August 2014

Judge Kent.jpgThe days following Valentine’s Day are always a good time time to check back in with ex-flames, long lost friends and alleged abusers. On that note, what has our old friend U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent been up to?

This Tuesday, Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida, who is presiding over Kent’s federal sex crimes and obstruction of justice case, denied Kent’s request that the obstruction of justice charge be dropped or moved into a separate trial.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Kent’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, originally argued on paper that Kent should have two trials because he must take the stand in a trial of the sexual cases to say he believed his relationships were consensual but that he would not testify on his own behalf in the obstruction case. DeGuerin said on Tuesday that Kent will only likely not testify about the obstruction.

Just how did Kent obstruct justice, you ask?

In the obstruction charge, Kent is accused of lying about sexual contact with an employee to prominent federal judges who investigated a misconduct complaint against him.

But fans of Kent, worry not, for Kent’s explanation for the lie is beyond reproach.

Kent’s amazing excuse and notes on etiquette, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Kent Does Not Kiss and Tell”

Thompson_Hine_logo.jpgThe song “Cleveland Rocks” always seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, and yesterday’s events did nothing to dissuade. We’ve received several reports that 400-attorney Midwestern firm Thompson Hine has been conducting layoffs in its Ohio offices, including its Cleveland one:

12 lawyers, 5 paralegals, and 29 secretaries.

Another tipster reports that the layoffs number “at least 50.” Apparently three first year associates were among the carnage.

If this post sounds like run-of the mill layoff story about a small firm in a distant kingdom, you’re absolutely right. Except for the part where Thompson Hine takes away its 2007 salary bump and employs the second most terrifying economic deflection tactic we’ve seen yet:

word is that the firm has cut every associates’ salary by $20,000/year.

The firm has not responded to our request for comment, but if true, Thompson’s use of the Salary Cut marks the second appearance of this dastardly weapon since the economy tanked. Recall that last week, WolfBlock chopped associate salaries by 10%.

While the threat of the Salary Cut is contained at this time, let us pray that this spawn of an unholy alliance between the Reverse Perk and the Salary Freeze does not become epidemic.

Update: The firm has confirmed the pay cut and layoffs, to Am Law Daily:

Earlier this week Cleveland’s Thompson Hine told its associates and other non-partner lawyers that it will impose an across-the-board $17,500 base salary reduction. Those lawyers will, however, be able to earn back some or all of that sum as a bonus if they bill at least 1,750 hours this year….

The firm also announced layoffs this week, eliminating the jobs of 12 associates, five paralegals, and 29 secretaries. Furthermore, it has pushed back the starting date for its incoming first-year class to January 2010.

Thompson Hine M.P.: Associate Pay Cut Expected to Save Jobs [Am Law Daily]

* U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gets fierce during a speech for Black History month at the Eric Holder Obama AG.jpgDepartment of Justice. “Nation of cowards” kind of rubs people the wrong way. [CNN]

* Want to be Facebook’s James Madison? After its defensive contract writing debacle, Facebook is asking users to help it write a Bill of Rights. [Washington Post]

* A whole article on bonus rollbacks but no mention of the half-Skadden. [New York Times]

* UBS cries uncle in its match with the DOJ. The Swiss bank will pay $780 million and reveal the names of a few hundred of its many tax-evading clients. [Bloomberg]

* Lawyers for Minnesota Senator-wannabe Norm Coleman are growing desperate. They accused the judges of creating a “legal quagmire.” “It’s kind of like criticizing the official … during the middle of a game,” said Guy-Uriel Charles, a constitutional law professor at Duke University. [The Star Tribune]

* Nationwide Law School Dean Hiring Watch: University of Iowa. [The University of Iowa News Services]

loki.jpg* An MSM shout-out for ATL’s very own Hope Winters. [CNN]

* Mickey Rourke’s beloved chihuahua, Loki, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this past Monday. Here’s to hoping that Mickey’s covered. [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

* The Tax Workshop for Strippers & Sex Workers will be “speci​fical​ly helpful to those​ who work as indep​enden​t contr​actor​s,​ wheth​er in a club or doing​ priva​te work.​” Nice try federal investigators, but they’ve already pulled this stunt on To Catch a Predator. [The Faculty Lounge via TaxProf Blog]

* If Michael Jackson songs are prohibited on American Idol, I strongly recommend canceling the show. [Popsquire]

* When I first heard the term “waterboarding,” I thought it sounded like a delightful sport. [Brad DeLong: Notes]

* Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

And if I die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my toys to break.

So none of the other kids can use ‘em…

Amen. [Overlawyered]

Kramer Levin Naftalis Frankel LLP new logo ATL Above the Law blog.jpgLayoffs, layoffs everywhere. And not a one doesn’t stink.

The latest bummer comes from Kramer Levin, where attorney layoffs were conducted last Thursday. Staff layoffs took place today to the reaction of “shocked” personnel (in the words of a tipster). The firm confirmed the bad news to us via phone:

We confirm that in connection with our year end review process, 18 attorneys and 21 staff members were let go by the firm. Terminations were based on both economic and performance considerations.

But don’t take our transcribed word for it. An email sent by the firm’s managing partner at 4:20 p.m. today, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Kramer Levin Kuts 39 (18 Lawyers, 21 Staffers)”

Baby Mama Poster.jpgIf you’re sick and tired of paternity tests on every episode of Maury Povich, join the club — the baby mamas club, that is. In a decision by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the court ruled that the trial court’s use of the term “baby mama,” along with other comments about the African-American defendant’s habits, could lead to the reasonable perception that the defendant’s sentence was impermissibly influenced by race.

A quick review of the exchange between the trial court and the defendant reveals that the trial court judge (the Honorable Joseph Wall) is a jerk. But damned if he isn’t a hilarious one:

THE COURT: Where are you working now?
THE DEFENDANT: I’m unemployed right now.
THE COURT: You’re unemployed still?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Have you gotten a job since January?
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir.
THE COURT: You’re kidding.
THE DEFENDANT: No.
THE COURT: What do you do all day?
THE DEFENDANT: I just stay at home with my daughter and that’s it.
THE COURT: Where is her mother?
THE DEFENDANT: At work.
THE COURT: So the mother works and you sit at home, right?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah.
THE COURT: And watch the child?
THE DEFENDANT: I got all types of things goin’. My personal family.
THE COURT: Where does the baby’s mama work?
THE DEFENDANT: Metro Market.
THE COURT: Did she finish school?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Is she going to college, too?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Where do you guys find these women, really, seriously. I’d say about every fourth man who comes in here unemployed, no education, is with a woman who is working full-time, going to school. Where do you find these women? Is there a club?
THE DEFENDANT: No.

Wait, it gets better… after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Joseph R. Wall, You Can Find Me at The Club”

deloitte.jpgSometimes when the balance sheets don’t, well, balance, somebody has to pay.

This week it’s the attorneys in Deloitte‘s Miami office who find themselves with a negative cash flow. We received reports of “multiple firings,” and that such firings occurred in Deloitte’s tax department. (Yes, some attorneys do go work for accounting firms; for more on that career option, see our earlier post.)

The extent of the firings, and whether they affected other offices, is unclear. However, Deloitte’s statement to ATL, which bears similarity to the refined prose of Jane Austen Fraternity Lothario, indicates that the firings are not limited to just a few poor souls or to Miami:

In a move to align its workforce to better reflect business and client needs, Deloitte is taking a number of steps to reduce costs in some of its businesses affected by the overall slowdown in the economy, including adjustments to our workforce levels in the US.

Severance details and coping techniques, after the jump.

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pls hndle.jpg

ATL -

I was an associate at Morgan & Finnegan and got laid off. It looks like I will not be getting my WARN Act payments, and I don’t know if I want to join a suit trying to claim those payments. I was thinking about suing the firm, but my concern is hurting my reputation in the legal community by suing a former employer. Could you please give me some advice on this?

Check’s In The Mail

Dear Check’s In The Mail -

For those of you just joining us, during the first hour of I Love Money 2, Morgan & Finnegan dissolved, laid off all its attorneys and allegedly cut them bad checks for severance/WARN payments (perhaps from a frozen account). If it’s a class action and you’re not the named plaintiff — sue until your heart’s content. But I’d be wary of filing suit if it’s just you, Dave, Dave from floor 17 and real estate Mike banding together to sue.

Let’s tackle the legal argument first in this latter scenario, seeing as this is a law blog. Are employees of bankrupt organization senior creditors? I have no idea; they told me not to bother studying commercial credit because it rarely appears on the bar exam. But practically speaking, nobody ever gets their money when places go bankrupt. Any episode of 20/20 featuring John Stossel could tell you that.

Are you prepared to sink a ton of time and money into pursuing this claim? If not, abandon ship now. There was a reason M & F billed you out at $300+, and that’s because their rates were intended to scare away all but those who had giant bags of money to spare. And apparently M&F scared them away, too.

Finally, if you, Dave, Dave and Mike sue, your complaint will inevitably appear on Above the Law. We’ll analyze it, we’ll criticize it, we’ll link to the PDF. But the collective scrutiny of Elie, Lat, Kash and myself is child’s play compared to the wrath of guest. Are you ready for the commenters?

Since Elie’s not here, after the jump I play the role of Elie and argue with myself for several paragraphs. Immediately thereafter, I check into Bellevue.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: Get Rich or Die Tryin’”

funny-pictures-kitten-and-puppy-watch-a-scary-movie-together.jpgWe received over 1,400 responses to last Wednesday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on layoffs, which is slightly more than the number of attorneys actually laid off in last week’s Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Even so, roughly 70% of the respondents who hadn’t already been laid off said that they were at least a little bit afraid of joining their colleagues on the breadline.

And very few respondents thought their law firms were doing much to help avoid a layoff:

* About 19% of respondents said their firms were letting associates in slow practices keep their hours up by doing some work supporting the busier practices.

* But only 9% thought their firm would actually let them transfer from a slow practice to a busy one.

* And only 2% thought their firm would let them relocate to another office to find work.

* Similarly, only 2% said their firm was letting associates go part-time.

As lack of work gives way to lack of a job, firms’ support mechanisms for the downsized are looking a bit slim:

* Only 16% of respondents said their firm was providing ample notice to terminated associates, so they could find a new job.

* Only 15% said their firm was leaving laid off associates’ bios on the firm website while they looked for work.

* Only 4% of respondents said their firm was helping associates find positions with clients or with non-profits.

* Roughly 5% of respondents said individual partners at their firm were calling around to try to help associates find new jobs.

* 9% said their firm was making a career consultant available to the downsized.

More than a quarter of respondents, 26%, said their firm wasn’t doing anything to help associates deal with, or avoid, a layoff, and 35% of respondents said they didn’t know.

A few thoughts from the commentariat, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Fear, Firings and Firm Support”

Hogan Hartson logo.jpgWhen firms catch a case of the economy, their illnesses often follow similar courses. They may freeze salaries. They may conduct layoffs. And the latest trendy symptom: they may push back associate start dates, the idea being that saving a couple months’ worth of associate pay will somehow shore up the firms’ balance sheets, steel them against the battering winds of the economy, and position them to be the greatest and most billingest places known to mankind, now or in the future.

Last week, Hogan & Hartson succumbed to push-back fever and joined Sonnenschein, WolfBlock, Nixon Peabody and others in the start date infirmary. Reports a tipster:

Hogan & Hartson announced on Friday that it was delaying the start date of all incoming associates to November 30. In the past, incoming associates could choose any Monday on which to start.

The firm has not yet responded to our request for comment on the start date change, but if they do, we’ll let you know.

Details of Hogan’s war against the economy and a concluding rhetorical question, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Start Date Watch: Hogan & Hartson Is Moving On Back”

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