Blind Item

Partnership has its privileges. Partners at major law firms enjoy glittering prestige and eye-popping profits. The retirement benefits are amazing; some partners take home seven-figure checks for years after leaving their firms. All of this filthy lucre allows some partners to snag beautiful mates — sexy Russian spies, ex-girlfriends of Hollywood celebrities, and former models from Brazil.

The real estate isn’t bad either. Many Biglaw partners own million-dollar homes, which we lovingly cover in Lawyerly Lairs. And law firm offices are paragons of elegance and comfort — which they ought to be, considering how much time the partners spend in them. (In New York, I’m particularly fond of Proskauer’s premises and Davis Polk’s digs.)

Partners with sufficient seniority enjoy coveted corner offices. Right?

Not necessarily. That brings us to our latest Biglaw blind item….

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Majority opinions are hardly sitting ducks for the criticism dissentals may heap on them. If a panel majority finds that a dissental scores some valid points, it can modify its opinion to eliminate the problem, something that happens regularly in the Ninth Circuit. Indeed, fear that internal criticisms will be taken public often causes judges to moderate outlier opinions so as to present a smaller target for public criticism and possible certiorari. One of us (yes, the hot one) is even aware of a case where the panel withdrew its opinion and reversed the result, after winning the en banc vote, in the teeth of a stinging dissental.

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) and his former law clerk, James Burnham of Jones Day, in a Yale Law Journal online essay entitled I Say Dissental, You Say Concurral (defending the practice of filing a dissental, aka dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc).

(Additional discussion, after the jump.)

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We begin this Biglaw blind item with a fairly familiar setup: a partner sleeping with an associate.

Shocking, right? Well, let’s add a few elements to the mix….

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We know how you love blind items. And we know how you enjoy potty humor. So let’s mash up these two categories, to generate a Biglaw bathroom blind item.

If you dislike frivolous fare or if you have delicate sensibilities, please stop reading here. Otherwise, you may proceed….

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Hands off the dancers, sir.

Our latest Biglaw blind item concerns the sighting of a partner at a strip club.

Right now you’re probably thinking: yawn. A law firm partner at a strip club? As they say, it happens every day (or night — and often gets billed to “business development”).

But there are a few more details that make this item noteworthy….

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Our latest blind item has to do with the extracurricular activities of a prominent law professor….

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'But I'm too pretty to go to jail.'

* The AT&T/T-Mobile antitrust suit is so big that not even Big Government law can handle it. The DOJ is bringing in even bigger guns with a partner from Biglaw firm Munger Tolles. [Bloomberg]

* Obama has nominated former Kozinski clerk, Paul Watford, to the Ninth Circuit. Way to go, because he’s kind of cute. Isn’t that what everyone looks for in a federal judge? [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Is Paul Ceglia’s Facebook lawsuit completely doomed? His own lawyer, Jeffrey Lake, wants to defriend him. This will be the fourth firm to dump Ceglia as a client. [Wall Street Journal]

* Blind item: which Hollywood actress is suing IMDb for $1M for revealing her true age? And we say “true age” because everyone knows that Botox knocks a few years off your face. [Reuters]

* Lindsay Lohan is due in court today for a progress report hearing, and prosecutors want to throw her in jail. Hope she’s been brushing up on her acting skills. [New York Daily News]

* Cry me a river? A Florida lawyer will be arguing before the state Supreme Court this winter over his First Amendment right to blast Justin Timberlake from his car stereo. [NBC Miami]

In an event I did a few years ago at the University of Chicago with Judge Richard Posner (check out the podcast here), Judge Posner tossed out a delicious little blind item. He mentioned a federal judge in Chicago who would fire law clerks for what she viewed as a very grave offense: splitting infinitives in written work product.

But is splitting infinitives really such a crime?

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Now that Labor Day is behind us, fall is fast approaching. You can tell by the chill in the evening air.

Or is that just the cold offers we’re feeling? Last month, we asked you for stories about firms giving out cold offers to summer associates. As we explained, a “cold offer” or “fake offer” is, in the words of NALP, an employment offer made “with the understanding that the offer will not be accepted.”

This “offer,” made with a wink and a nudge, allows the employing law firm to report (and boast about) a 100 percent offer rate, when in reality it isn’t welcoming back 100 percent of its summer associates. It also has an advantage for the recipient: when she goes through 3L recruiting, she can truthfully say, “Yes, I received an offer from the firm where I summered.”

We recently heard a story about a pretty cold offer (not from summer 2011, but from not too long ago summer 2010). This summer associate, who wasn’t the most popular person in her class, received a full-time employment offer “contingent upon obtaining a federal clerkship.” Given how hard it is to land a federal judicial clerkship, that’s a pretty cold offer — especially considering that the student in question, now graduated, didn’t go to a law school known for cranking out lots of clerks.

But wait, it gets better….

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With the news of 100 percent offer rates trickling in slowly but surely from many Biglaw firms, we thought that students from top-tier law schools were looking good in terms of their job prospects. Sure, summer classes were smaller this year — but offer rates at or near 100 percent are still nothing to scoff at.

Recall the dark days of summer 2009, when no-offers and cold offers were doled out in abundance. When it comes to the legal job market, maybe it does get better (as long as we don’t sink into a double-dip recession).

Could the legal economy be returning to normal? Could the dark days of indentured servitude for recent law school graduates be coming to an end?

Not so fast….

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