Sometimes law firm outings can get pretty crazy. It seems like this is especially true in Canada. Who would have thought, eh?
Last month, we wrote about a bottles-and-models party in Toronto that led to one associate losing his Canadian cookies in a cab, and a partner allegedly grinding (inappropriately) on female associates. Maybe those ladies just needed thicker skins or, in that case, booties?
Meanwhile, as we mentioned briefly this morning, a female lawyer in Vancouver did not have a thick enough head. In 2001, Michelle Marie Danicek, then 32, was a law clerk at Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang LLP. According to the Vancouver Sun, in April 2001 she went out dancing at the Bar None nightclub, after a firm-sponsored associates’ dinner at an oyster house.
As many of you know, lawyers are not always the best dancers. The lawyers got their grooves on, and one of Danicek’s fellow maladroit associates stumbled into her, perhaps while he was doing the “running man” (that seems Canadian).
This caused her to fall to the ground — and sustain a $6 million injury….
David Cowling, Mathews, Dinsdale & Clarke partner and alleged booty dancer
Sometimes law firm after-hours parties get pretty wild. The Great Recession didn’t put a damper on one Toronto firm’s celebrations last year. In January 2009, Mathews, Dinsdale & Clarke threw a rager in honor of its annual labour law “moot” competition for Canadian law students. (We mentioned this story briefly in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs.)
After awards were given out at a dinner, the lawyerly crew headed to Toronto night club Cheval, for bottle service and dancing. Things got a little crazy. One senior associate got so hammered that “he left the club without his coat or keys and vomited in the taxi cab as it left the club.” And one partner, David Cowling, allegedly got too friendly with some of the female associates while grinding on the dance floor.
Two associates complained about his behavior to other partners, and now Cowling is suing the two associates (who have since left the firm) for defamation and intentional interference with economic relations.
The Canadian legal blogosphere has been buzzing this week over an article penned by last year by a retired Canadian law professor. In it, University of Western Ontario emeritus professor Robert Martin likens Canadian law faculties to “psychotic kindergartens” and offers other hilarious taunts about the quality of Canadian legal education.
The Guardian highlights this quote by Professor Martin: “Each fall, a horde of illiterate, ignorant cretins enters Canada’s universities. A few years later, they all move on, just as illiterate, just as ignorant and rather more cretinous, but now armed with bits of paper, which most of them are probably not able to read, called degrees.”
Some might say: this sounds just like the United States. Does Professor Martin have a newsletter or perhaps a blog of his own so that we may continue to hear his thoughts on the state of legal education?
While Martin has a number of excellent quips about Canadian education, he reserves his biggest guns for the value proposition of going to law school. His thoughts should resonate with many American law students….
We expect judges to not let their personal opinions influence their judicial decisions. But it’s silly to expect judges to be automatons with no feelings. They hurt, they cry — and just like everybody else, they get angry when they have to deal with assholes.
Sadly being an asshole isn’t a crime, and so one Canadian judge just had to suck it up and let a Canadian junior hockey player charged with assault go free. But not before the judge gave the defendant a little piece of his mind. The CBC reports (gavel bang: Deadspin):
Junior hockey player Chris Doyle was found not guilty of assault Friday, but received some harsh words from P.E.I. Judge John Douglas.
“If he was charged with being a colossal asshole, I would find him guilty,” said Douglas, chief judge of the provincial court.
“Of assault causing bodily harm, I find him not guilty.”
Make no mistake. Judge Douglas was right to point out that Chris Doyle was a giant douchebag…
Vishwantee Persaud allegedly defrauded a Toronto lawyer of tens of thousands of dollars by telling him she was the embodiment of the spirit of his deceased sister, come back to help him in business. Ms. Persaud now faces charges under a rarely used section of the criminal code for pretending to practice witchcraft.
We can also put the Toronto lawyer’s brain in the category of “rarely used.”
“She said she came from a long line of witches and could do tarot-card readings,” says Detective Constable Corey Jones, who investigated the case. “It was through this that she cemented [the lawyer's] trust,” setting the stage for the fraud to follow, which, according to Det. Constable Jones, included claiming fictitious expenses such as law-school tuition and cancer treatments.
Sorry, I just don’t have a lot of sympathy for the lawyer who fell for this. I’m not inclined to believe in the supernatural. If Whoopi Goldberg shows up at my house, she better bring more than a levitating penny.
Still, one has to ask why there are witchcraft laws still on the Canadian books.
Canada explains itself, eh, after the jump.
Documentarian Michael Moore would have us believe that everyone in the Great White North is friendly and loving, leave their doors unlocked, and have no need for guns. Well, there are definitely some crazy, violent types residing in Canada. Like the Greyhound bus killer. And Ontario’s former attorney general.
Michael Bryant, a Harvard LLM graduate and youngest AG in Ontario’s history, had a minor collision with a 33-year-old bike courier, who then made the unwise decision to grab onto Bryant’s Saab. From the New York Times:
[P]olice received reports of a Saab convertible racing past the fashionable shops of Bloor Street with a man clinging to its side. Two construction workers doing repairs along the road told CTV, a Canadian television network, that the car accelerated, its tires squealing, before veering into oncoming traffic on the left side of the street.
The workers said that the motorist repeatedly mounted the sidewalk and drove near lampposts in what seemed to be an attempt to brush off the man hanging onto the side.
One of the workers said the driver was “yelling pretty loud and he sounded very, very angry.” The other worker said, “He meant to knock him off.”
Several witnesses said that the clinging man flew off of the car after striking a mailbox.
Have you noticed that every time we run a story about the legal market in Canada there are a bunch of commenters telling us how great things are for lawyers in the great white north? Well, now we know why. The American Lawyer reports that the Canadian government has been pitching in to help Canadian and American law firms:
According to records obtained by The Lawyers Weekly, the Canadian government spent a record $57.1 million on outside law firms in the 2008-09 fiscal year. It’s the most Canada has ever paid out to private law firms in one year and represents a 34 percent increase from legal fees paid in 2007-08. (All expenditures have been converted from Canadian dollars at the rate of $1 Canadian = $ 0.936 U.S.)
Weil, Gotshal & Manges led the pack of outside legal advisers with $7.7 million in billings.
That is some change I can believe in. When global warming fully kicks in Canada is going to be awesome.
Why the jump in government work for outside counsel? The answer is something so obvious that liberals and libertarians have been talking about it for years.
Details after the jump.
Prominent New York litigator Marc Dreier — founder and managing partner of Dreier LLP, former head of litigation for Fulbright & Jaworski (NY), and former litigation partner at Rosenman & Colin — was arrested in Toronto on Tuesday. The arrest was carried out by Canadian law enforcement.
The alleged offense appears to be financial in nature, with sources mentioning money laundering and misuse of escrow funds as possible charges. The Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and Fortress Investment Group may be involved in some capacity.
The effect of Dreier’s arrest on the firm that bears his name is unclear, but certainly not good. Sources report that some firm escrow accounts have been frozen by law enforcement authorities. Emergency partnership meetings were held Wednesday and today. (This may explain why Marc Dreier and a firm spokesperson did not immediately return our calls seeking comment.)
Marc Dreier lives well, with a fabulous Manhattan apartment rumored to rent for $50,000 a month, plus a place out in the Hamptons. “He lives the life of Greek billionaire tycoon, but he doesn’t make that much money,” says a former employee.
Dreier may not be a Greek billionaire tycoon, but Dreier LLP has been quite successful. According to its firm profile, since its founding in 1996, Dreier has grown to include more than 250 attorneys in six cities. The firm has had a number of high-profile clients, including billionaire developer Sheldon Solow and controversial book publisher Judith Regan (whom the firm later sued, claiming she skipped out on legal fees).
The firm’s holiday party was scheduled to take place tonight at the Waldorf. Not surprisingly, the festivities have been canceled. On one social networking site, a former Dreier employee wrote: “[xxxx] is wondering how he could work for two law firms (Milberg Weiss and Dreier) where both firms’ lead partners were arrested…. Sad commentary on life.”
Update (1:40 AM): Some addenda and corrections:
1. Escrow accounts haven’t been frozen; they’re just short some cash — a lot of cash. One number being bandied about: $38 million.
2. The firm may not be able to make its next payroll, on December 15. There is only $300,000 in the payroll account, and the next payroll is for $2.6 million.
3. Fortress Investment Group is not involved.
4. The holiday party was canceled by an email sent out at around 5 p.m.
Further Update (6:35 PM): Actually, we were right the first time. Fortress Credit Corp., the entity involved in this matter, is a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, according to Am Law Daily.
We’ll keep you posted. If you have info to share, feel free to email us. Thanks.
* Calling all cougars — and the young studs who love them. If you’re a single female who earns more than $500,000 a year (e.g., a Biglaw partner), you should check out this event. [DealBreaker]
* Canadian lawyers are horndogs, too. [Legal Blog Watch]
* “Though I did not think Judge Kopf owed me anything, I was not about to refuse a beer from a federal judge.” [Sentencing Law & Policy]
* Hillary Clinton as Tracy Flick? [Slate TV via Althouse]
* Survivor winner Yul Kwon, with whom we went to law school, contemplates a congressional run. Go Yul! [Washington Examiner]
In an homage to the start of the NHL conference semifinals today, the Lawyer of the Day is James Creighton. Creighton, a Canadian lawyer in the late 1800s, helped found and popularize modern ice hockey while he was a law student at McGill University in Montreal. Here is his stub bio from Wikipedia:
James George Alywin Creighton (Born: 1850 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – Died: 1930) was one the men originally responsible for the early popularization of ice hockey. Creighton developed the game from a similar game known as shinney in Halifax, where (according to some historians) it was developed out of an Irish game called hurley. In 1873 Creighton moved to Montreal to work and eventually attended McGill University, graduating in 1880 with a law degree. There, on March 3, 1875, the first organized game of ice hockey was played and the game’s popularity grew significantly. He practised law with a firm in Montreal. In 1884 Creighton moved to Ottawa to become a law clerk in the Canadian Senate. He formed a team called the Rideau Hall Rebels, and became friends with teammates William and Arthur Stanley, sons of then Canadian Governor General Lord Stanley.
Creighton would happy to know that his sport has been taken over by the American Southeast (the last two Stanley Cup Champions are the Carolina Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning). Fortunately for you hockey purists out there, the Southeastern teams have already lost this year, and Canada has two chances (Vancouver and Ottawa) to take the Cup back.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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.
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