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December 2017 Archives

How to Get the Chris Cornell Scholarship at UCLA Law

Here's a secret to getting the new Chris Cornell Scholarship at UCLA: If you are going for the money, you don't get it.

This scholarship is for students who are dedicated to human rights. It requires a commitment like the late singer/songwriter showed when he donated proceeds from his most famous song to an international rescue group.

Now do you get it? This is a scholarship that isn't about money.

What Is Cooperative Law? How Can Lawyers Work With Co-Ops?

Cooperative law is probably not what you think it is.

Family law practitioners, along other lawyers, often think of it as synonymous with collaborative law. In family law, it was recently considered a cutting-edge practice area focused on settlements in divorce.

But cooperative law has its roots in antebellum America, when the country was first growing Westward. It was a time when people worked together on real settlements. Despite its long history in America, today, cooperative law is an area of practice young lawyers often overlook. How can you get into cooperative law?

5 Law School Triumphs for 2017

It's so yesterday to say, "Happy New Year!"

Let's change it up and say, "Happy Old Year!"

It's our prerogative to change our perspective, especially for students with fresh minds to be bent one way or another. After all, there were some real law school triumphs in 2017!

How to Thank an Employer for a Law Job, According to Gorsuch

It will not go down in history as a love story from Shakespeare, but the "love letter" from Neil Gorsuch to Donald Trump may at least make it on an episode of Saturday Night Live.

When President Trump blew up over comments Gorsuch made about Trump's attacks on the judiciary, the President started to back away from his Supreme Court nominee. Gorsuch responded with a personal note to the scorned nominator.

"Your address to Congress was magnificent," Gorsuch wrote in an opening act that only a Supreme Court suitor could write.

Just because you trained to be a lawyer, it doesn't mean you actually have to practice law, or even work a job that requires you be a lawyer. After all, you didn't spend all those years in school to work more than 40 hours a week like a chump.

Though, to be fair, lawyers are not the only people who work crazy hours, and even non-law jobs can lead to the same level of pressure and stress. Regardless, if you aren't interested in practicing, below you can find a shortlist of non-lawyer law jobs that are particularly well suited for lawyers.

5 Law School Failures of 2017

Not to sound like Captain Obvious, but it's been a bad year for law schools.

After years of declining enrollments, it appears legal education hit bottom in 2017. The cumulative effects washed ashore when barely a third of law students crawled past the bar exam in one state.

So let old acquaintance be forgot as we wring out the worst of a miserable law school year:

It's a never-ending struggle to protect one of the most idealistic, gullible, and greedy demographics: prospective law students. In order to provide better information for these ne'er-do-wells, the ABA is requiring accredited law schools to submit a new, separate, stand alone questionnaire regarding the school's bar passage rate.

And though law schools have been reporting bar passage rates for many years now, the new questionnaire, approved this past June, promises to provide more accurate information, which could help prospective law students decide whether or not to attend a particular school.

Kim Kardashian Enters the Legal Profession?

So there's going to be another Kardashian in the legal profession?

First, it was Robert Kardashian Sr. defending O.J. Simpson. Then his daughter Kourtney Kardashian said she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps.

Now Kim Kardashian West is reportedly working at an entertainment law firm. Does this mean there's going to be another Kardashian television show, too?

Federal Law Clerk Handbook Addresses Sexual Harassment

On the same day Judge Alex Kozinski retired, the handbook for federal clerks was revised to address sex harassment complaints against judges.

Public allegations against Kozinski probably prompted the sudden change, even though the jurist's behavior went unchecked for decades. In any case, the handbook specifically lifts the veil of confidentiality that has hid him and other judges from scrutiny.

The revision says nothing in the handbook "prevents a clerk, or any judiciary employee, from revealing misconduct, including sexual or other forms of harassment, by their judge or any person."

Do NOT Make These New Year's Resolutions

This could be the Year of the Contrarian.

This could be the year when you -- contrary to all your failed resolutions of the past -- succeed by going a different direction. Like driving in the opposition direction of traffic, you could be flying down the highway of life.

When everybody else is thinking inside the box, you will be out standing. As Yoda said, in part, "Do not. There is no try."

The Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley School of Law's lawsuit against the ABA is not going so well for the school. It recently lost a request for a preliminary injunction against the ABA, demanding that the ABA remove this letter from the internet and public domain.

That letter is at the very heart of the lawsuit. Cooley Law School alleges that the publishing of that letter violates the Higher Education Act as well as due process. The school claims that the letter harmed its reputation and influenced prospective students away from the school. The ABA basically asserts the school harmed its own reputation by filing the lawsuit and generally being bad. Not surprisingly, the court seems to be siding with the ABA on this one, especially at the preliminary injunction stage where the burden of proof is so high on a petitioner.

For young lawyers and law students, hearing the news about big law bonuses going over the top can just feel cruel. After all, the vast majority of lawyers don't work at big law firms, and most law students have no realistic chance of landing one of those coveted big law jobs after graduation.

Nonetheless, when bonus news breaks, the legal blogs will cover it, good, bad, or whatever. The most recent bonus news to break will be leaving small group of lawyers with big smiles on their faces, while the rest of just ooh and ah and dream, then humbly remember what Biggie taught us.

Law School Enrollments Rebounding

Law school enrollments are up nearly 12 percent nationally, with some schools reporting increases of 40 percent or more.

The number of applicants for the fall 2018 could reach 63,000 -- the highest in five years -- according to reports.

After a precipitous drop seven years ago, enrollments are still at their lowest in decades. But it looks like law school is the hot ticket now.

With all the talk of the rare 'Unqualified' ratings being handed out to President Trump's judicial nominees, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had some rather illuminating questions for Matthew Petersen, a nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Lucky for everyone except Petersen, those questions were captured on a video which is going viral.

Most notably, Petersen was rated as "Qualified" but his responses to Senator Whitehouse's questions really call into question what that rating even means. During the rather direct questioning, Petersen admitted to never trying a case, never arguing a motion, nor even knowing the purpose of a motion in limine. All pretty shocking stuff given the fact he's nominated to the federal bench.

Kozinski Misconduct Investigation, Fallout Continues

You know that person who embarrasses everyone at the table by telling an off-color joke or doing something just as gross?

Is that Judge Alex Kozinski? Is he the creepy guy who will embarrass the legal profession, wait for everyone else to walk away and then just keep being "that" judge?

While the profession ponders the question, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is launching an inquiry, Kozinski's clerks are quitting, and many people are piling on the jurist following the exposure of his sexual misconduct. Next?

Sometimes there's a fake lawyer, and sometimes there's a fake lawyer, and sometimes there's a fake lawyer. And sometimes that fake lawyer is someone who has a history of trying to put one over on the entire system.

A recently arrested former law student probably didn't think he'd be caught this time, and probably thought the consequences wouldn't be so bad if he was. Obviously, he was wrong. While on parole for one of the most unbelievable, unfathomable, attempted hoodwinking of a court, he sent a resume to a recruiter claiming to be a patent attorney and to hold a JD. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that he had only been out on parole for seven days.

Lawyer Spends Millions on Kids' Parties

When Grammy winners come to your parties, you got something.

Attorney Thomas J. Henry has it -- it's called money. He had enough to drop $4 million on his son's 18th birthday party, and $6 million on his daughter's quinceanera.

Henry also had enough for a dozen rap and hip hop stars to entertain guests, not to mention some off-the-chain gifts for his kids. So where are you going to party for the holidays?

Students Pledge to Improve Mental Health

When it comes to stressful professions, lawyers and surgeons have a lot in common.

The big difference is that when a surgeon is operating on a patient, there isn't another doctor in the room disrupting the procedure. Law is a really competitive business, and it starts in law school.

That's why leading universities are committed to helping students deal with the emotional challenges of law school. It's an outreach to promote mental health.

If you're not sitting down, you might want to, because a recent NLJ report breaks down the complete lack of diversity among SCOTUS justices' clerks. And while that probably isn't that surprising, some of the specific stats might be.

For example, the social media favorite, Justice Ginsburg, The Notorious RBG, only hired one African American law clerk in the over two decades she's been a SCOTUS justice (and she never hired an African American clerk while sitting on the Circuit Court in DC).

So, what's going on? If even the justice everyone would've thought would be pro-diversity isn't hiring minorities, are any of the justices? Surprisingly, the High Court does not keep records on this, though that's likely because the majority of clerks have always been, and continue to be, white men.

Below, you can read some highlights, or lowlights, from the report's findings.

Do law schools really need to teach students how to use the emerging legal tech of today and tomorrow? Or maybe just yesterday? After all, some Millennials don't even know how to Google.

While it might sound nice for schools to require students to pass certain technological core competencies, there's a pretty strong argument against tech being a requirement: Law school is for learning the law, not how to create or use legal tech. However, considering how ingrained some legal tech has become in the practice of law, it really begs the question of whether it's time for schools to re-evaluate the tech that is taught.

CBS Making New Comedy About Law School

If you were going to create a television show about law school, it would have to be a sitcom.

At least, that's what CBS is planning. "Class Action" is loosely based on the law school experiences of Jay McGraw, who was a student at Southern Methodist University's law school.

According to reports, the story follows a law student looking for the easy way out but ends up in over his head. Wait, isn't that what happens to law students in real life?

Most Underrated Law Schools in America

Remember the cliquish stereotypes of high school -- jocks, nerds, etc.?

They seemed to form naturally, as kids gravitated to their own kind. It is not so different in college, what with fraternities formalizing the divisions. But law school?

Perhaps we matured by then, but student groupings become a science in graduate school anyway. And that could be a good thing. This becomes relevant when discussing law school rankings. Where do the best students go? And which schools are the most underrated?

One of the biggest hurdles to landing a good job for law students is taking the time to prepare a thoughtful application. That's why over winter break, law students might want to actually consider spending some time on their resumes and cover letters, and maybe even start sending some out.

While it's important to get some rest and relaxation over winter break, slacking on the job hunt really is not an option if you don't have a job or something lined up. Below are a few helpful tips for those law students looking to get the jump on the job search over winter break.

Tips to Decrease Law School Expenses

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

That advice should top the list of tips on how to save on law school expenses. It's about cost-cutting, wherever you can.

Jeremy Kemp, a law student at the University of Virginia, is a great example. He cut out paying rent. Instead, he lives in his van.

Choosing a law school isn't easy. It's almost as tough as getting chosen by one. Sure, a large number of law students will either be going to a hometown school, or whichever one will take them. But those with the academic credentials to be choosy might want to consider whether the school they choose can actually teach them about the newest and most innovative legal tech out there.

With the way legal tech is headed, schools are now offering courses that will help students learn about the newest innovations in the legal tech sector. And in some programs, the law students are the ones tasked with creating new legal tech to solve old legal problems. Which law school tech program is best for any given law student will depend on the course offerings and the student's interest. Luckily, Michigan State University has started an innovation index that may soon be much more useful for prospective students.

Several law schools are leading the way by offering courses and programs geared towards developing tech savvy lawyers with different focuses. Below, you can read about a few of the law schools that offer students the chance to learn to use, or build, innovative legal tech.

New State Named Top 'Judicial Hellhole'

'We're number two! We're number two!'

Rarely does that statement raise the roof. But for California lawyers, it's almost something to brag about because California is no longer the No. 1 Judicial Hellhole in the nation.

Florida has snatched that title from the Golden State, which has been a perennial leader in the annual ranking. It's not easy to lead a nation into a litigious hell, but somebody has to do it.

Should Judges Be Tested for Alzheimer's?

Judge Valerie Turner, on temporary disability, was glad to turn over her duties to another judge.

Rhonda Crawford was a great replacement; she had served well in the courtroom. Problem was, Turner apparently forgot that Crawford was her law clerk.

Turner, 60, was forced to retire because she has Alzheimer's. It's a problem for an aging judiciary, and some believe it's time to test judges for mental decline.

The end of the year can be rather chaotic. In addition to making sure you've met your billable requirement for the year, you also have to put in some face-time at holiday parties and networking events, and some of us will have to do some last minute CLEs too.

Keeping up with work during the end of the year is made even more difficult due to family pressures, holiday shopping, and travel plans. For associates new and old, managing everything around the holidays can be downright overwhelming. To keep your stress levels down during what's supposed to be the happiest time of the year, below you'll find a few tips to help you finish your year strong.

What Are You Getting for Bonus Money?

When you were a kid, what did you do after opening Christmas gifts that had your name on them?

You looked at the rest of the presents to see what others got, right? It's human nature, at least among siblings.

Lawyers are like that when it comes to Christmas bonuses. We want to know what our brothers and sisters are getting.

When it comes to pejorative phrases that get directed at attorneys, none are more dreaded than the oft cast lampoon: Ambulance chaser. The simple fact is that attorneys cannot chase ambulances without risking their most valuable asset, their license to practice.

Recently, a Texas state representative, Ron Reynolds, had his conviction upheld on appeal of a scheme to solicit clients after car crashes and hospitalizations by using a third party. While Reynolds wasn't lacing up his running shoes and taking to the streets, the third party reviewed police reports of injury accidents in order to contact victims for medical services, and then would refer those injury victims to Reynolds for legal representation. And though getting referrals from medical providers doesn't violate ethical rules, the fact that Reynolds allegedly paid the third party in cash for the referrals changes the scenario rather drastically.

It can sometimes feel a bit strange that the bosses of organized crime syndicates get glorified in the media and popular culture. And while the movies might have you believe that the mafiosos are an evil, murderous bunch, interestingly, they seem to go down for tax evasion more often than whacking their rivals.

One might expect that after Al Capone got busted for tax evasion, others involved in organized crime would've wised up and hired the best accountants money could buy. But recently, Salvatore "Sallie" Demeo was arrested and charged with tax evasion related to some alleged real estate and other business dealings he tried to keep in the family.

Student Loans May Get Capped, and That's a Good Thing

Did you ever think the road-less-traveled might just be a dead end?

Not to rain on anybody's pond, but maybe the signs pointing away from law school are a warning. Maybe the law school financial crisis, job scarcity in the profession, and the future of legal tech are pointing to, well, the future.

And now the federal government may cut back student loans?! No worries, this is actually a good thing.

A former partner at a BigLaw firm, and former DOJ staffer, Jeffrey Wertkin, accepted a plea deal in the case against him stemming from the sale of a sealed Justice Department lawsuit.

For certain causes of action, such as federal qui tam claims, the DOJ requires lawsuits be filed with them first, confidentially. The department then decides whether it would like to pursue the action, or allow the plaintiff asserting the claim to do so. Wertkin was arrested and charged after he was discovered attempting to sell a sealed lawsuit to a company being investigated by the DOJ.

3 Bad Reasons to Transfer Law Schools

'Do, or do not. There is no try.'

With apologies to Yoda, either you transfer law schools or you don't. There is no half-way path to a successful law school career.

To transfer to a better school, it takes planning. But if you are just winging it, may the Force be with you because there are some bad reasons for transferring law schools.