Since Japan is about to sink, drown, or blow up, you might have missed the fact that 32 or so billionaires officially can’t figure out how to share profits with a few hundred millionaires. That’s right, the National Football League — the most successful sports association ever — is in a stage of lockout. The owners and the players can’t agree, and now both sides have lawyered up and are heading to court.
The NFL owners have locked out the players, and the players have asked for an injunction preventing the lockout. Welcome to Brady v. NFL.
Naturally, I’m on the side of the marginally greedy, financially illiterate players over the unimaginably greedy, financially irresponsible owners. Bill Simmons perfectly captures the real core of this fight that the owners are picking with their employees.
And there are all kinds of funky legal issues swirling around the case: the player’s union “sham” decertification, the NFL’s T.V. revenue war chest they should have been sharing with the players all along, and enough Sherman Antitrust Act angles to fill a casebook.
And there’s legal star power: as we mentioned this morning, David Boies has joined the fight on the side of money grubbing owners who would happily sacrifice the long term health of their employees for some more short term profits.
But this morning we should focus on the man who could be “the Decider,” U.S. District Judge David Doty. The man has such a history of frustrating the NFL owner/oligarchs that simply getting the case into his courtroom could force the owners back into negotiating in good faith. We should know more about this guy.
Remember, the 1994 Major League Baseball strike was settled by a judge — and her name is Sonia Sotomayor — only she’s got a better title now. Just saying….
Here’s the Ninth Circuit’s certification order, available on the court’s Perry v. Schwarzenegger portal page, and here’s a quick write-up, from Bay City News. Essentially the Ninth Circuit wants the California Supreme Court to decide whether the official proponents of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, have standing to defend the initiative’s constitutionality in court, since the public officials who would normally defend it have declined to do so.
The Boies bonuses make our use of this photo appropriate.
Earlier this month, we heard that Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the legendary litigation firm founded by the celebrated David Boies, wasn’t holding its lavish annual firm retreat in Jamaica (to which spouses and families have been invited in the past, all on the firm’s dime). This made us wonder: Despite its extensive involvement in headline-making cases throughout 2010, did BSF somehow not have a good year? [FN1]
Umm, no — at least not based on the Boies bonuses. Boies Schiller announced its associate bonuses on Tuesday, and they were “generous as usual,” according to one source.
Actually, that’s an understatement — a huge one. Almost as huge as the Boies Schiller bonuses. We believe them to be the biggest and best of the bonus season so far.
We reached out to the firm, which provided us with some hard numbers about its eye-popping bonuses….
Well, this is not going to make Bingham McCutchen partners happy. A judge today ruled that the marital agreement between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie McCourt is invalid — and therefore Frank might not have sole ownership of the Dodgers.
We wrote about Bingham’s boo-boo back in September. Some copies of the postnuptial agreement use the word “inclusive” in a way that would have given Frank sole ownership, while others use the word “exclusive,” which would have made Jamie a co-owner.
Bingham’s agreement may have been thrown out by the court, but don’t think for a second that Frank McCourt is done fighting for sole control of the team…
We’ve set up our liveblog of the Ninth Circuit oral arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Proposition 8 / same-sex marriage case. For a comprehensive account of what has happened in the litigation thus far, see this great FAQ by Chris Geidner, over at Poliglot.
You can watch streaming video of the arguments over at C-SPAN. And you can join our liveblog, after the jump….
It’s time for a brief postscript on one of this month’s juicier (and well-trafficked) stories: the dismissal of three women associates from litigation powerhouse Boies Schiller. We have a few additional tidbits that we can share with you.
But this is probably the last story we’ll be doing on this drama, since we don’t expect anything else to emerge. One piece of information we’ve received is that the associates were offered severance pay — “very generous” severance, in the words of one source — but had to release any claims against the firm in exchange. All three took the deal, including the expectant mother. So don’t expect any “Aaron Charney for pregnant women”-type lawsuits.
What other details can we reveal about the situation?
It’s actually not the divorce of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the divorce of real estate mogul Frank McCourt and his wife, Jamie. Some call it the Dodger Divorce, however, since this bitter litigation could determine the fate of the storied baseball team — an asset worth hundreds of millions.
The couple is fighting over ownership of the Dodgers in a Los Angeles courtroom, aided by a long list of leading litigators. Frank McCourt is represented by Stephen Susman of Susman Godfrey, among others, and Jamie McCourt’s legal team is led by David Boies of Boies Schiller. (For a more complete listing of the lawyers involved, see here.)
But right now Susman and Boies aren’t the lawyers in the limelight. Rather, all eyes are focused on attorneys from Bingham McCutchen. The Boston Globe reports:
The high-powered firm is suddenly at the center of the drama because of work done by its lawyers. At issue is the wording of a document signed by both McCourts six years ago. According to media reports, three copies of the marital property agreement use the word “inclusive,” which would make Frank McCourt the sole owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and three copies say “exclusive,” which would make Jamie McCourt the co-owner of the venerable Major League Baseball franchise.
This is not the first time we’ve covered how a tiny difference in language — just two little characters, “in” as opposed to “ex” — could mean millions. Remember the single-digit error that could cost a real estate company tens of millions? See also the $900,000 comma and the $40,000 missing “L.”
Yikes. This is such stuff as lawyers’ bad dreams are made of. Law truly is a game of inches. (When bloggers make typos, commenters make fun of us; when lawyers make typos, people die lose money — sometimes lots and lots of it.)
The lead lawyer from Bingham McCutchen, Larry Silverstein — no relation to the World Trade Center real estate developer, as far as we know — admits that he messed up in preparing the marital property agreement (MPA)….
If you haven’t already done so, check out Vivia Chen’s series of interviews with hiring partners over at The Careerist. They’re fun and interesting reads. (Our favorite was her unintentionally hilarious interview of Steven Glaser of Skadden.)
What’s typical is the diversity of personality and style at the firm. David [Boies] has a broad scope of interests and abilities; he sends a strong signal that individualism is tolerated and encouraged. For instance, there’s lots of support for our work on Prop 8 [where the firm is arguing against the ban on gay marriage in California], but there are also lots of Federalist Society members here.
(Well, in fairness to the Fed Soc, many of its members are libertarian rather than social conservatives, and as such sympathetic to gay marriage — at least as a policy matter, if not necessarily a matter of constitutional law.)
Who are your competitors in the hiring game?
The usual suspects: Wachtell, Davis Polk, Cravath. And if they’re looking for a [litigation] boutique, it’d be Susman Godfrey, Williams & Connolly, or Quinn Emanuel.
Speaking of the competition, Vickery got in a good dig at Davis Polk….
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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, 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.