A deadly explosion killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno, California on September 9, 2010. The cause of the destruction was a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric that ran underneath the homes.
The subsequent investigation turned up a litany of failings on PG&E’s part that contributed to the explosion. PG&E’s regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, issued a recommendation that PG&E pay no fine, noting that the money the company was spending to modernize its pipelines to prevent future accidents was punishment enough.
This is when a number of CPUC attorneys took a stand against their boss, and their boss clumsily aired the office turmoil in public. And, yes, this all eventually involves the Taliban and a gun-toting enforcer…
Ed. note: Above the Law will not be publishing on Monday, May 27, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.
* Manhattan Justice Paul Wooten has ordered CBS to produce all emails between it and the Brooklyn DA’s office concerning “Brooklyn D.A.” and ordered a hearing this afternoon. CBS attorneys are irritated. Now they know how everyone feels when they have to watch Two and a Half Men. [WiseLaw NY]
* Lois Lerner, the embattled IRS supervisor at the heart of the recent scandal, invoked the Fifth Amendment in her congressional hearing, but in a way that may open the door to contempt. Ironically, maintaining innocence while invoking the Fifth opens one up to “heightened scrutiny.” As noted in Morning Docket, she’s been put on administrative leave. [Simple Justice]
* T.J. Duane, a co-founder of Lateral Link, was named one of the 17 Stanford business students who is going to change the world. Duane is working on technology to “provid[e] solo and boutique attorneys the benefits without the drawbacks of big law.” That’s much better than my proposal to provide solo and boutique attorneys the drawbacks without the benefits of big law, which is just a device that passive-aggressively second-guesses every decision a lawyer makes. [Business Insider]
* The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has asked theSupreme Court to uphold the D.C. Circuit’s decision holding Obama’s NLRB recess appointments unconstitutional because the appointments caused “major confusion for both employers and employees alike.” They’ve got a point. Not having a quorum on the NLRB because the Senate refuses to confirm anyone and plays parliamentary games does provide certainty… the certainty that the NLRB cannot function and it’s a free-for-all against workers. [Free Enterprise]
* Law school applications are down, but not as drastically as expected. [Faculty Lounge]
* In any event, law schools are facing an economic reckoning dubbed “Peak Law School.” [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* A new CBO report analyzes the impact of a carbon tax, in case you’re preparing to start papering cap-and-trade deals. [Breaking Energy]
* Do potential clients really care about social media? I “Like” this story. [Associate's Mind]
* Courtesy of the ABA Journal, you can check out the swag Chief Justice Roberts and Eric Holder got from foreign nations in 2010 after the jump…
* NY Attorney General investigating fast food restaurants for shorting their employees. This is a worthwhile cause, but what he should be looking into is who ate the bones? [CNN]
* Two schools, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and York College of Pennsylvania admit they gave false information to U.S. News resulting in better rankings. Those were their BETTER rankings? [TaxProf Blog]
* To keep “misleading statistics” in perspective, the Department of Education leveled one of its steepest fines on Yale for covering up multiple “forcible sex offenses” to keep its campus safety statistics down. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* A measure of resource governance finds the U.S. has the second best governance of its oil, gas and mining sectors. Give yourself a hand regulators. And we’re gunning for you Norway! [Breaking Energy]
* The Honorable Felicia Mennin does not grasp how time works. Thinks artist should have been more conscious of the public fear surrounding the Boston bombings… back in February. [New York Times]
* Congratulations readers for helping the profile of a White House petition to reform student loan policy. Here are a couple more if you feel like making more reforms to the process… or at least more suggestions for reforms that will sit on someone’s desk. [Whitehouse.gov and Whitehouse.gov]
* Is political intelligence practice too risky? Is political intelligence an oxymoron? An interview with Robert Walker of Wiley Rein LLP after the jump [Bloomberg Law]
* A White House petition started by a young lawyer asking that at least student loan interest be tax deductible like interest on a mortgage to help out those folks like, frankly, most lawyers, who make too much money to deduct their student loans. [WhiteHouse.gov]
* Antoinette “Toni” Bush, partner-in-charge of Skadden’s communications group, is leaving the firm to become global head of government affairs for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Free tip: brush up on your hacking law. [Am Law Daily]
* The Department of Energy may adopt a new “commercial maturity test” to get rolling on the backlog of liquid natural gas export license requests. And that, of course, will spur the inevitable lawsuits. [Breaking Energy]
* Apparently, President Obama dreams of “going Bulworth and resents the “Harry Potter theory of the presidency,” that the President can wave a wand and make things happen. So he’s pro Pras, Maya, and ODB, and anti-Hagrid. Who’s anti-Hagrid??? [New York Times]
* Lois Lerner, the manager at the center of the IRS “scandal,” has backed out of delivering the keynote at the WNEU Law commencement. I’m pretty sure Staci would do a better job… of running the IRS. [Boston Herald]
* Overlawyered blasts the Daily Caller for trying to tie Lerner to Obama via her husband, Michael Miles of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan because the large firm had some ties to Obama. Blerg. Meanwhile, this “partisan scandal” is turning out to be bipartisan entirely based on which IRS office the groups dealt with. [Overlawyered]
* Congratulations to this guy. Must have been a hell of a feast. [WDRB]
* “[T]hese senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them” Yesterday, the Senate blocked gun-control legislation that could have saved lives, and Gabrielle Giffords, a victim of gun violence, wrote a powerful op-ed in reaction. [New York Times]
* DLA Piper won’t be churning that bill anymore because the firm managed to settle its fee dispute with Adam Victor, but it’s certain that the firm’s embarrassment over the overbilling incident will know no limits. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Ahh, best-laid plans: Kim Koopersmith, the first woman to serve as Akin Gump’s chair, never thought that she’d be working in a law firm. In law school, she wanted to work in public interest. [Bloomberg]
* You’ll never guess which firm has the best brand in Canada according to the latest Acritas survey, but that’s probably because you don’t care. Come on, it’s Canada. Fine, it’s Norton Rose. [Am Law Daily]
* Oopsie! Burford Capital claims that it would never have funded plaintiffs’ representation by Patton Boggs in the Chevron case if it weren’t for a partner’s “false and misleading” statements. [CNN Money]
* The wife of a former justice of the peace has been charged with capital murder after she confessed to her involvement in the slayings of Texas prosecutors Mike McLelland and Mark Hasse. [Reuters]
* Earlier this week, after some political wrangling, Senator Chuck Grassley proposed the Court Efficiency Act in the hope of paring down the D.C. Circuit. But really, come on, what are the odds of that happening… again? [National Law Journal]
* Biglaw partners, rejoice, for it seems that your legal secretaries will be unable to sue you for defamation over emails written to your wives. Spousal privilege, baby! (N.B. This doesn’t apply to your girlfriends.) [New York Law Journal]
* Which law schools placed the highest percentage of grads in federal clerkships? This info comes from the rankings guru himself. We may have more on this later. [Morse Code / U.S. News & World Report]
* The Rutgers basketball scandal claimed another scalp yesterday after the school’s former general counsel resigned. Rutgers Law dean John Farmer will be stepping in for a brief assist. [Star-Ledger]
* So, do you remember that environmental report Steven Donziger allegedly had made up in the Chevron case? Yeah, the consulting firm just disavowed all of the evidence in the report. Oops! [Businessweek]
* Say so long to your retirement money, sweetie: Junie Hoang, the actress who sued IMDb for revealing the fact that she was over the hill, received a less than favorable jury verdict. [Houston Chronicle]
Last week, I included a fun, “when law professors attack” link in Non-Sequiturs, about an adjunct property professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. Since then, we’ve received more tips about the outburst and its aftermath — and couldn’t help ourselves but to double-dip into this story.
The professor, James Olmsted, got into a dust-up with a student protest group, snagging one of their phones and seeming to goad the protesters into a fight. Hippie protesters can be annoying, but, I mean, if you hate hippie protesters, you may not want to work in Eugene.
What makes the story so confusing is the lack of anything in the professor’s bio to indicate that he’d launch a tirade like this….
* Court rules that overlapping elements between romance novels do not amount to infringement. I mean, there’s only so many ways to phrase “throbbing member.” [Courthouse News Service]
* Pinellas County, Florida (Tampa Bay area) returns to using fluoridated water after a governmental sea change brought on by the issue. Don’t they understand the Communist plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids? [Tampa Bay Times]
* In fairness, I think pro se litigants generally have a pretty good ineffective assistance claim. [Lowering the Bar]
* The D.C. Circuit managed to irritate both environmentalists and industry by affirming Fish and Wildlife’s designation of polar bears as “threatened.” It’s a nice middle ground. You know who else would appreciate some middle ground? A polar bear clinging to a shrinking ice floe. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor thinks kids need a healthier respect for the American democratic process. It would be unfortunate if the will of a democratic majority could get hijacked by five partisan hacks. [Courthouse News Service]
* Following up on yesterday’s profile of Lindsay Lohan’s attorney Mark Heller, the judge declared him “incompetent.” Fair enough. [TMZ]
* What to do when your federal agency’s website has been hacked by Anonymous and you’re unable to post a major report online for public dissemination? Well, just ask a law professor to do it for you on his blog; that’s not embarrassing, not at all. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The many victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster can now rejoice, because yesterday, Transocean pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act, and will pay the second-largest environmental fine in United States history to the tune of $400 million. [CNN]
* Money takes flight: eleventy billion Biglaw firms are behind the beast that is this awful airline merger, but taking the lead are lawyers from Weil Gotshal for AMR and Latham & Watkins for US Airways. [Am Law Daily]
* After questioning the validity of one of the NBA players union’s contracts, Paul Weiss is withholding details about it thanks to the government’s intrusion. Way to block nepotism’s alleged slam dunk. [New York Times]
* “When is the last time you took the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street to trial?” Elizabeth Warren took the Socratic method to the Senate Banking Committee and she was applauded for it. [National Law Journal]
* If you liked it, then perhaps you should’ve put a ring on it, but not a Tiffany’s diamond engagement ring that you’ve purchased from Costco, because according to this trademark lawsuit, it may be a knockoff. [Bloomberg]
* “We feel very badly for Megan Thode.” A Pennsylvania judge ruled against the Lehigh student who sued over her grade of C+ because let’s be serious, did ANYONE AT ALL really think he wouldn’t do that?! [Morning Call]
While working as a contributor to this publication, I wrote about Florida’s decision to put up a couple grand to see if they could coax a ton of folks into the swamp to kill invasive Burmese Pythons ($1500 for killing the most, and $1000 for killing the biggest). To recap, Floridian snake lovers bought non-native Burmese Pythons over the course of several years and then lost or willfully set them loose in the wild, where they proceeded to breed like rabbits… if rabbits were capable of pumping out 80 offspring at once.
And now the contest is over. So how did it go? Well, experts estimate there are about 150,000 Burmese Pythons in the Florida swamps, 1,567 people applied to take part in the hunt, and over the last month, they managed to kill….
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.