One of the most famous cases in U.S. history involved a writ of mandamus -- an order to a government agency or official to behave in accordance with the law. In Marbury v. Madison, William Marbury asked the U.S. Supreme Court to order the U.S. Secretary of State (James Madison) to affirm Marbury's commission as the D.C. Justice of the Peace.
Today, courts still use these writs to compel government action. In this episode, Michael Morguess discusses his new solo practice in southern California, where he frequently seeks writs of mandamus for clients fired by government agencies. Michael's clients come to him when they need to appeal an unfavorable result from an administrative hearing. The job of the court is to review the administrative proceedings to ensure that the agency proceeded in accordance with the law, that the employee received a fair trial with the agency, and that the agency's decision is supported by the evidence and findings.
Michael has not only spent many years helping government employees, but he's also been across the aisle representing cities and in chambers clerking for a California state judge who ruled on the very writs he seeks. So when he writes and argues briefs for a judge, he knows exactly what everybody is thinking. With jobs and livelihoods on the line, Michael faces a lot of pressure, but the intellectual challenge and thrill of victory buoy his non-traditional litigation practice.
This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University.
Think you might be allergic to litigation? In this episode, real estate attorney and University of Texas School of Law alumna Barbara Stewart shares what keeps her out of the courtroom.
Barbara started her career as in-house counsel for a large communications company before venturing into real estate law. Today, she helps clients purchase and sell residential homes. She spends her time drafting real estate transaction documents -- usually from forms -- and helping people understand the process.
Now that she's on her own, she's able to provide valuable insight into running a modern real estate practice. Barbara outlines several common trappings that face real estate attorneys. If her sky-high malpractice insurance is any measure, its among the riskier practice areas around.
This week's show is hosted by Aaron Taylor, a law professor at St. Louis University.
Interested in becoming a public defender? Appointed to represent those who cannot afford an attorney, public defenders play an essential role in the criminal justice system. Oft-romanticized in television shows and in movies, public defense is a complex field that bears little resemblance to its glamorous portrayals crafted by Hollywood execs.
In this episode, former public defender and University of Georgia Law alumna Laurie Landsittel gives us valuable insight into the day-to-day duties of public defenders. What are the different types of public defenders? What is the typical caseload for attorneys in this field, and how often can public defenders expect their cases to go to trial?
Laurie also discusses some of her personal experiences working as a public defender, such as her biggest challenges representing defendants that had committed serious crimes, as well as the time that she helped a teenage girl get out of jail and back on her feet. "That is what public defenders do," Laurie tells us. "If you want to help, it’s never ending."
This week's show is hosted by Derek Tokaz, LST's research director.
See that shiny new smart phone of yours? It's the product of many powerful inventions created by engineers and protected by patents. The patent system seeks to protect these inventions in exchange for detailed public disclosure about how they work.
In this episode, we hear from patent attorney Carlos Rosario, a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law. Though he graduated 3.5 years ago, he has twice switched law firms in Silicon Valley to strike his ideal balance between patent prosecution and patent litigation. Today, Carlos works for one of the largest intellectual property firms in the world. It turns out that if you want to concentrate on patent litigation, you all-but need to work for a large firm.
Like many students, Carlos was attracted to intellectual property prior to law school because he found technology exciting. This interview illustrates the IP world to listeners generally—including whether certain IP lawyers need special credentials—before diving into the particulars of day-to-day practice. Ultimately, you'll get a feel for patent practice and can unpack whether it’s as glamorous as it seems. For Carlos, he is right at home in the combative yet collaborative litigation process.
This episode is hosted by Mike Spivey, a consultant for prospective and current law students.
Crash! The U.S. tort system provides civil redress when one party unfairly harms another. Plaintiff lawyers represent clients who allegedly suffered physical, emotional, and economic injuries as the result of somebody else's negligent or intentional action. Despite the alleged harms, in the vehicle collision world, the injured rarely file lawsuits and trials almost never happen.
In this episode, we talk to Tricia Dennis, a graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Law. She's been a personal injury attorney in Chattanooga, TN for almost 30 years. While she's become extremely successful in her solo practice specializing in vehicle collisions, she provides a sobering look at how small law firm economics impact new and experienced practitioners.
From dealing with sexist attorneys to corralling tough clients, Tricia reveals several challenges she's faced in her career. She walks us through client intake, negotiations, and settlement from a plaintiff lawyer's perspective. By the end of the interview, listeners understand that, more than anything, Tricia is a small business owner who helps her clients navigate an insurance maze.
This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University.
Divorces don't have winners or losers. They're messy disputes over assets and kids. The lawyers who handle them? Many just want to help their clients move on with their lives as quickly as possible.
When Gabriel Cheong—owner of a small family law firm in Boston—graduated from Northeastern Law School at the start of the Great Recession, his back was against the wall. Today he's proven that he can build a sustainable business by putting client needs first. In this episode, Gabriel explains how his use of technology and fixed fees maximizes time spent on his clients' legal dilemmas.
Gabriel’s practice does not reflect what you see on Law & Order. He devotes most of his time to paperwork rather than arguing in court. He mixes traditional litigation with mediation, conciliation, and guardian ad litem. With this kind of work, Gabriel experiences emotional ups and downs. Yet he observes that they’re two sides of the same coin. After all, his job is to help clients whose lives are being torn apart.
This episode is hosted by Aaron Taylor, a law professor at St. Louis University.
I Am The Law is the inaugural podcast produced by Law School Transparency for LST Radio.
In the introductory episode, LST's executive director (Kyle McEntee) outlines why LST decided to venture into public radio. He'll interview legal education leaders and others about why the show is important for the legal profession and those seeking to join it.
LST's mission is to make entry to the legal profession more transparent, affordable, and fair. We have thus far focused on the statistical side of choosing whether and where to go to law school -- check out the LST Reports here. But statistics only tell part of the story. Students need to know what law jobs are really like when deciding to make the significant and important decision to join the legal profession. Unfortunately, the legal profession can be a bit of a black box.
Enter I Am The Law. Each episode of IATL (after this one!) will profile a different law school graduate. Every week, we'll ask probing questions that reveal what the practice of law is really like. We'll interview public defenders, prosecutors, corporate attorneys, e-Discovery specialists, and more.
As a result, listeners will be better equipped to make more informed career decisions.
Tune in on January 19, 2015 for the first informational interview with Gabriel Cheong, a family law attorney in Boston, Massachusetts.