Celebrities

John Grisham

Ed. note: Please welcome Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.

Those of you who spent this past weekend doing doc review or due diligence may not think you’ve chosen a particularly thrilling career path. But John Grisham has been making lawyers interesting since 1987, when he first wrote A Time to Kill (affiliate link). We thought it would be fun to catch up with John and learn a little more about the man who’s written over twenty-eight books, more than a dozen of which have been made into hit movies and TV shows.

The conversation, which is being created using ReplyAll, will develop over the course of the week, so check back in as Zach and John continue the conversation….

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Mindy Kaling and Preet Bharara at the Harvard Law School commencement (via Kaling’s Twitter feed).

Yesterday my colleague Staci Zaretsky wrote about Mindy Kaling’s hilarious Harvard Law School commencement speech. If you haven’t already read about or heard Kaling’s remarks, which have gone viral, check them out here.

But Kaling’s commencement speech wasn’t the only entertaining one delivered at HLS — or even the best one, in some people’s estimation. Another speaker managed to combine humor and wisdom, in magnificent fashion.

“Yo Mindy, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Preet Bharara had one of the best HLS commencement speeches of all time… of all time!”

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Ronan Farrow

A few days ago, lawyer turned television personality Ronan Farrow commented on Twitter, “All my business meetings are like ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ and all my dates are like ‘Schindler’s List’, am I doing something wrong.” The tweet was widely retweeted and favorited by Farrow’s 250,000-plus followers (despite receiving criticism from some quarters).

It’s surprising that Farrow’s dating life isn’t going better. In addition to being extremely handsome, he’s a Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School graduate with his own television show and celebrity parents (Mia Farrow and either Woody Allen or Frank Sinatra). What more could one ask for in a lover?

How about some solid real estate? Well, Ronan’s got that too — a New York apartment that he purchased for a seven-figure sum….

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Mindy Kaling

Law school commencement speakers are often dull. Even big name legal celebrities can be duds. Sure, they’ll try to slip in a joke or two to try keep their audience from falling asleep, but other than that, the experience can be a real snooze.

Enter Mindy Kaling, the comedian who stars on the TV show The Mindy Project and was a cast member on The Office before that. She spiced up her speech with humor and stole the entire show — so much so that one news article about the commencement ceremony noted that “U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was also a speaker.” Bharara, the Harvard grad who just so happens to be an elite S.D.N.Y. prosecutor, was also a speaker. Ouch.

Keep reading to see some of the highlights from Kaling’s awesome speech…

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Mindy Kaling

* Barnes & Thornburg’s managing partner is planning to step down after almost two decades in the firm’s top leadership role. His tenure ends on a high note: 2013′s gross revenue was up by 12% and PPP was up by 8.2%. [Am Law Daily]

* “To terminate Jones Day at that point is an incredibly bad idea. I hope the mayor hears me.” Judge Steven Rhodes politely called Detroit’s mayor a moron after the city official declared he’d fire Jones Day in September. [Detroit Free Press]

* “When you’re giving anything to a judge, you try to be careful about it.” In 2012, law schools paid federal judges almost $2M to teach and lecture. A useful way to spend tuition dollars? [National Law Journal]

* San Diego Law School, a branch of San Francisco Law School, is open for business. It’s being marketed as a “fresh start” — if you failed out at another law school, come join the party here! [Daily Transcript]

* If you weren’t aware, Mindy Kaling gave a commencement speech at Harvard Law this week. She praised the graduates’ dedication to tedium, and kindly reminded some that they were truly evil. [Boston.com]

Madonna was supposed to do her civic duty as an American (or is she British these days?) and report for jury duty yesterday. Unfortunately, after galavanting on horses and prancing on beaches all Memorial Day weekend, she mysteriously fell ill.

Madonna took a “Holiday” from jury duty, if you will, and now the commoners are pissed…

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[Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z] is one of the most prolific and hardest-working businessmen and recording artists in the world. This summer, among many other commitments, he is headlining a grueling 18-city North American concert tour with his wife, Beyoncé Knowles, between June 25 and August 6. With the tour opening fast approaching, the next four weeks are already filled beyond capacity with production and business meetings and rehearsals. Preparing for a stadium tour is a non-stop effort. And this is all in addition to Mr. Carter’s usual duties as the CEO of several businesses, at least two scheduled product launches, and curating a first-of-its-kind, bicoastal, music festival in August…. [S]cheduling an early deposition would unnecessarily burden and harass [Jay-Z].

Cynthia S. Arato of Shapiro Arato & Isserles, in a letter to Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis (S.D.N.Y.), detailing her client’s unavailability for a deposition.

Arato represents UMG Recordings, Island Def Jam Music Group, Roc-A-Fella Records, and Jay-Z in a suit filed by Dwayne Walker, who claims he’s owed $7 million in contractual royalties for the use of a logo he allegedly drew in 1995. Walker is represented by one of most infamous lawyers to ever grace these pages: Gregory Berry, he of the “superior legal mind.” In her letter, Arato claims that Berry has made “improper efforts to sensationalize” the case.

(Keep reading to see the full letter, which really hangs Greg Berry out to dry.)

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* Congrats are in order for David Barron. The Harvard Law professor was confirmed to the First Circuit in a close vote (53-45), despite his apparent allegiance to our new drone overlords. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Another one bites the dust: Weil’s London banking leader Stephen Lucas decamped for Kirkland & Ellis. The firm retorted by saying: “We have got 40 finance lawyers left.” Aww, yay for you. [The Lawyer]

* We already know that state prosecutors are very poorly paid, but let’s go one step further and see if women are paid less than men. Shockingly enough, women are getting the shaft in Texas. [Texas Tribune]

* Dean Jack Boger of UNC Law is stepping down, but he’s proud of keeping legal ed affordable. “[B]y relative standards, we’re still doing that,” he said. It’s ~$39K for out-of-state students. [Chapelboro.com]

* O.J. Simpson’s lawyers submitted a gigantic legal doc in an attempt to get him a new trial for his armed-robbery case. Court word limit: 14,000. Words in the Juice’s motion: 19,993. Rules: LOL. [NBC News]

Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to a charge related to illegal campaign contributions in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday. D’Souza, a conservative commentator, Reagan White House policy adviser, and Christian apologist, is widely known for his documentary film 2016: Obama’s America. D’Souza faces up to sixteen months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 23.

The case involved D’Souza’s use of “straw donors” when his own campaign contributions reached their legal limit. He encouraged two people close to him to each donate to the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of his friend, Wendy Long. D’Souza promised to reimburse them for the donations. According to a press release by the Department of Justice, “Later that same day or the next day, D’SOUZA, as promised, reimbursed the Straw Donors $10,000 each in cash for the contributions.”

D’Souza’s defenders and critics can apparently agree on several points:

(1) D’Souza committed the crime.
(2) D’Souza committed the crime in an astonishingly ham-fisted way. (There’s nothing sly about handing over cash the day after a conversation like that. D’Souza might as well have delivered the money in a box marked “Campaign Finance Law Violation.”)
(3) The government is making an example of him.

What each side means by “making an example of him” is what makes this case more interesting . . . .

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“… TO BE SANCTIONED!”

Usher wrote this song called Bad Girl. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. Anyway, this guy named — I s**t you not — Dan Marino claims he wrote the song and Usher and his cronies stole it from him. He wants millions and millions of dollars. But rather than trigger the fall of the House of Usher, his lawyer got handed his hat.

He hired a lawyer named Francis Malofiy to zealously represent his interests. To his credit, “zeal” is not a failing of Mr. Malofiy. Courtesy, respect, professional responsibility — these things might be lacking, but he’s got zeal covered.

And, as it so often does, the latter failings (coupled with the former strength) gave rise to an epic benchslap….

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