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In the news: SCOTUS overturns Michigan v Jackson

May. 27th, 2009 | 12:42 pm

In a 5-4 ruling, the conservative justices on the US Supreme Court overruled a 1986 case which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present. 

Read the AP report here.


Facts of case at issue:

The case is Montejo v. Louisiana, 07-1529.  Montejo was accused of shooting to death Louis Ferrari in the victim's home on Sept. 5, 2002.  Montejo was appointed a public defender at his Sept. 10, 2002 hearing, but never indicated that he wanted the lawyer's help. Montejo then went with police detectives to help them look for the murder weapon. While in the car, Montejo wrote a letter to Ferrari's widow incriminating himself.

When they returned to the prison, a public defender was waiting for Montejo, irate that his client had been questioned in his absence. Police used the letter against Montejo at trial, and he was convicted and sentenced to death.

 

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U. Conn School of Law students "celebrate black culture"

Jan. 27th, 2007 | 10:18 am

From The Smoking Gun:
Seems that questionable parties were not limited this month to a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at a Texas college. Turns out students at the University of Connecticut School of Law also opted for do-rags, gang signs, gold teeth, malt liquor, and a fake machine gun during an off-campus gathering last weekend, just days after the civil rights leader's January 15 birthday. One future attorney even wore fake tiger claw tattoos on her chest, an apparent homage to the rapper Eve. As with the Texas party, photos from the Connecticut bash turned up on Facebook.com, where they were downloaded by a fellow classmate who was offended by the images.

The party, dubbed "Bullets & Bubbly" by organizers, has been criticized by many UConn students and led university officials to schedule a schoolwide roundtable today to discuss concerns about racial insensitivity.

For photos of the "future attorneys" in action - click here.

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Who says being a lawyer has to suck?

Jan. 23rd, 2007 | 10:31 am

Article from San Francisco magazine:

Who says being a lawyer has to suck?
By Natasha Sarkisian

Excerpt:
Grace,* 31, has the kind of résumé any prominent law firm would salivate over. She was Phi Beta Kappa as a Stanford undergrad and she graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School, where she was awarded a prestigious Ninth Circuit clerkship during her third year. Her accolades landed her a job at one of San Francisco’s most elite law firms, and in her first year there, she won a Fulbright scholarship to do research at Oxford. The next step, which she had every reason to believe she’d take in eight or nine years, was up into the hallowed ranks of partner.

But she describes the nearly three years she spent as an associate as the loneliest time she could imagine. She used to think she was lucky to not have a life—no boyfriend, no kids—because at least she didn’t have to feel guilty about working about 80 hours a week. The other associates were no consolation. Everyone fought so valiantly to prove they did have a life outside the firm—that they knew the latest events in Iraq or knew what had happened on last night’s Grey’s Anatomy—that lunch became a pressure-filled hour of one-upmanship. The final straw was when she looked at every single partner in her office and decided that, even though each of them earned around $1 million a year, there wasn’t one whose life she envied.

“You take the best and the brightest our country has to offer,” she now says, just two months after deciding to quit her job, “and subject them to mind-numbing drudgery for all hours of the day, year after year…” Here her voice trails off, and she looks like she’s about to cry. “I hated it when people would ask me what I did because it was so boring even to talk about.”

Exerpt about increased attrition:
In one year alone, 2005, one in five associates in the nation up and left his or her firm. Of associates with about five years’ experience, an astonishing 78 percent are no longer with their original firm (up from 60 percent in 2000). These attrition rates are the highest ever recorded, and by anecdotal report, they are higher in the Bay Area than just about anyplace but New York. And while some of these attorneys are moving to other big firms, many are going out on their own or leaving law entirely. Kramer says that Stanford law graduates are defecting from big firms after three or four years at a much higher rate than they did five years ago. And more and more of the profession’s very best students are not going to big firms in the first place.

Exerpt about billable hours:
Call it a movement or a new legal lifestyle—whatever its label, its roots are clear. “For people in my generation,” says Jung, “working at a big firm has become mediocre.”

Recounting how the associate life became so odious is a study in painful numbers and the misery they represent. Bay Area law firms used to be known for being more laid-back than their eastern counterparts, with everyone billing out markedly fewer hours. But the dot-com boom changed all that. As associates began fleeing firms to join the tech boom, Silicon Valley took the reins from New York in the race to raise salaries fastest to tempt them back. During that time, the average first-year salary went from about $110,00 to $135,000. But the hikes came with a price: more work. It may seem downright quaint to us now, but in 1958 the American Bar Association estimated that “there were only approximately 1,300 fee-earning hours per year.” That amounts to a roughly 40-hour workweek, plus two Saturdays a month. By 2003, however, about 28 percent of associates were billing more than 1,950 hours. Today, associates at top Bay Area firms often bill upward of 2,200 hours, and some as many as 2,600. In order to hit 2,200 hours, a person has to be on the job from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every weekday and seven hours on Saturday twice a month, with three weeks of total time off a year.

“The elephant in the room is the billable hour,” says Beth Parker, a partner at Bingham McCutchen’s San Francisco office. “People cannot work 20 to 30 years doing 2,400 hours a year. It’s just not sustainable.” Not surprisingly, a 2006 survey by the Bar Association of San Francisco found that the higher its number of billable hours, the higher a firm’s associate attrition rate.

Read the full article here: http://www.sanfran.com/home/view_story/1517/

(Thanks to
klarfax  for pointing out this article.)

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Not *MY* Guardian

Jan. 10th, 2007 | 02:26 pm
mood: amusedamused

A Dallas lawyer, who specializes in probate and estate planning, has his clients fill out an estate planning questionnaire - which includes the question, "Names of all persons you would NOT want to serve as guardian for you."

In the blanks, one client wrote, "Michael Jackson and Jack Kevorkian."


(Apparently a true account... See http://www.texasbar.com/saywhat/weblog/2006_12_01_archive.html)

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Ramen & Coffee

Nov. 17th, 2006 | 04:19 pm


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No Hypos

Oct. 28th, 2006 | 12:09 am


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I Passed!

Oct. 28th, 2006 | 12:06 am


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Don't mess with me - I'm a lawyer's kid!

Jul. 14th, 2006 | 11:20 pm




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So Sue Me

Jul. 13th, 2006 | 11:26 am





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F*ck Con Law

May. 4th, 2006 | 08:17 pm




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