October 2014

Nora Dannehy special prosecutor acting U.S. attorney Connecticut.jpg* Alberto Gonzales and pals cannot rest easy just yet. AG Michael Mukasey has chosen Nora Dannehy, acting U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, as special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges should be brought in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. [Associated Press]

* Many of us are tempted away from work during the day by Facebook. Lucky Kirkland and Ellis partner Ted Ullyot gets to go do the Facebook thing full-time. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Heath Ledger’s former lawyer sues for payment on a $10-million life insurance policy on behalf of Ledger’s daughter. [Canadian Press]

* Ladies, rejoice. Judge rules in favor of “ladies’ nights” in Manhattan. [CNN]

* Thirty-three pastors started a crusade against federal tax law this weekend. Slamming Sen. Barack Obama from the pulpit, they hope to start a legal battle that will lead to the end of a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship. [Washington Post]

* Which law firms lose out in the Wachovia sale to Citi? [AmLaw Daily]

orrick logo.gifLast week, we tangentially touched on the issue of California’s Proposition 8, which is titled: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” The issue touched off a firestorm of comments, with many strong opinions for and against the measure.

Apparently, senior attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe also hold strong opinions about Prop. 8. Political divisions at the firm came to a head when Dean Criddle, a tax partner in the San Francisco office, made a $5,000 contribution to the Yes On 8 campaign. Upon learning of Criddle’s contribution, his colleague in the tax department and San Francisco office, of counsel Cameron Wolfe, sent out this email:

Sent: Sunday, September 28, 2008 9:57 PM


Subject: Orrick and the Proposition 8 Campaign

The publicity attendant to the $5,000 contribution to the Yes on 8 Campaign by an Orrick partner damages the reputation of Orrick as a progressive law firm supportive of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. This can adversely impact the firm in many ways, including hurting our ability to attract gay and lesbian recruits; turning off clients, existing and potential, that support equal rights for homosexuals; and making our current gay and lesbian work force feel like second class citizens.

Chief justice George’s eloquent exposition of the reasons why same sex marriage is a right that should be guaranteed to all gay and lesbian people need not be elaborated upon here. Obviously, the partner who made the $5,000 contribution had a right to believe the Chief Justice to be wrong and to make the contribution he did. It can be debated whether he should have foreseen that this action could damage Orrick. What can’t be debated is that we should try to counteract the damage that has occurred.

One thing that we as individuals working at the Orrick firm can do is to make personal contributions to the No on 8 Campaign. If enough of us do so, that may be newsworthy enough to generate positive publicity offsetting the present negative impression in the community on this important issue.

I urge each of you to make a contribution to No on 8, which can be sent as follows:

No on 8

Equality California

2370 Market St.

San Francisco, CA 94114

And be sure to indicate your affiliation with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

Thanks for your help.

Cameron Wolfe, Jr.

We can argue about whether gay marriage should be protected by the Constitution, but isn’t it a little bit odd to be advocating one right while trying to step on a separate Constitutional protection?

Another Orrick lawyer weighs in, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Orrick’s Internal Battle Over Proposition 8″

black jesus.JPG* If I loiter outside my polling place dressed as black Jesus, does that count as electioneering? [The Sable Verity]

* If you thought the Farnsworth Invention was must see theater, you won’t want to miss Flash of Genius. It’s a riveting story about the patent litigation surrounding the first intermittent windshield-wiper, starring … wait a minute. Did somebody just make a movie about windshield-wipers? I have to finish editing my screenplay. [Patent Baristas]

* Let’s see exactly who voted against the bailout. [Dealbreaker]

* Of course there is going to be a special prosecutor in the DOJ firing scandal. I’m not entirely sure why we needed a 392-page report to figure that out, but it’s nice to see that our government still has some money to throw around. [BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]

* Somehow, there has to be a way to save the New York Sun. [Point of Law]

* Blawg Review commemorates the invention of the ball-point-pen — 70 years old, and still a great self-defense weapon in a pinch. [Securing Innovation via Blawg Review]

cap gown diploma graduate.jpgGiven the economic Armageddon happening right in front of our eyes, you might think that even your investments in your own education are depreciating faster than the Congressional approval rating.

But you’d be wrong. According to Karl Okamoto over at the Conglomerate:

Is law school a good value? That’s the question I ask my students to figure out, hoping to teach them a bit about finance. Using crude numbers, the answer looks like a resounding “yes.” As they say in the investment business, it looks like a “three bagger.” Even if you have to put $230,000 in, you get over $700,000 back!

That’s a cool $470,000 in net present value — a much better return than any American bank is likely to offer you this lifetime. The methodology is based on the Department of Labor’s statistics:

[T]he Wall Street Journal reported recently on salary statistics. While the median salary for persons holding just a BA has slipped to $47,240, those of us with professional degrees have gone up to $89,602. Even better, recent Labor Department numbers show the median salary for lawyers at $106,120. So, as I say to my students, think of your law degree as an annuity. It represents a payment stream that lasts for a career (say 40 years) that equals the spread between what you would have earned without your law degree versus what you can with it. Using the median salary numbers, that spread is almost $60,000. Discounted at 8%, the annuity has a present value of over $700,000. The present value of three years of tuition (at $40,000 a year), books and foregone salary (at the median) is about $230,000. So, as your stockbroker used to say about Lehman bonds, a “no brainer!”

Nice. Of course, that median salary is largely dependent on top firms paying their lawyers large salaries, based on the huge fees charged to wealthy clients.

Should a major economic collapse send the American economy back to the antebellum period, wealthy corporations might not be able to afford… well, everybody here understands we’re totally screwed the worst-case scenario.

If you are considering going to law school, it’s still probably a safe bet. At least it’s a better bet than being an I-banker right now.

What is the NPV of a JD? [The Conglomerate via TaxProf Blog]

Undergrads: Listen Up –Time To Think About Law School! [Millennial Money / CNBC]

recession california associate pay raises.jpgWe like to think of ATL as a place where lawyers can get together and discuss the compelling news of the day.

Well, the news of the day is that Wall Street will apparently not be receiving $700 billion dollars to cover their bad investments. The House rejected the bailout plan. The Dow is down by over 400 points as of this writing. And I think I just saw Jimmy Stewart beating the crap out of Mr. Potter.

Really, anytime Robert Reich and Newt Gingrich are agreeing on television, times are strange.

If they’re not going to pass this bailout, then what do you think is going to happen?

This post serves as my official request to start receiving my paycheck in gold bullion.

Update (3:30 PM): The Dow is now down by over 700 points, just over 6 percent. The S&P 500 is now down by almost 100 points, just over 8 percent.

Bailout plan rejected [CNN]

Cantor Blames Pelosi, Boehner Blames Jews [Dealbreaker]

Thelen LLP new logo.jpgWhat’s going to happen to Thelen? That is the question many are asking in the wake of Heller Ehrman’s untimely demise.

As we have previously reported, Thelen has not yet been able to merge with another firm, while suffering through a slew of partner defections. They’ve even canceled their 2009 summer program.

Today brings more bad news for Thelen. Pillsbury announced that they have acquired Thelen’s China practice group:

[A] group of approximately 20 attorneys, including partners Tom Shoesmith, Meg Utterback, Joe Tiano and Lou Bevilacqua, to be based in Pillsbury’s Shanghai, Washington, DC and San Francisco offices.

This may not be as crippling as losing a rainmaking IP practice group like Heller did. But the losses are adding up for Thelen.

Thelen’s attempt to quell the rumors, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is Thelen Next?”

It takes two lawyers to schedule a deposition. And while a third-year associate might view a deposition as the most important event scheduled in a calendar year, most seasoned attorneys can be expected to show some flexibility when it comes to scheduling conflicts.

After Hurricane Ike struck Texas, attorneys at Markland Hanley and Tekell, Brook, Matthews & Limmer tried to reschedule a deposition. But the people at Markland Hanley wanted Tekell to reimburse them for travel expenses.

Hilarity ensued when Tekell attorney Jeff Murphrey responded to Markland Hanley’s request for reimbursement fees:

I am sorry that a hurricane hit Houston

I am sorry that upon returning to my home Monday, September 22, 2008, I discovered a roughly 50ft. x 6ft. swath of human excrement, used condoms, and all the other niceties that come with a raw sewage leak into one’s backyard which drains into one of the main bayous in Houston.

I am sorry that I had to threaten City of Houston officials with lawsuits and local news exposure in order to get them to even agree to meet with me about cleaning up the problem.

I am sorry that these city officials chose a date that interfered with our deposition and gave me no other options.

Murphrey goes on to explain the extraordinary steps that were taken to cleanse his backyard. He also claims that he agreed to pay reasonable travel expenses.

Murphrey then adds:

I am sorry that you think the judge should be involved in this matter. I wonder if the judge will be sorry about that, too.

We don’t know all the details of the back and forth between Markland Hanley and Tekell. But maybe they need to add a “hurricane aftermath” section in the MPRE.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Houston: We Have A Problem.”

funny-pictures-cat-hopes-you-kept-the-receipt-for-the-baby.jpgWe have some bad news for this year’s incoming associates. Based on last Wednesday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, attorneys at your new firm like you even less than they liked summer associates.

We received 765 responses, and the number of practicing attorneys who said “First-year associates, hate ‘em” beat the number of practicing attorneys who said “First-year associates, love ‘em,” by a margin of 25.55% to 21.88%. In comparison, summer associates had managed a more even 25.06% to 24.82% love-hate response in an earlier survey.

Like ‘em or not, respondents sure did think there were a lot of ‘em.

  • Overall, 58% of practicing respondents said that their firms had hired too many new associates, with 29% saying “way too many.”

  • Only 10% thought their firms had hired too few.
  • And just under a third of respondents, 32%, thought their firms had hired just the right number.

In comparison, about 53% of practicing attorneys thought that their firms’ summer programs were too big this year, with 21% calling them “way too big.”

Alarmingly, the people most likely to think there are too many first-years were also the people most likely to be making hire-and-fire decisions. While 57% of second-year associates thought their firms had hired too many new associates, that number exploded to 74% among attorneys who had been practicing since before 2000.

So, if you think that partner you’re working with right now might really want to fire you, you’re probably right. Have fun at work today!

Similarly, the more seasoned the respondents, the more likely they were to actually dislike their newest colleagues. 30% of second-year associates actually said “love ‘em” to the new first-years, and only 15% said “hate ‘em.” But among attorneys who had been practicing since before 2000, only 11% said they liked first-years, while a whopping 48% declared, “hate ‘em.”

So, if you think that partner you’re working with right now might really want to fire you, you’re probably right. Seriously, have fun at work today!

Read more, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Welcome To The Firm! Or Not.”

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe Office of the Inspector General has released its final report on the removal of nine U.S. attorneys from the Department of Justice.

The 392-page report can be downloaded here.

This morning, the New York Times reported:

[O]fficials with knowledge of the inspector general’s investigation and defense lawyers who have been involved in it said they did not expect that the investigation would recommend that criminal charges be pursued at this point against Mr. Gonzales or other officials. The report was expected to recommend that investigators continue to pursue some elements of the case, meaning that the legal questions around Mr. Gonzales would continue.

Enjoy your hard working tax dollars.

An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 (.pdf) [DOJ]

No Charges Expected in Dismissal of Attorneys [New York Times]

Not Hiring sign.jpgSince the last time we took a look at fall recruiting there have been a few interesting economic developments: Lehman collapsed, Heller Ehrman collapsed, and apparently we now live in a socialist republic.

But is all the dour economic news affecting law students in search of summer employment?

Yes. Big time. One tipster reports:

Harvard OCI is NOT going well. People with good grades are not getting callbacks from mid-level firms (e.g., White [& Case]) and people with average grades aren’t getting callbacks from blah firms (Proskauer [Rose], Clifford [Chance], etc.) Chadbourne canceled their whole Harvard OCI program. And people with great grades are getting callbacks at, say, Cravath but not Simpson.

Correction: Apologies. From a Chadbourne spokesperson:

In an item on Abovethelaw.com today headlined “Open Thread: How is the Fall Recruiting Season Shaping Up?” you say that Chadbourne & Parke has cancelled “their whole Harvard OCI.” This is wrong. We are continuing to recruit for our summer program at Harvard Law School. In fact, Chadbourne recruiters are at the Harvard OCI taking place today.

The California market is dealing with its own kind of callback hell. See, e.g., Heller Ehrman.

What are your experiences out on the trail? Last summer, firms claimed that their summer programs were oversubscribed. Are they “correcting” the problem, or is it last call at the Overlook Hotel?

Share your stories in the comments.

Earlier: Fall Recruiting Open Thread: 3Ls

More on On-Campus Interview Cancellations

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