Celebrities

Bradley Cooper: a very handsome man, but sadly not a lawyer.

Seemingly random small-firm lawyers from Alabama weren’t the only legal types in attendance at the White House State Dinner on Tuesday evening. Indeed, as we’ve previously noted, numerous legal celebrities attended the festivities as well.

Sure, there were some “celebrity celebrities” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that night. The guest list included such boldface names as J.J. Abrams, Stephen Colbert, Bradley Cooper, Mindy Kaling, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

But who cares about Hollywood? Above the Law readers are more interested in the government lawyers, federal judges, Biglaw partners and law professors who attended this major social event….

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Good job, Mrs. Bynes. Well done.

– Judge Glen Reiser, praising the mother of Amanda Bynes for her work as temporary conservator of her daughter. The Judge was presumably complimenting her on her work keeping the younger Bynes out of the news, and not her work raising a daughter who “started a fire in a neighbor’s driveway and soaked her dog in gasoline.”

Drake and Jay-Z look up to him. Music videos that reference him still get shown on MTV. Television talk-show hosts discuss his plans when he’s not a guest. Warren Buffett takes money from him, and Justin Bieber doesn’t act like an entitled spaz around him.

And he uses only $2 bills.

While your first guess is that we’re talking about the Dos Equis guy, we’re actually talking about a Biglaw partner in New York who adopted a unique calling card and translated it into becoming an under-the-radar celebrity among celebrities. He may not be the Most Interesting Man In the World, but he’s at least the Most Interesting Restructuring Attorney In the World…

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Ed. note: Please welcome Jenny M. Brandt, who will be covering celebrities and the law. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

As an attorney, I have noticed how obsessed other attorneys are with boxing in our identities. Either you’re a plaintiff’s attorney or a defense attorney. A prosecutor or a public defender. A Biglaw sell out or a public interest bleeding heart. Everything about you can be learned from which area of law you pursued. To some degree, these stereotypes ring true. I could never be a prosecutor, and there are few I’d like to have a drink with. They are a certain kind of person. But, in many ways, these boxes restrict us from living life free to enjoy all that is out there for consumption.

I view the aversion to celebrity gossip among attorneys as a byproduct of this black and white thinking. What does it say about you if you actually care that a criminal defense attorney allegedly slept with Lamar Odom, a Kardashian husband? Attorneys like to sound smart and believe the same about themselves. Consuming celebrity gossip with the masses means that you are a commoner, lowbrow, lacking in sophistication, or just plain dumb. Right?

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George Zimmerman and DMX

DMX has promised to “beat [George Zimmerman's] ass,” but no contract or paperwork has been signed or agreed to yet.

Domenick Nati, a spokesperson for DMX, commenting on the upcoming “celebrity” boxing match scheduled to occur this March between the ex-neighborhood watchman and the washed-up rapper.

Ed. note: Please welcome Jenny M. Brandt to our pages. Jenny will be covering celebrities and the law. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

Justin Bieber seemed to be on a rampage of self-destruction — first he allegedly egged his neighbor in a move that supposedly incurred thousands of dollars in damages, then police reportedly found drugs in his home, followed by his arrest in Florida for a DUI and drag racing, culminating in an arrest in Toronto for some kind of alleged altercation with a limo driver.  Oh, and let’s not forget yesterday’s news that he reportedly hot-boxed a private jet, causing the pilots to wear masks.

But is Bieber getting a bad rap?  Is this a case of Michael Jackson criminality — he becomes a target for arrests simply because others have made claims against him?

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I didn’t know Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the gifted and apparently bedeviled actor who died of a heroin overdose this week. I have, however, known more than one friend who died from the same drug. They were middle class, suburban guys, honors students, active in their churches and communities. They would now be in their mid- and late-thirties, had they lived. But they didn’t live.

Even as a growing number of states begin the process of piecemeal decriminalization of marijuana, hard drugs like heroin remain another matter. Many people from both sides of the political spectrum agree that our marijuana laws ought to be radically reformed. I’ve written before about the economics of legalization. Civil libertarians, both right- and left-leaning, argue that prohibition offends principles of personal autonomy. Pot, though, is relatively safe — no more dangerous by most metrics than alcohol or tobacco, for however much that means. The fact that, as a general rule, people don’t die from smoking weed makes decriminalization an easier sell for legal reformers.

Heroin, on the other hand? The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 3,038 people died of heroin overdoses in 2010, the last year for which the DEA has published statistics. A federal survey suggests that 335,000 people used heroin in the U.S. in the past month. (Compare this to an estimated 19.1 million pot users in the same time span, with nary an overdose among them.) Even when an overdose doesn’t kill, the addiction often leaves the user with an abysmal quality of life. Heroin addiction is also a perniciously treatment-resistant dependency. Abstinence rates for recovering opiate addicts are about 10 percent after one year.

Opioid replacement therapies like methadone offer one possible avenue for recovery from heroin addiction, but they are fraught with a lot of their own problems. Under federal law, methadone must be administered primarily at heavily regulated clinics often located in seedy neighborhoods. Also, methadone is a maintenance drug — instead of using heroin daily, an addict uses methadone daily for the long term. Furthermore, methadone carries its own alarming rate of overdose.

Ibogaine, a Schedule I drug in the United States, is available in many other countries, including Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, Mexico, Norway, and the U.K. among others, where it is used to treat addiction. Unlike methadone, ibogaine is not a maintenance therapy: addicts typically experience relief after one or two doses. Its efficacy rate is reportedly extremely high. So, why isn’t this potentially life-saving anti-addiction drug available in the United States?

Who’s to blame for the legal unavailability of ibogaine?

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Woody Allen

* Woody Allen’s lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz, responds to Dylan Farrow’s account of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her famous father. [Gawker; Gothamist]

* Sound advice from Professor Glenn Reynolds on how not to increase applications to your law school. [Instapundit]

* What is a “nitro dump,” and will it provide information about who (or what) killed Philip Seymour Hoffman? [ATL Redline]

* “Is Elena Kagan a ‘paranoid libertarian?’ Judging by [Cass] Sunstein’s definition, the answer is yes.” [Reason via Althouse]

* A petition of possible interest to debt-laden law school graduates: “Increase the student loan interest deduction from $2,500 to the interest actually paid.” [WhiteHouse.gov]

* Vivia Chen wonders: Is Amy Chua, co-author of The Triple Package (affiliate link), being attacked as racist in a way that it itself racist? [Time]

* Yikes — journalists around the country have been receiving “a flurry of subpoenas in recent months,” according to Jeff Kosseff of Covington & Burling. [InsideTechMedia]

* Congratulations to Orrick’s 15 new partners — an impressively diverse group, from a wide range of practice areas and from offices around the world. [Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe]

* This is the place where we pretend to be shocked that Chris Christie abused his power. [New York Times]

* Remember the Super Bowl Shuffle? Now there’s a lawsuit over it. Proving even terrible art can give rise to litigation. [Business Wire]

* Miami criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco thought he was representing Justin Bieber and let all the media outlets know it. Well, he’s not. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Listen up, law review editors! This is how you avoid making authors angry. [Nancy Rapoport's Blog]

* John Yoo for Dean of Boalt Hall? OK, maybe not, but here are the finalists for the position. [Nuts & Boalts]

* California is eyeing a referendum to allow affirmative action considerations to be employed in college admissions for the first time in almost 20 years. Surely the same people who passed Prop 8 will be enlightened enough to do something proactive about systemic discrimination. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* The art of negotiation and terrible cigars. [Katz Justice]

* And I joined Mike Sacks and Jessica Mederson on Legalese It! today. So check out our rousing discussion of the State of the Union v. Supreme Court, Foxy Knoxy’s extradition fears, and California’s decision to keep disgraced journalist Stephen Glass out of the legal profession. Video below… [HuffPost Live]

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345 West 13th Street

Meet Michael Graffagna, who’s one impressive MoFo… partner. The Harvard Law School graduate, admitted to practice in New York, California, and Japan, heads up the project finance practice at Morrison & Foerster.

Graffagna is now resident in the firm’s Tokyo office. So he and his wife, Midori Graffagna, recently sold their Manhattan pied-à-terre. And oh what a pied-à-terre it was — larger than most Manhattanites’ primary residences.

How large are we talking? How much did the Graffagnas get for it? And which celebrity lives upstairs?

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