I figured my first Above the Law post should be something aimed squarely at those who generally read this blog: American lawyers. I also figured I should lead with what I do best and that is scaring the heck out of people.
So I am going to write about four common and egregious mistakes my law firm’s China lawyers often see American domestic lawyers make when representing their clients in doing business with or in China, along with a very brief analysis of what causes American lawyers to make each sort of mistake.
1. Many years ago, a lawyer in the Midwest called us to discuss his client’s desire to form a company in China. This lawyer did not even tell us that his client was in the room. The lawyer asked us the minimum capital the Chinese government would likely require his client put into a Chinese bank to be able to start a business (a WFOE) in China. Based on the nature and size of the business, we estimated $6 to $8 million. The lawyer asked us to confirm that a portion of the required $6 to $8 million could come from factory equipment not cash, and we assured him that it could. At that point, he said, “good,” because his client had already purchased $5 million in equipment and shipped it to China.
We then had to tell him those equipment purchases could not count because they had not been previously designated as going to the WFOE. The lawyer then complained about how his client could not afford to come up with another $5 million and how China was putting form over substance. To which we could say little more than, “yeah”…
* Beware of “affluenza” — the condition where rich kids believe that their wealth shields them from consequences. One kid with affluenza was convicted of four counts of manslaughter and got… probation. Great way to teach him that there are consequences. I don’t doubt being a hyper-privileged douche contributed to his criminal behavior, but let’s see if the judge is equally lenient to the next kid in this courtroom who argues that poverty contributed to his crimes. [Gawker]
* In America people complain about law reviews sharing outlines for free. In the U.K., they’re selling notes on eBay. If you’re buying notes off the Internet, perhaps law school isn’t your bag. [Legal Cheek]
* Do Twitter mentions reflect the scholarly significance of a professor’s articles? No. [TaxProf Blog]
* A Chinese law professor lost his job for writing an article advocating constitutional rule. If you think this is a harsh response, remember this government used to throw tanks at people over less. [Washington Post]
* Speaking of China, next month the CBLA is hosting a panel discussion about the expanded use of the FCPA, specifically with regard to China. [CBLA]
* Stan Stallworth, the Sidley partner accused of sexual assault, has hired a prominent criminal defense attorney to represent him in the case while the firm stands by its man. [Am Law Daily]
* Wall Street regulators are considering approval of a formidable version of the Volcker Rule that would ban banks from proprietary trading. Voting occurs later today. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Skadden Arps has asked a judge to toss an FLSA lawsuit filed against the firm by one of its document reviewers. Aww, silly contract attorney — there’s no way you’re getting overtime pay. [Law360 (sub. req.)]
* Weil Gotshal is still leaking like a sieve. This time, Bruce Colbath, a partner from the firm’s New York office, defected to the Antitrust and Trade Regulation practice group at Sheppard Mullin. [Market Wired]
* Lawyerly Lairs, China Edition: Raymond Li, chair of the Greater China practice at Paul Hastings, just purchased a townhouse for about $95 million — and paid “mostly in cash,” homie. [Wall Street Journal]
* They’re extremely tardy to the party, but if the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar gets its way, law schools will be subject to random audits of their employment stats. [ABA Journal]
* It’s a tough job that “can really beat you down,” but an organization called Gideon’s Promise just made it a whole lot easier for law students to secure jobs as public defenders in the South. [National Law Journal]
It must suck to teach middle school these days. Every student paper has got to be littered with factual citations to the crowdsourced compendium of human knowledge known as Wikipedia. Even if teachers barred students from citing Wikipedia, they just blatantly plagiarize the stuff anyway. Wikipedia is basically the using song lyrics for “write a poem” of the modern era.
Sometimes prestigious law professors may act just like middle schoolers. Cramming to turn in his expert report, one T14 professor allegedly decided to go ahead and spice it up with plagiarized Wikipedia analysis. Indeed, parts of 13 pages of the 19-page report might have been lifted from the website that once explained that “Plato was an ancient Hawaiian weather man and surfer, writer of cosmo girls and founder of the punahou in Ancient Florida?”
* This gem of a listing just showed up in the “legal/paralegal jobs” section of Craigslist. Be sure to send a “nude picture” with your résumé! Perhaps someone has been watching too many Maggie Gyllenhaal films. If it gets taken down a screenshot is here, and the klassy alternative picture in the listing is here. [Craigslist]
* From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department, Georgetown Law has figured out how to bilk taxpayers into covering the costs of increasing tuition. The federal government forgives law school debt for those in the public sector if they agree to make an income-based payment. Georgetown is covering those costs, passing it on to future students (who also won’t be paying it back), and then encouraging students to shelter income to guarantee the school comes out ahead. This is why we can’t have nice things. [Wonkblog / Washington Post]
* The always outspoken Judge Kopf shares his thoughts on Shon Hopwood’s selection as a clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Kopf sentenced Hopwood to 147 months in the 90s. [Hercules and the Umpire]
* A delightful “man bites dog” story: a bank didn’t read a customer’s amendments to a credit card application before issuing him a card and went to court whining about how hard it is to pay attention to the fine print. Boo hoo hoo. [The Telegraph]
* How to deal with your mistakes. This only applies to associates, though. Partners have two steps: (1) find an associate; (2) blame the associate. [Associate's Mind]
* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including their misreading of the Supreme Court’s precedent. [Election Law Blog]
* China is way serious about prosecuting corruption. [Legal Juice]
* The Mets muscle man whose comic inability to open a water bottle went viral on YouTube is actually a lawyer from White Plains. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, it’s after the jump. Watching the water bottle battle is the only excuse for subjecting yourself to a Royals-Mets game…
One of the nice things about being a Biglaw lawyer is that you’ve got some autonomy over your schedule. You know how much work you have to do, and you know when it’s due, and within those borders you can manage your own time. If you want to come in a little bit later and stay a little it later, so be it. If you want to come in super early… well, you’re probably still going to end up staying late because of some BS that happens at 4:30 p.m., but after you bill 100 hours in a week, you can probably take it really easy once your matter closes.
The point is, Biglaw lawyers have the expectation of being treated like adults when it comes to their own time management.
So it’s a little bit surprising that a Biglaw firm is treating associates in one office like little children who need to be present when attendance is taken….
* “This is a total victory not just for the C.F.T.C., but also for financial reform.” Regulators, mount up, because you basically just got a free pass to do your jobs and keep a more watchful and vigilant eye on Wall Street. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Last year, China officially surpassed the United States in terms of the number of patent applications filed. China’s probably surpassed the United States in terms of patents infringed, but that’s neither here nor there. [National Law Journal]
* And now we see why St. Louis University School of Law’s interim dean said he’d be donating his salary to the school. He’s no “butt boy” — he’s settled $25M worth of cases since the fall. [Madison-St. Clair Record]
* “Help me, I’m poor”: the Huffington Post’s army of unpaid bloggers will continue to be unpaid, because the Second Circuit recently affirmed the S.D.N.Y.’s decision to toss out their case. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Diane von Furstenberg, the fashion designer behind luxury brand DVF, is suing an ex-distributor for selling her wares on the cheap to the likes of TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Ugh, cringe… that’s très déclassé. [Bloomberg]
* Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the fairest firm of them all? According to the 2012 Acritas Brand Index survey, the current leader of the Global 100 is the most powerful Biglaw brand for the fifth year in a row. [American Lawyer]
* But that might not last for long, considering the dilemma Baker & McKenzie is facing when it comes to joining the Shanghai Bar Association in China. The firm is one of the first to indicate that it’ll take the plunge. [Wall Street Journal]
* Thanks to the Second Circuit, Rajat Gupta will be a free man on bail pending the appeal of his insider trading conviction. We wonder what Benula Bensam would have to say about this new twist. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Jason Smiekel, the lawyer who pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire plot involving a former client, was sentenced to eight and a half years in federal prison. The things men will do for HHHBs. [Chicago Tribune]
* Student loan payments: coming to a paycheck deduction near you! Congress is considering an overhaul of the country’s student debt collection practices, and Rep. Tom Petri has some interesting ideas. [Bloomberg]
* The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is the latest school to hop aboard the solo practice incubator train, but graduates will have to rent their office space from the school. Nice. /sarcasm [National Law Journal]
* “We didn’t file this complaint lightly.” Sorry, Judge Norman, but as it turns out, you can’t just sentence a teenager to attend church for 10 years as a condition of parole without pissing off the ACLU. [Tulsa World]
* When your alterations cost more than your wedding gown, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll have some problems — ones worth suing over, if you’re a true bridezilla (like moi). [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
If you’re not familiar with Wendy Williams, we’ll tell you a thing or two about her: this “shock jockette” claims to be the “Queen of All Media,” she has her own syndicated talk show, she’s been known to pull her insider information about the stars she interviews out of her own rear end, and she’s even got a few rappers dropping beats in an attempt to shut her up. And because nothing says classy like purchasing fashion goods hawked at 3 a.m. on TV, we’d be remiss if we forgot to mention Williams’s line of shoes and other accessories, sold exclusively by QVC.
As it turns out, Williams is having a bit of legal trouble with the Chinese manufacturing firm that’s likely gluing her new shoe line together with the tears of underpaid children. It seems that Williams’s Chinese cobblers would like to get paid, so much so that they’re fiercely protesting and even taking hostages, all over some peep-toe shoes with heels dangerously high enough to qualify for instant stripper status in most polite social circles.
Staci Riordan, a partner at Fox Rothschild who runs the firm’s Fashion Law Blog (and who also spells her name in the most fabulous of ways, might we add), is representing manufacturer Max Harvest, in their shoe problems against the media queen, while Ken Schulman of Pryor Cashman is representing Williams. And unfortunately for Williams, “things don’t work in China the way they work in the United States….”
* This is a newly released video of NYPD kicking the ever-loving sh*t out of a homeless man, who was inexplicably charged with assaulting the officer who, again, beat him up on video. Inside a synagogue. Where the man was sleeping. With permission. Can’t wait to see the lawsuit that comes out of this. [Gothamist]
* SCOTUS has agreed to review the Arizona voter law. Oh goodie. [WSJ Law Blog]
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.