Is the customer always right? In the legal profession, not necessarily. As a lawyer, sometimes your job is to talk some sense into your client — and to refuse to move forward if your client, ignoring your advice, orders you to prosecute frivolous (or borderline frivolous) litigation.
Perhaps this lesson needs to be learned by Kirkland & Ellis. The super-prestigious firm, known for its world-class litigation practice, recently got benchslapped by the Seventh Circuit. From Judge Posner’s opinion:
[T]he defendants’ motion for sanctions should not have been denied. The plaintiffs’ lawyers [at Kirkland] may secretly agree, for they make no attempt to counter the arguments for sanctions made in the defendants’ brief even though the district judge denied the motion without explanation. They follow suit by merely asking us, without explanation, to affirm the denial.
The motion complained that Carr is harassing the defendants with repetitive litigation, including a suit — this suit — that borders on the frivolous, even though he is an immensely successful lawyer represented on appeal by one of the nation’s premier law firms, Kirkland and Ellis, as well as by his son Bruce Carr of the Rex Carr Law Firm, which the plaintiff formed after the break-up of his old firm.
At least Judge Posner referred to K&E as “one of the nation’s premier law firms.” Slap that up on the Kirkland website?
Rejoice, wedding fans! We have some compelling mid-summer material for you this week: Wachtell, SCOTUS, lesbians, French nobility — read on for the details on all of that and more, as reported in the New York Times and filtered by us.
Our finalist couples:
It’s an exciting day here at ATL when we can find three excuses to cover the salacious beat (see #1 and #2). Judge Richard Posner brings us our third opportunity.
Judge Posner issued a ruling [PDF] Friday in a patent infringement case involving “sex aids” companies. Posner brings his dry humor and excellent wit to the decision, starting off by defining the nature of the business the plaintiff and the defendant are in:
Both firms produce what the parties call “sex aids” but are colloquially referred to as “sex toys.” A more perspicuous term is “sexual devices,” by analogy to “medical devices.” The analogy lies in the fact that, like many medical devices (thermometers for example), what we are calling sexual devices are intended to be inserted into bodily orifices, albeit for a different purpose.
Never before has patent infringement been so sexy… and sex toys so un-sexy:
The devices are generally in the shape of rods of various curvatures and are made out of rubber, plastic, glass, or some combination of these materials. Until the plaintiffs began manufacturing their patented sexual devices, glass sexual devices were made out of soda-lime glass, the most common form of glass.
We are not as well-versed in the nature of sex toys as is Judge Posner. We didn’t realize there were such things as glass dildos — despite the presence of this commenter in our threads — but apparently there are, and they have been around for a long time. The plaintiffs in Ritchie (Know Mind Enterprises/Topco) v. Vast Resources Inc. claimed to innovate the glass dildo design, obtaining a patent for those made with borosilicate glass (the stuff used by Pyrex). Adding silica makes the devices “slippery,” “lubricious,” and “resistant to heat, chemicals, electricity and bacterial absorptions.” While we like chemistry in bed, electricity might be a bit much.
Ritchie sued Vast Resources for violating its patent, and making their own slippery glass rods. The Seventh Circuit, in Judge Posner’s opinion, reversed the lower court’s decision in the plaintiff’s favor, ruling that Pyrexing sex devices is not patentable. It’s an “obvious” invention, an example of “modest, routine, everyday, incremental improvements of an existing product or process that confer commercial value… but do not involve sufficient inventiveness to merit patent protection.”
Posner is a judge on the Seventh Circuit but sat on this Federal Circuit case by designation. Like us, Posner likes writing on salacious topics. After all, having penned the book Sex and Reason in 1992, Posner is a judicial sexpert.
You never know where you’ll find sexism in our society and our profession. It knows no party or ideology.
But it has no place in court. In a decision yesterday, 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner took a shot at a plaintiff’s attorney who thought this was still 1950.
The case, Thorogood v. Sears Roebuck, was perfectly set up for a sexist wisecrack by an attorney cheap enough to take it. The case involved stainless steel clothes dryers that nonetheless caused rust stains on some clothing. A massive class action suit was mounted against Sears because “stainless steel” was not used for every part of the appliance.
During oral argument, the plaintiff’s attorney suggested that the all-male bench “ask their wives” about the problems associated with rust stains from dryers.
Posner did not find this funny. Writing for the majority (and holding for Sears) Posner shot back:
At argument the plaintiff’s lawyer, skeptical that men ever operate clothes dryers–oddly, since his client does–asked us to ask our wives whether they are concerned about rust stains in their dryers. None is.
Prior ATL articles have shown that some men really expect their wives to do all the laundry, but they are a dying breed (I think). There’s no way that attorney would have joked about women washing clothes if there was a woman on the 7th Circuit panel.
Hopefully, getting smacked around by Posner will teach this attorney that he should not make sexist remarks in open court regardless of the gender diversity on the bench.
As some of you have noticed, we tend not to remark negatively on the innate physical attributes of our Legal Eagle contestants. There are several reasons for our reticence, but the most basic one is simply this: LEWW believes that prestige is beautiful. LEWW believes that every bride can look gorgeous on her special day if she has the right law degree. LEWW believes that a JD from HLS is like a great bra; it looks flimsy and has a jaw-dropping price tag, but it will support you and make you look better than you deserve.
Having made much of our reluctance to comment disparagingly about our subjects’ appearance, we’ll promptly depart from our own custom and announce that this is Hotness Disparity Week on LEWW. All of our grooms are decent-looking but undeniably average Joes, and we submit to you that all of them have married up.
See if you agree with us. Here are the couples:
Well, not in Illinois. In Cavel International v. Madigan (PDF; via How Appealing), the Seventh Circuit upheld an Illinois law making it unlawful to “slaughter a horse if that person knows or should know that any of the horse meat will be used for human consumption.”
It’s a quirky and interesting case. Howard Bashman provides a concise summary and more discussion over here.
Don’t miss page 11 of Judge Richard Posner’s slip opinion, which features a photograph of a “birthday cake” made of horse meat. YUM!!
Since the tireless Howard Bashman is in transit, we’ll temporarily assume his role as super-timely provider of appellate litigation news.
This just in: A divided Seventh Circuit panel has affirmed the criminal convictions of former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan and his associate, Lawrence Warner. The majority opinion is by Judge Diane Wood (who is a judicial hottie); the dissent is by Judge Michael Kanne (who is reportedly not fat).
This is especially bad news for Winston & Strawn. As some of you may recall, the firm reportedly blew $20 million on defending Governor Ryan, on a pro bono basis. United States v. Ryan [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit]
It makes sense, as the recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine finds, that friends’ fatness would have an influence distinct from that of the culture as a whole….
In my own ingroup of 16 judges (11 active members of my court, 4 senior members, and 1 nominee, who will replace an active member who will be taking senior status), only 2 are overweight (12.5 percent), compared to a nationwide average of 66 percent. Among my other friends, judicial and otherwise, the percentage who are overweight is probably no greater than 12.5 percent.
When we read this, we guessed that one of the two overweight judges was Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook. After all, a fondness for Arby’s Melts is not a recipe for thinness. But one ex-Seventh Circuit clerk we contacted disagreed:
Actually, Easterbrook has lost a lot of weight. I am not sure who [Posner] meant. Also query whether he used the rigorous BMI > 25 test.
Good point. Did Judge Posner run around the Dirksen Courthouse with a pair of body-fat calipers? Or did he just eyeball his colleagues in the robing room, to see who was sporting muffin tops?
To Seventh Circuit groupies: Which judges are packing a few extra pounds underneath their robes? Please enlighten us, in the comments. Thanks. Social Obesity — Posner’s Comment [The Becker-Posner Blog]
Not allowing the defendant to allocute before pronouncing sentence is a rookie mistake for a judge to make. So if a judge makes it, despite having been on the bench for over 25 years, he can expect to get benchslapped. From a Wisconsin reader:
Not sure if this is quite up your alley, but Federal District Judge John Shabaz got bench-slapped pretty hard by the Seventh Circuit in an opinion that came down today.
He’s like a million years old and is best known around here for falling asleep during trials and objecting himself and sustaining his own objections. We’ve decided not to get really worried until he starts overruling himself.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.