August 2014

People Most Eligible Bachelor issue cover Above the Law blog.jpgOh how the mighty have fallen. From the Miami Herald:

A Boston defense attorney once dubbed one of People Magazine’s Most Eligible bachelors was arrested for allegedly drugging and raping a college student he met at a Miami Beach nightclub.

Gary Zerola — already facing trial in two sexual attacks in Boston — was arrested last Friday night and booked into Miami-Dade County jail. Miami Beach police charged Zerola, 36, with sexual battery.

Once known for his work on behalf of foster children, Zerola was also a candidate to star in the first season of ABC’s reality hit The Bachelor,” according to Boston media reports.

More discussion, plus a photo of the handsome defendant, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Most Eligible Bachelor Becomes Considerably Less Eligible”

Charles Rangel Rep Charles B Rangel Charlie Rangel tax Above the Law blog.jpgMaybe associates clamoring for yet another pay raise have a point. Maybe $160,000 is not enough.
Because, if certain Democrats get their way, a new surtax will be imposed that will hit even first-year associates at most large law firms. Under a tax plan proposed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), a 4 percent surtax will hit single earners with incomes over $150,000, or married couples with incomes over $200,000. For incomes above $500,000, which are increasingly common in Biglaw, the surtax would rise to 4.6 percent.
So, readers, what do you think? Many lawyers harbor progressive political views. Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is, and support politicians who will raise taxes on people like you?
Update: As noted by several commenters, the full plan has several other provisions. For example, it would lower the top corporate tax rate to 30.5% from 35%, and it would scrap the alternative minimum tax (AMT). For more details, see here.
Feel free to vote in our reader poll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Time to Soak the Rich Upper Middle Class?”

Tony Sirico Paulie Walnuts Ed Nottingham Edward Nottingham Judge Edward W Nottingham Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGRemember Chief Judge Edward Nottingham (D. Colorado)? We named him our Judge of the Day back in August, after he reportedly “was too drunk to remember how he spent more than $3,000 at a strip club in two consecutive days.” We subsequently honored him as our Paulie Walnuts Doppelgänger of the Day.
We are hereby declaring Judge Nottingham ineligible for future Judge of the Day contests. Like the Honorable Elizabeth Halverson, he has transcended the competition, joining the Judge of the Day Hall of Fame.
Read about his latest misadventures, in the ABA Journal:

A Denver lawyer has filed a complaint claiming the chief judge of the Colorado federal courts threatened to call authorities when she confronted him about parking in a handicapped space.

The lawyer, Jeanne Elliott, was paralyzed in 1986 when she was shot by an angry litigant. She told KUSA in Denver that she waited in her wheelchair behind the illegally parked SUV outside a Walgreens. Judge Edward Nottingham arrived and threatened to call the U.S. Marshals service when she didn’t move, according to her grievance (PDF) filed with the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He later called 911.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chief Judge Nottingham Likes Strippers; Handicapped People, Not So Much”

Garrison Keillor stalker crazy lady Above the Law blog.jpg* Dems to propose new surveillance bill? [Newsweek]
* Only a Garrison Keillor stalker would call it “transcendental love.” [CNN]
* Pearl drops lawsuit against terrorists. [MSNBC]
* Law firm World Series. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Today’s stupid crimes from Court TV. [CourtTV]

Maximilia Cordero Maximilian Cordero Jeffrey Epstein Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.jpgMaximilian Cordero believes the second time is a charm — with respect to (1) a gender and (2) suing rich guys. From DealBreaker:

In the grand tradition of trying to turn the (real or imaginary) sexual assault you suffered at the hands of a creepy old guy into stocks and bonds, everyone knows you don’t start at the top of the food chain. You get a few starter suits under your belt first, THEN you go to the top. Got to walk before you can run, got to allege “he put his hand on my knee and I didn’t like it” before you allege “he jerked off into a towel while I stood there awkwardly, and I think there might’ve been a purple vibrator in there, too” (those are just for instances).

Maximilia Cordero small Jeffrey Epstein Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.JPGA few years ago, Maximilia née Maximilian Cordero filed a $10 million lawsuit that accused her former lawyer, Glen Gentile, of statutory rape and endangering the welfare of a minor 2002, when she was “under the age of 17” (representing Cordero was her new—at the time—boyfriend/attorney, William Unroch).

Unfortunately, the case got thrown out when the court informed Cordero (yes, it informed her) that in 2002, she was over the age of 17, and, actually almost 19. For her part, Cordero said that she was “shocked” to find out how old she was.

As Barbie (née Ken) might say, “Math is hard! (And so am I.)”
(You can read the complete post over at DealBreaker.)
Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Attempting To Get It Right Second Time Around [DealBreaker]
Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: Cordero v. Epstein
Cordero v. Epstein: She’s a Man, Man!

Hillary Clinton Rocks My World Above the Law blog.jpg* If you received Jesse Wegman’s invitation to join Shelfari, please accept his apologies. [NYO]

* Yet another law professor who’s out of touch with the real world. [TaxProf Blog]

* Going north of Westchester = Going south of the Mason-Dixon line? [QuizLaw]

* Is Hillary a Commie? [Althouse]

* Eh, who cares? She’s unstoppable! Polls show Hillary picking up more momentum, especially among younger voters, while Obama is losing his mojo. [Marc Ambinder]

Peter Barta 2 Peter A Barta Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgTime for a quick update on a past Lawyer of the Day Weekend. From New York Newsday:

A former Legal Aid Society lawyer pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally using a hidden videocamera to spy on female co-workers as they changed clothes in their offices.

Peter Barta, 32, of Queens, used a camera hidden in a clock to videotape five co-workers in the public defense agency’s Manhattan offices, recording at least one woman with her breasts and buttocks bared….

Barta, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful surveillance, a felony, in exchange for a conditional discharge. The case will be dismissed and sealed after he completes a year of counseling.

Barta will be automatically disbarred. But clerking doesn’t constitute the practice of law, which is why you don’t need to be admitted to the bar to do it. Maybe Peter Barta can land a clerkship with this fine jurist?
Legal Aid lawyer plead guilty in coworker voyeurism case [New York Newsday]
Voyeur lawyer pleads guilty to oogling co-workers [AP]
Inside the Apartment of a Peeping Tom [Gothamist]
‘PEEP’ LAWYER HAD KINKY TOY TROVE [New York Post]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIn the comments to yesterday’s post about Heller Ehrman, there was some debate about how grave the firm’s current problems are. Last night, more bad news broke, from Legal Pad (via the super-vigilant Blogonaut):

Another day, another Heller lawyer gone. Corporate partner Kyle Guse has jumped from the firm’s Silicon Valley office to McDermott Will & Emery. Guse told Legal Pad that the current rumblings at the roughly 700-lawyer Heller had nothing to do with his decision to leave….

Guse represents biotech and tech companies and said he’ll be bringing his clients with him to the new firm.

So tell us, loyal reader(s), what is going on at Heller? Are more partners going to leave? Will captain Matt Larrabee guide the firm to safety?

Nancy Cohen Nancy Sher Cohen diva Heller Ehrman Above the Law blog.jpgATL readers: any thoughts?
For the record, we take no pleasure in Heller Ehrman’s difficulties; we’re just covering a story. When we were in private practice, our experiences with Heller Ehrman were quite positive. We attended several depositions defended by the diva-licious Nancy Sher Cohen, who protected her witnesses like a lioness protecting her cubs. We were most impressed by this badass litigatrix (who is also a community activist and cancer survivor; see this profile).
P.S. And the cookies served in Heller’s New York office were delicious! No matter what happens to the firm, we hope that the cookie recipe will be preserved for posterity.
Corporate Partner Exits Heller Ehrman [Legal Pad / Cal Law]
More Bad News for Heller: Yet Another Partner Defection [Blogonaut]
Sher Cohen’s Law & Order: Justice Unit [JewishJournal.com]
Earlier: Going to Heller in a Handbasket? (Part 1)

library Above the Law blog.jpgIn case you haven’t noticed, we have thing for law librarians around here. We’ve given them their own category tag, and we previously held a law librarian hotties contest (male nominees here, female nominees here, and winners here).
In our recent New York Observer column about Cadwalader, we also tried to include a shout-out to their super-cool library staff, based on this New York Times article. It ended up getting cut in the editing process, but we thought we’d mention it here. From a tipster:

The “librarian at a law firm” who was profiled [in the Times] works at Cadwalader. I’d be curious to hear from the ATL posters which other Vault firms feature these alleged “hipster librarians.”

So, any takers? Having a team of crack librarians, ready to go to the ends of the earth to find some obscure treatise or track down elusive legislative history, is one of the nice perks of Biglaw life — as well as life as a law professor or government lawyer, too.
And you might end up getting more than just USCCAN volumes — you could end up finding love. Justice Samuel A. Alito, you may recall, ended up marrying his office’s law librarian. How neat is that?
If you’d like to praise (or complain about) the library staff where you work, please feel free to do so in the comments. Thanks.
A Hipper Crowd of Shushers [New York Times]
Jeffrey Howard Buckley [jehobu.com]

McKee Nelson LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgAs noted recently in The American Lawyer, the credit market crisis isn’t good news for firms with big securitization / structured finance practices. We previously discussed the topic here.
One firm mentioned in Ben Hallman and Aruna Viswanatha’s AmLaw article was McKee Nelson. Hallman and Viswanatha wrote: “[S]maller niche firms are more vulnerable [to credit market problems]. About half of McKee Nelson’s 200 lawyers, and almost forty percent of Thacher Proffitt & Wood’s 350 attorneys, work in structured finance.”
Today we received this tip about McKee Nelson:

Name partners Bill McKee and Will Nelson had a meeting with all associates and counsel on Monday afternoon. While the mantra “we are not going to have any layoffs” was repeated over and over, lawyers were encouraged to take sabbaticals, consider changing practice groups to tax or litigation, or “self-identify” to take a “change of venue” to another firm or field. They announced that each associate and counsel would meet individually with hiring partners in New York and DC.

At one such meeting, held yesterday, a first-year was told that, while there was no timeline required, the firm would help the associate find another job and was given the name and web address of a recommended recruiter to work with.

Sounds like a layoff to me! Oddly, despite encouraging these “changes of venue” the firm still intends to follow industry standard for bonuses for this year (whatever that means).

We reached out to the firm for comment. Founding partner William Nelson responded promptly to our inquiry:

The difference between a layoff and what we are doing is that no one is losing their job. As a result of the fundamental disruption in the credit markets, we do not have enough work to keep all of our structured finance lawyers fully busy. We want to keep these lawyers productively engaged while the market sorts itself out.

To do that, we have given people options that include moving into other areas of our practice where we have significant need for additional lawyers, possible secondment to clients, or taking sabbaticals (which many associates have requested in the past). In addition, we asked any lawyers who already are planning a near-term career change or change of venue (meaning moving to a different firm or in-house) to please let us know and we would help them make that move.

We thank Mr. Nelson for his response. While the credit slowdown and its consequences for law firms are certainly regrettable, McKee Nelson is taking reasonable and sensible steps to address a difficult situation. Nobody is being forced to leave the firm; people are just being encouraged to consider all their options.
A special request: please go easy on McKee Nelson in the comments. The firm should be commended for (1) its openness and transparency with respect to its current situation, and (2) responding to us so promptly and in such detail. We would like firms to feel “incentivized” to come forward with such information and to cooperate with ATL’s inquiries. Thanks.
P.S. Please note that our filing of this post under the Layoffs category should not be construed as a statement that layoffs are taking place. We use this tag rather liberally, applying it to any post that arguably falls within the penumbra of layoff talk (which may or may not be founded).
Earlier: More Woe Ahead for Private Equity and Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawyers?

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