information for your average person, free (and awesome) state codes for anyone wondering about alligator law in Florida, news feeds, newsletters, and so much more.

And law students, we've got you covered, too. Today, FindLaw just launched its new Law Students section designed specifically for aspiring JD's. So if you've got questions about choosing a law school, surviving in law school, or crushing the bar exam, you can find answers right here.

Gene Wilder, the legendary comedic actor, passed away yesterday, at the age of 83. As we like to do when someone of note dies, we've tried to distill some wisdom from their life and work, as our way of paying respects and taking lessons from interesting lives. And few had a body of work as interesting as Wilder's. Wilder spent decades charming his way into our lives, alongside Richard Pryor in "Stir Crazy," as a gunslinger in "Blazing Saddles," and as the doctor himself in "Young Frankenstein."

But one of Wilder's defining roles, as the insane, eccentric, endearing Willy Wonka of "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory," deserves, perhaps, the most attention here. That film didn't just epitomize Wilder's unconventional style, it was also uniquely legalistic. It is certainly one of the most popular children's movies to ever have its climax turn on contract interpretation, for example. So, here are some legal lessons from "Wonka," to remember Wilder by.

The average entering 1L is a scant 24 years old.

But not all of us are spring chickens when we begin studying the law. In almost every entering law school class, there are small contingents of students who come to law school with significant life experience. They're known as OWLS, or older, wiser law students.

Brooklyn DA Hit With $15K Penalty for Violating Conflict Laws

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson must pay $15,000 in fines for using his office's account to pay for some of his meals in violation of applicable conflict-of-interest laws, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The fine is essentially punitive, as sources indicate that Thompson has already reimbursed the city for expensing his meals from January 2014 to February 2015. The amount billed to the city totaled approximately $3,500.

Phony Law Firm Scam Used Lawyer Names Found Through Craigslist

Two Florida men have been arrested in connection with a Craigslist scheme which involved using lawyers' names and bar numbers without permission to provide loan modification and foreclosure defense services. Can anyone say "unauthorized practice of law"?

You're terrified of getting cold called and stumbling to remember the procedural posture in Pennoyer v. Neff. Alternatively, you can't wait to get called on and perfectly recite Pennoyer's procedural posture and throw in some background details on the Pacific Christian Advocate and 1870's Multnomah County, Oregon. (Really, tone it down, gunner.)

What do you do to prepare? You brief the case. But here's a hint: you don't have to do it all yourself. Westlaw can do a lot of it for you.

Melania Trump has been busy lately. Not only is she helping her husband, Donald Trump, run for president, she's now sending a bevy of cease and desist letters to media outlets who've written about rumors that she worked as an escort when she first came to New York from Slovenia. Of course, accusations of defamation are to be expected when someone makes such claims; no one is surprised by that.

What stands out, though, is the name on Melania's demand letters. They were not sent out by Michael D. Cohen, the Donald's usual lawyer, but by Charles Harder, the attorney who represented Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against the website Gawker. Harder is also closely associated with Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who has made it a bit of a personal hobby to finance lawsuits against the press.

Jeffrey Ostrow, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, has some pretty big name clients. Intel comes to him for legal advice, as do Marvell, Spotify, and Cisco. But as the chair of Simpson's IP practice, his work doesn't usually get him invited onto the evening news.

So imagine Ostrow's surprise when his inbox was suddenly inundated with invitations to appear on NBC News, NPR, and CNN. Suddenly, everyone thought he was representing Ryan Lochte.

Life as a Law Firm Partner: It's Not All Glory and Good Times

It's the undeniable goal of most lawyers to see his or her name affixed within the firm name. Who doesn't want to be partner? The ego, the prestige, the salary -- and of course, perks!

As it turns out, being a partner isn't desirable for everyone. Partners don't necessarily live the blessed lives young lawyers imagine. Also, there are good reasons to believe that the traditional partner-track model for lawyers may soon be a thing of the past.

The people you meet in law school likely won't disappear from your life after just three years of law school. Many of them could become your colleagues, lifelong friends, or opposing counsel. A few you may just see at the local bar, or local bar events.

The opinions your law school peers make of you in law school will follow you for some time. And some of your law school classmates might kind of hate you. Especially if you're a gunner.

It's back-to-school season, and that includes you law students. So, we hope you've enjoyed your summer internships. If you're lucky, you might have even gotten a bit of vacation in there. Now, it's back to the grind.

Here are five tips to help you get back into the law school state of mind and to help keep you at the top of your game when you're there, from the FindLaw archives.

Top 3 Cool Legal Jobs This Week: Copyright and Trademark

Maybe you're in that group of attorneys who always wanted to practice patent law, but couldn't because you were hampered by not having earned a B.S. in your undergrad years. And the thought of having to go back to school to earn enough science credits just so you can sit for the exam...? Agh, does it ever end?

Well, the next best thing for you IP types is copyright and trademark law. These IP areas don't require a patent attorney's license and you can start today. As part of our ongoing affiliate program with Indeed, we bring you these copyright and trademark jobs.

Becoming a judge is no easy task. It requires building a name, making connections, and winning an election or appointment. But once you've made it, what a great gig it is. There's the pantless defendants, the screaming lawyers, the endless petitions from pro se Sovereign Citizens, the baby splitting.

But one Chicago lawyer recently got to test the role out in advance. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Valarie Turner allegedly let one of the court's clerks, attorney Rhonda Crawford, sit on her bench, wear her robe, and preside over two cases. Now Turner has been removed from the bench and currently faces claims that she violated judicial ethics and may have broken the law.

New Lawyers Are Finding Fewer Private Practice Jobs

If you’re a recent grad and are having trouble landing that private law job, you’re in good company — or least you have company.

According to a new report from the National Association of Law Placement, private law placement of law grads is the poorest it has been since 1996.

Widener Law School 'Fraud' Suit Lacks Class Standing

Widener Law School faces a class action lawsuit alleging that students were defrauded with deceptive employment statistics. Fortunately for the school, however, the Third Circuit recently ruled that the plaintiffs lacked critical commonality for such an action.

It's a major victory for the law school and marks another victory for schools defending disaffected and disenfranchised law grads. However, the suit is not dead; the circuit court ruling means that each plaintiff must pursue relief one by one.

A few years ago, Kathleen Kane was a legal star. She started her career at Post and Schell, one of Philadelphia's elite firms, went on to become a successful assistant district attorney, and then became the first woman elected as the state's attorney general. She was, as the New York Times recently described her, "one of the most powerful women in Pennsylvania."

That is, until she was caught in a series of scandals involving everything from her illicit leaks, to state Supreme Court justices' pornographic emails. Last September her law license was suspended, on Monday she was found guilty of nine criminal charges, including perjury and criminal conspiracy, and yesterday she finally announced that she will be resigning her position as the top law enforcement officer in the state.

You're in law school. You're a digital native. You want to build your name, share your thoughts, make some memes.

Can you blend the two worlds, your future-lawyer self and your online-commentator self? Should you have a blog?

Don't Let Debt Concerns Kill Your Dreams of Public Interest Law

With student debts climbing well into the six-figure range, there's a surprising amount of misinformation out there when it comes to financing a legal education. The general feeling is this: corporate BigLaw or bust. This mentality is probably responsible an increasing number of students dropping their ambitions of working in public office to pursue more "practical" law.

But there is hope for the lawyer with more compassion and largess. Consider some of the options below if you are still interested in public interest law. After all, the world needs people like you.

Robo-Lawyer Fighting Homelessness, Making Humans Obsolete

The wunderkind that created the once amusing, now frightening, chatbot-lawyer that has since overturned some 160,000 tickets from London to New York has struck again. This time, he has aimed his ambitions at tackling homelessness in Britain, according to a recent Washington Post piece about him.

This is terrific news for those who are in dire need of legal services because Josh Browder's efforts will no doubt bridge the gap between demand and supply for legal services. But it's terrible news for many lawyers who have traditionally benefitted from hard-set prices in legal services.

When 'Making a Murderer' was released last December, Wisconsin attorney Len Kachinsky soon became one of America's least favorite lawyers. The wildly popular Netflix documentary told the story of the prosecution of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey for the murder of Teresa Halbach. The treatment that Brendan Dassey, then a learning disabled 16-year-old, made for some of the documentary's most troubling scenes -- including scenes of Dassey's lawyer, Len Kachinsky, pressuring Dassey to confess and leaving him to be questioned alone.

Now, ten years after he was imprisoned, and just a few months after "Making a Murderer" brought renewed national attention to his case, Brendan Dassey's conviction has been overturned. In a 91-page opinion, a federal judge in Wisconsin threw out Dassey's conviction, going so far as to describe Kachinsky's misconduct as "indefensible." But Kachinsky has a defense. Indeed, he takes some credit for getting Brandon Dassey's conviction overthrown in the first place.

Forget transactional work; forget compliance. You became a lawyer because you wanted to get into the courtroom. If you're already a litigator looking for greener pastures, we've got em; and if you're just looking to transition into litigation, now's the time.

As part of our affiliate partnership with Indeed, we're bringing you the three coolest legal jobs of the week, with a focus on litigation.

ASU Law's New College of Law Building Beckons the Public

Arizona State University's new Sanda Day O'Connor College of Law building is scheduled to be unveiled in just a few short days but if the pictures are any indication, it's going to be a cross between a law school and a community hangout.

The architects who designed the new glassy digs were going for something a little less ivy and brick and a little more modern and integrated. Tomas Rossant, one of the designers, proclaimed that the building is seen as a "mechanism to connect to the urban and social fabric of Phoenix."

Prepping clients for their day in court often involves keeping them calm and focused on the big picture. Occasionally, you'll need to instruct clients on a few more basic matters as well: where to sit, how to address the judge, what to wear, and so forth. But here's some advice we you might want to add: leave your loaded guns at home.

A Sacramento man could have benefited from that counsel earlier this week. Terry Sosnowski was arrested at the Sacramento County courthouse earlier this week, after he arrived to court with a loaded weapon tucked away in his bag.

America's Veterans Can't Afford Lawyers

It's a tragic reality that many of America's veterans return home only to find themselves homeless, unable to find their place in civilian society. However, if studies by the Department of Veterans Affairs are to be believed, many veterans' issues could be solved with the aid of a competent attorney.

We encourage all attorneys to offer reduced or even free assistance to veterans who are in need of help. If you are unable to help or cannot handle the complexity of the veteran's issue, we have provided a list of additional resources below.

It just got harder to demean other attorneys on the basis of race, religion, sex, disability, age, or other factors, when engaging in conduct related to the practice of law. On Monday, at the American Bar Association's national meeting in San Francisco, the ABA adopted new rules that make it professional misconduct to engage in discriminatory behavior.

To some, the new rules are a needed bulwark against "too many 'honeys,' 'darlings' and other sexist remarks" in the legal profession, while others complain that they threaten attorneys' free speech.

Law Schools Now Offer Money for Early Decision Applicants

Unless you're lucky enough to be a trust fund beneficiary, you will most likely have to consider costs when applying to law schools. One perceived drawback for many students is that early decision applicants generally have fewer merit-based options.

A few schools, however, have decided to offer money to students who undergo the early decision process. They're looking to catch those who would otherwise join the regular applicant pool for fear of missing out on greener pastures.

Pop culture loves lawyers. In movies and T.V., attorneys are almost inescapable, from Andy Griffith's folksy defense attorney, Ben Matlock, to Viola Davis's black widow law school professor in "How to Get Away With Murder."

But whether it's Judge Harry Stone on "Night Court," or the crusading law clerk in "Erin Brockovitch," Hollywood's many fictional legal professionals can all be boiled down into six archetypes. At least according to the ABA Journal, who dedicated their August issue to exploring the Jungian depths of America's pop culture lawyers. And of course, one of those archetypes will fit you, too.

NACIQI: ABA Is out of Touch and Should Lose Accreditation Power

These are watershed times for the ABA, the monolithic institution that knows no particular jurisdiction yet wields tremendous power. Today, it is facing serious questions about whether or not it can be charged with the responsibility of accrediting America's law schools.

So far, it could all be a lot of talk. But as far as we can tell, this is perhaps the biggest threat to the ABA's widely recognized authority to stamp schools with its seal of approval. Is the institution's sterling image finally tarnishing?

Want a Federal Clerkship? Go to These Schools.

Some law students dream of BigLaw riches. But another common ambition is the judicial clerkship, particularly the federal clerkship.

Well, everyone is all about stats and metrics these days so we thought we'd bring your attention to those schools which seem to be particularly talented at funneling their grads into federal clerkship seats. Take a look.

The Summer Olympics start today, and with them come the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the desire to get out there and take up pole vaulting or competitive gymnastics. But hey, your days of being the next Michael Phelps or Mary Lou Retton are probably behind you.

That doesn't mean you have to give up on a career in sports, though. As part of our affiliate relationship with Indeed, we're bringing you the three coolest, sports-related jobs this week. So get ready to hit the gym polish up those resumes.

MO Gov. Axes Public Defense Funds, Finds Himself Defending Public

Amid one of the nation's worst public defense budget crises, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been ordered by the state's public-defender director to sign up as counsel of record for the state's poorest. Unable to pay for sufficient public defenders, the state's director of the public defender system called upon a little-used law that allows him to enlist lawyers as public defenders. The governor, being an attorney, was first on that list.

It's an ironic twist for Nixon, a guy who has continuously slashed funds going towards public defense. It looks like he'll have to work with whatever tools are left.

They say that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client and Ryan Bundy seems to agree. Bundy was one of the leaders of the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last January, an occupation which ending with one occupier dead and Bundy in jail.

Now Bundy is leading his own legal defense. In a filing submitted last Thursday, Bundy claimed that he was "an idiot," and "incompetent," and demanded $100 million to stand trial.

Hillary Clinton, like many presidential contenders throughout history, is a lawyer. This is hardly a secret. Her work at the Children's Defense Fund and advocating for the rights of the disadvantaged generally is often touted by the candidate and her campaign.

But Hillary's public interest work is only a small part of her history. For much of her legal career, Clinton worked as a corporate lawyer and as a partner at one of the most venerable firms in the South.

Peeping Tom Lawyer Faces Disbarment. Is the System Rigged?

A BigLaw associate who previously worked at the D.C. firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is facing the end of his career as a lawyer after he surreptitiously filmed a man undressing in a gym locker room. The ex-lawyer in question called the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility's damning report "a shame."

It's a matter of perspective, of course, but lawyers facing ethics issues have frequently observed that the ethics process is extremely one sided. At risk of sounding like Donald Trump, we have to ask, is this system rigged?

Last week, we wrote about a fight between Donald Trump and Tony Schwartz, co-author to "The Art of the Deal," Trump's famous biography. Here's the story in a nutshell: Schwartz speaks out against Trump, calling him "impulsive and self-centered." Sparks and legal demand letters fly, leading to a pretty entertaining exchange between Trump and Schwartz's lawyers.

Inspired, a reader wrote in to remind us of what could be the best legal response letter ever, the 1974 exchange between a lawyer for the Cleveland Browns and a season-ticket holding attorney who disliked paper airplanes. If you haven't seen this before, you're in for a treat.

FL Lawyer Goes Nuts: Embellishes Nut-Allergy Story, Faces Ethics Charges

Things can get a little juvenile when one plays lawyer for long enough, as this recent Florida incident aptly illustrates. In this case, an attorney falsely accused opposing counsel in a big case of essentially intentionally battering his law clerk with peanuts and pistachios knowing she was allergic to nuts. The problem is, that isn't how it happened at all.

Lan Cai was driving home from her job as a waitress when she was hit by a drunk driver. And, like many car accident victims, Cai, a 20-year-old nursing student in Houston, felt like she needed the help of attorneys afterwards. Enter the Law Offices of Tuan A. Khuu, whose lawyers were so eager to sign Cai up that they allegedly came into her bedroom while she was undressed and sleeping, in order to get her business. But that drive didn't seem to last; in the days following her accident, Cai says her lawyers would not return her calls and even ran off when she came to their office.

Cai eventually retained new counsel, then went online to complain that the attorneys were "super unprofessional" and "pushy." Now, the firm is suing Cai, rather than representing her.

Best Law Schools for Getting Rich as a Lawyer

We get it, you want BigLaw despite advice that you should be careful what you wish for. You've made it your aim to get into some of the most corporate of firms, and now you want to know which schools will best increase your chances. After all, BigLaw is where the money's at.

After taking some of the stats from the American Bar Association, the folks over at Business Insider ran some comparisons against their own list in order to create a list with a second opinion, so to speak. Let's take a look at the top five schools for landing a high-paying BigLaw job.