We have a ruling in the HappyMealGate case (prior coverage here, here, and here of Wiliam P. Smith, the McDermott Will & Emery partner who told Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff that she was “a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal”). And it’s surprisingly lenient.
Judge Isicoff basically gave Smith a stern talking to:
“There is no jurisdiction in the U.S. — including the district where Mr. Smith regularly practices — where the expression and tone Mr. Smith used on May 7 would fall in the bounds of acceptable behavior,” a solemn Isicoff said from the bench in front of a packed courtroom.
and ordered him to take an online professionalism course administered by the Florida Bar.
Smith brought McDermott chairman Harvey Freishtat with him to beg and plead for mercy from Isicoff. Apparently it worked.
Isicoff said she accepted the apologies of both Smith and McDermott Will & Emery chairman Harvey Freishtat, the head of the Chicago-based, 1,000-lawyer firm, who also appeared in front of her to beg her pardon.
Looks like the fry guy got off relatively easy, and we’ve all learned something: don’t stoop to middle-school insults while arguing in front of a federal judge, especially if you’re appearing pro hac vice.
Surely you all recall William P. Smith — a partner at McDermott Will & Emery (Chicago), and head of its bankruptcy department — who recently told a Miami bankruptcy judge, in open court, that she was “a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal.” We broke the story here (with follow-up here).
The “Happy Meal” comment royally pissed off Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff (and not ’cause she’s a Burger King partisan). She benchslapped Bill Smith via an Order to Show Cause, directing the Fry Guy to explain why he shouldn’t be suspended from practice in her court.
The firm has now filed a motion in response to the OSC. From the Daily Business Review:
Chicago attorney William P. Smith says he’s very, very, very sorry for telling U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff she was “a few French fries short of a Happy Meal” during a May 7 court hearing in Miami.
The chairman of McDermott Will & Emery, the Chicago-based firm whose bankruptcy practice Smith heads, is ready to prostrate himself before the judge as well.
According to a recent motion filed by the law firm, Harvey Freishtat, who heads the 1,000-lawyer firm, plans to fly to Miami for a hearing on Smith’s comment. The motion states Freishtat will personally express “on behalf of the entire firm, to this court, to the other lawyers in this case, and to the other honorable judges of this District Court, [his firm’s] sincere and deepest apology for the words used by Mr. Smith.”
And would Her Honor like a side of fries with that?
More discussion after the jump.
Earlier this month, we wrote about how William P. Smith — a partner at McDermott Will & Emery (Chicago), and head of its bankruptcy department — landed himself in the deep-fat fryer. Smith unwisely told a bankruptcy judge, in open court, that she was “a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal.”
Well, Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff didn’t respond so well to that colorful statement. She issued a sua sponte Order to Show Cause, directing William Smith (hereinafter “the Fry Guy”) to explain why he shouldn’t be suspended from practicing in her court.
Several tipsters have directed our attention to this delightful article, from the Daily Business Review, about the Fry Guy’s “super-sized gaffe.” It describes the fallout, for both Smith and McDermott Will & Emery, from L’Affaire Happy Meal — and includes a shout-out to Above the Law.
Excerpts and discussion, after the jump.
* Inmate’s last request: pizza for homeless. [CNN]
* Iraqi death row inmate claims innocence, confession by torture.[CNN]
* Brit convicted for leaking secret Bush-Blair memo. [AP]
* AG Gonzales feels he has weathered the Attorneygate storm… [New York Times]
* … Meanwhile, another US Attorney firing is revealed. [Washington Post]
* Justice Kennedy profile: “The Sphinx of Sacramento.” [Slate]
* NBA refs give a new meaning to DWB. [SI]
* Imus plans lawsuit based on contractual language that acknowledged irreverence. [MSNBC]
* Trans fat lawsuit against KFC deep fried, disposed of properly. [CNN]
* Indian judge who issued Gere warrant transferred. “Routine”? [MSNBC]
* North Dakota legislators are not comfortable with these sitcom-like living arrangements the kids (and senior citizens) are doing these days. [MSNBC]
* If they think college students are vain, imagine how a study of law students would fare. [CNN]
* Hillary Clinton selects general counsel. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Is Big Food the next Big Tobacco? [ Law.com]
* Filet-O-Fish creator never got a dime off his religion-inspired fish sandwich, yet remains grateful for all he did achieve. That is the spirit of Lent (which starts tomorrow!). [Cincinnati Enquirer]
* No one disses Nike. [The Guardian]
* Inventor of the Electric Slide says Teri Hatcher is doing it all wrong. [MSN Technology via Sivacracy.net]
* Flasher invokes the “These pants always do that” affirmative defense… [IndyStar.com]
* …while Peeping Tom sticks with the less creative “What? This is the women’s bathroom?” defense. [The Milwaukee Channel]
* EMI and Warner Music — on again! [The Daily News]
That’s the provocative question Professor Stephen Bainbridge poses in his TCS Daily Column. We say: Don’t give the clients any ideas.
(Of course, if the dying lawyer writhes on the floor in agony for six minutes before expiring, expect to get billed for that tenth of an hour.)
Professor Bainbridge asks this rhetorical question: “[W]hy does anybody hire transactional lawyers?” After all, frequently they “giv[e] advice that could be given by other professionals.” Plus, they’re annoying. And expensive.
He outlines two competing hypotheses for explaining the work of corporate lawyers: the “Pie Division Role” and the “Pie Expansion Role.” Under the former, which takes a zero-sum view of the world, lawyers try to maximize the gains of their own client. Under the latter, which does not take a zero-sum view, “the lawyer makes everybody better off by increasing the size of the pie.”
Bainbridge argues that training of transactional lawyers should focus more on the “Pie Expansion” model. To demonstrate the limitations of the “Pie Division” role, he gives this example:
You and a friend go out to eat. You decide to share a pizza, so you need to agree on its division. Would you hire somebody to negotiate a division of the pizza? Especially if they were going to take one of your slices as their fee?
But isn’t this exactly what corporate lawyers do — and how they earn their seven-figure paydays?
We offer our own, somewhat cynical take on Professor Bainbridge’s pizza example, after the jump.
* Chickens help us cope with “chronic anxiety” too. After they’re ground up and turned into McNuggets. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
* “DO NOT put any person in this washing machine.” Unless they’re really smelly — and small. [Overlawyered; Associated Press]
* Eliot Spitzer has a man-date. In more ways than one. [New York Daily News]
* Joan Biskupic gets a book deal. For a bio that writes itself. [How Appealing]
* Judges should too. ‘Cause most of them couldn’t do their own Westlaw research if their lives depended on it. [TaxProf Blog]
As previously mentioned, we’re on a reduced publication schedule this week. We’ll be doing a daily news round-up (and maybe a few other random posts here and there). We’ll return to our normal diarrhea of the keyboard publishing schedule on January 2.
* Civil libertarians, just raise the white flag. The Justice Department knows what you’re doing RIGHT NOW. [Washington Post]
* His father always knew there was “something special” about Judge Frank Easterbrook. And litigants who have appeared before FHE feel the same way. [Buffalo News via How Appealing (of course -- no offense, but we aren't regular readers of the Buffalo News)]
* In other Seventh Circuit news, Judge Richard Posner delivers remarks about maritime law to an audience of supermodels. We swear we’re not making this up. [Washington Post]
* Following up on our prior report, here’s a clear sign that Chadbourne & Parke partners don’t have enough business. [WSJ Law Blog]
* If McDonald’s french fries never taste the same, blame it on the anti-trans-fat legislation. [UPI]
* Complications of diabetes: not just medical, but law-related, too. [New York Times]
* If you’re a judge with unfulfilled literary aspirations, try writing something safe and non-controversial. Ideally it should be something nobody would want to read. We suggest a pop-up book about the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch via How Appealing]
* Even more fun than charades: take Peter Lattman to a party, start reading out random newspaper headlines, and challenge him to find a legal angle to the stories. [WSJ Law Blog]
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 (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), 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.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.