Boring Stuff

indian woman from india.jpgNot sure how we feel about this development:

For years, outsourcing has been a dirty word inside the world of white-shoe law firms…. A number of large law firms, though, are starting to tiptoe onto far-flung shores.

The latest is Clifford Chance, one of the largest law firms in the world with 29 offices in 20 countries, which will announce plans today to consolidate and move big chunks of its administrative functions like accounting and technological support to an operation in Delhi, India, by next spring.

Ah yes, Clifford Chance — already renowned for its spectacular associate morale.
We’re sure CC associates will love it when their computer freezes up at 2 a.m. the night before a closing, they call the dubiously-named “Help Desk,” and they spend 45 minutes trying to explain the problem to an Indian woman who insists that yes, she really IS named “Rhonda.”
On the other hand, outsourcing all boring tasks could be good for law firm associates over the long term. Can Bangladeshis be trained to conduct due diligence?
Law Firms Are Starting to Adopt Outsourcing [New York Times via How Appealing]
Outsourcing: Everybody’s Doing It, Even Law Firms [WSJ Law Blog]
Clifford Chance LLP: Associates’ Concerns [Internal Memos]

apostrophe s.gifHere’s a brief update to our post from yesterday, concerning the divergence among Supreme Court justices over whether to include a second “s” at the end of the possessive form of a proper noun already ending in “s.” E.g., Kansas’ or Kansas’s.
Justice Thomas says no (“Kansas’”), while Justice Souter says yes (“Kansas’s”). We’re with Justice Souter on this one — as is Steve Dillard, although it pains him to admit it.
Justice Scalia appears to flip flop on the question. Jonathan Starble of the Legal Times offered a theory to explain Justice Scalia’s approach: “He believes the extra ‘s’ should be omitted if the existing ‘s’ is preceded by a hard consonant sound.”
We did some poking around, and Starble’s theory is essentially correct. Past clerks tried to convince Justice Scalia to use the “s” no matter how it sounds (unless a plural possessive is involved, in which case only the apostrophe is needed). This is Justice Souter’s view, Strunk and White’s view, and our view as well.
But Justice Scalia consulted Fowler’s, and he could find no rule to this effect. So he declined to follow the clerkly counsel. Instead, he “goes by the ear,” or by how it sounds: If it sounds ugly, then add only the apostrophe; if it sounds okay, then add the “s” as well.
Generally we’re all in favor of making decisions based on aesthetic considerations. But in this case, we respectfully dissent.
Gimme an ‘S’: The High Court’s Grammatical Divide [Legal Times]
Mark This Date Down [Southern Appeal]
Earlier: Read This Only If You’re a Grammar Nerd

apostrophe s.gifOkay, we’re nerds. We love this kind of stuff — even if some of you might find it soporific. From a delightful piece by Jonathan Starble in the Legal Times:

As one of its final acts last term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued Kansas v. Marsh, a case involving the constitutionality of a state death-penalty statute. The 5-4 decision exposed the deep divide that exists among the nation’s intellectual elite regarding one of society’s most troubling issues — namely, whether the possessive form of a singular noun ending with the letter “s” requires an additional “s” after the apostrophe.

In his majority opinion in Marsh, Justice Thomas dispensed with the “‘s” at the end: “Kansas’ capital sentencing statute.” In contrast, Justice Souter retained the additional “s”: “Kansas’s capital sentencing statute provides…”
Sorry, Justice Thomas; we’re with Justice Souter on this one. We follow the rule of Strunk and White: “Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.”
Justice Scalia “goes both ways.” Sometimes he uses the “‘s,” and other times he doesn’t. How to explain this apparent inconsistency? Starble theorizes:

Scalia appears to believe that most singular nouns ending in “s” still demand an additional “s” after the apostrophe. Thus, in his Marsh concurrence, Scalia repeatedly referred to the relevant law as Kansas’s statute. He similarly added an “s” to form the words Ramos’s and witness’s.

Yet in other parts of the opinion, Scalia added only an apostrophe to form the words Stevens’, Adams’ and Tibbs’. Based on this, it would seem that he believes the extra “s” should be omitted if the existing “s” is preceded by a hard consonant sound. So, whereas Thomas makes his “s” determination based strictly on spelling, Scalia appears to look beyond the spelling and examine pronunciation as well.

Oh Nino, we’re disappointed. We thought that you, of all the justices, would appreciate a clear and concise rule over needless complexity. Your middle-of-the-road, split-the-baby approach to the “‘s” controversy is so very “Sandra Day O’Connor.” And we know how you feel about her wishy-washy jurisprudence.
Here’s our favorite paragraph in the whole piece:

Is it fair to deprive a small minority of the population of the right to assert possession in the same manner as everyone else [by adding 's]? Whereas Souter would answer an unequivocal no, Thomas would likely point out that he has gone his whole life with only one “s.” Because it worked for him, no one else in a similar situation should receive any preferential treatment. People who happen to be born with names ending in “s” should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and learn to go without the additional letter. After all, it builds character.

Gimme an ‘S’: The High Court’s Grammatical Divide [Legal Times via WSJ Law Blog]

* Senate approves broad new rules to try detainees. [New York Times; Bashman linkwrap]
* Senate House grandstands over Hewlett-Packard as most witnesses take Fifth; libertarians celebrate that time wasted is time not spent passing new appropriations. [New York Times; WaPo]
* Verizon Wireless piles on against H-P. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Observers suggest Supreme Court cases over abortion might be contentious. You think? [Legal Times]
* Dozen Iraqi journalists arrested under new law against criticism of government. See? They’re already following in our footsteps up to the Alien and Sedition Acts! [New York Times]
* Belgium rules sifting of bank data illegal. [WaPo]
* California court hearing testimony over how many angels can dance on the pinhead of an anesthesized Death Row inmate. [Bashman linkwrap]
* Louisiana appellate court strikes down med-mal damages cap for failure to index to inflation, providing another excuse for doctors not to return to post-Katrina New Orleans. [Point of Law]
* New York Times writes thumbsucker on the Pirro marriage. [New York Times]

Good morning. David Lat is in Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand for the weekend for what has been euphemistically called “elective surgery.” Rest assured, D-Lat will return Monday, safe, sound, and happy to blog, if having to sit on a comfy pillow to do so, and we should all be supportive of the very difficult decisions involved.
In the interim, Lat has asked me to fill in a few posts this Friday, and I’ll start by introducing myself. My name is Ted Frank. Some fifteen years ago, I correctly identified the sequence at which Victoria, William, Xavier, Yolanda, and Zachary were seated at a circular table, filled in all corresponding ovals correctly, and was rewarded with a wheelbarrow of money to attend law school in a variety of bad neighborhoods in Connecticut and Massachusetts and Illinois. Because law interested me as a public-policy mechanism, I picked up a copy of The Economics of Justice while I was in a Chicago bookstore visiting that school, and smitten enough to decide to go there on what they called a “Public Service Scholarship.” A year of clerking and a dozen years of BigLaw taught me that litigation incentives actually create miserable public-policy results, and I’ve been writing about this problem on Walter Olson’s Overlawyered blog since 2003 and the Point of Law blog since 2004. In 2005, the American Enterprise Institute invited me to run their Liability Project directing research on the tort system and its effects; it’s a pay-cut, but the issue is important to me, and then there’s the whole Jewish guilt thing over not yet having done the public service I had hypothetically been awarded a scholarship for. And all of this has culminated in today’s guest-blogging opportunity on Above the Law, surely the highlight of my career, and worth a tenth of a point if Lat ever scores my wedding. More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Guest-blogger checking in”

Technical difficulties persist. Yes, we have heard about Anna Nicole Smith, triumphant Supreme Court litigant, and her lawyer-cum-lover, Howard K. Stern. We will be chiming in on that shortly.
In the meantime, here are links to recent posts that seem to have “disappeared”:
The Paris Hilton of the Federal Judiciary: Judge Alex Kozinski!
Clerkship Application Fun: Judge Danny Boggs’s “General Knowledge Test”
Julie Buxbaum: Million Dollar Baby
Lawyerly Lairs: Professor Smit’s Uptown Mansion
Non-Sequiturs: 09.26.06
If you happen to have additional links for some of our missing posts — we’d put their titles on milk cartons if we could — please let us know.

above the law logo.jpgA new website, like Above the Law, can take some getting used to. And we’re still working out various glitches and kinks. Please bear with us, and please give us your feedback about any problems you encounter; it’s very helpful. (And yes, we are considering a font overhaul. If you have views on that subject, pro or con, post ‘em in the comments.)
This is just a quick, admittedly pedantic post, to help familiarize you with the features of this site. Think of it as a little “user’s manual” for maximizing your enjoyment of ATL:

1. “After the jump” = Click on the little “Continue reading” link at the end of the post excerpt on the main page.

2. You can also read a post in its entirety, or generate a link to it, by clicking on either (a) the title of the post, or (b) the “Permalink” icon (that little paper-clip icon in the lower right-hand corner of each post).

3. You can email a post to a friend or colleague by clicking on the little envelope icon in the corner.

4. The most emailed articles appear in the column on the left-hand side of the page. We monitor this closely because it shows us what you, our readership, find most interesting. Then we can pander to you even more shamelessly.

5. You can append a comment to a post by clicking on the little bubble icon. Cute!

6. At the end of each post, after the words “Posted in:”, you’ll see what are called “Tags.” These are specific subjects discussed at Above the Law. If you click on the Tag in question, you’ll be taken to a page that collects all the posts about that topic. This allows you to see our coverage of a subject over time, or how a story unfolded.

Before we bore experienced readers to tears, here are two more novel things worth checking out:

1. The Forum. It’s in the left-hand column. If there’s not enough to do in the comments section, you can now start your own discussions completely independent of our ten or twelve chunks of commentary, news, and pining after litigatrices like Mary Kay Vyskocil and Rosemary Alito (that’s coming next month).

Registration can be anonymous. Why review that redline of the merger agreement when you can argue over whether HLS Dean Elena Kagan could destroy Columbia Dean David Schizer in a steel cage match? (See here.) Or speculate on who will be the next great “feeder judge” to the Supreme Court? (See here. And yes, we agree with “Mac”: judicial hottie Jeffrey Sutton (6th Cir.) is already funneling his kids to Nino. One this Term, one next Term).

To register for the Forum, click HERE. We reserve the right to indulge our god complexes and delete your posts (or ban users) for any reason whatsoever, including but not limited to: we thought the post was off-topic, the post was promoting Internet Viagra, or we were bored and deleting users is MU-HA-HA… fun. That said, we’re extremely lazy totalitarians and aren’t inclined to delete anything unless extremely provoked. Or bored.

2. The Archives. Also accessible through the left-hand column. If you click on the word “Archive” — no, we don’t think you’re retarded, we’re just really anal — you’ll be taken to the ATL archives, where past posts are collected and organized by topic and by date. We’ve actually been secretly “testblogging” here since July — think of it as our answer to the Katie Couric “shadow show” — so there’s a lot of stuff to check out, even though we only went “live” this week.

That’s enough administrative crap for now. Back to matters of, er, “substance”!

mike dillon.jpg

And no, it’s not instant messenger. It’s this thing called blogging
Sun Microsystems General Counsel Mike Dillon has started a blog (the blandly named “Legal Thing”). According to the WSJ Law Blog, it’s the first blog launched by a Fortune 500 GC. Dillon explains why he’s blogging in these terms:

My primary motivation is a question that I am frequently asked. It comes in two forms. From others in my profession, it is articulated as: “What is it like being the General Counsel of a Fortune 500 company like Sun Microsystems?” From my children it is posed as: “Daddy, what do you DO at work all day?”

We don’t know anything specific about Dillon. But if he’s like general counsels at most big corporations, the answer is pretty simple: “I hire outside counsel to do everything for me, including wiping my ass. Then I bitch to them about the bill. And then I collect my grossly inflated paycheck, before leaving the office to get in a round of golf in before dinner.”
This Should Be Interesting [The Legal Thing]

The latest crop of entries in the Wall Street Journal’s ongoing Summer Associate Diary (subscription) are pretty boring. If you don’t have a subscription, don’t worry; you’re not missing much. Here’s our executive summary:

Marc Allon (Jenner & Block/University of Michigan): “Mr. Allon has mixed feelings about heading back to school. At Jenner & Block, he liked the feeling of getting things done. ‘I found that I really liked offering [my services] to a client.’” Insert lawyers-and-prostitutes joke here.

Carolyn Gleason Sanchez (Quintana Law Group/University of Maryland): “In law school, you complain if you have a week to do an assignment, but in the real world you have to do it right away.” Yeah, it kinda sucks, doesn’t it?

Matthew Duke (Burr & Forman/University of Alabama): Wants to improve as a writer. Don’t we all.

Andrew Meyerson (Dorsey & Whitney/NYU): “Working at Dorsey has further convinced him that transactional law, not litigation, is what he’s suited for.” In other words: “My summer experience has taught me I’m even more boring than I thought I was.”

YAWN. If anyone has salacious summer associate stories from this past summer, please send ‘em our way (by email).
2006 Summer Associate Diary (Aug. 2, 2006) [WSJ via WSJ Law Blog]

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