April 2014

Hope Barack Obama image Shepard Fairey AP lawsuit.jpg* AP image-appropriating artist Shepard Fairey is under criminal investigation. If convicted, perhaps he can ‘Hope’ for a pardon from Obama. [ABC News]
* Gays and lesbians settle in their relationship with eHarmony. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* Balloon boy parents don’t want to pay their fines. [Washington Post]
* Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein is expected to plead guilty today. [Sun Sentinel]
* Judge David Hittner orders insurance company to pay Allen Stanford’s criminal attorneys. [Houston Chronicle]
* Irony! [ABC News]

frat parties old school class action lawsuit.jpgA neighborhood association in Berkeley has filed a class action suit against the University of California – Berkeley’s many fraternities, accusing them of being, well, total frat boys. This lawsuit got wasted in the Californian press last week, but we’re funneling it for the first time today thanks to Courthouse News Service.
As one would expect, the complaint alleges that the frat studs are guilty of public and private nuisances. As one might not expect, the legal theory in the suit “has its roots in cities’ injunctions against criminal street gangs,” per The Recorder.
Phi Beta Kappa appears to be the only Greek society left off of the defendants’ list in the complaint [PDF]. The “South of Campus Neighborhood Association” and Paul Ghysels accuse them of public drunkenness, facilitation and encouragement of underage drinking, harassment of passers-by, “excessive noise, particularly between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am,” noxious smells and fumes, public urination, “hosting large social gatherings,” and “shooting projectiles, which have hit neighbors,” among other awesome offenses.
Oh, college.
So who do California college fraternity members call when they need help to protect their hard-partying ways? A lawyer in Texas, of course.

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Does Anybody Realize This Man is a Freaking Governor.JPG* Remember the guy who dressed up as a pimp to “sting” ACORN workers? Well, he’s at it again, this time caught attempting to bug the office of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. What a hero. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
* Vinny from Jersey Shore is contemplating going to law school. You know, Yale or Harvard if this whole sleazy mamma’s boy thing doesn’t work out. [Perez Hilton]
* InStyle magazine probably has a likelihood of confusion lawsuit, if they want it. [Fashionista]
* If you are a professor who specializes in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, now is your time to shine. [FCPA Professor]
* Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks he can deal with California’s prison overcrowding problem by sending the excess convicts to Mexico. I have a much better idea. Let’s allow an elite group of gladiators to hunt prisoners that could be persuaded to escape. We could put it on television, and offer the prisoners money and freedom should they survive this ultimate escape (hosted by Jeff Probst of course). Granted it might take, I don’t know, seven years to get this thing fully operational, but the ratings would be through the roof and the ad dollars would really help California’s budgetary woes. If only I could think of a title for the show … [WSJ Law Blog]

Gerald Ung Gerry Ung Jerry Ung Jerald Ung Temple Law School 3L shooter shooting.jpgNext month we’ll be speaking on a panel at a conference for Asian American law students and lawyers. It’s taking place at the University of Pennsylvania and being sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) at U. Penn. Details and registration info appear here.

Asian law students. In Philly. Will there be a metal detector at the door?

In the past three years, two Asian law students in Philadelphia have gotten into trouble with the law due to gun-related incidents. First there was Joseph Cho, at the time a 2L at U. Penn., who shot up the door of his neighbors’ apartment in January 2007. Earlier this month, Gerald Ung (pictured), in his final year at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, allegedly shot Edward DiDonato Jr., a recent college graduate and the son of a partner at Fox Rothschild. (See prior posts here and here.)

Today we have updates on both cases.

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Plus the sentencing of the U. Penn. law student shooter.

Snooki Jersey Shore NYU Law.JPGAs a denizen of New York City, I find that I have to deal with people who could be cast members on The Jersey Shore all the time. They clog up my 4 train when the Yankees are playing. They bounce at bars and clubs. Here in the city, you can even see them in their natural habitat, Gold’s Gym.
That’s why I was surprised when students at NYU Law School offered $2,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to get Snooki to come out and party with them. Why buy the landfill when you can get trash for free?
But in the hearty Midwest, it’s a little easier to understand why the cast from Jersey Shore can be so compelling. I mean, from the perspective of a Midwesterner, the cast of Jersey Shore must look like an alien species. I bet a Midwesterner would look at J-WOWW with the same level of fascination I’d regard Michele Bachmann. “What does it eat?” “Can I pet it?” “If I use a sentence comprised entirely of polysyllabic words, will its head explode?”
So, I have a modicum of understanding for the underground movement happening at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Here’s part of a letter that Above the Law received yesterday:

Dear AbovetheLaw,
I am a third-year law student at the University of Wisconsin Law School. My graduation is fast approaching and so far we (my classmates and I) have not heard who is going to be our guest speaker. However, the last thing I want to hear during my graduation is how great we are for becoming young lawyers, and that we have such a promising future ahead, especially considering our employment options currently. Instead a couple of classmates and I have come up with this great idea. If our futures are going to dissolve following graduation, we want to go down “guns blazing.” We want to raise money in order to bring the cast of Jersey Shore to come as our guest speakers.

Wasn’t this the setup for The Simple Life?
Are the Wisconsin students serious? More details after the jump.

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Career Center AboveTheLaw Lateral Link ATL.jpg Our recent Career Center survey asked about whether you think layoffs and salary cuts are a thing of the past or if 2010 will bring more of the same.  The majority of respondents — 70% — are optimistic about salaries, saying they do not expect any further salary cuts in 2010. 
However, respondents were not so optimistic about the chances of future layoffs.  After a year in which over 75% of respondents saw layoffs at their firms, almost half — 45% — think there is at least a 50-50 chance of more layoffs in 2010. 
Check out the full survey results after the jump — and visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, for more on which firm has announced above-market bonuses for the second year in a row and which firm is so confident about recovering from the recession that it is opening multiple new offices.
Full survey results, after the jump. 

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Dungeons Dragons dice.JPGPredictably, I used to play Dungeons & Dragons in high school. Just as predictably, I didn’t lose my virginity until I stopped. It’s an established fact that Dungeons & Dragons is a bigger threat to human reproduction than all the gay marriages in the world.

But I did not know until this day that D&D could also pose a security risk. A Wisconsin prisoner, Kevin T. Singer, sued Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution after the guards confiscated his D&D materials.

Why did the prison guards take away this guy’s D&D paraphernalia? I’ll let Judge John Tinder of the Seventh Circuit explain:

Waupun’s long-serving Disruptive Group Coordinator, Captain Bruce Muraski, received an anonymous letter from an inmate. The letter expressed concern that Singer and three other inmates were forming a D&D gang and were trying to recruit others to join by passing around their D&D publications and touting the “rush” they got from playing the game. Muraski, Waupun’s expert on gang activity, decided to heed the letter’s advice and “check into this gang before it gets out of hand.”

A gang? A gang that needs to be checked? I’ve never been to prison, but I have watched Oz. I’m forced to believe one of two things: (a) any D&D “gang” member would find themselves tossing salads faster than you can say “saving throw against horrific prison justice … fails,” or (b) if you could beat up the D&D kids in your high school, then you can go to Wisconsin, commit violent crimes with impunity, get sent to prison and live like a God.

Singer sued the prison for violating his First Amendment rights. The district court ruled for the correctional facility on summary judgment, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Does that mean we get to hear the Seventh Circuit argue that D&D is gang-like? Yes it does. Will that be hilarious? More fun than hacking through an encampment of goblins with a dwarven ax of immolation….

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networking handshake businessmen shaking hands AboveTheLaw Above the Law.jpgOver the weekend — yes, we often publish over the weekend, so do check in with us — we wrote about the happy story of Jeffrey Fenster. Fenster, a 29-year-old lawyer who previously worked for a short time at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, was recently selected by Governor David Paterson to serve as executive director of the Workers’ Compensation Board of New York State.

In the comments, a number of you wondered how Fenster landed this gig, despite what one former board commissioner described as “absolutely no administrative experience” and “no experience in workers’ comp or labor law.” One commenter speculated that Fenster might have been helped by Martin Minkowitz, a retired Stroock partner and expert in workers’ compensation law (which is what the New York Times hinted at).

As it turns out, it appears that Fenster was helped by connections — but not through Stroock or Marty Minkowitz.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Jeff Fenster Landed on the Workers’ Comp Board
Or: How to Get a Government Job

Lunch.jpgSome lawyers love what they do. Those who don’t are vocal about how much they hate their jobs. So what would the naysayers prefer to be doing professionally? Above the Law editors have heard these “dream careers” tossed around: government intelligence analyst, writer/journalist, banker (so they can keep making the bank), and — for those who want to stay in the law, but not Biglaw — assistant U.S. attorney, judge, or law school professor.

Some people are content to stay in the law but need a creative/fun outlet. It’s an added bonus if that outlet also makes money. One such endeavor is to open a restaurant. (The belief that most restaurants fail in the first year is a myth, after all.)

We’ve written before about lawyer-turned-Subway entrepreneur Larry Feldman. But being king of a sandwich-shop franchise is not really the glamorous side of food service. The daydream version involves starting up a place with a bit more character.

For some, being laid off has been a push to tap into a culinary side. Here in New York, a first-year associate caught up in law firm layoffs used the opportunity to open a Taiwanese steamed bun cafe in the Lower East Side, called Baohaus.

Further south, in Washington, D.C., another casualty of the recession layoffs got into the eat-out business. Julie Liu, a former Katten Muchin associate, launched a restaurant in Dupont Circle last year named Scion. She was very thankful to Katten for her three-month severance: it “basically paid for Scion’s kitchen equipment.”

We caught up with Liu about opening a restaurant with her sister, and got some advice for other wannabe restaurateurs.

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2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGYesterday, reports came in that Chadbourne & Parke unfroze salaries. Then tipsters started telling us that Chadbourne didn’t just thaw out one class year; instead, they went all out and gave true-up raises — putting their associates back to the salary level they would have been at had the firm never frozen salaries in the first place. True-up raises are even more significant at Chadbourne because the firm didn’t just freeze salaries, it actually cut salaries back in April.
By the end of the day, Chadbourne sources were telling us that in addition to the true-up raises the firm was giving out make-whole bonuses. Essentially, Chadbourne was giving people back the money they would have made over the course of 2009. That’s a move out of the Latham playbook (in a good way). One tipster put it like this:

[J]ust got my letter re: (1) bonus, and (2) 2010 salary and (3) true-up (actually got the letter last Friday, the 22nd). I am glad to say that I got unfrozen with a “true” true-up! The firm could not tell me if all associates were treated the same.

As we understand it, this good news was shared with nearly all Chadbourne & Parke associates.
Details and a statement from the firm, after the jump.

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