Not many people are happy about the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — with the possible exceptions of (1) Elena Kagan, whose confirmation to the Supreme Court is all but guaranteed (since everyone’s too distracted to oppose her); (2) the lawyers who are getting work out of this disaster (as discussed below); and (3) whoever is behind the fake BP Twitter account, which currently has over 167,000 followers.
But today brings some news that might make some people a little less angry at BP. Even though the government probably couldn’t have forced the oil giant to set up a $20 billion fund to pay oil spill claims, for the reasons explained by Professor David Zaring, BP is setting up such a fund voluntarily. The New York Times reports:
The White House and BP agreed on Wednesday that the oil giant would create an independent $20 billion fund to pay claims arising from the worst oil spill in American history.
Bowing to pressure from the Obama administration, the company also said it would suspend paying dividends to its shareholders for the rest of the year and would compensate oil field workers for lost wages.
There are actually several legal angles to the BP drama. For example, who will administer this massive fund? And which firms are getting a piece of all the defense-side action?
Jamie Gorelick is a Washington D.C. power lawyer. She’s a former Deputy Attorney General, former general counsel to the Defense Department, and current partner at WilmerHale, where she chairs the national security and public policy practice groups. She’s had — and continues to have — an amazing career.
Former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick will head the legal team for British oil giant BP PLC as it prepares to respond to legal challenges related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Greenwire reported Wednesday.
“We have been retained to help the company respond to the numerous congressional inquiries that are underway,” Gorelick, now of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, said in an e-mail to Greenwire. “We have not been retained to advocate for any position.”
Yay. Snowpacolypse 2.0! Snowmageddon! The Snopture!
(Wait, there’s more….)
Dandruff 2010. The Winter of Our Snowcontent. Weekday of Marital Sex — 2010. Waiting for Snowdot. Entirely Seasonal Weather for February!
(Okay, I’m finished.)
Who has the day off? More to the point, does having a “snow day” even matter anymore?
Telecommunication kills the snow day, after the jump.
We were beset by technical difficulties here at ATL yesterday (as we explained in our Twitter feed). We apologize for the site outages; hopefully the situation will be better next week.
At least we didn’t have to go out in the snow. Our brethren in D.C. were not as fortunate. The Washington Post reports:
The full weight of winter brought life in much of the Washington region to a standstill Saturday as a storm predicted to be one of the most powerful on record dumped 12 to 21 inches of snow overnight. …
[O]fficials pleaded with people to stay off the roads until conditions improve. People were confined to their homes by the mountains of snow, many in the dark as trees brought down power lines.
Stay off the roads? But we’ve got an LSAT to take, damn it.
I’m not a meteorologist, or a groundhog, but it looks like D.C. and Philadelphia are totally screwed today. A D.C. tipster called it a “snowpocalypse.” (Judge for yourself – the image above links to Weather.com’s live radar map.)
Our own Kashmir Hill — who has lived in D.C. and, inexplicably, liked it — claims that the blizzard will shut the city down.
So, which firms are closing, and how are people planning to spend their day?
On Wednesday, we commended the firm of Paul Hastings for moving so quickly to support Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Since then, a number of other top law firms have pledged their support to this worthy cause.
(Okay, Rush Limbaugh questions the worthiness of the cause. But we suspect that Limbaugh’s position — like that of Pat Robertson, who blames the earthquake on Haiti’s supposed pact with the devil — is a minority view.)
The WSJ Law Blog and Am Law Daily have gathered information about what various law firms are doing to help Haiti. We’ve combined their reports with information we’ve received from our own sources, to create a more comprehensive list.
Check it out, after the jump.
Yesterday the United States officially halted the deportation of Haitian illegal immigrants, on a temporary basis. The New York Times reports:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Haitian deportations would be halted “for the time being,” without specifying a time period. Immigration officials said it was clear they could be putting Haitians’ safety at risk by sending them back to a country staggering from the vast destruction of the quake. About 30,000 Haitians in the United States are facing deportation orders, immigration officials said.
One could argue that there is a great and unfair disparity in U.S. immigration policy regarding Haitians as opposed to other Caribbean nations, like Cuba.
But it’s usually a bad idea to make long-term policy in the middle of a tragedy and crisis.
Still, the move from the Obama Administration here is different than the reaction of the Bush administration when hurricanes ravaged the island in 2008. Details, and a correction, after the jump.
Large law firms have a track record of stepping up to the plate and providing aid when major disasters strike. For example, back in spring 2008, several leading law firms made sizable donations to support China earthquake relief efforts.
Last night, a major earthquake — the worst in the region in more than 200 years, with a magnitude of at least 7.0 — struck Haiti. The death toll could climb into the hundreds of thousands. For more details and analysis, read this post by Elie over at True / Slant. (Elie has family in Haiti.)
The earthquake just happened, but law firms are already taking action. From a tipster at Paul Hastings:
Who says law firms are all bad? I’m happy to see that whatever bonus money I may miss come March is going to a good cause at least. PH donated $100,000 to earthquake relief.
Is your firm taking similar action? Feel free to let us know, in the comments. You can also make a personal donation in support of Haiti earthquake relief via Doctors Without Borders, the organization that Paul Hastings is supporting, or via the Red Cross (disclosure: ATL advertiser). UPDATE: You can also donate $10 to the Red Cross simply by texting the word “Haiti” to the number 90999. See here.
The full Paul Hastings memo, after the jump.
Broward County has given us many, many Judges of the Day in the past. Now the county has earned the dubious distinction of our first ever “Courthouse of the Day” award. The central courthouse building is a disaster area.
A 2-inch pipe burst on the second floor, courthouse communication center, damaging about 3,000 civil, family, traffic and misdemeanor files….
The building has broken elevators and tottering plumbing, air conditioning and electrical systems. Its mildew problem has led two longtime judicial aides to notify the county of their intent to sue. They say the mildew has given them severe pulmonary problems.
The courthouse’s Welcome Page indicates jurors (and assumedly attorneys and court staff) are not off the hook though. They are required to report as scheduled.
The Sun Sentinel has concerns about the effect of the decrepit courthouse on constitutional rights:
The constitutional access to courts is blocked because of aging water pipes, flooded rooms and a prior lack of urgency. Telecommunications into and out of the hub of our local legal system are downgraded to cell phones for judicial assistants and walkie-talkies for bailiffs.
That’s right. Because the phone lines are out, the court has posted cell phone numbers for all the judges. So if you were hoping to score the number of hottie former Judge of the Day Ana Gardiner (or at least her judicial assistant), now’s your chance.
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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