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The #1 Threat to Respectability for Lawyers: Bears

Stephen Colbert’s ThreatDown recently included a law firm’s ad that included, yes, bears. In the ad, a bear is holding a small child, as if to suggest that the firm has struck the right balance between, I suppose, bloodthirst and coddling. The fair and balanced ad critique from a WSJ law blog reader:

“As long as Bingham is allowed to advertise with a bear holding a baby, personal-injury lawyers should be able to do whatever they want.”

Clever as the ad is, it really is no different than the woman who morphs into a tiger for an ad I’ve seen in Louisville. It’s not much different from the ads featuring another local plaintiff’s attorney lifting a car. That ad, I believe, is syndicated among dozens of lawyers across the country.

I wonder, though, if Bingham thought to include the standard disclaimer at the bottom of its ad, “Not an actual client. Also, bear is not a member of the bar.”

(crossposted at

Suing for a better education

The old joke goes something like this: If you go to law school, graduate, sue the school for providing a poor education, represent yourself and then win the case … did you really deserve to win?

The cases detailed here may not be quite as clear cut.

A group of students filed a $120 million class action against the American Justice School of Law in Paducah, Ky., on Nov. 17, citing allegations that include tax fraud, false representation to the American Bar Association, racketeering, scheming to defraud students and obstruction of justice. Rust v. American Justice School of Law, No. 5:07CV-191-R (W.D. Ky.).

Late last month, Adam Key, a second-year law student, sued Regent University School of Law, a private Christian school in Virginia Beach, Va., claiming violations of his right to free speech and religion after getting expelled for posting a critique in an online university forum. Key v. Regent University, No. 4:07-CV-04060 (S.D. Texas).

On Nov. 14, John Valente, a second-year student at University of Dayton School of Law in Ohio, filed a complaint against his school, citing negligence in dealing with exam software. Valente v. University of Dayton Law School of Law, No. 07-9593 (Montgomery Co., Ohio, Ct. C.P.).

It’s far from being a trend (yet!), but shouldn’t we expect a more costly legal education to generate demands from those students who slog it out to be chosen from an ever-increasing pool of applicants?

Law school tuition has been increasing at a considerable clip. And if you don’t graduate, it doesn’t matter to you if the value of the degree has risen twice as fast. You’re not a lawyer. (“Don’t Like Your Grade? Sue Your Law School,” The National Law Journal, Dec. 18, 2007.)

Update: I’m not a lawyer, either.

(crossposted at