August 2014

avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]
Why was ATL so fascinated by Shinyung Oh? Partly because it was juicy drama, and partly because she’s practically the only lawyer who’s given the world a straight story about a big-firm layoff. Partners and associates alike accept severance packages that keep them quiet, and while you can’t blame them for taking the cash, no one else can learn from their experience. We all figure that firms’ PR departments are feeding us BS when they claim that layoffs have always been part of the annual review process, but we haven’t had any eyewitness testimony on that point.
Today, ATL breaks the silence with an exclusive insider’s view of partner layoffs. Out of the dozens (hundreds?) of AmLaw 100 equity partners who’ve lost their jobs in this recession, we found a small number who were willing to talk to ATL about their experiences. According to their co-workers, our sources were well liked and doing good work when the axe dropped … they just didn’t have clients of their own. The picture they painted for ATL includes one piece of good news: well-informed young lawyers (i.e., ATL readers) have a pretty good understanding of how partners have become vulnerable to layoffs. On the other hand, it’s no cause for celebration that we were right about how dismal the picture has become.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Partnership: What’s in a Name?”

avatar Alex ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by ALEX, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Alex's avatar (at right).]
I heard once that people don’t like lawyers. Upon honest reflection, I’m inclined to agree with them. Hell, some people might not like me, even though I’m pathologically nice, fun at parties, and a member of the ABA.
Of course, hating lawyers is never justification for killing lawyers. Shakespeare be damned.
Earlier this month, the wife of a Tennessee lawyer became the avatar of lawyer-hate, strangling her husband and hiding his body in the bedroom closet with, presumably, all of the other unmentionables.
So reports WATE News Channel 6:

Nashville police arrested the estranged wife of an attorney in his strangulation killing. A housekeeper found the body of 44-year-old James Cannon in a bedroom closet on June 23. Police said Cannon had custody of the couple’s children, who are 9 years old, 7 years old and 18 months old. Cannon had filed for divorce from Kelly Cannon in February and obtained an order of protection to keep her away from him and the children.

Mrs. Cannon’s story seems, um, airtight:

Police said Kelly Cannon told them she went to her husband’s home the night of June 22, but said she couldn’t find him.

Kelly Cannon.jpgYou know, I would have never seen this coming from Mrs. Cannon. I’ve always trusted women with arty glasses. Never again.
It’s a shame, though; there are much more entertaining and lawful ways to seek revenge on a lawyer, like deleting the serial commas throughout the final draft of a brief or replacing all of his two-button suits with three-button suits.
In any event, this woman is clearly a threat to our people and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

earthquake California bar exam.jpgBecause the bar exam isn’t scary enough without the occasional act of God. This just in, from tipsters:

“Earthquake just hit LA and the epicenter was just next to Ontario, CA, where the CA bar exam is being administered!”

“I hope you are going to open a thread about those poor people taking the CA bar exam when the earthquake hit today. I’m curious to know how things were handled and if there were proctor freak outs!”

Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Earthquake Hits California on Day 1 of the Bar Exam!”

avatar Marin ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by MARIN, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Marin's avatar (at right).]
If you’ve ever secretly read somebody else’s email 537 times, turns out you’re not alone. Larry Mendte, former CBS3 Philadelphia news anchor and Botox enthusiast, allegedly hacked into his former co-anchor Alycia Lane’s personal email accounts 537 times since January 2008 and leaked the contents of some of those emails to the press, according to the criminal information filed last Monday. What makes this case interesting is not the charge itself (one felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization; Mendte is expected to plead guilty on August 22), but the fact that this case appears to confirm that there are real-life Ron Burgundys among us: vain, jealous and 100% ridiculous.
According to Lane’s attorneys, Mendte, insanely envious of Lane’s 8.7% higher salary (Lane supposedly made $780,000, Mendte about $100,000 less), embarked on a campaign to sabotage her career by installing keylogger programs to obtain Lane’s passwords, which he then used to compulsively check Lane’s emails from work. And home. And vacation. And his country club. Lane unwittingly assisted Mendte in his plot to undermine her by sending pictures of herself in a bikini to married NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen, which were intercepted by Eisen’s wife. It is believed that Mendte leaked the correspondence to the press, including the wife’s classic response:

Boy, do you look amazing in a bikini . . . congrats! Whatever you’re doing, (Pilates? yoga?) keep doing it – it’s working for you. Anyway, sorry but those seven e-mails you sent to my husband, Rich, well, oops, they came to the e-mail address we both use from time to time, but no worries, I’ll forward the beach shots as well as the ones of you dancing with your friends on to his main address. Do you have it?

Mendte also allegedly leaked certain privileged communications between Lane and her lawyer concerning that one time when she allegedly assaulted a police officer and accidentally called her a “dyke b*tch.” Stay classy, Philadelphia.

Evidently Mendte was so busy hacking into email, subverting attorney-client privilege and leaking private information to the press that he failed to consider that his lower salary was merited. It takes more than a Cheshire grin and a plastic face to succeed as a news anchor, and unfortunately for Mendte, his spray tan could not mask his complete ineptitude as an investigative journalist.

U.S. v. Lawrence Mendte [pdf]
Philly ex-TV anchor charged with e-mail snooping [Associated Press]
Bikini E-mails Rattle TV Wife; Alycia Lane Arrested, Punches Cop [NY Post]

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Nebraska’s Attorney General Jon Bruning might want to call OnStar before he files his next lawsuit.
In January, Bruning filed suit to stop the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska from constructing a casino on their reservation lands. Unfortunately for Bruning, the Ponca Tribe planned to build their casino in Iowa. In papers filed Friday, the DOJ argued that Bruning lacked standing to block the casino’s construction. The Government could have pointed out that Bruning’s lawsuit is also entirely redundant, given that the Attorney General of Iowa has already filed an appropriate action. How many state Attorneys General does it take to fight off the natives and their tricky card games?
In response to the DOJ’s clever Google maps defense, Bruning refused to bow to any “juris-my-diction” flak. In an email to the Omaha World-Herald, Bruning defended his lawsuit by noting that gamblers might drive through Nebraska to get to the Ponca casino. It will be fun when Bruning claims lordship over Las Vegas, another destination that is hard to get to from Iowa without passing over or through Nebraska.
Posturing lawsuits of this nature are part of a pattern for Killjoy Jon. His other career highlights include leading the charge against salvia, the psychotropic sage that briefly made YouTube fun again. Not surprisingly, his attempt dramatically increased sales of the drug. Bruning did not let the legislature’s refusal to act stop him from enforcing the non-existent statute. On March 10, 2008 a salvia purveyor was arrested for what some would describe as selling a substance we’d very much like to control someday.
To the extent that Bruning’s grandstanding (not my word) distracts him from protecting Nebraskans against thieving crows and other heartland menaces, his reasons are understandable. Like so many attorneys, he is absolutely desperate to get out of the legal profession. Bruning, a Republican, started running for Chuck Hagel’s Senate seat before Hagel even announced his retirement. Having aborted that campaign, Bruning now casts a lascivious eye towards Democrat Bob Nelson’s seat in 2012, or a future gubernatorial run.
Whatever his ambitions, it is unlikely the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska will stand in his way, since the Ponca’s problems, of course, are with Iowa.

Ted Stevens Sen Ted Stevens R Alaska.jpgWell, kinda breaking — the news came out in the past hour. See links below. A DOJ press conference will take place later this afternoon.
For all of you trivia buffs, Senator Stevens is the longest-serving Republican Senator. He’s also, as noted by the AP, “a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood.”
Sen. Stevens indicted: 7 false statements counts [AP]
Sen. Ted Stevens Indicted in Alaska Corruption Probe [Washington Post]
Alaska Senator Is Indicted on Corruption Charges [New York Times]

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol small.jpgYesterday we announced that the new editor of Above the Law will be picked by the readership, through a “reality blogging” competition called ATL Idol. We also introduced you to the six finalists.
The contest has received shout-outs from Dan Solove, over at Concurring Opinions, and Ann Althouse, over at Althouse (who is one of our celebrity judges — but NOT Paula, mind you). Please do what you can to spread the word. If more people vote in the contest, the result is more likely to be “accurate” (in terms of generating a deserving winner).
The tasks the bloggers will be asked to tackle will vary over the three weeks of the contest. Here’s an outline of what to expect this week.
In the first week of competition, the aspiring ATL Idols will write three posts (not counting yesterday’s short bios). Two are what we’re calling “freestyle” posts, but they’re not completely free. One must be a humorous, “___ of the Day” post — e.g., Lawyer, Lawsuit, or Judge of the Day — and one must be more serious or substantive.
The freestyle posts will be published today and Thursday. Contestants can choose the order in which to do the posts — e.g., humorous today and substantive on Thursday, or vice versa — but must do one of each during the week (i.e., not two humorous posts or two serious posts).
On Wednesday, we’re conducting what we’re calling a “head-to-head” round. We’ll publish the contestants’ different takes on the same story (actually, a pair of comparable stories — the contestants can choose). The head-to-head round is designed to show how the bloggers all tackle the same or similar stories, to eliminate any advantage one might derive from an extra-juicy set of facts.
The head-to-head round will be judged by ATL Idol’s distinguished panel of judges:

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    On Thursday, we’ll publish the other half of the bloggers’ freestyle posts. Also on Thursday, the judges will write up their reviews of the head-to-head round, and send them in to us.
    On Friday, we will post the judges’ reviews of the bloggers. These expert reviews are designed to guide and inform the electorate. But just like on Idol, the people decide who stays and who goes. The opinions of the judges are merely advisory.
    Also on Friday, after posting the panel reviews, we will open the reader polls. The polls will be kept open over the weekend (exact closing time to be announced). The bottom two contestants will be eliminated, and the four remaining contestants will move on.
    So that’s what we have in store for you. The first of the freestyle posts will be going up this afternoon. Thanks for reading!
    Earlier: Welcome to… ATL Idol!
    ATL Idol: Meet the Finalists

  • Not too long ago, a curious reader emailed us:

    What are your thoughts on LLM degrees for U.S. law students? I’m considering an LLM program in Intellectual Property, to gain more experience and make myself more desirable for law firms. Do you have any advice whether this is a good idea or not?

    We aren’t experts in the IP field. But as it turns out, the value of LLM degrees was the subject of a prior open thread, back in January. It was more focused on LLMs in tax, but there was some discussion of intellectual property:

    diploma degree LLM degree cap diploma Above the Law blog.jpg“What if I want to teach? Can an LLM – but not in tax, probably in IP – help me?”

    “[I] hear G.W. has a killer LLM in IP Law if you are interested in IP matters.”

    “The down shot of an LLM in IP, especially if you are into patents, is that it is generally more advisable to spend the money you are considering on an LLM in IP on a Master’s or PhD in a science discipline instead.”

    “An LLM will not help you get a job in IP. Period.”

    “An LLM in IP isn’t going to help a wannabe patent litigator get a patent litigation job just like being a patent litigator will never make you a real patent attorney . . . unless you actually have a hard science background and can sit for the patent bar.”

    Those thoughts were fairly general. We asked our source for more information about his specific circumstances:

    I am a rising 3L at mid-30s school, and I’m in the middle of my class. My grades are improving, and I’m involved in extracurriculars like law journal and student organizations, but I still haven’t been able to get any attention from firms at OCI. My interests are trademark and copyright law, and I have considered getting an LLM IP to make myself more attractive to employers.

    I’m wondering: What are the top IP LLM programs? Does someone with in my situation have a shot at being admitted to a top program? Would it even be worth it in the long term?

    If you have information or opinions responsive to these questions, or if you have views on the value of LLM degrees in the IP world more generally, please share in the comments. Thanks.
    Earlier: The Value of an LLM Degree: Open Thread

    Several of you brought this sad news to our attention, including one tipster who wrote: “It’s gone! And I had a friggin bingo to put down.”
    But we were already aware of the demise of Scrabulous. When we tried to access our games this morning, we received this message: “Scrabulous is disabled for US and Canadian users until further notice. If you would like to stay informed about developments in this matter, please click here.”
    Sigh. Those pesky intellectual-property laws….
    P.S. Kash is lucky. She reports that she still has Scrabulous access over in Hong Kong.
    Scrabulous disabled Facebook users US Canada.jpg
    Earlier: More Facebook Lawsuits: Hasbro Doesn’t Think Scrabulous Is Fabulous
    (Threatened) Lawsuit of the Day: How Do You Spell ‘Infringement’?

    chhotu.jpgA court in the Indian state of Bihar is putting a dog on trial. It’s not the first time “Chhotu” has been in trouble with the law. He was sentenced to death in 2003, but he must have a good lawyer, as he managed to get out of the death penalty.
    Here’s the tale of doggy-style justice from BBC News:

    “The court was compelled to issue a summons to the dog since the police found that it was a threat to peace and feared that it might create a law and order problem,” district official Rajiv Ranjan said.
    In court Chhotu appeared to have been on best behaviour.
    “Despite the presence of so many people in the courtroom the dog did not bite or bark at anyone,” the canine’s lawyer Dilip Kumar Deepak said in defence of his client.
    The case continues and Chhotu has been ordered to appear in court again on 5 August, together with his owner, childless widow, Rajkumari Devi.

    Prepare yourself for obligatory terrible dog-related joke…
    It sounds like the case is all bark and no bite.
    Dog in court for breaching peace [BBC News]

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