January 2011

When we last wrote about goings-on at Howrey, the once-strong law firm that’s now experiencing troubled times, we mentioned the possibility of partner losses in the Chicago office. The firm pushed back on this, denying knowledge of any imminent defections in the Windy City.

It now seems, however, that additional partner departures may be on the horizon — in Chicago, and elsewhere too. As reported in Crain’s Chicago Business (via WSJ Law Blog), the Chi-town powerhouse of Winston & Strawn recently discussed a possible merger with Howrey — but then decided against that approach, opting instead to pick off specific groups and partners from Howrey.

The Howrey situation is starting to look a lot like what happened to Heller Ehrman. A well-respected firm with a widely admired culture encounters business difficulties. Key partners and groups (especially IP) start leaving for greener pastures or more stable platforms. A potential white knight emerges — Mayer Brown in Heller’s case, and Winston & Strawn in Howrey’s — but then decides to order a la carte from the menu of partners, practices and offices, instead of going for the chef’s tasting menu.

A distressed employee of the firm sets up a blog to serve as a clearinghouse for updates. Heller had Heller Highwater, and Howrey had Howrey Doin’.

But now it looks like Howrey Doin’ is… done. If you surf over to http://howreydoin.wordpress.com/, the blog’s former address, you learn that “[t]he authors have deleted this blog.”

What the heck happened? We have a statement from the author of the blog, as well as a response from the firm.

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Jonathan Lee Riches and Jared Loughner

Over the past year, we haven’t covered a lot of the crazy lawsuits initiated by Jonathan Lee Riches. The man has sued everybody from Eliot Spitzer to Molly Ringwald. At some point, you get used to the drill. And there are always other crazy pro se litigants to write about.

But the embarrassment of riches in Riches’s latest complaint should remind everyone why he is still the king of pro se whackjobs. On January 24th, he filed for a temporary restraining order against Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged shooter in the Tucson attacks. Riches claims that if the Bureau of Prisons should transfer Loughner to the Lexington, Kentucky facility that currently holds Riches, Loughner might use “his bare hands or a prison shank to kill me for being a moderate Democrat.”

And if you know anything about Riches, you know that quote isn’t anywhere near the craziest claim in his complaint…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pro Se Filing of the Day: Jonathan Lee Riches v. Jared Lee Loughner”

Wow, it’s starting to feel like 2008 (pre-Lehman) up in here! Earlier today, the Dow Jones broke the 12,000 mark. And now law firms — law firms that could treat their associates like dirt and still have have no problems with retention, according to some people — are once again competing with each other in terms of associate bonuses.

Multiple sources report that Simpson Thacher has matched the springtime bonuses announced last week by Sullivan & Cromwell. The STB bonuses will be paid on Friday, April 29, 2011.

What does this mean for associates at so-called “peer firms” of S&C and STB?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Simpson Thacher Matches S&C Spring Bonuses!”

[N]eedless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness — ‘The horror! The horror!’ — and am tempted to end there.

— Judge Richard Posner, in a scathing Yale Law Journal review of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed.).

(For additional discussion and funny excerpts, see Paul Horwitz, Ilya Somin, and Eugene Volokh.)

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Above the Law:

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon.

I’ll never forget a moment in a wildlife program about Antarctic penguins – I think it was a David Attenborough series.

There were two little penguin parents and a penguin chick.

Then, suddenly, there wasn’t. The chick fell into a crack in the ice.

The little guy squeaked for all he was worth, the parents circled, there was frantic waving of wings – and not a damn thing anyone could do.

Five minutes later – which seemed like several lifetimes – a member of the film crew tore away a chunk of snow and released the chick. Profound relief for all involved, penguin and human.

But there was a wrinkle. The show’s non-intervention policy had been violated. A voice-over explained that an exception had been made because the film crew may have created the crack in the ice.

Uh, yeah. I doubt David Attenborough was buying that story.

The truth? You try filming a baby penguin slowly perishing in front of its parents….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Call of the Wild”

* Rahmbo repeatedly invoked President Obama in legal briefs filed with the Illinois Supreme Court. Name dropping is something not stressed enough in legal writing classes. [Washington Post]

* State legislators are crafting various laws aimed at combating distracted pedestrians. There’s a state senator somewhere saying “This is our sputnik moment, guys!” [New York Times]

* A trial has been set over one Nebraska town’s ordinances that make it illegal to employ or rent to illegal immigrants. The idea of Fremont, Nebraska being choosy about who lives there is like Clint Howard saying he only dates models. [Bloomberg]

* A British lawyer has quit trying to shake down file-sharers. In a statement, the lawyer said, “Figgy pudding, Spotted Dick, aluminum.” But he said aluminum weird. [BBC News]

* Taco Bell defended itself against allegations that its taco beef is made with a proprietary blend of rat droppings and steak-umms. Elie doesn’t care. [Associated Press]

* Ohio will now use pentobarbital to off their inmates. Not that the state needed all that for the executions, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. [WSJ Law Blog]

Here come the judges.

President Barack Obama just finished delivering his State of the Union address for 2011. Alas, it wasn’t as exciting as last year, which featured a confrontation between the president and the Supreme Court. This time around, six justices attended — Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan — but they were on their best behavior. There was no POTUS v. SCOTUS showdown.

Your Above the Law editors covered the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog, @DavidLat, and @ElieNYC.

Here’s an open thread for discussion of the address. We’ll get the party started with a few legally-oriented highlights, after the jump.

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Is wearing this necktie a firing offense?

I saw this story on Mike & Mike this morning, and it’s just been gathering steam all day. A Green Bay Packers fan showed up to his job on Monday at a Chicago area car dealership wearing a Packers tie. As many of you know, the Packers defeated their hated rivals, the Chicago Bears, in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The man’s boss asked the Packers fan to remove the tie. He refused. The Packers fan was then fired.

When I first heard about this, my initial thought was “Good, serves him right.” I’m not a Bears fan. And I often wear my own sports paraphernalia into the ATL office. But if your boss tells you to take off your gear, you do it. It’s not a hard question for me. I’ll stand up to my CEO on any number of professional issues, but over some team bling? Are you kidding me? It’s called “picking your battles,” or “not being a idiot,” if you prefer.

Over the course of the day, however, more and more media types have been coming to the defense John Stone, the Packers fan who was fired. Some are even saying that this will lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit.

You know how I hate telling the MSM that their cute little puppies are going to die, but does rooting for the Packers make you a member of a protected class now?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Packers Fan Fired Over Team Necktie; Will Litigation Ensue?”

Chubbs Peterson

* Professor Rick Hasen thinks the Illinois Supreme Court is leaning towards letting Rahm Emanuel back into the race for Mayor of Chicago. Hopefully this means that Emanuel’s lawyer, Kevin Forde, will get his family back really soon. [Election Law Blog]

* Have you ever seen a notary in a bar, drunk, with her notary kit? It’s actually kind of hot. [What About Clients?]

* David Freedman, the unemployed Chicago-Kent law review editor recently featured in these pages (with his permission), describes his day on Above the Law. [The Law Movie Review]

* Noorain Khan, a former student of Amy Chua at YLS, interviews the Tiger Mother herself. Chua sounds a bit hurt — but a high-six-figures book advance has great healing power. [Jezebel]

* We’d like to dedicate this blurb to Chubbs Peterson. Alligators on golf courses are dangers to all of us. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Lawyers travel a lot. Here’s what you can do with all of those hotel toiletries (which Lat has confessed to hoarding). [Ross Fishman's Law Marketing Blog]

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