Wednesday, July 29, 2009

David Lat's Take on Covering the "Felony Arrest Case"

Ed. note: Above the Law editor David Lat sent us this thoughtful response to the points raised in the previous post about the issue. This is his full response, but we - call us crazy - edited out the name.


Hi all. It's David Lat here, of Above the Law. I've seen the (excellent and thoughtful) posts you've done about the matter [of the student who is facing felony arrest charges for spitting on a police officer].

Here is a ten-point response from me on this issue of revealing her identity. Feel free to use it if you like.

1. Our policy at Above the Law, as we've previously stated (look through our archives), is to maintain the anonymity of law students -- e.g., summer associates -- who do embarrassing things. The theory is that these youthful indiscretions are like sealed juvenile adjudications, which shouldn't haunt a person before she has even entered the legal profession.

But the policy has exceptions. We do name names if (a) the name is already mentioned in a public record (like a police report), OR (b) the name is already mentioned in a mainstream media outlet. Those are independent conditions; either is sufficient. In [this] case, BOTH were met.

2. By way of contrast, in most summer associate scandal stories, neither condition is satisfied. Rest assured that if a summer associate scandal generates a police report naming a law student, we will name that student too. (If we don't, call us out on it.)

3. We apply this policy consistently. It wouldn't be fair to other people we've named in the past not to name [this student] here.

4. Take the case of Marcus Epstein, the incoming UVA Law student who assaulted an African-American woman. We wrote about him, even though he wasn't even a law student yet, and we included his name. We can't have a rule saying, "if a white male gets arrested, name him; if a minority female gets arrested, keep her anonymous."

5. We were alerted to the [] arrest by multiple readers who requested coverage. It is newsworthy, especially given (a) the nature of the alleged crime (felony assault of a police officer), and (b) [the student's] prominence within the UVA Law community. Our duty is to our readers, not to any individual person.

6.
[The student] has already been the subject of extensive positive media coverage -- e.g., for her work as an LSAT teacher, for her political campaign activity, for attending the inauguration with her son. It is untenable to argue that her Google footprint should be a one-way street, featuring glowing write-ups of her, but not reflecting her felony arrest for assaulting a police officer.

7.
If [she] is exonerated, we will cover that prominently. We will also add a link to any such update in the original post, so anyone who comes across that original post -- e.g., via Google or some other search engine -- will know that she was exonerated.

8. We believe this policy strikes a reasonable balance between privacy interests and journalistic ones. If people don't like our policy, they are free not to read Above the Law.

9. Remember that ATL is just a blog -- one blog among thousands of legal blogs, and millions of blogs generally -- and an independent blog, not backed by the power of any major news organization (like the Wall Street Journal or the American Lawyer). To get deeply concerned about a person's reputation just because this person has been mentioned on a single random blog, while perhaps flattering to ATL, greatly exaggerates the blog's influence and readership.

10.
If you do something unwise or unlawful, don't blame the media for covering it; blame yourself for doing it.

I am no stranger to receiving unwanted and negative media attention (which is why I'm not afraid of karma; I've paid my karmic debt in advance). In 2005, I was at the center of a highly publicized scandal arising out of my writing an anonymous gossip blog about federal judges, Underneath Their Robes, while appearing before these judges as a federal prosecutor. My story was covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press, among others; I was even on the Drudge Report.

After the story broke, I realized I had caused embarrassment and controversy for the office and was distracting from its mission. Accordingly, I offered my resignation to the U.S. Attorney, Chris Christie. He did not accept it, noting that I was doing excellent legal work as an assistant U.S. attorney, and he (generously) allowed me to keep my job as an AUSA (with the blog shut down by then). But at least I was willing to accept the consequences of my actions and take personal responsibility for them, instead of blaming the media for covering my misdeeds.

____________________________
David Lat

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Responding to Comments Re Student's Felony Arrest

I tend not to typically jump into the comment fray, but since a few people have asked, I've decided to elaborate a bit on why we decided to run the blurb - really just linking to a news article and some comments - on the student who was arrested and is facing felony assault charges.
What benefit do you folks get from publishing something like this about a fellow student?
No benefit at all - just the same as any other article that we (and I mean the UVA Law Blog editors, not just the corny "editorial we" that I usually use) decide to publish (I assure you despite the recent appearance of adds on this site none of the editors make any money from it). As to why we decided to publish it, that's simple: It's related to UVA Law and it's news-worthy; and that's what this blog does. All and all we feel we've done a pretty good job of publishing important news and a pretty good job of maintaining a strong sense of journalistic integrity as well.
I realize the Daily Progress and maybe some other sources came out with this first, but this blog is just making this thing last longer and is probably the main reason it showed up on ATL.
First, I am unclear as to how our coverage made the incident "last longer". This incident will be around and be talked about for a while, whether it gets covered by UVA Law Blog or not. This way, at least, there's a forum for discussion, which I can see you and many others have taken advantage of.

Second, I personally doubt that this blog is the "main reason" why this story made it on to Above the Law (ATL). In fact, the ATL "story" - while seemingly derivative of our coverage (which itself just focused on a very short news article, so who cares . . . ) - did not originally mention UVA Law Blog at all; and ATL usually does give this site credit credit for "tipping" them to one thing or another (FYI: We don't send things to ATL, someone else does, or they pick it up on their own). Later ATL did add an update saying to go to UVA Law Blog for "further discussion," although I am not sure if there is anything further to add at this point.

Third, as a (somewhat long) aside, I will say that I am not sure that ATL exercised the best judgment in using the student's name in their post, although I am not in their shoes and I admit I am not sure what I would do if I were. But this does provide us a quick opportunity to sketch what has evolved into an informal policy here on these types of situations.

The reason we didn't use the students name is this: there is a great danger that because of the way search algorithms work this student's career prospects and personal reputation could be disproportionately damaged as a result of her arrest (under what some would argue are questionable circumstances). Now, obviously, this has already been reported in the local media and that, in theory, makes it fair game. But we were not comfortable putting the name of the person in our post because we knew that it would come up whenever someone ran a search [person's name] + UVA Law, which prospective employers are very likely to do in the next few weeks.

That said, however, we did link to several articles that had the person's name in it, so it of course was not a secret. In other words, we did what ATL does for summer associates who do something embarassing at their firms (not that we think the two are at all alike): post the story and enough information to make it easy for someone to uncover who it is, but not the actual name itself, because of the high probability of this making the top of a google-hit list.

An interesting question would be why does ATL keep the identity of summer associates who goof up a secret, but broadcast the name of this person for all to see? In the case of the summer associate screw up, ATL often gives people more than enough information to find out who the offending party is, but simply won't publish it as a post because, I suspect, they are concerned about the search engine consequences for the sake of the person in question.

How different is this situation?

Well, in this case the name had already been reported in a local news outlet, and so some people might think it's "fair game" after that. but by putting it on a blog that is read by such a large portion of the legal community, ATL severely maligned this young woman's career prospects before she has had her day in court: every time that BigFim LLP or BigGov'tAgency googles her name, they will see the not-flattering ATL story (and the obscene comments that go with it.) Not to mention the fact that many of these same people read ATL on an almost daily basis anyway, it's safe to say that her the ATL story has gone a long way to get this students' name out there - in a not great way. As I said, I have mixed feelings about this and can see both sides of the coin, at least from their perspective as a "legal tabloid". If it's something that you feel strongly about one way or the other in this particular case or in general, I guess you should talk to them.

In any event, this is not the case not at UVA Law Blog: we are not a "legal tabloid" and are here, first and foremost, to serve the UVA community by providing a blog that attempts to chronicle significant goings-on related to school in some way or another (and, yes, occasionally opine on such goings-on, and even sometimes try to "make a difference" - we never claimed to be purely objective!). Thus, our goals are different, and, as the situation stands now, I and the rest of the editors will continue to delete the comments name the student, until either the case is resolved or the person's name becomes ubiqutious common knowledge (which, to be fair, may have happened as a result of the ATL article; recall how we started using Professor Leslie's name only after the CavDaily and Law Weekly ran stories on the matter - I guess we'll have to see).

I realize that someone is jumping up and down at this point, thinking that "BUT WAIT ! What is the point if you make it so easy for someone to find out who the person is, and post it on their own site." The point is this: if you want to be the one who starts what is essentially a google-bomb for this person, who has yet to be convicted of a crime, and whose arrest may have been under dubious circumstances (fact: we don't know what exactly transpired), then no one will stop you - just copy the information from a local news report. But we will not do that.

We find our way (Yes story, yes links, no name in the body of the post) to be a fair compromise. We recognize, however, that it is certainly a topic about which reasonable people could disagree, and many would say that anything that has already been reported by a news outlet - albeit a very local one - is fair game. Others would say that we should never report anything like this ever. Can't please everybody all the time.
I think this takes some of the starch out of the collegiality schtick that we enjoy talking about.
I think that collegiality includes open, respectful discussion. I don't believe that making the UVA Law community aware of this is not "collegial". Indeed, some people sympathetic to this student's plight have thanked us for bringing this to their attention.
I think we would really make ourselves all look better if we refrained from publishing our personal errors.
It comes back to whether you think a student being arrested in circumstances that are, to say the least, highly unusual and some would argue suspect is something that you think is newsworthy and important for a site like UVA Law Blog to cover. Before running the story I talked it over with a number of people, including both editors on the blog and editors of the Virginia Law Weekly. We agreed that it was.

TLDR Version: We are generally very conservative about what we choose to publish, beleive it or not. But this met our minimum standards of being newsworthy, and we took as much precaution as was reasonable/possible to prevent the perculation of this student's name, to search engines and otherwise, and still run the story.

And yes, we are all sorry about the typos.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting Your Clerkship Before Labor Day? It's Not Just for Graduates Anymore

The federal judges were created by man. They look and feel human. Some of them believe they are human. There are many copies (of the applications to be their clerks). And they have a plan.

Well, some of them do: The Federal Judges Law Clerk Hiring Plan, which says - essentially - that no federal judge may hire any rising 3L as a clerk before labor day - no matter whether he uses a paper or computerized application - and no 3L may apply, i.e. send his application materials, including his recommendation letters, before labor day.

A trusted source has informed us of 3Ls at UVA who have not only have applied early to clerkships but in fact already have already received clerkship offers. We have worked with the Virginia Law Weekly in investigating this matter, and here's what's going on.

Our understanding is that people in question got their offers from "off-plan" judges, and that the Federal Clerkship Hiring Plan - as adopted by UVA - is only actually binding on the judges who choose to participate in it (see below for our assessment of this). Since OSCAR won't send any 3L packets to any judges early, that leaves students two options with respect to Off Plan judges if they don't want to wait until Labor Day: They can have their school send the packets (i.e. CARS), or they can assemble them on their own with the help of faculty members.

We reached out to the Clerkship Director, Ruth Payne, who informed us that the Law School adheres to the hiring plan and that it will not send out any of the packets to federal judges early (incidentially, state courts are another matter entirely). Every year, however, students send out their packets early, without the Law School "bundling" them with letters of recommendations from faculty members.

How do they do this? One way: the faculty members agree to send out the recommendations early. It's unclear to us whether or not the school disproves of this practice officially or not, however, it is clear that a school will not bundle the application early for the student, so the student must get the letters from the faculty member and physically put together the application himself.

We talked to one of contacts who is applying for federal clerkships - speaking to us on the condition of anonymity - who assured us that this is, indeed, what happens:
Some professors will simply send out your letters early, ahead of when the Federal plan would allow it, to "Off-Plan" judges. Others won't send the actual letters until after Labor Day, but they will send allow to send a reference to the judge [and let them know that a recommendation is coming].
One tipster isn't so sure everything is on the up-and-up, however:
UVA's policy states that they have adopted the guidelines and that faculty "should not" send recommendation letters before 9/8. . . . A lot of people are very irritated by [what's going on], and the policy needs to be clarified.
Our take: the Federal Hiring Plan is somewhat ill-conceived. What is the point of having a plan that is binding only on those judges and schools who choose to participate, has no real means of enforcement, and completely ignores the ever-increasing force of alumni who are applying to be and being hired as federal judicial clerks weeks or even months before the official start date of the plan? It makes you wonder if they used the League of Nations charter as a template.

As for people applying and getting clerkship early - is it an injustice? Probably only if some faculty members will send out letters and others won't (or, worse, if faculty members are sending out early letters for some students and not for others). Otherwise, those are the breaks. As a great man once said, you can't knock the hustle, especially in this economy . . .

What do you think?

Summary of the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan
Lawclerkaddict.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Registration Frustration

JUN 28th:

"Course enrollment for the upcoming 2009-10 academic year for second- and third-year students will begin at noon on Thursday, July 9, using LawReg….

Please note the following:

(1) Four lottery rounds will be held in July."

JULY 8th:

"As most of you are aware, the University recently implemented a new student information system (SIS). In order to ensure that the roll-out of that system and its interface with the Law School's systems proceed as smoothly as possible, we are going to delay the first round of the course enrollment lottery, which was originally scheduled to begin on Thursday, July 9."

JULY 10th:

"As promised, this e-mail is to advise you that the first round of the course enrollment lottery will begin at noon next Thursday, July 16"

JULY 18th

"...Accordingly, we are extending the deadline for submitting your priority course lists until 11:59 p.m., Monday July 20."

JULY 20th:

LawReg will re-open no later than 3:00 p.m. today, Monday, and will close at 11:59 p.m. tonight. We will run the lottery beginning Tuesday and report the results…no later than 5:00 p.m. THURSDAY, July 23rd.

JULY 23 4:57 pm

"We are continuing to double-check things and will send out e-mails to all participating 3Ls on Friday morning, July 24th."

JULY 24, 12:05 pm

"Just a quick e-mail at 12:05 to advise that you will receive your lottery results shortly."

JULY 24, 2:05 pm

??????????????????????????????????????

It’s going to be very impressive to see them complete the other three rounds they have “scheduled” for July.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In Case of Emergency, Read this Column

The economy sucks. I know nobody’s talking about it, but I had to step up and say it. And there’s a tiny minuscule possibility that this has an impact on UVA law students. Being a UVA law student, this thought has been bothering me. Not in the waterboarding/Chinese finger-trap kind of bothering; more like the splinter in the foot kind of bothering. The first clue is the class schedule offerings for the 2009-10 school year. I noticed that some Skadden or Cleary partner wasn’t teaching the UVA staple “Models and Bottles: The Lawyer Socializes.” Also, “Estate Planning” had prerequisites such as Federal Income Tax and Trusts and Estates, as if the professor intended to teach you how to do somebody else’s estate planning.

I hate the generation that went through the Depression more than any other generation, mostly because I don’t understand them. They were poor, they fought a couple World Wars, they got wealthy, their children got genuinely wealthy, and their grandchildren got obscenely wealthy. This all sounds wonderful, except that they screwed it up by acting like they were destitute their entire lives. They've had 70 years to adjust to prosperity and still preferred darning sweaters with rucksack found in the neighbor’s garbage and freezing to death (literally) rather than turning on the furnace. This all leads back to my splinter – what if this economy gets as bad the Great Depression and American twenty-somethings turn into that generation? What if J. Crew Model III in 2110 hates his grandfather because I’m so damn cheap that I insist on canning apricots to prepare for the winter and driving around on bald tires?

Rather than acquire the scorn I have for the Great Depression old farts, I have designed a strategy to ensure that I will always have means. Nothing too fancy: just a 35 foot yacht in my garage, a 2 karat diamond on my wife’s finger, and a German sports car on my son’s 16th birthday. And because I’m a super cool dude, I’m sharing these with you. Here’s my top 5 ways of making money if I get down on my luck. Employ them at your own risk.

1. The Best Buy Dash

The setting: Nobody eyes its customers quite like Best Buy. They keep their merchandise largely tied down; security cameras capture all movement on the floor; and they station an intimidating looking man near the door. Usually this “Intimidator” shaves his head and has several sweet tattoos on his muscled arms. His job is to make sure no thief wheels out a refrigerator and no teenager walks out with the new Nickelback CD shoved down his drawers.

The plan: Put on some suspicious looking clothing (dark jeans, dark shirt, ski mask) and begin browsing furtively. Pick up the wireless internet router and pointedly check out the attached security devices. Stare intently at the cameras throughout the store. Visit the bathroom a couple times. Try to wander into the backroom of the store. Do this effectively and you’ll soon arouse the attention of some number of Best Buy team members. Once you’re sure you’re being scrutinized for shoplifting, move to the back and make a dash for the entrance. With any luck the Intimidator will tackle you or deck you on the way out. Wait for the police and explain to them that you just found out about a sick relative and needed to rush home immediately.

The payout: Contact Best Buy and let them know of your intention to sue for false imprisonment, battery, intentional inflection of emotional distress, loss of consortium, etc. They’ll settle.

2. The Charlottesville Crosswalk Speedwalk

The setting: Many Charlottesville drivers think that pedestrian crosswalks in Charlottesville are optional. Drivers intentionally and unintentionally ignore the walker’s right of way all the time. Time to cash in.

The run-down: Cross pedestrian crosswalks in Charlottesville without looking. Eventually some idiot will run you over.

Top 3 places (search address in Google Maps then go to street view):

3. 260 Emmet St. – Right across from Mem Gym, potential tortfeasors will have cleared the light at University Ave./Ivy Rd. and be looking to accelerate out of town.

2. E. Market St./3rd St. NW – Crosswalks on both sides of the intersection and E. Market is barely lit at night. Also, lots of buses use this road (read: deep pockets).

1. 1482 University Ave. – This spot is so perfect, readers of this blog should send me envelopes stuffed with cash. This crosswalk is on a hill and around a curve.

The payout: Sue the driver for stuff .... and the very real possibility of paralysis or death.

3. S*****g Where You Eat

The setting: You’re young, single, have a great body, and reside at the bottom of the corporate totem pole. He’s older, married, overweight, and has a corner office with four (4) windows.

The rundown: Take a special interest in your mark. Flirt, flip your hair, and get him talking about how prestigious and important he is. Admire his belt buckle a little too much. Unbutton your blouse a little bit before entering his office. Throw out hints about how guys your age are too immature and how lonely you are in an unfamiliar city. See what happens.

The payout: Contact Human Resources and explain your situation. Describe how young and impressionable you are and that you didn’t think you had a choice because of his superior position within the firm/company. Then agree to an out-of-court settlement that saves everybody the embarrassment of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Repeat until old and fat.

4. Channel your inner Sisyphus, or “The Lunatic Optimist”

The setting: Go to a convenient store and purchase lottery tickets.

The rundown: Grand prize is $200 million. Sweet, right?

The payout: There is none - you cannot and will not win. Turn over any scratch off lottery ticket and the odds of winning (including break even prizes) are helpfully printed on the back. Say the odds are something like 4.35:1. That means that for every $435 spent on lottery tickets, your expected payout is somewhere barely north of $100. Instead, do the opposite of this, also called “do not buy lottery tickets.” Oddly enough, thousands of young students employ “The Lunatic Optimist” strategy every year in a scam called “Graduate Studies in [Humanities.]”

5. Black Market Organ Relay

The setting: From the Atlantic about kidney transplant:

You might think that such a superior treatment would be standard. But kidneys are hard to come by. In the United States, more than 80,000 people are on the official waiting list, all hoping that someone will die in just the right circumstances and bequeath them the “gift of life.” Last year, only 16,517 got transplants: 10,550 with the cadaver organs allocated through the list, and 5,967 from living donors. More than 4,000 on the list, or about 11 a day, died. And the list gets longer every year.

The rundown: Start developing some contacts with first generation immigrants who work in the medical field - nurses, orderlies, technicians. If he’s even slightly connected back home, you have a decent shot at breaking something open. Here’s some suggestions of places with enough wealth and/or commitment to health care and/or lack of rule of law to have the facilities necessary for you to survive a black market organ donation.

5. Philippines
4. China
3. Cuba
2. Israel
1. Brazil

The payout: You’re going to have to travel to your country of choice and meet a lot of doctors. They’ll do tests on you to make sure you’re a match and not Hepatitis ridden. Then the bidding starts. Bring along a negotiation expert, likely ex-paramilitary, who handles hostage negotiation as a day job. If the transaction goes well, consider repeat customer opportunities - experts believe the human body contains nearly a half-dozen useless organs.

So UVA Law Blog readers, there’s your list. Here’s Rule 12 (f) with some helpful disclaimers:

I don't agree or support any of this, even ITE.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Two Weeks to Go, Sam: "Moon" Is Hands-Down The Best Film of 2009

Being the self-appointed blogger of UVA Law School - and paying the hefty administrative fees of this site - give me a some very limited privileges. One of them is to make passing comments on items of culture from time to time, in the hope that people dropping into freak out about OGI or complain about their grades being four months late might take a look.

Anyway, Duncan Jones' "Moon" [film website] is fantastic. The English language simply lacks the adjectives to fully describe the extent this film tugs at complex emotions and pierces the heart of the modern human condition. Did I cry a little in the film? Yes, of course, you'd be an inhuman monster not to? Did I get a bit a scared and uneasy? Sure, and I am one bad-ass guy. Did it make me reevaluate what was important in my life? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

OK, with that somewhat bizzare introduction, you're probably wondering what, if anything, the film is about. Basically, in the not to distant future humanity is facing an energy crisis: shocking, I know. Anyway, to solve this crisis one company called "Lunar Industries" decides to mine helium-3 on the far side of the moon as a power source - and a very good one at that. The operation is run by a mining bunker located in the "Sarang" area of the moon that is operated by a single employee, Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell, the movie's only human character - although there's also robot named "Gerty" voiced by Kevin Spacey who acts as his sole companion). Sam's has signed on with the company operating the mining operation for a three-year contract, and lives in complete solitude. The movie opens with him having only two weeks to go before he heads back to Earth to see his loving wife and child. But as his date of return approaches, his health begins inexplicably to deteriorate . . .

That's about all I'll reveal, because I don't want to spoil the "surprise" of the film. Oh, don't get me wrong - the movie is not one that's driven by plot, although the plot is pretty good, and provides more than a few intense moments here and there (it is categorized as a "Sci-Fi Thriller", after all - and has the true horror of Sam Bell's situation is slowly revealed you can't help but become a little bit uneasy about the whole thing).

Rather, the brilliance of the film comes in the meticulous and believable setting (for some reasons that elude as a write this, Jones's depiction of a moon base and the lunar landscape that surrounds seems creepily real - you feel like it's some model that NASA cooked up or something except that it's too detailed - and yet at the same time it really does seem like somebody has been living there for the past three years) and the versimilitude it brings to the alienation from modern life that we've all experience at one point or another.

To prove my point entirely I'd again have to reveal too much, of course, so I'll just say this: Everything about Sam Bell living alone one the moon waiting desperately to see the people (he thinks) he loves while slowly beginning to question his own identity and significance in the world at large applies to ourselves, at least to some extent. The juxatoposition of supreme natural beauty (the moon) with a monster of modernity (the lunar base) will make you wonder if isolation and anxiety is party of the human condition, or just something we picked up a long way.

To wit, here's how Duncan Jones describes the film:
MOON is a story full of paradoxes. It’s an intimate character portrayal in a starkly impersonal outer- space setting; a three-man drama with just a single actor visible onscreen; and a futuristic vision that harkens back to classic sci-fi, but also looks a lot like utilitarian heavy industry as we know it.
That should be enough to hook you, really. Jones also pays homage to a lot of classic sci-films; in fact, you might look at the entire thing as a reboot of 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Disclaimer: this film is a lot more about character and the individual human condition than 2001 was, and isn't a sweeping origin storty.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the soundtrack as well. It's got this eerie sort of vibe to it where just a listen to a few of notes evokes a profound sense of modern lonliness. It stuck in my head so much that I had to watch the trailer the day after I first saw the film a few times just to experience the eerie tones a few more times.

I don't know, the film is not for everyone. Only if you've ever felt alienated from modern society, profoundly alone, been in love, or like running on treadmills without shaving. Seriously, just go see it already, you won't be sorry. I promise. See in theaters if you can to get the most out of the well-crafted set. And to prepare for the sequels, which Mr. Jones - who, as I will now at the end dutifully mention is David Bowie's son - has said are forthcoming . . .

Here's the trailer - some spoilers, but what can you do:



. . . and speaking of the future . . . I can't log into LawReg.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

2009 OGI: You Don't Have to Go Home, But You Can't Stay Here?



Hope everyone who is doing OGI got their bids in. This one could be a tough one, with some firms that used to not interviewing on grounds, but we're UVA, so we'll all pull through, one way or another.

In related news, it looks like UVA Career Services has some new staff. Kevin Donovan, formerly of Morgan Lewis, joins the Law School as the new Senior Assistant Dean for Career Services. This new hire comes after (or maybe before, we're not sure when he started) the Law Weekly shed some light on the lean staffing of Law School's Career Services. We thinks it's good that Career Services is being proactive, and hope that Mr. Donovan will be able to help students cope with the difficult economic situation by . . . helping them get jobs.

In case you're wondering if Mr. Donovan can hook some rising UVA 2Ls up at his old firm, the answer is probably not, at least not now: Morgan Lewis is not hiring at UVA this year, or at any law school, for that matter. They are the first of what we fear may be many law firms who will reduce the size of their summer program down to zero.

Everyone hang in there; these are tough times, but it is summer after all. The best part of summer.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Law Review Ed Board

I don't know these people and now I probably never will.

Have a good weekend, though . . . one more month . . .

Sunday, July 05, 2009

7月4日隨即的事情:Happy Fourth of July (But Sadly that Means Summer is More Than 1/2 Over)

Checking back in here, I hope everyone had a good fourth of July. Hopefull there was grilling and fireworks involved, and if not that at least a chance to try to start a "USA, USA, USA" chant. But it's good to note that even in [the large urban cosmopolitan island metroplex we reside in that will remain forever nameless] people can put aside their petty disagreements and agree that America rocks. Wooooo.

* What is with this course enrollment thing? So we got a *pdf in the mail; that's great, but it's much more difficult to use than the online listings on lawweb that they had last year. Anyone know where we can go to read the descriptions? ("Current Courses" does not seem to be working, at least not for us.)

* If there's no such thing as bad publicity . . . FACT: UVA has been on AboveTheLaw more than any other law school recently. Sometimes for cool things about our students and events (and libel show) Other times for not so cool things (all depending on your views I guess). But in the end, isn't this just more evidence that we are America's coolest law school? Probably.

(NB: Our method of calculating this was rather informal, and a lot depends, among other things, on how one defines "recently" and "on" . . .)

* Deadline to get your "bids" in for OGI is July 9th. So get them in. What about strategy? Well, Hiring Partner Advice Blog (a great resource for . . . getting a job) has borrowed from us before, so we're going to borrow from them:
Hence, my answer to "how do you rank is?"..... are you crazy? I would rank the firms by "where the hell might I get a job?" This is not a law student/associate market. Did you miss that? I'm sorry, but those days are over. Hopefully, the firms going on campus in fact have slots to fill and hopefully they are being very careful with their numbers. I know hiring partners and recruiting staff who have already called law schools (yes, even top 25 law schools) and indicated they are not coming on campus this fall. So, if you've got firms coming on campus, I presume they have some slots to fill. And, at the end of the day, if you wind up with multiple offers, then great for you. At that point (when you have offers), I would start the "ranking" process -- where do I feel comfortable, what is the firm's reputation in the area (for possible movement later, for instance), what do legal and other news say about the firm? This is when we would consider lay offs. For me, if it is a choice between a lay-off firm and one that hasn't done layoffs, I think I would lean toward the non-layoff firms, but you need to do some homework - how are the departments staffed, do they seem overstaffed? How did the associates seem, did morale seem good? Perhaps you can talk to someone who spent the summer there this past summer. Do your homework. But that is when you have an offer.
At this point, before you have an offer, go fishing. Throw that net out far and wide. The days of the law firm world as your oyster are over. Ranking will be for after the offer. Take the interviews you get and go in with a positive attitude to all - even if maybe it's not your first choice -- it may be your only choice. Sorry to be harsh, but that is the way of the law firm market today.
Hard advice, indeed, but better safe than sorry . . . Of course that much isn't news to any law student. In terms of your bids, you should make them intelligently and focus on firms that you have a realistic shot at . . . arbitrarily, I wouldn't waste more than one or two of your top-ranks at firms that would be considered "reaches" for you, as in this economy their criteria is likely to be even stiffer.

We would say this, also, for whatever our advice is worth (probably not much) - for any interviews you do get, see what you can do to talk to a current 3L or graduated student about the firm. I.e. get a sense of what the summer was like, what kind of work the firm focuses on, the "culture" of the firm, etc. Of course, this won't help you get a lottery (or prescreened, for that matter) interview, but it should give you some things to talk / ask questions about in the interview itself.

* For some real advice, Cadwalader has an entire section of their newly designed website dedicated to helping students at OCI, including advice on resumes, screening interviews, and callbacks.

* These UVA law students like helping people.