#law school
Gillian Lester To Be New Law School Dean

facultyPhoto2.phpIn a press release this afternoon, PrezBo announced the next dean of the Law School, Gillian Lester. Lester presently serves as the acting dean of Berkeley Law and will “bring accomplished scholarship, admired teaching and first-hand academic leadership experience at a great peer institution to her new role at Columbia.”

Lester’s work has dealt primarily with employment law and policy. She’s earned degrees from Stanford and University of Toronto, and she’s also taught at Harvard, Georgetown, USC, and UChicago.

Said Lester, “I’m honored to take on the leadership of Columbia Law School at this pivotal time. I’m looking forward to working with its distinguished faculty, talented students and accomplished alumni.”

Dean Lester via Berkeley Law

Young Man Poses As CLS Student, CC Grad

As Above the Law reports, a young man using the name “Jose Olivo” pretended to be a first year student at Columbia Law School for the first semester of this year.  A group of actual CLS students noticed something was up with this young man and corroborated to confirm that, in fact, Jose never attended any class sessions and was not a real student at the Law School. A CLS spokesperson confirmed to ATL that Jose was reported by students and not registered now or ever at the school. This isn’t the first time this fine and secure university has been infiltrated by an impostor—remember Rhea Sen last year?

Although Jose was not sitting in on classes, he was attending 1L (1st year law students, for you not in the know) events and functions.  He was at a 1L dinner in Roone Arledge near the beginning of September and, when asked, claimed he “lost his nametag” for the event. Jose apparently had a fake Facebook account for a brother who attended Harvard Business School and represented Smith College professor Richard Olivo as his father. Current HBS students did not know anyone by his alleged brother’s name. Bwog has reached out to Professor Olivo and will let you know when/if we hear back from him.

It gets weirder: Jose was also posing as a CC’13 graduate.  At the beginning of this year, he approached an actual CC’13 graduate and Law School student, knowing him by name and asking about “their” graduation.  Jose apparently attended the Commencement ceremony, walking in robes and posting pictures and videos of it to his now-defunct Facebook.  Over the semester, Jose asked the CC grad about certain CC’13 notables—i.e. Ryan Mandelbaum (sup bro?)—to make it seem like he really was from the same class.  The CC grad had never seen Jose before this August.

Facebook, Twitter, and screenshots

Practice for the Swim Test

If you’re trying to avoid the same ol’ Butler crowd by heading to the law school, think again. There’s a whole lotta flooding, and according to an officer holding the fort, it is the cause of a pipe that spans one of the top floors. But hurry up if you want to practice your breast stroke; they’re cleaning it up as we write this.

Student Week of Action, Day One: “What’s Disgusting? Union Busting!”

This week marks OccupyCU’s Student Week of Action. Read on for Bwog’s resident #OWS correspondent Jed Bush’s coverage of Day One: “End the Sotheby’s Lockout” rally.  

Columbia’s Student Week of Action, orchestrated by OccupyCU, got off to a rather low-key start today, but that didn’t stop the 25 or so protesters planted in front of the Law School at noon from making some noise. They targeted former President of Columbia University, current Chancellor Kent Professor of Law at the Law School,  and current Chairman of the Board at Sotheby’s, Michael Sovern, criticizing his poor track record on union rights.

Protesters in front of the Law School

The issue, according to their flier:

“Sotheby’s has kept its Teamsters 814 art handlers locked out… for the past 13 weeks [because they] would not accept Sotheby’s demand that they take a 10% cut in pay and hours, give up their 401(k) plan, and allow their work to be increasingly contracted out to low-paid workers who have no union to protect their rights. The art handlers at Sotheby’s have historically been majority people of color… This attack is not only classist, it’s racist.”

Sharp criticism, especially when you take into account that Sovern is, according to his Columbia bio, a current board member of the NAACP Defense Fund and a founding member of both the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund.

Still, as an issue that was seemingly disconnected from the day-to-day runnings of the university, most students that passed by, undergrads and Law students alike, were ambivalent to the cries of “union busting.” Yet where the protest may have failed to resonate with students, it succeeded admirably with University union workers, as a small contingent stood in solidarity with Teamsters 814 in front of the Law School. Maida Rosenstein, President of UAW Local 2110, the union responsible for representing Columbia’s clerical workers, was present and protested with the students on 116th. (more…)

Bwoglines: Inquisitive Edition

This picture raises a lot of questions.

Why did Emma Watson leave Brown? Because every time she spoke in class, her classmates yelled “Three points for Gryffindor!” (NYDN)

Who’s that new serial killer on Long Island? Profilers say he’s likely white, charming, and “has access to burlap sacks.” But sorry ladies—he’s not single. (NYT, Daily Intel)

Which coffee cart on 43rd Street is best? Perhaps inspired by our own Cart Chronicles, An anonymous individual has posted a physical critical review (on a post) of both carts on the street. (City Room)

Is it legal to take cases to trial if you haven’t passed the Bar? Apparently so…since some Columbia Law students have been prosecuting domestic abuse cases for the Queens DA. (NYDN)

What do the kids like these days? Attorneys general across the country are trying to shut down a fruit-flavored malt liquor endorsed by Snoop Dogg because it’s “enticing young people with hip hop themes and lollipop flavors.” (NYT, CNN)

Did you expect this from the title?

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Lecture Hop: Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer

Bossin' it Queens style

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer (CC ’80, Law ’85) visited campus last Wednesday to speak with students and visitors about his education at Columbia, career in public service, and to share some witticisms about life. Alex Jones was there to document this alum’s rise to the top of the legal world. Sorry it’s so late… we consumed too much candy, among other things, over the past few days.

Breuer’s Experience at Columbia

He grew up in Queens in a small, two bedroom apartment.  He fondly remembers the hot summer days when he would leave home in the morning, play sports all day, and then return after the sun set. Breuer acknowledges that Columbia in 1976 (his freshmen fall) was not the Columbia we know today. Academically and culturally, Columbia reflected the declining urban area surrounding it. It was not a “cushy, soft, sweet place,” Breuer recounts.  “It was great, I loved it, but it was New York…  You didn’t go south of about 110th street.”  Clearly, not too different.

Career In Public Service

Breuer flirted with becoming a therapist, because he “grew up in a Woody Allen home,” but decided on law school simply because he felt like law would be a fun thing to do. After graduation, he worked in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office from 1985 till 1989– a period notable in New York City’s history for high rates of violent crime, a surging crack epidemic, and the beginning of widespread outbreak of AIDS. For Breuer, in a “very sick and perverse way, as a prosecutor, it was spectacular.” He views his experience working in the DA’s office as formative, and the foundation of his dedication to public service. “If you were eager and worked hard, you got to quickly prosecute very violent crimes.” (more…)

Law School Currently Still Opposed On-Campus Military Recruitment

The following e-mail was just sent to the Law School student body by the faculty last week. The letter states that “the military’s on-campus recruitment directly violates the Law School’s longstanding policy forbidding employers from recruiting on campus if they discriminate based on, inter alia, sexual orientation.” The e-mail does not explicitly refer to the ROTC, it instead takes the stance that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has yet to be given “presidential certification,” and thus the military’s policy of discrimination still opposes against the Law School’s discrimination policy. This statement was issued a long time ago, and has been on the Law School’s website, but was resent to the student body this morning apparently to reiterate that the faculty’s stance has not yet changed. A commenter notes that this happens every semester.

Full e-mail after the jump!


Law School Poised to Conquer Revson Plaza

Well not Revson Plaza, really. What do you call that spot on the EC/SIPA/Law School plaza that’s right behind the Law School and looks down into the Wien courtyard? As of sometime in 2011, you’ll call it the fancy new Law School extension, and if you have Law Library privileges, you’ll call it “the reading room that looks like Star Trek mission control.”

The expansion plans are the doing of Ennead Architects, a firm previously known as the Polshek Partnership. They are responsible under that name for well-known projects such as The Standard Hotel (the one over the High Line) and a number of expansions and redesigns of already iconic buildings like Carnegie Hall. Neither Ennead nor the Law Library could be reached for comment, but full plans for the expansion currently appear on Ennead’s website.

The plans calls for an addition that blends into the modern facade of the existing building, emphasizing vertical and minimizes horizontal lines. The addition departs, however, from its host structure in medium – the panels in between the vertical fins you see below are made of glass, and so are those fins themselves. Click through the plan drawings to get a better sense of the new space (be warned, you’ll be prompted to get the latest Adobe Flash if you don’t have it). Here’s another view:


Congratulations, Future Lawyers of America!

You know the old addage: you gotta sanitize before you can litigate! We’re upset we missed Raskolnikov’s speech, but we did catch some recent Law School grads dancing to “Love Shack” after the ceremony.

Update: Then everyone threw their robes into a pile at the Butler security desk.

Gray Davis or Brent Scowcroft Could Be Speaking at Your Graduation

But only if you’re in the Law School or SIPA. Columbia’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs announced the complete list of Class Speakers today, and joining Attorney General Eric Holder are many other famous names to prop up the 22 various Class Day and Commencement ceremonies taking place between this Saturday (the B-School) and next Thursday (Law School and Dental School).

Among the big names: former California governor Gray Davis at the Law School graduation, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft at SIPA’s Commencement, Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall at the J-School’s Class Day, New York Times medical correspondent Lawrence Altman at the Med School graduation, and senior advisor to Hillary Clinton Phillipe Reines at General Studies’s Class Day. Of course, some of the speechifying talent isn’t travelling very far: professors Jagdish Baghwati and Jeffrey Sachs will be speaking at the Ph.D. convocation and the Dental School graduation ceremonies, respectively.

Our favorite detail, though? Both J-School ceremonies are “closed to the media.” Full list after the jump. (more…)

LectureHop: But I Don’t Wanna Be a Lawyer!

Bored with hearing lawyers talk about law, the Columbia Pre-Law Society held a Q&A Tuesday night with Steven Chaikelson, director of the Theater Management and Production Program at the School of the Arts. Bwog’s Lawyers In Disguise Specialist James Rathmell was there to hear his story.

Though the Columbia Pre-Law Society has been pushing for a totally new direction in Pre-Law, inviting Steven Chaikelson to speak isn’t as strange as it seems. He may currently serve as director of Theater Management at Columbia’s School of the Arts, but Chaikelson’s career has been based from the beginning on the integration of the entertainment and legal profession. He set the precedent at Columbia for the dual degree in law and theater management (he obtained his MFA and JD in 1993), though maybe it would be better to keep those things apart.

The audience for Tuesday’s Q&A was small enough that Chaikelson asked everyone to introduce themselves and describe their interest in law before he introduced his own background in law and theater. Chaikelson held a strong passion for theater throughout college (he was head of BCMT, which is now part of CU Players, for two years), yet he came from a family of lawyers, who encouraged him to go into law as a stable career.  After graduating CC in 1989, he began to search for programs that offered a joint major in theater and law.

“I told my parents that I can always fall back on law as a stable career,” he said, but after graduating law school in a climate where there was little demand for lawyers, “I told my parents, ‘Don’t worry, I have the theater degree to fall back on.’” (more…)

Don’t Worry, It’s Only $3 Million

And yet more benjamins go up in smoke. Earlier this afternoon, Columbia confirmed a Bloomberg News report that it had “uncovered” a $3 million loss in its law school endowment tied to Bernie Madoff. Madoff is currently out on bail for what many are calling the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

The $3 million is part of a 1980 gift to the law school from an unnamed alumnus who retained the right to decide how the money was invested. Columbia spokesman Robert Hornsby told Bloomberg that “only in rare circumstances in the past, and after approval by the university’s gift review committee, has Columbia accepted such a gift to be retained in another form of investment.” As for the larger “merged endowment pool,” under which most gifts are invested, Columbia has not discovered any further losses. According to Hornsby, Columbia also does not have any funds managed by Ezra Merkin‘s fund Ascot Partners.

It is unknown how much of the law school endowment is represented by $3 million, as Columbia does not break down the endowment by school. Regardless, Columbia can now join the club of schools defrauded by Madoff, which also includes New York Law School ($2 million), Bard ($3 million), Yeshiva ($14.5 million), Tufts ($20 million), and NYU ($24 million).


Come holiday season, there’s a lot of hubbub about joy and all that jazz.  But here at Columbia the first two weeks of December are decidedly unjoyous times.  With visions of forthcoming finals dancing in our heads, at this point in the year, many of us have had it with academia. 

But today, Bwog brings you a reason to be thankful for the very scholarly stuff that has gotten you down lately.  Today, December 6th, 2008 marks the 75th anniversary of the court ruling that James Joyce’s Ulysses is not obscene.  And who was responsible for this admirable endorsement of the First Amendment and freedom of press? Why none other than Judge John M. Woolsey of Columbia Law School class of 1900.  Leave it to one of our own to champion the liberation, legality and love of literature — well done, Woolsey!

So as you slog through your annotated Ulysses tome today in Butler (Bwog’s completely dreading Kitcher‘s final too), remember and relish the liberation of this fine text!   

(Chief) Justice at the Law School

Did you know that John G. Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was at the Law School a few days ago judging the final round of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition? Neither did we.

But he was! Roberts and three other appeals court judges heard two cases presented by law students. The Times calls Roberts an “acknowledged master” of appellate argument, which Roberts explains as when “the judges are debating among themselves and just using the lawyers as a backboard. One of the real challenges for lawyers is to get involved in that debate.” (Bwog’s still fuzzy on the details.)

After Roberts finished critiquing the students, the other judges took their turn critiquing Roberts. “Two of the appeals court judges said the Supreme Court might work a little harder to establish clear principles.”

The article is a bit technical and hard to follow if you’re not law school-bound, though the law school’s own recap is not as jargony and features lots of photos. Imagine all this, right under our undergraduate noses.

Speaker Hop: Talk Like An Egyptian

Maged AbelazizBwog editor Pierce Stanley weighs in from the Egyptian Ambassador’s visit to the Law School.

While the Egyptian nation-state has been a sleeping giant in the game of international relations as of late, choosing to remain remarkably low-key in a region known for its instability, the Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations, Maged Abdelfattah Abdelaziz, has always exhibited a fiery charisma quite unlike that of the general malaise that has characterized Egyptian politics in recent days. An official who is known to speak his mind and act as he pleases, just months ago, Ambassador Abdelaziz was arrested by secret service agents outside of the UN for jumping a barricade without identifying himself and allegedly spitting on an agent as he resisted arrest. Indeed, the ambassador’s diplomatic career has been defined by such moments of candor, charisma, and awkwardness. (more…)