April 2007

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Oh, we long for the days before products liability suits took away our lawn darts and all the rest of our fun.
Professor Bill Childs, professor at Western New England School of Law and author of TortsProf Blog, has this post, about receiving as a gift from a student a “Golfing Gizmo.”

[It's a] device from the 1960s and 1970s that is the subject of the Hauter v. Zogarts case (534 P.2d 377 (Cal. 1975)) in David Owen et al.’s Products Liability and Safety casebook and possibly others. And they even found the same model and manual as is in the case, including the almost-blank-verse notation on the front: “COMPLETELY SAFE BALL WILL NOT HIT THE PLAYER.”

The device was such that you drove a golf ball attached to a cord, which of course made the golf ball come back at you. If it came back to the left, you had a slice; to the right, you had a hook. If your shot was perfect, you got zinged in the head and won a lawsuit. Perfectly safe.
The Golfing Gizmo in All Its Glory [TortsProf Blog]

Alberto Gonzales 4 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.gif
Apparently the one guy that counts was satisfied with Alberto Gonzales’ testimony before Congress last week. From the New York Times:

President Bush said Monday that the Congressional testimony of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales last week, roundly panned by members of both parties, had “increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.”
Speaking during a short question-and-answer session in the Oval Office, Mr. Bush said of Mr. Gonzales’s performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer.”

Really, Prez? Because what we saw in the hearings was someone who either has the memory of a raisin or is a liar on the scale of James Frey. Either way, these are not characteristics of the ideal head of the Department of Justice.
Is the President showing the same kind of support that he showed for Donald Rumsfeld right before he was sent packing? There are some important differences, of course, in the two cases. Rumsfeld’s performance was directly related to the war in Iraq, which many perceived to be the driving issue in the November election that handed Congress to the Democrats; Gonzales, on the other hand, seems to mostly have a terrible memory and bad sense of PR when it comes to handling a situation in which many feel that nothing wrong was actually done. Also, and perhaps more importantly, there is now not very much time left in the Bush Administration; there may not therefore be the political will to force him out, replace him, and then have to replace the replacement within a fairly short period of time.
Still, not getting rid of him and making the above comments are two different things. So I say again, really President Bush?

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPG It appears that the salary wars have made their way to London. With London salaries rising into the neighborhood of £65,000, and with the current exchange rate over two $/£, the gap between New York and London salaries is narrowing considerably. This from the London Times Online:

City sources said newly-qualified lawyers at A&O would be offered salaries of £65,200 – above its magic circle and other UK rivals.
The latest pay rise pushes Allen & Overy into the territory of US law firms that typically offer between 20 and 40 per cent more than UK firms in an attempt to lure away skilled lawyers.
Chris Hickey, a legal recruiter at Robert Walters, predicted that several large US firms, whose London offices are enjoying a significant boom on the back of strong private equity and mergers and acquisitions markets, would also be forced to revise their salaries upwards.

With, as the article points out, U.S. firms typically paying 20-40% more than UK firms in London, the U.S. firms may soon be paying their associates in London more than their associates in New York. This will in turn likely force the NY salaries even higher. Could we soon hit $200,000 for first year associates?

Kristine Lefebvre Apprentice Above the Law blog.jpgTime for another installment in ATL’s ongoing obsession with law students/lawyers posing nude for Playboy. This time it’s Kristine Lefebvre, a loser from The Apprentice: Los Angeles.
From AP via CNN:

Lefebvre will appear on the cover of the June issue of the magazine and is featured in nude photographs inside, her publicist, Howard Bragman, said Friday.

An attorney, Lefebvre had previously negotiated Playboy appearance deals for clients including Pamela Anderson and Deborah Gibson, Bragman said.

Lefebvre, 37, is a cancer survivor who wanted to use the magazine opportunity to send a message of support to others with the disease, he said. She’s married to prominent Los Angeles chef Ludovic Lefebvre.

apprentice.jpgThe message she’s sending to cancer survivors? You don’t have to let cancer keep you from getting naked for money.
Incidentally, the season finale of The Apprentice: LA was Sunday, and the candidate hired by the Don is also an attorney, Stefani Schaeffer (at right).
Wow! No offense to Lefebvre, but we think the wrong apprentice is posing for Playboy.
Ex-’Apprentice’ contestant poses for Playboy [Associated Press]
Stefani Schaeffer bio [The Apprentice]

paul_wolfowitz.jpgWhat’s that you say? You’re a major international political figure, and you’re embroiled in a scandal that could cost your job? What should you do? Why, hire a rock star lawyer of course!
Paul Wolfowitz has done just that, hiring Robert Bennett to represent him in his fight to save his job as president of the World Bank. Bennett, who represented Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case, is a partner at Skadden Arps.
From the New York Times:

Robert S. Bennett, the lawyer selected by Mr. Wolfowitz, said in an interview that before the bank’s board acted on charges of ethical lapses, he and Mr. Wolfowitz wanted more time to prepare a case showing that the bank president had acted properly on all matters that the board is investigating.

“I am very worried about the rush to judgment,” Mr. Bennett said. “We just had a wonderful example of that in the Duke lacrosse case. I have reviewed the essential documents, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Mr. Wolfowitz exercised good faith and that everything he did was in the best interests of the bank.”

Interesting that Wolfowitz would choose an attorney known for representing Clinton. Then again, the allegations do involve a female staffer, so maybe Bennett’s experience with Clinton makes him the perfect choice.
Still, though, is there much Bennett can do for Wolfowitz? What exactly is Wolfowitz’s recourse if the Bank fires him unfairly? Isn’t Bennett basically being hired as a PR guy on this one? Which is not to say that attorneys acting as PR reps is anything new, but it usually takes place within the context of criminal or civil litigation.
Anyway, we’re kind of rooting for the Wolfman. I mean, what’s the point of a job like president of the World Bank if you can’t give you preferential treatment to your girlfriend?

Grafton Minot Biddle Judge Grafton Biddle Above the Law blog.jpgWow, that’s quite a ways to go just to get your way on a motion to suppress. A 57-year-old Douglas County, Colorado judge and a 29-year-old female prosecutor in the same county have admitted to having sex on multiple occasions in the courthouse. From the Rocky Mountain News (via How Appealing):

As rumors of their romance became fodder for courthouse gossip, the complaint said, [Judge Grafton Minot] Biddle encouraged [prosecutor Laurie] Steinman to permanently delete messages they exchanged using their e-mail accounts at work.

“If people read this stuff, we’re dead,” Biddle told Steinman, according to the complaint.

The pair is accused of other ethical lapses, including Steinman prosecuting two cases in Biddle’s court without disclosing their relationship. Biddle gave Steinman feedback following one of the trials, which ended in an acquittal, the complaint said.

The judge resigned, the prosecutor was fired, and both face disciplinary action from the Bar. Here’s hoping that was some good, worth-losing-my-career-over lovemaking.

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We’re coming to you this morning from about three hours east of LEWW, in Athens, Georgia, home of the University of Georgia (my two-time alma mater), R.E.M., and well, to be honest, not much else that anyone except us cares about. We, like Laurie, are both honored to be filling in and not prone to referring to ourselves in the first-person singular.
Regular readers will recognize us as 1/2 of the MD team, along with B Clerker. Here’s our self-introduction from October of last year, when we started helping out with MD, for those of you who missed it and/or those of you who, like Loyola 2L, are concerned about our legal credentials. (For the record, UGA Law is tied with 7 schools for 36th in the latest USNWR rankings. Come on, USNWR, an 8-way tie? Make a decision! We need to know whether we can look down on Hastings graduates!)
At any rate, we’re no David Lat and we know it, but we will nevertheless do our best to entertain and inform in his absence. So keep the tips coming, keep reading, criticize us freely if you think we suck (I’m sure you won’t have any problem with that), and remember, no matter what you think of us, Lat will be back next week (and so will we, with MD).

dna-molecule.jpg* Legal “loophole” with dangerous consequences. [CNN]
* In defense of the defense. [
WSJ]
* DNA exonerates man after 25 years in prison. [MSNBC]
* Dick Butkus files suit over rights to name top college linebacker. [AP via SI]
* Law firms are paying more for advertisement exposure. [ABA Journal e-report]

candy box.jpg
We’ve got to dash up to DC for a couple of days to attend to our real job, so another guest blogger will be taking the controls now. We’ll return on Thursday. But we can’t leave without directing your attention to our Lawyer of the Day, Kenneth Heller.
The Village Voice has a long piece on Heller’s colorful career, tagging him “New York’s Most Obnoxious Lawyer”:

Heller was disbarred for basically “being an asshole,” as one adversary puts it. And in [the legal] profession, the rival adds, “that takes some doing.”
Told last week that people have described him as an “asshole,” Heller says, “Who said that? He may be queer. Tell that person, ‘Heller says you may be queer.’ “

It gets even better, we promise. Don’t miss the part where he sues his ex-girlfriend’s sister for returning a box of candy!
(Thanks to How Appealing for the link.)

yul kwon yul kwon survivor yule kwon yul kwan yul kwon pics pictures.JPG
“Survivor” champ and YLS grad Yul Kwon made a triumphant return to his law school alma mater last week. In a speech entitled “How I Survived Survivor and Other Professional Challenges,” Kwon, who was introduced by YLS Dean Harold Koh, spoke about breaking down negative stereotypes about Asian Americans.

At this point in his speech, Kwon suddenly went off-script and tried to bestow his wisdom on the crowd of predominantly law students.
“Make the best of it,’ he said. “Think outside the box.”

Profound. We can only hope that when he worked for McKinsey, his paying clients got a little more than that kind of “wisdom.”
Speaking of stereotypes, someone did research on how much money men of various races need to make if they’re trying to attract a woman of a different race:

For equal success with a white woman [relative to a white man], an African-American needs to earn an additional $154,000; a Hispanic man needs $77,000; an Asian needs $247,000.
For equal success with an Asian woman [relative to an Asian man], an African-American needs no additional income; a white man needs $24,000 less than average; a Hispanic man needs $28,000 more than average.

So Yul can take that $1 million he won on “Survivor” and buy four white women.
Just kidding! This serves as a good reminder that studies are all about averages. On one side of the Asian-American male spectrum you have Yul, who was in People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, and on the other hand you have… well, let’s just say that at least one Asian-American associated with YLS is known more for his “impressive body of work” than his impressive body.
(Thanks to the VC for the survey link.)
Earlier: “Congratulations to Yul Kwon — Who Says You Don’t Learn Anything at Yale Law School?”

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