July 16, 2024


Built General Tough

No One’s Where They Expected To Be

Table of Contents

Episode Notes

More law firms announce that they aren’t expecting associates to be back full-time in the office in the fall. More law schools announce that they aren’t expecting enrolled law students to be in class at all. And more Kardashians announce that they aren’t lawyers yet.

Special thanks to our sponsors, LexisNexis® InterAction®Lexicon and Nota.



Joe Patrice: Hello and welcome to the new edition on —

Kathryn Rubino: Are you trying to be extra fast so that I couldn’t pop in with the unwelcomed hello?

Joe Patrice: Yeah, that was exactly what I was doing and I also waited until you turned away specifically because I thought that that would —

Kathryn Rubino: You didn’t think my reflexes were cat like? It is kind of my name.

Joe Patrice: It is, kind of. Anyway, with that said, this is Thinking Like a Lawyer. I’m Joe Patrice.

Kathryn Rubino: I’m Kathryn Rubino.

Joe Patrice: She is and we’re from Above the Law and we’re here to talk about the week’s news and stuff and we’re coming out of a holiday weekend. I hope that was good for all of you out there.

Kathryn Rubino: Surprisingly cold in my experience.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, New York got a little cold. Yeah, which is not great for the unofficial start of summer I suppose but —

Kathryn Rubino: It seems very unsummer like.

Joe Patrice: I mean, it was in the 90s earlier in the week and then —

Kathryn Rubino: Right, and then the holiday weekend, we swear it was like 60 degrees from the majority of it.

Joe Patrice: Delightful. Yeah. So that’s the weekend that we have just weathered. Now we go into another week of news. Why are you looking at me like that?

Kathryn Rubino: Like what?

Joe Patrice: I don’t know, you just seems scary.

Kathryn Rubino: I mean, you’re the one that has the judgy eyes.

Joe Patrice: I try to give direction non-verbally. Yes, which is why I thought that’s what you were doing.

Kathryn Rubino: It’s terrible. First of all, it’s terrible, don’t do it anymore. It’s not encouraging and it only makes me stop where I am even though that’s not actually the thing that you’re trying to give me direction about. Verbal cues are better than non-verbals especially in this scenario but I wasn’t giving you any particular eye.

Joe Patrice: All right.

Kathryn Rubino: Well, now I am. Now you got a judgy eye coming your way.

Joe Patrice: Well, so let’s —

Kathryn Rubino: So how was your weekend?

Joe Patrice: Oh, good, you know not too eventful.

Kathryn Rubino: Barbecue?

Joe Patrice: I did use grills. I made some pizzas in a pizza oven. I got, yeah. I kicked it off as always with the Legaltech Journalists’ Roundtable, the weekly show where I’m on a panel of Legaltech Journalists discussing —

Kathryn Rubino: Oh my gosh, you actually remembered the name of your show.

Joe Patrice: Again, the name that we all use internally is not the name that you would use if you were trying to sign up on a podcasting service so I’m always kind of little confused about how to phrase it.

Kathryn Rubino: Maybe you should call it what it’s named.

Joe Patrice: This is above my pay grade.

Kathryn Rubino: But you have a pizza oven?

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Do you make many pizzas?

Joe Patrice: I try. I try. I’m getting into it.

Kathryn Rubino: What’s your favorite variety?

Joe Patrice: I like pepperoni. It’s kind of dull but you know. Although I’ll tell you, if I can get like a Capocollo on there like in place of pepperoni — yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Gabagool. Let’s be fair.

Joe Patrice: Oh see, yeah. You talk like that?

Kathryn Rubino: I am from New York and I am Italian so that is how many of us speak. Sorry. I refuse to apologize. Actually, I should not apologize for it.

Joe Patrice: That is what refuse means, yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, yeah. And I say rigat instead of ricotta. There we go, there we go. Although sometimes I do say ricotta because I’ve been shamed into it throughout years of living in this world but it’s kind of annoying. But I tell you what, rigat on a pizza is a delight.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. Well this has been Thinking Like a Lawyer. You can see the, –yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Listen, everybody likes pizza.

Joe Patrice: I guess, yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: This is great content. Everyone likes a good pizza, a nice crispy crust, some ricotto on top.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: What did I say?

Joe Patrice: You said cota.

Kathryn Rubino: Ricotta?

Joe Patrice: I’d say ricotta, yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: I say rigot.

Joe Patrice: So I guess anything’s better.

Kathryn Rubino: Anything is whatever. But yeah, see, I’m not a big — I know pepperoni is like the most popular pizza topping but it’s okay. I’m not going to like kick it out of bed or anything like that but like —

Joe Patrice: It’s not pineapple.

Kathryn Rubino: Obviously, that’s not acceptable. But you know, it’s fine but I’m never going to order it of my own volition. I will easily compromise into a pepperoni pizza but it’s never going to be my go-to order. If I’m just doing a plain meat, I’m going to go with a meatball as my number one and Italian sausage is number two and bacon. That’s a tasty little treat. Now I’m hungry.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. As all the listeners I think understand, we’re a little short on content for today.


Kathryn Rubino: That’s not even true. We had one of the busiest weeks last Thursday.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, that’s fair. Well, so let’s kick this off by hearing from our friends from Lexicon and then we will get into it.


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Joe Patrice: Okay, so what happened on Thursday?

Kathryn Rubino: Like everything. So for folks who maybe aren’t paying as close attention to the workings of Above the Law, we generally aim for about 20 stories on a daily basis and I think we have like 25 or something like that and we had to like push a bunch of things to the following day. Everything kept on happening. One of the bigger stories — well, part of it is that, we have a ton of stories about big law firms announcing their reopening plans. Going back to the office, some folks starting this week, at least having it available, if not required, through September sort of being like their first days kind of after Labor Day is when a lot of folks are aiming.

But you know, Wilson Sonsini says no one will be required to go to the office and in this calendar year at all. I mean they’ll be opened local guidance ending but it is a mixed bag and the reactions that were getting from folks are very mixed even at the same firm. We’ll get one tipster who says, “Can you believe the awful thing that they’re going to make us do?” And then two minutes later, we’ll get some another insider being like, “Look how great this firm is being” and I think it — I mean part of its also because I think big law firms are run like fiefdoms and the partner that X person works for maybe “Oh, I can’t technically require you to be here five days a week but you should be here five days a week” versus a very hands-off partner. Maybe even they work for somebody in a different office so it never matters whether or not where they’re physically located. And I think that firms really have to come to terms with the fact that individual experiences vary greatly and trying to come up with a uniform set of rules is going to always be fraught because of that. And I think flexibility is the name of the game.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. No, it was very busy. Yeah, I really don’t have much more to say to that. It’s going to be interesting.

Kathryn Rubino: Firms are reopening, it’s a big thing. I mean, the Above the Law offices are not officially opened yet although I am kind of excited to go back at some point. I don’t know, get back into the routine of going to an actual office and just kind of that little, that water cooler chatter. “How you doing, how was your weekend?” Just those little things that kind of fell by the wayside when your primary form of interaction with your colleagues is over chat or Zoom meetings or god forbid Google Meets which is —

Joe Patrice: It is. You know I mean, obviously I hate to cast dispersions on any of the major tech companies who are monitoring everything I do at all times but god, it really —

Kathryn Rubino: It’s not my favorite.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, it’s going to be a test that — I think I’ve said this somewhere before, but it is going to be a testament to the failure of large institutions that Google and Microsoft in particular which had Skype in its hand managed to bungle the pandemic so badly.

Kathryn Rubino: How did Zoom become the thing?

Joe Patrice: Yeah. I know we have this conversation I think on this very show like two weeks ago but it’s still true.

Kathryn Rubino: It is still accurate. It’s not untrue, but yeah, I’m looking forward to being able to use my Metro card and my Transit checks again, all this money that’s kind of been piling up.

Joe Patrice: Right. I really do think that we’re going to see maybe not immediately if some firms will do it immediately, some firms of long term, we’re going to see a transition to that kind of hoteling, kind of idea that we talked about last time.

Kathryn Rubino: You know, I think the first time that hoteling was mentioned in a firm reopening memo, there was kind of an internal chatter of what’s going on? This is the first time someone’s mentioned that term and now it’s increasingly common.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. It was big. I feel like we really are rehashing like a week ago but yeah, it really was a big thing intact.

Kathryn Rubino: We have firms now that are turning what had been assigned office space to hoteling space.

Joe Patrice: All right, yeah.


I feel like a deep obligation to our listeners not to just completely rehash last time. That face looks like you do not —

Kathryn Rubino: It’s not that I do or do not but it is in the continuing evolving story and I think the fact that some firms are saying you don’t have to come to the office in 2021, were still in June, we’re just about halfway through the year and they’re saying, we’re taking a mulligan on the entirety of the year. I think that is news.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. No, I mean —

Kathryn Rubino: But you have nothing interesting or new to say about that.

Joe Patrice: Not since we recorded.

Kathryn Rubino: But that is a development though, right?

Joe Patrice: Yes, right.

Kathryn Rubino: That is different.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, fair.

Kathryn Rubino: But it’s because you’re only half paying attention to what I’m saying so you’re only responding to the most superficial level of what I’m saying.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean, that is absolutely accurate though I did not think anything that you were going to say. Yes, no, I got an email in the middle of this requiring immediate attention. Actually, it was due this within 15 minutes and I looked and it was 12 minutes ago so I had only three minutes to get in by the deadline so that took me out of it a little bit. But thanks for calling that out for everybody.

Kathryn Rubino: Because you called me out for having boring conversation. Don’t call me out if you don’t —

Joe Patrice: I don’t it’s boring, I just —

Kathryn Rubino: You were even like I have an obligation not to repeat myself and I’m like cool, there was nuance here but you have glossed over it. Dont laugh at me. This is real.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, don’t worry, we’ll cut all this out.

Kathryn Rubino: Cut to an ad. I got more stuff to say.

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Kathryn Rubino: The other story that happened last week that we were, had a lot of chatter about is law school over enrollment.

Joe Patrice: Oh yes, that is not where I thought you were going but yes.

Kathryn Rubino: Sorry, but it was a pretty big one.

Joe Patrice: No, that’s true. So, we’ve actually talked to some folks about this in the past that if you’re planning to go to law school, there is some concern about whether you should do it this year or in a future year. I think we had this conversation on the ATL special COVID cast we did for a while early on in the pandemic and the recommendation time was try to get in this year like don’t try to use the down year as a reason to defer because it’s just going to make it more difficult down the road. That was the question about people looking to enroll in 2020 and it turns out it probably was a good move to go forward with it then because we’re now seeing what’s happening with the next year’s enrollment and what is happening with next year’s enrollment.

Kathryn Rubino: Well, they’re overenrolled. We’ve heard from at least two pretty big law schools, BC Boston College Law School and Penn that are overenrolled. BC is overenrolled by more than a hundred people. That’s not like, that’s pretty big. And the concern is not just, “Oh, where will we put these bodies? Where the seats?” That is obviously a part of it but that is I think a surmountable obstacle. But the real concern that the law school put in the email to incoming students is this will impact your job prospects on the back end. Are there going to be an extra hundred jobs in the Boston area? Particularly, school that has a lot of folks that stay in the area. I don’t know. And if it doesn’t affect the BC kids’ job prospects, it probably trickles down to some of the lower schools that are in that area, right?

And so, I think that is a big problem even though it’s a couple of schools that we’ve identified so far but there are definitely rumors that more schools are impacted and have done similar things so stay tuned. I think it’s definitely a developing story but the Carey Law School, that’s the Penn School, they’re overenrolled by over 50 I think. So these are not a small amount of folks. This will have bigger impacts especially if we see it at more and more schools. The job prospects for 2024 are going to be severely changed and this also means that if you were waiting to apply to law school because all this year is going to be crazy, I’ll wait till next year. Well, if BC is able to — and if BC is able to get those hundred kids to defer to next year which they’re allowing folks to do with their full scholarships intact but they will not offer additional scholarship money nor will they do any forced deferrals which is good news, but that means that next year’s going to be even harder.

Joe Patrice: Right. Well and some of these people will then be on two years of deferral because the reason this class is so big is the people who deferred the 2020/2021 year because they thought I’ll just push this off and now, that’s where you end up.


Kathryn Rubino: Also because they didn’t want to necessarily start their legal education online especially the folks who made think that they won’t be in the best academic position in an online environment makes a lot of sense.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. And we encourage people to not go that route because we thought it could lead to a glut on the next year and here we are.

Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. I mean part of the other problem though is also that the number of folks who took the LSAT has increased.

Joe Patrice: Right which we also identified as what was going to — yeah. And that said, these numbers aren’t necessarily as awful because some of these people who are enrolled are probably also in other schools and aren’t going to take those slots but it’s still like once you start talking about in the numbers of hundred overenrolled, you’re dealing with a severe situation where a good majority of those folks are planning to show up and you need to find some way out of that.

Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. It’ll be a very interesting development in terms of legal education moving forward.

Joe Patrice: The other legal education — let’s just keep going on this not necessarily make it a separate story. The University of Miami kind of a surprise firing of their dean, that kind of came out of nowhere. We actually haven’t had much written about this on Above the Law simply because we don’t have a ton of understanding of what happened. It seems so out of the blue.

Kathryn Rubino: And maybe that is the story.

Joe Patrice: I mean, I guess that is, but we’ve been trying to get more detail to figure out what’s going on but the trickle-down of it has been incredible. Dean leaves like vice dean like resigns in protest, faculty senates like up in arms. Whatever happened is something that is pitting the administration powers that be against the law school in a very serious way. And I don’t know, it’s going to be something worth monitoring, not just if you’re somebody who cares about the Miami community, but this is sort of thing that can have repercussions throughout legal academia. Rumor I’ve heard, don’t know so it’s something we would run with as a thing but I’ve heard rumors that higher-ups were concerned that there wasn’t as much fundraising. I mean, obviously, that is part of a president’s job or a dean’s job but on the other hand, running —

Kathryn Rubino: But half of his failure has been across the pandemic where there is also an economic downturn happening.

Joe Patrice: It would be nice if deans were appreciated for being able to run academic institutions rather than just their ability to raise funds, but hey, call me naive. Yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Late stage capitalism is what it is.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, well, and I mean, it just seems like — 

Kathryn Rubino: I can see you struggling here for the lead into our next add read.

Joe Patrice: I’m not really struggling. I was just kind of reminding that part of the reason why these why deans like that may not be as good at fundraising is they went to law school to be lawyers, not accountants.

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Kathryn Rubino: Speaking of legal education.

Joe Patrice: Or sort of? Yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Well, our good friend Kim Kardashian has been in the news this week.

Joe Patrice: Very close, yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, we’re biffles right over here. But no listen, she’s trying to be a lawyer, she’s using the study in program not attending a law school because well she doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree so that’s –. It is a requirement for law school but she failed the baby bar, he California baby bar which for those non-California listeners is a bar exam you take after the first year of law school to kind of — do you see how proficient you are? But you didn’t fail by that much.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, that’s the development that came second. So originally, we learned from clips released of her reality show.

Kathryn Rubino: I mean she put that out there.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, from the reality show that she had failed this exam which is a means to circumvent the traditional get a law degree then take a bar exam that she had failed and so, that was out there. That said, California releases some of the stuff and so we’ve now learned — a new thing that we learned was that —

Kathryn Rubino: It’s all solo on the clips that she tells you her scorn in the — I know a lot about the Kardashians, I apologize. But yeah, she only failed by 80 some odd points I think.

Joe Patrice: Yeah which is bar exam specialists say that that’s actually sufficiently close as to not think that it’s unheard of to pass on your next attempt.

Kathryn Rubino: Yeah.


And listen, I mean I can’t believe I’m put yet then in the position of having to defend Kim Kardashian but here we are. I do think she was very close to passing. She also took the test in the middle of the pandemic so not the most ideal studying circumstances for anyone and I don’t think that somebody failing the bar exam, whether it be the full bar exam or the baby bar, during a pandemic especially by such a slight margin, should be discouraged at all. Plenty of very smart people who go on to be very productive lawyers in society have failed these tests. This is not sort of a black mark, right?

And I think that there’s a — I mean listen, fundamentally, lawyers are pretty elitist as a group, right? And I think that there’s a looking down on Kim Kardashian because she wants to be a lawyer going around the traditional ways of becoming one and the truth is look down at her for any reason you want but this is not some reason to feel superior. Plenty of people who went to good law schools will have similar scores to her. This is not whatever. And the truth is, she’s gotten people out of prison which is a greater good than plenty of lawyers out there. I mean, in terms of like societal impact, I will take her trying to be a lawyer and actually working to change the laws and to get people released from life sentences in prison versus some corporate rater who now is in some finance job.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, I almost feel as though trying to officially become a lawyer was almost a mistake in that it distracted and created this as you said kind of drive for an elitist symbol that actually doesn’t have a ton to do with what the work she’s trying to accomplish is all about the advocacy that she does for people who are wrongfully imprisoned does not actually require a law degree, it requires having relationships with lawyers who then go do things and funding. But the funding and the lobbying that she does not really require a law degree. And it’s almost as though her building that “business” that charitable advocacy almost is hurt by the way in which now people can hang up on whether or not she got 60, 70 extra points on an exam.

Kathryn Rubino: I mean, I think that people are going to dog on Kim Kardashian whether it’s because she failed the baby bar or because like the neon colors and the new skims collection are not great. But the other part of it is she does bring a lot of attention to these issues. I recently spoke on the Jabot podcast to my angel Cody who’s an attorney who’s done a lot of this clemency work and is part of this 90 days of freedom social media campaign and she said that the attention that Kim Kardashian was able to bring to frankly this woman’s passion and career has been invaluable.

Just having the amount of people focused on these issues of criminal justice reform and the sort of systemic injustice in this system has been truly a game changer in terms of changing the policy, changing the actual way in which cases can get funded and people are paying attention because of Kim Kardashian and there are worse ways to spend your celebrity. Like so many worse ways like this is a real good thing that she’s doing like I will deal with all the lip kits or I guess that’s her sister but whatever I’ll deal with all the makeup or beauty or whatever thing that she wants to put out there because she is paying attention to something that’s important.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. No, I think that’s true and I’ve never critiqued her commitment to this issue. I do worry that the going to be a lawyer thing distracts from it. But hey, on the other hand, she gets to be a lawyer and then then it all goes away.

Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. And maybe she then doesn’t have to — she’s one more lawyer that’s doing the work, right? Yes. It’s hard work to do. It’s not a particularly lucrative way to use your law degree so not everyone is in the financial position to take on the work especially not full-time. So someone who’s a freaking billionaire can certainly spend whatever time she has if she becomes a lawyer on it.

Joe Patrice: Right because we have a system where charitable work requires you to have the privilege of being super rich.

Kathryn Rubino: I’m not saying it’s a good system.

Joe Patrice: Super great.

Kathryn Rubino: Listen, if we can change the system, I’m all for that. But even the world we live in, this is potentially a very good thing and it’s certainly not a bad one.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, agreed. Well, cool. So thanks for listening everybody.


You should be subscribed to the show. Give it reviews, stars as well as writing something to show a little bit of engagement. You should be reading Above the Law as always. You should be following us on social media. I’m at @josephpatrice. She’s at @kathryn1. Check out our other shows, the Jabot, which she talked about there, right at the end of podcast that Kathryn hosts. I also am a panelist on the Legaltech Journalists Roundtable.

Kathryn Rubino: Did you get it right this time? No.

Joe Patrice: No, it’s Legaltech Week is the name of the show and then the Legaltech Journalists Roundtable is the event that we do. Whatever. Point is I got as close as usual.

Kathryn Rubino: I mean, listen, we’re still listening at this point.

Joe Patrice: That’s true, if anyone still listening, whatever. Now you’ve thrown everything off.

Kathryn Rubino: You also do the clubhouse.

Joe Patrice: I also do a clubhouse, Legaltech trending news clubhouse on Wednesdays with some folks.

Kathryn Rubino: And the other selections from Legal Talk Network.

Joe Patrice: I said that before when you cut me off.

Kathryn Rubino: Well I know. I want to make sure you give —

Joe Patrice: You know, do you want to just do this? Like go ahead.

Kathryn Rubino: Not even a little bit. I must prefer to criticize your attacks.

Joe Patrice: I understand that it’s a lot easier to tear people down than to help lift them up. Yeah.

Kathryn Rubino: Stop you smug little, oh man.

Joe Patrice: I think with all that said, we thank Lexicon and NODA powered by M&T Bank and LexisNexis InterAction. And with that, I think we’re done. Yeah.