Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Top 10 Law Movies

Well, we are about to start Labor Day weekend. Therefore, I thought that a post about law related movies was appropriate and I came across this one from Online Universities, a commercial web site. This site also has some interesting information on its blogs that readers may want to check out. This blog describes the top ten law movies as follows:

  1. The Paper Chase: The 1973 film The Paper Chase, based on the 1970 book by the same name, is an iconic law school film about Hart, a first-year law student at Harvard. Hart struggles to please his militant contracts professor, whom he is frightened of but also has great respect. At the same time, Hart falls in love with his professor’s daughter, though he doesn’t realize the relation at the time. Law students love The Paper Chase for its portrayal of professor worship, obsession and the intense studying first years have to suffer through.
  2. Amistad: Steven Spielberg’s 1997 film starring Anthony Hopkins in an Academy Award nominated role, Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Djimon Hounsou, Stellan Skarsgard and Nigel Hawthorne is a thrilling story about the birth of the United States legal tradition. McConaughey stars as a young American property lawyer who is enlisted to defend a group of West African slaves who violently took over their trading ship in 1839. The film, which is based on a true story, follows the case as it reaches the Supreme Court and even the court of Spain. Anthony Hopkins plays an aging John Quincy Adams who dispenses legal and moral advice while tending to his African violets. Law school students will feel inspired by the rousing courtroom scenes especially.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird: Gregory Peck stars in To Kill a Mockingbird, the story of a Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in what is widely regarded as one of the best films in American movie history. The 1962 film stars Peck as literary icon Atticus Finch, father of 6-year-old Scout and her brother Jem, who are also victims of the town’s violent split over the controversial case. To Kill a Mockingbird is an important film because of its portrayal of how racism often triumphed over the law during the 1950s and 1960s, and how certain cases can impact society even outside of the courtroom.
  4. Philadelphia: Tom Hanks won an Academy Award for his role as Andrew Beckett, an attorney who brings a suit against his corporate law firm for dismissing him after they discovered that he was a homosexual with AIDS. Philadelphia was released in 1993, when homosexuality was just beginning to become an issue in labor law and discrimination cases. Denzel Washington, Joanne Woodward, Antonio Banderas, and Chandra Wilson also star.
  5. Michael Clayton: The 2007 film Michael Clayton directed by Tony Gilroy and starring George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Sydney Pollack examines a corruption scheme at a large, corporate law firm in New York City. One of the clients that Clooney’s firm represents is involved in a toxic chemical cover-up. The character Arthur Edens, played by Tom Wilkinson, is a lawyer and friend of Clooney’s who defends the company but is secretly thinking about building a case against it after he finds out about the cover-up. Tilda Swinton plays the company’s chief counsel who sets up her own twisted investigation to kill Edens’ case. It’s a film that depicts modern American corporate law culture while addressing a realistic set of social and environmental issues.
  6. Inherit the Wind: This classic film from 1960 which addresses two significant milestones in American legal and social history. On the surface, the film, which was adapted from the play version, recreates the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial during which a Tennessee school teacher is accused of breaking a law that prevents the teaching of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the film was released right after the controversial and destructive McCarthy trials of the 1940s and 1950s and may have been intended to comment on the unfairness of those events.
  7. 12 Angry Men: This 1957 film starring Henry Fonda and directed by Sidney Lumet is another movie that examines how prejudice sways a jury. The movie follows the jury’s inability to reach a verdict for a teen’s murder trial as jury members’ outward arguments and inward responses to the circumstances change. Law students will learn about the importance and influence of perception, bigotry, and compelling arguments during a jury trial.
  8. Judgment at Nuremberg: Law school students interested in public policy, international law and humanitarian law should watch the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremburg starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Montgovery Clift and William Shatner. Directed by Stanley Kramer, Judgment at Nuremburg follows a fictional story but is based on the historical Nuremburg trials that followed World War II and accused Nazi officers of war crimes. This film also makes reference to the real-life Katzenberger Trial during World War II that sentenced to death a Jewish man for having an affair with a white European woman.
  9. The Pelican Brief: Julia Roberts plays a Tulane law school student named Darby Shaw who takes it upon herself to write up a law brief about two Supreme Court justice assassinations that have just occurred. After showing the brief to her law school professor boyfriend, who then passes it to a friend at the FBI, Shaw’s boyfriend is murdered in a car bomb that was intended for both of them. For the rest of the film, Shaw, along with a journalist played by Denzel Washington, tries to escape the hit men who are after her brief while also trying to solve the murders. It’s an inspirational story for young law school students who are impatient to make a difference.
  10. The Firm: Sydney Pollack directed and Tom Cruise starred in the 1993 film adaptation of John Grisham’s novel, The Firm. Law school students and recent graduates of law school may be able to relate to Cruise’s wish to be on the inside of a small but well-respected law firm in Memphis even after receiving offers from firms in New York and Chicago. Cruise plays a young attorney who is courted by the top lawyers at the firm only to find himself in the middle of a corrupt circle involving many of the attorneys and the mob. Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook, Holly Hunter, David Strathairn, Ed Harris and Paul Sorvino all co-star.

Paper Chase is one of my favorite movies of all time. I liked the TV series too!

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

September 3, 2009 in Legal Humor, Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bitter Lawyer Entertaining Web Site

Ok, its Memorial Day weekend, so its time for something light. How about this wonderful new web site I just discovered www.Bitterlaw.com. It is run by former big firm lawyers with one goal in mind-to entertain. Some of the material they have up is as follows:

 What do Ted Bundy and Teddy Roosevelt have in common?  They both dropped out of law school and went on to make something of themselves.  Er?  While each the stories behind their notoriety is quite different, there's an undeniable bond that exists within this brotherhood of 11 law school dropouts.

Check out "11 Famous Law School Dropouts" here:
http://www.bitterlawyer.com/index.php/columns_detail_comment/eleven_famous_law_school_dropouts/?cat_id=13

Also posted this week, an interview with Brian Koppelman -- Fordham Law graduate and co-writer of "Rounders," "Ocean's 13," and his new movie, which opens in theaters today, "The Girlfriend Experience," directed by an up-and-coming director named Steven Soderbergh.  Ever heard of him?

Read Koppleman's interview here:
http://www.bitterlawyer.com/index.php/interviews/koppelman_the_screenwriter_experience/?entry_id=1034

Check this web site out.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

May 22, 2009 in Legal Humor, Oddly Enough, Legal | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Spooky Law Review Articles

Spooky Law Review articles? There is actually such a thing. In the spirit of today's holiday, I thought I would link to Law Librarian Blog's coverage of this.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

October 31, 2008 in Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's Guide For Aspiring Law Profs and Laterals

Reproduced from April 1, 2008 Law Librarian Blog

A Foolproof Guide for Aspiring Law Profs and Lateral Appointment Seekers

Joining the Workforce, Law School Style. The AALS Meat Market, the teleconference call, the airport interview, the day-long masquerade ball on site for applicants deemed worthy of consideration, these are the rituals of the legal academic hiring process that are truly mysterious to those wanting to become law profs (or academic law librarians) as well as those wanting to move onward and upward in the legal academy.

Getting a Foot in the Door. If you didn't graduate from a top feeder school, serve as a law clerk at the Supreme Court or one of the more "elite" federal Circuit Courts, work for a top-notch large law firm, Fortune 500 corporation or Federal agency in a "hot" practice area, aspiring law profs need to establish their street credentials. That means demonstrating that you can publish and teach, perhaps as an adjunct or fellow.  Dust off your law review notes and comments, briefs, conference presentations, etc. Knocking on the door of a local law school for an adjunct gig is easy enough but getting a teaching fellowship is a different matter. Paul Caron (Cincinnati) has compiled one of the best lists of teaching fellowship resources I've seen. Check out his post on TaxProf Blog.

Landing that First Professorship. David Cases' The Pedagogical Don Quixote de la Mississippi, 33 U. Mem. L. Rev. 529 (2003) [Westlaw] is a must-read. In it, Case tells the story of his trials and tribulations as a practitioner who breaks into the Ivory Tower after several attempts.

Once a member of the Club, getting lifetime employment isn't very hard. Gladly (or pretend to be happy to) teach 1L courses so senior members of the faculty. But don't insist on teaching Con Law. Every school has an over-abundance of aspiring constitution law scholars. Go for contracts, property, torts, and those pesky mind-numbing upper-class bar exam courses like the UCC. Avoid at all costs, the legal research and writing program because that's a dead-end.

Despite the wailing over how difficult it is to get published because of the power held by law review student editors (what about the faculty advisor's input?) over your career, getting two published articles listed on your CV is substantially easier to achieve than almost any other academic discipline. There are some 170 law review titles, most of them are desperately seeking content and, unlike other disciplines, published legal scholarship does not need to be peer-reviewed. Unless you are publishing in law and economics, scholarly legal works are rarely "dead wrong." It's a "soft" discipline that defies empirical certitude. Just be sure to Shepardize your cases.

Don't worry about your articles being cited by other law review articles or court opinions. The majority aren't. Thank God for the string citation or the vast majority would never be cited. How do you get cited? Draft a sentence or two in black letter law fashion. Remember what Second Circuit Judge Robert Sack said about citation practices,when cited, law review articles are used the same way drunks use lampposts - for support rather than illumination. See Adam Liptak, When Rendering Decisions, Judges Are Finding Law Reviews Irrelevant, New York Time, March 19, 2007, at A8

In four years or so, you will be tenured. Almost every law prof gets tenure; "it's a state law". Ultimately what matters in tenure decisions is personality, not results; your peers know all too well, that the job security tenure brings means that they are going to see you in the hallways for a very long time. Upon tenure, you can start behaving like an ass but hopefully you will not become infected with the megalomania that runs rampant in the legal academy.

It's hardly a difficult road to travel when compared to the typical 7-year long odyssey associates make in large law firms where objective measures like billable hours, bringing in new clients, and winning in the transactional or litigation arenas matter in partnership decisions. You won't be compensated as much as practitioners -- hell, some of your 3Ls who land a BigLaw gig will be paid more as first year associates than you make at their hooding. But you get your summers off, can make extra cash above your annual salary during the summers if you play your cards right, be in line for those much sought after annual sabbaticals, and, if the trend towards reducing teaching loads to free up time for "scholarship" continues at its current pace, you probably will be teaching no more than one course each semester long before your retirement date arrives.

Moving Onward and Upwards. Many law profs stay put after their initial appointment, some for personal reasons. Many strive to move onward and upward. More money, more opportunities to pursue their academic interests ... working with notable colleagues, students more interested in scholarship than just passing the bar and the stimulating environment therein certainly motivate many lateral moves. Depending on where you start, what you accomplish there, and the associations you make, moving up the ranks of law schools to a Top 10 or Top 20 school is no easy task.

Hiring prominent faculty members to increase a school's reputation for US News & World Report's annual law school rankings is the name of the game and it becomes ever more competitive the closer a school is the top 10th-percentile. The law professor lateral hiring market is a seller's labor market but navigating it is no easy task. Employment law prof and co-editor of Workplace Prof Blog, Paul Secunda (Mississippi, soon Marquette) offers advice on how to go about it in his very interesting Tales of a Law Professor Lateral Nothing (SSRN) article. A "nothing," I don't think so. See this post. In offering advice on the lateral hiring market, Secunda writes:

I feel as well suited as anyone to undertake this delicate task. I offer these humble observations as someone who has been on the lateral market for the last three years and who has been turned down by numerous schools (including two after fly-back interviews), turned down a lateral offer, and finally, accepted a lateral offer from Marquette University Law School this year.

It's the best article I could find. Although I am generally dismissive of SSRN download clicks as being a measure of anything, the relatively high ratio of abstract views to downloads for Secunda's article appears to indicate that a not insignificant number of law profs are interested in learning more about this "mysterious world."

On Being Foolproof. To parse Brian Hayes for the convenience of this post , "proof is foolproof, it seems, only in the absence of fools." Today is April Fool's Day, right? [JH]

_____________

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 1, 2008 in Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Law Firm Launches You Tube Video

The San Franciso law firm of Hanson Bridgett, LLP just launched a "You Tube" video. It is meant to be humorous. It will be interesting to see if this works as a marketing tool. Only in California.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 10, 2008 in Law Firms, Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lawyer['] Writings Wrongs

There is a new blog in town, Lawyer['] Writings Wrongs which is designed to highlight "things" lawyers say in briefs. This blog describes its function as follows:

Read something worthy of ridicule in opposing counsel's briefs? Share it with the world

Hat Tip. California Blog of Appeal

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 7, 2008 in Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Law School Musical

Looking for a break from writing, from practice or from studying? Law School Musical is a short rather amusing video about the pressure of law school. It's worth checking out.

Hat Tip: Legal Antics

February 20, 2008 in Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Best Law Firm Name of All Time

Best Law Firm Name of All Time is a humorous post from the California Blog of Appeal. Greg May, the owner of that blog writes:

I was reminded of the best law firm name ever when I saw the firm as counsel of record in a Ninth Circuit decision Wednesday. I am familiar with them from my days in Orange County (in fact, I interviewed with them around the time I interviewed with and became an associate at the late, great, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison).

The best real law firm name I’ve ever run across: Payne & Fears, LLP.

As good as, or better, than the fake firm names in your law school exams (like Dewey, Screwem & Howe or Low, Ball & Lynch).

UPDATE (2/15/08): Several commenters point out that Low, Ball & Lynch IS a real law firm. They have my apology.  But did they ever consider Ball, Lynch & Low?

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

February 16, 2008 in Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Law of Rock

A Boalt Hall law student put together some music about first year law subjects. It is available here.

It might make an interesting gift.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Hat Tip: Brian Leiter's Law Reports 

August 29, 2007 in Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Legal Humor Blog

I recently came across a blog entitled  Legal Antics which discusses interesting and funny quotes from President Bush, from legal papers and court decisions etc. We all need a bit of levity in our life and this fills a need in the legal blog world. It is run by attorney Nicole Black who also maintains a website about substantive New York Law entitled Sui Generis. I recommend that you check out both of these blogs.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

May 19, 2007 in Legal Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)