October 2014

Morgan Chu

Legendary litigator Morgan Chu, former managing partner and current litigation chair at Irell & Manella, is one of the nation’s top intellectual-property attorneys and trial lawyers. He has tried multiple IP cases to nine-figure jury verdicts, and he has earned every professional accolade under the sun (see his Irell website bio). He is arguably the nation’s #1 IP litigator. (If you disagree, make your case for someone else in the comments.)

And now Morgan Chu is the subject of sexual-harassment allegations. In a lawsuit filed in California Superior Court on Friday, former Irell partner Juliette Youngblood alleges that Chu sexually harassed her, then retaliated against her after she rejected his advances.

Morgan Chu is widely admired — at Irell, where his rainmaking monsoon-making helps generate robust partner profits (over $2.9 million in PPP in 2010), as well as above-market associate bonuses; in IP litigation circles, where he is a fearsome adversary; and among Asian-American lawyers, where he stands as proof that we can excel at litigation as well as transactional work.

It’s hard to believe that such a beloved figure has been hit with such salacious allegations (which we must emphasize are mere allegations at this point, nothing more). But let’s forge ahead and check them out — along with the pertly pretty plaintiff who is making them….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Youngblood v. Irell & Manella
Former partner alleges sexual harassment by Morgan Chu.

For all our readers and friends starting the bar exam tomorrow: Good luck! You can do it!

Keep reading for a few last-minute tips. And let’s see if any of the many readers who have already passed the big test have some advice…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bar Review Diaries: Best of Luck on the Bar Exam!”

* Now the “we patented buying things on your phone” guys, Lodsys, has amended their complaint to mess with Angry Birds. [TPM]

* Warren Jeffs, it’s time for your closeup. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Advice for law students: don’t sit around waiting for legal-education reform; instead, “[l]earn to stop worrying and love to blog.” [Tabulaw]

* Who doesn’t like crazy cover letters? [Trolling for Jobs]

* A useful lawyer blog dies so a person can get back to living his life. [Simple Justice]

* This looks like an awesome present to get somebody who has just taken the bar. Just make sure you get it for a person who is likely to pass the bar. [Approach the Bench]

* Congressman Peter King just said the dumbest thing ever. [New York 1]


She’s an enormously affable, accessible person. I don’t think she would come with the baggage that someone from an elite university might sometimes have.

– Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, discussing the possibility that his colleague, Professor Elizabeth Warren, might run to represent Massachusetts in the United States Senate.

Twenty years ago this September, I started law school not knowing anyone there. More importantly, no one there knew me.

Now, mind you, this was at Boston College Law School, where such things aren’t really emphasized. I mean, it’s not like at that school across the Charles, where people like the Winklevii both wear and file suits. At BC Law, which (at least back then) prided itself on being a kinder, gentler law school, it wasn’t really about who you knew, or who knew you. (Yes, one of those whos should really be a whom, but only someone at Harvard would actually say it that way.)

Still, it’s nice to have people know who are you are, and it’s a useful skill to develop for after school, when you need to know how to market your services as a lawyer.

So three weeks after school started, almost everyone knew my name. You see, I had a secret weapon.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Getting Your Name Out There”

For years, the anti-gay-marriage crowd has been railing against unelected judges “imposing” marriage equality on a people not yet ready for social progress. But New York’s gay marriage bill was approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor last month, and marriages began yesterday. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, it was really beautiful here in the city this weekend. The new law appeared to be quite popular.

And so, of course, the anti-marriage-equality people now want judges — yes, judges — to interfere in the political process, and put a stop to all these people walking around and loving each other….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Could the Anti-Marriage-Equality People Please Make Up Their Minds?”

Back in November 2010, we reported on the lawsuit of Nelson v. Jones Day. Plaintiff Jaki Nelson, an African-American woman who worked as a legal secretary in the Los Angeles office of Jones Day, sued the firm, alleging race-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and infliction of emotional distress. In her lawsuit, Nelson made some rather lurid allegations.

Allegations that, it appears, were lacking in merit. The case has been dismissed.

Let’s learn more — and see what the firm has to say about the dismissal….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nelson v. Jones Day: Case Dismissed”

As Republicans continue to play chicken with the nation’s solvency, the idea that the president doesn’t need congressional approval to raise the debt ceiling is gaining traction. The thought bubble suggests that President Obama can raise the debt ceiling because of language in the Fourteenth Amendment stating that the nation’s debt “shall not be questioned.”

The idea has been trumpeted by none other than former president Bill Clinton. Clinton said that he would unilaterally raise the debt ceiling and “force the courts to stop me.”

Of course, President Clinton had what the scientists call “balls.” He knew how to handle a group of intractable Republicans more concerned with scoring political points than governing.

President Obama? The New York Times has his response: “I have talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”

Can Aaron Sorkin please write a “Let Obama Be Obama” episode? Because sometimes Barack Obama really likes to dangle his feet in the water of whatever the hell it is he dangles his feet in, when he wants to make it look like he’s trying without pissing too many people off.

In any event, is invoking Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment a “winning” argument that could solve this debt crisis?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “To Be Young, An Executive, And Above the Law: Thoughts on the Debt Ceiling Impasse”

Call me a step slow.  I’ve only recently stumbled across the memo prepared by Yale Law School warning students about the tyranny of the billable hour. As someone who billed hours for more than 25 years but no longer plays in that sandbox, I feel compelled to comment.

At the outset, let me type words that may startle lawyers just now beginning their careers:  I never felt burdened by the need to bill hours.  (Let the abuse begin!) After clerking, I started my career in the 1980s at a small firm that didn’t make a big deal about billing time.  I was instructed by one senior partner (and I very nearly quote):  “You learn the area of law that you’re researching; that’s what will make you a valuable lawyer some day.  I’ll take care of the bill, making sure that our client pays only a fair price for your work.”  (I later dedicated a book to that guy.)

I was told by another partner:  “We’re a small firm, so we’re not as prominent as the big firms are.  It’s part of your job to help raise the collective profile of this firm and its lawyers.  We don’t particularly care whether you join a bar association, write articles, or go on the board of a non-profit, but we do care that you do something to let people in the community know that we exist.  It’s part of your job.”

I thought those guys were right, and I took that attitude with me when I later (must have popped a gasket and) moved from a small firm in San Francisco to one of the world’s largest firms in Cleveland.  I continued to stay busy with client work, but I also made a point of helping to raise the firm’s profile in the world. I occasionally felt burdened by the crush of work, but I never felt burdened by the need to “bill hours.”  In the course of 25 years, while I practiced law at two different firms, no one ever said a word to me about the number of hours that I billed.

That cuts in both directions. On the one hand, no one ever asked me why I was foolishly wasting all that non-billable time teaching classes and working on non-profit boards. On the other hand (at least after I left San Francisco), no one ever said, “Congratulations for having written those books,” or, “Congratulations on getting that article published in the Wall Street Journal.”  But I, at least, took far more satisfaction in those accomplishments, and in the results that I achieved for clients, than I ever took in having billed a lot of hours (which seems to me like a uniquely unsatisfying professional goal).

How many hours did I bill?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: A Billable Life”

Image via Getty

* Where does Amy Winehouse’s estate go? Here’s a suggestion that it goes… wait for it… Back to Blake. Get it? You guys get it. [Gawker]

* In the other news that dominated the weekend, Norway’s resident nightmare factory, Anders Breivik, wants to explain himself in court. [Reuters]

* Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s accuser has begun her media blitz. Last prosecutor out, please turn off the lights. [Newsweek via New York Post]

* To those who pout about the generally positive coverage of gay marriage on this site, here’s a Washington Times story connecting Jonathan Turley’s Sister Wives lawsuit to gay marriage. You’re welcome. [Washington Times]

* And to those who can’t get enough positive coverage of gay marriage, a recap of all the gay marrying in New York over the weekend. Congratulations, Ms. Siegel and Ms. Kopelov. You kids crushed it. [New York Times]

* A new rule proposed by the Labor Department may require law firms to disclose work they do if it’s used to “persuade workers on union activity.” Seems like as good a time as any to link to this bunny rabbit eating parsley. [Washington Post]

* Charles Manatt, former DNC chair and founding partner of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, R.I.P. [Los Angeles Times]

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