If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. From our sister site, Going Concern:
[A] judge in Seattle has allowed a revised lawsuit to proceed that lists “Washington Mutual officers and directors, underwriters, and the auditing firm Deloitte & Touche” as defendants.
The revised lawsuit was trimmed down to a “concise” 267 pages from the original 388 that the judge described as “verbose” and “disorganized”.
“Verbose” and “disorganized” would also describe many lawyers we know. On the defense side, though, it’s an all-star cast. From Am Law Litigation Daily:
The lineup for the defendants includes Simpson Thacher & Bartlett attorneys Barry Ostrager and Rob Pfister for former WaMu officers; Ronald Berenstain of Perkins Coie for former WaMu outside directors; Barry Kaplan of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for former WaMu CEO Kerry Killinger; Peter Wald of Latham & Watkins for Deloitte; and Jonathan Dickey of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher for the underwriters.
Last month, Simpson Thacher announced a new public service fellowship program. The move was widely praised as a creative, public-spirited way of dealing with the downturn.
Some commenters wondered whether it reflected work slowness at Simpson. If STB is willing to let 15 junior associates go off and do public interest work for a year, could it mean that there isn’t enough work to go around?
In this slow economy, billing over eight hours a day might seem… harsh. Is it fair for STB litigators to stay at work until 10, while the private-equity folks leave by 6?
If you’re a Simpson associate, however, you should refrain from complaint. Instead, after getting staffed on doc review for some stupid reinsurance case, email Barry O. and say: “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
* Barry Ostrager of Simpson Thacher bills out at $1,000 an hour? Well, just keep him away from your bathroom. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Eager to soak the rich (hedge fund kings)? Good luck with that. [DealBreaker]
* Remember the wacky Stephen Dunne, who blames the gays for his bar failure? Not being admitted may be the least of his problems. [Keeping Up With Jonas]
* A funny parody? Or a disturbingly accurate account of how the law review submission process works? [Concurring Opinions]
* Truth in advertising? This was probably well-intentioned, but ultimately unwise. [copyranter]
* Voting irregularities: not limited to “coolest law school” contests. [Machinist]
* 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.
From the “it can happen to anyone” file, the Second Circuit dismisses a cross-appeal by Travelers Insurance Company because its law firm filed the notice of appeal one day late. After the losing party in the district court filed a notice of appeal, Travelers had 14 days to file its notice of cross-appeal. However, the firm calculated the 14 days from the date it received the notice, not from the date the notice was actually filed. The district court denied Traveler’s motion to extend the deadline by one day, explaining that this was a case of “garden variety attorney inattention” and not excusable neglect. The Second Circuit affirms (PDF).
The law firm that made this rookie mistake was one of the whitest of the white shoes, the venerable Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The partners on the brief have stunning resumes, and the fifth-year associate has done plenty of litigating, given that he is admitted to practice in three jurisdictions and thirteen courts. So, yes, it can happen to anyone. (And in case you’re wondering, no, STB did not reject me.)
Decision of the Day is too nice to name the STB lawyers on the brief, but we have no such qualms. These are matters of public record. The attorneys who screwed up here are partner Barry R. Ostrager, partner Andrew T. Frankel, and associate Robert J. Pfister.
Barry Ostrager, by the way, is routinely named as one of the country’s top business litigators and trial lawyers. See, e.g., here, here, and here. He’s not particularly nice; as one litigator diplomatically observed, Ostrager “doesn’t suffer from the need to be loved.” But he has been very successful for his clients.
Given Ostrager’s stellar reputation, this latest defeat is particularly embarrassing. It’s one thing when you litigate a case as best you can, then lose because the law just isn’t on your side. It’s another thing when a federal trial judge finds you guilty of “garden variety attorney inattention,” and then an appeals court affirms, holding that your “attorney inadvertence” — a charitable phrasing — does not constitute “excusable neglect.” Great litigators, after all, are supposed to be careful, attentive, and detail-oriented.
But this is not Barry Ostrager’s only lapse. His failure to pay attention to detail extends to the men’s room — as we have had the misfortune of observing, firsthand.
Read all about it, if you dare — don’t say we didn’t warn you — after the jump.
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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: email@example.com.
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.
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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