Drugs

Why are British lawyers always getting caught with their pants down? We all remember the classic scene in A Fish Called Wanda, in which an unsuspecting family walks in on a naked barrister, Archie Leach (John Cleese), as he’s getting ready for a roll in the hay with Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis).

But this kind of thing happens in real life, too. And sometimes the lawyers involved are partners at top firms — e.g., Lovells, which recently merged with Hogan & Hartson to form Hogan Lovells.

Check out this Daily Mail headline: “The top lawyer, his lover and a drug-fuelled sadomasochistic sex session that led to bloodshed at the Hilton.”

Wow. That’s almost as delicious a headline as this one.

And the headline, even though it’s a mouthful, doesn’t quite say it all. There’s more, much more — including leather thongs, nipple clamps, and a pile of blow….

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It’s the kind of fight that wouldn’t have seemed possible just ten years ago. The New York Daily News reports that right now the Democratic candidates vying to replace Andrew Cuomo as New York State Attorney General have started fighting over who can be “softest” on drugs:

Five otherwise intelligent people are competing to be the top prosecutor of a state that has seen a worrying uptick in violent crime, much of it drug-related.

Yet all they seem to argue about is who has fought harder to keep cocaine and heroin dealers out of prison and on the streets.

Okay, obviously Daily News writer Bill Hammond still thinks that the Rockefeller drug laws are not blatantly unfair and ineffective. Whatever. The important thing here is that five potential prosecutors are seemingly done with this simplistic approach to the drug problem, and the people of New York seem to be on board…

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I have been a lifelong cannabis user, on an almost daily basis since I was in high school. I am now the managing partner of a very successful law firm in the Washington, D.C. area.

I have been in a professional law practice for almost 27 years. I work 60+ hours a week, and all of that hard work has translated into high levels of annual income.

I still get high after work, almost every day….

– A marijuana-using managing partner (and parent of pot-smoking daughters), in an email to Andrew Sullivan.

medicine.jpgEd. note: This post is written by Will Meyerhofer, a Biglaw attorney turned psychotherapist, whom we profiled. A former Sullivan & Cromwell associate, he holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work. He blogs at The People’s Therapist.

A New York Times article from a few weeks ago holds enormous potential ramifications for lawyers bent over their desks at big law firms. The tentative conclusion of the piece was simple: if you are dealing with minor depression, or in fact, with anything other than massive, serious depression, popping anti-depressant pills is probably a waste of time. In fact, a placebo might do you more good.

How many lawyers are currently taking anti-depressants? According to the admittedly anecdotal evidence from the lawyers I’ve seen over the years in my private practice, quite a few.

It’s such a lawyerly thing to do. You figure out you’re depressed, so you do something about it — march over to your doctor, or maybe a high-powered shrink with a top reputation, get diagnosed, and get your pills. The whole thing takes a few minutes, and you’re back on the job. No wasting billable hours, no whining and complaining on a therapist’s couch — you take care of the problem and move on. Take a pill and knock it off with the martyr routine.

However, there are a few problems with anti-depressants…

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Posner.jpgShould Judge Richard Posner leave the Seventh Circuit and run for president? He certainly has the beginnings of a platform.
And, despite some possible leftward drift, Judge Posner’s tendencies still seem to point in a libertarian direction. From The Atlantic:

1. Remove all limits on the immigration of highly skilled workers, or persons of wealth. (This should be done gradually, so as not to increase unemployment while the unemployment rate remains very high.)
2. Decriminalize most drug offenses in order to reduce the prison population, perhaps by as much as a half, which will both economize on government expenditures and increase the number of workers. (Again and for the same reason, phase in gradually.)
3. Curtail medical malpractice liability, which increases medical costs gratuitously (because the courts are very poor at identifying actual malpractice) and, more important, engenders a great deal of very costly, and largely worthless, “defensive medicine.”

These are just the first three planks. Check out the rest of Posner’s policy proposals — he’s more willing than most sitting judges to opine on current affairs (see also his many books) — over here.
Is Paul Krugman a Realist or a Dreamer? Toward Refocusing on Economic Growth [A Failure of Capitalism/The Atlantic]

holland and knight prestige crack Theodore Silva Jr.jpgLast decade — back in the aughts — a Holland & Knight real estate partner got up to some very bad things. While we have heard that coke can be an aid for sleep-deprived attorneys, it caused problems for Theodore Silva Jr.
Silva was formerly a partner in Holland & Knight’s D.C. office. According to the National Law Journal, in 2005, Silva forged signatures and created fictitious notaries for an easement agreement. Then he lied to his clients and bar counsel about that and about his cocaine use:

[Silva] attributed his conduct to stress, cocaine use and drinking. The incident cost the firm about $150,000 in expenses plus 50 hours’ work from another Holland & Knight partner who had to rectify the problems.

Silva, who had made partner in 1995, was fired by Holland & Knight in 2006. The District of Columbia Board of Professional Responsibility just issued its report [PDF] and its recommendation for discipline last week.
The Legal Blog Network is surprised that this conduct was not enough to get Silva disbarred. We’re surprised to learn that Silva had a coke use criminal charge in 2002 and that it passed the sniff test at Holland & Knight. As long as the snow helped Silva make it rain, it seems the firm didn’t mind what he did with his dollars.

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law firm holiday card contest AboveTheLaw Above the Law.jpgCongratulations to Akin Gump, winner of Above the Law’s inaugural holiday card contest. Check out their very funny and clever card over here.

The voting wasn’t even close. There were seven entrants, but Akin walked away with over 44 percent of the vote. It was the commenters’ favorite, too:

“I work at HayBoo [Haynes and Boone], and really like our card. But I was actually laughing (alone in my office) at Akin Gump’s. A little cliched, but still, well-executed.”

“Akin hands down. All others were simply dreadful.”

“OK, the Akin Gump ‘holiday’ card (we all know we are talking xmas cards here) is hands down the best by a very wide margin, although the Goodwin Procter ‘gift’ of a pile of blow on the mantle at the end of their e-card was a nice touch.”

(That does look like cocaine, doesn’t it? Check out the Goodwin Procter card here.)

Once again, congratulations to Akin Gump on a well-deserved victory!

P.S. We received a few nice late submissions, like Proctor Heyman (inspired by the Abbey Road album cover) and Howard Rice (donating the savings from sending electronic rather than physical cards to a charity chosen by readers). Unfortunately, we were unable to include them because voting was already underway. Check ATL early and often, so as not to miss our contests and other features.

Earlier: ATL Contest: Holiday Card Coolness
A Fun Law Firm Holiday Card

Scott Haworth Scott L Haworth Sedgwick law firm partner.jpgThe case of Levy v. Sedgwick Detert Moran Arnold LLP — aka “Sex, Drugs, and 3000 Billable Hours” — is starting to look more like Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell with each new filing. Just as S&C did in the Charney case, the Sedgwick firm has filed a motion to strike portions of the complaint that it views as “scandalous” (i.e., of greatest interest to Above the Law readers).
From the affirmation in support of the motion:

3. This motion seeks to strike certain unnecessary, prejudicial and scandalous allegations made by Plaintiff Alan Levy (“Plaintiff” or “Levy”) in his employment discrimination action against his former employer, the law firm of Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP (“Sedgwick” or the “Firm”) and Scott Haworth (“Haworth”) [pictured], the partner with whom he primarily worked.

4. The sole purpose of Plaintiff’s irrelevant and salacious allegations — regarding alleged adultery and drug use by Defendant Haworth — is to embarrass the Firm and Haworth and provide Levy with some emotional catharsis for the bitterness he bears.

Well, maybe not the sole purpose. Another purpose might be to embarrass the defendants into settling (just as S&C settled the Charney case). A third purpose — okay, not a purpose, but by a byproduct — might be entertaining Above the Law readers. Given that we edit a legal tabloid, we’re hoping the motion to strike gets denied.
Speaking of “salacious allegations,” this is not the first time Scott Haworth has been accused of inappropriate conduct.
An inflammatory allegation from a prior employment discrimination lawsuit, plus assorted observations about the Sedgwick firm website, after the jump.

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Defendant law firm moves to strike ‘scandalous’ material.

marijuana pot law.jpgBen Harper says that “what’s from the earth is of the greatest worth.” Yesterday, ex-U.S. attorney John McKay weighed in on the marijuana debate, and said that “what’s from the earth” shouldn’t be illegal.
Instructing federal agencies to ignore congressional laws is not a fix, said McKay. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

McKay faulted Congress for failing to take initiative on the issue. It is not the place of federal prosecutors or law officers to make policy, he said, nor should the White House go it alone.
In the end, he argued, marijuana should not be lumped in with cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin as part of the war on drugs. Marijuana law, McKay said, “should look a lot more like alcohol (regulations) and a lot less like cocaine and methamphetamine (laws).”

Colorado’s attorney general agrees… when it comes to state coffers. AG John Suthers says it’s okay for his state to tax medical marijuana.
A recent Marie Claire article made us realize that this is not just a question of theoretical interest to some of you. Apparently, there are Biglaw types out there toking up! One 29-year-old corporate attorney told the magazine that pot is essential for relaxation after getting chewed out by a partner.

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Alan Levy Alan R Levy lawyer.jpgWhen ex-associates sue their former firms, a fun time is had by all — with the possible exception of the litigants. Dirty laundry is aired, often for the amusement of onlookers. Here are some classics:

Today’s Lawsuit of the Day, Alan Levy v. Sedgwick Detert Moran Arnold LLP (PDF), is a similar suit. Alan Levy (pictured), a former associate at Sedgwick, alleges that his employment was terminated on the basis of disability — to wit, severe depression and a breakdown, brought on in part by the abusive treatment he received at the hands of a partner, Scott Haworth.
So, what was the alleged abuse inflicted upon Levy by Haworth?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Sex, Drugs, and 3000 Billable Hours”

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