November 2010

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected]

Dear ATL,

I have 12 years of state and local tax experience.  I am currently a Tax Manager at a large company.  I have managed the second largest tax audit defense group in the country.  My current [law school] GPA is 3.4, with no curve.  Do you think I can obtain employment with a midsized or large firm?

– Quit Playin’ Games With My Audit

Dear Quit Playin’ Games With My Audit,

Generally speaking, law firms wet the bed when a new associate rolls up to the firm and announces that he or she wants to do tax. Nobody wants to do tax, ever, and if you apply to firms with a cover letter stating that you want to do tax AND have legitimate tax experience (not just taking Tax in law school), the lights will dim, the disco ball will drop, Dream Weaver will start playing, and interviews will be yours for the picking….

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Bridget Jones found herself a super-fit Brit, but Proskauer is still looking for a U.K. mate.

In 2011, lawyers at Proskauer Rose will enjoy snazzy, firm-provided iPads. But they won’t be able to look forward to an influx of British colleagues with super-posh accents.

As reported by Legal Week, Proskauer and SJ Berwin have called off their merger talks, after nine long months of discussions. The extensive snogging will not culminate in shagging.

This year has seen lots of action on the transatlantic merger front — e.g., Hogan Lovells, SNR Denton, and Squire Sanders Hammonds. But it looks like Proskauer Berwin — or Berwin Proskauer, or SJ Proskauer? — will not be coming to pass.

(Unless the firms pull a Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton or a Newsweek Daily Beast, and merge with each other anyway after declaring their talks dead.)

So what led to the demise of the Proskauer / SJ Berwin merger talks?

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Yesterday we started receiving multiple reports of staff layoffs at DLA Piper. The reports related to various U.S. offices of the firm, including (but not limited to) Baltimore and Sacramento. They concerned support staff, including secretaries, but not lawyers. In terms of the scale of the layoffs, no hard numbers were available.

One source expressed surprise at the staff cuts, in light of the firm touting strong results as of late. For example, just last month DLA Piper fared quite well in the M&A league tables. The firm has also been making a decent number of lateral hires, suggesting expansion rather than contraction.

In response to an inquiry from Above the Law, DLA Piper confirmed an unspecified number of staff reductions, and issued a statement….

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There is nothing I hate more than people who try to use the law to change the facts of history or science. I hate when Creationists try to take their Sunday School teachings into science class. I hate when Confederates try to retell the “War of Northern Aggression” in a way that ignores the abject racism that started the entire conflict. And I hate when parents sue because history textbooks aren’t sanitized to include enough bunny rabbits and rainbows when they are educating children about slavery.

That last thing is new. I only realized parents like this existed when I read a story in the Macomb Daily (gavel bang: ABA Journal). Apparently an African-American parent got angry over “outrageous statements” in a textbook used in his daughter’s class. The outrage: the textbook used the n-word… in the context of teaching children about the history of slavery in this country.

He claims his daughter was traumatized by the book, and he’s seeking more than $25,000 damages from the school.

Please God, let’s hope he doesn’t get it. Everybody should be “traumatized” by slavery when they first hear about it in grade school. It was a goddamn traumatic thing to put people through. And we can’t live in a world where that trauma is banished from our history books….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Parent Sues School for Teaching His Daughter About Slavery”

When trying to get out of jury duty, Jeffrey Dahmer is your friend.

* French parents have sued to spare their kids the embarrassment of sharing a name with a car. Hey, Zoe Renault, need an underbody lube? [New York Daily News]

* Ladies, having your jaw fall off is just a small price to pay to fix your brittle bones. At least your husbands will be happy that you’ve finally shut your mouths. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Write this one down, kids. The quickest way to get out of jury duty is to admit that Jeffrey Dahmer was your BFF in high school. [ABA Journal]

* The saddest part of the McFadden’s lawsuit isn’t the alleged discrimination, it’s the fact that it was brought by a lawyer moonlighting as a bartender. [ABC News]

* Back in the day, Lorillard Tobacco allegedly handed out cigarettes like candy to black kids. Fifty years later, the company is facing a wrongful death suit. [Washington Post]

Earlier this week, we brought you the story of Nelson v. Jones Day — a discrimination lawsuit filed against Jones Day by Jaki Nelson, an African-American woman who worked at JD for almost 18 years. Some of the allegations in Nelson’s complaint — use of racial slurs by firm partners and administrators, sex scandals, and rampant bullying — were salacious and incendiary. If you haven’t already done so, read more about them in our earlier post.

As litigators well know, however, there are two (or more) sides to every story. And this lawsuit is no exception.

(We’re reminded of Aaron Charney’s lawsuit against Sullivan & Cromwell, alleging anti-gay discrimination. Based on the same reporting, some viewed that lawsuit as Philadelphia: The Sequel, while others saw it as an oversensitive and entitled associate suing a firm with no anti-gay bias — and numerous gay partners and associates.)

After we published our post, sources came forward to defend Jones Day and the lawyers mentioned in the complaint — and to dish dirt on the plaintiff, Jaki Nelson….

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* The potential legal fallout from the Declan Sullivan tragedy. [Law Writer's Blog]

* Speaking of Notre Dame, here’s me on a podcast, discussing the ND tuition hikes and the overall price-gouging of American law students. [Legal Broadcast Network]

* If you choose advertising instead of a legal career, one day you might be able to convince other people to go to law school. It’ll be a double win for you. [Last Day at the Office Emails]

* Nintendo is claiming ownership of the phrase “it’s on like Donkey Kong.” So sad. People who assert trademarks over common phrases deserve to have barrels tossed at them while their girlfriends are held captive. [WSJ Law Blog]

* There aren’t many Veterans Days left for the Greatest Generation, so let’s give ‘em a salute. [What About Clients?]

* In case you missed it, there’s some hope for junior litigators — check out this job listing. [Above the Law (sponsored content)]

About once every two months, someone sends us an email asking, “Whatever happened to Kumari Fulbright?” Well, now we have an update.

In case you don’t recall, Kumari Fulbright was a Texas high school cheerleader, Arizona beauty queen, and second-year law student at the University of Arizona — until she was accused of participating in a plot to kidnap an ex-boyfriend, which put a crimp in her legal studies.

Last week, Fulbright took the stand — not in a moot court or mock trial competition, but in the criminal trial of her co-conspirator, Robert Ergonis. And it seems that Fulbright’s testimony, despite its occasional evasiveness, was effective. On Tuesday, the jury convicted Ergonis of kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (a gun), assault, and armed robbery.

Fulbright’s testimony against Ergonis was made pursuant to a plea agreement, which provides for her to receive a two-year prison sentence. She will be officially sentenced in early 2011 — and is stuck in jail until then.

Kumari cut a colorful figure on the witness stand….

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I just wanted to get out there, let my talents shine, and show that I, too, can be a constitutional originalist and claim strict adherence to the intent of those who framed our nation’s founding document, thereby advancing a conservative agenda. Pretty sure I nailed it, too.

– “Supreme Court Understudy Fills In For Scalia,” The Onion.

The library at Brooklyn Law School is fast becoming the most sexual law library in America. Last week, the class of 2010 dedicated a plaque inside the library warning students, “It’s supposed to be hard.” This week, we’ve learned that the law library also plays host to some hard bodies.

Apparently, Brooklyn Law allowed models from Diesel Jeans to use its law library for a photoshoot. The jeans didn’t stay on for long. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the law library for the 67th best law school in America….

WARNING: The pictures after the jump should be safe for work — there’s no nudity — but they are mildly risqué. Read on at your own risk.

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