Blackberry baby small Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve blogged before about the danger of Blackberry addiction. However, the latest research linking cell phone use with brain cancer risk is much scarier than Blackberry orphans.
We first started worrying about cell phone radiation at the ending of the film Thank You For Smoking. It was easy to dismiss a Hollywood quip, but it’s harder to ignore a news report on an award-winning expert on cancer research:

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take “immediate steps” to reduce exposure to their radiation.
The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.
It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

The article goes on to cite a dismissal of the doctor’s work by the “Mobile Operators Association.” Given that the MOA’s members include T-Mobile and Vodafone, we’re not exactly reassured.
Is the fear of brain cancer enough to make us stop using our cellphones and Blackberries? Probably not. We know french fries likely cause cancer, but we can’t give those up either. We are warming to the idea of a phone headset, though.
Mobile phones ‘more dangerous than smoking’ [The Independent via Drudge]

Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgDespite the recent turmoil in the economy and the stock market, all appears to be well at Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy. A tipster provided us with the highlights of chairman Mel Immergut’s “State of the Firm” address from last week:

1. Primary caregiver leave is now 18 weeks paid.

2. Blackberries will get replaced every two years instead of three.

3. “We’re not getting fired.”

It appears that Milbank has effectively made a “no layoffs” promise. It learned that lesson the hard way:

Mel stressed that in the last downturn, they had slowed hiring, and then found themselves at a loss for mid-level associates when things picked up later. So the plan is to continue to hire new people (our summer program is the largest to date at 100+) and retain, but not really hire laterals.

Will other firms make a similar pledge? We’ll see.

Blackberry Crackberry Blackberries baby Above the Law blog.JPGHere’s some news that must have had many lawyers tearing out their hair (or what’s left of it). From the AP:

A major service outage afflicted users of the popular, addictive BlackBerry smart phones across the United States and Canada on Monday. Officials with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless said BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. told them customers of all wireless carriers were affected….

Garth Turner, a member of the Canadian Parliament, said during a caucus meeting that the incident — the second widespread disruption in 10 months — was having a big impact.

“Everyone’s in crisis because they’re all picking away at their BlackBerrys and nothing’s happening,” Turner said. “It’s almost like cutting the phone cables or a total collapse in telegraph lines a century ago. It just isolates people in a way that’s quite phenomenal.”

When the Canadian Parliament grinds to a halt, you know the situation is grave.
So how were you affected by the BlackBerry outage? Were you forced to stay in the office due to an inability to receive wireless email? Did a crucial email message fall through the cracks? Did you suffer from delirium tremens, a well-known symptom of CrackBerry withdrawal?
Feel free to vent, in the comments.
BlackBerry Service Out in N. America [Associated Press]
RIM reports “critical” BlackBerry outage [Reuters]

The firm of Dewey Ballantine was never known for being particularly PC. From a 2004 article by Anthony Lin, for the New York Law Journal:

Nearly one year after lawyers at Dewey Ballantine infuriated members of the Asian-American community by performing a stereotype-laden parody song at their annual dinner, the law firm is again dealing with allegations of racial insensitivity….

On Monday, an employee sent a firmwide e-mail advertising the availability of some puppies for adoption. Douglas Getter, a London-based American who heads Dewey Ballantine’s European mergers and acquisitions practice then sent a firmwide reply.

“Please don’t let these puppies go to a Chinese restaurant!” Getter wrote in his e-mail.

Adolf Hitler Dewey LeBoeuf Zieg Heil Sieg Heil Above the Law blog.jpgNow Dewey has merged with LeBoeuf Lamb. Happily, it appears their firm cultures are a good match. Check out this email exchange appearing below — and note that Partner X came from the LeBoeuf Lamb side of the marriage….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey & LeBoeuf: A Bunch of Nazis?”

Blackberry Crackberry Blackberries baby Above the Law blog.JPGRecently submitted to Fortune magazine by “Bored in BlackBerryLand”:

I am a recent law-school graduate and, though I’m not yet working at a law firm, I have friends who are. I understand that things in international firms happen 24/7, 365 days a year, and I want to be as supportive of my friends’ careers as I expect them to be of mine.

My question is, to what degree in social settings, on a regular basis, should friends be checking their BlackBerries, and at what point should I say something? What’s rude and what’s truly necessary?

So, readers, whaddya think? Check out what the expert had to say, express yourselves in the comments, and take our poll — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “To Blackberry, or Not to Blackberry? That Is the Question”

Valerie Plame Wilson Patricia Wettig Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Let’s just steal Drudge’s tagline: “JUDGE: PLAME HAS NO GAME.” [Washington Post; Associated Press]
(But she does bear an uncanny resemblance to Patricia Wettig, who plays Holly Harper on Brothers and Sisters. See photos at right.)
* A lawsuit against Hillary’s pollster, Mark Penn, has been dropped. [AP]
(Watch out: your employer might be reading your Blackberry messages.)
* Lots of lawyers among the D.C. Madam’s clientele. [CNN]
(“[B]ut of course in Washington it sometimes feels like everyone is a lawyer.”)
* Escalation in the battle over executive privilege. [Washington Post]
(Bush Administration to Congress: “You wanna prosecute us for contempt? You and what prosecutor?”)

iPhone Apple iPhone Blackberry Crackberry Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgHi, Billy Merck here once again, hosting through the end of the week so that Lat can take another brief vacation. No intro post this time; check here or here if you don’t know who we are. But enough of that, let’s get right to it.
The Wall Street Journal has this article about the extremely high demand from employees for and the equally strong reticence on the part of businesses, including of course large law firms, to give access to corporate email services on the soon to be released Apple iPhone. From the article:

While millions of consumers are eagerly anticipating Apple Inc.’s launch of its iPhone next week, Bill Caraher is bracing for the worst.
Mr. Caraher, technology director of von Briesen & Roper, a Milwaukee law firm, says he is being besieged by inquiries from employees wondering whether the office’s email system can be used with the device.
His answer, at least initially, has been no. The main problem is that the iPhone can’t send and receive email through the company’s corporate BlackBerry email servers. He says he is unwilling to look into workarounds, because they might compromise the company’s security. “It’s another hole in the system people can exploit,” he says.

Despite concerns about opening up email systems, Apple is apparently pushing to grab some crackberry market share:

All this may change later this month when Apple plans to unveil the iPhone. According to a person close to Apple, the company is expected to fight for this market, currently dominated by players like BlackBerry’s RIM, Palm Inc. and, increasingly, Nokia Corp. and Motorola. If Apple comes up with an acceptable strategy for integrating with business software systems, many companies might change their tunes.

At least one law firm is open to the idea:

Other businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP of New York has been getting hit with a range of iPhone inquiries, according to spokeswoman Claudia Freeman. The law firm may try to support the device once it is launched, she says.

So we have three questions we’d like to throw out there to open up discussion:
1) Will law firms open up their email systems to the iPhone?
2) If they do, will the iPhone grab a substantial chunk of the crackberry market?
3) Will whether a firm integrates the iPhone into email services become a factor in the compensation wars?
* “Crackberry” is used in the context of this post to refer to any device similar in function to a Blackberry, and is not limited to the Blackberry.

Blackberry Crackberry Blackberries baby Above the Law blog.JPGAre you a Biglaw associate who left the office early last night, relying upon your trusty Blackberry to keep you posted about what was going on back at work? If so, your reliance was misplaced. From the NYT:

Technical problems at Research in Motion cut off wireless e-mail service to millions of users of its BlackBerry hand-held devices in the United States for more than 10 hours overnight.

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, which has the largest BlackBerry customer base in the world, said the service was lost to all carriers in the United States around 8 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. RIM told AT&T Wireless that the problem that caused the shutdown was resolved by 6 a.m. Eastern time today. However, he said that the enormous backlog of e-mail messages that must now be processed would continue to delay or disrupt service for some users.

So if you were out to dinner with friends last night, with a non-buzzing Blackberry, and thought “this is too good to be true,” guess what? You were right.
Now get back to work…
Blackberry Blackout: A Personal Story [DealBreaker]
Service Problems for BlackBerry System [New York Times]
Massive System Failure Affects BlackBerry Users [WNBC]

In the past week or so, the romantic exploits (and misadventures) of lawyers and law students have been in the news. Here are a few noteworthy links:
Amani Toomer Yola Dabrowski divorce divorcing Above the Law.jpg1. ‘ABORT’ SHOCK IN GIANT DIVORCE [New York Post]
Football star Amani Toomer (at right), a wide receiver for the Giants, is divorcing his wife, Dr. Yola Dabrowski. The parties’ divorce filings are full of salacious allegations, but here’s what jumped out at us:

Dabrowski’s papers complain that Toomer: … * Sabotaged her dream of becoming a lawyer by stealing her computer and files, making it impossible to study for her law-school exams and leading to her getting an incomplete for the term.

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the way to a law student’s heart — or the way to break her heart, as the case may be — is through her papers.
Another allegation:

[W]hen she didn’t want to have sex, Toomer acted “irrationally and outrageously” – once urinating on her clothes, and another time tossing her BlackBerry into the Hudson River.

Destroying your spouse’s Blackberry? Now you’ve thrown down the gauntlet. If The War of the Roses were updated for 2007, there would surely be a scene of Blackberry destruction.
Damon Colbert Damon D Colbert Pillsbury Winthrop Above the Law.jpg2. Date Lab [Washington Post]
“Date Lab,” in which the Post sets up two people on a blind date and then writes it up, is one of our favorite guilty pleasures. This recent date, involving Pillsbury Winthrop associate Damon Colbert (at right), actually went fairly well. (The column is more fun when the dates are disasters.)
But the WaPo reader comments — “the two shallowest people in all of Creation,” “this Date Lab made me unbearably sad” — are kinda vicious. And we thought ATL commenters were harsh….
Gillian Hearst Shaw Christian Simonds Christian A Simonds Above the Law.JPG3. Page Six: Ready To Wed [New York Post]
Gillian Hearst Engaged! [Socialite Rank]
From Page Six:

LOVE is in the air for Hearst heir Gillian Hearst-Shaw and her yearlong boyfriend, Christian Simonds. Sources say the gorgeous brunette socialite and philanthropist was proposed to with “a blindingly huge diamond engagement ring” from Simonds. Her hubby-to-be, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, popped the question last weekend, following a romantic sleigh ride for two in the Berkshires. Mazel tov!

Page Six doesn’t identify his firm, but as Socialite Rank points out, Christian Simonds is an associate in the New York office of Lowenstein Sandler. Next time you make a disparaging remark about the New York office of a New Jersey law firm, ask yourself: “If my firm is so much better, then why am I not marrying a beautiful media heiress?”
4. Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel [New York Times]
Happy Anniversary to Wendi Adelson and fellow legal blogger Dan Markel, of PrawfsBlawg fame!

Donald Stout RIM NTP NPT Blackberry litigation.JPGFred Fielding, the incoming White House counsel, did pretty well for himself when the Blackberry litigation was settled. His firm, Wiley Rein & Fielding, represented NTP, the patent holding company that won a $612.5 million settlement from Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry. Wiley Rein took the case on a contingency-fee basis. Ka-ching!
But some people did even better than Fielding — like Donald Stout (at right), patent lawyer to the late inventor, Thomas Campana. Here’s an explanation of how the Blackberry spoils were divvied up:

Biggest single winner was Joletta Campana, widowed second wife and former secretary of patent-holder Thomas Campana Jr., who received one-third [of the $612.5 million,] or about $200 million. Wiley, Rein & Fielding also received $200 million, a huge sum given that in 2004 the Washington, D.C. firm’s two hundred and fifty lawyers generated about $140 million in total revenue. The final $200 million was shared by Donald Stout and some colleagues at his Alexandria-based law firm.

outhouse crapper.jpgSo how did Donald Stout spend his windfall? On real estate, of course. From Washingtonian magazine, via Wonkette, here’s an account of “The Stouthouse”:

Lawyer Donald Stout put up $6.8 million for a 15,000 square-foot Georgian on more than four acres near the Madeira School in Great Falls, VA — this after his Arlington patent-holding firm won a settlement against the makers of BlackBerry and earned him $177 million. HGTV’s Dream Builders featured the six-bedroom, ten-bath house in a segment taped before the sale.

Here are some photographs (Zillow on the left, Google Maps on the right):
Donald Stout mansion Google Maps Zillow.JPG
WOW. This place makes the Feldsuk house look like a law school dorm. At a Tier 4 school.
For those of you who share our obsession with high-end real estate, there’s more discussion of The Stouthouse, plus links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Check Out “The Stouthouse””

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