Contracts

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….

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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…

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* 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]

* The NFL’s concussion settlement wasn’t just about screwing over the former players, but about the NFL covering up its business practices. But who cares, KICKOFF TONIGHT Y’ALL! [Grantland]

* We’re not saying you should drop out of school, but if you do, try to make it like these people. Video embedded after the jump. [Bloomberg via YouTube]

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* 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]

* A lot of folks are anticipating Noel Canning, but if Harry Reid invokes the so-called “nuclear option” (fifth item), does that render the whole case moot? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* 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]

Rihanna

* 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…

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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.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “It’s Time You Legally Enforced Your Love for Your Mom”

* “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]

* In honor of May the Fourth: a legal analysis of the Chewbacca defense. [The Legal Geeks]

* 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 review of ATL’s Top 50 Law School Rankings. In the interest of complete modesty, this is the most accurate review ever. [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* 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]

* Slate’s Jessica Grose weighs in on the suicide of Cynthia Wachenheim reported here last week. [Slate]

* And here, just for fun, see if you can guess who said these quotes: Spongebob Squarepants or Friedrich Nietzsche. Surprisingly harder than you’d think. [Buzzfeed]

* 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]

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