Welcome to Above the Law’s newest feature, Fun With Fine Print. This occasional column will chronicle especially clever or awful examples of legalese, fine print, disclaimers, disclosures, and the like. Our readers who spend so much time toiling over contractual language, drafting it beforehand or litigating it after the fact, will hopefully appreciate — and contribute to — this feature.
We’ll start things off with an example of infamous fine print. Earlier this year, Subway got torpedoed over its regrettable response to a customer complaint. After Australian teenager Matt Corby complained that his “footlong” Subway sub was a mere eleven inches, Subway invoked the following fine print: “With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, ‘SUBWAY FOOTLONG’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway® Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length.” Personally speaking, I think eleven inches is more than enough — but based on the uproar and litigation, maybe I’m in the minority.
Now let’s look at legalese worth celebrating, for its cleverness and its clarity. It also comes from a fast-food provider….
Each year, Corporate Counsel compiles a list of the law firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This year, to change things up a bit, it seems like the list has been expanded to cover the entire Fortune 500. From Apple to Yahoo, and every billion-dollar company in between, these corporate clients expect nothing short of the best in terms of legal representation when dealing with high-stakes litigation and deals. If you’re looking to line your firm’s pockets, you better head to the RFP line when these companies seek lawyers.
Up until last year, only the most prominent Biglaw firms (like Cleary, Davis Polk, Cravath, and Simpson Thacher) topped the list of those that had the pleasure of doing business with the country’s biggest companies. Things changed rapidly, however, when Big Business tried to cash in on deals for legal services. The firms that were willing to cave to the pressure of providing alternative fee arrangements won in a big way, and the rest were left in the dust.
Have these prestigious firms changed their ways? Is Corporate America again willing to open its fat wallet for them? Let’s find out…
* Fine Print as “Surrealist Masterpiece.” Because sometimes you need legal analysis involving Foucault. [Concurring Opinions]
* Speaking of fine print, the story behind an attack ad in Virginia is all about fine print. Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli is running an attack ad against Terry McAuliffe connecting him to the collapse of Global Crossing. The problem is the former Global Crossing workers in the ad thought they were talking to a documentary film crew about the company, not making an ad attacking McAuliffe. Should have read that waiver form more closely! [Mother Jones]
* JPMorgan Chase is dropping out of the student loan business. Must be getting too difficult to package likely defaults into some kind of billion-dollar derivative these days. [American Banker]
* A New York attorney candidly tells the world that dealing with his kids “is not my problem” because he has a long-suffering wife for that job. See conservatives, gay marriage hasn’t destroyed all the traditional families. [Dealbreaker]
* More analysis on the legality of intervention in Syria under international law. Welcome to the art of writing listicles, Lawfare! [Lawfare]
* A Q&A with Ignatius Grande of Hughes Hubbard & Reed on the importance of Twitter for clients and law firms. Intriguingly, Hughes Hubbard doesn’t have an active Twitter account. What gives? [Commercial Litigation Insider]
* Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is leaving the cabinet to head the University of California system. That’s a natural transition because UC already treats its students like threats to national security. [The Faculty Lounge]
* Texas banning tampons from the Texas Capitol building in advance of abortion vote. Guns are still fine though. In the words of the inimitable Spencer Hall, “But what about a gun that FIRES tampons, Texas?” [Huffington Post]
* Three years for stealing an iPhone from a child. I guess it’s like taking Candy (Crush) from a baby. [Law and More]
* If you stop to think about it, someone should totally have sued the camp from The Parent Trap (affiliate link). If for no other reason than the likelihood Lohan was dealing to all the other campers. [Crushable]
* An iOS app for creating semi-bespoke contracts. That’s cool, but I’ll stick to Temple Run, thanks. [Associate's Mind]
* The Am Law 200 rankings are out, and the difference between the First Hundred and Second Hundred Biglaw firms has been described as “stark.” Check out who made the grade here. [American Lawyer]
* Many Biglaw attorneys are sharks, but at Crowell & Moring, a firm with a duck as its mascot, at least they’ve got hearts. They’re awaiting the birth of little ducklings outside of their office. [Washington Post]
* Spyfall, Round Two: General David Petraeus, of CIA and sex scandal fame, is joining private equity company KKR & Co. with Williams & Connelly advising on his employment agreement. [Am Law Daily]
* Want to know at which law school you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck? Want to see which law school is best at financial efficiency? You may be surprised at some of the schools on this list. [Morse Code / U.S. News & World Report]
* No, silly, he wasn’t being an antisocial gunner, he just wasn’t old enough to go to the bar with you. Harvard Law recently graduated one of its youngest African-American students ever. [Boston Globe]
* A legal Hail Mary? Joe Paterno’s family, former Penn State football players, and select members of the school’s board of trustees are suing the NCAA over its Sandusky sanctions. [Legal Intelligencer]
* A woman is suing MAC after she allegedly picked up the gift that keeps on giving from Rihanna’s lipstick: herpes! Chris Brown, don’t hurt me for implying it was from Rihanna. [New York Daily News]
Talking to my mother in Edmond, Oklahoma on Monday afternoon took a turn for the scary when she told me that Moore had just been hit by another very serious tornado and another one was (click)….
It took me two hours to reach my brother, who also lives near Oklahoma City, and who ironically enough works for a large cellular company. After my ranting about the lack of service that scared the bejeezus out of me, he informed me that while all was well with my family, Moore was devastated — again. I am guessing that some readers were around eight years old in 1999, when Moore was last left resembling Hiroshima in a Technicolor film. I am certain that some residents thought a once in a lifetime storm would never happen again, but it seems that Moore sits on some sort of Hellmouth. That’s the thing with tornadoes, they come out of the blue, there’s nothing you can do to stop them, and your only protection when you have no basement, is to hunker down in a bathtub and pray — and that’s if you’re lucky. It is the same thing with business catastrophes. And while that segue might seem rough at first blush, put in the context of this week’s damage, it makes a certain amount of sense…
Mother’s Day is this Sunday. That means you still have some time to acknowledge your mother’s existence with a suitable last minute gift. In honor of this important holiday, here’s a note for you (or one that can be passed along to your secretary): flowers and candy are so passé — this year, you should give your mom a present that actually means something, you know, something that she’ll actually care about, not something that will die like she thinks your love for her has after you’ve spent time billing thousands of hours yet only made two calls home.
Why not get your mommie dearest a Momtract? After all, “nothing says love like mutuality of obligation.”
* “Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey. Chim chim cher-ee! A sweep of a law firm has found a body!” Dead body found in law firm chimney at Moody and Woolley Solicitors in England. [BBC]
* Reddit joins the new trend of writing terms of service that can be read by real-life people. [Associate's Mind]
* Defense Distributed, the arms dealer fronted by Texas law student Cody Wilson, announced today that they have completed a fully 3D printed gun, with the added benefit of avoiding metal detectors. Yay? [Gizmodo]
* A Howard Law School grad has set up a new business allowing companies to hire bike messengers through their smartphone. So now there’s an app for THAT. [DCist]
* Is the legal profession poised for a comeback? Not sure I buy the argument. Just because more litigation kicks up, doesn’t mean firms will go on a hiring spree because litigation doesn’t need a glut of associates anymore. Document management companies are smothering future associate jobs in the cradle and they’re not going anywhere. [TaxProf Blog]
* A Big Ten Commissioner filed a declaration claiming that the Big Ten will stop competitive collegiate athletics if Ed O’Bannon wins his lawsuit. This level of disingenuous blackmail is why we invented sanctions, people. [Sports Illustrated]
* On the heels of a federal judge allowing service through Facebook, a Texas lawmaker wants to make service of process over Facebook the rule rather than the exception. [IT-Lex]
* The next time you feel embarrassed by a U.S. politician, note that this Japanese city council member refuses to remove his wrestling mask. America doesn’t have anyone that clownish in office… she resigned the governorship in 2009. [Lowering the Bar]
* Everyone always talks about plain language contracts. Here’s how someone actually wrote “Terms and Conditions” that a user might actually read. [Associate's Mind]
* Once again, the Supreme Court comes down to the Breyer-Thomas coalition against the Scalia-Ginsburg coalition. [ABA Journal]
* What to do when your federal agency’s website has been hacked by Anonymous and you’re unable to post a major report online for public dissemination? Well, just ask a law professor to do it for you on his blog; that’s not embarrassing, not at all. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The many victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster can now rejoice, because yesterday, Transocean pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act, and will pay the second-largest environmental fine in United States history to the tune of $400 million. [CNN]
* Money takes flight: eleventy billion Biglaw firms are behind the beast that is this awful airline merger, but taking the lead are lawyers from Weil Gotshal for AMR and Latham & Watkins for US Airways. [Am Law Daily]
* After questioning the validity of one of the NBA players union’s contracts, Paul Weiss is withholding details about it thanks to the government’s intrusion. Way to block nepotism’s alleged slam dunk. [New York Times]
* “When is the last time you took the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street to trial?” Elizabeth Warren took the Socratic method to the Senate Banking Committee and she was applauded for it. [National Law Journal]
* If you liked it, then perhaps you should’ve put a ring on it, but not a Tiffany’s diamond engagement ring that you’ve purchased from Costco, because according to this trademark lawsuit, it may be a knockoff. [Bloomberg]
* “We feel very badly for Megan Thode.” A Pennsylvania judge ruled against the Lehigh student who sued over her grade of C+ because let’s be serious, did ANYONE AT ALL really think he wouldn’t do that?! [Morning Call]
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 protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
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:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.