September 2008

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What did you miss if you didn’t peruse last Sunday’s NYT weddings section? The marriage of Theodore Roosevelt V, for starters. Also, a whole lot of gayness! We counted seven same-sex weddings on this week’s list, which we suspect is a an all-time high. (And how sociologically interesting that all seven were men marrying men!) None of this week’s same-sex weddings made it into the finals, but LEWW is delighted to reflect (in a rare moment of seriousness) on how much has changed since August 2002, when the paper announced that it would include same-sex weddings for the first time. Long live love!

Here are this week’s couples:

1. Tania Brief and Andrew Ehrlich

2. Jori Finkel and Michael Lubic

3. Laura Millendorf and Mark Yopp

Click on the link below to read all about these legal lovebirds.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 9.14: Brief Interlude”

chimp communicates with Elie Mystal.jpg* Monkeys are funny. But chimps on a porsche are just weird. [Tulkinghorn / The Lawyer]

* I do not think that word means what John McCain thinks it means. [Firedoglake; Stephen Bainbridge]

* Are firms suffering from a generational divide? [The Complete Lawyer]

* For those interested, USC has started a Charlie Whitebread Scholarship Fund. And the dean pens a nice tribute. [Gould School Of Law]

cat killer stands trial.jpgJoseph Petcka, who had bit part in Sex And The City and an even less useful role as a New York Mets minor league prospect, has been charged with brutally murdering his girlfriend’s cat. His trial started yesterday.

In her opening statement Assistant District Attorney Leila Kermani said:

The defendant, in a fit of anger and rage, beat a defenseless animal to death. The defendant killed Norman [the cat] simply because he was an angry, jealous and drunken bully.

The defense argued that the cat’s death was a tragic accident:

Petcka’s lawyer, Charles Hochbaum, admitted his client kicked the 8-year-old tabby and “swatted him really hard” after the cat bit him, but he said his client did not mean to kill him.

If this guy wasn’t good enough to pitch on those terrible mid-90s Mets teams, it is shocking that this guy could hit a moving cat with anything. The “accident” defense just might work.

Our friend over at Animal Law Blog argues that both participants are idiots:

I can’t help but note a couple of things. One is that AP is reporting that the pair had only been dating six weeks at the time of Norman’s death. What was this guy thinking? That his girlfriend would abandon all other relationships in her life for someone she had been dating for six weeks?

More importantly, the article also says that when Petchka alleged went into his drunken rage at about 3 a.m., ex-girlfriend Lisa Altobelli left the apartment to protect herself but apparently didn’t think Norman was in danger. What was she thinking? Yes, technically, she shouldn’t have to fear for Norman’s safety, but then again, she shouldn’t have had to fear for her own, either.

I don’t leave my dog alone with me when I am drunk and enraged. But that is mainly because I don’t want her to see me cry.

Have fun in that great animal rescue in the sky, Norman. “Accident” or not, we can only hope that you had some kind of dastardly form of rabies crossed with Ebola that is slowly coursing itself through Petcka’s blood stream as we speak.

Prosecutor: Actor killed cat in jealous rage [MSNBC]

Kudos to one New York City District Attorney’s Office [Animal Law Blog]

Sarah Palin Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hottie.jpgTalis Colberg, Alaska’s Attorney General, has stepped into Sarah Palin’s troopergate issues. He is trying to quash subpoenas sent to state employees as part of the ongoing investigation.

But we’re not sure why. He had been running his own investigation, at Palin’s request, since July. Then Palin authorized Stephen Branchflower to run an independent investigation (you have to love the names on these Alaskans). Messing around with the state legislature’s investigation seems outside the purview of normal attorney general duties.

Talking Points Memo thinks that Colberg is acting for political reasons:

[I]t’s worth stressing a point that might be getting lost in the flurry of moves and counter-moves: Colberg is no independent player in this case. In fact, he’s a Palin appointee, who was personally involved in the effort to pressure Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to terminate Trooper Mike Wooten, and who has already led an investigation into the matter at Palin’s behest.

But does the mere fact that Colberg is a Palin appointee mean that he has turned into partisan prosecutor? In his letter arguing against the subpoenas Colberg wrote:

This is an untenable position for our clients because the governor has so strongly stated that the subpoenas issued by your committee are of questionable validity.

What is the proper role of state AG’s when the sled hits the slope? Clearly any move that Colberg makes will be interpreted as partisan by the opposition, but does that mean he should recuse himself? Or is it his responsibility to tangle with the legislature over this investigation?

The bottom line is that whatever happened between Palin and her family and her office, nobody will be satisfied until all the facts are brought to light in an impartial way. But is there anybody left to investigate that isn’t biased one way or the other?

Trooper-Gate’s Attorney-General Problem [TPM]

feamle attorneys make less than men.jpgThe U.S. Census Bureau reports that women in legal occupations earn 51% of what men earn.

That is not a typo.

Some people will no doubt say something like “women are secretaries and men are attorneys,” before clubbing their mates into submission. But according to the report:

[T]he salary gap was the largest among judges, magistrates and other judicial workers, with women earning an estimated $69,500, compared to men’s $108,100, or about 64 percent of their salaries.

Women attorneys earned a median of $93,600, or about 78 percent of men’s median earnings of $120,400.

We briefly mentioned yesterday that female paralegals only earn 93% of what their male counterparts make. Given the proportion of females to males that work as paralegals, that income disparity screams of day-to-day sexism.

These additional numbers may speak to larger systematic problems facing women in the legal profession. Lockstep pay should smooth out gender inequality when it comes to salaries, so long as women are getting promoted and making partner on par with their male counterparts. Clearly, this is not happening.

And the “women get pregnant and have babies while men toil away all the live long day” argument is a poor one. Women who have left the profession to start a family are not artificially dragging down the salary numbers, since they are “out” of the profession. And surely we don’t think that women who take a “survival of the species” time-out and then come back to work should be penalized.

78 cents on the dollar for female attorneys? 51 cents on the dollar for all females in the profession? Those numbers are embarrassing. That is all.

Women in Legal Occupations Earned 51 Percent of Men’s Salaries, Says Study [Law.com]

recession california associate pay raises.jpgA few days ago, we asked whether going in-house was still a viable option for Biglaw associates. Today we look at whether those who leave can ever come back.

The National Law Journal did a follow-up piece on Bear Stearns attorneys who weren’t able to move over to JP Morgan after the merger. They report (subscription):

Many refugees from Bear Stearns have landed at law firms, including Bingham McCutchen; Venable; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; K&L Gates; and Katten Muchin Rosenman.

“It’s like a port in the storm right now,” said one former Bear Stearns attorney who has landed at a law firm and asked not to be identified.

But as one commenter points out, moving back into Biglaw isn’t easy:

To get back in to BigLaw from most in-house positions is extremely difficult. If you work in a niche, like government contracts or FDA, it improves your chances significantly. However, if you are just a general corporate attorney at a company and are looking to get back in a firm, there’s little shot.

Going back to the firm will likely get even more difficult as additional attorneys from Lehman and Merrill Lynch flood the midlevel market. But we can expect that displaced in-house counsel will try to get back into Biglaw, because in this market, “job security” is the Holy Grail.

Do law firms actually provide a “safer” alternative? After the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In-House Counsel: The Prodigal Son Or The Red-Headed Step-Child?”

Eliot Spitzer Governor Eliot Spitzer prostitute prostitution Above the Law blog.jpgThere is so much blame to go around over the AIG debacle that even “Governor John” Eliot Spitzer is getting knocked around.

Remember Attorney General Spitzer orchestrated AIG founder Maurice “Hank” Greenberg’s resignation, back in 2005. But since then some of the charges against Greenberg have been dropped, while Greenberg continues to fight other allegations.

Greenberg was but one of many “triumphs” Spitzer notched on his bedpost as Attorney General. His zealous prosecution of wall street corruption catapulted him to fame, higher office, and (we now know) abject hypocrisy.

But as the AP points out, it may be a little too easy –and partisan– to blame Spitzer for AIG’s collapse:

“I think the AIG problems were probably even bigger than Hank Greenberg and Eliot Spitzer,” said Professor James D. Cox of the School of Law at Duke University. “I would hope that something of this scale _ which is mammoth, both the bailout and the problems that led up to it _ are bigger than just politics.”

Columbia Law Professor John Coffee blames AIG’s troubles on AIG owns practices: “Ratings agencies don’t downgrade anyone because Eliot Spitzer doesn’t like them.”

Spitzer didn’t break Wall Street, but his particular path to power should be a warning to future attorneys general. Sticking up for the little guy is all well and good. But you shouldn’t use the office to get nice copy for future campaign ads.

Are you listening Andrew Cuomo? Prosecutors are supposed to tackle “corruption” because it is their job, not because it’s a resume builder for higher office. It’s a rule we think both parties should be able to follow.

Analysis: Some see Spitzer role in AIG’s crisis [Associated Press]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGYou’ve got to, get yourself together

You’ve got stuck in a moment,

And now you can’t get out of it

Don’t say that later will be better,

now you’re stuck in a moment

And you can’t get out of it

– U2

Heller Ehrman is in trouble. They’ve been spurned again and again by merger partners, entire practice groups have defected, and now more rumors are flying fast and furious. Today’s Recorder reports:

In office meetings on Wednesday, partners were told that dissolution is one of several options facing the 119-year-old firm, a Heller partner said. As a result, management said it was understood that partners would begin talking to other firms, and several individuals and groups have already begun talks, sources said.

Despite these talks, Heller continues to show a brave face to the public. In response to reports we had heard declaring that Heller’s D.C. office would be closing, a firm spokesperson said simply:

[T]here are no plans to close the D.C. office.

But the firm’s 2009 summer program seems to be up in the air. The Heller people we talked with had no direct knowledge of what was happening with the summer program, but one tipster sent us an ominous warning:

I am a 2L at Georgetown. I had a screening interview with Heller Ehrman almost a month ago and heard back earlier this week, within hours after the news about the failed merger. I warily accepted a callback with them. Just got a voicemail from their recruiting coordinator saying that they had to cancel the callback and that she didn’t have any more information about it. My theory is that they’re canceling the summer program

Ours too. But Heller’s associate recruitment department could not be reached for comment.

Employees still at Heller weigh in after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Heller Is Stuck In A Moment”

Davis Polk Wardwell DPW Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been providing extensive coverage of the unfolding financial crisis (as have our colleagues at our sister site, Dealbreaker). In several recent posts — see, e.g., here and here — we’ve discussed the Biglaw winners and losers with respect to the Wall Street meltdown.

One evident winner: Davis Polk & Wardwell. Several DPW sources forwarded us an email that was circulated yesterday, trumpeting how busy the firm is these days and how many engagements it has landed arising out of what the memo calls “recent financial markets matters” (aka “the late unpleasantness”).

One Davis tipster writes:

[This email] went out to all lawyers. I suppose it’s their way of saying things are pretty great at the firm. Let’s hope bonus season will confirm this view!

The supposedly internal memo reads a bit like a press release. It was sent out not by a partner but by Kevin Cavanaugh, the firm’s director of business development.

We suspect that the memo is a bit of “blog bait” from Davis Polk. Naturally, we’re happy to take it.

Check out the full memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Davis Polk: Making Bank”

the innocent man.jpg* The fiscal crisis continues to escalate. The Fed and Treasury Department are making historic, rapid-fire decisions every hour. But in Congress, lawmakers are just sitting around, twiddling their thumbs. [Washington Post]

* John Grisham is deemed “the innocent man.” Judge dismisses libel suit against him. [Associated Press]

* It’s not just Biglaw sharing office space. Federal judges may have to start shacking up too. [Legal Times]

* In another sign of America’s waning global influence, the world’s courts are losing respect for SCOTUS. At least the world still loves Hollywood movies. [New York Times]

* In “a shocking invasion of the Governor’s privacy and a violation of law,” hackers raid Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account. Men everywhere despair at the lack of bikini photos. [Slate]

* The Congressional investigation of Judge Thomas Porteous (E.D. La.) is on. Will he become the first impeached federal judge in almost 20 years? Stay tuned. [Associated Press]

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