Wednesday, January 10, 2007

from legal watch blog

Legal Blog Watch

The Best Law Firms to Work For

We can only assume that solo and small law firms are oppressive places to work, because not a one made Fortune magazine's 2007 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Five large law firms made the list, however, as Kellie Schmitt reports today in the Law.com-affiliated newspaper The Recorder.

Alston & Bird, Arnold & Porter, Nixon Peabody, Perkins Coie and Bingham McCutchen held their ground. But Morrison & Foerster, the only California-based firm to make the 2006 list, dropped off the chart.

What makes these firms great places to work? At Perkins Coie, each office has its own "happiness committee" that surprises lawyers and staff with spontaneous celebrations. Those committees will be working extra hours this week, as the firm plans a cake-and-champagne celebration for Friday and the chance for some lucky staffer to find happiness in Cabo San Lucas. At Nixon Peabody, happiness comes not in cake and champagne but in cold hard cash -- it made the list for its high rates of compensation, with associates earning an average annual paycheck of $181,099.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 9, 2007 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Public Defender Blogs Get Respect

Finally, some respect for the Rodney Dangerfields of the legal profession. As we reported here last week, Public Defender Stuff blogger Greg Worthen, in the belief that public-defender blogs are overlooked by others in the legal blogosphere, decided to show them some love by hosting the first-ever Public Defender Blog Awards. The results are now in, with Worthen dubbing his awards "The Rodneys," after that least-respected of comedians. And the winners are:

And I would add one other: Best Titles for Awards in a Best Blog Contest goes to Public Defender Stuff.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 9, 2007 at 12:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blogging From Death Row

People accused of crimes have the right to remain silent, but an anti-death penalty Web site gives voice to people convicted of capital crimes. Called Death Row Speaks, the site publishes the journals, essays, letters, poems and other writings of death row inmates from all over the United States. Its founders -- themselves death row inmates -- say the site is an effort to show the humanity of those condemned to death. It is not a blog in the strictest sense of the word, because the inmates who contribute to it lack direct access to computers and the Internet. Instead, they correspond by snail mail with the site's operators, who publish the writings here. Still, as a collection of inmates' online journals, the site may be as close to blogging as those on death row can come.

The site was featured last week in a article in the Mason City, Iowa, Globe Gazette about convicted murderer Dustin Honken. Reporter Bob Link wrote that Honken maintained a journal on the site in which he shared his experience of life in federal prison. Since the article appeared, the site removed Honken's journals at his request. But it continues to publish other inmates' journals, as well as their essays, letters, poems and more. Honken and other inmates also contribute to a section called Ask Death Row, in which they answer questions submitted by the site's visitors, such as, "What is your typical day like on Death Row?"

Honken's death sentence is currently on appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A federal jury convicted him in 2004 of murder and conspiracy to conduct drug trafficking. His former girlfriend, Angela Johnson, who is also appealing her death sentence, is the first woman sentenced to death in the federal court system in more than 50 years.

As for Honken's typical day, he answers the question this way: "In prison it seems like every day is the same -- because it generally is."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 9, 2007 at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Lesson in Law for Harvard Student

Harvard Law School revised its curriculum this year to add 1L courses in international law, legislation and complex problem solving. Perhaps it also needs to add a course on the basic rules of the road. That way, the school's students would not have to learn about the law from the police.

Thanks to BPDNews.com, the blog of the Boston Police Department, we learn that Roger DePina, described as a student at Harvard Law School, got his lesson while driving through Boston on Thursday. As he and his passenger passed a Boston Police vehicle, they allegedly yelled and gestured at the police officers and committed other traffic violations. When the police attempted to stop DePina, he reportedly kept moving and drove to the entrance ramp for interstate highway Route 93. The police blog relates what happened next:

There, the operator stopped in the middle of the ramp and immediately became hostile upon being asked for license and registration telling officers "You have no … right to pull us over, regular police can’t stop us on the highway, I know my rights, I’m in Harvard law School!"

While it is heartening to hear an enterprising young law student raise questions of jurisdiction, this is not a good way to talk to police who have just pulled you over. As even one who has never attended law school might predict, the police arrested DePina and his passenger, charging the law student with refusal to stop for police and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Boston blogger Carpundit, a lawyer and former State Police officer, says that the incident reveals a truth applicable to many neophytes in the professions: "At that stage of your career, asses can be hard to tell from elbows." Carpundit further counsels that the Boston Police were right, and the law student wrong, on their authority to pull him over. All of which leads to his final tip:

When you see the blue lights flashing, pull safely to the right shoulder and come to a complete stop.  In the words of Chris Rock, If the police have to come and get you, they're bringing an ass kicking with them.

The situation may never come up on the bar exam, but it is something every law student should know.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 9, 2007 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saludos cordiales
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
Santiago, Chile