August 2014

Souter Obama Supreme.jpgAccording to NPR, Justice David Souter is planning to retire from the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of the current Term.

Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October.

Arlen Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat looms even larger now.

We’ve reached out to the SCOTUS public information officer, but have not yet received comment. (We’re not surprised, though, since we reached out at 10:25 p.m.)

Update (11:47 p.m.): The PIO got back to us:

Justice Souter has no comment.

If true, Souter’s retirement would do little to change the balance of the court. Remember:

An Obama pick would be unlikely to change the ideological makeup of the court. Souter, though appointed by the first President Bush, generally votes with the more liberal members of the court, a group of four that is in a rather consistent minority.

Souter’s retirement is not entirely surprising to regular Above the Law readers. Earlier this month, we — via Underneath Their Robes — told you that Souter hadn’t hired any clerks for the October 2009 term.

Let the jockeying begin for Obama’s first SCOTUS nomination. We invite you to suggest nominees in the comments. Maybe we’ll do a poll…

Update: The BLT has an early line on possible nominees, after the jump.

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Skadden logo.JPGThere is late breaking news from Skadden tonight. Apparently the firm has decided to freeze salaries on its counsels. Here is the memo Skadden counsel received:

TO: Counsel

RE: Compensation

Given the current economic conditions and the level of activity within the firm, we have decided that we will not be increasing salaries for counsel in 2009. As always, payment of discretionary bonuses will be contingent upon levels of activity in the Firm’s practice areas, the economic environment as it affects our Firm and individual performance.

We are grateful for your continued commitment to the Firm.

That timing could have been better. But we understand that counsel pay has historically been decided on May 1st, so the firm needed to make a decision.

Skadden has not frozen salaries on associates, and the firm paid top-of-the-market bonuses to its personnel.

The firm has avoided laying associates off during this recession, but Skadden’s Sidebar Program allowed approximately 125 attorneys to take a year-long deferral from the firm.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Here Comes Skadden

Skadden’s Sidebar: Phase One Complete

Mayan Prophecy doom.jpg* Are we sure that the Mayans don’t have any kind of legal doomsday prophecy for 2009? [Law and More]

* Best and worst rejection letters. Oh the Schadenfreude. [Legal Writing Prof Blog]

* First Facebook, then California A.G. as a brief stopover to global power? It could happen. [Law Dork 2.0]

* Some people are saying that Obama is dissing UofC. But the quote seems fair to me. [NYT]

* Some notes on lawyer’s personalities. [ABA Journal]

Sears television lawsuit II.jpgWe’ve all seen commercials where a company promises to meet a competitor’s lowest price on an item. But a Long Island lawyer decided to put one of these guarantees to the test:

In its advertising, Sears vows to match competitors’ prices, but one Long Island lawyer has been walking a long road of disillusionment after the retailer refused to live up to its promises. Back in 2007, when Warren Dank showed employees at a Hicksville Sears ad clippings from competitors selling a 46-inch flat-screen for as low as $2,400–$1,200 less than what Sears was charging for the exact same product–a manager refused to budge on the price. And so Dank found his life’s calling: He drove around to three different Sears outlets in the metropolitan area and was denied the promised discount every time.

This is hero-lawyering at its best. Sure, the remedy might simply be more fine print at the bottom of the screen. And, fine, there could be costs associated with defending against this type of litigation that raises the price of televisions for all consumers. But hey, that’s just more work for more lawyers.

Dank might be stimulating the legal economy, but of course, somebody is going to have to pay:

A lot of people are calling Dank a hero (okay, just us), and he might not disagree, telling the Post: “I’m doing this single-handedly. No one else pushed it this far to go on a crusade.” UPDATE: Mr. Dank just emailed us with the following clarification: “Please set the record straight on your blog that the $100 and/or $300 million is to pay a class action settlement to all of the customers who were deceived and not to me.”

That’s the plaintiff’s bar, hard at work baby! Companies shouldn’t make promises they can’t keep.

Lawyer Sues Sears for Millions Over Their Flat Screen Prices [Gothamist]

Personally, I love jury duty. I’ve never been picked to actually sit on one, but I still hope to have the opportunity one day. It’s a great opportunity to participate in your community.

I know I hold the minority opinion on this. Most people find jury duty annoying, some find it outright insulting.

But few are willing to put it in writing. That’s what makes the jury affidavit below so special.

Jury Affidavit Montana.jpg

“I don’t believe in our ‘justice’ system and I don’t want to have a goddamn thing to do with it.” This is why we need states like Montana. It’s important for these people to have someplace where they can go, breed, and keep America just a little bit closer to the edge.

5 dollar legal advice.jpgToday, Craigslist brings us the latest example of a (soon-to-be) lawyer trying to make it work in this difficult economy. Here’s the ad:

I am an experienced law student willing to answer your legal questions. The fee is $5 per question. To take advantage of this offer email your question to [Redacted]. You will then get a response with your answer. Must pay through PAYPAL ACCOUNT. ALL EMAILs must include the following information:

NAME
ADDRESS
TELEPHONE NUMBER
CITY/STATE
YOUR QUESTION

Now, it’s been a while since I took the MPRE, and I was all kinds of hung-over when I passed it. But isn’t there some kind of — I don’t know, rule — about giving legal advice when you are not a lawyer?

Seriously though, he doesn’t “hold himself out to be a lawyer,” so maybe that helps?

Either way, Bert J. van der Werff is just a guy trying to make some money during rough times. We speak with the student after the jump.

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Alamo for cowards.JPGIt appears that the out-of-state tuition at the University of Texas School of Law could be on the rise. The school’s website lists that the proposed non-resident tuition for the 2009 – 2010 academic year is $43,858. That is over a 10% increase from last year.

Is UT riding the wave of this year’s strong showing in the U.S. News law school rankings? Perhaps. But don’t blame the UT administration for the hike. UT is a public institution. As such, if you remember your middle school civics class, the school has very little control over its own tuition. A UT-Law spokesperson explains the situation:

Last year (March, 2008), the Regents set tuition at the University of Texas for the 2008-2009 academic year (this year) and the 2009-2010 academic year (next year). This year’s tuition for new, non-resident students was $39,642. The amount the Regents approved last year for tuition next year for new, non-resident students, $43,858, is a 10.6% increase over this year. The amount listed on our website for 2009-2010 is correct.

The Texas legislature is currently considering a number of tuition bills, some of which could affect the tuition charged next year, but we don’t have any idea how these deliberations will come out as of now.

After the jump, let’s take a deeper look at how Texas plans to make money off of law students.

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Penthouse lawsuit.jpgA human resources professional at FriendFinder Networks (which publishes Penthouse) has brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employers.

What were the odds?

Gawker explains:

[Natalie] Cedeno claims the atmosphere at the company changed substantially after Penthouse Media Group acquired Various Inc., the operator of Adult FriendFinder and other websites, in 2007 and changed its name to FriendFinder Networks. Various was buttoned-up, she says, despite operating websites where users planned hookups. Penthouse, by comparison, was pure frat-boy raunch — an attitude which culminated in an incident where a Penthouse Pet draped her boobs on an unwilling female employee in a staged photo meant to humiliate her.

Check out some of the allegations after the jump.

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Kilpatrick Stockton logo.JPGWe’re not entirely sure of all the details, but there appears to be a very sad situation developing at Kilpatrick Stockton in D.C. today. Everybody in Kilpatrick’s building received this email this morning:

Good morning,

Please remain in our space until further notice. Metropolitan Police Department are currently responding to an unconscious male with a gunshot wound to the head on the 11th floor of Kilpatrick & Stockton. We are contacting building management to determine further information.

We will keep you posted. Thank you.

Kilpatrick is located at 607 14th Street, NW in D.C.

After the jump, we have another email from building management and a statement from the firm.

Update (1:54 PM): We also have reports from tipsters, after the jump.

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wall street bull backside.jpgDan DiPietro, client head of the Law Firm Group of the Citi Private Bank, doesn’t think we’ve seen the end of lawyer layoffs. In the American Lawyer, he writes:

Among our 175-firm sample, head count for fiscal 2008 was up 4.5 percent from fiscal 2007. I showed the flash report of our sample to a colleague of mine who lends money to Fortune 100 companies. Her response? “So, Dan, the way law firms make money is to grow head count when demand drops?” This is a neat way of summing up the problem firms faced as they entered 2009–too many lawyers chasing too little work.

But I thought that all the struggling firms have already laid all the attorneys they could afford to spare?

With fairly aggressive layoffs evident in all but the top New York-headquartered firms, the decline in bonuses, and no foreseeable movement in salaries, expense growth will moderate, if not decline. This should net out to a 5-10 percent decline in profits per equity partner from 2008 levels. (After the meeting, several managing partners told me I was still too optimistic. To them and others at top New York firms I say: “Think layoffs.”)

The pessimism expressed at that meeting has been repeated to varying degrees in the 16 regional roundtables that my colleague Cindy Tambourine and I have just completed throughout the United States and in London. To put it simply, the mood in the U.S. outside of New York is grim; in New York it’s grimmer; and in London it’s the grimmest.

After the jump, are there any non-layoff paths to recovery?

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