Above the Law bills itself as “a legal tabloid.” And no tabloid would be complete without a sex scandal. Our scandale du jour emanates from the Windy City, home of John Marshall Law School. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
When students returned to John Marshall Law School this month, everyone was talking about the lawsuit against “The Colonel.”
Robert “Gil” Johnston, the venerable former dean of the university, was sued by his ex-mistress, Virginia Smith, whom he started dating while she was a law student in 1983. Among other claims, she said Johnston beat her, promised to marry her, then, after his wife died, married someone else.
Generations of students have noted a resemblance between Johnston, with his cotton candy white hair and goatee, and Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Sanders.
Johnston’s attorney said the former dean admits the affair, but denies any abuse on his part.
Of course, Robert Johnston isn’t the only university dean to get with a student. Affairs between law school students and faculty or administration members are, shall we say, not uncommon.
But this isn’t the end of the story. More salacious details appear after the jump.
We understand that some of you have been upset by our recent coverage of a certain future Supreme Court clerk. As we mentioned over the weekend, we are instituting a moratorium on coverage of this clerk, at least for the time being. So all of youiratecommenters can unwad your panties, spray Febreze on them, and toss them into the dryer.
But we WOULD like to defend, as a general proposition, the propriety of writing about Supreme Court clerks. The Elect should not be viewed as an off-limits or taboo topic. To those of you who object to our coverage of SCOTUS clerks — and rest assured, more is on its way — we have some points for your consideration. (If you have no problem with such coverage, then just ignore all of these posts.)
We’re going to spread our arguments out over a series of posts, so as not to tire you. We’re giving this series of posts a tag — “SCOTUS Clerks Are Fair Game” — so you can click on all the posts discussing this topic.
We apologize in advance if you find our arguments unpersuasive. Substantive analysis is not our forte, which is why we generally stick to gossip (and why our own interviews for Supreme Court clerkships ended badly). As you review our points, please remember that we are but humble members of The Great Unwashed.
The first point we’d like to make appears after the jump.
We follow the media and publishing worlds almost as closely as the legal world, so we’re not quite sure how we missed this. But we did, and we’re sorry. So we’re bringing it to you now, a few days late — and we apologize if you’ve already read about it somewhereelse.
For all of you lawyers who are frustrated writers, this news may inspire or depress you, depending upon how you react to news of other people’s good fortune. Here’s a book deal announced last week in Publishers Marketplace:
Julie Buxbaum’s debut novel THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, about a 29-year-old attorney who lost her mother as a teenager and finds her well-constructed life falling apart when she can’t commit to the man who loves her, to Susan Kamil at Dial Press, in a major deal, for publication in winter 2008, in a two-book deal, by Elaine Koster of the Elaine Koster Agency (US).
For those of you not conversant in PM-speak, “a major deal” is one with an advance of $500,000 and up.
The timing of the deal announcement was a bit ironic. That same week, Ms. Buxbaum wrote an essay for 02138, the new magazine by and about Harvard alumni, in which she waxes poetic about turning her back on Biglaw to pursue life as a sushi-starved artist. Here’s the money quote:
I am currently dressed in head to toe Old Navy. My highlights are grown passed [sic] my ears. That latte is a splurge, sushi an absolute no-no. And, of course, there is the constant, nagging guilt — like an angry rash — when I check my dwindling bank balance, when I remember I spent close to a quarter million dollars on higher education, when I realize that it was less than a year ago that I was making six figures. I was a litigator at a top law firm, an HLS graduate, a somebody. Now, well, to be honest, I am not too sure who I am, what exactly I “do.”
Last week we broke the news of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz bestowing generous midyear bonuses upon its associates. We heard that associates who graduated law school in the class of 2000 received $40,000, and class of 2002 members received $30,000.
We’ve now learned that class of 2005 associates got $15,000, and class of 2004 associates got $20,000. So our speculation that bonuses increased in increments of $5,000 appears to have been correct.
We raised the possibility that associates more senior than the class of 2000 might have received bonuses reflecting jumps larger than $5K. This appears not to have been the case. Rumor has it that bonuses topped out at $50,000 for the most senior class of associates (class of 1998, up for partnership this November). So presumably class of 1999 members, up for partnership next November, received $45,000.
Congratulations to the Wachtell Lipton associates on their good fortune. Their midyear bonuses are delicious — but they sure worked hard for them. And they do bode well for year-end bonuses at both WLRK and other top New York firms (which, even if they don’t compete directly with Wachtell in terms of pay, can’t embarrass themselves too much on the compensation front).
Meanwhile, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld has decided to spread around part of the $58.5 million fee it received for a $468 million settlement of a lawsuit against a medical equipment company. Akin Gump is paying out 14 percent of the award, amounting to over $8 million, to non-partner employees of the firm (including associates and secretaries).
New arrivals at Akin Gump will get $500, and anyone on the payroll before January will get $1,000. So the largesse won’t reach Wachtell Lipton levels; but it’s a perfect chunk of money for a mini-shopping spree. One can get a pretty decent handbag, or an entry-level Hugo Boss suit, for about a grand.
(Oops, sorry — just like Oprah, we forgot about taxes. But hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.) Sharing a Class-Action Fee at Akin Gump [Washington Post via WSJ Law Blog] Earlier: Skaddenfreude: Wachtell Lipton’s “Midyear Bonuses”
* Another day, another deepening of the doo-doo over at HP. Now the plot is taking on a “made-for-television-movie” feel: “[D]etectives tried to plant software on at least one journalist’s computer that would enable messages to be traced.” [New York Times]
* National security adviser Stephen Hadley indicates that the White House is trying to reach a compromise with Republican Senators over what the CIA can and cannot do when interrogating terror suspects. [New York Times]
* A medical examiner hired by successful Supreme Court litigant Anna Nicole Smith performed a second autopsy on Smith’s 20-year-old son over the weekend. The cause of death has not yet been determined, but heart disease, stroke, or a “congenital anomaly” have been ruled out. [Associated Press]
* Options backdating defendant William Sorin was outside general counsel at Comverse Technology — a rather unusual arrangement. Sorin was awarded millions of dollars worth of stock options, even though he wasn’t even a salaried employee of the company. [Corporate Counsel]
* A happy 67th birthday to Justice David H. Souter. And some advice: Don’t eat that cupcake sent over by Ann Coulter, even if she did stick a cute little candle in it. [How Appealing]
But it might as well be one. A tipster sent us this anecdote, following up on our Cristina Schultz coverage:
Towards the end of my first year at the University of Texas School of Law, one of the first-years stopped showing up to class. But then she showed up at an end-of-year party for her section, and folks asked what she was doing.
“Modeling,” she says.
“Oh, really? Are you modeling for department stores or something?” respond her former classmates.
“Huh, that’s interesting. Like for a catalog or something?”
“Nope,” she responds calmly. “I go to hotel rooms and men masturbate while I strip down to lingerie.”
That conversation ended pretty quickly.
Lest you find this discussion crass, please bear in mind: An ambitious young woman making her way in the world, with little to trade on but her beauty and sensuality, is one of the great themes of literature. It’s in everything from Daniel Defoe’s Roxana (1724), to Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900), to Jessica Cutler’s Washingtonienne (2005)…
(Feel free to add other examples in the comments. We will add them to our reading list, since we are strangely obsessed with these narratives. Maybe we’ve been reading too much Camille Paglia.) Earlier: The Stanford Law Escort: And She Lived Happily Ever After
In light of our earlier posts about Cristina Schultz and Rachel Kovner, Friday is rapidly turning into “Women of Stanford Law” day here at ATL. And that’s not about to change.
We’ve received some interesting responses to our wall-to-wall coverage of Ms. Kovner — whom we are determined to turn into a celebrity, whether she likes it or not. On her ideology — which we originally described as conservative, but then quasi-retracted — we received this information:
I question your label of Rachel as “staunchly conservative,” though mostly because she was so quiet it was difficult to discern her politics. She was certainly a great deal more friendly to progressives and moderates at SLS than some of our outspoken, ultra-conservative classmates (of whom there were, thankfully, very few).
So let’s place a big question mark in place of the previously bestowed “conservative label.” Rachel Kovner will work for conservatives (like Judge Wilkinson and Justice Scalia), but she’s rather quiet about her own views. So think of her as the Harriet Miers of her generation — but hopefully with better personal style, given the financial resources at her disposal.
Okay, this next criticism gives you an idea of how hard it is to run a website read by so many attorneys. Leave it to lawyers to nitpick:
I don’t understand why you insist on making such a big deal about Rachel Kovner’s family wealth, conflating her and her father financially. Bruce Kovner may be worth $2.5 billion. But don’t forget two things: (1) the estate tax, and (2) his two other children.
Assuming Bruce Kovner (1) doesn’t give away much of his fortune to charity, (2) leaves it all to his kids, and (3) doesn’t give Rachel the “Nicole Buffett treatment,” Rachel would only be looking at a third of his estate — split with her siblings. After the inheritance tax, that might amount to only $400-$500 million. That kind of money wouldn’t put her in the ranks of billionaires, or even the Forbes 400.
* Litigator Robert Knuts, to Allen & Overy, from Day, Berry & Howard. Knuts was with the New York office of the SEC from 1994 to 2003.
As you may recall, London-based Allen & Overy is trying to build up its New York litigation practice — most recently through the addition of former plaintiffs’-side princess Pat Hynes.
* Private equity lawyer James Kelly, to Nixon Peabody, from O’Melveny & Myers. New Partners:
* Goodwin Procter: corporate and private equity lawyer Edward Braum. NY Partners Switching Firms [NYLawyer.com] NY Lawyers On the Move [NYLawyer.com]
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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