It looks like a silly marginal tax increase on the personal incomes of the top 2 percent is the last thing the barons of Wall Street need to worry about. President Obama is sending a new sheriff into the regulatory fray.
Dealbook reports that Obama will nominate former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sending in White to the SEC is a little bit like calling the Wolf to drive home your blood-soaked vehicle. It’s a bold move for an agency that is often overwhelmed by the impressive lawyers marshaled on behalf of the financial industry in defense of their most complex transactions.
Unlike Elizabeth Warren (bless her heart), Mary Jo White is no academic, she’s a hard-nosed litigator. And she might be exactly what the SEC needs…
Ed. note: We apologize for getting such a late start today, but we were experiencing some technical difficulties. Thanks for being patient with us.
* Barack Obama made some bold statements about marriage equality in his inaugural address, but the jury is still out — literally — on whether he thinks laws banning same-sex couples from marrying are constitutional. [BuzzFeed]
* You can smoke pot for sh*ts and giggles in several states, but the D.C. Circuit is siding with the DEA on this one. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the (federal) law. [National Law Journal]
* With claims of prejudicial evidence, Rajat Gupta is trying to get his insider trading conviction overturned. We’ll wait for more on this story from note passer field correspondent, Benula Bensam. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* “Why are all high school teachers freaks in the sacks?” Sarah Jones, the cheerleader-cum-sexy teacher, cried over phrases like that yesterday during testimony in her defamation case against The Dirty. [ESPN]
* George W. Huguely V, the UVA lacrosse bro who was convicted of killing his sometimes girlfriend, has got one hell of an appellate lawyer. Perhaps famous litigator Paul Clement is a friend of the family. [Bloomberg]
* “Given health care, I don’t care if he speaks in tongues.” Chief Justice John Roberts botched Barack Obama’s presidential oath at his first inauguration, but this time he managed to get it right. [New York Times]
* What was more important to Justice Sonia Sotomayor than swearing in Joe Biden as VP at noon on Sunday? Signing books at Barnes & Noble in New York City. Not-so wise Latina. [Los Angeles Times]
* D.C. Biglaw firms — like Holland & Knight, Covington, K&L Gates, and Jones Day — allowed others to bask in their prestige at their swanky inauguration parties. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* It’s been 40 years since SCOTUS made its ruling in Roe v. Wade, and this is what we’ve got to show for it: a deep moral divide over women being able to do what they want with their own bodies. [Huffington Post]
* The latest weapon in the fight against terrorism is the legal system. The Second Circuit recently issued a major blow to those seeking to finance militant attacks in secret. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* “Firms don’t just hire a body anymore.” The 2012 BLS jobs data is in, and if you thought employment in the legal sector was going to magically bounce back to pre-recession levels, you were delusional. [Am Law Daily]
* Three months have come and gone since Hurricane Sandy rocked law firm life as we know it in Manhattan, but firms like Fragomen and Gordon & Rees are still stuck in temporary offices. [New York Law Journal]
* This seems like it may be too good to be true, but it looks like New York’s chief judge may be on board to grant law students bar eligibility after the completion of only two years of law school. [National Law Journal]
* Law professors may soon be in for a nasty surprise when it comes to their salaries if their schools follow Vermont Law’s lead and remove them as salaried employees, paying only on a part-time basis. [Valley News]
* Resorting to a life of crime to pay off your law school debt is never a good thing — unless you’re doing it while wearing a Bucky Badger hat. We’ll have more on these allegations later. [Wisconsin State Journal]
If you watched the inauguration ceremonies, whether in person or on television, you may have noticed all nine Supreme Court justices out in force. Supreme fashions generated tons of talk on Twitter, especially Justice Alito’s snazzy sunglasses; Justice Ginsburg’s huge hat, which made her look like a toy soldier; and Justice Breyer and Justice Scalia’s jaunty skullcaps, discussed by Tony Mauro and Josh Blackman (among others). According to Kevin Walsh, Justice Scalia’s was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia.
That’s on the level of style. What about substance? How will the Supreme Court affect President Obama, and how will President Obama affect the Court, as we enter the 44th president’s second term?
* According to the Second Circuit, the long arm of the law doesn’t extend to the middle finger. You can’t just go around arresting dudes for flipping you the bird. [U.S. Second Circuit / FindLaw]
* President Obama jetted off to Hawaii before he could sign the fiscal cliff bill, so he ordered it be signed by autopen. Of course, people are losing their minds over it. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Should we scrap the Constitution? Georgetown Law professor Louis Seidman continues to advocate for constitutional disobedience in this epic ConLaw throwdown. [HuffPost Live]
* Don’t celebrate your increase in California bar passage points yet. The state bar changed its tune, and a 40% pass rate is the new standard. That shouldn’t be hard, eh TJSL? [California Bar Journal]
* One of our former columnists, Jay Shepherd, has a great way to calculate what your actual hourly rate should be, if you don’t mind working for just pennies a day. Most lawyers would mind. [jayshep]
* For the love of God, even Gawker knows that going to law school these days is a fool’s errand, or in their own words: “IT’S A SUCKER’S BET. A CLEAR SUCKER’S BET.” Come on, stop being suckers. [Gawker]
* If you’d like to hear Dean Lawrence Mitchell of NYT op-ed fame sound off on why there isn’t a lawyer oversupply problem, and why it isn’t his job to get law students jobs, we’ve got a video for you to watch….
* Justice Sonia Sotomayor just ruined Hobby Lobby’s new year by refusing to block the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptives mandate. All of the members of the company’s legal team will have to scrapbook and crochet for hours to get over this loss. [Reuters]
* Harvard Law graduate Barack Obama is being feted as CNN’s “Most Intriguing Person of 2012,” but he’s currently trailing in fourth place in the most important year-end poll of all: Above the Law’s Lawyer of the Year competition. Get out there and vote! [CNN]
* Federal district court judges aren’t being confirmed as quickly as they once were, and it’s partly because our president isn’t submitting nominees as quickly as those who came before him. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* But even if the president nominated judges more quickly, he’d continue to face harsh opposition from the NRA, which matters because the gun group has an entire party in its pocket. [Opinionator / New York Times]
* A legal problem and a journalism problem wrapped up in a little pretty bow: David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press” is being investigated for displaying an alleged 30-round magazine on the air. [Washington Post]
* One of New York’s most prestigious private schools agreed to settle the sex abuse suit brought against it by former students. Simpson Thacher partner Phil Culhane must be doing a victory dance. [New York Daily News]
* You got a fast car, and now this case will pay all our bills. Toyota settled a class action suit over unintended acceleration, and it’s touted as one of the largest product-liability settlements in history. [New York Times]
* Ay dios mio! You know that you’re never going to enjoy another vacation when you catch a hotel employee spreading his seed all over your clothes. But what did you expect? It’s Mexico. [Courthouse News Service]
The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. Come on, people, we still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2012.
Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, in the comments or via email. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of nine (although you’ll see only eight options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.
* “To do nothing in the face of pending disaster is to be complicit. It’s time to act. It’s time to vote.” What a convenient time to discover that the Department of Justice tabled new gun control proposals in favor of an upcoming election campaign. [New York Times]
* Rumor has it that the president will nominate Senator John Kerry to be secretary of state for his second term. Upon hearing the news, Hillary Clinton updated her Tumblr page before she caught a case of the vapors, fainted, and got herself all concussed. [CNN]
* “If you don’t know, then you have to plan for the worst.” Everyone’s pissed off about the possibility of being pushed off the fiscal cliff, but on the bright side, it’s creating a mountain of billables. [National Law Journal]
* Remember the judge who resigned after he accidentally showed a colleague a picture of the “judicial penis”? He was removed from office by a judicial ethics panel. How very effective. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
* And for the talent portion of the competition, Alicia Guastaferro, the pageant princess who was picked up for prostitution after getting caught with an attorney, will have her hooking charges dropped. [Huffington Post]
Elections have consequences, and right now I’m waiting for Republicans to start paying the piper. I’m looking at you, Ted Nugent. You declared, nay promised, that if Obama was reelected, you’d either be dead or in jail within a year. Well, tick tock buddy, we’re all waiting.
In fact, there were many Republicans who promised to do all sorts of horrible things should Barack Obama win. And apparently some of them are following through. Nothing makes a political statement about the vibrancy of our democracy than petulantly firing people when democracy doesn’t go your way.
And heck, we don’t even know how many people will be “not hired” because, “Grrr… we have to pay for our employees’ health care because we were too partisan or stupid to support a single-payer system that would have shifted the burden of health insurance away from private employers.”
At least, we won’t know unless they tell us. Which, incredibly, one solo practitioner apparently did, in a rejection letter to somebody who applied in response to her Craigslist ad. It’s easily the best post-election rejection letter we’ve seen….
* Everyone wants to know who Obama will appoint to the high court during his second term as president. Our very own David Lat chimed in with his suggestions on this panel of notable Supreme Court watchers. [BuzzFeed Politics]
* “If you are writing a biography and either you or your subject are married to a third person, and you have sex, you have done something wrong.” Well, that’s one way to reduce the amount of scandal in your life. [Instapundit]
* Who is the shirtless FBI agent who allegedly sent a sexy picture to Jill Kelley of the Petraeus Pentagon — a picture that got him kicked off the case — and how bodacious is his bod? [Business Insider]
* There is no “best way” to ask for a raise, especially in this economy. But if you’re feeling sassy, you can take some of this sound advice. [Corporette]
* Apologies to all you Beliebers, but California’s Paparazzi Law was just invalidated as unconstitutional. [Cheat Sheet / Daily Beast]
* A time when you really shouldn’t have to yell, “Don’t tase me, bro!”: when you’re trying to use a garden hose to prevent your house from catching fire. [Legal Blog Watch]
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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