John Leo

· Lawyers are victims of bad publicity and society’s prejudices, according to Florida attorney Tod Aronovitz. As president of the Florida bar for 2002-2003, he was in a position to do something about it, so the bar committed $750,000 to a "Dignity in Law" public relations effort. Lawyer jokes have not yet been stamped out, but by May 2003, positive media coverage of lawyers had tripled, in large part because of the targeting of reporters who write about law, the bar reports.

· A high school student in Trento, Italy, faced with the prospect of having to repeat junior year because she failed math, hired a lawyer who argued that she was suffering from "irreversible psychological pathology," or math phobia. A regional court ruled that the condition made it impossible for her to study or master math and allowed the school to move her directly into senior year.

· Catherine Zeta-Jones and husband Michael Douglas sued the British magazine Hello! for publishing unauthorized photos of their wedding that allegedly made her look fat and frumpy. Zeta-Jones said she was devastated by the photos. Defense lawyers noted that the couple might be concerned about money: They had sold exclusive rights to photograph the ceremony to another magazine for $1.6 million.

· In February, a giant representation of the most prominent feature of male anatomy appeared on the Harvard campus, built out of snow by members of the men’s crew team. Amy Keel, class of ’04, decided that the snow sculpture was an assertion of male dominance as well as an implied threat to women. So she and her roommate knocked it down. In sympathy with the knock-down, Women’s Studies lecturer Diane Rosenfeld lamented that the sculpture follows on a long line of public phallic symbols, including the Washington Monument and missiles. Wendy Murphy, a lawyer and visiting scholar at Harvard Law School, deplored the administration’s silence: "What if students had built a snow sculpture of a Nazi swastika or a Confederate flag?" This may have been Harvard’s first suggestion that all men are born with the equivalent of a Nazi-Confederate symbol built right in.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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