David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, New York magazine, Washingtonian magazine, and the New York Observer. Prior to ATL, he launched Underneath Their Robes, a blog about federal judges. Before entering the journalism world, he worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in New York; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. David graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as one of the American Lawyer’s Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years; one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels, a group of pioneers within the legal profession; and one of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." His first book, Supreme Ambitions: A Novel, will be published in 2015. You can connect with David on Twitter and Facebook.
We’re having one of those days — computer problems, email troubles, etc. We never should have returned from vacation.
It’s a bad time for us to be so distracted, because there’s breaking news in the Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell litigation — twodecisions from Justice Bernard Fried. A tipster sums them up:
FYI – Two written decisions were posted to the NY State Supreme Court Reporter website today. One is Charney v. S&C; the other is S&C v. Charney.
The first dismisses Charney’s suit, but with leave to replead. The second grants S&C a preliminary injunction, dismisses the first cause of action by S&C against Charney (breach of fiduciary duty), and directs Charney to answer the remaining causes of action.
False arrests: they’re not just an American phenomenon. From ABC News (via Drudge, of course):
An Afghan tribesman with an uncanny resemblance to Osama bin Laden has now been arrested twice, both times following reported sightings and massive manhunts for the al Qaeda leader, Pakistani intelligence officials tell ABC News.
Over six feet tall and with the same angular nose as bin Laden, Sher Akbar comes from an Afghan village, Bagh e Metal, in an area where U.S. officials believe bin Laden has been hiding.
Best part of the article:
[A Pakistani intelligence] official said an extensive investigation involving Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officers found that the look-alike has no connection to bin Laden, but that local residents had tried to collect rewards based on Akhbar’s resemblance to bin Laden.
Back in August, we named Judge Deborah Tyner our ATL Judge of the Day. The Honorable Debbie ditched her judicial duties to go shopping, which struck us as absolutely fabulous.
Now Judge Tyner has a kindred spirit. Meet Cynthia Garris, a Virginia defense lawyer. From the Virginian Pilot:
A local lawyer has been disciplined by the Virginia State Bar for telling a judge she had to postpone a case because of a commitment in another court when in fact she went shopping instead.
Defense attorney Cynthia D. Garris received a public reprimand from the State Bar, according to an announcement Friday. The reprimand does not affect her law license.
Garris, whose office is at 132 W. Olney Road, told a Norfolk Circuit Court judge last summer that she had to postpone a case because of a court commitment in Williamsburg.
The judge later found out she had gone on a shopping excursion instead. The judge found Garris in contempt and fined her $250.
Here’s a first — A U.S. Supreme Court decision issued today has its own accompanying video: Talk about multimedia rulings! The Court’s opinion today in Scott v. Harris, No. 05-1631 — a dispute about the lawfulness of a high-speed police chase captured on video — appears online at the Supreme Court’s web site with this 91.7 MB RealPlayer video file. No word yet from the Court on whether the volume of U.S. Reports in which this decision will appear will include its own embedded video player.
The dueling opinions — Justice Scalia’s majority opinion, and Justice Stevens’s dissent — discuss the video extensively.
Some brief discussion, of the video and of the opinions, after the jump.
Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin. The AmLaw 100 rankings — The American Lawyer’s closely watched, annual listing of the hundred largest law firms in the United States, ranked by revenue — are now available.
We’ll have more to say on the rankings later. Their release is a big story, deserving of multiple posts. They’re like the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings, but for the world of Biglaw, and they can be viewed from many different angles. Although the firms are ranked by revenue, the rankings are accompanied by other juicy data — including information about profits per partner.
For the time being, here’s the “money quote,” quite literally, from the WSJ Law Blog:
Wiley Rein broke the record for the highest profits per partner ever recorded by the magazine — $4.4 million. Why? The Washington, D.C., law firm represented patent-holding company NTP in its nearly five-year legal battle with RIM, and earned more than $200 million in fees from the case. It received approximately one-third of the $612.5 million settlement that RIM agreed to pay NTP to avert a potential court-ordered BlackBerry shutdown. The firm also shortened its name from Wiley Rein & Fielding after Fred Fielding left the firm to become White House counsel.
So New York’s Wachtell Lipton, which has sat atop the profits-per-partner rankings for many years, has been displaced. Interestingly enough, though, Wiley Rein didn’t beat Wachtell by THAT much, considering the massive contingency fee it received from the RIM-BlackBerry settlement. Wiley Rein had PPP of $4,435,000; Wachtell Lipton had PPP of $3,975,000.
(And if you look at the chart for Compensation — All Partners (subscription), WLRK still comes out on top, with $3.975 million per partner. Wiley Rein has a two-tier partnership, so its Compensation Per Partner figure, which reflects compensation paid to non-equity as well as equity partners, is only — only! — $2.7 million.)
The Wiley Rein windfall reminds of when Robins Kaplan got that huge, one-time payout for its tobacco-related work. In the AmLaw 100 rankings for 2000, based on 1999 revenue and profit figures, the Minneapolis-based firm boasted profits per partner of over $3 million — beating Cravath and all the other New York shops that year, except for Wachtell.
Do you have any juicy, AmLaw 100-related gossip? Tales of shameless attempts to manipulate the rankings? Stories about unhappy partners ranting over their firm’s placement over this morning’s coffee? Please send ‘em our way.
A table and links, after the jump.
This morning brings ive new rulings from the Supreme Court. Check out SCOTUSblog for the details.
There are some important ones among the bunch, including a decision in KSR v. Teleflex, a big-ticket IP case. But with one exception, the cases weren’t close. Two were decided by a unanimous Court, and two were almost unanimous (with one dissenter apiece).
The case that split the Court the most was the scintillatingly-captioned United Haulers Association v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management. Here’s Lyle Denniston’s squib:
[T]he Court divided 6-3 in deciding that a local government does not violate the Constitution when it requries all solid waste generated in the community to be processed at a publicly owned facility, so long as the ordinance treats private businesses the same whether they are local or out-of-state.
Here’s an interesting rumor that’s making the rounds:
I have heard through the grapevine that some large law firm(s) [possibly Hogan Hartson] in Washington are desparately in need of corporate associates — from junior associates on up. Apparently the idea is to offer around $30,000 as a bonus to lateral. This shows the real need for corporate lawyers in the capital, especially since the latest wave of raises makes DC associates $15,000 poorer than their New York-based colleagues (or DC-based associates who work for New York-based firms). Lots of work in the corporate departments right now.
Poor Alberto Gonzales. Even Romy and Michele had a better time at their reunion. From the AP:
A small group of student protesters, including one wearing a black hood and an orange jumpsuit, heckled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as he posed with old classmates Saturday during their 25-year Harvard Law School reunion.
“When the photographer was getting everybody set up and having people say ‘cheese,’ the protesters yelled: ‘say torture, instead,”resign’ and ‘I don’t recall,’” said Nate Ela, a protester and third-year student.
Law school spokesman Mike Armini said the impromptu protest was so small that some of those attending the photo shoot did not notice it.
We hate to quibble, but saying “torture” doesn’t make you smile. Your lips end up in a peculiar, puckered position (try it yourself). C’mon, HLSers — couldn’t you have come up with something more clever? Students Heckle Gonzales at Harvard [Associated Press]
Did you miss us? We hope so. But we also know, from reader emails and comments, that you greatly enjoyed the efforts of Laurie Lin and Billy Merck, who held down the fort in our absence. We thank them for their fantastic work.
We’re still in the process of catching up on legal news, blog reading, and email. It’s a Monday morning, so we need all the help we can get. If you have any suggested blog fodder, please send it to us by email. Thanks!
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.