Nine Gifts for the Law Nerd in Your Life

(1) This disappearing civil liberties mug:

When you pour hot liquid into it, the Bill of Rights disappears. What is the symbolic significance of the hot liquid? Does it represent poverty or corruption or, I don’t know, opulence or something? I’ve put two or three solid minutes of thought into this important question and am still undecided. Continue reading

Can Smoking Legal Weed Get You Fired?

Medical Marijuana via Mark on Flickr

Medical Marijuana

Pot is now legal in a bunch of states. Twenty-three, in fact, have legalized some form of medical marijuana, with four other states (and maybe DC) also permitting recreational use. But don’t get too excited just yet, because while these new laws may prevent you from getting arrested for marijuana use, they won’t necessarily prevent you from getting fired — even if you’re only using it in your off time.

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Hobby Lobby and Student Loans?

In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, wherein the highest court in the land affirmed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to closely held corporations (i.e., some 90% of corporations employing over 50% of private employees), that closely held corporations can have sincere religious beliefs, and that those beliefs allow them to opt-out of the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate, one lawyer has a pretty neat idea. Can such an exemption apply to student loans?  Continue reading

Nothing Can Protect You From the Wrath of Student Loan Servicers — Not Even Paying Your Bills

I’m 31 years old and have a good job as a lawyer in Manhattan. I’ve reached the point in my life where I can afford my monthly student loan payments, with a little help from my law school, and also afford to finance a tiny co-op somewhere in the outskirts of Brooklyn or Queens. So, I’ve made it, right?

Except I can’t borrow so much as a dime. I have terrible credit, despite the fact that I’ve never failed to pay a bill in my life. The only debt I’ve ever had is from law school. Like a good fiscally responsible adult, I’ve always paid those bills on time, always paying more than my monthly minimums to try and pay them off more quickly. Continue reading

How A Quirk of the Equal Pay Act Causes Some Women to Miss Out

President Obama promised in his 2014 State of the Union address to fight unequal pay between men and women in America. While the statistics are often debated, there is no question that women in the US do often make less than men for the same work. While President Obama has outlined an agenda for addressing this problem, there’s one thing he hasn’t addressed, which has stymied a number of people who come to my office asking for help. A bizarre intersection of two laws has resulted in numerous people, who think they are doing everything right to protect their rights, completely losing their ability to sue under the Equal Pay Act—precisely the law designed to effectuate the equality the President was talking about. Before the President starts up too many task forces, maybe he should consider simply ensuring that people are able to use the laws already on the books. Continue reading