Welcome to Monday, the day before the bar exam begins. For those who are cramming, please remember one thing: It is a test of minimum competence. For those who wish to read on, here are some news items to get the week started.
While behind bars, bank robber Shon Hopwood filed petitions for certiorari on behalf of other inmates, one of which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
After getting out of prison, Hopwood is now attending law school courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has just published a book about his life, called “Law Man.”
Hopwood discovered his penchant for the law while working in the prison law library, where he transferred to get away from work in the cafeteria.
One of his fellow law library coworkers, serving 12 years on drug charges, asked him to write a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court. Hopwood’s petition argued the inmate’s right to an attorney had been violated when police talked to him after he was indicted.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case (ultimately knocking four years off of the inmate’s sentence) and Hopwood even worked with the attorney who took over the case from prison. After Hopwood got out of prison, the inmate, now a car dealer, gave him a new Mercedes Benz as thanks.
Hopwood is now married with kids and attending the University of Washington School of Law on a full scholarship.
It’s not looking good for law school students suing their alma maters for misrepresenting post-graduation employment numbers.
Since employment for law school graduates started to slide with the downturn of the economy, a number of class-action suits have popped up around the country as students claim schools skewed graduates’ employment numbers to attract new students.
The latest setback for these kinds of cases came last week when a federal judge in Michigan dismissed a case brought against the Thomas M. Cooley Law School by 12 graduates. The judge rejected claims of fraud, saying the employment numbers were confusing and unclear but not fraudulent. The judge also said the school did not violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, since the act doesn’t protect the purchase of an education.
A similar case was dismissed in New York in March, but there are 12 other fraud class-action suits against law schools pending across the country.
The news comes in the wake of new employment numbers for law schools released last month. The statistics were divided by the type of employment for the first time this year. Nationwide, 83 percent found employment, but only 55 percent were permanent jobs that required bar admission. (At both Maryland law schools, around 47 percent found permanent jobs with bar admission required.)
I’d bet my law license that everyone studying for this month’s bar exam has received unsolicited advice on how best to prepare for the test: Make sure to take a bar review class, pace yourself, get plenty of sleep, don’t over-think the multiple choice, multi-state section, etc.
But here’s some advice you haven’t heard: Take your law materials, head to Camden Yards (or any other major league ballpark of your choice), purchase bleacher tickets and study away from the first pitch to the last.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “What are you [present participle] crazy? This is perhaps the most important test of my professional life and you want me to study among an inebriated multitude? What fool would take that advice?”
The answers to your questions, in order, are “Perhaps,” “Yes” and “Carter G. Phillips, co-chair of Sidley Austin LLP’s executive committee and possessor of an impressive winning percentage before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
After graduating law school, some people spend their summer studying for the bar exam and some people win hundreds of thousands of dollars playing poker.
Vanessa Selbst graduated from Yale Law School in January. Now, she is $244,259 richer having won an event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Selbst has won a total of $5.3 million total in her poker career.
When she started law school, Selbst picked up the books and put down the cards for a few years, she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Her last year, though, she upped the ante and balanced poker with law school, winning a total of $1.1 million at events at the Mohegan Sun casino near New Haven.
After she is done winning at the World Series, Selbst wants to get a position volunteering at a law firm in Los Angeles. She plans to take the bar exam next year, likely in California and hopes to eventually practice public interest law.
But, law career or not, don’t expect to fold her poker career anytime soon.