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Does anybody out there know how much Tom Friedman gets paid per column?

[ 67 ] June 29, 2012 |


How about a hint? Does $5K a pop sound about right?

Let’s start with the technological. In 1965, Gordon Moore, the Intel co-founder, posited Moore’s Law, which stipulated that the processing power that could be placed on a single microchip would double every 18 to 24 months. It’s held up quite well since then. Watching European, Arab and U.S. leaders grappling with their respective crises, I’m wondering if there isn’t a political corollary to Moore’s Law: The quality of political leadership declines with every 100 million new users of Facebook and Twitter.

Matt Taibbi is filled with puzzlement:

When I read this I was so taken with how much fun Friedman was having making bold impromptu generalizations about the world by talking about microchips and Facebook and Twitter that I forgot to notice the passage didn’t really make any sense. One of my readers did notice, though, and sent in his own take. “They say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” he wrote. “I wonder if there isn’t a corollary: Samsonite is the most popular and durable brand of business luggage.”

Yeah I know, too easy.

Seriously, this is an important piece of information to make public. It could be the spark that pushes the 99% over the edge. Think of it like wikileaks.


Today at the Supreme Court

[ 10 ] June 28, 2012 |

I’ll have a piece up shortly at Salon about why it’s basically nuts that John Roberts gets to decide what sort of health care system America has. It quotes a good point made by Richard Posner earlier this week in the context of the life without parole for teenagers case:

I don’t object to a loose construction of the Constitution; there isn’t any sensible alternative, given how old and out of touch the document is, how unrecoverable the actual thinking of its authors and ratifiers, and how vaguely worded so much of it is.

Posner’s point is that, under the circumstances, “constitutional interpretation” must give justices — or, in the case of 5-4 decisions, one justice — the power to do pretty much whatever they want in regard to the sorts of issues that end up before the Supreme Court.

Whether this is a desirable state of affairs is another question entirely.

Here’s the Salon piece.

The rage of the true believer

[ 176 ] June 26, 2012 |

Selections from this afternoon’s in-box:

You, who are on the public payroll, should take your camping gear and go camp out south of Tucson for a week.

I’m certain you couldn’t hack it and you would be wishing you had a gun for protection.

You, in your comfortable office at CU, don’t have a clue what Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California have been dealing with for years. Now it’s everywhere.

Have you volunteered to take in and support your share of ILLEGALS – lodging, food, ESL, medical care? Why not? You are expecting the rest of us to do it.

I stand in line often behind mother, father, and 3-5 kids (none of whom speak English) in the grocery store while they pay for a whole basket of groceries with government cards…..then I pay my hard-earned cash for what I can afford. My tax dollars are being spent by persons of your ilk to support an invasion of people breaking the law.

You call yourself a lawyer? What exactly does “LAW” mean to you?


We had a good idea here at one time — people aspired to come here legally and become “Americans”.

Hope you are learning Spanish.

Ever read Atlas Shrugged? We are there.

[name redacted]

P.S. Law students suing their law schools because they don’t have a job waiting when they get out……? You have created a bunch of whiney, lazy, monsters.

You’re an overpaid liberal a$$wipe. I can’t wait for Thursday when Scalia writes the opinion for tossing Obammycare. And I hope he lives a long time and continues to drive you crazy with his conservative decisions.

I’ll be back in touch on Thursday to rub it in your face.

It’s really pathetic that someone with your obvious limited knowledge of the US Constitution is allowed to pollute the minds of students of taxpayers who pay your salary.

If Scalia is a ranting old man perhaps you would not mind debating him at some point…what say you???

Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to go fuck yourself you miserable liberal piece of dogshit. And I mean that in the nicest possible way asshole.

There is no measure of how far and how fast right wing people adverse to you can ( and hopefully will) bring this fight TO YOUR DOORSTEP.

Its a dame shame that idiots like yourself have such BULLY PULPIT [capitalization supplied]. Beware there are patriots among us that understand how the country was founded. It is the truth that you fear. Ugly liars like yourself are growing weaker every day.

Do you remember/understand this?

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”
Patrick Henry

Quality later addition:

You’re such a Moronic Socialist Imbecil.

What I find interesting about this sort of reaction is the intensity of the set of beliefs that generates it. These beliefs tend to include:

(a) The Constitution makes the ideology of late 19th century laissez-faire economic theory the fundamental law of the land.

(b) Questions regarding whether this is a desirable thing from a moral or practical standpoint — such as for example the question of whether in practice that ideology produces monopoly capitalism rather than The Garden of Libertarian Virtues — are “therefore” not admissible into political and legal debate as a matter of definitional fiat.

So “liberals” (reminder: this means people who believe in having an income tax and some sort of regulatory administrative state) are not merely wrong — they’re cheating, as it were. They don’t just have bad beliefs: they refuse to play the legal game by its “real” rules.

Update: Regarding the discussion in the comments regarding the inherent laziness of coal miners:

More thoughts on the decline of Antonin Scalia

[ 76 ] June 25, 2012 |

Take me out of the ball game.

The most important thing for an actor to have is sincerity

[ 21 ] June 24, 2012 |


Once you learn to fake that you’ve really got it made.

We are Penn State

[ 11 ] June 24, 2012 |

The banality of evil, college football edition.

On a related note, this is an excellent profile of Noam Chomsky.

Welfare reform for white people

[ 34 ] June 20, 2012 |

Yesterday at lunch time an unknown but apparently quite large number of graduates of George Washington’s 2012 class got this email: Read more…

My offer is nothing

[ 82 ] June 19, 2012 |

Last week a Boston law firm got a lot of publicity when it advertised an associate position with a $10,000 salary. A lot of people emailed me about it, which indicates the word hasn’t gotten around that lots of legal jobs these days pay approximately $10,000 less than $10,000 per year. Like this one for example:

Date: 2012-06-08, 4:59PM EDT
Reply to:
NY Competitive Internship Program: Admitted Attorneys, Foreign Attorney, Law Graduates, Paralegals

Small NY Law Firm with offices in Maspeth, Queens & Westchester County, White Plains. Boutique immigration and criminal defense law firm hosting a 3-month regimented internship program. We seek 2 (two) interns to learn and assist in law firm responsibilities. A friendly, fast-paced international environment to gain experience and learn while working with supportive colleagues. Spanish, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, a plus.

The Office is located in White Plains, NY in Westchester County. Partner is an ex-criminal prosecutor, a former assistant district attorney in NY City and attorneys are experienced immigration and criminal defense attorneys with a track record of success in complex criminal & immigration cases.

Excellent training for a newly admitted attorney looking to jump start their resume with immediate and intense law firm and court experience. Excellent training for a law student or graduate needing to obtain crucial experience in immigration or criminal defense work in a competitive market or needing experience to apply to district attorney’s offices, public defender’s offices or the department of homeland security. Several of our interns and staff have gone on to become prosecutors, public defenders, judicial law clerks, successful private practitioners, an immigration prosecutor and an administrative law judge.

Also perfect for a foreign attorney seeking to get experience in an American law firm. Foreign attorney will, of course, receive legal training and assignments commensurate with their background and position. The work will be on par with similarly complex legal work of a law graduate intern awaiting admission to the bar.

Intern will gain experience in all aspects of defense practice, and will work under supervision of partner, and other experienced attorneys. Intern will receive training in

1) initially evaluating all type of immigration, criminal and some civil cases,

2) writing correspondence and legal motions,

3) completing immigration and other legal applications,

4) interviewing clients, going to court accompanied by a lawyer, visiting clients in prison,

5) working with investigators and forensic experts and

6) assisting in analyzing & investigating criminal and immigration cases in preparation for trial.

Intern will be provided with own desk space, use of high speed Internet, telephone. An extensive book of training materials on immigration and criminal defense will also be provided.

A strong letter of recommendation will be provided upon successful completion of internship. An evaluation and exit interview will be conducted.

All foreign languages, especially Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish or Arabic a plus. Law firm can provide academic credit under school program as internship or externship. Please note that this is an internship position to gain valuable experience only. Only serious candidates able and willing to make a minimum 3-month commitment should apply. Please email resume and cover letter with possible starting dates and schedule to hiring partner at above address.

Location: Queens/ White Plains, Westchester County
Compensation: Internship
Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Speaking of trying to get something for free, can some law talking guy (or gal) explain whether there’s a respectable legal argument that this isn’t illegal?

Man paid $867,000 per year to run fourth-tier law school says law school is a good investment

[ 21 ] June 18, 2012 |


Not An Onion Story:

But others view [Brian Tamanaha’s Failing Law Schools] as just the latest overly dire prediction about the fate of law graduates and misplaced finger-pointing over tuition costs.

“Most people in the profession were already concerned about what it costs to get a law degree,” said John O’Brien, dean of the New England School of Law and chairman of the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. “Nobody feels good that tuitions have gone up. But the claim that a law degree is a bad investment doesn’t hold water.”

O’Brien currently heads the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education, whose regulatory mission is to decide whether it’s a good idea for John O’Brien to get paid nearly $800,000 $867,000 per year to run a law school where 70% of 2011 graduates didn’t get a full-time job requiring a law degree, and approximately four out of 308 graduates obtained a job that justified the cost of attendance. (Update: Just found IRS Form 990 for 2011. I apologize to Dean O’Brien for seriously understating the compensation he received for his charitable endeavors in 2011).

How not to cross-examine a witness

[ 54 ] June 14, 2012 |


Jerry Sandusky, arriving at court.

He was a trailer-park kid, the son of a mom who worked in a bar and a dad who was never around, just the kind of project Jerry Sandusky’s Second Mile charity was supposed to help. A patch covering his right eye due to a medical procedure made him seem broken and even more vulnerable

And here he was, through a low, occasionally cracking voice, telling a crowded Centre County Courtroom how when he was a young teen he’d stay in Sandusky’s basement on weekends. That’s when the former Penn State defensive coordinator would routinely come down at night and force him to perform oral sex.

“What was I going to do?” the witness, known in court documents as Victim No. 9, said. “Look at him, he’s a big guy, bigger than me. Way bigger than me.”

The boy only kept returning to Sandusky’s home because his mother, thinking he needed a male role model, insisted he do so. Soon the sessions occasionally included sodomy, and he couldn’t stop those attacks, either.

“I just went with it,” he said. “There was no fighting against it. … Sometimes [I’d] scream. Sometimes tell him to get off of me. But other than that, he was there, you were in a basement, no one can hear you down there.”

“Did you ever bleed?” Sandusky’s defense attorney, Joe Amendola asked later on cross-examination.

“Yes,” the witness said, in a chilling tone so matter-of-fact it was heartbreaking. “I just dealt with it. I have a different way of coping with things.”

Bloomberg TV on law graduate debt and the broader economic crisis

[ 8 ] June 13, 2012 |

Two out of three 2011 law school graduates did not get real legal jobs

[ 42 ] June 8, 2012 |

NALP has released preliminary employment statistics for the class of 2011 as of nine months after graduation. They are, unsurprisingly, terrible.

12% of 2011 graduates were completely unemployed in February 2012, and another three per cent had re-enrolled in further graduate study, which can be treated as the functional equivalent to post-law school unemployment. So the first takeaway from these numbers is the nearly 15% unemployment rate for people who got law degrees from ABA-accredited schools last year. This compares with an 8.2% overall national unemployment rate, which, to my surprise at least, is also the unemployment rate among 25 to 34 year-olds (see Table A-10). So getting a law degree correlates with a doubling of the risk that a young adult will be unemployed nine months after receiving it.

But of course this 85.6% “employment” rate includes every kind of job law graduates obtained: legal, non-legal, full-time, part-time, long-term, and temporary. Let’s work with this preliminary data to make an estimate regarding how many 2011 graduates of ABA law schools had real legal jobs nine months after graduation, with a real legal job defined as a full-time non-temporary paying position requiring a law degree.

We can begin by eliminating jobs for which a law degree was not required. 24% of employed law graduates fell into this category, including the large majority of the 18.1% of all graduates who reported being employed in “business” (For most law graduates getting a job in “business” is short hand for either a low-paying service sector job that the graduate could have gotten more easily before going to law school, or in a smaller number of cases a good job that the graduate was qualified for prior to getting a law degree – indeed often literally the same job the graduate left in order to get a law degree).

What about those graduates of the 2011 class who had a job for which a law degree was required? Note that only 60% of graduates were working full-time in a job requiring a law degree. (Since it appears the status of somewhere around 7% of graduates was unknown, and since those graduates surely had far worse outcomes than average, this suggests that perhaps 56% to 58% of graduates had full time legal jobs. 12% of all jobs, legal and non-legal, obtained by graduates were part-time). Now consider how many jobs in this category have to be tossed out if we are limiting ourselves to real legal jobs, even liberally defined. The 5% of all “jobs” funded by law schools themselves for their own graduates must be excluded, as should the 6% of all private practice jobs which consisted of graduates reduced to the desperate expedient of attempting the start a solo practice straight out of law school.

NALP has not yet reported what overall percentage of jobs were temporary — defined as being for a term of less than one year – but for the class of 2010 26.9% of all jobs obtained by graduates were defined as temporary (To be conservative I’m going to treat all judicial clerkships as full-time long-term legal jobs, even though many state court clerkships are one-year way stations on the road to legal unemployment). We do know that 7% of all jobs obtained by graduates were reported as both part time and temporary.

Then we have the always tricky category of jobs with law firms of two to ten attorneys. A remarkable 42.9% of all graduates who obtained jobs in private practice (49.5% of all graduates went into private practice) were listed in this category. Many of these positions are of course real, if generally low-paying, associate jobs with established several-lawyer firms. But some are of a much more tenuous nature, including transient law clerk positions with solo practitioners, eat what you kill arrangements, in which people are given office space in return for a percentage of whatever they manage to bill, and basically fictional “law firms” consisting of two or three graduates banding together in a last-ditch attempt to avoid formal unemployment. But let’s be optimistic and assume that 80% of new graduates who were reported as obtaining jobs with firms of two to ten lawyers were in fact getting real legal jobs, liberally defined.

Thus once we exclude jobs that don’t require law degrees, law school-funded jobs, other temporary jobs, and part time jobs, and then make a generous estimate of how many private practice positions with very small firms were real legal jobs, the numbers look like this:

60% of all graduates whose employment status was known were in full-time jobs requiring a law degree.

Minus the 4% of all graduates in law school-funded temporary jobs.

Minus the approximately 15% of all graduates in temporary (less than one year) legal positions other than law school-funded jobs.

Minus an estimated 4.25% of all graduates in fictional “firm” jobs.

Minus the 3% of all graduates working as solo practitioners.

This leaves us with 33.75% of all 2011 ABA law school graduates in real legal jobs nine months after graduation.

This is, in my view, a conservative estimate of the scope of the disaster that has overtaken America’s law school graduates. It counts almost all positions with law firms and with government agencies as real legal jobs, even though we know some of these “jobs” are actually one-year unpaid internships. (See for example these). Indeed it counts whole classes of time-limited jobs that are likely to leave graduates with no legal employment at their conclusion, such as most state judicial clerkships, as long-term rather than temporary employment. Most of all, it makes what by now must be considered the questionable assumption that law schools are reporting these numbers accurately, rather than misreporting them to their advantage.

Yet even this generous estimate of how many 2011 graduates of ABA-accredited law schools managed to get real legal jobs leads to the conclusion that two-thirds did not.

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