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February 2018 Archives

Depending on your law school professors, you may or may not learn the following legal idiom: A lawyer that represents himself or herself has a fool for a client.

Unless you're filing or defending a small claims action, if you've got a case, representing yourself is a veritable minefield. Everything you do or say can be held against you, and only those things you say under oath can be used to help you. It's tricky. Nevertheless, as a fearless law student, you may be tempted to do so. But you should know that there are so many idioms warning against it that you may want to reconsider. Fortunately, unlike a law person, you may be able to do some of the legal legwork to keep your attorney's fees lower.

Presley, Siegel Sue Each Other Over Lavish Spending

Lisa Marie Presley is all shook up because her $100 million fortune is gone.

As Elvis Presley's only child, Lisa Marie inherited the estate through a trust when she turned 25. That was 25 years ago.

Now, she's down to $14,000. She has sued her former business manager in Los Angeles Superior Court, but he says the trust baby blew it all.

Many law schools ask applicants to write a diversity statement which is more than just a second personal statement. Some will even have a writing prompt that tells you exactly what the school wants you to write about.

Generally, diversity statements are personal essays that provide applicants an opportunity to tell the decision makers a little bit more about their non-academic, personal background. That means even if a person believes they are the least diverse person on the planet, they should still write a diversity statement as there's more to a diversity statement than "diversity."

Below, you can find three tips on what to focus your diversity statement on, even if you're not diverse in the least bit.

Law Students: Perfectionism Is Not Your Friend

There is no perfect path to success in law school.

You will not experience nirvana at graduation when all the suffering of legal study ends.

No, that moment of nirvana comes only to those who follow the path of pain. For many law students, it is the path of the perfectionist.

The $3 Billion Law Firm

In the world of big law, not many firms can claim membership in the three comma club. And of the firms with membership in the exclusive billion dollar club, one has reached new heights setting an all time high of over three billion dollars in revenue.

While some cynical lawyers out there might think, well, that's just revenue, that massive number actually generates $3.25 million in profits per partner. With close to 2,500 attorneys, and $1.25 million in revenue per lawyer, the firm saw an increase in revenue per lawyer of only 1.5 percent, but that translated to a 6 percent gain in profits per partner.

Ex-Judge Traded Sentences for Sex Photos, Gets Prison Time

O. Joseph Boeckmann, a former Arkansas judge, dragged the judiciary to a new low.

Eclipsing the recent judicial downfall of Alex Kozinski, Boeckmann was sentenced to five years in prison for granting leniency to defendants in exchange for sexual favors. He pleaded guilty to charges that included corrupting his judicial office, wire fraud, and witness tampering.

As often occurs in plea bargains, the former judge received a much lighter sentence than he faced. However, in a rare move, the sentencing judge gave Boeckmann a longer term than prosecutors recommended.

Dean Returns as Professor After Alleged Sexual Harassment

Apparently, some law school deans have better job security than federal court justices.

Last year, a former dean at UC Berkeley School of Law stepped down during a sexual harassment scandal, but continued on as a professor. The former Dean, Sujit Choudhry, settled the case and managed to stay on the payroll.

Now comes -- after going -- the former dean of Northern Kentucky University's law school. Jeffrey Standen quit amidst sexual misconduct complaints, but is coming right back as a professor at the same school.

Officials Reviewing Hardship Rules for Student Bankruptcy

The good news is the Trump administration is looking at rules that could make it easier for students to bankrupt school debt.

The bad news is that it's not really up to the administration; the legislature has the power to change the rules and the courts have the job of interpreting them. For now, lenders like the rules the way they are.

In any case, nobody really likes the dark doors of bankruptcy court. But there's a glimmer of hope for law students and lawyers who can't make it because school loans are killing them.

Having a pizza (or ten) delivered to someone unbeknownst to them can be a funny prank, if done in a lighthearted, giving, manner (meaning you pay for the pizza). However, more often than not when pranksters send unwanted deliveries, those deliveries go unpaid, the targets don't really suffer as they don't have to accept the delivery and just had to open a door, and the businesses and delivery drivers bear the brunt of the consequences.

Despite the ineffectiveness of this prank at causing the targets harm, the fake pizza or food delivery order prank continues to get used. And sadly for one German lawyer, some cruel prankster didn't just send one delivery, they sent hundreds. The seemingly endless stream of fake food delivery orders resulted in quite a bit of confusion and quite a bit of lost productivity.

Law School Programs Aimed to Attract First-Generation Applicants

That first year of law school is a bit -- what's the word?

"Daunting," yeah that's it. When you come from a different background, sometimes it's hard to find the right word.

That's why some law schools offer programs for first-generation law students. The programs are designed to bring diversity to the legal profession.

Who Is Your Rock Star Judge?

Let's say you're a Bob Dylan fan because sometime in his storied career he spoke to your soul.

Spoke, not sang, because the man sings only a little better than Fergie sang at the NBA all-star game. But that's just one critic's opinion.

The point is, we choose our rock stars because something they do appeals to us. So why not have a rock star judge?

If the name Leaford George Cameron rings a bell, that's probably because you've seen it before in connection with criminal convictions against him for scamming people by pretending to be a lawyer. His victims have faced real consequences including deportation and losing a home, as a result of his fake lawyering.

Luckily for legal consumers, Cameron may not ever be dispensing legal advice again as he is looking at a potential maximum sentence of 75 years after being convicted in a nationwide fake lawyering scandal. Cameron is alleged to have defrauded more than 100 victims. He will be sentenced in federal court on May 31, and with any luck, his sentence will restrict dispensing legal advice to his fellow inmates (and wouldn't that be a fun appeal to read -- Fake Lawyer Appeals Sentence Prohibiting Fake Lawyering in Jail).

If you're asked to interview as part of your application to law school, don't stress too much over it, but also don't treat it like an interview for a summer job at a car wash. Dress professionally, appear well-groomed, and be ready to talk about yourself and what you bring to the table.

It won't hurt to do some research about your interviewer and the school either. If you can claim that the law school was named after one of your heroes, you may be able to score some school spirit points. However, if that's not the case for you, read on below for three tips on how to make the best impression possible at your law school interview.

Lawyer Withdraws After Client Threatens His Life

A criminal defendant offers to pay someone to kill his lawyer, but aren't there people who would do it for free?

Bad joke, but seriously when a client is willing to pay $30,000 to literally terminate his attorney, it's obvious there is an attorney-client conflict.

That's why a judge allowed the New Jersey attorney to withdraw. The public defenders aren't exactly happy to take the case, however.

Prosecutors Say ICE Attorney Stole Immigrants' Identities

Raphael A. Sanchez may be wishing he had another identity right now.

The attorney for Immigration and Customs Enforcement allegedly stole seven immigrants' identities to get fake credit cards. A charging document says he emailed documents, including a resident card and a passport, to open credit cards in their names.

Sanchez is reportedly working on a plea deal, which he will need to make in his own name. He should know; he was chief counsel for the Seattle office until he was charged.

President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is facing a barrage of questions about the propriety of the payment, allegedly made personally by him, to Stormy Daniels. In case you've somehow managed to avoid this breaking headline, an adult entertainment actress was allegedly paid $130,000 as hush money, by Cohen, in order to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump.

And while the alleged underlying conduct, or a payment of hush money, might not be terribly unexpected from President Trump given his crude reputation, Cohen's claim that he made the payment out of his own personal funds without Trump's knowledge simply defies all credulity. As Above The Law aptly explained (in bolded all caps): "MOB LAWYERS DON'T DO THAT!"

According to a recent paper written by law professors from the University of Chicago, law review editors are politically biased. When seeking submissions for a law journal, the study found that editors are more likely to select pieces that align with their own political ideologies.

It's interesting to note that after careful analysis of the data, the law profs were able to deduce that conservative and liberal leaning editors exercised the same proportional amount of political bias. Basically, conservative editors lean toward publishing more conservative authors and positions, and liberal editors lean towards publishing more liberal authors and positions. The study suggests more than just a correlation.

No Student Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Lawyers Under Trump's Plan

When it comes to President Trump's plan for public service loan forgiveness, forget about it.

There is no forgiveness for law students who go into public service jobs under the new plan. The American Bar Association sensed it was coming when Trump won the election, and now it is getting real.

If the budget goes through, the kick-to-the-gut won't kick in until next July. Better borrow like there is no tomorrow, or forget about it.

Federal Trial Tests Statewide Election of Texas Judges

Judicial elections work a little differently Texas, and that's become a problem.

For 150 years, Texans have been voting for judges in statewide elections. It is one of seven states that require candidates to run as members of a particular party.

The results? A lot of white males and only a handful of minorities ever make it to the highest courts in Texas. That could change if the plaintiffs prevail in a federal trial in Corpus Christi.

While it is basically accepted that Valentine's Day is one of those 'Hallmark holidays' that became sensationalized in order to sell greeting cards; that is simply no justification for not showing your loved ones that you care.

Regardless of what the anti-Valentine's Day conspiracy theorists would have you believe, if there's a law student in your life, whether friend, family, spouse, or S.O., getting them a little something for the occasion is a great way to show them you care. If you're shopping for a lawyer, check out our past list. If it's a law student that needs to be shown some love, below you'll find three simple, easy ideas. Protip: If you didn't send anything yet, don't worry, you can send it late and it'll still be appreciated.

When the tech revolution comes, it'll be the lawyers like Chad Au, who still hasn't even finished law school, who the terminators come back to protect. That's because Chad Au is one of a select group of law students selected for an Access to Justice Tech Fellowship, and Chad actually did something meaningful: he created a chatbot to help Hawaii's Legal Aid Society.

Most law students these days already know what a chatbot is and does, and legal services chatbots have been around for some time now. There's even a divorce chatbot that can help individuals lucky enough to be in the uncontested divorce realm. And if you think there's any practice area safe from the scourge of chatbots, you're probably wrong.

State Supreme Court Scam: Pay Fake Judges

Maybe Misty Corb, a payroll supervisor, thought retired judges make too much money.

After all, a judge can make bank with retirement checks and private judging at the same time. Plus, Corb wasn't really taking anything from the retirees.

She made fake assignments for them and diverted the money into accounts she controlled. The judges never knew about it because they didn't receive the assignments -- until one day auditors realized something was missing.

NY Judge: Bail Must Be Set With Regard to Ability to Pay

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time, right?

But how about, don't set the bail because the system's a fail? That's what judges are saying from New York to California.

It's not fair that many people are in jail -- often for misdemeanors -- only because they can't afford to pay the bail. Judges are saying it is also unconstitutional to impose bail without considering defendants' financial ability to pay.

Some lawyers get famous by getting into politics. Some lawyers get famous by representing other famous people, or as a result of high profile injuries. And, sometimes, prosecutors can find fame prosecuting the famous.

Attorney Marcia Clark falls into that last camp, and if you didn't know that, just pretend like you did, otherwise some of us are going to start feeling really old. Marcia has seen quite a bit of media attention over the last few years thanks to the recent shows about O.J. Simpson that aired. Clearly, it looks like Clark has been able to parlay those spinoffs into a television opportunity all her own. But it's not like Clark has been idle since the nineties. If you do just a little bit of digging, it's easy to see that Marcia has been working it hard.

Law students these days, and since the beginning of our new digital era, sure do love their smartphones. It's like that warm glow of the screen and all those social media connections will protect that fragile, aspiring-lawyer ego after suffering through the stress and anxiety of waiting to be cold called.

And now, thanks to some creative, and ninja-loving, app makers, there's an iOS and an Android law school quiz game. While the game seems to get some mixed reviews on both platforms, most of which explain the app can't replace normal studying, it certainly sounds like it is at least a helpful distraction.

'Lawyer-on-the-Lam' Tells Story

In No Country for Old Men, a man-on-the-run holds up a beer bottle to wave himself by a sleepy guard at the Mexico border.

In Eric Conn's story about being a lawyer-on-the-lam, he used a puppy. Conn fled the U.S. after being convicted of a half-billion dollar fraud, and he thought a dog could help him get past border security.

"The little guy was not exactly Rin Tin Tin, but I thought almost everyone loves puppies," he told a hometown paper.

While much of the new legal tech out there is focused on helping lawyers do their jobs more efficiently and profitably, one lawyer has started a website geared at improving the access to justice problem, at least when it comes to divorce in New York County and California.

The newly launched website, by the divorce lawyer to the stars, Laura Wasser, It's Over Easy, promises individuals seeking divorce a simple, user friendly way to do it, on the ever so trendy subscription model. The website allows users to work independently, or in conjunction with a soon to be former spouse. And also provides for various levels of subscription pricing to fit different budgets and needs.

Judge Charged With Taking Bribes, Claimed to Be Campaign Contributions

Judge Rodolfo 'Rudy' Delgado said it was a campaign contribution.

Sure, he took $5,500 in cash from a criminal defense lawyer. But they had worked together for years, and all the attorney wanted from the judge was a little help on a case.

"In America we have the presumption of innocence and I intend to let the judicial process take its course," Delgado told reporters after his arraignment on bribery charges.

For recent grads not looking to spend their days shuffling pleadings around, scrolling through ediscovery, or commuting from court to court, leveraging that JD for more pay in a non-legal industry job is actually a viable alternative.

Not surprisingly, employers that want JD degrees are looking for people who can understand legal terminology and documents, and apply the law or legal terms practically. For instance, employees that routinely negotiate contracts would certainly benefit from having graduated law school. In the corporate world, this can include more than just human resources positions.

Drug-Infused Legal Docs Lead to Jail Crackdown

If your criminal defense attorney is also a cannabis attorney, better be careful about any legal papers you get.

At one Pennsylvania jail, officials discovered inmates were smoking drug-infused legal documents. Fifteen employees got sick from the fumes.

As a result, the jail now strip-searches inmates after meeting with their lawyers. That's right, grass can be a pain in the ...

It's one thing when a lawyer 'fails to appear' in court, and it's another thing entirely when that lawyer fails to respond to the order to show cause (OSC) as to why the lawyer initially failed to appear. It's a gutsy move that usually won't end well.

Recently, an attorney from Nebraska, best known for being one of convicted murderer Anthony Garcia's attorneys, didn't just fail to appear for a state court hearing or some minor line on the docket either, he failed to appear at an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals oral argument, and then failed to respond to the OSC. After the attorney stood up the court, the Nebraska's Supreme Court issued a two year suspension for the attorney's failures to appear and respond.

Judge Won't Punish Dad Who Charged Larry Nassar

Defense attorney Matthew Newburg went beyond the call of duty in the case against his client, Dr. Larry Nassar.

Nassar, who was convicted of sexually assaulting young Olympic gymnasts and other girls, has been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. As victims gave statements against him, a father of three girls charged at the convicted child molester.

The defense attorney and deputies blocked the attack, sparing Nassar a beating and the father from serious legal troubles. It could have been cause of contempt, but not that day. Not in that courtroom.

Recently, the State Bar of Texas's blog was updated to reflect that Texas lawyers, like lawyers in every state, are still being targeted by really sophisticated email scammers. These scammers prey on a lawyer's greatest vulnerability: easy money.

Lawyers hungry for business are often the best prey for these scams, which are basically much more sophisticated Nigerian prince phishing schemes, and have been around for years. The scariest part is that these lawyer phishing scammers not only know how to use spellcheck, they're skilled at identity theft and forging docs too. So, even if a lawyer does their due diligence and researches the client online, everything will check out.

Below, you can read more about this scam and how to make sure you don't get fleeced.

Why Isn't More Law Student Debt, Jobs Data Public?

When law schools crunch numbers, sometimes they don't tell the whole story.

That's because the numbers might not look so good. For example, student debt has been going up while job numbers have been going down.

Law schools don't want to scare students before they take the plunge, but maybe it's time for more financial disclosure. After all, numbers-crunching shouldn't be used to crush students.

To Law Students With Gambling Issues: There's Help

Some lawyers gamble in their practice, like those contingency-fee practitioners who bet they'll win their personal injury cases.

Then there are those lawyers who gamble with their paychecks. For them it's not a practice area; it's a compulsion.

The biggest difference between them is the contingency-fee lawyers make money and the gamblers lose it. Unfortunately, the losing often starts in law school.

In a recent report, there seems to be a tone of shock that the complaints lodged against federal judges rarely see the light of day. As an attorney, you not only know better than to be shocked, you've probably considered filing complaints yourself for all sorts of reasons. Judges, right?

However, with former Justice Kozinski's recent resignation amid damning allegations, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court decided to investigate the whole complaint process. Interestingly, this seemed to key in the media to the fact that there's a problem with the complaint process, partly due to the fact that judges are policing themselves with little oversight, and practically no real public accountability.