October 2014

This one is going to get really weird, really quickly. See if you can spot the civil rights violation.

Issue 1: City council of Alexandria, Virginia, approves a permit for a new barbecue restaurant.
Issue 2: The restaurant will have an open-air, gas grille.

Did you see the potential violation? No? Well, you’re just not thinking like a lawyer — or, at the very least, you’re not thinking like an insane person. The Alexandria Gazette Packet reports:

Del Ray Attorney Ed Ablard is challenging the restaurant as a violation of his civil rights. Because the gas-fueled smoker will release particulate matter into the air, his suit charges, his civil rights will be violated.

Is a white man claiming that a barbecue joint is somehow racist towards white people? No, it’s way more crazy than that…

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Lindsay Lohan

Ed. note: This post was compiled by one of our seven Morning Docket finalists. The finalists will be handling MD all week. As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comments.

* I’ll take the rapist for 200, Alex. The attorney for two women who accused the WikiLeaks Grand Poobah of sex crimes denies any involvement by the Pentagon or the CIA. [CNN]

* Stem cell judge has a history of ticking off presidents and playing cards with Scalia. [Washington Post]

* Civil Libertarians upset over “pay to play” high school sports in California. Libertarians fire back that there is no such thing as a free school lunch. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Lindsay Lohan was released from UCLA Medical Center yesterday. No word yet on which lucky UCLA law student got to chauffeur her home. [New York Post]

* The Brits aren’t sick of eggs. Hopefully you guys aren’t sick of egg stories. [New York Times]

* Tyler Perry’s Lawyers Prevail in Plagiarism Lawsuit. I smell a movie title. [Am Law Daily]

* Will the Justice Department weigh in with an amicus brief in the Proposition 8 case? Unclear. Is Perry v. Schwarzenegger the coolest case name ever? Yes. [National Law Journal]

It’s been a while since we’ve had a true contestant for the title of most depressing job offered to a law student. Sure, there have been a lot of jobs that offer $10 an hour, or even $0 an hour, for legal work. But at least those jobs were offering the opportunity to put long years of legal education to some sort of use.

No, the most depressing jobs for would-be lawyers in this economy are jobs they could have easily gotten before they went to law school. Or college. Really, the most depressing job I’ve seen appeared last year, when University of Texas law students were given the opportunity to do some babysitting for extra money. That’s an opportunity you present to responsible high school students, not students at the fifteenth-best law school in the country.

If you thought those days were behind us, think again. Take a look at the job that was blasted out yesterday to students at the other law school ranked #15, UCLA Law.

Traffic in L.A. is notoriously horrible, and now one UCLA law student might profit from his or her stop-and-go driving skills…

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* What’s the matter with Kansas Georgia? First the judges, and now the cops (who have been accused of racial profiling in a new lawsuit). [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

* In other Georgia legal news, a federal judge has issued a 172-page opinion finding that convicted cop killer Troy Davis is not actually innocent. [SCOTUSblog via Sentencing Law and Policy]

* Fashion industry lawyer Anne Sterba explains why Madonna, the original “Material Girl,” can be successfully sued for trademark infringement relating to her “Material Girl” clothing line. [Fashionista]

* Not all lawyers go off the clock while on the can; why should factory workers? [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Some thoughts from Nicole Black on how large law firms can use social media. [Sui Generis]

* Why is Obama so darn hard to mock? [Althouse]

Yesterday, after whining about law schools on NPR, I motored over to the Fox headquarters on Sixth Avenue. They wanted me on to to talk about a post I did a couple of weeks ago, encouraging oil-spill victims to take their BP money from the $20 billion fund being administered by Ken Feinberg, instead of pursuing private lawsuits against BP. For the debate, they brought on a plaintiff’s lawyer.

I thought it was a good segment, and I do believe the BP fund will be better for the victims (and the justice system) than a slew of plaintiff’s lawyers jumping on BP — and taking a sizable cut out of whatever damages a judge (most likely) reduces.

But a commenter noted something that a few people have told me privately:

Ellie [sic], I think you are on the brink of finally embracing the fallacy of prudential regulation and the idea that government or semi-government programs are ever going to be able to take care of someone who refuses to take the most basic steps of self-preservation. I saw you on Fox News and I bet you vote Republican this November.

I don’t think I was accessing my inner elephant. But check out the clip and tell me what you think…

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While expressing a commitment to maintain its new, incredibly transparent, merit-based salary structure, Orrick is moving its base salary back to reaffirming its commitment to $160,000 for first-year associates working in major markets. That’s right, the time for $145K in big offices is almost at an end.

UPDATE: Initially spokespeople from Orrick termed the move as one back to $160K, but our previous reporting didn’t indicate that Orrick ever came off the $160K starting salary — even after its switch to merit-based compensation. Sources now confirm that Orrick was at $160K all along; today’s salary announcement will primarily affect veteran associates.

From the memo associates received from Orrick’s CEO, Ralph Baxter:

I am pleased to announce an increase to our 2011 base salary schedule for partner track associates in our US offices. This salary schedule will be effective January 1, 2011. We will continue to monitor the legal market and will make any further adjustments necessary to remain competitive.

This change in our salary scale reinforces our continued commitment to be competitive with the world’s leading law firms and to attract and retain the best legal talent. We will continue to ensure that your total compensation reflects the increasing value you contribute to our clients and the firm through the new talent model’s performance-based career progression and bonuses that are driven by merit rather than solely by billable hours.

And there’s more good news: Orrick bumped up each of its associate “tier” levels. This means that, assuming Orrick associates get promoted “on time” relative to their peers at lockstep firms, Orrick’s base salary will once again match the market…

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We’ve completely updated the Summer Associate Program sections in each of the Firm Snapshots with the 2010 summer associate survey results and the latest news.  With on-campus interviewing already underway at most schools, law students won’t want to miss getting the inside scoop on the highlights – and lowlights – of each firm’s summer program.

So head on over to the Career Center to see how the firm you summered at, or want to interview with, stacks up. Highlights include:

  • Summer associates at this litigation powerhouse brag that their “workload is super light,” completing one to five assignments over the course of the 12-week summer program, and typically spending about five hours a day on billable work.  Just don’t expect to be making the lunch rounds at the city’s trendiest restaurants.  Summers eat in at the firm’s dining room, which serves free but “excellent” lunch daily.
  • It certainly pays to have high-profile clients at this firm, which treats its summer associates to unique social events like the Tony Awards and the NBA Draft.
  • The line between summer and full-time associates is blurred at this firm, with summers “put[ting] in well over 80 hours” during some weeks to complete 15 or more assignments during the eight-week summer program.  Despite their high work demands, these summer associates still find the time to be do-gooders by volunteering to cook at the Ronald McDonald House for kids and their families.
  • The good old days never left this firm.  Summer associates typically bill about four hours a day on assignments, leave at 5:30 p.m., play softball at Fenway Park, and still get 100% offers. But you might want to think about taking an extended post-bar trip, since you might not start work on time as a first-year associate.
  • No complaints at this firm, which gives summer associates “exactly the work that they want” and still provides a “very generous” $65 lunch budget in New York.  Be sure to brush up on your foreign language skills; one-third of the summer class gets to spend up to three weeks working in one of the firm’s overseas offices

For information on the summer programs at all the top firms visit the Career Center.

UMass School of Law (fka Southern New England School of Law) is open for business. Orientation happened last week, and students started classes yesterday, at Massachusetts’s first public law school.

As has been well-documented in these pages, I’m unimpressed. Put simply: there isn’t enough of a demand for new lawyers right now to justify a revamped public law school — no matter how many times you emphasize the word “public” in your press releases.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to voice my concerns to the dean of UMass Law, Robert Ward, on NPR’s Radio Boston program. Click here to listen (I start running my mouth at the 8:30 mark).

I was asked on the program to provide an alternative perspective to the dean, and that’s what I did. But the mentality of the callers was particularly interesting. They really illustrated why there is so much support for more law schools…

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Yesterday we covered the divorce of golf sensation Tiger Woods and his stunningly beautiful wife, former model Elin Nordegren. We noted that Nordegren was represented by McGuireWoods. Although McGuireWoods is a top firm, especially in its home state of Virginia, it’s “not known for its matrimonial practice,” as Nathan Koppel of the WSJ Law Blog observed.

How did McGuireWoods land this plum assignment? Several of you pointed it out in comments, and Brian Baxter reported on it over at Am Law Daily. The short answer: family ties. To quote the slogan of McGuireWoods: “Relationships… drive results.”

A statement issued yesterday by the divorcing couple noted that Nordegren was represented by, among others, a McGuireWoods attorney by the name of Josefin Lonnborg. The divorce was filed in Bay County Circuit Court, Florida; Josefin Lonnborg practices in London. Why was a corporate lawyer out of the U.K. involved in a U.S. matrimonial case?

Here’s why: Josefin Lonnborg and Elin Nordegren are twin sisters. And despite her impressive legal credentials — Lonnborg speaks fluent English and Swedish, has worked at law firms in Stockholm and London, and has a Master of Laws degree from the London School of Economics — she is more than just “lawyer hot.”

Yes, we know: pictures or it didn’t happen. So, pictures.

Warning: although the images below are perfectly safe for work, gentlemen may wish to be seated at desks before viewing, to avoid unseemly displays of… enthusiasm.

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Joshua Gessler

Today brings bad news for Arnold & Porter — or maybe make that Arnold & Porno. If the allegations are true, the venerable Washington-based law firm has been employing a lawyer who made child pornography, starring a 15-year-old girl.

A 41-year-old associate in the Tysons Corner office of A&P, Joshua Gessler, has been charged with one count of producing child pornography and five counts of possession. The accusations, reported last night by NBC Washington, are on the lurid side.

Gessler connected online with a 15-year-old prostitute back in April, according to an affidavit in support of a search warrant, and offered her $200 to meet up — with the condition that she not be “camera shy” (i.e., that she be willing to be photographed).

Josh Gessler allegedly brought some equipment to their get-together. And we’re not talking about a camera and a tripod….

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