August 2014

Staci here. When you finished law school, you probably thought you’d have some time to relax before bar exam hell started this summer, but you quickly found out just how wrong you were about that.

So instead of going to the bar and getting all wasteyfaced, you buckled down and studied hard for a few weeks. But you still felt deprived. You still felt like you needed to go out and get your partying ways out of your system. It was then that you had an epiphany — come hell or high water, you were going to take a weekend trip to Vegas to escape from your bar exam woes.

Now, this may sound incredibly stupid to some of our readers, and to be quite frank, it is. It’s about as stupid as choosing someone like me as your bar exam study partner. But Mr. Bar Exam didn’t care.

Let’s see the important lesson he learned in this week’s episode….

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All rise for the Honorable Judge Fiddy.

* For everyone who’s ever wondered, “I’m an attorney, but I also love playing lacrosse. Where can I enjoy my dual passions?” Well, here’s your answer. [Wall Street Journal]

* More analysis of today’s DOMA smack down. [Leonard Link]

* Still speaking about DOMA, check out these interesting similarities between Judge Michael Boudin, who wrote the court’s DOMA opinion, and 50 Cent. (Spoiler: they’ve both been shot a gazillion times, duuuh.) [Think Progress]

* How do you turn your summer associateship into a full-time offer? I might suggest presents, nepotism, or, ahem, “favors.” Or for more traditional folks, I suppose you could take this “practical” advice. [The Careerist]

* What can business executives learn from Wal-Mart? That having holiday sales so huge people are willing to die to be there might not be such a terrible idea? [Harvard Business Review]

* What happens when the pool of college graduates dries up in a metropolitan area? Kitten starvation, ice storms, and zombies. [New York Times]

* On a policy level, this maybe isn’t a great idea. And I realize I might sound like a hypocrite. But, honestly, if sodas were banned, I would be really upset for like 20 minutes, and then I would just go on a crazy 20-year coconut water binge. [New York Times]

After the jump, check out Bloomberg Law’s interview with the judge from Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading case…

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Chen Guangcheng

The fundamental question the Chinese government must face is lawlessness. China does not lack laws, but the rule of law.

– Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, in an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times. Guangcheng is currently studying law at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law School.

(Keep reading to see how Guangcheng describes the lawless conduct he and his family have allegedly faced — at the hands of law enforcement — in his homeland.)

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The verdict is in — and we’re not just talking about vanity license plates for luxury cars. We’re talking about the jury in the prosecution of former senator John Edwards, vice-presidential nominee turned disgraced philanderer, for alleged violations of campaign finance law.

So, what did the jury decide? Let’s find out.

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Based on the number of submissions we’ve received — please don’t be offended if yours doesn’t make the cut — it seems you’re enjoying our Law License Plates series. Our last post on law-related vanity license plates was a little over a week ago, but we’re always looking for more photos. You can send them via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).

Today, we’ll be writing about lawyers who spend so much time in the courtroom that they’ve decided to slap a verdict on their license plates — literally. And from the looks of it, these litigators’ verdicts have resulted in some pretty big monetary payouts. Unfortunately, it looks like only one of them could afford the “i”….

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The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf now finds itself in Chapter 11, but the story of Dewey has not yet reached its end. We’ll now turn the pages in the Bankruptcy Reporter.

Yesterday Judge Martin Glenn of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court allowed Dewey to use cash collateral to fund its wind-down operations, even though this collateral should really be seen as belonging to the firm’s secured creditors. Judge Glenn initially denied this request, at least when it was coupled with giving the secured creditors a lien on recoveries from future litigation. In deciding to let Dewey tap into the cash, Judge Glenn did not decide what the lenders might get in exchange for letting the firm use their money. That will be decided later, at a June 13 hearing.

With things quieting down on the Dewey news front, let’s turn to analysis. Here are some insights into what brought Dewey down and what other firms can learn from its fall, from a former managing partner who now works as a consultant to the legal industry….

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Tom Wallerstein

Everyone knows the expression “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” The proverb claims that whatever we don’t have always seems more attractive than what we do have.

If the proverb were true, then we might expect that Biglaw associates would pine to work as solos or in small firm boutiques. But do they really?

It’s no secret that many lawyers are miserable. Some people like Will Meyerhofer have made careers out of trying to reassemble the shattered psyches of victims of Biglaw excesses. But as miserable as an associate’s life might sometimes be, I’ve rarely heard attorneys wistfully musing what it would be like to practice on the other side of the fence, so to speak. Nor do many solo or small firm attorneys often say they wish they worked in Biglaw.

I can’t help but chuckle at the self-rationalizing that seems to overwhelm so many attorneys. Many of them are so cocksure of their career paths and so defensive when challenged, you have to wonder if they doth protest too much. And indeed, although I’m not a shrink, I do have my theories as to why lawyers especially seem prone to criticizing other lawyers whose career paths are different than their own….

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We have been covering the Justice Department’s case against Megaupload, the formerly massive file hosting site, ever since the government shut it down in January.

We have seen the government’s piracy case devolve from a slamdunk into a slopfest with what appears to be less and less of a chance of successful prosecution. Although charismatic CEO Kim Dotcom is still under house arrest in New Zealand, judicial officials there are getting frustrated with the United States. And the company’s attorneys at Quinn Emanuel are still continuing their assault against the Feds. The firm filed two important briefs yesterday, which could significantly impact the future of the case…

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For most luxury shoppers, a trip to Neiman Marcus is the stuff that dreams are made of. After all, bags overflowing with designer merchandise can usually put a smile on any face, no matter the cost. But for others, such a shopping excursion just serves as a reminder of all the sex, lies, and betrayal that go hand-in-hand with a bitter divorce.

Because apparently when your husband stops in to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise year after year, it’s essential for your former personal shopper to allegedly swipe his “credit card” — over, and over, and over again….

At least that’s what one divorcée in Texas is alleging. She filed suit against Neiman Marcus after the luxury retailer refused to take back $1.4 million worth of gifts that she attempted to return after discovering her ex-husband’s alleged affair….

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During the United States Supreme Court arguments over Obamacare, the nation got a rare treat: the chance to see (or at least hear) Paul Clement in action. Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General and current partner at Bancroft PLLC, delivered a brilliant performance before the justices, a veritable master class in appellate advocacy. As Carter Phillips, a veteran SCOTUS litigator himself, told us here at Above the Law, Clement “did a spectacularly good job” and “was just on his game… over a much longer period of time than most of us are required to do it.”

But even Clement couldn’t save Section 3 of the highly problematic Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from going down to defeat in the First Circuit. Before a panel with a majority of Republican-appointed judges, in fact.

Let’s find out who was on the panel, whether there were any dissents, and what the court concluded….

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