Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: time to announce Above the Law’s top two stories for 2008, on the gossip front. We’ve also been recapping the top stories on the business side of the fence, but stories about the business of law are available from many other outlets. Juicy law firm gossip is harder to come by.
Our two leading gossip stories were broken here at ATL. They were subsequently picked up by mainstream media outlets, but we covered them first.
Read about the two stories, after the jump.
In early December 2008, prominent New York litigator Marc Dreier was arrested in Canada. Dreier, the founder and sole equity partner of Dreier LLP, was charged with impersonating a lawyer at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The allegation is that Dreier’s impersonation attempt was made in connection with an attempt to sell fraudulent promissory notes in the real estate development company of Sheldon Solow, a former client.
When Dreier returned to the United States, he was hit with charges from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (S.D.N.Y.) and the Securities and Exchange Commission. They allege that Dreier engaged in an elaborate series of ruses in an attempt to sell fake promissory notes by Solow. The sums involved allegedly reach into the hundreds of millions (small change compared to the alleged Ponzi scheme of Benard Madoff, but nothing to sneeze at).
And that wasn’t all. Tens of millions of dollars turned up missing from Dreier LLP escrow accounts. It came to light that the firm was far behind on its bills. In mid-December, the firm filed for bankruptcy protection.
What next for Dreier? Stay tuned. He’s being held without bail, deemed a flight risk by the prosecution and the court. It’s safe to say that his days of cavorting with celebrities and dating Maxim models are probably over.
When Paul Hastings decided to lay off Shinyung Oh, they didn’t know who they were messing with. Oh, who was laid off barely a week after suffering a miscarriage, gave the PH partners a piece of her mind in a celebrated email. Our recap won’t do it justice; reread it by clicking here.
The ensuing controversy turned into a public relations debacle for Paul Hastings, which was roundly condemned in many quarters. In opinion polls on ATL taken at the time, 46 percent of respondents said they had a “very unfavorable” opinion of the firm, and another 34 percent said they had a “somewhat unfavorable” opinion. Meanwhile, Shinyung Oh was viewed very favorably or somewhat favorably by almost 80 percent of respondents. Shinyung Oh 1, Paul Hastings 0.
And what has this heroine of Biglaw associates been up to lately? Here’s what we learned:
Shinyung Oh has spent the remainder of 2008 in various cafes in San Francisco, working on her writing and trying to undo the 10 years of BigLaw indoctrination. Her first magazine piece will be published in January, and she continues taking writing courses and posting in her blog Because You Never Know.
Now, her post-PH life hasn’t been the proverbial bowl of cherries. From one recent blog entry:
I’ve been frustrated by my slow progress in figuring out my new direction. I’ve made so little progress and have been irritated with myself for having squandered so much time. It has been eight months since I got booted out of Paul Hastings, and I have very little to show for it. This period has been the most unproductive since I left law school. I keep asking myself, why can’t I get it together?
In the rest of the entry, Shinyung Oh offers some thoughtful and eloquent reflections on how easy it is for lawyers to get pigeonholed as lawyers — even if practicing law isn’t really what they wanted to do with their lives. We suspect these concerns may resonate for some ATL readers.
The road to professional satisfaction can be long and winding, but we predict that Shinyung Oh will reach her destination in the end. If you’re still on that same journey, dear reader, we wish you the best of luck.