Judge Jed Rakoff appreciates a man who doesn't know what he's doing.
Don’t worry about investing in a Ponzi scheme as long as you are smart or lucky enough to recoup your money before the whole thing falls apart. That is the upshot of U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff’s decision to significantly limit the amount of money trustee Irving Picard can seek from New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon.
It’s a huge decision. Because a professional sports franchise is involved (and I’m using the term “professional” very loosely when talking about the Mets), how this impacts Wilpon and the team on the field will dominate most of the headlines and discussions about the ruling.
But make no mistake, Judge Rakoff’s ruling will have a major effect on how much money is ever recovered for victims of Madoff’s shenanigans, and could have an effect on the future liability for all investors in Ponzi schemes….
* Is Harvard developing a course on business ethics based on the career of Bernie Madoff? Madoff apparently thinks so. [Dealbreaker]
* To all of you who say that my home state of New Jersey is good for nothing, read this. [DNA Info]
* Employment lawyers, any thoughts on this type of workplace behavior? [Fashionista]
* To those of you who want us to moderate comments more aggressively — we do moderate, but only in extreme cases, when brought to our attention — consider these wise words from Professor Paul Campos (aka ScamProf): “Law in general and law school in particular is already too full of fake politeness, fear-induced groveling, craven appeasement of dubious authority figures, unappetizing obsessions with hierarchical status, and other forms of soul-crushing inauthenticity.” So there. [Inside the Law School Scam]
* Apparently racism still exists, even at prestigious university like NYU. Skip the damn banana, I’ll take $210K instead, thanks. [New York Daily News]
* First they came for the eggs, and I didn’t speak out because I don’t like breakfast. Then they came for the turkey, and I flipped out because my freezer is full of it. [Los Angeles Times]
* Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but Christian Louboutin plans to appeal last week’s ruling on his red-soled shoes. You go girl, because I don’t want to pay for an imitation. [Daily Mail]
* What kind of a neighbor goes after Girl Scouts for selling cookies in their own driveway? Apparently the kind you don’t want to live next to anymore. [Daily RFT / Riverfront Times]
* A former Ropes & Gray attorney caught up in the Galleon Group insider trading scandal, Brien Santarlas, testified yesterday that he was paid thousands of dollars for tips. Then, he was told “to dispose of the phone — break it in half, submerge it in water and put it in a garbage can.” He was also told to “Fart on it, dredge it in panko bread crumbs, and talk mess about its momma.” [Bloomberg]
* A candidate to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the IMF, former Baker & McKenzie chairman Christine Lagarde, may have a legal problem of her own. A less rapey one, but still. [Reuters]
* Maria Shriver has retained prominent divorce attorney Laura Wasser, but has not decided whether to divorce Ahnuld or not. Every decent Arnold Schwarzenegger joke has been done, so here’s Jean-Claude Van Damme dancing. [CBS News]
* An Oregon woman has won her fight to get high and carry a handgun. A three-episode arc on Cops is still being negotiated. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Vivia Chen continues her impeccable trolling with a post on lawyers who were voted “most likely to succeed” in high school. Money quote: “If you’re in law, odds are slim that you came within breathing distance of cheerleaders or star athletes.” [The Careerist]
* The owners of the Mets considered buying fraud insurance for their Madoff money in 2001. Instead, they traded for Mo Vaughn. Bad Idea Jeans. [New York Times]
* The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a lawsuit asking courts to force major companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sotomayor spent the entire oral argument asking attorneys how she could fit more Miami Sound Machine on her Zune. [New York Times]
* Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who can be seen every Thursday night on 30 Rock playing Kenneth the Page, shares none of Jan Brewer’s qualms about a “birther bill.” [Politico]
* The Ecuadorean Slapfight (also the name of my ska band in high school) between Patton Boggs, Gibson Dunn, and Chevron was squashed by a judge yesterday. [Reuters]
* Tiger Blogger Vivia Chen wants white guys to be hunted like animals. [The Careerist]
* A copyright troll has found a way to exact a toll without actually owning any copyrights. No word yet on whether anyone has gained entrance into the boy’s hole. [Wired via ABA Journal]
* Alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning is being transferred to another prison. Julian Assange celebrated the news by going dancing. [Fox News]
* Sponsors of Proposition 8 are mad that retired judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over Prop 8′s defeat in court, is giving lectures around the country that feature a three-minute clip of the trial. They say the video should remain in the closet. Or a desk drawer of some sort. [Los Angeles Times]
* Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal was denied by the Fifth Circuit. While he remains the smartest guy in the room, the room consists of him and a half-wit cellmate whose only discernible talent is making Prune-o. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Bruce Fein, an attorney who worked on Clinton’s impeachment and called for Bush’s impeachment as well, has drafted articles of impeachment for Barack Obama. His high crime and misdemeanor? Time theft. [Politico]
* An Ohio man has been charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog. When asked why he was barking at the female dog, the man calmly replied, “Bitch owes me money.” [CBS News]
* The government rested its case in the Raj Rajaratnam trial yesterday. Of additional note is the fact that Rajabba sits ten feet behind his defense table, partially obstructed from the jury box. You can’t completely block Rajabba from view. You can only wish to contain him. [New York Times]
* The government has warned attorneys for former Madoff employees not to use money that might be associated with Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. That includes, for their own health, any ass pennies. [ABA Journal]
* The Fourth Circuit rules in favor of a pundit-professor, in a case about the free speech rights of faculty members at public universities. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Charlie Sheen is trying to trademark his catchphrases now. He’s overexposed like a frostbitten penis — is there anything funny left to say about him at this point? (We might try; check in later.) [Forbes]
I’ve been avoiding writing about Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of getting money for the victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, and his lawsuit against New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz. It’s too painful. It’s like being close enough to see Oliver Perez’s face just as you know things are going to completely unravel but still hoping against hope that he’ll throw a strike. It’s like wondering if David Wright spends his nights crying softly while Mike Piazza texts him weekly updates on how many days he has until he’s an unrestricted free agent. I know what’s happening; I just don’t like to talk about it.
But, as we mentioned in Morning Docket, Picard’s massive complaint was made public today. He says Wilpon and Katz made $300 million in fictitious profits from business dealings with Madoff.
As you read through the allegations, try to remember how poorly the Wilpons make decisions about whom to hire, whom to fire, and how much to play baseball players — and then tell me if you are at all surprised by anything here…
Being married to a Paul Weiss partner is nice; getting divorced from a Paul Weiss partner is even nicer. Thanks to the prestigious firm’s eye-popping profits, getting divorced from a PW partner should give you a seven-figure payday (assuming the Paul Weiss partner has been a partner for a while and is the “monied spouse” — a pretty safe assumption, unless you work at, say, Goldman Sachs).
But when you get that gigantic payment — like winning the lottery, but without all the taxes — can you feel confident in its finality? Or do you have to worry that your ex-spouse, a partner at a firm known for its aggressive and brilliant lawyering, will find a clever way to get some of that money back from you, years later?
Consider the tale of Steven Simkin, a Paul Weiss partner of almost three decades, and his ex-wife Laura Blank, who works in education. It involves a multimillion-dollar marital estate, residential properties in Manhattan and the tony suburb of Scarsdale, and an investment account with one Bernie Madoff.
And yes, for your voyeuristic pleasure, the tale comes with hard numbers, lots of numbers…
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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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