August 2014

I used to have nightmares about the red pen, until I started drinking before bed.

As regular readers of this website will note, my grammar and spelling is not too well. As regular readers of this website will also note, this is a blog, not a legal document or a court filing. When I wrote legal documents for a living, I also had legal secretaries who would fix some of the liberties I’d take with the English language. Even without that help, no document leaves a Biglaw office until it has been looked at by a bunch of people. A typo emanating from my desk would have had to escape the notice of at least three other people before making it out of the building.

I could not have survived in the small-firm or solo practitioner environment. Without people who dot an “i,” and cross a “t,” and say, “I have no earthly idea of what you are trying to say, because your sentence has three subjects and no predicates,” I’m in a bit of trouble.

I’d probably end up looking a lot like Howard Roy Schechter — a California lawyer who seemingly sent out a cease-and-desist letter that could have been written in crayon for its childlike attention to detail….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cease-and-Desist Letter Made For Etsy User Is Riddled With Handmade Errors”

If you consider Sullivan & Cromwell’s Spring Tip as if it were a real tip on a meal that cost $160,000, S&C tipped at .6%. Not 6%, but .6%.

Cravath Swaine & Moore should be able to match that if every partner at the firm went home and shook the loose change out of their couches.

So, I’m not even going to ask if they’ll match. That’s a pathetic question. I’m going to ask if Cravath will beat the S&C spring bonus.

I mean, it’s not hard. S&C has set the bar so low that Cravath can crawl over it. For the love of God, I’ll get a better “spring bonus” from Breaking Media than S&C associates are getting.

If Cravath moves, we can assume S&C will follow….

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On Thursday morning, while talking to my therapist — no, not the People’s Therapist — I mentioned that I’ve been quite busy at work these days, covering the fast-moving story of a law firm implosion. I started to explain, but he interrupted.

“You mean Dewey?” he asked. “I know all about it. An old friend of mine is a partner there. He just asked me for a referral.”

Sign #1 that a law firm story has gone mainstream: your shrink knows about it. Sign #2: it’s getting covered by esteemed general-interest outlets like Slate and the Economist. (In Slate, Reynolds Holding argues that the experience of Ruden McClosky, the Florida firm that pulled off the bankruptcy-cum-merger maneuver last year, could provide helpful lessons for Dewey.)

Aside from a report that some partners want criminal charges brought against chairman Steven H. Davis, as noted in Morning Docket, things have been relatively quiet on the Dewey front over the past day or two. Perhaps too quiet, for some people….

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Yeardley Love

* Dewey get to see a member of this firm’s chairman’s office strut for a perp walk in the near future? After all, partners reportedly say that it’s thanks to him that D&L may close up shop “as early as next week.” [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* De-equitize this: Oh, how Biglaw firms in America wish that they could return to merry old England, where mandatory retirement policies for old fart partners are the norm, and the courts agree. [Legal Week]

* “We’re about to beat a dead horse here.” Even the judge presiding over the John Edwards trial got pissed when the defense repeatedly asked variations of the same question on cross-examination. [MSNBC]

* Ain’t no shame in his game (well, actually, there is). Judge Wade McCree’s lawyer says he’s sure the judge is sorry for his sext messaging. Yeah, sorry he got caught. [Detroit Free Press]

* Is this the first test of the “ministerial exception” in the Perich case? A teacher at a Catholic school was fired for getting in vitro fertilization treatments, and now she’s suing. [CNN]

* Insert your own UVA joke here, bro. Yeardley Love’s family has filed a $30M wrongful death suit against former college lacrosse player, George Huguely V. [Washington Examiner]

I really, really hate being the one to defend stupid teenagers who get expelled from school. The ones who are kicked out for cursing online or for other forms of bullying.

Because I was a teenager once — not even that long ago — and I still clearly remember what it feels like to be on the receiving end of horrid teenage evilness. But somehow, I can’t help myself.

So here you go. Keep reading to see why the ACLU is doing the right thing by defending three eighth-grade girls who were expelled for talking about killing people on Facebook

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* Paul Clement is a beast, is basically what it comes down to. [The Daily Beast]

* This is probably the grossest, most pornographic employment discrimination/sexual harassment/defamation lawsuit I’ve seen. Maybe fans of 50 Shades of Grey (affiliate link) might find it compelling. The writing in the lawsuit is probably better… [Courthouse News]

* Predictive coding is good. Now it’s bad. Now it’s good. Make up your mind! [Law Technology News]

* A touching obituary about a first-year Reed Smith associate who recently took his own life. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* Elie was on Fox News late last night (video embed after the jump). He brought the funny. [Red Eye]

* If you ever get in trouble for tweeting or blogging about jury duty, Davis Oscar Markus is the guy to call. [Miami Herald]

* LexisNexis recently unveiled its new, ginormous legal e-book library. It’s just like a normal law library, except you don’t have to ask the pesky law librarian for help. [LexisNexis]

(Embedded Elie, after the jump.)

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Portrait of a young president... still buried in loans?

When we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt. When we married, we got poor together. We only finished paying off our loans, check this out: I’m the president of the United States. … We only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago. That wasn’t that long ago.

Barack Obama, speaking to college students in North Carolina on Tuesday. The President will turn 51 in August.

Tom Wallerstein

I was shocked to discover that “[a]ccording to the Lawyer Statistical Report, only 14% of attorneys are employed in large law firms of more than 100 lawyers. The large majority of attorneys (63%) and law firm employees work in small offices of ten attorneys or less.”

I have no idea if those numbers are accurate. But the reason I was shocked is because the report should have said, “ten attorneys or fewer.” “Fewer” is proper when referring to countable items other than time, money or distance. “Less” is proper when referring to things that generally are not counted.

OK, maybe “shocked” is too strong a word, but I do cringe every time I’m in the grocery store confronting the grammatically incorrect express lane of “10 items or less” instead of the proper “ten items or fewer.” Conversely, I always enjoy reading ATL’s “Grammer Pole of the Weak” column that explores some technical grammar debate. I usually have an opinion no matter how arcane the question.

I can trace my own fascination with words to the first time I read George Orwell’s novel 1984 [affiliate link]. Before it became an Apple commercial, the book was a moving exploration of the vast power of language and the relationship between words and ideas. The hero of the novel was employed to edit books and newspapers and remove words that had been banned. The political and social role of “Newspeak,” the state-imposed language, was a central theme.

My fascination with words continued in college where I studied speech. With oration, at its best, your words could glow with the gold of sunshine. At its worst, your tongue is twisted with words half spoken. But I majored in philosophy, and especially the philosophy of language. Law, with its supposed emphasis on logic, language and speech, seemed a natural fit for me.

After all, as lawyers, words are our stock and trade. What is an argument but a collection of ideas, expressed in words, intended to persuade?

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Lat here. In late March, I wrote a story with this title: “Sullivan & Cromwell Will Pay Spring Bonuses — But Will They Be Too Small To Be Worth Matching?”

I’m sad to report that my prediction has come to pass. Sullivan & Cromwell has announced spring bonuses, but they’re nothing to write home about. They are probably too modest for other firms to bother matching. The spring bonuses of Quinn Emanuel will surely exceed the S&C amounts.

Sullivan promised spring bonuses in its 2011 year-end bonus memo, and it reiterated that promise on subsequent occasions. But the powers that be at S&C never said anything as to amounts, leading some to forecast wimpy payouts.

So how much are we talking about? Let’s find out, and get some color commentary from my colleague, Elie Mystal….

UPDATE (4:20 PM): We’re continuing to update this post. Go after the jump and refresh.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Sullivan & Cromwell Announces (Paltry) Spring Bonuses”

The New York Post just gave me the key to making millions of dollars. All I have to do is convince Breaking Media to fire me. Then I can say that I was fired for being an overweight African-American, and use all of the derisive comments I’ve received as evidence.

Profit!

Hey, I’d just be following the strategy laid out by Earl Brown, a former AIG lawyer who claims he was discriminated against because his boss kept making Fat Albert jokes about him.

Would that the worst I heard in a given day was “hey, hey, hey”….

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