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Disappointment and Happiness

I am going to confess something to you. It’s a mistake that I made when I was in law school, that taught me a valuable lesson.

Even though I was a third-year law student, Oklahoma had a program that allowed law students to be tested and sworn in for a limited license to practice law in Oklahoma. The law firm where I worked in Edmond, Oklahoma, took full advantage of that limited license.

They would send me all over Oklahoma to handle legal matters. At the time, they were paying me $10 per hour and billing me out at a much higher rate.  It was good profit for them and good experience for me.

On this “valuable lesson” occasion, they had sent me to a small courthouse. I am not sure that I could ever find that courthouse again. Way out “in the sticks”. I was there representing a lady for her uncontested divorce.

She and I presented basic evidence to the judge. At the conclusion of the evidence, the judge formally announced from the bench that the lady (my client) was now divorced.

I turned to her and congratulated her. She broke down crying and told me that there was nothing to celebrate. I was reminded that no one wins in a divorce… and that there are specific times to just keep my mouth shut. And that was one of those times!

Thankfully, I only handle personal injury cases. That was part of the lesson learned as well.

So today, I am posting pic o’ days as the range of emotions that can be part of a lawsuit. The courtroom is a place to resolve things when settlement is not an option. But, at the end, there is a scoreboard and a definite winner.

 

So, the first emotion I post is disappointment, which makes us appreciate good results:

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Thankfully, there is also a possibility of happiness. And the more preparation, hopefully the emotion of satisfactory resolution and happiness!

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Best Day Ever… And Some Planning

 Yesterday’s blog was on planning and preparation. That brings me to a story from college at Bob Jones University.

At the time, I was a Radio and Television major. I knew that I was going to transfer for law school purposes, but I wanted to garner as much training as I could in that area.

That major gave me the opportunity to work at the university radio station appropriately named WBJU.  Every morning, I would get myself to the station and pull the sports report off the Associated Press machine. Then, I would choose stories for a 5 minute sports report during the 6 and 7 o’clock news reports.

There was another student that worked in the sports department named Timmy.  Now that should have put me on guard right there. Anyone who voluntarily introduces themselves as Timmy… well… there’s nobody home upstairs, if you know what I mean? The elevator only has one floor. Trying to put M&M’s candy in alphabetical order. Yep!

Anyway, Timmy would brag to me that he didn’t need to do preparation for the reading of the morning sports. He actually thought it was a bit beneath him to read sports. He was a news man. Just waiting for the opportunity. His lack of preparation meant that he didn’t preview his read before going live on the air.

One morning, I was in my dorm room getting ready, and our friend Timmy was doing the sports report on air. He had come to a basketball story and was describing future Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Any basketball fan knows Abdul-Jabbar. But “lack-of preparation” Timmy didn’t need preparation for the lowly sports report. Needless to say, he came to that name in the sports report and went on to say “Karrom Abber Jabber”. Yes… exactly. It wasn’t funny as much as just head shaking. Abber Jabber?

Timmy was also majoring in aviation and wanted me to fly with him to Atlanta, as he got his flight hours for his minor. I just decided that lack of preparation had no place for the sky. As the Matthew 28:20 reminds us, “Lo, I am with you always”. I’m not sure that applies to being in an airplane with Timmy!

 

I titled this with a reference to our pic o’ day. I have posted this one before, but it cracks me up! How can you be negative when you see this grin?

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Truck Crash Domino

I think that every Friday is a good Friday, but this is especially Good Friday!

Speaking of a play on words, a Canadian newspaper had a story about a truck wreck. The story headline stated Bread Truck rolls over, hundreds of loaves toast. 

And finally, I looked out the back window of my office and saw this sign only a few feet away. It caught my attention!

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While in college, I was driving to take a final exam. It would be another two years before I enrolled at law school. At that time, my intent was to go to law school and become a corporate lawyer. I’m not sure I really knew what that meant but I thought corporate was for me.

I stopped at a red light. Unfortunately, a TruGreen truck lost its brakes and ran into the back of my little car. The short story,  that event set a sequence of events in motion. A truck that caused me to no longer want to be a corporate lawyer. A personal injury lawyer was born!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a meaningful Easter Sunday.

And a couple of theme pic o’s:

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Choosing the Right Path

While attending college, I knew that I wanted to go to law school. I expected to be a corporate lawyer. I’m not even sure why except that it seemed to be what I wanted as a career path. Then, I was in a car accident on my way to a final exam during college.

I had been rearended by a corporate truck. The experience changed my “want”. I no longer wanted to be a corporate lawyer. Instead, I wanted to represent the injured and learn personal injury law.
In law school, there are certain courses that are mandatory. Tort Law was a mandatory two semesters. It introduced me to a wide spectrum of personal injury cases. Then, I interned for two law firms during school and learned more personal injury law.
I have always been thankful for that experience in college, that changed my career choice of the kind of law that I wanted to practice. Based on that, I recently laughed when I read a satirical view of representing insurance companies by a writer who has since passed away. In my opinion, his tongue in cheek view of such legal representation pretty much sums it up:
It is an honorable calling that you have chosen. Some of you will soon be defending poor, helpless insurance companies who are constantly being sued by greedy, vicious widows and orphans trying to collect on their policies. Others will work tirelessly to protect frightened, beleaguered oil companies from being attacked by depraved consumer groups. [Buchwald Commencement address, Tulane University School of Law}

And for our pic o’ day on this Monday:

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Making Choices

I still can’t decide whether I want the new iPhone. One of our lawyers handed her new phone to me and it just confused me more. Maybe if I understood the features, it would entice me to choose to upgrade.

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See, I think the features even confuse me more! Plus, it seems too big and now I’m told that people are having trouble with the phone bending. Which brings me to the blog topic of choices.

Sometimes we call it, “If only I had (insert choice)”. That thought takes me back to one of my law school choices.

I was becoming acutely aware that I was losing hair. I even started the “mirror thing” by constantly checking with a hand-held mirror, to see if I had lost more hair. That’s when my haircutter suggested that I lighten my hair. Supposedly that would make my hair look less fine, which was code for balding. That, and people start making jokes about your hair like, “I guess you have summer hair… Some are here and some are gone”. Now, the Internet is the new joke place, right?

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Anyway, that was my motivation for my color choice. So I gave the “go-ahead” for the lightening of the hair. Soon the hair dyeing commenced. When it was done, my hair color had moved from my brown God-given to  some kind of unidentified, never before seen red. The lady said not to worry; that the red would wash out and it would turn more to blond.

Six weeks later… they were still calling me “Orange head”. It had lightened to an out of this world color. My bad choice.

Looking back, I still shake my head at the memory. As you read this, do you blame me or the hair person? You’ll notice that this story is told from my point of view.

In auto accident cases, psychologists say that you should always tell the story from the point of view of the person at fault. Jurors more easily place blame on that person. That means that if you tell the story of the case from your client’s perspective of getting hit, jurors may put blame on your client. They should have been more careful; or gotten out of the way; or not travelled down that road that day. Blame falls on their choices rather than the person who caused the crash.

So as I sit here typing today, perhaps I should have told my hair story a little differently.

So the hairdresser said, “you really should change your hair color”. I started to shake my head no…

And for our pic o’ day, some perspective:

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Liar Liar, Suit Pants on Fire

I approached my first class of law school with a bundle of nerves. I looked around to see a multitude of tight fake smiles, or people nervously fidgeting, giggling or constantly and repeatedly looking through book bags.

Then, my eyes landed on a guy sitting in the back with a pencil on his ear. He looked very calm. I didn’t know at the time, but he later was known to brag that he basically smoked marijuana for breakfast everyday. Maybe that explained some things, looking back. At the time, I just was fascinated at his air of confidence. For story purposes, we’ll call him “Rip”.

I was still hearing the voice of the welcome assembly speaker, who had told us to turn to our left and to our right and look real close at those two people. He then smiled and said that only only 1 out of every 3 incoming law students would end up graduating. The other 2… well, you can see why I was carrying the bundle of nerves.

Back to Rip. I had 4 classes with him that semester. He always raised his hand to participate. He was one of those. He even seemed to enjoy the terror of being called on by the Professor. They called that the Socratic method. I still just call it meanness.

During the entire first semester of law school, you really still don’t know if you belong. You only take a final exam in each course. Then, when you came back for the second semester, they would post your grades on a wall. That meant that everyone crowded around to look at their pre-designated number and then slowly move their eyes across the page. Nowadays, you can get your results online. At least you can suffer in privacy and binge on ice cream in your pajamas, if your grades don’t measure up.

When the next semester rolled around, Rip told me that he had done very well and that he was ranked in the top 1/3 of the class. That’s when it happened. One day, I walked into Civil Procedure class and noticed that Rip was not in his usual corner, top-right chair. After class, I was told that Rip had been expelled from law school.

I ran over to his room and found him. He told me that he had failed to list a misdemeanor criminal charge on his original law school application. As a result of the misrepresentation, they had expelled him. A year later, I learned that he was working as a manager in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, ABC store.

I was reminded of Rip when I read about the University of Illinois law school in The Chicago Tribune. The American Bar Association has fined them for reporting inaccurate consumer data. According to the story, they intentionally published false admissions data to make it look like their students had higher grades and law school (LSAT) admittance scores. They also falsely reported their number of applicants and under-counted their number of admission offers.

These false numbers helped the law school to be ranked higher in the U.S. News and World Report yearly law school rankings. Such false rankings help them to get more applicants and helped their scoring in the accreditation process.

Now, compare their punishment for fraud to what Rip received for a false application. They were fined $250,000 by the ABA and… well, there is no “and”. The admissions dean did resign. The ABA spokesman said that “No matter what the competitive pressures, law schools should not cheat.” Can’t argue with that!

For pic o’ day, I thought I’d try to tie it in to the story. Admissions thought they could throw it all together and fool everyone. How is that for a pic os the analogy work?

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Thomas Cooley is Hot

Thomas M. Cooley Law School is angry and they are doing something about it. The National Law Journal (NLJ) reports that Cooley is fighting back to unmask a blogger who was critical of the law school.

It all started when the school issued a press release that proclaimed itself as the second best law school in the country. The privately owned law school has four Michigan campuses and will soon have a Florida campus.

After that pronouncement, a blogger, self-titled as “Rockstar05”, began attacking Cooley’s statement. He founded a blog titled “Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam”. Then, he used the blog to belittle Cooley’s admission standards, graduate employment record, and student retention.

The school initially filed suit to learn the identity of the blogger and to move forward to sue the blogger for defamation. They  also added three other anonymous defendants; the three people that added comments to the blog.

Since filing suit, the school has learned the identity of the blogger. The Judge has sealed that information because the blogger is a former law student at the school who has since transferred. He is in his third year at another school and presented argument through his attorneys, that unmasking him would possibly impact his future employment, after graduating this year.

This is a case of weighing the rights of free speech and anonymous blogging versus the rights of the party who is claiming defamation. The argument: someone should not be allowed to post something that is libelous and defamatory, without having to answer for it.

What’s really unusual in this case is that it’s a law school that is the opposing party. As Public Citizen attorney Paul Levy put it,  “Setting the bar too low for disclosure would have a chilling effect on free speech. It is especially disconcerting here that a law school is the plaintiff that is trying to suppress one of it’s student’s voices”.

Cooley is seeking monetary damages, a retraction of the statements and their removal from the internet; and a court order barring the defendants from any future defamation against the school. Currently, there is an October 24 hearing set, to determine if the Cooley case can move forward and that the protective order regarding the blogger be lifted.

It seems like this may have far-reaching repercussions in the political world,  involving anonymous attacks on candidates or political pundits. For now, I doubt that this is good press for Cooley admissions.  The lawsuit has put a spotlight on them as well as the original “Law School Scam blog”. Initially, in an interview with NLJ,  blog author Rockstar05 estimated that he was getting 30 web hits per day.  A few days after the lawsuit was filed, the hits had increased over 500%.

And now, something more relaxing…. pic o’ day

Law School Lie Detector

     The suspect is leaning against the chair; There are sweat beads on the forehead. The police interrogator leans over the the grimy table, with pursed lips, and stares at the Perp (you can tell I’ve been reading some good fiction).

     The other policeman, leaning against the back wall, with the styrofoam cup of stale coffee; then smiles and says, “look, we can make it a lot easier. Why don’t you just let us give you a polygraph. If you pass, we’ll let you go.”

      I have heard that “people can beat those tests”. I’ve just never met someone with those skills. Nerves of steel. Maybe they can beat it.  Special CIA training?  Maybe a polygraph isn’t really a lie detector. Should it just be called the “Earnhardt”…… The Intimidator.

     When I arrived for my first year of law school, I peeked into the classrooms to try to decide where I wanted to sit. Didn’t want to sit too close or too visible. I had heard that the Professors would call on you, and make you stand. And then grill you for hours. Well, the imagination was a bit carried away. I  just wanted to blend into the wall.

      One student sat in the very corner, back of the class. He was visible. Plus, he constantly raised his hand. I thought that he would be at the top of the class.  He was anwering questions on jurisdiction and venue. I was still back on why they called a class “Torts”. Chocolate Eclair made more sense.

     Mr. “Corner Student” did “just OK”  the first semester. It made me feel a bit better, even though I was still trying to be wallpaper. Then, one day during the second semester, he didn’t show up. The corner seat was empty. It felt like there was no third baseman.

     By then, he and I were friends. So, I had his home phone. I called to see what had happened. He had been kicked out because he had failed to list a misdemeanor on his original law school application. The law school considered it to be a material representation.

     I just saw a Bloomberg story about lawsuits that have been filed against two different law schools. (NY Law School and Thomas M. Cooley). The suits allege that the schools improperly inflated statistics about graduate salaries and employment.

     My mind went back to my friend in my first year class. If these suits are correct, will these law schools lose their accreditation. Maybe it’s time to hook them up to the “Earnhardt”.

Yep, pic o’day that was sent from my Mom

 

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