, The Careerist

The Careerist: Gossip and News Roundup

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It's almost the start of the July 4 weekend, so you're probably in no mood for any serious news. (And for those of you in the throes of prepping for the bar exam, you have my deepest sympathy. As I recall, July 4th marks the time when the fun ends and the cramming begins.)

Here's is a roundup of gossip and quirky news that you might have missed:

1. Law School Stress Is Killing Your Brain Cells. Yup, that's what University of Denver law professor Debra Austin writes in the Loyola Law Review. Austin says that stress, coupled with the sedentary lifestyle of most law students, will diminish cognitive capacity. (Hat tip: TaxProfBlog and ABA Blog)

But, hey, that's nothing compared to the stress of being an associate in Big Law. By the end of your first year of practice, your brain cells will be crushed little shells of their former selves.

2. I did it for the children. Lee Smolen gets the award for making the most creative attempt at achieving work/life balance. A former Sidley & Austin partner, Smolen recently testified in his Illinois disciplinary hearing that he faked cab receipts to the tune of $67,000 to offset legitimate business expenses that required tedious paperwork. He told Crain’s Chicago Business: “I was trying to achieve a work-life balance after I had missed my children's lives.”

As someone who's allergic to expense reports, I'm actually quite sympathetic to Smolen. But $69,000 in cab receipts? Seriously? (He admitted that he recycled the same receipts.) You'd think he'd be just a tad more creative. After getting caught, Smolen was booted out of Sidley & Austin, which he tells Crain’s Chicago Business, "was like your parents kicking you out of the house.”

But not to worry. He's now a partner at DLA Piper in Chicago. I can only assume he's got lots of business. When he was head of Sidley's Chicago real estate practice, Smolen earned $3.5 million, and presided over $89 million in business for the firm during the previous five years, according to his lawyer. (Hat tip: ABA Blog)

3. If you're suing your college for injuries, make sure your law school grades suck. That sort of sums up the argument that Columbia University is making against Veronica Couzo, 26, who sued her college after sustaining injuries caused by falling concrete and plaster in her dorm. According to the New York Post, Columbia lawyer Eric Strober "suggested the young woman was faking injuries given her achievements." Couzo just graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame Law School. (Hat tip: Above the Law)

4. Love News: I can't resist this item because John Cheever is one of my favorite writers. His grandson, also named John Cheever, got married in June. And guess what? He's an associate at Arnold & Porter in New York! His father is writer Benjamin Cheever and his mom is New York Times critic Janet Maslin. (New York Times)

We wish Cheever and his bride Jennifer Reese (a doctor) well. Still, isn't there something slightly prosaic about being an associate when you come from this rich literary heritage? We can only hope Cheever's experience in Big Law will be a source of creative inspiration.

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