A Legal Tabloid - News, Insights, and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession
Managing Editor: David Lat
Editor: Elie Mystal
Assistant Editor: Staci Zaretsky
Contributors: Kashmir Hill, Marin, Mark Herrmann, Jay Shepherd
David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, Washingtonian magazine, and New York magazine. Prior to ATL, David 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 book reviews editor of the Yale Law Journal. David has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, a group of innovators within the legal profession, and inclusion as a member of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." You can connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.
The big news of the weekend: the announcement by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that she’s opening a presidential exploratory committee. This is, of course, the first step towards a (now inevitable) White House bid.
If you haven’t done so already, check out Senator Clinton’s videotaped announcement. It’s excellent.
Senator Clinton’s intelligence, work ethic, experience and toughness all lie beyond the dispute. But the video highlights her charm, conviviality, and sense of humor. Regardless of whether you’re a Hillary fan or Hillary hater, we think you’ll be impressed by the video.
It’s very well-produced. The nice touches include the lovely side table, featuring pink roses and a discreet photo of her and Bill; Senator Clinton’s deft invocation of her Midwestern roots, replete with a Midwestern accent (listen to how she says “part”); and, of course, her flawless make-up. She looks great even in extreme close-up — which can’t be said for most of us. Can you believe she’s 59 years old?
There is a legal angle to this paean to Hillary (Yale Law School class of 1973). Discussion continues after the jump.
We wrote a fair amount over the weekend about Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. Scroll down the page to see our coverage, or click here and here.
One of our posts concerned an interesting letter that a gay NYU Law graduate wrote to John Scheich, first vice-president of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of New York (LeGal). Last week, Scheich made statements to the media supporting S&C in the case. This NYU grad’s letter questioned Scheich about the basis for LeGal’s public support of S&C.
Scheich’s response to the letter, also reprinted in our post, struck us as a bit snippy. Based on your comments, many of you agree with us.
Now Aaron Charney (at right) has decided to give Jack Scheich a piece of his mind. We reprint Charney’s letter after the jump.
* Last Tuesday, a civil action captioned Aaron Brett Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP was filed in New York Supreme Court — and the world of Biglaw has never been the same ever since. Click here to access the complete archives of our Aaron Charney coverage.
* Of course, Sullivan & Cromwell partners aren’t the only bosses who are jerks challenging (allegedly).
* Don’t forget the Divine Miss C, Shanetta Cutlar, whose delicious reign continues over at the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section.
Compared to Aaron Charney and Shanetta Cutlar, other topics pale by comparison. But here are other highlights from the past week in legal news:
* Charles “Cully” Stimson apologizes for ranking on Gitmo lawyers.
* In New Orleans, trials get rescheduledfor football.
* Barry Ostrager of Simpson Thacher, the renowned business litigator, has poor bathroom manners (or aim).
* The justices of the Michigan Supreme Court just can’t stop squabbling.
* Now we know the real reason — or rather, the 25 million reasons — that the Dewey Ballantine / Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe merger was scuttled.
* Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell, who also serves as the First Lady of Pennsylvania, sings a duet with Jon Bon Jovi. We don’t know whether to be delighted or frightened.
We have a Google News Alert set to notify us every time there’s a new article about Aaron Charney or Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. As the lawsuit moves forward, we will read and digest all of the news coverage for you. Think of ATL as your “one-stop shopping” source for Charney v. S&C news.
Here are the latest news stories that have been brought to our attention:
1. Lawyer Sues Top Firm Over “Anti-Gay Bias” [New York Post]
This article characterizes Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell as a “$15 million” lawsuit. The version of the Complaint that we’ve seen, however, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages (“Prayer for Relief”).
We emailed Aaron Charney to clarify this. We inquired whether he had amended his Complaint, or announced an intention to amend it, to seek $15 million in damages.
Charney responded: “I have not amended the complaint or specified damages in the complaint.” So this was just an error on the part of the New York Post. Quelle surprise.
2. Bias Charged at Top NY Law Firm [Gay City News]
Not much new in this article, since it’s based largely upon prior reporting by other news organizations. The following paragraph was based upon original reporting:
Charney’s complaint was being circulated via a Web site on Tuesday and was spreading “like wildfire” among the informal gay law associates network in New York, according to a New York Law School faculty colleague of this reporter who received it via e-mail from a friend.
“Sullivan Cromwell is far from prejudiced in any way,” says John Scheich, the first vice president of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of New York [LeGal], adding that the firm often buys a table at his group’s annual fundraising dinner dance. “I don’t know Aaron Charney or the details of his case, but if I had to line up on one side or the other, I would have to line up with David H. Braff [an openly gay partner at the firm] and Sullivan Cromwell.”
A gay NYU Law grad sent a letter to LeGal, inquiring into the organization’s stance on Charney v. Sullian & Cromwell. He received a response from Jack Scheich that struck us as, well, kinda bitchy.
See if you agree with us. The letter and the LeGal response appear after the jump.
Next month the Career and Professional Development Center at Duke Law School will for the first time offer a workshop called Dealing With Conflict and Difficult People. In September the negotiation program in Harvard Law School’s executive education series will present a seminar called Dealing With Difficult People and Difficult Situations.
Who says law schools don’t prepare their students for the “real world”?
Of course, most law schools don’t need to offer “workshops” for dealing with pricks. Students learn these lessons through practice — by dealing with professors. Disclaimer: Please do not interpret this post as our taking sides in either Charney v. S&C or Shanettagate. Consider this provocative quote from the article (emphases added): “[S]ome scholars say, the problem is not the difficult people themselves. IT IS YOU.”
Furthermore, reasonable minds can differ over who is the “jerk” in a particular situation. The article mentions “[t]he explosive boss” as one example of a jerk, but it also cites “the Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper” as jerkly archetypes. So the S&C partners might argue that Aaron Charney is a “jerk,” or Shanetta Cutlar might label Ty Clevenger as a “jerk.” Help, I’m Surrounded by Jerks [New York Times]
A very interesting exchange appeared in some recent comments about Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell.
We’re bringing the exchange up to the main page, for the benefit of those of you who can’t keep up with all the comments. Here it is:
I wonder if ANY work is getting done over [at Sullivan & Cromwell]. I bet people are just sitting around and gossiping all day.
Of course no work is getting done. We’re too busy concocting conspiracy theories about why certain highly-detailed comments to the WSJ law blog were pulled…(these posts were fairly specific in their criticisms of S&C and, in particular certain partners/wannabe underlings…
4:44 PM: We have an email into Peter Lattman [at right] about this. Also, please note that ATL has a general “no moderation” policy with respect to comments. So if the WSJ Law Blog posters would like to reproduce their comments here, they are welcome to do so.
(An exception to our “no moderation” policy: We pull comments that appear to be accidental duplicates — e.g., double- or triple-posted comments.)
After we posted our open letter to Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the DOJ’s Special Litigation Section, an ex-minion of hers contacted us with an email address for her. We sent a message to that address — and unlike our past messages, it didn’t bounce back. So presumably our “open letter” has reached Shanetta’s inbox (assuming it didn’t get caught in her spam filter).
(A commenter also posted an address for Shanetta. But a message we sent to that account bounced back.)
You’ll recall that in our open letter, we asked Shanetta Cutlar for a photo of herself. Receiving one would make us unspeakably happy. But we realize it’s unlikely that she will comply with our request (even though we’re told that, at one point in time, the DOJ website featured a photo of her, as part of a diversity-touting publicity effort).
To get a better idea of what Shanetta Cutlar looks like, we asked some of our tipsters to describe her. We asked: “If a movie or TV show were to be produced, based on the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar, who should be cast to play Shanetta?
We received two responses. Here’s the first:
Well, you’ve got a large African-American woman with what appears to me like (emphasis on anti-libel weasel words) a nasty little personality disorder. So I’m going to say Queen Latifah, but the character would be more like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.*
And here’s the second response (which we enjoyed even more):
[F]or your mental picture, think Oprah Winfrey (but with long, flowing hair). I can’t even watch Oprah’s show anymore because it sends shivers up my spine. It leaves me with a pit in my stomach, by bringing back memories of working there. I feel like I have post-traumatic stress disorder from working for her.
In March 2004, police arrested Muhammad Dye on Central Avenue. They found him carrying an electric scale, two cellular phones, five empty sandwich bags with cocaine residue and $1,063 in cash.
Dye was charged with drug possession and possession of criminal tools, but after a weeklong trial in November 2005, a jury cleared him of the charges. Dye even argued successfully that all the items seized should be returned to him, right down to the sandwich bags.
This guy sounds AWESOME. Here’s more from the article:
Common Pleas Judge Lillian Greene declined to discuss the case because Dye has three more cases pending before her. Courtroom observers, though, said Dye is surprisingly charming. While he sometimes mangles his words, he gets his point across to the jury.
Considering that Dye prevailed in getting his cocaine-dusted Ziplocs returned to him, he’s got to be good. Update: From someone who has witnessed Muhammad Dye in action:
He’s not great, I’ll be honest, but he’s not bad. His cross of a codefendant who flipped was decent — he got his point across. Having clerked in a federal district court, I’ve seen lots worse from retained defense attorneys.
Wanted to drop you a quick line thanking you for your ongoing coverage of my case. As I have stated all along, it is very important for attention to be given to this issue in order to foster change at S&C and more generally, and you have provided (and I hope will continue to provide) a tremendous forum for this cause.
If you want to discuss my matter, feel free to [call me].
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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