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September 2017 Archives

Man Commits Suicide at Law Firm Representing Ex-Wife

Troubled by spousal support debts that had landed him in jail, a Virginia man committed suicide at the law offices of his ex-wife.

Sadly, it's a reality that shocks legal communities all too often. Sometimes attorneys get shot; judges aren't bullet-proof either.

With every lawyer-involved death, however, it is also a reminder that legal disputes frequently find people at their lowest points. Many times, it makes things even worse.

When it comes to selecting a bar exam prep course, many students will often default to taking the most popular course among their classmates. After all, it's the most popular for a reason, right?

Unfortunately, the reason that a specific bar course will be more popular is not always a result of quality. It can very well be the result of new, or budget, courses that can only compete with the larger, more established courses by cutting prices. Sadly, while a higher cost doesn't guarantee quality, when prices are too good to be true, you need to do some more research, particularly if high pressure sales tactics are being used by on campus representatives (who can sometimes be your own classmates).

Tips on Getting Need-Based Financial Aid

According to one formerly needy law student, Georgetown Law rocks.

Jordan Rothman, founder of Student Debt Diaries, says Georgetown did him a solid on the cost of education. In his chronicle, he explains how he got through law school with need-based financial aid and work-study jobs.

His experience is also a study in how students can get need-based aid even at the priciest law schools. Here's how it works:

Recently retired from the Seventh Circuit, Judge Richard Posner has indicated that he is interested in directly helping pro se litigants. The retired judge is rather vocal with his criticism of how the justice system is stacked against pro se litigants and has some ideas for systemic change.

His book that states these views is drawing criticism from the circuit he used to serve. But since its release, he has received many inquiries requesting help from non-profits that assist pro se litigants and others. While Judge Posner has indicated that he "isn't ruling out handling a case on behalf of pro se litigants," his focus appears to be on making larger changes to the system.

BigLaw Revenues Slightly Up, Profits Slightly Down

Last year the world's biggest law firms saw their lowest revenue increase in a decade, according to reports.

The mere increase of 2.8 percent showed revenue per lawyer was flat, while partner equity dropped one-half percent. The top 100 firms still brought in billions, and the most profitable partners made more than $5 million each.

But the revenue increase was lower than the cost of living increase in major American cities. It's not time to jump out of buildings, but there are signs of trouble ahead for BigLaw.

Deciding on a bar prep course can be fairly simple. However, since some students have different time and budgetary constraints, not all bar prep course will work for everyone. Also, not all courses are taught the same, and what's best for one might not be best for another.

Generally, because the bar exam is graded on a curve, there can be some advantages to taking the same bar prep course as everyone else. However, if you take the big course that everyone else is taking, it might be more difficult to get individualized attention, if you feel like you need it. There are pros and cons to nearly every bar exam study decision, and many myths that have been debunked.

Below, you'll find some tips to help you figure out which course is right for you.

What's Wrong With Legal Education in Mississippi?

To hear the law school dean say it, there's nothing wrong with legal education at Ole Miss.

And bless their hearts, Mississippi deans don't seem to know why the bar pass rates there have dropped 27 percent in the past four years. A lowly 53 percent passed the July exam this year, and an embarrassing 36 percent survived the February test.

It can't be that Mississippi law schools have lowered their admissions standards, could it?

When Will Your Law Dean Step Down?

With more than 200 nationally accredited law schools, there is always a new dean taking over somewhere.

Since the fall semester began, at least eight law schools have welcomed new deans, four had begun searching for new ones, and on average one dean leaves every month. Dean Daniel Rodriquez said last week he will return to teaching after six years as dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

It's a law school fact that no dean stays on forever. But just how long is it before a dean steps down?

With eight weeks until Thanksgiving break and about ten weeks to finals, you might be thinking that you can take a couple days off. Unfortunately, the sad news is that you can't. You have to just keep chugging along for the next two (and a half) months straight. It's tough.

Falling behind can result in a serious backlog of reading and outlining, and when it piles up too high, you may begin to feel beyond just overwhelmed. That's not unique. Countless law students have been there. It all boils down to time management, which is good training for your future career as a lawyer.

Below you'll find three tips to help you not fall behind.

When law students begin their schooling, the first semester can often be incredibly daunting. One of the most difficult aspects is time management. Every professor assigns a workload without regard for the fact that you have other classes. This means that free time is as elusive as it is tangible.

However, you know that there are fleeting moments of free time, like while winding down for bed, or between classes, or when you finish getting ready 15 minutes early in the morning (cause you ran out of soap and couldn't shower). Every now and again, you might even be able to find a whole hour, or maybe a few consecutive hours, of free time.

When that happens, you might be wondering whether you should pick up an old hobby, or maybe a new one. Below, you'll find a shortlist of five different constructive and healthy hobbies that'll help you relieve stress during law school.

Law Student Scammed on 'Offer Up' App

Poor -- like literally poor -- Kelly DeSalvatore...

DeSalvatore, a law student, handed her iPhone to a stranger who gave her fake money in return. Not that it was her fault, but maybe she should have looked up "offer-and-acceptance" before she used "Offer Up."

The popular online exchange, like Craigslist and others, does not guarantee bona fide deals. Scams happen all the time, even to law students.

How to Deal With a Law School Bully

Bullying has changed quite a bit since the start of the internet age. While bullies used to have to depend on their physical stature, with social media being as prevalent as it is today, anyone can be a bully (a cyberbully, at least).

Whereas all you needed to do before, according to every sitcom and after-school special, was stand up to the bully, and they'd back down, that's not necessarily the case in real life. If you find yourself dealing with a bully in law school, below you'll find some helpful tips.

Special Prosecutors Denied Almost $200,000 in Fees

It may come as a shock to true believers, but you don't always get what you pray for -- especially when it comes to attorney's fees.

That's because you literally have to pray for relief from the court, and attorney's fee awards are not actually that big in Texas. It's not about the struggling economy or hurricane damage.

In the case of an attorney general allegedly gone bad, it's about the law. The attorneys prosecuting him want almost $200,000 for pre-trial work in the case, but the county fee schedule only authorizes $1,000.

Utah Law School's 100 Percent Pass-Rate Plan Is Working

Moving toward a goal of 100 percent bar pass rate, a Utah law school is bucking the national trend of declining bar exam scores.

The University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law pushed 87 percent of its graduates over the state bar exam hump this year, edging closer to its goal for the second straight year. Dean Robert Adler credited the students and faculty for committing to the "100/100 Initiative" launched in 2015.

"Improved performance on the bar exam shows how well prepared our students are at graduation, but it is also the last hurdle our students must overcome to use their law degrees for most of the jobs they seek," he said.

If there is one thing criminal lawyers know about judges, it's that they like to see contrition from defendants. Even if it's just a speeding ticket, a defendant that knows they've done wrong, feels bad, and is ready to face the consequences, is likely to get a more lenient sentence than a defendant that lacks these qualities.

For the now punch-drunk famous New York City Parole Board ALJ, Robert Beltrani, his time as a jurist may have resulted in him forgetting this admirable quality of defendants. If you forgot about Beltrani, he's the judge who has been fighting off assault charges over punching an attorney outside a Manhattan party, after a few too many cocktails.

Pros and Cons of Getting a JD/MBA

If you already hate law school, or might just be looking to enhance your hire-ability, potentially even outside of practicing law, you may be considering a dual JD/MBA program.

However, like any choice you make in law school, there are going to be positive things to consider, and negative aspects to bear in mind. Below, you'll find a brief list of three pros and three cons to help you decide whether you want to pursue that JD/MBA.

Psychic Lawyer Knew the Future for His Legal Career

Every lawyer is expected to opine about the outcome of a case, but not to make psychic predictions.

Attorney Steven F. Macek, however, is not like every lawyer. He is not like any lawyer because he is also a psychic.

"I do it more than law," he told the Boston Globe. Macek has an interesting side gig for an attorney, but then how does any lawyer know what they're going to do in the future?

Where Are the Best Law Schools for Return on Investment?

'Go West, young man,' Horace Greeley's admonition, could apply to law students, too, with some exceptions for states like California.

According to a new study on the best value for cost, the least expensive states for students to attend law school are public colleges in the West, such as Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii. Brigham Young University, a private school, also has a low base tuition.

Overall, the study says, tuition has declined at most middle-ranked schools in states with public colleges. All things considered, such as bar pass rates and job opportunities, they may offer the best return on investment.

Best Law Schools for Older Students

To find the best law school as an older student, you need to think even farther ahead. Where are you going to work when you get out?

No law firm or business will admit age discrimination in its hiring practices, but they all want young up-and-comers. Older students have to know that before they head down that long road.

So if you want a job when you are even older, plan on going to a law school based on its placement resources or be prepared to make your own. With your life experience, that can be a good thing. After all, you weren't born yesterday.

In a recent speech this past week at the dedication of the new University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia, South Carolina, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito may have expressed a rather unpopular opinion. After comparing law schools to mosquito breeding pools, the jurist said that he believed it would be good for society if more people thought about issues like lawyers do.

Justice Alito explained that thinking like a lawyer involves looking at all sides of an issue in order to arrive at the truth. He believes that lawyers are good at understanding when they are wrong, and coming to terms with changing their positions based on logic and reason. He believes that this sentiment is dire in our current society due to the divisions that currently exist over certain issues.

Can Arts, Math, and Science Majors Get Into Law School?

A doctor, an accountant, and a writer walked in to a law school but couldn't get out. Why?

Because the admissions office wanted them to stay for three more years. True story, and you thought it was a joke.

More than ever, law schools want a diverse student population. It's not just about minorities, it's about different walks of life.

Are you a 1L that's thinking about going home for Thanksgiving? Or maybe you're more reasonable and you're thinking that going home for the winter break after exams is a good idea.

Regardless of whether or not you have been shaped into the reasonably prudent person your law profs have promised to make you yet, if you plan to go home for the holidays, you can get a few reasonably prudent tips below.

Despite how annoying it is, law profs across the country still use the Socratic method, often referred to as cold calling. Naturally, this means that law students across the country actively do their best to not get called on in class, or just over-prepare out of fear of being called on.

In some classes, professors will keep count to make sure they call on everyone fairly, while other profs will just look to see who isn't paying attention and call on them. After all, if students answer questions correctly, there'll be fewer teachable moments.

Sure, preparation is the key to success, but below, you'll find three tips to help you avoid being called on in class.

Law Schools Celebrate Diverse Admissions

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then behold the beauty of diversity in law school admissions.

Yale Law School is celebrating the most diverse entering class in its history. The law school reported that 53 percent are women and 48 percent are people of color.

That's quite a difference for a law school that faced student protests over a lack of diversity several years ago. It also represents a sea change in legal education, and law schools are proud of it.

Amazon's 'Goliath' Legal Drama Is the Right Mix

Why do people binge-watch lawyer shows on television, but will do anything to avoid lawyers in real life?

"Goliath," Amazon's legal drama, partially answers that question: television lawyers are interesting and not hourly expensive.

For attorneys who know better, however, there is another painful truth about the popular drama. It features an alcoholic attorney.

Law books are heavy. Carrying more than a few, plus a laptop, plus other stuff, makes law school more than a mental challenge, but also a physical one. While getting a rolling bag can be helpful, those things still are not easy (on the eyes or) to lug around when packed with a stack of law books.

So how can you get through law school without throwing out your back or causing serious long term damage to that fragile constitution of yours (after all, your destiny is now one relegated to a desk and courtroom, rather than a shovel and a ditch)?

Below, you'll find three helpful tips to help you avoid carrying all those books around everywhere.

To Partying Law Students: Put Down the Drugs and Alcohol

Brian Cuban started to figure it out in law school -- he was an alcoholic.

It happened outside the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, after he stumbled out of a bar and puked somewhere near Forbes Field. He didn't really know where he was, but he knew he didn't want to be there.

Cuban eventually made it out, passed the other bar, and went on to help others confront their addictions. Many law students, however, never figure it out.

Millennials have been called this and that, and told they are different in so many ways, but as time passes, it's becoming clearer and clearer that there's really very little difference between them and prior generations. Especially when it comes to learning.

Millennial law students may have been born into a world of technology, but are just as bad with technology as the generations that came before them. Most don't even know how to google properly.

All people, including Millennials, learn best through a combination of reading, seeing, hearing, and doing, but depending on the person, some methods are more effective than others. As such, when it comes to learning in law school, it shouldn't come as a surprise when the same learning styles that have worked in the past -- visual, auditory. and tactile -- are effective for this generation.

Alabama Supreme Court Reviews Judge's Facebook Post

Despite his controversial Facebook comments, Judge Greg Griffin was not about to recuse himself from a racially charged murder case.

The murder defendant, a white police officer, had shot and killed a black man after stopping him on the street. Griffin, as fate would have it, had been stopped by police in the same city as he walked down the street.

"(I)t was aggravating to be detained when the only thing I was guilty of was being a black man walking down the street in his neighborhood with a stick in his hand who just happened to be a Montgomery County Circuit Judge in Montgomery, Alabama," Griffin posted on Facebook. "Lord Have Mercy!!!!"

That post is at the center of a case that is now before the Alabama Supreme Court, which has postponed the trial to consider the issue: must a judge recuse himself for commenting about a personal experience with racial profiling?

One of the most common ways that professionals will network with each other, outside of those awful events, involves getting coffee or lunch. For busy professionals, squeezing in some mid-day networking when they wouldn't otherwise be billing hours is just simply an efficient use of time.

However, there's one question that often plagues the un-anointed networker: who pays? Fortunately, there is an easy rule of thumb to remember: the person who extended the invite pays, but the invitee should offer to cover their share, at least once.

How to Get a Full Scholarship for Law School

They say the best things in life are free, but they probably didn't go to law school.

Law school costs a lot of money, and maybe law school isn't the best thing. But you don't have to pay for law school if you know how to get a full-ride scholarship.

You know already that you have to do well in undergraduate school, excel on your admissions test, and apply to the law school that gives you a competitive advantage for a scholarship. Here are some more things maybe you didn't know:

Going to trial is among the most difficult tasks an attorney can be hired to do. It's not that the actual courtroom presentation is overly challenging, especially if you've prepared. It's more so that the rest of the world does not stop during trial.

Taking care of all the logistics of your practice before a trial begins is absolutely essential in order to make sure you can maintain focus on your trial. However, one of the more overlooked areas of trial prep involves meal planning.

While there are countless trial lawyer superstitions involving wearing certain clothes or getting a haircut mid-trial, where to get food and what to eat is more than just superstition, it's really important. The right trial diet will keep your mind sharp and your energy levels high.

Hurricane Irma Forces Courts, Law Classes to Close

Courts and law classes are in recess in South Florida, as Hurricane Irma makes landfall in the Caribbean and turns toward the North American continent.

The hurricane, a Category 5 storm with winds reaching 185 miles per hour, is the second strongest Atlantic storm in recorded history. Hurricane Allen was the strongest, peaking at 190 miles per hour in 1980.

Government officials, including court personnel, urged people living in the storm's path to clear out on Wednesday. The following courts and law schools are affected:

Survey: California Lawyers Don't Want Bar Exam Changes

Go figure: the vast majority of California attorneys don't want the state bar exam to get any easier.

In a survey that drew responses from nearly 40,000 California lawyers and others, the State Bar said 80 percent of the respondents don't want to lower the cut score. They generally said the test -- which is one of the most difficult in the country -- is good for consumers.

"That California's cut score is the second highest in the nation is something to be proud of, not something to be concerned about," said one respondent.

The survey may be good news for consumers and lawyers who have passed the bar. For law students and bar applicants, not so much.

For many law students, buying supplements like case outlines, summaries, or brief books may seem unusual. However, these supplements are geared toward helping students understand the important concepts from the specific cases in a textbook in less time.

Most students expect that outlining, summarizing, or briefing each case is part of going to law school. While it is, there's generally no homework in the traditional sense of the word. Only in the rarest of situations will any students be asked to turn in a case outline or brief or anything at all for that matter (except in writing courses).

Here are three of the most frequently asked questions about these additional supplements:

Facebook Photos Taken in Court Put Lawyers in Hot Seat

What are we in, high school?

Seriously, when grown lawyers start posting unflattering Facebook photos and snarky comments about people in court -- really? Yet that's exactly what happened when some New York lawyers posted this:

"Bra tops n butt cheeks! Somebody come look at this!!" the caption read above a photo of a young woman in family court.

Um, can you say, "disciplinary hearing"?

How to Become a Judge the Easier Way

With apologies to all those who have tried really hard to become judges, there are easier ways to do it.

The reality is, the best law school grades, an illustrious trial practice, and a stellar reputation in the legal community alone won't qualify you to be a judge. How else can you explain that the U.S. Constitution requires none of the above to become a Supreme Court justice?

It comes down to this familiar adage: It's not what you know; it's who you know.