Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Open Thread: I hate my student loans

I hate my student loan payments with a passion. I also understand that it's mostly my fault that I got myself into this mess. I'm sure most of you are aware that law school tuition is on the rise. The ABA Journal is reporting that the average loan debt for graduates of private law schools is approximately $125,000. The average for graduates of public law schools is around $75,000.

The list of the five schools with the highest average student loan debt looks like this:

1) California Western School of Law, with average debt of $153,145.

2) Thomas Jefferson School of Law in California, with average debt of $153,006.

3) American University in Washington, D.C., with average debt of $151,318.

4) New York Law School, with average debt of $146,230.

5) Phoenix School of Law, with average debt of $145,357.

That sure seems like a lot of debt to me. Especially when you consider the average starting salary at law firms here in Nevada is probably around $70k? Remember, I said "average." So some firms pay more than that, some less.

Now, I'm not sure if any of you were lucky enough to be told this before attending law school, but student loan debt is almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. Your chances of winning $640 million in the Mega Millions lottery are probably better.

There's some concern that this is creating a "student loan bubble" that is sure to bust when all those students who can't find jobs start defaulting on all their loans.

Who's to blame for this mess? The law schools for charging such high tuition, knowing that their students will be saddled with crippling debt and a bleak employment outlook? The government for making it so difficult to discharge these debts? The students for being freaking idiots taking out huge loans without any guarantee that they'll be able to pay them back? Or should we just blame The Pentaverate?

- JD

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Updates!


These are more like "updates," so I won't try to pawn them off as "news":

Former Reno attorney and partner with McDonald Carano Wilson, Miranda Du was confirmed as a U.S. District Judge by the U.S. Senate yesterday.  Judge Du will be the first Asian Pacific American to serve on the federal bench in the Nevada. 

Righthaven is still in the news. Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson is facing a fine of $500 per day for Righthaven's failure to turn over financial information so its creditors can try to determine whether any assets exist for collection/execution.  And speaking of Gibson, a google search of his name comes up with a bunch of entertaining pictures.

Did I miss anything?  What else is going on out there?


The LVRJ is reporting that State Senator Mike Schneider has called for the creation of a legislative committee to "better regulate homeowners associations" and meet with the FBI and federal authorities, specifically to address what "is happening out there" following the deaths of four people associated with the ongoing federal HOA investigation (including Nancy Quon and David Amesbury, both of whom were found dead last week).

The LVRJ is also reporting that Nevada Senator Dean Heller has decided to block Clark County Judge Elissa Cadish from proceeding with the confirmation process of becoming a U.S. District Judge, and refuses to provide a reason for his decision to do so.  (Thanks for the tip, commenters!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Judge Kathy Hardcastle Retiring Effective April 13, 2012

According to the NV Supreme Court's Website, District Court Judge (Department 4), will be retiring on April 13, 2012.  Judge Hardcastle was a Deputy Public Defender in Las Vegas from 1991 until taking the bench on 1997. 

Anyone have any good Hardcastle stories they want to share?  Anyone know who's the favorite to take her place?

Monday, March 26, 2012

David Amesbury - Dead at 57

Las Vegas attorney David Amesbury, who last October pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and who agreed to cooperate with authorities in their HOA fraud and corruption scandal, and who was then been found badly beaten on the side of the road in Henderson just a few weeks later, has been found dead from an apparent suicide in Northern California.

This story really is becoming stranger than fiction.  A few of the related LVLB posts can be found: here, here, here and here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Las Vegas Attorney Recovering From Multiple Stab Wounds Received During A Home Invasion Robbery

As a commenter recently noted, Patrick Hicks, a shareholdler with Littler Mendelson, is recovering tonight (thankfully), from the multiple stab wounds he received when four males wearing hoods and masks, broke into his home (in a gated community with guards patrolling), at about 8:00 p.m. Friday night. 

Police said the suspects stole cash and jewelry from the home, and the robbery does not appear to be random.  The investigation is ongoing.

Local news coverage on this story can be found: here, here and here.

We hope the police make some arrests in this case quickly, and Patrick makes a full and speedy recovery.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Open Thread!


TGIF everyone!  Whats going on out there?  It's a slow news day, so I'll try to entertain you with this classic video.  Enjoy. 

Update- And, as a well-informed commented noted, UNLVino is also happening this weekend.  It looks like a good time, and it's for a good cause, so maybe you should check it out!* 

Image from: here

*Just remember, you must be at least 21 years of age to purchase wine or attend events involving wine or other alcoholic beverages. Las Vegas Law Blog promotes responsible drinking of alcoholic beverages. Do not drink and drive. Do not drink if you are under 21 years of age. Always drink responsibly and make healthy choices regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages.   

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nancy Quon - Dead At 51

As many of you undoubtedly imagined it would, the well-documented Nancy Quon story has a sad ending.  The LV Sun and LVRJ are both reporting that Quon was found dead earlier this afternoon in the bathtub of her Henderson condominium. 

The police apparently said they do not suspect foul play, but they would not discuss whether a suicide note was found.  The Clark County Coroner's Office probably won't have an official cause of death for six to eight weeks, until a toxicology report is completed.

As you might recall, Quon was the Las Vegas attorney being investigated by the FBI for allegedly rigging homeowner association elections, and she and her boyfriend - former Las Vegas Metro police officer William Ronald Webb Jr., were allegedly involved in a botched suicide/insurance fraud scheme in which Webb allegedly acquired drugs to help Quon stage what was to look like an accidental death and give her assets to her family (click here and here for previous related LVLB posts).  The charges from the alleged suicide/insurance fraud scheme were dismissed earlier this year; however, Quon was apparently just named in a class-action lawsuit filed over the homeowners association takeover scheme.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

MAC Means Perspective

So I received the photo above from a tipster a few days ago, and I thought I'd share it with the rest of you. In the tipster's own words: "What's up with MAC law's website? Check out this picture."

At first I thought the picture was a joke until I looked up Marquis Aurbach Coffing's website myself. Although it's not the first picture presented upon arriving at, after waiting for about 20 seconds for the photos to scroll, sure enough, there it is! Honestly, who doesn't enjoy a good office WRESTLING MATCH/TICKLE FIGHT?!!! I have to admit it's a bit refreshing to see that the partners over at MAC have enough of a sense of humor to use a photo like this. Most lawyers have websites that are humorless, straight to the point, and were probably designed during the infancy of the internets (I'm looking at you, Mr. Pitaro!).

What do you think about MAC's choice to use a photo like this? Too much? Not enough? I know it's not that big of a deal, but it's not every day that you see an established firm like MAC using such a goofy photo.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2013 US News and World Reports Law School Rankings

Image from: here
Although I'm sure everyone is well aware of the debate surrounding the methodology used to calculate these rankings, not to mention the debate on whether or not there is any practical utility for these rankings, they are undeniably amusing nonetheless.  Below is an incomplete list of the schools geographically closest to Las Vegas for your review and comment:  

#7 - University of California--Berkeley

#15 - University of California--Los Angeles

#18 - University of Southern California

#26 - Arizona State University

#29 - University of California--Davis

#39 - Brigham Young University

#43 - University of Arizona

#44 - University of Colorado--Boulder

#44 - University of California (Hastings)

#47 - University of Utah

#49 - Pepperdine University

#76 - University of Nevada--Las Vegas (2012 Rank = #71)

#96 - Santa Clara University

#101 - University of the Pacific (McGeorge) 

#106 - University of San Francisco

#110 - Chapman University

#129 - Southwestern Law School

- And, "a number of [other] law schools that are just as geographically proximate [to UNLV] that are ranked lower (in some cases, much much lower) than Boyd."

Gordon Silver Goes High Class!

It appears that Gordon Silver recently underwent a website make-over. I like the new look, except I'm not sold on the branding:  

 It strikes me as what would happen if a Porche logo and a Rolls Royce logo mated:


Anyway, does anyone know if they have they stopped bleeding associates yet?  How is the new Reno office doing?  How is Cristalli fitting in? 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Get Well Greg Hafen!

Image from: here
As a well-informed commenter just pointed out, Las Vegas attorney Greg Hafen was critically injured in a car accident Thursday morning.  Our thoughts are with Greg, his family and friends at this time, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery!

Judge Miley Involved in Backroom Dealings?

An interesting article in the Review-Journal implies that some type of backroom deal took place on Tuesday when Judge Stefany Miley held a Show Cause hearing as to why Jonathan MacArthur, who is running for a seat in North Las Vegas Justice Court, should not be held in contempt of Court. Jonathan MacArthur is represented by Las Vegas lawyer Thomas Pitaro, whose website was apparently created in the early 90's (the picture on his "About" page made me wonder whether Thomas Pitaro is an attractive middle aged woman until I saw the out-of-focus old man on the left). Apparently MacArthur failed to remain in court the previous day to represent his client in a probation revocation case and didn't "maintain appropriate courtroom decorum."

This article wouldn't be interesting, except Miley held a meeting with Pitaro in chambers, cancelled the hearing and then never returned to the bench to explain what had happened, to the dismay of the media and observers in attendance. Pitaro refused to comment after the hearing and MacArthur pulled a Houdini by "slipping out a side door." Miley later issued a written order taking the hearing off calendar.

How do you think Miley handled this? Is Pitaro one of the most persuasive lawyers in Las Vegas? Or maybe just the scariest? Who is going to volunteer to bring Pitaro's website into the 2010's? These questions will haunt me until I get some answers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Las Vegas Attorney Barry Levinson "A Substantial Threat To The Public?"

Image from: here

According to the LV Sun, Las Vegas attorney Barry Levinson is under fire from the State Bar of Nevada for allegedly "repeatedly misappropriated funds and has compounded his misconduct by repeatedly lying to clients and the State Bar regarding his delay in disbursing funds to the appropriate parties. . . . Levinson's lies, combined with his failure to cooperate, constitute an obstruction to the State Bar's investigation, as does Levinson's failure to provide information requested."  Ouch!

Essentially, the Bar is alleging that Levinson was running a ponzi scheme with client settlement funds - paying funds from more recent settlements to clients with cases that had previously settled.

According to the article, the bar called attorney Barry Levinson a "substantial threat" to the public and said it wants the Nevada Supreme Court to issue a "swift and immediate suspension" of his license while the bar conducts formal disciplinary proceedings against him.

The article also mentions that Levinson denies any wrongdoing and that he plans to issue a formal response disputing the Bar's allegations.

Regardless of the outcome in this case, I guess the lessons here are that Bar does not mess around when it comes to: (1) the handling of client funds; and (2) issuing timely responses to its inquiries.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Victoria Villegas "No Longer With" the Clark County Prosecutor's Office!

According to District Attorney Steve Wolfson, Victoria Villegas, was "no longer with" the Clark County Prosecutor's office as of Tuesday of this week.  It's unclear whether Villegas was fired, but we do know that she is the estranged wife of attorney David Amesbury (see our previous posts here and here), and that she was being investigated by the feds for her possible connection with alleged fraud and corruption related to Las Vegas Valley homeowners associations and the Courthouse Cafe scandal.

Friday Open Thread: Get More Sleep!

So I have been neglecting the blog for the past couple of weeks, and for that I apologize. I've been busy with work (weird, right?) and I haven't been getting much sleep lately. Speaking of lawyers not getting much sleep, it appears that the legal profession is the second-most sleep deprived profession out there according to the national "Health Interview Survey." On average, lawyers get around seven hours of sleep.

The good news is, we only get one minute less than police officers and two minutes less than doctors. I feel like we can do better than this, you guys! If we just try a bit harder, we can definitely beat "forest and logging workers" who average seven hours and twenty minutes.

Anyway, while I go take a twenty-minute nap, what else is going on out there in the legal world?


(Image from here)