Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Squeaky Wheel Got the Grease, But It's Going to Fall Off: The End of the Road for the Pacers

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease: that's what my grandmother always told me when I was growing up, and she certainly led by example. However, the important point she taught me was that you shouldn't abuse the opportunity to "squeak." Paul George and the Indiana Pacers did just that by complaining about the foul differential about the Heat in their post-game press conferences after Game 4. That wasn't the reason you guys got blown out, Paul, and there were really only one or two bad calls that didn't change the game meaningfully at all.

To be clear, the reason the Heat fouled way less than the Pacers was because they played with much more intensity, effort, focus, and just general crispness. I know it's a popular trope to say that LeBron gets superstar calls, and he does sometimes; however, far more often, LeBron doesn't get the same kind of touch fouls or other types of loose ball or open court fouls that other players (far less "superstar" caliber players) get. Kevin Durant seems to get a heck of a lot more calls than LeBron, especially on his drives. This is because Durant is simply less of a physical presence, and so fouls look worse against him. LeBron is such an athletic freak that some of those touch fouls barely bother him or alter the course of a shot; but, when the tables are turned, those touch fouls go against LeBron.

Four out of the five fouls called against LeBron were absolutely egregious:

After watching the referees needlessly ruin Game 5 with terrible foul calls against LeBron, it's pretty clear that there must have been some motivation to rectify the foul disparity at any cost. Once LeBron picked up his third foul and had to sit out a large portion of the first half, the refs relentlessly continued calling stupid fouls against him. The charge call against Paul George who literally was on one leg having leaped in front of LeBron off-balance is a textbook blocking foul in that scenario. Meanwhile, with the Pacers only even somewhat successful strategy (publicly and privately) being to frustrate LeBron with Stephenson's childish antics, the refs chose not to call obvious flops by Stephenson (especially after the 5th foul was called):

How this play wasn't called a flop is crazy to me; Stephenson should have been given at least three technical fouls over the course of the game and been ejected after the second, but that didn't happen. The NBA needs to send a message that such antics will not be tolerated because all it does is tarnish the brand and product that they are putting on the court. (Yes, Heat players have been guilty of flopping at times too, but nothing this terrible and this persistent accompanied by other childish antics). At very least, Stephenson needs to be fined twice for this game, and should possibly even be suspended for a game (and might be if this were not the postseason or if Frank Vogel had any control over his team). Maybe in his game off, he can fly to New York and practice tying his shoes with JR Smith while they blow in each other's ears.

Heat fans are certainly not going to get any sympathy about calls, but that narrative is backwards and broken. LeBron is hurt by the things that make him a superstar (his athleticism, speed, and size) more than the fringe benefits of being a superstar (getting "superstar" calls). At crucial times, he doesn't get the calls that a "superstar" would get. That would be OK normally, but there's been a huge overcorrection and overcompensation for his perceived superstar treatment. Time to get back to reality, Ed Malloy and company...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

No Donovan on World Cup Squad

The lack of Landon Donovan on the U.S. Squad for the World Cup in Brazil this summer will be strange for U.S. Soccer fans who are used to him being the face of the sport in the country for the last decade or so. Klinsmann really made quite a bold call here, but ultimately he may have made the correct one. He wanted people who were hungry; and between Donovan's age, his sabbatical from the sport this winter, and apparent "sluggishness" in training, Klinsmann doubted not only Donovan's fit within his plan for the World Cup, but also his waning athletic ability and leadership. He didn't need a figurehead for the new era of U.S. Soccer, but instead wanted to find a new face for the team because Donovan simply wouldn't cut it if they wanted anything more than Pyrrhic victories.

It's still quite possible that a player gets injured or something in the run-up to the first game against Ghana, and Donovan gets called up. This simply isn't the U.S. team we're used to seeing though, with no Onyewu, no Bocanegra, and plenty of other veteran mainstays of the team no longer on the squad.

Donovan will be missed, and will always be a U.S. Soccer legend:

So, You Just Graduated...Now What?

So, Yosepha wrote generally about what to start thinking about now that you've graduated from college and how the InGenius Prep former admissions officers and graduate coaches can help you chart out and execute on any of your goals whether they involve law school, medical school, business school, or any number of careers.

If you need help with your resume, interview preparation, cover letter writing, or just general advice, the InGenius team has someone incredibly qualified and talented who can help you on a moment's notice. We have helped students get jobs in law, finance, consulting, film, talent representation, and dozens of other professions. Similarly, we've helped students get into medical school, law school, business school, Ph.D programs, and masters programs in a variety of different fields.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Response to Racial Claims About Admissions

This article was originally posted on the InGenius Prep Brain Blog in response to Professor Tim Groseclose's claims about California public universities knowingly violating state laws prohibiting affirmative action:
While Professor Tim Groseclose is probably onto something by stating that public universities in California and elsewhere are violating a state law that prohibits affirmative action on the basis of racial difference, what he is articulating is more obvious and much less invidious than his data and inside experience reveals. The basic idea behind the most recent and most prominent constitutional challenges to affirmative action policies (challenges to schools like the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Law School’s holistic and “plus factor” admissions processes) is that race can be considered as part of a holistic review of a potential candidate because it serves a compelling governmental interest. While the Supreme Courts’ advocates of affirmative action policies are split on what exactly that compelling interest is (diversity? cross-racial understanding? access to paths of leadership?), it’s pretty clear that holistic review that includes race is at least constitutionally acceptable.
The state law in question here, like the Michigan amendment that was recently challenged, is the opposite situation. In these cases, the Supreme Court has held that it is constitutional for a state to express the policy prerogative that affirmative action should be prohibited in its public universities. I’m not familiar with Groseclose’s political preference on affirmative action and I’m not taking a stance on the issue myself in this article, but the data that Groseclose posts on his website and that is available elsewhere is pretty compelling that there is an empirically proven trend in these “holistic reviews” that tend to discriminate against or in favor of particular groups. For instance, Asian-Americans seem to be capped at a certain level at many schools at a certain “quota.” And, as Groseclose claims, black students are “illegally” (to use his words) given a boost in the admissions process. Several of former admissions officers at InGenius Prep have denied that this sort of “lying” (as Groseclose calls it) goes on, but acknowledge that the data reveals a discernible, yet not so surprising trend. Moreover, although I don’t have personal experience in an admissions office, in any kind of holistic review I’ve ever engaged in, there have been certain factors that I have privileged to the prejudice of others, so this isn’t necessarily “lying” in my mind.
Of course, this type of quota has been ruled unconstitutional since the Supreme Court’s decision in Bakke, but it seems to still happen in practice. This is the kind of tongue-in-cheek “not affirmative action,” but really affirmative action that Groseclose is trying to reveal. For most people familiar with the law on this issue, the fact that holistic review can often skew heavily in the direction of certain factors like race is a foregone conclusion; it’s like saying politics is heavily influenced by campaign funds and political contributions. Then again, some of the world’s most prominent scholars–such as Harvard Law School’s Larry Lessigtackle this seemingly obvious subject, so maybe it’s not quite as obvious as I’m assuming.
The moral of the story for applicants here is to understand that holistic review is generally the norm, at least on a de facto basis, regardless of what state you are in or what state the school you are applying to is in. The admissions experts at InGenius Prep know how to make you stand out in such a holistic review, no matter your creed, color, interests, preferences, or background.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Video from InGenius Prep

Check out our new animated video explaining the InGenius edge in less than two minutes:

Visit InGenius to find out about all of the InGenius Deans that can help you achieve your dreams.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Heat-Pacers Series Update

Miami hasn't looked like its dominant self against the Pacers. Wade's been good, but LeBron is due for a Game 6 Boston style LeBron game, and Bosh has been mediocre.

 The Pacers having their "overcoming adversity" moments in the earlier rounds of the Playoffs, but ultimately making it to the Eastern Conference Finals was something I feared because it would give them a renewed sense of confidence that they would be able to actually beat the Heat despite all their recent struggles. That's what makes Game 3 so important. The Heat got the split they wanted, and now they need to put the Pacers backs against the walls and put them in crisis mode. While the Heat have gone down in plenty of series (including against the Pacers and the Big Three era Celtics), the Pacers probably don't have the same level of resiliency against a world-class team like the Heat.

I expect LeBron to bring a sense of urgency to protecting home court, which the Heat wastefully squandered when the Pacers had all but handed it to them at the close of the regular season. A Greg Oden appearance, even for a few minutes, might help to spell Haslem and Birdman and give the Heat the little bit of boost they need to feel like they can compete with the Pacers size. The bigs, including Oden, don't need to be impact players; they simply need to box out and grab defensive rebounds so that LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the other role players don't feel like they need to take on the incredibly onerous burden of grabbing all the boards and bodying up big guys like West and Hibbert.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Estate Planning: Issues with Trustee Selection

There are several potential tax issues to consider when selecting a trustee that is a beneficiary of the trust or the spouse. If your son/daughter is named trustee (or co-trustee), a distribution made to anyone else could be considered a taxable gift unless there is an ascertainable standard built into the trust instrument. This is a situation we would want to avoid. Because the trust would likely be set up in such a way that the child could authorize distributions to herself as trustee or co-trustee, the trust might be considered a §678 grantor trust subjecting her to serious income tax liability (which the ascertainable standard would not solve, but a jointly exercisable power of appointment could).

Aside from tax consequences, the child might not be the best suited to make objective decisions of the application or use of trust assets (despite the possibility that she is more than qualified to do so). This might not be a position that the parents want to put the child in (including the attendant fiduciary duties and potential liability therefrom). However, if a professional (lawyer, or professional trustee) and the child were to serve as co-trustees, many of these adverse potential consequences could be ameliorated with sophisticated trust instruments and a clear division of responsibilities. The family member's opinion and input on important distribution decisions can be a helpful guide to the professional trustee or lawyer in serving as a qualified, independent trustee. In either case, once both parents ass away, the importance of a professional trustee for the irrevocable trust(s) will be even more important than before because astute and prudent allocation of assets are critical to prevent potential losses to other beneficiaries in the form of tax and lost opportunity for appreciation of assets.

Note: it’s also important to verify the state in which each trustee is a resident in order to avoid unnecessary state tax issues. We would draft a standard savings clause to protect against this, but there is no such thing as undue prudence.


None of this should be construed or relied upon as legal advice. The author is not a lawyer, and does not purport to bet. This is merely a discussion of issues that arise in trustee selection.

Heat Win in 5, As Predicted

Miami pulled it off in 5, just as I predicted in my post earlier last week.

Here's the play that essentially ended Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnetts' NBA careers...unfortunately, for them, they didn't really have anything to do with it:

LeBron was simply incredible, despite the quadruple-teams and strong traps he was commanding all night. The shooters, ranging from Ray Allen to Big Shot Bosh really pulled through in the clutch.

Birdman had some incredible tip out rebounds early in the game. His athleticism might be waning, but his effort certainly isn't. I really hope he can continue to contribute at this incredible leave. if he stays in Miami next year. For reference, he has one of the highest PERs in the Playoffs behind a couple of superstars. He's an incredibly underrated player, and will be key to the Heat's championship aspirations.

Bring on the Wizards.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Estate Planning: Mechanisms for Large Lifetime Non-Cash Gifts

Making lifetime taxable gifts is an invaluable estate planning strategy for a high net worth family. These strategies can range from utilizing the annual exclusion strategically to more complicated strategies involving GRATs, Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts, installment sales, and plenty of other context-dependent alternatives. For a high net worth family, the advantages of these strategies will almost always outweigh the disadvantages because their cumulative net worths far exceed the unified credit amount and because losing the use of the cash that might be necessary in paying gift tax for a certain period of time will likely not have a meaningful effect on their financial condition. In the current market, the rate of return available for that cash is not so high as to make the loss of that liquidity a very important consideration. The other potential disadvantage to consider is the fact that testamentary gifts have a stepped-up income tax basis whereas lifetime gifts retain the donor's basis. For a high net worth family with responsible children, there would seem to be no foreseeable problems with regard to mismanagement of any lifetime gifts by their children or any problems with regard to dis-incentivizing their children to work because they are all for the most part successful, motivated, and responsible from the information that has been provided to us.

The best option for the X family to make gifts in one of the following manners. I provide a brief explanation of each option and the mechanics and advantages of each. The ideal option, though, is the intentionally defective grantor trust with the appropriate and optimal allocation of lifetime gift and GST exemption. This option is best because it will keep all future appreciation out of the estate, thereby saving a ton of money at death. It is even possible to fully fund the childrens’ inheritance during the parents' lifetime. The intentionally defective grantor trust is the best option because it has the best risk profile legally and economically speaking and allows the most flexibility and efficiency (especially in terms of GST planning).

a. GRAT -

A GRAT is an irrevocable trust to which a donor contributes assets (can be company stock, cash, or any number of other financial interests) but retains the right to receive an annuity for a specified term. The remainder of the trust property passes to the remainder beneficiaries chosen by the donor (in this, case, the children). As long as some very specific IRS (§2702) and Treasury regulations are strictly adhered to, the GRAT would let the parents transfer property (such as their Company stock) at a negligible gift tax cost because that gift tax cost is calculated by the FMV of the property transferred to the GRAT minus the present value of the retained annuity payment right. Structured properly, the trust instrument makes this amount is as close to zero as possible. A critical consideration here beyond the drafting of the instrument is how long of a term we choose for the parents'' GRAT; if the parents' don't survive the specified term, the result will not quite be punitive, but will return us back to the status quo estate tax circumstances. A 5-year term seems reasonable, but we'll need to have some slightly more sensitive conversations with the parents about their health should we choose to go this route. Because of the strict rules related to a GRAT and possible complications that could be caused by company stock, the GRAT might not be the most flexible or best option here. For instance, if the Company goes public and the Board decides to issue a dividend, that dividend cannot accrue to the trust without jeopardizing its status. A GRAT works best when the trust term is structured to capture the immense upturn in value in the company (company's) stock and exceed the §7520 rate. Usually, we would only fund a GRAT with a single asset instead of a mix of assets (or create multiple GRATs holding each asset). Also, GST cannot be allocated to the GRAT at the time of its creation, so the beneficiaries shouldn't be grandchildren.

b. Installment Sale -

The installment sale option is a strategy by which parentswould transfer title to their property in exchange for a promissory note that stipulates a payment schedule over a certain length of time. Regarding the company stock interest, timing would be important in the execution of this option because a sale of a marketable security cannot be reported on an installment basis (losing the tax benefit of the entire scheme).

Like the GRAT option, if the seller dies before the note is paid, the note will be included in the seller's estate and taxed accordingly at its FMV. Valuation of the property appropriately is extremely important in order to avoid unintended gift tax consequences and having the IRS re-characterize the transaction in a most unpleasant and most unfavorable way. There is also the possibility that other trust assets would be liable on the promissory note involved if the primary asset (Company stock) declines in value.

c. IDGT -

The Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust strategy, which I would recommend, combines all of the benefits of the aforementioned options while retaining more flexibility in estate planning. An Intentionally Defective Grantor trusts involves some aspects of the installment sale strategy, but will allows the parents'' to sell their property to the trust without any negative income tax implications (regardless of whether grantor is a beneficiary himself/herself or receives any benefit from it). Of course, just as in the installment sale explanation above, the installment note involved would have to be regarded by the IRS as having the indicia of genuine debt. The IDGT should hold some assets other than the purchased property in order to have a source for note payments other than income from the purchased property to avoid complications. In order to maximally take advantage of the possible upside in their company stock, their basic QTIP plan should include the creation of multiple separate QSTTs for the children. The children should be appropriately advised of the requirement that they elect for those trusts to qualify as QSTTs.


Note: Nothing on this blog should be construed as legal advice. Rather, it is a discussion of various mechanisms that might achieve a particular end from a non-lawyer source. This is merely for comparative purposes, not advisory. This advice should not be relied on as expert knowledge in any way.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Law School Interview Preparation with InGenius Prep

When you sign up for the InGenius Prep Platinum interview package, here is what will happen:

Within about 24 hours - usually much quicker than that - you will be contacted by your Graduate Coach - a current student or recent graduate of a top law school and, usually, if you indicated it to us, your preferred law school or the law school whose interview you are preparing for. Right off the bat, you will schedule times for your 3 mock interviews: 2 with your Graduate Coach and 1 total dress rehearsal one with a seasoned former admissions officer with extensive interview experience - again, usually from the school whose interview you are preparing for.
If you haven’t already sent us whatever application materials you have, your personal counseling team will gather it from you now so they can prepare to ask you specific questions based on your application. Of course, throughout your package, you’ll have full e-mail support from your counseling team.

Your mock interviews will run as follows: You will meet by video chat - or phone, if that is preferred - and the Graduate Coach will give you an opportunity to ask any initial questions before the interview begins. The mock interview will last 15 minutes - the approximate length of actual law school interviews - in which the Graduate Coach will ask you the sorts of questions you will likely get on your actual interview. The entire interview will be recorded for your reference. After the interview, the Graduate Coach will give you detailed and constructive feedback - on everything from the content of your answers to your tone, style, and body language.  A second interview - conducted after some time for reflection or immediately  - will help you improve upon your initial interview ...practice makes perfect. It, too, will be followed by a second round of constructive feedback

After your two mock interviews and feedback discussions with your Graduate Coach, you are ready for the big leagues... to meet with the former admissions officer who him or herself conducted the admissions interviews just a couple years ago. The interview will be followed by constructive feedback from the admissions officer, who will also give you a crucial insider perspective on exactly what the admissions interviewers look for and how exactly you can deliver just that in your interview.

After your interviews, you will feel a heightened sense of confidence and preparedness. You will have a better sense of what the law school interviewer is looking to hear and a better sense of how to present yourself. You’ll be ready to ace your interview!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Estate Planning: The Benefits of Lifetime Trusts

The primary advantages of using lifetime trusts in estate planning for a very wealthy family are the estate tax efficiencies, the assistance in managing money for the children, income tax flexibility, and creditor protection. While their concern about being paternalistic is a common one, we can create the trusts such that the requirements are not overbearing in that sense while still retaining the positive features that would normally lead one to use such a strategy.

First, there are important estate tax efficiencies that are gained from utilizing lifetime trusts because of GST allocation problems and the avoidable problem of having to calculate taxes by aggregating personal net worth of the children with the inherited amount from the estate. Using trusts to assign certain assets directly to grandchildren (which might be a good idea in Jonathan’s case because he looks like he won’t be needing money from his parents in his lifetime) without subjecting those assets to a second round of estate taxation is very valuable.

Second, the practical consideration of managing the money in the estate after the survivor’s death is not one to be overlooked. A trustee is a professional subject to standards of prudent investing who can be trusted to make sound financial decisions for beneficiaries. Here, there doesn’t seem to be any overwhelming concern because of the relative success and responsibility-level of each of the children. In fact, Jonathan seems like he might do much better than a professional investor, and the girls might certainly perform or exceed that type of performance. However, the paternalism concerns can be balanced here by providing for mandatory (or completely discretionary) distributions or requiring a certain amount of the trust corpus to be wholly distributed by a certain age (or any permutation thereof). Trusts are incredibly flexible and can be adapted to almost any circumstance. For instance, if Sabrina wanted to take money out for a down payment on her first house, she could request it from the trustee who would almost certainly not unreasonably withhold (as long as the trust instrument was written to provide for such a contingency).

Third, the paternalism concerns also should be balanced by the desire to protect assets from creditors; this could be relevant in the case of divorce, professional liability (malpractice liability risk for Beth), and any kind of freak accident. Also, in the unfortunate case where one of the children suffers from a debilitating illness or disability and needs assistance form government agencies, a trust can help beneficiaries from losing access to those benefits.

Fourth, the use of a lifetime trust provides a significant amount of income tax flexibility by not forcing the beneficiaries to be responsible for a huge tax bill on a lump sum inheritance or on income generated by assets they inherit.

Of course, the avoidance of probate and the flexibility of a trust instrument (especially with a decanting provision) are critical benefits with which I am sure you are already well acquainted.

Note: I am not a lawyer yet, and nothing on this blog should be construed as legal advice; it is merely policy analysis of certain aspects of estate planning.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Versatility of John Legend

John Legend an appropriately named legend. His versatility is incredible, as his covers of all-time classics like Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark and Adele's Rolling in the Deep demonstrate. I don't know too many other people that could cover that kind of range of styles and still retain his/her own voice in the cover. Legend, of course, covers Luther Vandross and Motown titans, as he might be expected to, but his versatility in covering modern songs, starring in EDM and hip hop tracks, and covering a range of artists is truly incredible.

Here are some of his lesser-known, but still awesome covers:

Here's a couple examples of John Legend starring in great hip hop tracks;

And EDM:

He is simply, the man.

The Value of Application Counseling

Successful applications are more than the sum of their parts. All of the components - your personal statement, supplementary essays, resume, addenda-- need to speak together in one voice about who you are as a candidate. These packages will help you develop that crucial application persona by teasing out the most impressive version of you and getting it on paper.  

When you sign up for one of our application counseling packages, you’re getting our start-to-finish, comprehensive assistance on all of your application needs. If you haven’t started your applications yet, are struggling with coming up with a good personal statement topic, still haven’t put together your law school resumes, or don’t know what you’ll write for a supplemental essay, these are the packages for you. In our application counseling packages, we’ll tailor our packages so they’re just right for you. We’ll brainstorm, edit, revise, and then do it all again until your application is the best possible reflection of you .

Saturday, May 10, 2014

SAT Sneak Attack: How Computer Geniuses Hack, Beat, and Cheat America's Most Feared Exam

How Computer Geniuses Hack, Beat and Cheat America’s Most Feared Exam
By Peter Wayner

Two students take the SAT. One uses a brain, a pencil and scratch paper. The other uses all of these, plus a dictionary, math assistant, concierge and advisor. Who wins? Today’s high school students feel the pressure to succeed on standardized tests like no other generation. In this short ebook journalist Peter Wayner uncovers how a group of elite students use tools that are allowed by the College Board, and by repurposing them, get close to that elusive perfect score.

By bending the rules these students easily beat the SAT at its own game, making the playing field unlevel. Many wonder how relevant the SATs are in the age of super-cramming and endless tutoring sessions, and this book will add fuel to that argument. SAT Sneak Attack reveals the exam’s open secret and is a must-read for those who want to know how clever computer hacks beat the test.

About Peter Wayner
Peter Wayner is a journalist with 20 years of experience writing for the New York Times, InfoWorld, Wired, Technology Review and other major publications. He’s also the author of more than 15 books on diverse topics like steganography, digital cash, open source software and autonomous cars. For more information, see

About SAT Sneak Attack
Paper: 5.5” x 8.5” (13.97 x 21.59 cm), 38 pages
ISBN-10: 1492868948
ISBN-13: 978-1492868941
Kindle ASIN: B00J2650ZS
$9.99 (Print), $4.99 (Kindle)
March 16, 2014
Available from Amazon and CreateSpace
Genres: Nonfiction, education, college admissions