August 2014

Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgLast season, Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball’s all-time home run king, batted .276 with 28 home runs and 75 runs scored. Bonds also reached base 48 percent of the time—the best in all of baseball.
This season, however, Bonds is unemployed. The San Francisco Giants, his former team, prefer to play journeymen outfielders Dave Roberts and Rajai Davis. The Washington Nationals, meanwhile, seem to prefer outfielder Elijah Dukes, who has nearly as many lifetime arrests (6) as Major League home runs (10). Stranger still, the New York Mets claim to be content beginning the season with Ryan Church, Angel Pagan and Endy Chavez playing their corner outfield positions. Last season, the Church/Pagan/Chavez combo had 438 more at bats than Bonds, yet combined for eight fewer home runs, not to mention a lower combined batting average.
Bonds recently told the media that he is “working out” and “training,” in hopes of playing for some team this season. With recent notification that prosecutors must revise their perjury indictment against him, Bonds for the moment is free from any legal conflicts. In addition, Bonds is relatively healthy, not to mention just 65 hits shy of the 3,000 milestone.
So what’s going on here? Read more, after the jump.

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Bear Stearns BSC Above the Law blog.jpgWith JPMorgan quintupling its offer for Bear Stearns earlier this morning, it seems like an appropriate time to discuss last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asked you whether you were afraid the recent Bear Stearns collapse would hurt your career.
Twenty-seven percent of you said yes. New Yorkers were the most concerned, with roughly one third of respondents opining that the Bear Stearns collapse would hurt their careers. A quarter of respondents in Los Angeles and Atlanta and a fifth of respondents in Washington, DC said the same. In Boston and Philadelphia, seventeen percent of respondents were afraid the Bear Stearns event would hurt their careers, while in the Bay Area, the number fell to an unlucky thirteen percent. Respondents in Chicago, Dallas, and Houston were generally unafraid.
Concern was most pronounced among the newest lawyers and those closest to partnership. Twenty-eight percent of respondents in the Class of 2007, and thirty percent of respondents in the Classes of 2000 and 2001 were afraid that the Bear Stearns collapse would hurt their careers. A whopping fifty percent of respondents who graduated before 2000 shared this concern. Law students are also more likely to be frightened, with 43% of law students responding that they were afraid that the Bear Stearns event will hurt their careers.
Additional discussion, including selected comments from survey respondents, after the jump.

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As we can see from the comments, you’re already all over this NYT story. We linked to it in Morning Docket, but here’s a little more. Andrew Ross Sorkin writes:

Wachtell Lipton Rosen Katz WLRK AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgJPMorgan and Bear were prompted to renegotiate after shareholders began threatening to block the deal and it emerged that several “mistakes” were included in the original, hastily written contract, according to people involved in the talks.

One sentence was “inadvertently included,” according to a person briefed on the talks, which requires JPMorgan to guarantee Bear’s trades even if shareholders voted down the deal. That provision could allow Bear’s shareholders to seek a higher bid while still forcing JPMorgan to honor its guarantee, these people said.

When the error was discovered, James Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, who was described by one participant as “apoplectic,” began calling his lawyers at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to seek a way to have the sentence modified, these people said. Finger pointing over the mistakes in the contracts began as bankers blamed the lawyers and vice versa.

We don’t have much to add to Ted Frank’s excellent observations. Here’s an open thread for anti-Wachtell schadenfreude.
(They’re big boys — and they send their clients big bills. So the WLRK folks can take a little snark and ribbing from the ATL commentariat.)
Update (11:40 AM): Actually, did Wachtell make a mistake? If so, what exactly was their error? Over at Dealbreaker, our colleague John Carney wonders: “How do you ‘inadvertently include’ a provision everyone is talking about?” (Gavel bang: commenter.)
How Do You Inadvertently Include A Provision Everyone Is Talking About? [Dealbreaker]
The dangers of doing an M&A agreement over a weekend [Overlawyered]
Did Mistakes in the JPM-Bear Contract Help Lead to Renegotiation? [WSJ Law Blog]
JPMorgan in Negotiations to Raise Bear Stearns Bid [New York Times]

guitar_hero_screenshot.jpgIt sounds like Gibson Guitars is pissed that people prefer Guitar Hero remote controllers to real guitars. Gibson is seeking revenge on the hugely popular video game through official legal channels:

The Guitar Hero series has sold more than 14 million units in North America and raked in more than $1 billion since 2005.

Gibson said the games, in which players use a guitar-shaped controller in time with notes on a television screen, violate a 1999 patent for technology to simulate a musical performance.

Gibson wants the games off store shelves and is suing everyone: game publisher Activision, game developers MTV/Harmonix/Viacom/Electronic Arts, and game retailers Wal-Mart, Target, GameStop, Amazon, Toys ‘R’ Us and Kmart.
This post is a public service announcement. Buy Guitar Hero while you can. Or better yet, buy Rock Band, and invite us to come play with you.
Gibson Guitar sues retailers over ‘Guitar Hero’ game [Marketwatch]
Gibson fires Guitar Hero lawsuit at Wal-Mart, other retailers [Engadget via Crave]
Guitar Hero Lawsuit [The New York Times]

Reposa.jpgSome ATL readers may find our Lawyer of the Day posts frivolous, but there are valuable lessons in each one. Texan lawyer Adam “Bulletproof” Reposa has many lessons to impart.
Lesson one: how not to show one’s displeasure with a judge’s ruling. From the Austin American-Statesman:

Adam Reposa, 33, was held in contempt of court by County-Court-at-Law Judge Jan Breland for his “intentional and contumacious conduct during the court’s review of the plea bargain offer to his client before jury trial.”

Reposa, who could not be reached for comment, “made a simulated masturbatory gesture with his hand while making eye contact with the court in response to an objection by the state to his interference with the court plea bargain inquiry,” Breland wrote in a judgment of criminal contempt of court filed March 11.

While we may understand the desire to use the “jerk-off” gesture with a judge who uses the word “contumacious,” we strongly advise against it.
Lesson two: how not to manage your media relations, as reported by a local broadcaster.

When Reposa’s law office was contacted by phone, the person answering said she was instructed by Reposa to tell the media a vulgarity, which won’t be printed here.

We advise “no comment at this time” as a much more respectable way of saying f**k off.
Lesson three: how not to market your legal services. First, do not register with your state bar as “Bulletproof.” Second, do not make terrible YouTube videos.
While we are tempted to make the “jerk-off” gesture, instead we will end with “no comment at this time.”
Austin attorney put in jail after “obscene gesture” in court [KeyeTV.com]
Defense lawyer held in contempt for lewd gesture at judge [Austin American Statesman]

* Professor Akhil Amar: Obama and Clinton can take turns being president. Say what? [Slate]
* JPMorgan could raise Bear Sterns bid to $10 a share. [New York Times]
* IOC engages in “silent diplomacy” with China on human rights issues. [ESPN]
* Radical hippie mom accidentally released from jail for a few days. [CNN]
* AG Mukasey to argue before SCOTUS tomorrow. [WSJ Law Blog]

Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgDespite the recent turmoil in the economy and the stock market, all appears to be well at Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy. A tipster provided us with the highlights of chairman Mel Immergut’s “State of the Firm” address from last week:

1. Primary caregiver leave is now 18 weeks paid.

2. Blackberries will get replaced every two years instead of three.

3. “We’re not getting fired.”

It appears that Milbank has effectively made a “no layoffs” promise. It learned that lesson the hard way:

Mel stressed that in the last downturn, they had slowed hiring, and then found themselves at a loss for mid-level associates when things picked up later. So the plan is to continue to hire new people (our summer program is the largest to date at 100+) and retain, but not really hire laterals.

Will other firms make a similar pledge? We’ll see.

Zach Scruggs Dickie Scruggs Hottie Scruggs Above the Law blog.jpg* A cool job opportunity for a college senior or recent undergraduate with an interest in the law: work for noted Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein. [SCOTUSblog]
* A cool job opportunity for C students with a “sick sense of humor”: work for the Rockstahl Law Office in Twin Falls, ID. [Idaho State Bar - Job Announcements (top entry for 3/20/08)]
* A lesson in how to open a judicial opinion, from Judge Alex Kozinski. [Southern Appeal]
* A tip for legal bloggers: don’t fetishize pageviews. [Law and More]
* A guilty plea from Hottie Scruggs (pictured). [WSJ Law Blog]
* Stuff White People Like: $350,000 book deals. [New York Observer]

Carl McGee Carl Stanley McGee Governor Deval Patrick Above the Law blog.jpgFor the record, here’s some follow-up on two Bay State lawyers previously discussed in these pages, who have been cleared of the charges against them. At least to some extent.
First, remember Carl Stanley McGee (right), who was arrested after being accused of going down on a 15-year-old boy? Earlier this week, Florida prosecutors decided to drop the case.
Apparently the teen had trouble identifying McGee. But maybe he also learned that it’s bad form to complain about getting a BJ. Unless teeth are involved.
Second, remember the handsome Gary Zerola (below right), named a “Most Eligible Bachelor” by People magazine, and accused of rape and attempted rape by three different women? One of the cases against him went to trial, and he was acquitted (back in January; we missed the news when it came out).
Gary Zerola 2 Most Eligible Bachelor rape Above the Law blog.jpgA second trial is currently underway. In that case, as reported in today’s Boston Herald, Zerola’s defense team argues that the victim wanted to shakedown their client for $150,000.
The third incident, which is the one that we wrote about, has not yet gone to trial.
Sex Case Against MA Guv’s Aide Dropped [AP]
‘Most eligible bachelor’ acquitted in attempted rape case [Boston Globe]
Zerola team: Alleged victim sought $150G [Boston Herald]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Carl Stanley McGee
Most Eligible Bachelor Becomes Considerably Less Eligible

Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky Popeo Above the Law blog.jpgCan’t we all just get along? This is our second story today about an associate claiming discrimination by her law firm. No wonder Kirkland & Ellis has adopted a new mandatory arbitration policy.
From Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:

An associate in the employment, labor and benefits section of the Boston firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination charging that colleagues discriminated against her because of her gender and status as a wife and mother.

Mintz, Levin associate Kamee Beth Verdrager also alleges in her MCAD filing against the firm and ML attorneys Robert M. Gault, Donald W. Schroeder and David Barmak that she was the target of retaliation when she complained about the treatment accorded her by certain members of the employment section and that she was subsequently demoted and placed on probation.

Commenting on behalf of the firm, Public Relations Director Gina Addis said that “the reality is from time to time allegations like these are made against all businesses, including law firms. Our firm has and will deal with any such allegations in the ordinary course and at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum.”

More discussion, including highlights from Verdrager’s complaint, after the jump.

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