August 2014

In March, we ran a story about how the justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court had basically devolved into caricatures of themselves worthy of MTV reality show fame.

Apparently, in the midst of a heated debate, Justice David Prosser fell into the role of the hothead. He called a female justice a “bitch” “total bitch,” and threatened to “destroy” her. I guess this is what happens when members of the judiciary stop being polite, and start getting real –- The Real Prize World.

Anyway, you know what usually happens on the next episode of the show. We find out that the hothead isn’t just abusive with his words, but also with his fists. And that is exactly what allegedly happened earlier this month behind closed doors.

Did Prosser need to choke a bitch?

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I came of age in the law in the late 1980s. At the time, arbitration was viewed as a big deal and a possible threat to the judicial system. Many corporations were adding arbitration clauses to their contracts; companies were agreeing to arbitrate, rather than litigate, disputes; and pundits feared that the judicial system would suffer.

What were the perceived benefits of arbitration?

It’s private. Companies wouldn’t have to share their dirty corporate laundry with the world.

You get to pick your own decision-maker. If you fear generalist judges, you can select an industry specialist as your arbitrator.

Arbitration is cheaper. Limited (or no) document production; no depositions; no silly, time-consuming motion practice. No serious appellate review, and thus relatively few time-consuming appeals.

This was perceived as being not just good, but great! Parties could design their own processes to have private judges resolve disputes quickly and efficiently, and corporations would spare themselves the expense and indignity of appearing in court.

Indeed, a couple of decades ago pundits feared that arbitration would soon threaten the judicial system. Parties with means would plainly prefer arbitration to litigation, so there would be ample demand for arbitrators’ services. Arbitrators are often paid at the rate of private practice lawyers, rather than public servants, so good judges would leave the bench in droves to accept more lucrative jobs as private arbitrators. The quality of judges would decline, and America would be left with a two-tiered system of justice: High-quality, private arbitration for the rich, and low-quality, public courts for the poor.

Or that was what the pundits said….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: On Choosing To Arbitrate”

* In case you’ve been hiding in a homophobe haven, New York legalized gay marriage. Maybe the actress behind one of my favorite fictional lawyers can finally get married. [New York Times]

* Apparently foreigners who are in the habit of handling money are also in the habit of allegedly handling hotel maids. Walking like an Egyptian might cost this banker $5M. [New York Daily News]

* In this country, we deserve freedom of choice for light bulbs, but not for abortions. That makes sense. Sometimes, I have absolutely no idea why I like the Republican party. [Daily Mail]

* Florida schools are worried about minority enrollment. Why worry when diversity doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of rankings? Isn’t that what law schools care about the most? [Orlando Sentinel]

* Lady Gaga is facing class action RICO charges from an 800-number law firm. Not sure which is more upsetting: that such a firm exists, or that she’s being called “Shady Gaga.” [FOX Detroit]

* The best way to ignore a problem is to drown it out. Memo for all prisoners out there: you may not have the right to heat in the winter, but you do have the right to freeze your ass off. [Morning Call]

* In the melting pot that is America, you can still be fired for looking un-American in trendy tween stores. I guess Hollister isn’t familiar with the très chic Muslim surfer look. [Daily Mail]

* New York could finally have its gay marriage compromise, but it’ll be voided if in future a court decides that the “protections” for religious institutions are unconstitutional. [Poliglot]

* Could New York Law School be about to go the way of Thomas Jefferson Law School and get sued? [Craigslist]

* Remember that bit in the Social Network were that one Winklevoss twin was too proud to stoop to the level of a lawsuit? Yeah, I guess that part was total BS. [WSJ Law Blog]

* One billion dollars just doesn’t last as long as it used to. [ABA Journal]

* Here’s something fun for you language nazis to ponder this weekend while I’m busying playing L.A. Noire. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Don’t forget to vote for your favorite fictional lawyers this weekend. Voting from home counts too, and some of the races are very close. [Above the Law]

Don't you hate it when the guy you happen to be sleeping with touches your junk and you have to go all octagon on him?

An MMA fighter and sometimes bouncer awakens to find a gay guy sleeping in his bed with his hands down his pants. Naturally, the fighter removes the gay guy’s hand and beats him to a pulp. At trial, the fighter claims the brutal assault was in self defense.

Man, if I had a dollar for every time I woke up with some dude’s hand down my pants and had to nearly beat him to death just to get out of the room I’d have… zero dollars because that never freaking happens.

But that’s the story Dale Edward Cutler told a Michigan appeals court. Yet, even assuming Cutler’s facts to be true, the appeals court still ruled that his use of force was too excessive to claim self defense….

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Why don't you ask Kay Adams what she thinks about father's rights.

I’m all for father’s rights. I think they should be co-equal with mother’s rights just as soon as the child is born.

Before the child is born? When we’re just talking about cells that are parasitically living off of the mother in an invasive way as they mangle the woman’s organs, while the father says things like “you want ice cream and pickles, jeeze” then I think it’s okay to have the mother’s rights supersede the father’s.

Of course, there are tough cases. When the mother wants to get an abortion while the father wants her to bring the child to term, the situation calls for a reasoned and compassionate solution. As we think through what to do in these situations, we need calm and respectful discourse.

You know, the kind of things that work great on a giant billboard in the center of town…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pro-Life Billboard or Harassing Invasion of Privacy?”

Welcome to the new and improved Above the Law Caption Contest. This time, we won’t just be voting on the most creative captions, we’ll be giving out prizes to the top finishers.

And prizes are exactly what the father of one recent law school graduate needs…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Caption Contest: Living in a Van, Down By The River”

Earlier this week, Hughes Hubbard & Reed finally got around to issuing spring bonuses. Oh, we can’t call them “spring” bonuses, because Hughes Hubbard is calling them “special” bonuses. But make no mistake, this is a spring bonus HHR has just taken a long time to get around to.

Unlike Cahill, which just gave their associates more money because they could, HHR is playing catch up to the 2010 bonus market. I can prove it: Hughes Hubbard’s special bonus is tied to 2010 performance and hours marks, not 2011.

I think if you are rewarding people for what they did in 2010, it’s pretty obvious that you are still trying to catch up to the 2010 compensation market…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Hughes Hubbard Makes ‘Special Bonuses,’ As It Would Have Been Stupid To Call Them Spring Bonuses”

For attorneys, missing deadlines is a big no-no. BIG no-no. A Goodyear blimp-sized no-no. People have literally died because of blown deadlines. Cases worth millions of dollars get tossed out because of missed deadlines, even if someone has a decent excuse.

That being so, I do not envy the lawyer who had to tell his client that the 4th Circuit shut down their lawsuit because he didn’t know how to use his Microsoft calendar.

More about the difference between “excusable neglect” and this run-of-the-mill bonehead mistakes after the jump…

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Personally, I take a Quinn Emanuel approach to my sartorial choices. I try to not be overly concerned with one’s superficial appearance, and that starts at home.

But I’ve come to learn that people who spend a lot of time with their face up their own ass in front of a mirror are also deeply concerned with how other people look. Whatever, some people care about the character of a man, others care about the starch in his collar.

And if you want this job in Philadelphia, you better be in the latter category…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Being a ‘Sharp Dresser’ Could Help You Get This Job”

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