April 2014

University of Illinois College of Law logo.JPGThis morning, we mentioned the University of Illinois College of Law admissions scandal. It appears that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pressured the University of Illinois Chancellor, Richard Herman, and Heidi Hurd, former dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, to admit underqualified students who were politically connected. In exchange for admitting those students, university officials attempted to obtain jobs for graduates of the College of Law.
The Chicago Tribune reports the results of its investigation into the law school:

The documents show for the first time efforts to seek favors — in this case, jobs — for admissions, the most troubling evidence yet of how Illinois’ entrenched system of patronage crept into the state’s most prestigious public university.
They also detail the law school’s system for handling “Special Admits,” students backed by the politically connected, expanding the scope of a scandal prompted by a Chicago Tribune investigation.

The paper has published the incriminating emails (PDF) it has uncovered. Warning, these emails are not safe for naive people who are unaccustomed with the “Chicago style” of getting things done. Here’s an exchange between the Chancellor and the Dean about what jobs would be appropriate in exchange for admitting politically connected students:
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I suppose there are worse things than a dean trying to aggressively secure employment for her law graduates can’t pass the bar and can’t think. Of course, you’d hope that the dean would be even more focused on educating students so that they can pass the bar and, you know, think — but why cry over spilled milk?
In fact, some Illinois law graduates we spoke with had a very positive impression of Dean Hurd. Depending, of course, on what you mean by positive.
Some student impressions of the dean, and more emails, after the jump.

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miranda kerrs lingerie ads.jpg* Don’t forget, on Monday we’ll be trying to help you secure your financial future. And we’ll be doing it for free. [Above the Law]
* The Chief Justice was not a huge fan of Michael Jackson back in the day. Or a “newcomer who goes by the name, Prince.” I would love to know what musicians Chief Justice Roberts did like back in the day. Journey? No, no, it’s gotta be Winger. [New York Times]
* The joys of being a contract attorney, according to David Lat. [Legal Research & Writing Pro]
* If Michael Jackson ever gave advice to young lawyers, it might sound something like this. [Young Lawyers Blog]
* LGBT is giving the Olsen-Boies lawsuit a needed jolt. [Law Dork 2.0]
* I still don’t understand what Justice Thomas’s was trying to do with his dissent in the strip search case. I am not alone. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Should department stores hold a trademark right over their models’ breasts? I don’t think so. It seems to me that if they liked it, they should have put a ring on it. [Fashionista]
* You’d think that if you called 911 and reported that Michael Jackson was not breathing, you’d say “MICHAEL JACKSON is not breathing. Send a God Damn helicopter and a spare Jackson brother in case we need parts,” as opposed to “uhh … a gentleman … is not breathing.” [Popsquire]

date rape drug.jpgThe Moor is back — and we’re not talking Othello. From Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:

Three months after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination dismissed her complaint, a former Bingham McCutchen associate has fired back with a gender-discrimination suit against the Boston firm she left in 2008.

In a highly charged complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court on June 23, Michelle A. Moor, who now works at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, alleges that she was involuntarily drugged with a “roofie” during a Dec. 14, 2007, firm-sponsored holiday party….

In a written statement, Bingham’s senior communications manager, Claire Papanastasiou, said the firm acted sensitively, responsibly and fairly at all times.

“We are disappointed that [Moor] persists in pursuing baseless claims against the firm, particularly in light of the [MCAD's] April 9 dismissal of her complaint for lack of probable cause,” she wrote.

Will Moor v. Bingham McCutchen LLP provide endless entertainment, a la Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell? Or will it fizzle out fast, a la Young v. Covington & Burling? Stay tuned.
Former Bingham associate files Superior Court suit against firm [Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly]
Moor v. Bingham McCutchen LLP [PDF]
Earlier: Roofiegate Resolved: Bingham Prevails, Complaint Dismissed

Thumbnail image for Judge Kent.jpgWill he stay or will he go? For the longest time, Judge Samuel Kent (S.D. Tex.), the federal judge who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with his molestation of two female court employees, has been playing games about his departure from the bench. But now he has finally raised the white flag, resigning effective on Tuesday, June 30.
To recap: Judge Kent initially said he was retiring on “disability” — which would have allowed him to keep receiving his $174,000 judicial salary for the rest of his life. After that didn’t go over well, he announced he was resigning — but with an effective date of June 1, 2010. As Professor Jonathan Turley and others observed, it was a cynical move on Judge Kent’s part: he was effectively betting that it would take a long time to impeach him, during which time he would continue to draw his six-figure salary — and perhaps the knowledge that he’d be leaving the bench anyway would cause Congress to shelve impeachment proceedings.
But things didn’t quite turn out the way Judge Kent had hoped. Read more, after the jump.

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champagne glasses small.jpg
Gentleman, how emasculated would you feel if your future father-in-law shuttled your bride down the aisle, and then, instead of pecking her on the cheek and handing her over, actually turned around and performed the wedding ceremony? Talk about control issues. That’s exactly what this groom endured last Sunday, as he was married by his father-in-law, United States Federal District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.
The Rakoff wedding didn’t make our final three. Neither did a couple of lesbian unions, a WGWAG, and several other worthy contenders. Here are the three who made the finals:

1. Devon Quasha and Jeffrey Thorn
2. Saralisa Brau and William Van Horne
3. Linda Cho and James Brennan

More about these impressive legal-eagle newlyweds, after the jump.

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2009 summer associate program.jpgIt’s been quiet here at Above The Law in terms of chatter about the summer associate experience. SAs seem a wee bit scared to reach out to us this year. We’re trying to gather submissions for the SA Event Contest, and we’ve only gotten five submissions! And one is a fishing trip.
Is the summer associate experience really that lame this year? Or are you all just terrified to send us an e-mail with a little braggadocio about your summer events? There are workarounds, you know. One SA printed an event announcement and sent it to us snail mail style.
(Just a reminder that all tips are anonymous, so send us more submissions. Just do it from your personal account, or on Facebook, or via carrier pigeon.)
Okay. Okay. We understand your reticence. SAs are stressed out about getting job offers in this competitive environment. Georgetown Law sent out a memo to its students predicting that most firms will be offering jobs to 50 to 80% of their summer associates. They then offered some advice for current SAs, which basically consisted of “things to think about doing in case you don’t get an offer.” Georgetown also advised checking out a piece that appeared in Massachusetts Lawyer Weekly: Some Words of Advice for Summer Associates of 2009 [PDF].
In case you didn’t surf over to it, we’ll boil it down for you, along with some of our own advice, after the jump.

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monica_conyers_bio.jpgWednesday, I openly begged for some good news coming out of Detroit. It appears somebody was listening. Today, Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers pleaded guilty to bribery.
I know what you are thinking, how could a public official admitting to selling her vote be a good thing? Well, it’s great news for the city because it means that there is one less corrupt politician menacing Motown.
And “menacing” is probably the most appropriate way to describe the wife of Congressman John Conyers. We’ve written about her before, last year she called the city council president “Shrek,” and an eighth grader had to try to teach her about etiquette. Since then she’s a lovely time: hiring family members for staff positions and scolding the media for harassment.
Getting her out of office has to give the whole city a lift.
The scandal that brought her down saw Conyers sell her swing vote on the city council for approximately $6,000. That is also great news for Detroit, it shows that business are willing to invest at least six large in the city!
Even the ATL commenters kept the good news rolling, after the jump.

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Venable logo.jpgQuestion: Will my Vault 100 firm protect my salary despite the recession?
Answer: You must be using some other kind of 8-ball.

Venable might be Washington, D.C.’s weirdest law firm, but you can’t eat quirky. Yesterday evening, Venable announced pay cuts for everybody. Associates, counsel, staff, non-equity partners, and even equity partners will be affected.
First year associates will be taking the increasingly standard 10% pay cut. But then things get crazy! According to the firm wide memo, most associates and counsel will be taking a wacky 8% pay cut. How adorably off-beat.

* Base compensation for all other associates will be reduced by 8%, although there will be a floor of $150,000 and $155,000 for second year and third year associates, respectively.
* Base compensation for all of counsel will be reduced by 8%.

As one tipster wryly put it:

I guess the salary freeze only meant frozen from going up, eh?

Senior staff will also see their salaries reduced by 8%.
After the jump, Venable partners share the pain.

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Hogan Hartson logo.jpg[Ed. Note: Those with cat like reflexes will remember that this post appeared briefly last night. We pulled it back to give the King of Pop his due.]
Given the times, any change to the parameters of a firm’s performance reviews are met with great trepidation by associates at the firm. The least firms can do is clearly explain that process by which attorneys will be evaluated for promotion — or termination.
Hogan & Hartson’s chairman, Warren Gorrell Jr., has been making the rounds and talking to associates about the firm’s new associate evaluation process. The plan was implemented back in April, right around the time Hogan put a number of associates on a lower billing-lower compensation track.
Gorrell told us that the meetings coincide with his communication to the Hogan associate’s committee about the firm’s quarterly partner meetings. Gorrell was able to provide us with some additional information about how associates at Hogan would be evaluated, going forward. Here is what Gorrell explained to his associates, yesterday:
Hogan Evaluation 1.JPG
That is the overview. Let’s get to what could cause a person to take an alternate “direction” in their career, after the jump.

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Skadden logo.JPGFor the past week, readers, commenters, tipsters, Steven Hawking and the Dalai lama have all been asking me what is going on with Skadden’s NALP form. If you look at the NALP directory of legal employers, you’ll notice that Skadden’s 2009 starting salary is listed as “TBD” — to be determined.
Well we finally have an official answer from the firm. The statement confirms what off-the-record sources and reasonably sane people have been saying all week: Skadden will still be paying $160,000 to first year associates.
After the jump, check out the firm’s salary statement.

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