April’s showers were supposed to bring May’s flowers, but last month turned out to be nothing but doom and gloom for the legal world. Not only did we get to see the biggest collapse of a law firm in U.S. history, but we also caught a glimpse of some of the worst allegations of attorney misconduct that we’ve seen in quite some time.
So, which attorney called opposing counsel an “ignorant slut”? Who busied himself with drawing pictures of male genitalia during a deposition? Which attorney wrote a letter to a former opponent in order to call him an “a-hole”? And who referred to a female attorney as the c-word?
Find out this, and more, when you check out our nominees for May’s Lawyer of the Month competition….
In a column last week, I criticized a brief for using the alphabetical short form “EUSLA” to signify “end user software license agreement.” Depending on the circumstances, I suggested, one might shorten the name of that contract to “agreement,” “license agreement,” or “software license agreement,” but “EUSLA” just doesn’t work — it’s meaningless alphabet soup that doesn’t help the reader of a brief.
As I said, I got caught: The lawyer who had drafted the brief read my column, cleverly figured out who I was criticizing, and called to take issue with me. (Serves me right for using real-world examples in this forum, I suppose.)
“You’re wrong, Mark,” my outside counsel said. “We called that contract an ‘EUSLA’ in all of the depositions in the case. When we quoted deposition transcripts in the summary judgment brief, those quotations called the contract an ‘EUSLA.’ We would have confused things if we called the contract an ‘EUSLA’ in the deposition excerpts and a ‘software license agreement’ in the rest of the brief. ‘EUSLA’ was the right choice.”
This conversation illustrates, first, why you shouldn’t quarrel with me while I have this nifty megaphone at Above the Law and you’ve got bupkis; I can’t possibly lose. And the conversation illustrates, second, the meaning of “digging yourself into an even deeper hole.” “EUSLA” is the wrong short-form in a brief, and your earlier mistakes don’t justify your later one . . .
I think a lot of normal men have been in this position: another guy says something horrible about your female friend or colleague, expecting that you will go along. It makes you very uncomfortable in the moment — because your knuckles stopped dragging on the pavement years ago. Then it makes you extremely uncomfortable later when you see the female friend or colleague, and you have to decide whether or not to tell her the horrible things being said about her by these other people.
It happens more than you think, and most of the times most guys just keep it to themselves. There’s no upside to telling a woman all of the things guys say, most of the time. But sometimes, ironically, especially when it happens in a professional context, you have to tell your female colleague what other professionals are saying about her, just so she’s not blindsided as she tries to go about her job.
Maybe some people would consider it a violation of the “bro code,” but one lawyer seems to think that the code is a viable defense in court. Sanctions are being sought against a divorce lawyer who has allegedly been saying horrible things about female lawyers, and when he got called out, he responded in court that he never said any of that stuff “to their faces.”
* 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?]
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….
We’ve seen some heated depositiontranscripts 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….
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?
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:
* 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]
* 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]
* 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]
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
Fund deals, startup capital raises, PIPE deals and loan syndicates are just a handful of the transactions benefiting from the JOBS Act. InvestorID FirmTM is a platform designed to help attorneys equip their clients with the workflow, marketing and compliance tools to publicly solicit a securities offering online. By providing clients with the tools to painlessly navigate the regulatory landscape of general solicitation, InvestorID FirmTM helps attorneys add value above just legal services.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: