August 2014

I get that to lay people, the tax code seems incredibly complicated. It is complicated, and years of both parties legislating through the tax code has made it that way. I understand that the sepia-toned relief of an American being able to puzzle out his taxes on the hood of his pick-up truck before he goes fishing is a powerful image.

But honestly, the mainstream media has to stop acting like Mitt Romney is beset on all sides by byzantine forces that only our greatest theoretical physicists can understand. Taxes are governed by laws. As I’ve said before, we have professionals who deal with those laws; they are called tax lawyers. In fact, if you have modest investments and intelligence, you probably could do your taxes on the hood of your pick-up truck, provided you had a Macbook and downloaded TurboTax.

If, on the other hand, you want to make millions of dollars a year, enjoy the benefits of sophisticated investments, and keep money offshore to avoid paying American taxes on it, then you’re going to have to hire a freaking professional to help you. We’re going to cry over this? We’re going to be sad that we live in a world where people who make extraordinary amounts of money have to rely on trained professionals to help them make just a little bit more?

I guess the Times isn’t exactly crying over it (Fox News has been carrying most of the water on poor Mr. Romney and his complicated taxes), but they are smacking around one of the Biglaw professionals Romney hired. Let’s see which firm…

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A lesson that Matt Couloute Jr. is learning.

It’s a sad fact, but almost everyone has had the opportunity to partake in a bad romance or two. And although it may sound elegant when Lady Gaga sings about it, in real life, it can be devastating. That’s why websites like LiarsCheatersRUs were created — so that jilted lovers could have a place to unleash their angst about failed relationships caused by a lover’s supposed infidelity.

But what happens when you’re a lawyer and a scorned ex-girlfriend lets loose on the internet about your infidelities? That is apparently what happened in the case of Matthew Couloute Jr., a former prosecutor and Court TV analyst, after he allegedly cheated on Amanda Ryncarz.

Now he’s suing Ryncarz and another ex-flame, roller-derby diva Stacey Blitsch, both represented by feminazi lawyer to the wannabe stars, Gloria Allred. Thus far, we’ve kept our coverage of the drama to Morning Docket entries (here, here, and here), but now, Matt Couloute has spoken out about the situation on television.

Check out Couloute’s on-air coverage, and see pictures of the women in question, after the jump….

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1112 Park Avenue

Partners at high-powered Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, where profits per partner in 2010 clocked in at almost $2.4 million, appreciate the finer things in life. These include $6 million houses in the Hamptons and the company of former Playboy models (who used to date movie stars like Matt Dillon).

Now, fabulous though they may be, beach houses in the Hamptons and Playboy model girlfriends sound… a bit flashy, a trifle arriviste. Some might view them as not very white-shoe, and not what you’d expect from partners of the oldest continuing Wall Street law practice in the United States. (Sure, some old-money people have places in the Hamptons, but these days the locale appeals more to celebrities.)

Thankfully there are some CWT partners who are kicking it old school. They live in exclusive prewar coops on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. No lofts in Tribeca or Soho — or, God forbid, Brooklyn — for these genteel types.

Let’s look at the Lawyerly Lair that a senior Cadwalader lawyer recently acquired — on Park Avenue, one of the world’s legendary thoroughfares — for just a shade under $6 million….

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Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” In contrast, Thomas Jefferson School of Law does not tremble before the toothless authority of the ABA. In fact, the school feels free to respond to utter institutional FAIL with peevish blame-shifting. Either TJSL has a serious problem with its admissions standards or it fails students once they arrive. Or some combo platter thereof. Does it matter? Let’s all stipulate that this is a “bad thing.” But what, if anything, should be done?

There are obviously a range of legal/societal stances toward the treatment of “bad things.” Bad things like cigarettes are legal but have mandatory warning labels. Bad things like the New York Lottery are just a Darwinian tax on the ignorant. Predatory subprime mortgage lenders are subject to a patchwork of federal and state laws. Ponzi schemers face criminal fraud charges. Where a law school charging $120,000 for a dubious product fits into the scheme of bad things is open to debate. So we reader-sourced the question. Last week, we conducted a research poll asking:

• Should the ABA impose national minimum LSAT and/or GPA standards for entry into accredited law schools?
• In what range should the LSAT & GPA cutoffs be?
• Should law schools lose their accreditation if their graduates’ bar passage rates fall below a certain threshold?
• Below what level should a school’s accreditation be in jeopardy?

After the jump, you tell us whether and where the lines should be drawn….

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* The people at the Department of Justice really don’t want you to see Osama bin Laden’s death photos, but don’t they realize that the internet needs pics or it didn’t happen? [Blog of Legal Times]

* Déjà vu: Hustler Magazine’s nude photo spread of Nancy Benoit was back on the Eleventh Circuit’s docket this week. The porn purveyors face damages of $0, $250K, or $19.6M — what’ll it be? [ABC News]

* Poor Justice Clarence Thomas. He used to be such a “lonely kid.” Maybe that’s why he doesn’t talk much at SCOTUS these days, but he gives beautiful speeches outside the courtroom. [Worcester Telegram & Gazette]

* Cooley Law’s Temple building in Lansing was evacuated due to smoke, but no fire. It was probably just all of the hot air the administrators blow up students’ asses about their employment prospects. [MLive.com]

* This has got to be some kind of a first. Crawford Shaw, a lawyer, is withdrawing a client’s claim to a multi-million dollar lottery ticket because he can’t be bothered to argue about it. [Reuters]

* I’m going to Disney World prison! Bonnie Sweeten, the paralegal who faked her own abduction, has been sentenced to eight years for stealing more than $1M (half of which came from her law firm). [Daily Mail]

Greg Kelly

* Greg Kelly stands accused of an alleged rape that supposedly took place at a “lower Manhattan law firm.” While we wait for the tips machine to fire up, who’s up for kegs and eggs and Good Day New York tomorrow morning? [Gothamist]

* Classes in space colony law coming in 3… 2… 1… [Buzzfeed]

* The Ninth Circuit isn’t paying too much attention to the drivel coming out of the Republican primaries. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Resources are available for lawyers with substance abuse problems who need help. For lawyers with substance abuse problems who don’t need any help, I’ll be at Professor Thom’s tonight. [ABA Journal]

* Megan McArdle wonders: How much does Warren Buffett pay his secretary? [Instapundit]

* Congratulations to Barney Frank. Welcome to a civil liberty you should have always had. [Huffington Post]

* Apparently New York Times writer David Segal started his jihad against law schools because of a lawyer friend he talked to at a cocktail party. Click on the jump so you can get a look at him being interviewed, just in case you see him on the subway and want to talk to someone about your troubles…

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As mentioned previously, these State of the Market posts by Lateral Link, as compiled by Director Gary Cohen, will focus on one of the country’s largest states — Texas.

The strongest market in Texas is Houston, with some of the strongest candidates being those with corporate, capital markets, or finance experience. A close second is Dallas, and a distant third in terms of strong markets in the Lone Star State is Austin….

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According to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), small law firms have adopted the mantra: merge or die. Indeed, the number of law firm mergers is staggering. “At least 60 mergers occurred in the U.S. and abroad last year, the highest level since 2008 and a 54% jump from 2010, according to legal-industry consulting firm Altman Weil Inc. Industry experts expect the figure to rise this year.”

Why the up-tick in mergers? The economic downturn has caused a shift when it comes to legal service providers: it is a “seller’s market for the first time in 20 years.” In other words, law firms are not able to raise rates in order to increase profits. So, small firms turn to mergers as a way to increase their revenue and allow them to compete with all-purpose, larger firms. Randall H. Miller, who as managing partner at Denver-based Holme Roberts & Owen LLP helped engineer its acquisition by Bryan Cave, explained that “[l]ittle by little, our ability to service our clients’ needs ha[d] been limited by our smaller size,” which was why he pushed for the merger.

Yet, small firm to large firm mergers are not the answer for all small firms. The article featured several potential problems….

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Landing a Summer Public Interest Legal Job: hotsexyskippy@yahoo.com is not an appropriate email address to have on your résumé. LOL.

PSLawNet, offering job search advice over Twitter.

The “commenters” at Above the Law are — as you know if you’ve ever looked — a tough crowd. If you’re a partner at a big firm, then you’re a loser, because you’re a workaholic stiff with no life. If you’re a partner at a small firm, then you’re a loser, because you couldn’t succeed at a big firm. If you’re an associate at a big firm, you’re a loser, because you’re a lifeless drone who doesn’t have the courage to pursue your dreams. If you’re a scholar, then you’re a loser: Those who can’t do, teach. If you’re a judge, then you couldn’t cut it in private practice, so you had to bail out.

You get my drift.

The correspondents who choose to write to me personally (by clicking on this link) are an entirely different breed. (Perhaps it’s because they’re not anonymous.) My correspondents have been consistently civilized and reasonable, and often quite thoughtful. But I recently received a well-crafted, nicely written email from a law student who utterly missed the boat. I devote this column to that correspondent, and to others who might be suffering from a similar misconception.

Here’s the backstory: I wrote a column about how improving the quality of law firm interviews might improve the quality of associates that a law firm hires. A law-student-correspondent suggested that law firms might in fact not care about the quality of associates. To paraphrase: “Law firms count on having high attrition in the associate ranks. So you need a fair number of associates who will either leave on their own or have to be shown the door. And law firms make very few partners, so, after an entering class has been winnowed down over the course of a decade, the firm is likely to have one or two remaining candidates who can be offered partnership. That’s true regardless of the quality of the entering class.”

That email is proof that insanity can be made to sound plausible . . .

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