I'm an editor emeritus at Above the Law. I am still a contributor to ATL, but now spend my days at Forbes writing about privacy, technology and the law at The Not-So Private Parts. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook.
A legal challenge to Google search results garners more sympathy in Europe than it would in the U.S.
A cutting-edge legal complaint in Europe over internet reputation could force Google to rethink how it handles individuals’ control over the search results for their names.
Spanish plastic surgeon Hugo Guidotti Russo wanted Google to liposuction from his results a 1991 news article about a patient angry about an allegedly botched breast surgery. The article from El País, about a breast surgery that led a female patient to accuse Russo of malpractice, has the translated headline, “The risk of wanting to be slim.” Russo was later cleared of wrongdoing in the surgery, but the article, which doesn’t mention his acquittal, shows up on Russo’s first page of results. Google, as is its policy, refused to scrub it.
The case is one of over 80 in Spain in which the country’s privacy regulator, the Agency for Data Protection, has ordered Google to intervene and delete links from search results because they are out of date or contain inaccurate information. The agency summed up the conflict with a public advisory on its website in January: “Google Trial. The right to forget meets the freedom of information.” The “right to be forgotten” is not one found in the American Bill of Rights, but it’s becoming a popular one in Europe in the digital age, even if it does sound like the most depressing right ever.
There’s some good news this week for those people whose blood boils at the mention of Citizens United. The Supreme Court proved that it is not always sympathetic to the rights of corporations — and is even willing to have some fun at their expense.
Chief Justice John Roberts penned a tongue-in-cheek opinion lambasting AT&T lawyers’ legal reasoning that has Dahlia Lithwick at Slate asking whether Roberts is the funniest justice ever. (Cue a scowl here from the legions of Scalia lovers in the audience.)
The case at the heart of the hilarity is FCC v. AT&T. The telephone company was involved in a billing practices investigation in 2004, in which it paid a $500,000 fine but admitted no wrongdoing. Some clever rivals at CompTel — a trade association representing some of AT&T’s competitors — wanted to take advantage of FOIA to get documents from the investigation and find out more about AT&T’s inner workings and alleged wrongdoing.
AT&T claimed protection under the Freedom of Information Act’s “personal privacy” exemption. A lower court was sympathetic to AT&T: “Corporations, like human beings, face public embarrassment, harassment and stigma” when they get involved with investigations by authorities. In other words: artificial persons have feelings too!
The Supreme Court did not agree. John Roberts whipped out a can of dictionary definitions to explain why corporations aren’t entitled to “personal privacy.”
The late 20s-early 30s lawyers I sent out both went to school in Boston, both described themselves as Dem-GOP mixes (she said she was a hybrid, he ‘fessed up to being a libertarian), and both named Scalia as their man at One First Street. Asked to describe themselves in three words, she gave me an alliterative four — “sweet, sarcastic, smart, social” — and he used slashes with abandon — “Spunky/energetic, funny, old school/1950s-ish, conservative.”
I sent them to Proof wine bar on a Tuesday night. Here’s what happened next….
The cutting-edge information and security practice of Hunton & Williams is getting the firm lots of media attention these days — but not of the positive variety. The firm’s lawyers are getting coverage due to their information becoming insecure after a hacktivist group leaked emails they exchanged with security firm HBGary.
Last night, the firm’s logo was flashed several times on the Colbert Report, as Stephen Colbert named the firm as the link between the DOJ, HBGary, and Bank of America, in coming up with questionable tactics for undermining liberal activists. (See our prior post, Hunton & Williams Gets WikiLeaked.)
What is most significant here is that you have these plans that are clearly crossing a legal line, with very serious players involved. Law firms like Hunton & Williams are the most powerful in D.C. And no one at any point said, “Maybe this goes a little too far, maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.” So willing to cavalierly to put a plan like this that clearly proposes illegal steps down on paper. It clearly shows that this sort of stuff in this world of corporate and government consortium of power is pretty normal, is par for the course.
Moral of the show: BigLaw + BigGov = Evil. Check out Colbert’s telling of the “techno thriller” tale (after the jump). Think Star Wars, with Bank of America as Darth Vader, HBGary and Hunton & Williams as commanders of the Imperial Forces, WikiLeaks as Princess Leia, and Anonymous as Han Solo….
If you’re not booting up your laptop or iPad during voir dire, you’re not a very good lawyer. That’s my takeaway from recent WSJ and Reuters articles on jury selection in the social media age.
This week, the Wall Street Journal took a look at the evolution of jury selection in the age of social media, while Reuters took a look at this last week, quipping that “voir dire” is becoming “voir Google.”
Facebook-stalking jurors is presented as a questionable and still evolving practice. But the only thing that seems questionable to me (besides a DA considering forced-friending in exchange for Internet access) is why any trial lawyer wouldn’t have jumped on this already. Along with not Googling prospective jurors, I imagine these guys also avoid Lexis-Nexis in favor of the law library, type their memos up on an old-school typewriter, and review deposition recordings on an eight-track.
Both articles point out that potential jurors may be more candid online than they are in a courtroom, and round up some tips from trial consultants on reasons to strike potential jurors based on their Facebook likes and Google footprint. BigLaw types might be well-advised to strike anyone, for example, who lists “Erin Brokovich” as one of their favorite movies…
Two dates, including one on Valentine's Day, fell flat.
Given the track record of Above the Law’s lawyer-matchmaking series, some may think we should change the name of the series to the Courtship Misconnection.
In one of our first Washington, D.C. couplings, on Superbowl Sunday, a male lawyer fumbled his date with a “disarmingly feisty and unabashedly vivacious” female associate. (Beware the women who self-describe as “feisty,” says Slate.) Undeterred, I’ve continued to set up dates in the nation’s capital.
I sent two Biglaw types to Solly’s on U Street last week — a late 20s female Donkey who wanted a trunk and an early-thirties male Elephant who requested ass. If not a lawyer, she said she’d be a cage fighter, and he said he’d be a writer. I thought I had an excellent “opposites attract” formula. I was wrong.
She described the date as a “pretty lackluster affair” and he said no “love connection was made.” “You are no Patti Stanger,” female Donkey wrote me (a little bitterly). Boring dates may be even worse than disastrous ones.
Luckily, the other two dates recounted here were more entertaining. One, because it was a blind date on Valentine’s Day, and the other because it’s our first occurrence of Courtship Connection leading to a lawyer’s pants being torn off…
Hunton & Williams is having an uncomfortable week, and will get its very own page in the WikiLeaks saga. Thanks to a feud between hacktivist group Anonymous and a security firm, emails that Hunton lawyers exchanged with that security firm were leaked in a major document dump last week.
Journalist (and lawyer) Glenn Greenwald of Salon is now calling the firm’s lawyers the “central cogs” in a devious plot to take down WikiLeaks and its supporters (he’s especially miffed as he was named in a secret PowerPoint as one of those supporters). The New York Times named Hunton as the intermediary between security firms offering up unseemly sabotage tactics and clients like Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
So how unseemly were these alleged tactics, and which Hunton partners are getting blasted by the press?
Only one person had a good time on this date. (Stock photo.)
With Valentine’s Day swiftly approaching, now seems like a great to time to relaunch ATL’s Courtship Connection — our well-intentioned but only sporadically successful program for hooking up our single legal-eagle readers.
Like the Real World, the series is back and in a new city. Judging from the date we’ll now recount, our matchmaking adventures in D.C may be as disappointing as the eight strangers MTV picked to live in a Dupont Circle house last year. (But hey, dating through Above The Law has got to turn out better than dating through Craigslist in D.C.)
This was an East Coast (him) meets West Coast (her) match. Both were of the politically-liberal persuasion. I matched these two top law grads in the 25-35 age range in part because I thought they would look good together. Both are hotties. When asked to describe themselves in three words, neither could stick to the word limit. He said he was a “brainy, preppy reformed frat-guy” and she said she was “disarmingly feisty and unabashedly vivacious.”
I should not have been so superficial. While he enjoyed her vivacity, she enjoyed… writing up a feisty recap of the date….
Facebook’s lawyers have been looking for a rumble over the company’s responsibility to turn over user account information in legal cases. Now they’ve got one, thanks to a California juror and his grandstanding defense attorney.
The case stems from a gang violence criminal trial. Members of the Killa Mobb were being tried for a 2008 attack on a San Francisco man at a gas station. One of the 12 angry apathetic men in the jury box, Arturo Ramirez, posted to Facebook during the course of the trial that it was “boring.” Now the Killa Mobb’s defense attorneys want to get a hold of those postings, and any responses from Ramirez’s friends, to prove that he may have been biased — so the Mobb members can get a new trial.
Facebook refused to turn over Ramirez’s information, citing a 1986 law that protects Americans’ electronic communications. Ramirez originally told the Sacramento Bee that he was willing to turn the status messages over, but that was before he linked up with his own defense attorney, Ken Rosenfeld, who looks like he might like a little media attention. Rosenfeld’s now planning to fight tooth and nail to keep his client’s Facebook privacy settings high…
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
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:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
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.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.