Antitrust

Around here, one can’t mention the concept of something being “overrated” without reference to one of the weirdest and most enduring ATL comment memes, a play on the late, great Hitch’s assertion that the four most overrated things in life are “champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.” So who are the, um, lobsters of Biglaw?

Last week, we had a look at what our audience considered to be the most underrated Biglaw firms, by practice area. Today, inevitably, we turn it around and have a look at what you’re telling us are the most overrated firms.

Among other things, our ATL Insider Survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with overrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.

To be sure, these survey results need to be taken with some buckets of salt — we realize that, for some, answering this question might be a chance to take an easy shot at a more successful rival or competitor. Of course, there are crazy people who will tell you that such paragons as Benjamin Franklin or Tom Brady are “overrated,” but that probably says more about the person making that statement than anything else. But that said, these survey responses are a fun glimpse at which firms Biglaw attorneys think are more sizzle than steak….

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‘Standing with your arms folded is underrated.’

Hot air balloons, Ice Cube, new socks, Ray Guy, Uzbek food, Kevin Bacon, plus-size models, Pittsburgh… what do the items on this random list have in common? In some nook or cranny of the internet, someone is making the claim that they are “underrated.”

Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.

Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:

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William Baer

* “We’re all from the Ivy League. That seems to be more relevant than what faith we are.” SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas really knows how to make Article III Groupie’s heart sing. [New York Times]

* Dewey know why this failed firm’s bankruptcy team is cutting special deals with the former D&Lers who worked on the sale of the Dodgers? Like all things Biglaw, it all circles back to money. [WSJ Law Blog]

* What in William Baer’s past might lead the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a closed meeting on his candidacy to lead the DOJ’s Antitrust Division? [Blog of Legal Times]

* In a heartwarming pro bono project, Proskauer Rose will be representing NYC in its attempts to evict an elderly newsstand operator from his kiosk in Greenwich Village. It really brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it? [New York Post]

* Jerry Sandusky will be sentenced on October 9, and prosecutors are asking that he be classified as a sexually violent predator. Boy, that’ll be a fun title to have while he’s in jail for the rest of his life. [Bloomberg]

* “[A]t present, the large majority of law graduates — perhaps 80 percent — end up worse off after going to law school that they were before they enrolled.” Paul Campos is so cheerful in his book. [National Law Journal]


Emily Dickinson: poet — and legal scholar?

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry —
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll —
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul

– Emily Dickinson, quoted by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in today’s ruling, which approved a major e-book price-fixing settlement. Just yesterday, the case made headlines when Bob Kohn submitted an amicus brief — consisting entirely of cartoons.

Any Tintin fans out there? How ’bout Frank Miller? No? Me neither.

No matter, because we may have a new genre of graphic novels to add to the canon that will specifically appeal to attorneys: the illustrated amicus brief. Yeah. That’s a thing now. happened.

For anyone who has ever been frustrated by a judge’s imposition of silly page limits, just follow the lead of Bob Kohn. He filed a brief regarding the Justice Department’s proposed settlement in the long-standing e-book (so appropriate, right?) price-fixing case involving Amazon, Apple, and some of America’s largest publishers.

Let’s take a look…

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* Little known fact of the day: the late comedienne Phyllis Diller apparently had a storybook romance with Paul Hastings name partner, Robert Hastings. She once said that her longtime Biglaw beau was the “love of [her] life.” [Am Law Daily]

* The Federal Trade Commission has closed its antitrust review of Facebook’s proposed Instagram purchase, clearing the way for the social networking site’s users to post grainy pictures to their hearts’ content. [Bloomberg]

* A former Vancouver lawyer serving a 15-year sentence for money laundering claims that one of the Mounties who investigated his case played a game of “hide the Canadian bacon” with Judge Ursula Ungaro. [Province]

* A judge who resigned in April has been retroactively removed from office for admitting to having sexual contact with his five-year-old niece. He presided over family court matters. Figures. [New York Law Journal]

* Which accomplishments and activities should you leave off your résumé? A) law review editor in chief; B) second in the class; C) 4.05 GPA; D) nonprofit executive director; E) child porn aficionado. [Willamette Week]

* Stabbing your lawyer is so last season. Another criminal defendant reportedly attacked his defense attorney in court, but this time chose to whack his own counsel in the head with his handcuffed hand. [Boston Globe]

* Looks like someone skipped professional responsibility class during bar prep: the Ninth Circuit denied attorney fees to McGuireWoods in light of an “egregious” ethics violation made in the BAR/BRI antitrust settlement. [National Law Journal]

* Apple rested its patent-infringement case against Samsung yesterday, making way for the rival tech company to begin presenting its case. Jurors must be thrilled that the end is in sight, with just 25 more hours of arguments to go. [Bloomberg]

* Remember the mom-and-dad law grads accused of planting a potpourri of drugs on an elementary school volunteer? Their alleged victim is suing. We’ll have more on this hot mess later. [Orange County Register]

* “The facts don’t seem to support a ‘stand your ground’ defense.” That’s what George Zimmerman’s attorney said yesterday, but the defense team is going to try to get the case dismissed on those grounds anyway. [AP]

* When applying to law school, it’s usually helpful to demonstrate in your application that you actually want to go to law school. Gah, people seriously need to be told these things. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* “[T]he plaintiff’s tampon was never forcibly removed by any deputy.” First of all, yuck. Second of all, you know that a crazy lawsuit must have been filed when the cops are making public statements like this. [NBC News]

Judge Judy

* Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be the oldest member of the high court, but she’s still one bad ass bitch. She broke two ribs in June, and still fulfilled all of her duties on the bench. We <3 RBG! [Reuters]

* While merchants will now be able to charge more when customers use credit cards, they might not get much else from this Visa / MasterCard settlement because of an American Express catch-22. [New York Times]

* The Garden State just got a little greener (in a sticky icky way): starting today, doctors in New Jersey will be able to register their patients for the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program. [Star-Ledger]

* After some highly questionable opposition from government officials, the city of Macon, Georgia, has approved the placement of a park bench in memory of slain Mercer Law grad Lauren Giddings. [Telegraph]

* Kansas Law received a $1M donation to support scholarships. The dean is thrilled, because the school will be able to compete to attract and retain students who will someday be unemployed. [Lawrence Journal-World]

* The verdict is in on who reigns as the highest paid TV personality. Even if you pee on her leg and tell her it’s raining, Judge Judy will be able to afford the dry-cleaning bill, because she’s loaded. [New York Daily News]

* Even if you’re a ho fo’ sho, that doesn’t mean you can’t do business in a ho-tel, mo-tel, or Holiday Inn. An Australian court ruled that denying prostitutes rooms was discriminatory. [International Business Times]

For the past week, many sportswriters have focused on how lucky they believe Penn State University was to avoid the ‘death penalty‘ to their football program, especially after NCAA President Mark Emmert threatened just that sanction.  What almost nobody is talking about, however, is that the NCAA’s ‘death penalty’ sanction may very well have been illegal under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.  Thus, if the NCAA had attempted to shut down Penn State’s football program, an interesting antitrust challenge could have potentially followed.

For those less familiar with antitrust law, Section 1 of the Sherman Act states that “[e]very contract, combination … or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.”  In practice, this section of antitrust law is not interpreted to literally prohibit all contracts signed among competing businesses.  However, the courts have consistently interpreted Section 1 of the Sherman Act to strike down contracts that are deemed unreasonable in terms of their economic effects.

As a private association composed of member schools that compete against each other for fans and players, all commercial decisions reached by the NCAA or its employees are, in essence, horizontal agreements subject to Section 1 review.  In addition, any agreement by the NCAA to ban a competitor from the marketplace would be defined as a “group boycott,” which falls among the most troublesome types of agreements subject to Section 1 scrutiny…

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A Biglaw football commercial?

* Dewey know whether this revised partner contribution plan will be well received? Well, from the looks of it, the firm’s executive committee members are being asked to repay a greater sum of money, so people will probably be happier. [Am Law Daily]

* Arnold & Porter’s William Baer, the man nominated to lead the DOJ Antitrust Division, received a warm reception from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it was all because of his “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. [National Law Journal]

* What do you get when you cross a Biglaw patent associate from Steptoe & Johnson with an NFL Redskins quarterback? A pretty cool hobby, and a new Adidas commercial. [Capital Business Blog / Washington Post]

* Up next in this judicial gong show, Madam Justice Lori Douglas’s lawyer has asked the Canadian Judicial Council to recuse itself and terminate the legal ethics inquiry against her client. [Full Comment / National Post]

* You saw this coming: attorneys for the man identified as Victim 2 in the Jerry Sandusky trial have released voice mails allegedly left by the former coach, and plan to use them in a civil suit against Penn State. [CNN]

* A lawyer’s former mistress who attempted to kill his wife on several occasions is expected to take a plea deal today in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence. Sounds like a soap opera plot. [Houston Chronicle]

* “Don’t say another word, because you’re just pissing me off.” Former adjunct law prof Clark Calvin Griffith said some interesting things to a judge during his indecent exposure sentencing hearing. [Pioneer Press]

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