April 2014

Depositions usually aren’t very exciting, but every now and then, you get a gem that’s worthy of public fanfare from the legal world. Take, for example, a deposition that we came across last year, in which a lawyer asked the deponent whether his “jurisprudential hymen [was] being ruptured.”

Today, we’ve got some deposition fun for you with the assistance of rap artist Lil Wayne, and it turns out that he’s just as entertaining in a legal setting as he is on stage — and by “entertaining,” we mean he acted like a complete tool. He’s currently suing Quincy Jones III over a documentary about his life, claiming that he was portrayed in a “scandalous” manner.

Let’s check out the clips from his leaked deposition….

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Peter Kalis: hail to the chief!

Much like the similarly named Kelis, his milkshake brings all the boys (and girls) to the yard. Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, just won a fifth consecutive term at the helm of the global mega-firm. As noted in the firm’s press release, which we received here at Above the Law, the 60 voting members of the Management Committee supported Kalis unanimously.

Kalis assumed leadership of the firm in 1997, back when it was called Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. On Kalis’s watch, the firm conducted eight mergers, including the combination with Preston Gates & Ellis that resulted in the “K&L Gates” moniker. When Kalis took the helm, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart was a regional firm with six offices, all in the Eastern time zone of the United States. Now K&L Gates boasts almost 2,000 lawyers in 41 offices on four continents.

But growth brings with it growing pains. Let’s discuss those, and get some information about partner capital contributions at the firm….

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For years, personal injury law advertising and violent imagery have gone hand in hand. Only in this field would we get a video of an unhinged attorney smashing a pickup truck into a parked car and call it an advertisement. The more they can yell or blow things up, it seems, the better.

Keeping with the tradition of aggression, we have not one, not two, but three different personal injury lawyers who have branded themselves “The Hammer.” But in the dog-eat-dog world of personal injury law, there can only be room for one Hammer. So who should win the rights to the title?

Should it be Lowell “The Hammer” Stanley from Virginia, who compares personal injury law to making sausage? Or Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro, the personal injury attorney possibly from New York (or Canada or Florida), who claims he loves to play rough? Or our entry from down South, Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler, who is supposedly meaner than a junkyard dog?

Which Hammer should reign supreme? Let’s review the evidence….

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[D]on’t make a bad situation worse by doubling down on useless degrees. As I argue, going to the average law school at full price because you can’t get a job with your English degree is like having a baby to try to salvage a crumbling relationship.

– Professor Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School, in an interview with Megan McArdle of the Daily Beast.

(Campos, our reigning Lawyer of the Year, has a new book out entitled Don’t Go To Law School (Unless): A Law Professor’s Inside Guide to Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk (affiliate link).)

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at TristanTaylorThomas@gmail.com, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

If you’re a frequent reader of Above the Law, then you’ve seen plenty of stories about the horrors of attending law school. But even so, the editors have expressed a few opinions: Elie doesn’t want you to go to law school at all; Lat thinks you should give law school a try, as long as it’s free; Staci’s ambivalent, but thinks it’s cool if you sue after you graduate; and Danzig stalks people who went to law school, so… yeah.

It’s a little confusing, isn’t it?

Perhaps you’re still unsure about what you should do. That’s why I’m here to tell you about the darker side of being a law school graduate who just so happens to be a member of the Lost Generation. I’m here to tell you about the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life. I’m here to tell you about going to an unranked law school….

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Right on schedule, attorneys representing Samsung have filed an appeal a month after the company’s glorious failure in its IP faceoff against Apple.

Quinn Emanuel, Samsung’s firm, has taken the jury misconduct route as a way to get the $1 billion dollar verdict tossed. How exactly does Samsung argue the jury — which returned a verdict after only two days, and originally tried to award damages on patents that weren’t infringed — screwed up?

Let’s just say loose lips sink ships, and might even scuttle billion-dollar patent verdicts….

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Lat had it right last week. There is a big, and growing, partner compensation spread at nearly all Biglaw shops. And as I mentioned in an earlier column, it is not uncommon to make partner and not see a bump in guaranteed pay at all. Factor in the additional expenses Lat references, such as tax and insurance outlays, and the first few years of partnership can be a net loss for some partners. Even if you finance your buy-in. And especially if you were the beneficiary of some big bonuses, for the suicidal hours you had just put in (big profits for your Biglaw firm!) as a counsel or senior associate in order to get elected.

So please don’t assume that every one of the people you see named as new Biglaw partners (usually in a breathless press release, and sometimes even with an ad in the American Lawyer) are signing contracts for their dream “lawyerly lairs” straightaway. If they are, it’s because they have family money or are a two-professional, no-kid type-family. Otherwise, they are headed for some tight times once they realize that they have to pay federal taxes (including Medicare and Social Security), state taxes (often in every state their firm operates), local taxes (for their beautiful new property), and a real accountant who can figure the whole mess out for them.

Most people don’t realize this, and Biglaw is in no rush to pop the fantasy bubble. Better to have associates motivated by dreams of what Lat referred to as “instant riches.” Better to maintain the prestige of the profession by pretending that making partner at a Biglaw firm is a tremendous achievement, regardless of what firm, practice group, or locale. It’s an achievement, sure. Just like getting elected to some political office. But there is a big difference between getting elected to the U.S. Senate and getting elected as deputy tax commissioner somewhere….

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You’ve seen it time and time again in these pages: years spent in Biglaw can lead to great excesses, and we’re not just talking about those luxurious lawyerly lairs. Biglaw veterans also go to extremes in other areas of life, including overindulgence in alcohol and violence.

Take, for example, Bryan Brooks, a former Skaddenite. After doing a four-year stint at the firm, Brooks moved in-house at American Express. It’s a good thing he chose the credit card company as his new home, because back in June 2011, Brooks had a major “don’t leave home without it” moment. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his Amex card that he was worried about.

In this case, Brooks wished that he had his defense attorney’s phone number on hand, because he was accused of slashing a bar patron’s face with the classiest weapon of all: a broken champagne flute….

An important UPDATE — namely, Brooks’s vindication at trial — after the jump.

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No, Professor Jacobson, you won’t be getting her scalp.

Yesterday we mentioned the latest issue to arise in the contentious Massachusetts Senate race between incumbent Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor turned political candidate and national celebrity. On his blog, Legal Insurrection, Professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School effectively accused Warren of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in Massachusetts.

Are the accusations valid? Let’s hear from some experts — and from you, through a pair of reader polls….

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* Will the members of the Supreme Court announce which gay marriage issues they’ll be hearing this term any time soon? With Proposition 8 appeal and several DOMA appeals on hand, there’s certainly a lot for them to choose from. [CNN]

* It’s beginning to look a lot like Biglaw, everywhere you go: lawyers are miserable, clients are unhappy, and apparently profits per partner are all to blame. Gee, thanks for those rankings, Am Law, they were really helpful. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Instead of arguing over font size, the Department of Justice argued law yesterday during closing arguments in its attempts to convince a three-judge panel to strike down South Carolina’s voter ID statute. [National Law Journal]

* Unlike Elizabeth Warren, he’s no “Fauxcahontas”: Kevin Washburn, the dean of the University of New Mexico Law School, has been confirmed by the Senate to oversee the Bureau of Indian Affairs. [Washington Post]

* If you’re going to allegedly slash someone’s face in an attempt to defend your honor, at least do it with class like this Columbia Law grad, and use a broken champagne flute as your weapon of choice. [New York Post]

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