Department of Justice

In the next few months, we’re going to see a lot of lawyers switching jobs in Washington, D.C. Regardless of who wins the election — my current prediction is that Barack Obama will prevail (sorry, Anonymous Partner) — many lawyers will move into and out of government in the weeks before and after Inauguration Day.

For those who joined the Obama Administration early, three or four years is long enough to make them nostalgic for private sector paychecks. What use is a punched ticket if you never redeem it?

In fact, the movement has already started. Today we bring you news of two notable moves from the nation’s capital. One of them involves a lawyer leaving a top government post, and the other concerns an in-house lawyer entering the firm world….

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Flooding in Wildwood, New Jersey.

As we mentioned earlier today, we’ll be operating normally here at Above the Law, notwithstanding Hurricane Sandy. Our physical offices, at the corner of Broadway and Houston in Manhattan, are closed. But your four editors — Elie, Staci, Chris, and myself — will be working diligently from our homes to keep you informed and entertained during Frankenstorm.

It seems that we won’t be alone in telecommuting today. Encouraging (or even ordering) employees to stay home, but suggesting that they work remotely if they can, seems to be a common response to the storm.

Here is information — including many UPDATES — about how various courts, government offices, law firms, and law schools are responding to Hurricane Sandy….

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Ed. note: Lat here. This post is by lawyer turned novelist Allison Leotta, whom I previously profiled. I recently read Leotta’s newest book, Discretion, which I highly recommend. Not only is it a gripping thriller, but it’s legally realistic too, reflecting Leotta’s experience as a federal prosecutor and her research into the escort business.

As a former sex-crimes prosecutor who just wrote a novel about the escort business, I keep getting the same question from my Biglaw buddies: “I already feel like a high-end prostitute. Shouldn’t I get paid like one?”

It’s an old saw that lawyers are already prostitutes. Face it, we care deeply for our clients because we’re paid to care about them. If we’re good, we start by convincing ourselves that the side of the legal dispute we more or less randomly ended up on happens to be the right side. You think a hooker’s job is that different? Forget it. The infamous D.C. Madam — an inspiration for my latest book, Discretion (affiliate link) — was a woman who dropped out of law school and opened an escort agency.

You’re good-looking, you like people, you know how to bill by the hour — you could totally do this. But is being a high-class escort really a better job than the one you’ve got now? The answer will be familiar to every memo-writing associate: It depends. Before you go trading in those Christian Louboutins for five-inch-stilettos, check out these side-to-side comparisons of the trades….

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The ‘very, very pretty’ Cristina Fierro.

* Covington, Skadden, and Proskauer really like representing professional sports leagues: from 2010 to 2011, the NHL paid a combined total of $8.8M to all three, and Covington received $16.3M from the NFL over the last three years. [Am Law Daily]

* The Department of Justice sued Bank of America yesterday for doing the “hustle.” No, not the popular disco disco dance, but rather, a supposed elaborate scheme to defraud the government out of billions of dollars. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Rajat Gupta was sentenced to a whole two years behind bars for insider trading, but my colleague Elie Mystal thinks that the more appropriate punishment would’ve been to force him to reenact the seminal 80s film, Trading Places. [HuffPost Live]

* Unfortunately, Siri wasn’t able to be helpful with this one. A federal judge had to recuse himself in a patent case involving the Siri voice assistant app because of his “interest” in Apple (likely stock ownership). [CNET]

* Was Wednesday the day of departing deans? NYU’s Richard Revesz said farewell, and so did Sydney Beckman of Duncan Law, but the latter flat out quit amid accreditation uncertainty. [Knoxville News Sentinel]

* “We’ll fight another day. This is not over.” While a jury found that Teresa Wagner’s First Amendment rights weren’t violated by the University of Iowa College of Law, the judge declared a mistrial on her equal protection claim against the school. [Huffington Post]

* Somebody really should’ve told Lawrence Taylor that when testifying in an underage sex trafficking case, it’s probably not a good idea to mention that your accuser was “very, very pretty” and “very sexy.” [Associated Press]

Patrick Fitzgerald

When renowned federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stepped down as U.S. Attorney in Chicago, he reacted skeptically to the suggestion that he join the dark side jump over to private practice and become a defense lawyer. When asked about this at a press conference regarding his departure, he quipped, “Can you see me as a defense attorney?”

Well, pooh-poohing something isn’t the same as rejecting it out of hand. Yesterday brought news that Pat Fitzgerald will be entering private practice after all.

So which Biglaw firm just landed this big fish?

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Tebowing®

* “You’re paying a partner $800 to $1,000 an hour and they’re charging you because they ordered sushi.” In-house counsel are paying more attention to their bills, and they’re refusing to pay for things like photocopies and food. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* According to litigators, who are the ten most notable federal district court judges to watch? Three come from S.D.N.Y., but one from N.D. Cal. captured our hearts this summer when she asked counsel for Apple if he was “smoking crack.” [American Lawyer]

* A guide for law students with disabilities says: “If you are thinking that you’re a shoe-in for LSAT accommodations since you had accommodations in undergrad, think again.” But thanks to these suits, LSAC’s policies may soon be changing. [National Law Journal]

* Seeing as there are only nine law schools in Illinois, and given the abysmal job market for new law grads, it’s clear the state needs a tenth school. Say hello to Bradley University College of Law. [Peoria Journal Star]

* Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow trademarked “Tebowing.” Yes, seriously. But don’t worry, he didn’t do it to make money, he just wants to “control how it’s used, make sure it’s used in the right way.” [Washington Post]

Eric Cuellar (left) and Justin Teixeira (right). Image via Gawker (click to enlarge).

Think of this as like the law school version of The Hangover — except that an animal apparently was harmed in the making of this movie.

Over the weekend, we covered the sad and disturbing story of two Boalt Hall law students who stand accused of killing a helmeted guinea fowl. This allegedly went down in a wildlife habitat at the (unfortunately named) Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.

As we noted in an update, the bird was exotic rather than endangered (well, at least not endangered outside the Flamingo Hotel). But killing such a bird can still be charged as a felony, thanks to a 2011 amendment to Nevada law. And the Berkeley law students in question, Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira, have in fact been charged with felonies — conspiracy and the willful, malicious torture or killing of wildlife.

Let’s take a closer at the two men at the center of this flap. We’ve heard from some Above the Law tipsters who know them….

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In a few hours, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will meet in Denver, Colorado, for the first of three presidential debates (though the second is a town hall debate; are those really “debates?”). As lawyers, you likely possess more than a passing interest in the events of the evening.

You are also Above the Law readers, which means you likely possess more than a passing interest in reckless self-destruction through the massive consumption of alcohol.

As a lawyer, drinker, and college debate coach who gets way too into these things, I have constructed a drinking game to shepherd you through the process of viewing tonight’s debate….

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Nothing pisses off a lawyer more than uncertainty. Uncertainty gives rise to the risk of undermining the facade of perfect knowledge that attorneys prefer to convey to their clients. Given this character trait, it’s no surprise that the collective white-collar and corporate counsel community is freaking the hell out about every scrap of information it can glean from the Justice Department about its new Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement policy.

So what exactly has these observant lawyers in a tizzy?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reading Tea Leaves: Defense Bar Freaking Out About the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act”

Things continue looking up for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom. A few weeks ago, he finally got some of his assets unfrozen so he could throw some dollars in John Quinn’s direction.

Yesterday, he unveiled the teaser for his new music product, known as Megabox. And this morning, he earned an extensive personal apology from New Zealand’s prime minister. Apparently the Kiwi equivalent of the American National Security Administration had unlawfully spied on Dotcom, and Prime Minister John Key said the “basic errors” involved in the mistake were appalling.

Huh, so that’s what it sounds like when a government isn’t “acting as a proxy for private commercial interests”….

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