April 2014

* Corporate associates, listen up: sometimes that mind-numbing due diligence actually matters. Sometimes. [The Recorder]
* Oooh, we no likee. Will this prevent us from forwarding embarrassing summer associate emails to 50 of our closest friends? [WSJ Law Blog]
* What the “Burning Man” cultural festival shares in common with a law firm: “It’s a very intense place. People sometimes have a meltdown.” [Law.com]
* Can someone please invite us to some cool lawyer parties? Like ones with models ‘n stuff? Please? [Wonkette]
* Stuart Rabner, New Jersey’s next attorney general (barring something totally unforeseen), really is as great as everyone says he is. (Disclosure: We’ve worked with him.) [Philadelphia Inquirer; New Jersey Law Journal; Harvard Law Bulletin]

musical chairs above the law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFA few job changes that didn’t make it into our earlier round-up:
Lateral Moves:
* Litigator Walter Loughlin, to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham, from Latham & Watkins.
* Tax lawyer Robert Miller, to Greenberg Traurig, from Intel.
New Partners:
* Fried Frank: Tax lawyer Brian Kniesly and corporate lawyer David Shaw.
Anyone have any good tidbits about these folks? Something cute, amusing, and preferably non-libelous? If so, please email us (subject line: “Musical Chairs”).
NY Attorneys on the Move [NYLawyer.com]

letter writing.jpgTime for another installment of Advice for the Lawlame, the closest thing that Above the Law has to an “advice column.” We take the questions submitted to NYLawyer.com’s popular advice columns, including “Advice for the Lawlorn,” and offer our own take on them.
(We’ve been at this for quite some time now. For the Advice for the Lawlame archives, click here, then scroll down.)
Here’s today’s query:

The partner I work with is seen as strange by the rest of the firm. How do I avoid being tarred by the same brush?

HA, tell us about it. Back when we were in private practice, we ended up as biatch to the weirdest partner in the whole damn place. So this is a question we’re well-equipped to answer.
More details from the query, plus our “advice,” after the jump (click on the “continue reading” link below).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Advice for the Lawlame: My Senior Partner Is a Freak Show”

dr evil pinky finger.jpgIt’s been kind of a slow week, what with the upcoming Labor Day holiday and all. So today’s Lawsuit of the Day — by the way, these “of the Day” features aren’t exactly daily, just whenever we feel like it — isn’t that ridiculous.
Here it is (via the New York Law Journal):

A medical student who injured his pinky horsing around in the snow and then sued a state hospital for malpractice has lost his case in the Court of Claims.

Judge S. Michael Nadel said David Kern could not establish a prima facie case of malpractice, in part because his own expert — a neurologist on the faculty of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, where the claimant was studying — gave the court next to nothing to work with.

The weakness of plaintiff’s expert testimony was the biggest problem with the case. But this didn’t exactly help matters:

Mr. Kern admitted that he had taken part in a SUNY talent show just weeks after the injury–a videotape introduced by the defendant showed him playing the piano and singing a rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” at the show…

“Free Bird”? It’s all over. That’s a pretty challenging song. Remember when Bo Bice sang it on “American Idol”?
(Any Beverly Hills 90210 fans out there? This reminds us of the time that Brenda (Shannen Doherty) got into a car accident with the lady who claimed she got a serious case of whiplash. Brenda goes over to the lady’s house to apologize, and sees the lady aerobicizing in her living room — sans neck brace!!! That episode was classic…)
Hey look, don’t get us wrong; the main problem here was with plaintiff’s expert testimony. We’re not belittling all lawsuits over injured pinky fingers. After all, we’d be screwed without ours; we love the semicolon!
And don’t forget Dr. Evil. If you injured his pinky finger, the compensatory damages could amount to… 1 MILLION DOLLARS!!!
Claim Over Med Student’s Hurt Pinky Denied [New York Law Journal]

Thanks to all of you who are already sending in tips to our inbox. Keep it up! The good-natured fun of ATL isn’t possible without your help. So go ahead, email us something interesting or amusing.
One of you kindly drew our attention to this lawyer advertisement, which is our basis for awarding Colorado Springs plaintiffs’ lawyers Kirk McCormick and James Murphy our coveted Lawyer of the Day prize.
It seems like the advertisment has been around for a while. But we haven’t seen or read about it before today, so we’ll pass it along to you (via parenthetical statement):
jesus saves christian law firm.jpg
Tony Sciascia of Parenthetical Statement is offended:

I saw this print advertisement for lawyers in a Colorado Springs phone book. It immediately made my mouth agape, shocked and horrified by either such bigotry or such blatant pandering to the Focus on the Family geared residents of the Springs.

What do you think? Is this legal? Is it ethical? Perhaps not — but even if it’s neither of those, it’s certainly tacky and speaks volumes of the persons who would create such divisive, insulting advertising.

We’re less upset. We wouldn’t want to be represented by you anyway, McCormick & Murphy.
For personal injury work, we hire only Jews.*
jesus saves [parenthetical statement]
McCormick & Murphy, PC [actually, not very "PC" at all]
* The same goes for M&A work. (Disclosure: We used to work here.)

musical chairs above the law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFMusical Chairs is our summary of the most important or interesting moves within the legal profession. We read through the announcements (and pick out the high points), so you don’t have to.
If you have good gossip about any of these job changes and the players involved, or forthcoming announcements, please drop us a line (subject line: “Musical Chairs”).
Lateral Moves:
* Patrick Collins and Peter Stergios, to McCarter & English (in New York), from Greenberg Traurig.
* Dennis Duffy, to Baker Botts (in Houston), from Time Warner Inc.
Returning Attorneys:
Kelley Drye & Warren: Former partner John Kiley, back from online retailer TechSmart, and former associate Jean Park, also from TechSmart. Kiley will co-chair the firm’s labor and employment practice, and Park comes in as a partner.
Firms Bolster Labor and Employment Practices [NYLawyer.com]
Time Warner VP Settles in at Firm [NYLawyer.com]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWelcome to Above the Law’s Skaddenfreude: Totally Gauche Ogling of Other Lawyers’ Incomes. We all know that lawyers can’t stop talking about their work — and, of course, how much they get paid for that work. Skaddenfreude brings that talk out in the open (and onto the internet). Each week we’ll pass along some of the juicy compensation information we’ve received.
Here’s how it will work. If you’d be willing to participate, please email us (subject line: “Skaddenfreude”), with as much of the following information as possible:

(1) your name;

(2) when you graduated from law school (for seniority purposes);

(3) title (e.g., partner, associate, assistant U.S. attorney, public interest staff attorney);

(4) where you work (employer and city);

(5) practice area;

(6) your annual income;

(7) any explanatory comments about that income (e.g., whether your income includes a bonus, what that bonus was for, etc.); and

(8) how hard you work (estimated annual billables or actual billables, for firm lawyers; hours worked or “typical workday,” for others)

We’ll publish selected entries, trying to cover a range of employers (public and private sector), geographical areas, and seniority levels. How frequently Skaddenfreude will appear depends on you, our readers, and how much data you submit to us.
We need complete information — including your name and your employer’s name — for some assurance that your submission is accurate and authentic. But when we publish, we’ll anonymize you, omitting your name and your employer’s name. Here are what typical entries might look like (these are fictionalized, for demonstration purposes only):

(1) corporate associate, class of ’99, at a large firm (200+ lawyers) in a major city: $250,000 ($220,000 base and $30,000 merit bonus);

(2) litigation partner, class of ’95, at a midsize firm (50-200 lawyers) in a midsize city: $200,000;

(3) assistant U.S. attorney, class of ’98, in a midsize city: $82,000;

(4) staff attorney, class of ’01, at a public interest organization in a large city: $45,000;

(5) tax partner, class of ’90, at a large firm (200+ lawyers) in a major city: $550,000;

(6) law professor, class of ’98, at a top 25 law school in a major city: $105,000.

If you are drooling in anticipation of this dirt, you’re not alone — so are we. But we can’t do it without you. So please send us all your salary dirt, by email (subject line: “Skaddenfreude”). Feel free to attach your latest tax return or W-2 in PDF form. (Just kidding; but hey, if you want to, go right ahead.)
As always, much thanks!

conrad black.jpg* In the legal and regulatory crackdown on business corruption and white-collar crime, “lawyers serving fraud-ridden companies have emerged relatively unscathed,” reports the Washington Post. Chalk it up to professional courtesy. [Washington Post]
* Lord Conrad Black (at right), former media mogul, has had his worldwide assets frozen by a Canadian court. But don’t feel too sorry for him — he still gets an allowance of $20,000 a month. (Is that U.S. dollars, or Canadian?) [BBC News; Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog]
* Judge Eldon E. Fallon (E.D. La.) upheld the jury verdict finding Merck liable in a recent Vioxx case, but ruled that a new trial must be held on damages because the $50 million compensatory damage award — not a punitive damages award — was “grossly excessive.” Seems like the right decision to us. After all, the guy survived (and isn’t a pro basketball player). [Associated Press via DealBreaker]
* Two former Brocade Communications executives, charged in the options backdating scandal, have pleaded not guilty. [Bloomberg News]
* A federal bankruptcy judge ruled that Dorsey & Whitney breached fiduciary duties of client loyalty — and ordered the firm to cough up almost $900,000 in fees.
[Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune]

joseph caramagno joe caramagno.jpgEarlier this month, we gave Nevada attorney William Caramagno a Lawyer of the Day award. What did he do to merit this honor? He showed up to court late — and, even better, drunk — to defend a client facing a kidnapping charge. A charge with a potential life sentence.
How was the lawyer’s drunkenness detected? By a breathalyzer test, ordered by the judge, and administered in open court. Caramagno tried to get out of it, protesting that there was “no probable cause for me to blow.” But Judge Michelle Leavitt stood her ground, ordering him to “just go ahead and blow.”
Which he did. The result? A blood alcohol level of 0.075 — just shy of the legal limit for driving while intoxicated (0.080).
When we wrote about this incident previously, we had only read news accounts of it. But now we have audiovisual evidence of the encounter. Judge Leavitt sounds a lot like a high school guidance counselor, her voice full of concern mixed with toughness. Just listen to the way she says this line (at around 3:45 in the video): “You gotta blow good… You gotta blow good, I’m confident you know that…”
Here’s the video. Check it out for yourself:

(Gavel bang: Concurring Opinions.)
Earlier: Above the Law Lawyer of the Day: Joseph Caramagno
KIDNAPPING CASE: Alcohol test on lawyer stirs mistrial [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
A Lawyer’s Bad Morning [Concurring Opinions]
Is Litigating While Drunk A Crime? I Say Yes [Concurring Opinions]

* Allegations of bill padding at Holland & Knight. An isolated occurrence — or more widespread within Biglaw? [WSJ via WSJ Law Blog]
* The secret to success: Wake up early. Like really early — try 3 a.m. That Ann Althouse is a machine! [Althouse]
* Here’s a link for those of you who don’t think we need tort reform. It’s a long post, but well worth reading. (And it’s not Ted Frank’s fault that the reporter got so much wrong.) [Overlawyered via Volokh Conspiracy]
* We think that judicial clerkships are fabulous — for clerks, for judges, and for this great nation of ours. But Raffi Melkonian disagrees — and makes some interesting points. [Crescat Sententia]

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