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News Roundup—Law Students Sue Over Bad Grades; IP Partner Slaves for Madonna

Vivia Chen

February 10, 2012

 badgrade © istockphoto.comIf you flunked out of a low-ranking law school, wouldn't you just crawl into a black hole?  Personally, I would. But Karla Ford and Jonathan Chan, former students at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, are taking the opposite approach. They are suing the university's board of regents, the law school, and former adjunct professor Shelley Smith. Here's what The National Law Journal's Karen Sloan reports:

Both plaintiffs were 1Ls last year and took Smith's Contracts II course during the spring semester. Chan received a D- in the class, according to the complaint, while Ford received a D.

The law school requires students to maintain a 2.0 grade-point average at the end of their first year, and both plaintiffs were dismissed in September for failing to meet that standard, the complaint said.

Their complaint alleges that Smith "arbitrarily issued [the plaintiffs] a low grade, which was not based upon their performance on the examinations," reports the NLJ, and that Smith tried to "curve them out of the class."

Ford and Chan are seeking $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, and reinstatement to TSU law school. They are suing for breach of contract, infliction of emotional distress, defamation, slander, and libel.

Given the small amount of money they're seeking, it seems that their priority is to get back into the law school. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that both plaintiffs seem painfully sincere.

Chan told The Houston Chronicle (hat tip: Above the Law): "Coming from an Asian family, failing is a tough thing to bring up. . . . The only words I can think of are shameful and disgraceful." And Ford said to the newspaper: "Your dream doesn't stop because of something like this. . . . But, in my heart, this is where I want to be, what I want to do."

Sad, no? Frankly, I wish they'd just go after the bucks (not that I think they'll have an easy time of winning the case), then use the money for another pursuit—dental school, culinary institute, yoga lessons, whatever. How many ways can I tell you that being a lawyer isn't what it's cracked up to be?

Madonna is a role model for a Haynes and Boone partner. Well, why not? God knows we can use all the female role models we can find. Purvi Patel, the chair of Dallas's Haynes and Boone’s trademark practice group, volunteered backstage for Madonna's Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, reports the Texas Lawyer Blog. A diehard Madonna fan since she was 9 years old, Patel got the chance to watch the original Material Girl rehearse for a total of 11 hours in return for her physical labor.

So what did Patel get out of her volunteer work besides breathing the same air as her idol? "Patel says she admires Madonna even more after seeing her work ethic and her professionalism during rehearsals," reports the blog.

One question: Does volunteering for Madonna count toward pro bono?


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Why do they want to be reinstated to this law school? Or any other law school? They could do something much better with their lives.

Lawyers are as common as dirt.

Didn't this happen to Alfie, one of Caroline's sons on The Housewives of New Jersey...

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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