Depositions

Jonathan Vilma

* This is the job that I want. Just running around New York City, and telling people they suck. [Dealbreaker]

* New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has filed a lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall. I’ve got $100 for anyone who takes Vilma’s lawsuit out with a summary judgment. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

* The story of Dewey & LeBoeuf, as told through numbers. Legacy Dewey Ballantine folks aren’t going to love this. [Adam Smith Esq.]

* Isn’t this the best way to explain what it’s like to be white? [Kotaku]

* What will the legal profession look like when your kids are going to law school? [Hellerman Baretz]

* Speaking of having children, I wonder if I will become more “prude” when I’m a parent, or at least more critical of graphic displays of sexuality. [Popehat]

* You shouldn’t let your client bring notes to a deposition. Otherwise you will have a huge a-hole. [What About Clients?]

* The Da Silva Moore case already reads like a reality TV show. Is something more pernicious going on beneath the surface? [Ride the Lightning]

When it comes to the madness that ensues during the deposition process, we really thought that we had seen it all. We’ve seen witnesses curse at the questioners. We’ve seen a deponent tell an attorney to “suck [his] dick.” We’ve even seen a former Biglaw partner call his opposing counsel an “ignorant slut.” But we’ve never seen something like this.

Apparently when attorneys in Florida get bored during depositions, they turn to their artistic side to get their creative juices flowing. Because there’s nothing like a great dick pic to bring your attention back to the case at hand….

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We’ve seen some heated deposition transcripts in the past, but we didn’t know that simply scheduling a deposition could get so nasty. Clearly, we’ve never practiced in Texas, a place where Biglaw lawyers occasionally have to contend with “pansy” opposing counsel.

And, you know, have sanctions sought against them for their allegedly inappropriate email correspondence.

We’ve got a fun one today, folks. A partner at Cozen O’Connor in Dallas sent a string of allegedly abusive emails to opposing counsel when the lawyers couldn’t agree on a schedule for depositions. And we know all this because the emails are part of the record in the motion to sanction the Cozen partner.

UPDATE (5/17/2012, 11 AM): We’ve added a link to the full motion for sanctions, after the jump.

Actually, make that former partner. Keep reading, to find out what may have led to the partner’s departure from the firm….

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I hate to invoke a cliché, but “David versus Goliath” captures the challenge a smaller firm faces when litigating against an Am Law 200 firm. A small firm can feel like David when facing a larger firm that can bring more resources to bear on legal research, drafting motions, reviewing documents, etc.

The challenge increases when applied to clients. Many of my firm’s initial clients were startups or emerging companies with limited litigation budgets. Their adversaries often were much larger, established companies with seemingly unlimited budgets. Thus, we faced not only the challenge of litigating against brand-name firms with hundreds of attorneys, but we also initially had clients who simply could not afford to spend as much in legal fees as their well-heeled opponents.

So how can a small firm, especially representing a smaller company, effectively litigate against a proverbial army of lawyers representing a client to whom money is no object?

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Why do so many people think that you must be a blowhard to be an effective litigator?

I’ve recently heard several tales of business folks (or in-house lawyers) worrying that outside counsel is not aggressive enough. What prompts the concern is the lawyer’s performance during a conference call or at a meeting: The lawyer is civilized. The lawyer speaks quietly, asks probing questions, gives intelligent advice, and appears to be an effective advocate.

After the meeting, one of the participants says: “Are you sure we should use that guy? He doesn’t seem very aggressive.”

Remarkably (at least to me), I’ve heard the same thing at law firms. I’ve heard transactional lawyers wonder about litigators who are calm and intelligent at the lunch table: “He’s such a nice guy. I’m not sure I’d trust him in court.”

What’s my reaction? On the one hand, we can’t ignore perceptions. If a lawyer is so low-key that he doesn’t inspire confidence, then that is a legitimate concern. If I don’t trust the lawyer who’ll represent me at trial to defend me during a vigorous cross-examination, then that’s a real issue; we shouldn’t hire that lawyer. Confidence matters.

On the other hand, if the concern is simply that the litigator is not a blowhard — the lawyer speaks quietly and intelligently during business meetings, where there’s no need for bluster — then I have a very different reaction. In fact, I have three reactions:

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Alison Fournier

* In trying to resolve the Texas redistricting problem, the Supreme Court has come to a realization: everything really is bigger in that state, including its congressional delegation. [Los Angeles Times]

* The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing to get video of the would-be 20th hijacker’s interrogations made public. Too bad no one really cares about this stuff unless it’s in a movie. [Washington Post]

* The Second Circuit has overturned former Mayer Brown partner Joseph P. Collins’s Refco conviction. He’s getting a new trial, and maybe this time around, the jurors will be less shady. [New York Law Journal]

* Talk about a crappy ROI. Alison Fournier, a former i-banker, is Gloria Allred’s latest litigant. She claims that a drunken pervert groped her abroad thanks to Starwood’s lax hotel security. [Reuters]

* A judge has ordered that the leader of EquuSearch’s jurisprudential hymen be ruptured at deposition by Casey Anthony’s defense team for no more than seven hours. Ouch. [Boston Globe]

* Why are CUNY Law’s bar passage rates so low? Apparently New York’s second-worst law school has standards that are similar to the town bicycle’s morals and orifices — loose. [New York Post]

Mountain Dew: a mouse could not survive in this environment, according to PepsiCo counsel.

* Pepsi lawyers offer a creative (if disturbing) defense to a lawsuit by a man who claims he found a mouse in his Mountain Dew. [Madison County Record via The Atlantic Wire]

* Will birther queen Orly Taitz get to depose — i.e., “rupture the jurisprudential hymen” — of President Barack Obama? That would be kind of awesome. [Columbus Ledger-Inquirer]

* Professor Ann Althouse raises an interesting “who decides?” question about Cleveland’s controversial ban on trans fats. [Althouse]

* Please, lawyers, stick to cocaine. Allegations of crystal meth usage are très déclassé. [NewsOK.com]

* Kudos to Kirkland & Ellis for coming to the defense of lesbian and gay public employees in Michigan. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* It seems that the Montana Supreme Court isn’t a fan of the Citizens United decision. [Huffington Post]

* Jamin Soderstrom, a (rather cute) former S&C associate and current Fifth Circuit clerk, has written a book (affiliate link) analyzing the qualifications of presidential candidates and the relationship between résumés and presidential success. [Tex Parte Blog]

* If you’re a law professor / blogger who wants to get a rise out of fellow profs, write posts in praise of Paul Campos (just voted our 2011 Lawyer of the Year — congrats again, Professor Campos). [PrawfsBlawg]

Scott Rothstein

You don’t want to have marijuana dealing from the middle of your law office because I was running a giant Ponzi scheme out of there.

Scott Rothstein, convicted Ponzi schemer and disbarred attorney, commenting during a deposition about his attempts to stop former Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler employees from dealing drugs in the office.

Always good for a laugh.

Well, we’ve got somebody who should be a late entrant into our Lawyer of the Year contest. He is Houston attorney Paul Waldner. He’s a partner at Vikery, Waldner & Mallia, which is an arm of Justice Seekers in Texas. He is a man who brings the funny with him to the deposition room.

Paul Waldner is a man who asks questions like: “So, your jurisprudential hymen is being ruptured?”

Oh, you think I’m joking? No sir, I have video!

And really, the witness’s answer might have been better than the question….

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A story I often tell is about the first time I took a deposition. I got there early, and I thought that the most important thing was to control the witness. I didn’t realize the first time around that the way you control somebody is not by intimidating them. But I adjusted the chair that I was sitting on so that I’d be really tall, and could look down imposingly on the witness. But I raised it so high that as soon as I sat down, I toppled over and fell backward.

Amy Schulman, executive vice president and general counsel of Pfizer, in a New York Times interview about her leadership style.

(Additional excerpts and discussion, after the jump.)

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